Wednesday, 1 October 2014

New Bolex prime lenses

Recently, a set of three prime lenses were announced by Bolex, with C-mounts:


The lenses are quite small, with a filter thread of 43mm. Pancake lenses like the Lumix 20mm f/1.7 and Lumix 14mm f/2.5 have a filter thread of 46mm. These Bolex lenses cost around US$350 per lens.

So how is this relevant for Micro Four Thirds?

Even if the C-mount is one of the few mounts which has a shorter register distance than Micro Four Thirds, there still exists adapters. Here is just one out of many examples:


Using an adapter like this, you can use c-mount lenses on Micro Four Thirds cameras. However, most c-mount lenses have a smaller image circle than the Four Thirds sensor, so you will frequently get vignetting problems.

Bolex claims, though, that these three lenses have an image circle which includes also the Four Thirds sensor, so it should be safe to use them on Micro Four Thirds cameras.

This illustration shows the difference between the standard Super 16mm image format, which most C-mount lenses conform to, and the Four Thirds sensor size. As you see, Four Thirds is much larger, which is why many C-mount lenses vignette on Micro Four Thirds cameras.


There are more oddities to these lenses. Of course, they are all manual focus only. Further, they have the special "cine gears" on the focus rings.

These are used to mount a remote controlled servo motor to the focus ring. The purpose is to be able to control the focus in a very smooth manner. Servo motors for cine use tend to be very expensive, and are not seen used by amateur enthusiasts very often.

Finally, the lenses do not have any aperture diaphragm mechanism at all. You only have one aperture available, f/4.

For indoor use, I would say that is no problem. You can set the camera to a suitable shutter speed, and then select the ISO which gives you the proper exposure. The Lumix GH4 camera (my review) now even has auto ISO in manual exposure mode, which makes this easy.

For outdoor use, this is going to be a problem. Using the "sunny 16" rule, you need a shutter speed of 1/2000s at ISO 200 on a bright, sunny day. This is much faster than desirable for video use.

For movie use, it is often preferred to have a shutter speed which is twice that of the frame rate. So if you have a frame rate of 30FPS, set the shutter speed to 1/60s. This is called a "180 degree shutter", and the purpose is to get some motion blur on moving objects. Read more about this here, and see some examples illustrating how using a 180 degree shutter is different from a faster shutter.

To achieve a slower shutter speed outdoors, you need a neutral density filter (ND filter). Preferably a variable ND filter, like this.

An ND filter stops a large portion of the light coming into the lens, and lets you use a slower shutter speed.

Conclusion


Given all this, are these lenses still interesting for use on Micro Four Thirds cameras?

I think the shortest lens is. It has a focal length of 10mm, which is a quite wide lens. There are no other very wide lenses like this, which are also very compact. And I think the f/4 aperture is quite adequate for most uses.

The other lenses, I don't see much use for. I would rather go for the Sigma 19mm f/2.8 lens, rather than the Bolex 18mm f/4. The Sigma lens is cheaper, and faster.

And rather than the Bolex 38mm f/4, why not get a lens like the Sigma 30mm f/2.8 or the Olympus 45mm f/1.8? I think those would be better choices for most uses.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Lumix X 35-100mm f/2.8: Expensive, but fantastic

The long f/2.8 zoom is a standard part in a pro photographer's lineup. Back in the time of the film SLRs, these lenses were typically around 70-200mm f/2.8. With the 2x crop factor of the Micro Four Thirds format, the corresponding focal length range becomes 35-100mm, and Panasonic have conformed to the tradition here.

Here is the Lumix X 35-100mm f/2.8 (left) seen together with the Pentax version of the same lens type, the Pentax DA* 50-135mm f/2.8 (right):


As you can see, the Lumix lens is much smaller, due to the larger crop factor of the Four Thirds sensor, compared with the APS-C sensor size the Pentax lens is designed for. The Lumix lens is also remarkably light for a lens of this type.

