Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S. Review

January 16, 2018 | Mark Goldstein | |
thumbnail

Introduction

The Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S. is a fast super telephoto prime lens for the Micro Four Thirds system. Featuring near-silent, high-speed focusing thanks to a 240fps triple linear AF motor, the Panasonic 200mm lens offers an equivalent focal length of 400mm in 35mm terms, which can be further extended to 560mm and 800mm by fitting the supplied 1.4x teleconverter or the optional 2x teleconverter. It's comprised of 15 elements in 13 groups, incorporating two Ultra Extra-Low Dispersion elements. Built-in Power O.I.S. helps to combat camera shake, while 9 rounded diaphragm blades give the aperture an appealing rounded shape, and the lens design is weather-resistant. The Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S. lens retails for £2699 / $2999 in the UK and the US, respectively, making it the most expensive Micro Four Thirds lens to date.

Ease of Use

The Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S. is also one of the biggest and heaviest Micro Four Thirds lenses, perhaps understandable given that it's such a fast super telephoto prime, weighing in at 1245g and measuring 17.5cms in length. The lens feels more at home on a larger camera body like the new G9, although many users will still feel the need to add the optional battery grip to help balance the lens when handheld shooting.

Still, this is a lens that you can happily shoot with hand-held all day, and if you use the 1.4x teleconverter that's included in the box and add the optional 2x converter, it effectively gives you a 400m f/2.8, 560mm f/4 and 800mm f/5.6 lens!

Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S.The Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S. lens attached to a Panasonic Lumix G9

Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S.The Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S. lens attached to a Panasonic Lumix G9

Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S.The Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S. lens attached to a Panasonic Lumix G9

The Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S. lens offers virtually silent focusing. In use, we have also found the 240fps sensor drive triple linear motor system to be very quick on the G9. With the focus mode on the Panasonic Lumix G9 set to AFC, the lens tracked moving subjects well, although it takes some practice to keep them in the frame, especially when when using the 2x teleconveter which provides an effective focal length of 800mm!

Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S.The Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S. lens attached to a Panasonic Lumix G9

Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S.The Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S. lens attached to a Panasonic Lumix G9

Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S.The Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S. lens attached to a Panasonic Lumix G9 with the 1.4x teleconverter fitted

Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S.The Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S. lens attached to a Panasonic Lumix G9 with the 2x teleconverter fitted

Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S.The Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S. lens attached to a Panasonic Lumix G9 with the tripod mount fitted

Manual focusing is possible in a focus-by-wire fashion. This should not put you off using it as it feels pretty natural in use, and actually enables the camera to display a magnified view of the subject automatically, without you having to press a dedicated button or enter the menu. The focus ring is very generously sized and more than adequate for the job.

In terms of features, the lens offers a switch for turning the POWER O.I.S. image stabilisation on or off, an AF/M switch for changing the focus mode, and a Focus Limiter switch with two settings, Full-Infinity and 3m-Infinity, with the latter speeding up the autofocusing if you don't need to shoot closer than 3m away from your subject.

Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S.The Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S. lens alongside the Panasonic Lumix G9

Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S.The side of the Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S. lens

Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S.The side of the Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S. lens

The focus memory switch can be set up in the camera menu to store different focus positions or to access a specific camera function.

There's a quick-shift, two-part rotating tripod collar that can be rotated using a knurled locking ring to easily switch between horizontal and vertical shooting orientations.

The lens mount is made of metal. The lens is freeze-, dust- and moisture-resistant, an excellent feature given that this lens will predominantly be used by wildlife and sports photographers in all kinds of conditions.

Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S.The front of the Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S. lens

Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S.The rearof the Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S. lens

Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S.The side of the Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S. lens

Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S.The side of the Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S. lens

Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S.The Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S. lens in-hand

The lens comes with a very large circular hood with a small screw to tighten it into place. Panasonic also include a cloth storage bag (a more substantial hard case would be better), and more generously, a 1.4x teleconverter that extends the focal length to 280mm. The lens accepts 77mm filters and the thread does not rotate on focus, which is good news for users of polarisers and graduated neutral density filters.Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S.The Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S. lens with the supplied lens hood fitted

Focal Range

The lens has a diagonal angle of view of 6.2°, equivalent to that of a 400mm lens in a 35mm system.

Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S.Field of view at 100mm

With the 1.4x teleconverter fitted, the focal length is effectively the same as that of a 560mm lens on a 35mm full-frame camera.

Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S.Field of view at 280mm

With the 2x teleconverter fitted, the focal length is effectively the same as that of a 800mm lens on a 35mm full-frame camera.

Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S.Field of view at 400mm

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or blue fringes along contrasty edges, are not really a problem with the Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S. lens, as shown in the example below.

Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S.

Light Fall-off

With the Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S. lens set to its maximum aperture, you can see a little light fall-off in the corners, but nothing too excessive. You will likely only notice this when photographing a subject with large homogeneous surfaces.

Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S.Vignetting at 200mm

Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S.Vignetting at 280mm

Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S.Vignetting at 400mm

Macro

Although Panasonic does not call the LEICA DG VARIO-ELMAR 100-400mm f/4.0-6.3 ASPH Power O.I.S. a macro lens, you can at least partially fill the frame, with a maximum 0.2x magnification rating and the ability to focus at 1.15m/3.8ft away from the subject.

Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S.

Bokeh

Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc. In the Panasonic LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm F2.8 POWER O.I.S. lens, Panasonic employed a diaphragm with 9 rounded blades, which has resulted in excellent bokeh, at least in our opinion. However, recognising that bokeh evaluation is subjective, we have provided a few examples for your perusal.

Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm F1.2 ASPH
f/2.8
 
Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm F1.2 ASPH
f/4
 
Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm F1.2 ASPH
f/5.6
 
Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm F1.2 ASPH
f/8
 
Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm F1.2 ASPH
f/11
 
Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm F1.2 ASPH
f/16
 
Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm F1.2 ASPH
f/22

Sharpness

In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following pages.