The Micro Four Thirds camera format is still a cost-effective way to capture good quality stills and video. If you own one of these camera bodies and want a high-quality, all-round lens then the Panasonic LUMIX G Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4 ASPH could be an option. With a real-world focal length of 24-120mm, the lens should provide plenty of range from relatively wide-angle to medium telephoto.
This Panasonic lens has a bunch of other useful features, is very usable in everyday shooting, and comes in at a reasonable price. Let’s dig in and see what this lens is all about.
For starters, the lens has the stamp of approval by Leica DG Vario-Elmarit, which means before you even pick up the thing, this should denote a certain level of quality.
As you would expect from a lens that covers a large focal range, inside are 14 elements in 12 groups, four of these being aspherical lenses, with two being ED lenses and the front element having a Nano surface coating for cutting down on ghosting and flaring. There’s also nine rounded diaphragm blades, which should give a nice background blur and rounded highlights.
The lens also benefits from Panasonic’s POWER O.I.S., which when linked up with a camera body with its own stabilization system, should give a healthy amount of stops for getting those shutter speeds as low as possible.
The aperture range goes from a maximum of f/2.8 to f/4 – f/22, finished off with a front filter size of 62mm. Impressively, the lens weighs in at only 320g. Very lightweight considering its focal length range.
The construction of the lens has been weatherproofed and the outward design kept simple with both the zoom and focus ring being short, but very smooth in operation. Switches on the lens barrel are limited to auto and manual focus and there’s a switch for turning the stabilization on and off.
The lens comes with its own petal-shaped hood, which is very useful as the lens extends when zooming. Great for that extra level of lens protection and for cutting out the odd stray rays of light.
The Panasonic LUMIX G Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4 ASPH is a very straightforward working lens and has just enough features at hand without getting overly complicated.
The Panasonic LUMIX G Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4 ASPH in Use
When the Panasonic LUMIX G Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4 ASPH is strapped to a DMC-GH5 camera body, the autofocusing system is both silent and very quick. Manual focus is done with a focus-by-wire system, which in reality works seamlessly and is very reactive the majority of the time. The system magnifies the subject automatically, without the need for pressing additional buttons. It’s very intuitive and works equally well with all focus point settings.
For a lens that can reach f/2.8 at the widest focal length, you would expect some degree of quality bokeh or background blur. The nine rounded diaphragm blades can produce reasonably good, rounded highlights and although backgrounds aren’t as creamy smooth as a dedicated prime lens, the results are quite pleasing when the background isn’t too complicated.
When it comes to lens anomalies, the Panasonic isn’t without its caveats. When the aperture is completely wide open, high contrast areas suffer from purple and blue fringing. This is nominal and can be taken out with post-processing, but if you want to get it right in camera, stopping down to f/4 cleans things up nicely. There’s slight barrel distortion and vignetting at the widest focal length of 12mm, though this again goes away when you hit f/4 and above.
As for overall sharpness, at 12mm and the aperture set at f/4, the center and edges are surprisingly sharp, especially up to f/11. Past f/16, diffraction does start to creep in. In the middle of the focal range at 25mm, f/5.6 seems to be the sweet spot and up to f/11.
Once you get into the longest focal length, f/6.3 seems to hit best for sharpness. This means that although the lens can handle low-light performance, it works at its optimum in reasonable levels of light.
The lens is quite reasonable with close-up subjects. It’s not a true macro lens, but it can focus up to 0.2m/0.66ft at the widest focal length. Images come out with a good degree of definition and clarity and are generally very pleasing.
How Does It Compare?
If you’re checking out any type of Panasonic lens offering, then you generally have the option of a good bunch of Olympus lenses. The Olympus M.ZUIKO 12-100mm f/4 IS PRO is in a higher price band and has a longer focal length range, but it also gives an idea of what a step up in quality can provide. The lens works out to be 24-200mm in the real world and benefits from a constant f/4 aperture. If you want a step up in overall workings, then this lens is definitely worth a look.
If you wanted to stick to the Panasonic route than there’s the Panasonic LUMIX G VARIO 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH as an option. This is also a good all-rounder lens, which benefits from image stabilization, fast focusing and is also weather-sealed. It’s not the greatest lowlight performer, but it will give you good quality images at a reasonable price.
|Panasonic LUMIX G Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4 ASPH||Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 12-100mm|
|Elements||14 elements/12 groups||17 elements/11 groups|
The Panasonic LUMIX G Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4 ASPH works as a good workhorse lens covering the most usable focal lengths. It’s small and lightweight and can provide good image quality across the range. The lens will need to be stopped down a little, depending on the focal length, but in general, images are sharp from the center to corner edges.
The lens is also fast to focus, very quiet and can be an ideal fit to the Panasonic range. For the price point, it’s a solidly built lens and although it isn’t the best lowlight performer, as a general all-rounder, it definitely serves its purpose. If you shoot a mixture of both video and stills, then this lens can be a great little workhorse.