New Panasonic 12-35mm X lens review (and new UK preorders)

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The German reviewers of Digitalkamera (Click here for the translation) tested the new 12-35mm X lens. They say that they never had such a small f/2.8 zoom in their own hands. The build quality is top of the notch. It has a violet color because Panasonic decided to mark preproduction lenses in that way. The Autofocus is “rasend schnell” which means it’s super fast. They sharpness test shows that center and border resolution are practically always on a high level at any aperture. Vignetting is only slightly visible at f/2.8 aperture and almost negligible distortion. Overall a superb lens!

I am now wondering how Olympus will respond to that lens. Will they offer a faster zoom? That is something Olympus can do and no other company managed to do with the 14-35mm f/2.0 (here on eBay) and the 35-100mm f/2.0 (here on eBay) Zuiko lenses….or at least I don’t know of any other fats zoom like these!

The Panasonic 12-35mm X lens can be preordered at Amazon (Click here), BHphoto (Click here), Adorama (Click here), Panasonic store (Click here), Amazon Japan (Click here), Digitalrev (Click here), Amazon UK (Click here) and eBay (via Japan reseller).

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  • ProShooter

    > Will they offer a faster zoom?

    I sure hope so. What’s the point of having a zillion slow zooms? 2.8 is not that slow but I’d have loved a f2.0 and paid alot for that. If it was f2.0(or even faster!), 12-50ish, optically excellent and weathersealed I’d pay up to 2k or maybe even more. A good high iso is just no substitute for a really fast lense.

    But 12-25 f2.8 ? Meh, pass…

    • Digifan

      I hope not. I hope they concentrate on primes for now. Like a new 17mm F1.8 WS (weather sealed), 150mm F2/F2.8 WS, 25mm F1.8 WS.
      The 17 and 25 can be just a little bigger (tube length) than pancake but not bigger than Sigma 30mm F2.8
      The zooms can come later imo, Panasonic is doing a good job in that area.
      Later they should make fast zooms like a 12-50/60mm F 2.8-F3.5 WS a 100-300mm F4 WS

      • Sorry, there are enough good primes at the moment. Now I want to see faster zooms, and that soon.

        • Narretz

          There is no fast, high-quality 17mm (that autofocusses)

      • Bob B.

        I am so glad that this lens is getting such GREAT reviews. It is so good for the MFT system!!!
        This is the correct f/stop to make the high end zoom at. It keeps the lens MFT-sized…and it is better than all of the kit zooms BY FAR! You need more…use primes. I still use my FF camera all the time…but this little system ROCKS…it is all about the size and convenience with good quality. People have got to stop comparing this marvel to FF cameras. It will never be that..but it has MANY advantages over FF.
        GREAT LENS!!!!!!!

        • Anonymous

          I agree about comparing with 135. However many here get confused between 135 and APSC. There is a raft of difference still between M43 and 135, much of the gap will never be closed. Some things will be, items like operation and control may do so. But a lot, like large image print quality will not. (though if its only used for social media and internet, its wasted)
          As far as APSC is concerned, which often gets magically endowed with 135 properties, the M43 has reached a point of equality for many users in most areas and is surpassing in many others. (though many deny it and the rest kick the idea and they all quote 135 figures)
          I agree, If you want a higher level get a 135, but you want excellent quality, light weight, speed, choice and user control get m43.

        • I agree about comparing with 135. However many here get confused between 135 and APSC. There is a raft of difference still between M43 and 135, much of the gap will never be closed. Some things will be, items like operation and control may do so. But a lot, like large image print quality will not. (though if its only used for social media and internet, its wasted)
          As far as APSC is concerned, which often gets magically endowed with 135 properties, the M43 has reached a point of equality for many users in most areas and is surpassing in many others. (though many deny it and the rest kick the idea and they all quote 135 figures)
          I agree, If you want a higher level get a 135, but you want excellent quality, light weight, speed, choice and user control get m43.

        • It has been said, there is a convenient intellectual economy to having a base reference, which happens to be FF. This is there to stay, like it or not.