Specifications


Here are the specifications, compared with some similar lenses:

LensSigma 60mm f/2.8 DNLumix X 35-100mm f/2.8Lumix X 12-35mm f/2.8Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro
AnnouncedJan 19th, 2013Sep 17th, 2012
Mar 21st, 2012
Sep 15th, 2014
Lens elements/groups8/618/1314/916/10
Aperture diaphragm blades7779
Minimum focus0.5m0.85m0.25m0.70m
Diameter61mm67mm68mm79mm
Length56mm100mm74mm160mm
Filter thread46mm58mm58mm72mm
Weight190g360g305g880g
Hood includedYes, but wide and pretty uselessYes, well designedYes, well designedYes, well designed
Optical image stabilisationNoYesYesNo
Price$220$1250$1000


Physical


Below I have placed the Lumix X 12-35mm f/2.8 (my review) together with the Lumix X 35-100mm f/2.8 below. The 12-35mm lens is the little cousin of the 35-100mm lens, and as you can see, they are designed very similarly, both with hoods mounted:


Both lenses have a metallic like barrel at the base, with a somewhat cheesey, glosse purple finish. I would have preferred to see a more matte and grip friendly surface being used here.

On the positive side, both lenses have a generously rubberized zoom ring, which is well dampened and easy to handle. I really like the zoom rings of these lenses. Besides, the 35-100mm lens does not extend when zooming, which makes it feel very solid.

The focus rings are made of some plastic material, and are not as well dampened as the zoom ring. They operate quite ok.

Focus speed


I have compared the focus speed head to head with the Sigma 60mm f/2.8 DN here. The test was done by placing a figure about 1m from the camera, and seeing how long time it takes from pressing the shutter until the picture is snapped. The light was quite dim, around EV7 (corresponding to a city night scene).



The shutter delay is 0.25s at 60mm and 0.33s at 100mm, which is very good. The autofocus speed is not likely to be a problem with this lens.

Here is a test of the autofocus speed during video recording, using the GH3 and GH4 cameras. With the GH4, the lens performs quite well.

Image quality


With tele zoom lenses, the image quality is often the most problematic in the long end. That is why I start by testing the lens at 100mm.

@ 100mm


I tested the lens by mounting it to the Lumix GH4 camera (my review) set on a tripod, at base ISO, and with OIS turned off. I used 10s shutter delay to avoid camera shake. For reference, I tested the lens against the Lumix G 100-300mm f/4-5.6 (my review). I focused on the blue sign in the centre:


To better compare the sharpness, here are 100% crops from the centre at various apertures (click for a larger image):


Looking at how well defined the blue sign is, I would say that the Lumix X 35-100mm lens is the sharpest at f/4.

Another test at 100mm:


And here are 100% crops from the lower centre area:


From the extreme lower right corner:


In this example, we see one weakness of the lens. While it is very sharp in the centre at 100mm, it is not so good wide open outside of the centre. The performance becomes better when stopped down, though. We shall see later in the tests that the lens does better even in the corners at shorter focal lengths.

@ 60mm


At 60mm, I use the Sigma 60mm f/2.8 DN as a reference lens. With both lenses being very well regarded, it is interesting to do a comparison of them. Here is a photo of some trees quite far away:

Sigma 60mm @ f/2.8Lumix 35-100mm @ f/2.8

To better compare the image quality, here are some 100% crops from the centre of the images (click for larger images):


And from the lower right corner:


Here is another comparison, also taken from a fair distance:

Sigma 60mm @ f/2.8Lumix 35-100mm @ f/2.8

It is easier to see the differences by enlarging the images from the centre:


And from the left frame:


Both lenses are performing very well here, and it is difficult to compare them. In the centre, they are pretty much flawless already wide open at f/2.8. Perhaps the Sigma 60mm lens looks a bit better at f/2.8, but the difference is very minor.

In the corners, the Sigma 60mm lens appears to be somewhat duller, and does not sharpen up even when stopping down to f/5.6. The Lumix 35-100mm, on the other hand, is quite impressively sharp already from f/2.8, and becomes even better when stopping down to f/5.6.

Still, it is fair to say that both lenses do very well, and would satisfy most conceivable needs in terms of sharpness.

@ 45mm


Here is a collection of M4/3 lenses covering 45mm, both primes and zoom lenses:

From left to right: Lumix X PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6, Olympus 45mm f/1.8, Lumix X 35-100mm f/2.8, Panasonic-Leica 45mm f/2.8 1:1 macro (custom hood solution)

The Lumix X PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6 is a compact tele zoom lens with power zoom. The zooming can only be operated electronically, which is good when you want to zoom while recording videos. It also works well for stills, as you can use the zoom ring much like a normal mechanical zoom ring. The lens is very good optically, and is a good choice for those who would like a compact tele zoom lens, at a somewhat steeper price. There are also more moderately priced alternatives.

From Olympus, the first dedicated portrait lens for Micro Four Thirds, the Olympus 45mm f/1.8. It is reasonably priced, quite good in terms of sharpness and bokeh.

