- Compact, high quality build with weathersealing
- Nice handling and great feel on the zoom ring
- Lens is sharp over most of the frame right from f/2.8, and becomes extremely sharp stopped down just a smidge
- Autofocus is fast, accurate and silent
- Excellent range, equivalent to 70-200mm on full frame
- Fast, constant f/2.8 aperture
- Internal zoom
- Optically stabilized
- Well controlled chromatic aberration
- OIS is only effective to a little more than two stops and must be turned off at high shutter speeds to avoid quality issues
- Not quite as sharp as the very best 70-200s for other systems
The cons list above may seem a bit nitpicky to some. Especially the last point, so let me explain. The image quality of this lens is outstanding, and the lens is a worthy addition to the Micro 4/3 lineup. However, compared with the newest 70-200mm lenses from Canon and Nikon, it’s not quite going to match those stellar optics. Instead, I’d say it’s on the level of something like the original Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS. So, very, very good, but not flawless. Considering it’s $1,000 less than those new Canon and Nikon lenses, though, I can forgive this. Still, it’s a pricey lens at $1,499, and will really only cater to those who know they need an f/2.8 telephoto zoom in this range.
However, MANY people, including myself, fall into this category, and so I have a feeling a fair few of these will be sold. Overall, Panasonic has created an excellent zoom lens. Sharp, well built with a great range and fast aperture, this lens finally brings a top tier telephoto zoom to the Micro 4/3 system, and I can definitely recommend this lens for the serious Micro 4/3 shooter. A great lens.
18 thoughts on “Review: Panasonic Lumix G Vario 35-100mm f/2.8 X OIS”
That last one is truly sharp! 65 f2.8 primes for 1500$? Sign me up!
There are numerous reports in the German Systemkamera Forum that the 2.8/35-100mm lens does not really have 100mm at the long end. Forum members and owners of the lens claim that it is only a 35-85mm lens in reality, which would be more than the usual tolerances.
Did you find anything similar? Helpful review, by the way.
I don’t do testing of that sort, and I’d have to research and figure out a good way to test that (I suppose it’s simple geometry to find AOV), but it is plausible. The only thing I have to compare it to is the Oly 75/1.8, and indeed, to match FOV on the 35-100, I need to be at about 82mm to get the same AOV as the 75/1.8. 100mm is certainly longer than the 75/1.8. By how much, I couldn’t say.
Then, I remembered: like many telephoto zooms like this, the real measurement needs to be taken at infinity. (my little quick test was at about 5 feet). Internally focusing lenses tend to shorten focal length at closer distances, and zooms likely further than primes, so it is quite possible that it’s very close to accurate at infinity, but a little shorter at closer focus distances. For instance, the Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 VR is only 135mm at minimum focus distance, and I think I recall the Canon 70-200 shortening to about 150-160mm at that focus distance.
So, I took a few test shots out my window, and while at 75mm, the 75/1.8 is still SLIGHTLY longer, I’d put the difference at no more than 1mm (it’s extremely close to the same framing). At 80mm on the zoom, it’s a tighter perspective, and 100mm much tighter still. So, I would say the 35-100 may shorten in a similar manner to most modern 70-200 zooms at the closer focus range, but it appears to be pretty close to marked focal lengths at infinity.
That’s true, and the confusion is because of the majority thinks 43 has a crop factor of 2X. Which is not true, by default many 43 (M43) cameras are set to take stills in 4:3 ratio. For that ratio the crop factor is actually 1.85.
Can beat the same in full frame, this is tthe best lens ever !
Thank you, Jordon, for this great review of the 35-100. When this lens was first announced, I wasn’t all that excited by it, and I was seduced by the excellent 75mm as a fairly long alternative. However I now see what the happy owners of the 35-100 can do with it, and am having second thoughts. Although I am very comfortable with my other m43 primes, the 75mm, for all of its excellent sharpness and charactor, is a focal length that doesn’t seem to be clicking for me. I don’t do much portrature, and find 75mm a bit too long – 45mm is just fine. As I am saving for the eventual Pany 150mm prime, which I figure will sell for well north of $2000, I may have to sell the 75mm in order to buy the 35-100, which with its water resistance and wide range, should be more usefull to me. The flip side of having this great selection of lenses for m43 is that, unless one wins a lottery, it is difficult to settle on the most cost-effective kit! Keep up the good work – I enjow your blog very much.
I really appreciate the time you put into this write-up. I’ve been shooting and developing film, as a hobby since a child and have just jumped from a Canon G10 I purchased a bit more than four years ago to the OMD, which I plan to use for professional work. I pushed myself to learn every nook and cranny of that G10, pulling its full potential and seriously cannot wait to invest the same time and love into understanding the absolute limits of this camera. Obviously, purchasing the first lens will be a big occasion.
Knowing my comfort zone, I was sure I was going to invest in the 12mm, though after reading more about this lens, I am likely going to go another direction. Being assured the quality is there, in a range new to me, gets me really excited to go out, shoot and learn.
I’ve been reluctant to join some of the online conversations, though I felt compelled to say thank you and let you know I will continue to look here for opinions and guidance as it seems you and your audience are (you might say) more level-headed.
All the best in the new year!
Thanks for this review. Realistic overview with great sample pics. Anxious to try one out.
I am just waiting for my GH3, this lens and the 12 – 35 as a more portable alternative to my Nikon D3s kit.
I would not expect this to outdo my Nikkor 70-200 2.8 VRII but then that lens costs over $1000 more than this one!
It looks like a great lens though and the GH 3 looks like a great camera, so I am looking forward to seeing what I can achieve with them and intend to produce paid jobs with the system which I am confident can be done although not every job.
Just got my lens today.
$1,500. Disappointed, lens says, “Made in China.”
Yes, I was surprised when I rec’d the lens too… usually Japan reserve the best technology in-house but then again all my Olympus gear including prime lens are made in China, and I never had any problems. I guess China is the new Japan & Tailand is the old China.
Hi Jordan, thank for this and the 12-35 f/2.8 review. I am a new convert to the Olympus OMD EM-5 body; selling a lot of heavy Canon 5D3 + lenses gear. I also purchased the Panasonic 12-35, 35-100, and 100-300 f/2.8 lenses.
My question: please explain the use/interaction between the OIS on the lens and the Olympus 5-axis image stabilization system. I had thought with the Olympus 5-axis image stabilization system you should turn off the OIS. I will leave it on pending hearing from you. Cheers, Jay
Sorry I didn’t see this comment until today: With the Panny lenses with OIS switches, you need to choose one or the other. I have found the E-M5’s In body IS to be generally a little better than the 35-100’s OIS, so I generally turn off the lens IS unless I’m using my Panny GX1. If you leave both on, they will compete, and horribly blurry images will result.
I too recently picked up the Olympus OM-D EM-5 and was wondering if you’ve taken the35-100mm Panasonic lens thru it’s paces and whether you’ve found any issues to be concerned about. I’m seriously thinking about getting this lens but haven’t found enough reviews using this in combination with the OMD. Any feedback would be appreciated.
Thanks – Ed
After reading your recent Nocticron review, I wanted to see what you thought about the 35-100mm lens. I’ve not had good luck with it, and lens flare, with the lens hood in place was awful with the sun out of the frame. The Panasonic repair facility found it to be normal.
I never thought to turn off the IS for certain shutter speeds to increase clarity, so I will try this. When I sent this lens away, I bought the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 lens and noticed how much better the GH3 seemed to be–in color, in sharpness, in most any aspect. I’m glad you’ve had better luck with the 35-100mm lens than I have.