          Unfortunately, too many confuses base reference for a comparison with short cuts and missing bits of info.

    • Will

      Yeah right, so you want a f2 12-50mm… on a m43 cam.

      You’re missing the point, it’s a new system, primes suit it much better but fast zooms are now coming, f2.8 has always been the fast zoom in any system, and now, on a system that has built itself around being small, you want a faster and larger range zoom lens than any other system??

      Maybe when technology takes another jump that’ll be possible, but a fast (2.8) 12-35mm zoom that’s fairly small is pretty good, Olympus might be able to make it slightly faster and slightly bigger also with no IBIS but I think this lens is a great addition, not that i’ll be buying it.

    • ProShooter

      I totally agree. I’ve start using my E-M5 for my paying gigs. The 25mm f1.4 is superb for indoor events. Earlier this week I used it at a conference and with just the built-in flash, I got some great shots!

      In my book, f2.8 just doesn’t cut it——unless you crank up the ISO. F2.8 is great for full-frame, not m4/3.

      • Jonko

        You seem to be implying F2.8 on FF has more light gathering than F2.8 on m4/3… which isn’t true.

        • Esa Tuunanen

          Question is about ability to crank up ISO higher with FF while keeping noise under control.

          • That depends in/on your definition of crank up. Is it ISO 400, 1600, or?? The e-m5 handles it as well as some larger cameras and not as well as others. Trade off this for that. It just depends on what your ‘this’ is and what your ‘that’ is.

      • WT21

        I would have agreed a year ago. But now m43 can be the primary kit for some folk. In that case, we have all these wonderful compact cameras, but a nice 2.0 zoom, even if large, would be a great help for certain situations. Then I can buy that lens, without having to own another system.

        My only issue, though, is that if it costs $2,000, then you could own a DSLR + fast zoom for less!

      • JP

        I used the E-M5 and 20 mm f/1.7 last week at an event, it performed phenomenally. I did wish to have a wider angle and longer angle at times, which can be taken care of with two more primes – but the biggest caveat – is that the 20 mm always miss focuses when shooting video. The video resolution was superb, but the focusing issues make the 20 mm less than perfect – if it focused better, I would say it is the best walkaround prime….

    • snaps

      Are you serious? How many Canon or Nikon zooms are out there faster than 2.0? The Oly 2.0 zooms were already quite exotic when they were released. Rather than take advantage of the smaller size available with 4/3, they went with higher quality lenses of similar size. Sure, they’re great quality lenses, but they are much larger and costlier than anything in m4/3. More importantly, the reduced size and weight is one of the major draws of m4/3, and so far, it’s working out a heck of a lot better than 4/3 ever did as far as sales.

      For what m4/3 needs right now, and for the foreseeable future, a 2.8 zoom is the right choice.

  • The only thing Olympus has to do is enable PDAF. All the zooms you will ever need are already in place.

    • Miroslav

      +1

      Exactly. But it’s more profitable to sell them again.

      • So far I can tell, proper retro-compatibility never got in the way of Nikon’s sales.

    • Nick

      Except they’re huge…

    • +1
      Yeah, the 43 zooms are bigger but that’s the physics of the lenses, not shortcomings of design (I presume).

      If Oly/Panny want to design additional smaller, slower zooms that’s great too. But Oly has some of the best zooms ever, and the m43 bodies just don’t support them (PDAF) yet.

    • yortuk

      How would they “enable” phase detect AF? The implementations that I’m aware of all use a separate AF sensor and use the mirror to redirect light to it. How do you do that on a mirrorless camera?

    • Daemonius

      Not sure I wouldnt rather have E-6 with ability to switch between mirror and mirrorless AF (modular system) with pro build quality. Im pretty sure Olympus could do it.

      • Esa Tuunanen

        Not much need for best CDAF in mirror mount body because it could use only 4/3 lenses… most of which don’t work well with CDAF.
        Again modular body with different lens mount modules for 4/3 and m4/3 wouldn’t be that flexible compared to simple small and light to carry adapter for 4/3 lenses.