Launched with the GH3 in 2012, the Lumix X 35-100mm f/2.8 is Panasonic's interpretation of the classic pro tele zoom lens. Sporting a constant f/2.8 max aperture across the focal length, it is generally regarded as a very good lens. It is also one of the most expensive Micro Four Thirds lenses available.

Finally, the Panasonic-Leica 45mm f/2.8 1:1 macro is responsible for a lot of firsts in the Micro Four Thirds lens lineup: The first Leica co-branded lens, the first macro lens, the first prime lens with OIS, the first portrait focal length prime. It is fairly expensive, and Olympus users are probably better off getting the Olympus 60mm f/2.8 for macro capabilities.

In my previous comparison, I tested the lenses at pretty close focus distance. This time, I chose to use a longer distance. The focus distance is about 20m, practically infinity. I had the camera, the GH3 on a tripod, and used the 2s shutter delay to avoid camera shake. I set ISO 200.

Here are the test pictures taken:

Lumix 45-175mm @ 45mm f/4 Olympus 45mm f/1.8
Lumix 35-100mm @ 45mm f/2.8 Leica 45mm f/2.8

To better compare the image quality, I have collected 100% crops from the images at different apertures. These are from the centre:



Based on the centre crops, we see that all lenses do very well. The Olympus 45mm f/1.8 is a bit soft wide open at f/1.8, and further improves at f/2.8 and f/4. This is quite normal for a fast prime lens. Even the best lenses cannot be expected to be very sharp wide open. For a reasonably priced fast portrait lens, it is doing very well.

The Lumix 45-175mm is quite sharp at f/4, and improves marginally at f/5.6. When testing lenses at 100mm, I was disappointed with the Lumix X 35-100mm f/2.8. This time, however, I am happy to see that it performs well.

Finally, the Leica 45mm f/2.8 1:1 macro is sharp already wide open, as I think most would have expected.

And from the lower right corner:



The corner performance is usually much more challenging for lenses, and this is where we are more easily able to separate the good from the less good. We can also see which lens has vignetting issues: They will have darker corner crops.

Is is no surprise that the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 needs to stop down to f/4 for the best performance. But considering that it is a fast prime, I don't think the f/1.8 image is that bad. Considering the price, I think it is doing well.

The Lumix 45-175mm vignettes a bit at f/4, but doesn't really get much sharper at f/5.6. For a compact tele zoom, I think the corner performance is quite adequate wide open.

It is a bit disappointing to see the vignetting at f/2.8 from the Lumix X 35-100mm f/2.8. However, the sharpness wide open is very good, even in the corners.

One would perhaps have expected the Leica 45mm f/2.8 1:1 macro to perform the best in this test, given that it is the most expensive of the prime lenses. However, it appears to need to be stopped down to f/4 for the best corner performance. That also takes care of the vignetting issue.

Bokeh


The Lumix X 35-100mm f/2.8 one would typically use wide open for the selective focus look. Hence, it is important that it are sharp wide open, which I tested in the previous section.

It is also important that the out of focus rendering (bokeh) is pleasant. To test this, I took these photos using the 35-100mm lens and the Sigma 60mm lens. I focused on the power outlet to the right. The focus distance is about two meters, a suitable distance for a people portrait with these lenses. Here are the full images:

Sigma 60mm @ f/2.8Lumix 35-100mm @ f/2.8

And some closeups on the out of focus rendering:


Both lenses do quite well here in terms of bokeh. The Sigma 60mm f/2.8 DN probably has the upper hand here, though, as the out of focus highlights are more round. But the differences are fairly small. Both lenses do very well.

Like many Panasonic lenses, this one also has non-round out of focus highlights outside of the centre. You can see this in the examples below, click for larger images:

Lumix 35-100mm @ 35mm f/2.8Lumix 35-100mm @ 100mm f/2.8

As you see, the corner out of focus highlights are elliptical-like in shape. So is this a problem? Probably not, it depends on how you plan to use the lens. If you use it outside at daytime, with less contrast, this is not an issue at all.

Alternative lenses


If you are looking for long, fast lenses, there are not that many to choose from. Olympus has a 40-150mm f/2.8 pro zoom lens coming, but it will be quite large, and very expensive.

In the mean time, you could go for the Olympus 75mm f/1.8, which is generally regarded as a very good lens: Sharp, and with a nice bokeh. If you are prepared to pay the fairly expensive price, you can hardly go wrong with this lens.

