Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH Review

May 8, 2017 | Mark Goldstein | |

Introduction

The Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH is a new ultra-wide-angle zoom lens for the Micro Four Thirds system. Featuring silent, high-speed focusing thanks to an inner focus drive system, the Panasonic 8-18mm lens offers a versatile focal range of 16-36mm in 35mm terms. It uses 15 elements in 10 groups, including 1 aspherical ED lens, 3 aspherical lenses, 2 ED lenses and 1 UHR lens, and 7 diaphragm blades give the aperture a rounded shape. The Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH lens costs £1049 / $1099 in the UK and the US, respectively.

Ease of Use

The Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH is surprisingly compact and relatively light for an ultra-wide-angle zoom lens with such a fast maximum aperture, measuring 88mm in length and weighing only 315g. Zooming is internal, so it doesn't extend when set to the 18mm focal length.

In terms of features, the lens has an AF/M switch for choosing the focusing mode.

The Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm 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 67mm filters.

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-16mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPHThe Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH lens attached to a Panasonic Lumix DMC-G80

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-16mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPHThe Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH lens attached to a Panasonic Lumix DMC-G80

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-16mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPHThe Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH lens attached to a Panasonic Lumix DMC-G80

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-16mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPHThe Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH lens alongside a Panasonic Lumix DMC-G80

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-16mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPHSide of the Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH lens

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-16mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPHSide of the Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH lens

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-16mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPHFront of the Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH lens

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-16mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPHRear of the Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH lens

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-16mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPHSide of the Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH lens

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-16mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPHSide of the Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH lens

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-16mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPHThe Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH lens in-hand

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-16mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPHThe Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH lens with the supplied lens hood fitted

Focal Range

At the 8mm end of the zoom range, the lens has a diagonal angle of view of 107°, equivalent to that of a 16mm lens in a 35mm system.

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-16mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPHField of view at 8mm

At the 18mm end, the angle of view is 62°, which is the same as that of a 36mm lens on a 35mm full-frame camera.

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-16mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPHField of view at 18mm

Focusing

The Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm 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 DMC-G80 camera.

The 67mm 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 a problem with the Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH lens.

Light Fall-off and Distortion

With the Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm 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 obvious barrel distortion too at 8mm.

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-16mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPHVignetting at 8mm

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-16mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPHVignetting at 18mm

Flare

The Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH lens is susceptible to flare when shooting directly into the sun, even with the supplied lens hood fitted.

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-16mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH

Macro

The Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH lens has a maximum 0.12x magnification rating and is able to focus at 0.23m / 0.75ft away from the subject.

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-16mm 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 8-18mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH lens, Panasonic employed a diaphragm with 7 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, wide-angle, video, micro four thirds, lumix, panasonic, zoom, F2.8, weatherproof, silent, F4, dmc-gh5, ultra-wide-angle, Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f2.8-4.0 ASPH, Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f2.8-4.0 ASPH review, 8-18mm, 16-36mm, panasonic 8-18mm, panasonic leica 8-18mm review