        Also accuracy needed for correct aligning of lens mount in relation to sensor would surely add lots of cost to module system (remember Ricoh isn’t even trying that in GXR) and might be cheaper just to put also sensor to same module… though then we’ll also have space and cost requirements of IBIS.

        Result could be fast bigger mess than original problem.
        Besides even normal m4/3 would benefit lot from actually working moving target tracking of phase detection.

  • Tom

    I agree/ the same with the mostly sluggish build quality and low weight— have u ever Seen an old plastic lens or body from the 90ies? urrghhh- i also would Pay a premium fir metal

    • Carlos

      What Olympus and Panasonic should do, is make a premium vs consumer line of lens. Basically have two lines of lenses, where they produce most of the same lenses one metal build, the other standard plastic. Let the people who want metal lenses, have theirs… let the people who care about low weight and cost, have theirs.

      This is probably a crappy idea, but it’s something that crossed my mind.

      • Nikku

        Not a bad idea, it’s what they did for the OM line.

  • Farrukh

    Quite possibly my ideal walk-around lens…

  • twoomy

    Olympus and Panasonic usually answer each other with complimentary and distinct products, so if there were to be an answer, it would be akin to a m43 version of the 12-60 f/2.8-4. This is a classic beautiful lens and despite its size, I still enjoy lugging it around. An m43 with fast focus and slightly smaller size would be a sure hit.

    • JF

      +1 12-35 is a bit not enough versatile for me…

  • Ringo

    All we need is M.Zuiko version of Zuiko 12-60 🙂

    • ex

      Ditto! While the 12mm is brilliant and the 12-50mm is decent, something with the optical quality and range of the 12-60mm would be useful for travel/walkaround.

      • Daemonius

        Most important is that 12-60mm is actually quite fast f2.8 – f4. Sure its DOF equiv of just 24-120mm/f5.6 – 8 .. but still better than that slowest as possible kit lens for OM-D.

        • Don’t forget that the 2.8 only applies to exactly 12mm. If you breathe on the zoom control it goes up. Still its my favourite lens on the e30.
          As a 12-50mm has been made I think it is very unlikely that a m43 12-60 version will be made. I use either the mzd 14-150 or the the zd 14-42 and zd 9-18 on the ep2 and will use them on the e-m5 when it gets to me, they cover my basic walk about depending where I am going. I am looking at this Pany zoom with interest though. That and a couple of Voigtlander M mount pancakes may well replace all the rest.

    • Would be great 🙂 12-35 ist really a limited zoom range.

  • Anonymous

    A note to Oly:
    please don’t race, f/2.8 is already on market. Fight it with range, I know many target customers, they don’t like 12-35 b/c of limited range.
    They expected Panny to make in “12-50 spec”. Please give them masterpiece optics 12-60 in f/2.8-4 range. They expect very good performance through whole range. So don’t be afraid and make it big and superb optically. Yes they do not want to use their 12-60 or 14-54 on smaller cameras.

    As for me: continue selling me fast primes… that rumoured 150/2.8 macro sound good and yes, I’m waiting 4 my silver arrow of yours.

    ps. if you want to race, race like a pro – give me sealed f/2.0 zooms ANYTIME. After 12-35X & 35-100X another f/2.8s are not needed.

    • JF

      +1000 for the 12-60, this exactly what I think

  • Sunny

    Hmmmm. Don´t like the colour!

    • Read the Admin’s comments again if you don’t like the colour….

      • Miroslav

        Maybe he wants it in silver 🙂 ?

      • Sunny

        Oh sorry! You´re right.

  • Camaman

    The lenses for 43 look hiddeous on new m43 bodies and need their m43 counterparts for that reason as much as they need it for the new AF motors.
    If they update them with modern looks the will tripple their sales!

  • Miroslav

    “I am now wondering how Olympus will respond to that lens. Will they offer a faster zoom?”

