Andy Westlake gets his hands on a premium fast wideangle prime for Micro Four Thirds
Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 Asph review – Introduction
Panasonic introduced its first Lumix G camera and lenses back in 2008, making Micro Four Thirds the longest running of the new breed of mirrorless digital camera systems. As a result, the firm has had plenty of time to build up a comprehensive set of lenses, and all the major bases are now covered by the system – even more so when Olympus’s M.Zuiko Digital optics are taken into account. So, more recently, Panasonic has taken to fleshing out its lens line-up: last year we saw a welcome set of entry-level primes, and this year it’s the turn of some more exotic options. The one we’re looking at here is a high-end, Leica-branded wideangle prime: the Summilux 12mm f/1.4 Asph.
With an angle of view equivalent to a 24mm lens on full frame, the Summilux is one of just a few f/1.4 autofocus wideangles available for smaller sensors, alongside Fujifilm’s XF 16mm f/1.4 R WR. Its fast maximum aperture means that it gathers fully twice as much light as its most obvious rivals, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2 and the manual-focus Samyang 12mm f/2 NCS CS. But despite this, it’s not the fastest wideangle lens for Micro Four Thirds. That honour belongs to the Voigtländer Nokton 10.5mm f/0.95, which is a manual-focus optic that has at least half an eye on video shooting.
At a launch price of £1,199, the Summilux is not a purchase that will be made lightly, especially with the Olympus 12mm f/2 costing less than half that amount. So it will probably need to be optically spectacular to gain a significant following. With that in mind, let’s see how it performs.