A lower cost alternative is the Olympus 45mm f/1.8, which is a reasonably priced and well performing portrait lens.

Olympus also have a macro lens specified at 60mm f/2.8. It is generally well regarded, and could be a good choice if you also have an interest in macro imaging.

And as seen previously in this article, the Sigma 60mm f/2.8 DN is a good and cheap alternative.

However, all the lenses mentioned here has one thing in common: They lack optical image stabilization. So if you intend to record video handheld, the Lumix X 35-100mm f/2.8 is going to be your best choice anyway.

Conclusion


The Lumix X 35-100mm f/2.8 is a very good lens. It performs well in comparison with all the lenses I have put to the test here. It is compact and light, and easy to handle. With the constant length (non-extending zoom design), it feels very solid.

The only negative factor I can see, is the price. The Lumix X 35-100mm f/2.8 is not cheap, but I think it is worth the price tag.



Example images


This picture was taken at 100mm, f/7.1, 1/200s, ISO 1250:


This picture was taken at 60mm, f/4, 1/125s, ISO 800:

Friday, 19 September 2014

Six years of Micro Four Thirds

On September 12th, 2008, the Panasonic Lumix G1 was announced, the very first Micro Four Thirds camera. It was a true revolution in photography: A compact system camera with very photography oriented ergonomy and functions: A good EVF, tiltable LCD, a rugged body with an easy to grip surface. The autofocus was surprisingly fast, even if AF-C was not very useful. It had one strange omission, there was no video mode.


Even though it was paired with what is widely seen as a fantastic kit zoom lens, the camera was pretty much ignored.

It was not until Olympus launched the E-P1, with a retro styled, metal clad body, that the interest in M4/3 took off. Even if the E-P1 was inferior to the Lumix G1 in terms of usability and functions, in my opinion, and it was paired with an inferior lens.

Here are some highlights from the last six years:

2009


The Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 lens (my review) was launched, and became an instant classic. Even if the price was seen as a bit steep, the lens is loved for the compact size, very good sharpness even wide open, and pleasant bokeh. The downside of the lens is the slower than usual focus speed, even if it is hardly a real life problem anymore with newer cameras.

Olympus launched the PEN E-P1, which became the first really popular M4/3 camera:


Panasonic launched the Lumix GH1, the first system camera capable of continuous autofocus during video recording. It was the best consumer system camera for video for a long time, until its predecessor was released.

2009 also saw the release of the Lumix G 7-14mm f/4 ultra wide angle zoom lens, the first M4/3 lens with a true pro ambition.

2010


The "firmware hack" appeared for the Lumix GH1. This gave you an option of customizing the bitrate and other video options, allowing to create higher quality video streams. This led to an increased interest for the GH1, among independent filmmakers, and enthusiasts alike.

The Noktor 50mm f/0.95 was released, the very first ultra fast lens for M4/3. This specific lens was not so successful, but it was followed by a range of ultra fast lenses from Cosina Voigtländer.

In 2010, many companies tried to sell more television sets by including the 3D feature. To get more 3D contents, 3D photo products were also released. Panasonic made a 3D lens for some select cameras, but it is not very useful, in my opinion. See my review here.


At this time, Panasonic tried to sell Micro Four Thirds to the masses, through the Lumix G10, essentially a stripped down G2. It lost the articulated LCD screen, and had a much simpler EVF.

It is fair to say that it was very unsuccessful: They were not able to sell cheap cameras. And their lesson appears clear today: Leave the low end of the market to somebody else. Panasonic have later focused on the premium market, with cameras like the Lumix GX7 and the Lumix GM1.

2011


Samyang launched the 7.5mm f/3.5 fisheye lens (my review). It was one of the first third party lenses designed especially for M4/3, and more important, it is a very good lens available at a reasonable cost. It is highly recommended for anyone who would like to try wide angle photography.

Olympus released the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 (my review), which was the first affordable fast portrait lens, at least in the European market.


From Panasonic, we got the Lumix/Leica 25mm f/1.4 (my review). While pricey, it was a very good, classic fast normal lens, in a quite compact form factor.

At this time, Panasonic was into miniaturization, and created the Lumix GF3. When combined with the Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 lens (my review), it was the smallest interchangable lens system camera to date.


The camera was seen as being too dumbed down, and was not very popular. GF3+14mm kits were often split, and the 14mm pancake lens was sold cheap on Ebay. This made people perceive it as poor, which I think is far from the truth. In my opinion, the Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 is very good for its size and cost.