    They may offer a zoom that starts at F2 but does not have constant aperture and thus make a lens that will not compete with anything made for 4/3 and m4/3 while being relatively small. I doubt it, though – they want to protect their primes’ sales.

    • Elf

      I get such a laugh out of this Olympus fanboy Admin….. How ill Oly respond….. HEY where were they when everyone was asking for fast zooms. …. OH right they gave us the marvelously apetured 12-50. Who cares what Olympus does. Panasonic stepped up to the plate and delivered results…… 20 1.7 while oly was reinventing the 14-42 for the umpteenth time. The 25 1.4 fastest prime around…. the 7-14 best wide angle zoom. Seems to me Panny delivers Oly doesn’t

      • Will

        But obviously you know about the 12mm f2, arguably the best m43 glass around, well until the 75mm f1.8 comes out, and then there’s the 45 f1.8… I mean you obviously know about these. Not too mention the E-M5, pretty much single-handedly changed peoples minds about m43, pros now shooting with it, people left right and centre ditching their DSLRs to get it..

        Panasonic have awesome lenses, I lived with only the 20mm f1.7 for a year and a half, it’s one of my all time favourite lenses, but it’s not like Oly haven’t delivered?? Why the hating, it’s all m43.

        • MikeS

          Why the hate? That’s just what trolls do.

          • Elf

            No hate….. My camera is an EPL-2 with VF2. I have Oly 4/3 cameras. e510,e520, and e620. And I have some of those wonderful highgrade 4/3 lenses……. I’m an Oly guy.

            What maybe you should do is get yourself a panny zoom… turn off the gimpy Pen IBIS and try the Panny OIS. I never use IBIS except with OLY lenses. For Example My panny 14-45 with OIS is close to my 12_60 Zuiko…… but with IBIS it is nowhere near as good….. Try it……

            • Esa Tuunanen

              Before generalizing remember there are different efficiency stabilization mechanisms also in lenses and some of them have been known to be only marginally functional.

              And because of possible size shrinking of stabilization mechanism for PENs it might be even weaker than in E-5×0/620 bodies whose stabilization mechanism has officially lower capabilities than that in E-30/E-5.

      • Viktor

        If Oly just would start making weathersealed primes for the om-d. I would give a lot for a fast 35mm equivalent AF prime, instead of Panas 20mm and 25mm that works best on Pana bodies. No rattling. No IS. No banding.

      • Miroslav

        The Olympus – Panasonic partnership is one of the best things that has happened to the camera world in the past ten years. Everything any of them does is agreed with the other party, so those lenses Panasonic made were skipped by Olympus on purpose and vice versa. No need to argue. We should only complain about the things both don’t make – EVF in the top left corner or focus peaking for example.

        • Esa Tuunanen

          >so those lenses Panasonic made were skipped by Olympus on purpose and vice versa.
          That must be the reason why m4/3 has had seven standard kit zooms up to this day!

          • MikeH

            Kit zooms are good to sell cameras to new system customers. Both manufacturers want to have them to bundle with bodies. There would be no way in heck that Olympus would bundle their bodies with a Panasonic kit lens or vice versa.

            • Miroslav

              Besides, kit zooms are what most reviewers will have when evaluating a new camera. Only a few will bother to test a body with a different lens. The original 14-42 was the main reason for “Olympus m4/3 cameras have slow focus” hype. Of course, the question is why it was released like that in the first place, but I guess the technology to make it faster just wasn’t available at the time.

              • spam

                It’s also what most users will use so it’s a pretty important lens to get right. When E-P1 came out the then the 14-42 was the only Olympus zoom lens available and it wasn’t the only reason for the poor performance. I tried the E-P1 with a Panasonic lens too and it wasn’t that much faster.

  • Elf

    Fro what I’ve seen The 12 just isn’t that special….. I have the 45 it’s OK it isn’t as good as My 25. I have the 75 on order and I’m hoping it will be much better than the 45.

