Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH Review

March 23, 2017 | Mark Goldstein | |

Introduction

The Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH is a new standard zoom lens for the Micro Four Thirds system. Featuring silent, high-speed focusing thanks to an inner focus drive system, the Panasonic 12-60mm lens offers a versatile focal range of 24-120mm in 35mm terms. It uses 14 elements in 12 groups, including 4 aspherical lenses and 2 ED lenses. Power O.I.S. helps to combat camera shake, while 9 rounded diaphragm blades give the aperture a rounded shape. The Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH lens costs £879 / $999 in the UK and the US, respectively.

Ease of Use

The Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH is surprisingly compact and relatively light for a standard zoom lens with such a fast maximum aperture, measuring 86mm in length and weighing only 320g. Zooming is not internal - it does extend to just over 120mm when set to the 60mm focal length.

In terms of features, the lens offers a switch for turning the POWER O.I.S. image stabilisation on or off, and an AF/M switch for choosing the focusing mode.

The Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH lens may have a lot of plastic parts to help keep the weight down, but the lens mount is, thankfully, made of metal. The lens boasts a dust and splash-proof design and is even freeze-proof down to -10℃.

Usefully the lens comes with a petal-shaped hood with a button to lock it into place and release it. Panasonic also include a cloth storage bag, and the lens accepts 62mm filters.

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPHThe Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH lens attached to a Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH5

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPHThe Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH lens attached to a Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH5

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPHThe Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH lens attached to a Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH5

 

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPHThe Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH lens alongside a Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH5

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPHThe Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH lens, zoomed in

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPHThe Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH lens, zoomed out

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPHFront of the Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH lens

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPHRear of the Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH lens

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPHSide of the Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH lens

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPHSide of the Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH lens

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPHThe Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH lens in-hand

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPHThe Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH lens with the supplied lens hood fitted

Focal Range

At the 12mm end of the zoom range, the lens has a diagonal angle of view of 84°, equivalent to that of a 24mm lens in a 35mm system.

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPHField of view at 12mm

At the 60mm end, the angle of view is 20°, which is the same as that of a 120mm lens on a 35mm full-frame camera.

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPHField of view at 60mm

Focusing

The Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH lens offers silent focusing, making it perfect for video recording. In use, we also found the system very quick on the new DMC-GH5 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, i.e. without your having to press a dedicated button or enter the menu. The focus ring is generously sized and more than adequate for the job.

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or blue fringes along contrasty edges, are not really a problem with the Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH lens, as shown in the example below.

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH

Light Fall-off and Distortion

With the Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH lens set to its maximum aperture, you can see some light fall-off in the corners, but nothing too excessive. There is some slight barrel distortion too at 12mm.

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPHVignetting at 12mm

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPHVignetting at 60mm

Macro

The Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH lens has a maximum 0.3x magnification rating and is able to focus at 0.2m/0.66ft away from the subject when set to 12mm and 0.24m/0.79ft at 60mm.

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 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 Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH lens, Panasonic employed a diaphragm with 9 rounded blades, which has resulted in quite nice 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 Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm F1.2 ASPH
   
Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm F1.2 ASPH Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm F1.2 ASPH

Sharpness

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

Entry Tags

compact system camera, video, micro four thirds, lumix, panasonic, zoom, standard, F2.8, kit lens, weatherproof, silent, 24-120mm, F4, 12-60mm, panasonic 12-60mm, dmc-gh5, Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f2.8-4.0 ASPH review, panasonic leica 12-60mm review, Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f2.8-4.0 ASPH

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