2011 was also the year of one of the biggest financial scandals in the history of Japan, and it affected none other than Olympus. The scandal comprised concealing losses originating from the years of financial hardship in the 1980's. Read about it in the ousted CEO's own book..

2012


The Olympus OM-D E-M5 was made. With a combination of a nostalgic, retro design, compact size, and very innovative functions, it was an instant success, and brought a lot of people into the Micro Four Thirds system.


The Olympus OM-D E-M5 is still sold at a premium price point today, even if it is getting old by digital camera standards.

Panasonic, wanting to compete with pro DSLRs, launched the Lumix X 12-35mm f/2.8 (my review) fast standard zoom lens for use with the Lumix GH3 camera. The lens is very good, and significantly smaller and lighter than similar lenses for DSLR systems.


Olympus made the 75mm f/1.8 tele lens, which is often seen as one of the best lenses for the system:


2012 was also the year we got the first third party autofocus lenses, the Sigma 19mm f/2.8 and the Sigma 30mm f/2.8. My favourite of the two is the Sigma 30mm (my review), which is reasonably priced, and offers a very good image quality with a useful focal length.

Early in 2012, we got a new first: The first third party Micro Four Thirds camera to be announced, the Kodak Pixpro S-1. The actual product did not materialize until two years later, though. Made for the Chinese market, it is decent, but not a very good camera.

2013


In 2013, we saw the release of the Olympus OM-D E-M1, the first truly professional Micro Four Thirds camera. It was the first camera which could autofocus legacy Four Thirds lenses at a good speed, even in AF-C mode, due to the inclusion of PDAF photosites on the sensor.


We also got the Lumix GX7, the long awaited "rangefinder style" Micro Four Thirds camera, with an eye level viewfinder in the top left corner:


Panasonic made the Lumix G 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 (my review), a very compact and good zoom lens. I find it very useful.

2014


The Lumix GH4 (my review) was released, the first 4k capable consumer system camera.

Also, JVC announced the GY-LSX2, a professional camcorder style video camera, with a Super 35mm sensor and a Micro Four Thirds mount. Just like the GH4, it can also do 4k video, but it is special in that it is the first Micro Four Thirds camera to feature a larger than Four Thirds sensor. Here is a sensor size comparison:


The actual product is not yet available, though.

Olympus has finally announced their pro tele zoom officially, the Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8:


It will be an expensive lens at around US$1500, but has pro features like weather proofing, internal zoom, and a dedicated 1.4 tele converter optionally available, the MC-14.

The Lumix GM5 is a very compact camera with an eye level viewfinder included:


It will be the perfect travel camera for style conscious photographers. The Lumix GF3 was also a small camera, but failed because it did not have the level of external controls that the users expect today. The Lumix GM5 fixes this by retaining a lot of physical controls, despite the small size. It has a PASM mode wheel, and a focus selector, which is very useful.

The future


There is now a very impressive Micro Four Thirds lens lineup.

What news are you expecting for the coming years?

Monday, 15 September 2014

Product news

These are exciting times, with a lot of product announcements in relation to the Fotokina trade show. Here is a short summary:

Lumix G 35-100mm f/4-5.6


This lens is designed to match the Lumix GM1 and GM5 camera, both in terms of styling and size.


It is expected to cost US$400. But it will probably be primarily sold in twin lens kits with the new GM5 camera.

The Lumix G 35-100mm f/4-5.6 is a very compact, short tele zoom. It is not a lot more compact than the longer and much cheaper Lumix G 45-150mm f/4-5.6, though. So I would seriously consider the longer of the two, unless you specifically want a lens which is styled similarly as the GM1 and GM5 cameras.

Lumix GM5


The predecessor to the very compact Lumix GM1 camera. It addresses one of the concerns with the GM1: The missing eye level viewfinder:


It also adds a flash hot shoe, but loses the built in flash. Regarding flash use, keep in mind that this camera still uses the same shutter module from the GM1. It is good in the sense that it is very inaudible, but it has a very poor flash sync speed of only 1/50s. This makes the camera less than optimal for fill flash use outside during daytime. Read more about the shutter unit here.

The camera also improves upon the predecessor in terms of video features, giving access to full HD recording in 50/60 FPS (depending on region, PAL/NTSC). If you are interested in a small Micro Four Thirds camera, I would recommend getting the Lumix GM5, rather than the GM1

Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 II


A somewhat strange and unexpected release from Panasonic is the updated version of the Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 (my review):


There is some uncertainty about what has changed between the old and the new version. As it stands now, I am thinking that this is purely a cosmetic change. The optics are certainly the same, and probably the focus and aperture mechanism. So I think this is just a redesign to make the lens styled like the new GM5 camera.