    Just a thought…… where do you think the m4/3 format would be without the 20 1.7 delivered when it was…. Or the G1 being the only m4/3 camera for almost a year while OLY dithered about with their wooden mock-up then delivered the crippled ep1. I get so tired of the Oly bunk.

    • bli

      @Elf: Of course, Oly and Kodak defined the 43 standard and Oly came with the E-1 in 2003, three years before Panny produced a 43 camera. I don’t get why you whine about Panny being the only provider of m43 cameras for a year, and ridiculously twist facts about lenses. I’m not complaining about Panny being late with a 43 camera — maybe there was a reason for it 🙂 Just as there may have been a reason why Panny came out earlier with an m43 camera. Lenses… both companies have excellent m43 lenses, and both companies have mediocre lenses. To just list good Panny lenses and ridicule poor Oly lenses is… not very interesting. Personally, I enjoy good lenses from both companies.

    • Will

      @Elf you obviously have a chip on your shoulder or not much experience in photography. I’m not a pro but i’ve been around the block with camera equipment, most notably medium format, a lot of FF and now m43. To casually sum up the 12.2 as not special is amazing. It’s one of the best lenses optically i’ve ever had, in fact i’m very impressed with all the m43 primes, but the 12/2 takes the cake for pure IQ, unfortunately for me I don’t need that focal length as much as I thought I might. So the 12 just isn’t that special too you huh? haha give me a break, you’re just saying that.

      I don’t have the 45mm and i’m not sure the 75mm is the best use of my money with the 35-100 coming, but the 12/2 beats the 20/1.7 and 25/1.4 in terms of IQ in my eyes, I know a photo of mine has been taken with the 12/2 from just seeing it.

      The 20/1.7 was a massive player in the m43 world, I don’t know why you’re trying to make a divide, if Icould take one lens it’d be the 20/1.7 because it’s fast, small and has good IQ wide open, something that all m43 glass seems too (barring the kit lenses).

      Geez you’ll get your day with the GH3, why get annoyed because so many people are happy with some amazing Oly products, they benefit Pana as well.

  • Henrik

    From Pana or Olympus, i would like to see a super winde angle *prime*, stabilized.

    From the reviewers, i would like to see comparison shots – the 2,8-zomm versus primes such as 12mm, 20mm, 25mm – at all apertures, including apertures like f2,0, to compare the gain (or loss) of bokeh.

  • Starred

    Fast 12-35 + 35-100 is everything you need for most situations. So I am looking forward to them.
    Good to see the quality is really good

  • fan_guo_lai_xiang_xiang

    Hmmmmmmm, I am tempted… Right now I am using Oly 9-18mm, Pana 20mm and Oly 45mm as a travel kit (still really light-weight)… the 12-35 mm would be a very convenient replacement. Or I keep on changing lenses and get a better wide angle (7-14)… tough one!

  • pdc

    @ Miroslav
    Well said. We have indeed been blessed by the m43 revolution.
    This Panasonic 12-35/2.8 is really going to force me to buy the GH3 with it!
    Question is, do I still get the GF5 and PZ 14-42 for my wife? Very shrewd product release timings by Panasonic. Sure hope the company can start showing some black on the year-end ledgers.

  • Jesper

    I actually liked the purple tinted metal finish, discretly different.

    • They are only making it this colour, they are going to claim it was popular opinion.
      Actually, I like the colour as well. Hey panny……..

  • Nikku

    Shoot. I got the 14-54mm II and mmf-3 adapter, and now this comes along…yeah the zoom range isn’t great, but it covers 80% of what I shoot. If it’s anything like the 7-14mm…UGGGHHH GEAR LUST.

  • yo

    i actually like the purple

    • spam

      Yes, it actually look good, particulary in low light!

      • It has a slightly exotic sheen.

    • Fyp

      Me too!

  • alfons

    I think Olympus shouldn’t redo the 14-35mm and 35-100mm. I would rather see fast ~11-22mm and 50-200mm

  • You have made some really good points there. I checked on the internet for more information about the issue and found most
    people will go along with your views on this web site.

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