- 1Panasonic Goes Pro
- 2Around the Lens - Build Quality
- 3Autofocus and Handling
- 4Image Stabilization
- 5 Next: Image Quality
- 6Image Quality - Sharpness
- 7Image Quality - Bokeh
- 8Image Quality - Chromatic Aberration, Distortion, Color and Flare
- 9Video Use
- 10Next: Conclusion and Image Samples
- 12Image Samples
- Good sharpness throughout zoom range straight from f/2.8. Excellent central sharpness at all focus distances.
- Nice color rendition
- Relatively good bokeh. Not perfect, but good for a zoom lens.
- Excellent build quality with outstanding mechanics and solid construction.
- Constant f/2.8 aperture that gives reasonable subject separation.
- Fast, accurate and silent autofocus.
- Outstanding optical stabilizer.
- Good minimum focus distance allows for close up photography.
- Decreased corner sharpness at infinity focus.
- Some chromatic aberrations and purple fringing, though not terrible.
- Flares rather easily
- Can be unwieldy on smaller Micro 4/3 bodies due to larger than average size for a Micro 4/3 lens.
In summation, the Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 X lens is a very high quality optic with a top end build quality to match. It’s not a perfect lens, but it does its job very well. Images are sharp right from f/2.8, with good rendering of out of focus areas. It’s also got a very convenient zoom range, covering super wide to short telephoto, making it an excellent all purpose lens. I’d imagine many photographers could do a vast majority of shooting with this lens and be just fine. If you love having a fast standard zoom and are in to the Micro 4/3 system, it’s a fantastic lens to own.
If, however, you are not someone who truly loves and needs a fast standard zoom, it’s hard to recommend due to the price. While $1,300 is not excessive for an image stabilized first party 24-70 equivalent f/2.8 lens when compared to other lenses for DSLRs, it’s still a very expensive lens for the average buyer. While the build and optics justify the cost, not every shooter will be able to grab one of these for their bag. If you don’t need f/2.8, the $100 kit lenses that come with the Olympus and Panasonic bodies are very nearly as sharp as this lens throughout the range. The advantage you get with the 12-35 is the extra two stops of speed. If you need that extra light, this is the lens for you, if you don’t, save your money.
I am in a third category. I love and need fast glass for a lot of my shooting, but I will not be purchasing this lens simply due to personal preference. I much prefer using prime lenses in this range, so my Olympus 12mm, Leica 25mm f/1.4 and Olympus 45mm f/1.8 work better for my style of shooting. I have to admit I enjoyed using the lens for a family outing to our local science center for its convenience, but for me it’s not worth the price of admission for a lens I’d only really use a few times each year. This would be the case for most any standard zoom and doesn’t have anything to do with the relative merits of this lens. I’ve owned several fast standard zooms in the past decade, and all of them have ended up on a shelf instead of in my bag just because they don’t fit my style of shooting.
However, just because I won’t be buying one doesn’t mean it’s not the perfect Micro 4/3 lens for many shooters to own. The 12-35mm f/2.8’s combination of top flight optics, fast aperture, quality build and great zoom range make it a lens for any serious shooter to consider.