This is just what happened to the 20mm lens, by the way, which received a makeover last year. Here are some tests I made to see if there was any real difference.

Lumix LX100


Not a Micro Four Thirds camera, but very interesting anyway. The competition has toughened a lot lately in the premium compact market. We used to have a competition about bringing out the most impressive aperture, which the Lumix LX7 won by using a f/1.4-2.3 zoom lens.

Then came the Sony RX100 series, which changed the game by upping the sensor size to the so called one inch sensor.

Panasonic's answer was launched today, the Lumix LX100:


It further ups the sensor size by using a Four Thirds type sensor, at about twice the area of the one inch sensor. However, the image circle does not cover all of the sensor, meaning that effectively, the sensor size is about 1.5 times that of the one inch sensor.

In terms of features, this camera appears to have it all: A very bright aperture range of f/1.7-2.8, electronic eye level viewfinder (EVF), 4k video, and to top all this, it also has retro styled shutter wheel, exposure compensation wheel, and even an aperture wheel around the lens. These retro items are probably aimed to compete with the Fujifilm line of cameras, e.g., the Fujifilm X100.

The only negative aspect of this camera is that it is larger than the competitors. However, to incorporate such a fast lens, it needs to be fairly large.

And regarding the lens size, why is it so much smaller than the Lumix X 12-35mm f/2.8 (my review), which has similar specifications, and also cover the Four Thirds sensor size? The LX100 lens actually has better specifications, as the aperture opens up more than one more stop in the wide end. I guess there are three answers:

  1. The LX100 has a smaller image circle than the Micro Four Thirds system, to accommodate the multi aspect sensor.
  2. The LX100 doesn't have a lens mount, and can use an optical design with a shorter register distance, putting the exit pupil closer to the sensor. That allows making a smaller lens construction, especially for the wide angle part of the zoom.
  3. Even if the LX100 has a larger aperture in the wide end, this probably does not require any larger optical design. Generally speaking, a normal zoom can be made faster in the wide end without much extra effort in the optical design. Rather, I think the Lumix X 12-35mm f/2.8 lens aperture is deliberately capped in the short end, to have a constant f/2.8 across the zoom range.

The LX100 appears to have a leaf shutter. This is good news, as it allows for a fast flash sync, a silent shutter which is stealthy when photographing people, and shutter shock should not be a problem.

This camera looks like the perfect premium compact right now. I think Panasonic have made a winning camera, let's see what the competitors come up with to top this one.

It is not perfect, though. It does not have a tilting LCD screen, and the screen is not touch sensitive. Further, it is a bit unclear from the specifications if it includes a built in ND filter. ND filter can be good when you want to photograph using fill flash outdoors on a sunny day.

Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8


This PRO labeled zoom has been awaited a long time already. In this official announcement, the price is given, US$1500, which is not too bad.


The lens is mostly useful on Olympus cameras, given that it does not have any optical image stabilization. The size of the lens is perhaps unexpectedly large, being 60% longer and 150% heavier than the competing Lumix X 35-100mm f/2.8 from Panasonic. Of course, the Olympus lens also has a 50% longer focal length, and a wider zoom range, which is very useful.

Like the other PRO rated lenses, this one is "weatherproofed", meaning that you can bring it out even if it rains, but you cannot submerge it, of course. It is also dustproof and freezeproof. To get the most out of the lens, especially in terms of environment protection, it is best to combine it with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera.

Olympus also announced the very first tele converter for Micro Four Thirds, the MC14:


As you can see from the image, the tele converter has an front lens element which protrudes significantly. With this construction, you physically cannot mount it to most Micro Four Thirds lenses, in fact, doing so might damage the lens and the converter. When using it on the 40-150mm lens, it becomes a 56-210mm f/4 lens.

The converter is designed for use with the Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 exclusively at this time. Perhaps it will be supported by future lenses, like the 300mm f/4 which Olympus have said they may bring out. The tele converter would make it a 420mm f/5.6 lens, very useful for bird photography. Personally, I would rather use the Nikon 1 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 lens for birds (my review), though, which is another 800mm equivalent option.

Conclusion


After a period where Sony were dominating the premium compact camera line with their RX100 series, Panasonic are now back on top with the Lumix LX100.

With the introduction of the Lumix GM5, they have a very capable premium compact system camera, which is quite stylish too.