Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm F2.8 ASPH Review

4.5
May 21, 2012 | Mark Goldstein |

Introduction

The Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm F2.8 ASPH is a new premium standard zoom lens for the Micro Four Thirds system of interchangeable lens cameras. Offering an effective focal range of 24-70mm in 35mm terms, the Panasonic 12-35mm lens boasts a fast constant aperture of F2.8, fast and quiet auto-focusing, quality construction and weather sealing. Read our in-depth Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm F2.8 ASPH review, complete with 60 sample images, to find out if it's a must-have lens for Micro Four Thirds photographers.

The Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm F2.8 ASPH is a fast standard zoom lens for the Micro Four Thirds system. Providing a focal range of 24-70mm in 35mm terms, the 12-35mm lens is both compact and lightweight. It combines 14 lens elements in 9 groups, including four aspherical lenses, features F2.8 brightness throughout the zoom range, and has seven blades which give the aperture a rounded shape. The Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm F2.8 ASPH lens is available for £999 / $999 in the UK and the US, respectively.

Ease of Use

Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm F2.8 ASPH The Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm F2.8 ASPH lens

The LUMIX G VARIO 12-35mm F2.8 ASPH is relatively small and light for a fast zoom lens covering a 35mm equivalent focal range of 24-70mm. Zoomed out to the 70mm setting, it measures just over 10cms in length. An extra 3cms is taken up by the supplied lens hood, which helps prevent lens flare and also protects the protruding front element from scratches and finger marks.

Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm F2.8 ASPH Mounted on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3

Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm F2.8 ASPH Mounted on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3

Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm F2.8 ASPH Mounted on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3

Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm F2.8 ASPH Alongside the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3

Zooming is external, so the front does extend, from 8cms at 24mm to 10cms at 70mm. It's quite light at 305 grams, despite its high-quality construction which gives it a premium look and feel.

Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm F2.8 ASPH Front of lens

Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm F2.8 ASPH Front of lens, isometric view

In terms of features, the lens has little to offer (aside from its fast aperture, of course). There is no distance scale and no focus limiter, although there is a handy image stabilisation switch for the Power O.I.S system which helps to combat camera shake.

The LUMIX G VARIO 12-35mm F2.8 ASPH lens is predominantly made of metal parts, including the barrel and the mount, which makes this the best constructed Panasonic lens to date. Panasonic claims some degree of weather resistance for this lens (splash/dust proof), and indeed you can see a rubber seal around the lens mount.

Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm F2.8 ASPH Rear of lens

Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm F2.8 ASPH Rear of lens, isometric view

The lens comes with a premium lens pouch and a petal-shaped lens hood in the box. You can fit 58mm filters to this lens at the same time as using the hood.

Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm F2.8 ASPH In-hand

Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm F2.8 ASPH 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.

Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm F2.8 ASPH Field of view at 12mm

At the 35mm end, the angle of view is 34°, which is the same as that of a 70mm lens on a 35mm full-frame camera.

Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm F2.8 ASPH Field of view at 35mm

Focusing

The LUMIX G VARIO 12-35mm F2.8 ASPH lens offers virtually silent focusing thanks to the inclusion of a stepping motor. In use, we found the system surprisingly quick on the DMC-G3 that we tested the lens with. The lens also incorporates an inner focus system, good news for filter users, as it means that it doesn't rotate in use. This combination of silent, quick focusing makes the lens well suited to shooting both stills and video.

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 slim but adequate for the job.

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or blue fringes along contrasty edges, are not really a problem with this lens at either end of the focal range.

Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm F2.8 ASPH Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm F2.8 ASPH

Light Fall-off

With the lens set to its maximum aperture, you can see some light fall-off in the corners at both 24mm and 70mm, but nothing too excessive. You will likely only notice this when photographing a subject with large homogeneous surfaces.

Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm F2.8 ASPH Light fall-off at 24mm

Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm F2.8 ASPH Light fall-off at 70mm

Macro

The LUMIX G VARIO 12-35mm F2.8 ASPH has a closest focusing distance of 25cm / 0.8ft at all focal lengths and a maximum 0.17x magnification rating, so it's no macro lens, although that's not surprising for a standard zoom lens.

Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm F2.8 ASPH Close-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 LUMIX G VARIO 12-35mm F2.8 ASPH lens, Panasonic have employed an iris diaphragm with seven rounded blades, which has resulted in nice bokeh in our view. We do realise, however, that bokeh evaluation is subjective; so we've included several 100% crops for your perusal.

Sigma 30mm f/2.8 EX DN Sigma 30mm f/2.8 EX DN
   
Sigma 30mm f/2.8 EX DN Sigma 30mm f/2.8 EX DN

Sharpness

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

Entry Tags

lens, compact system camera, micro four thirds, lumix, panasonic, zoom, standard, kit, 24-70mm, F2.8, F 2.8, gf3, dmc-gf3, Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm F2.8 ASPH, panasonic 12-35mm, 12-35mm

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