Panasonic has revealed a new premium standard zoom lens with a constant f/2.8 maximum aperture. The Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 is the first wide aperture zoom designed for use with Micro Four Thirds system cameras and offers a field of view equivalent to 24-70mm on a full frame DSLR, though at just 305 grams it's a fraction of the size and weight of comparable DSLR lenses.
Key features include Mega OIS image stabilisation to reduce camera shake, and internal focusing so the front element doesn't rotate as it focuses - ideal for use with filters. The optical design incorporates UED (Ultra Extra-Low Dispersion) glass, aspherical elements and Panasonic's own Nano Surface Coating for superior optical quality, while a built-in AF motor ensures fast and quiet focusing whether shooting stills or video.
The lens is part of Panasonic's recently released X range of premium optics, which is reflected in its price tag of £999, though this is comparable to similar lenses in other systems. Unlike some previous X lenses, the zoom is not a power zoom but features a conventional zoom ring. It is however the first Lumix lens to be dust and moisture resistant – perhaps a hint that a more professional oriented camera will follow shortly?
What Digital Camera has had a sample for a few days and have been impressed. The build quality feels excellent, with a stylish glossy, metallic finish, a decent sized rubberised zoom ring. When compared with, say the Nikon or Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 lenses the Lumix is impressively small and light, and perfectly weighted with the Panasonic GX1 that we used it with.
Images from our initial tests look impressive. Sharpness and contrast are good across the frame, with little sign or distortion or vignetting, and the Nano surpace coatings have proved effective in preventing flare – further heped by the inclusion in the box of a petal lens hood. The wide maximum aperture makes it possible to achieve shallow depth of field effects, despite the smaller sensor used by the Micro Four Thirds system.
The Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 is available in the UK later this month and we'll be posting a full in depth review shortly.