Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPH Review

June 15, 2016 | Mark Goldstein | |

Introduction

The Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPH is a fast ultra-wide-angle lens for the Micro Four Thirds system. Offering a 35mm camera equivalent focal length of 24mm, the Panasonic 12mm lens is comprised of 15 elements in 12 groups, including two aspherical lenses, two UED (Ultra Extra-Low Dispersion) lenses and an ED (Extra-Low Dispersion) lens. It features an iris diaphragm with nine rounded aperture blades, a rugged, splash/dustproof design, an inner focus drive system and a stepping motor for smooth, silent operation, and an an aperture ring for direct, intuitive aperture control. The Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPH lens is available for £1199.99 in the UK.

Ease of Use

The Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPH is pretty small and light for a such a complex lens, just about fitting in the palm of your hand. It's a compact affair for a lens that offers such a wide-angle focal length and fast maximum aperture, measuring 75mm in length, and it's also light at 335 grams.

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPHThe Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPH lens attached to the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX80

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPHThe Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPH lens attached to the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX80

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPHThe Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPH lens attached to the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX80

The lens mount, the barrel and the hood are commendably all made of metal, and the lens boasts a rugged, splash/dustproof design, making it well-suited for use with the weatherproof DMC-GX80 camera.

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPHThe Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPH lens alongside the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX80

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPHFront of the Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPH lens

In terms of features, the highlight is the traditional manual aperture ring on the lens barrel, which allows you to set the aperture in 1/3 steps, complete with full aperture markings from f/1.4 to f/16. The aperture is also shown in the viewfinder or on the LCD screen as you change it. The tactile aperture ring is nicely damped and makes a distinctive click as you change the setting. It toggles between auto aperture control (the ring is set to A) or manual aperture control (the switch is set to one of the aperture values).

There's also a responsive manual focusing ring, but no focus scale. A small switch on the side toggles between auto/manual focus.

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPHFront of the Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPH lens

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPHRear of the Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPH lens

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPHSide of the Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPH lens

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPHSide of the Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPH lens

Usefully the lens comes with a lens hood and a cloth storage bag, and it accepts 62mm filters.

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPHThe Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPH lens in-hand

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPHThe Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPH lens with the supplied H-X012 lens hood fitted

Focal Range

The lens has a diagonal angle of view of 84.1°, equivalent to that of a 24mm lens in a 35mm system.

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPHField of view at 12mm

Focusing

The Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPH lens offers almost completely silent auto-focusing, and in use we found the system very quick on the DMC-GX80 camera.

The 62mm filter thread does not rotate on focus, which is good news for users of polarisers and graduated neutral density filters.

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. Despite the small size of the lens, the focus ring is wide enough and more than adequate for the job.

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or blue fringes along contrasty edges, are really only conspicuous by their almost complete absence, as shown by the 100% crops below.

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPH Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPH

Light Fall-off

With the lens set to its maximum aperture of f/1.4, there is some light fall-off in the corners, which disappears by f/4.

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPHLight fall-off

Macro

The Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPH has a closest focusing distance of 0.2m / 0.66ft.

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPHClose-up performance

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 Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPH lens, Panasonic employed a diaphragm with 9 rounded blades, which has resulted in very nice bokeh for a wide-angle lens, at least in our opinion. However, recognising that bokeh evaluation is subjective, we have provided a few examples for your perusal.

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPH Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPH
   
Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPH Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPH

Sharpness

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

Entry Tags

review, samples, test, images, sample images, compact system camera, wide-angle, micro four thirds, lumix, panasonic, wide angle, leica, 12mm, Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f1.4 ASPH Review, 12mm lens, panasonic 12mm review