Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 35-100mm F2.8 Review

5.0
September 24, 2012 | Mark Goldstein |

Introduction

The Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 35-100mm F2.8 is a new premium telephoto zoom lens for the Micro Four Thirds system of interchangeable lens cameras. Offering an effective focal range of 70-200mm in 35mm terms, the Panasonic 35-100mm lens boasts a fast constant aperture of f/2.8, fast and quiet auto-focusing, quality construction and weather sealing.

Read the World's first Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 35-100mm F2.8 review, complete with full-size sample images, to find out if it deserves a place in every Micro Four Thirds photographer's camera-bag.

The Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 35-100mm F2.8 is a fast telephoto zoom lens for the Micro Four Thirds system. Providing a classic focal range of 70-200mm in 35mm terms, the 35-100mm lens is both compact and lightweight. It combines 18 lens elements in 13 groups, including 2 ED and 1 UED lens elements, features f/2.8 brightness throughout the zoom range, incorporates Panasonic’s Power O.I.S. optical image stabiliser, and has an iris diaphragm with rounded blades which give the aperture a rounded shape. The Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 35-100mm F2.8 lens is available for £1099 / $1499 in the UK and the US, respectively.

Ease of Use

Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 35-100mm F2.8 ASPH The Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 35-100mm F2.8 lens

The LUMIX G VARIO 35-100mm F2.8 ASPH is relatively small and light for a fast zoom lens covering a 35mm equivalent focal range of 70-200mm, measuring just 10cms in length from the tip of the lens to the base side of the lens mount. An extra 4cms 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 35-100mm F2.8 ASPH Mounted on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5

Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 35-100mm F2.8 ASPH Mounted on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5

Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 35-100mm F2.8 ASPH Alongside the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5

Zooming is internal, so the front of the lens never extends. It's very light at 360 grams, despite its high-quality construction which gives it a premium look and feel.

Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 35-100mm F2.8 ASPH Front of lens, isometric view

Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 35-100mm F2.8 ASPH Front of lens

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.

Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 35-100mm F2.8 ASPH Rear of lens

Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 35-100mm F2.8 ASPH Rear of lens, isometric view

The LUMIX G VARIO 35-100mm 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 35-100mm F2.8 ASPH Side of lens, focal length set to 35mm

Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 35-100mm F2.8 ASPH Side of lens, focal length set to 100mm

Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 35-100mm F2.8 ASPH In-hand

The lens comes with a premium lens pouch and a large 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 35-100mm F2.8 ASPH Lens hood fitted

Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 35-100mm F2.8 ASPH Lens hood fitted

Focal Range

At the 35mm end of the zoom range, the lens has a diagonal angle of view of 34°, equivalent to that of a 70mm lens in a 35mm system.

Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 35-100mm F2.8 ASPH Field of view at 35mm

At the 100mm end, the angle of view is 12°, which is the same as that of a 200mm lens on a 35mm full-frame camera.

Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 35-100mm F2.8 ASPH Field of view at 100mm

Focusing

The LUMIX G VARIO 35-100mm 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-G5 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 fairly slim but adequate for the job.

Chromatic Aberrations

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

Light Fall-off

With the lens set to its maximum aperture of f/2.8, you can see some light fall-off in the corners at both 35mm and 100mm, but nothing too excessive. You will likely only notice this when photographing a subject with large homogeneous surfaces.

Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 35-100mm F2.8 ASPH Light fall-off at 35mm

Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 35-100mm F2.8 ASPH Light fall-off at 100mm

Macro

The LUMIX G VARIO 35-100mm F2.8 ASPH has a closest focusing distance of 85cm / 2.8ft at all focal lengths and a maximum 0.1x magnification rating, so it's no macro lens, although that's not too surprising for a telephoto zoom lens.

Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 35-100mm 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 35-100mm 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, lumix, micro four thirds, panasonic, zoom, telephoto, 70-200mm, gf3, dmc-gf3, F2.8, 35-100mm, F 2.8, panasonic 35-100mm, Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 35-100mm F2.8

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