Panasonic 50-200mm f/2.8-4 ASPH POWER OIS LEICA DG VARIO-ELMARIT

 
Lens Reviews / Panasonic Lenses i Not yet tested
50-200mm $1,698
average price
image of Panasonic 50-200mm f/2.8-4 ASPH POWER OIS LEICA DG VARIO-ELMARIT

Updates:
04/10/2018: Gallery Images added
: Gallery Supplement added

Panasonic 50-200mm f/2.8-4 Gallery Supplement

Wildlife is calling, and we simply couldn't wait

By Dave Pardue | Posted: 04/11/2018

Our sample of this intriguing new premium super-telephoto zoom arrived from Panasonic just a week ago, and we couldn't wait to take it out into the real world. The third and farthest-reaching of Panasonic's Leica-branded f/2.8-4 zoom lens series, the 50-200mm f/2.8-4 has a 35mm equivalent range spanning the classic 100-400mm. When married to the bright variable aperture for a telephoto zoom, this lens offers a powerful combination at an incredibly small size relative to what you're getting -- a quintessential example for the advantage of the Micro Four Thirds system!

Having recently had the chance to shoot with the Panasonic 200mm f/2.8 DG, I was eager to see how this more versatile zoom lens compared, and was duly impressed with my initial experience. In addition to being incredibly light for its class, the lens has a very precise feel in both the zoom and focus rotation, and offers images that few zooms I have used can match for sheer versatility and beauty. It's almost like having 3-4 different bright primes at your disposal without having to change lenses, and the shallow depth-of-field potential is superb, even when shooting from a fair distance to your subject.

Panasonic 50-200mm - Sample Image
1/4000s / f/4 / ISO 200 / 288mm eq.

(All images in this piece were shot handheld and with IS engaged. Images have been resized to fit this page, cropped and/or altered in post-production, primarily to balance shadows and highlights as needed. Clicking any image will take you to a carrier page with access to the original, full-resolution image. For additional images and EXIF data please see our Panasonic 50-200mm f/2.8-4 Gallery.)

When this lens arrived at our headquarters, my natural inclination was to grab the Panasonic G9, which is their newest "flagship" model for still photography. But that sample was still undergoing lab testing, so I opted for the smaller but still powerful, still recent Lumix GX9, an enthusiast offering of the rangefinder-esque variety.

Panasonic 50-200mm - Product Shot
Panasonic 50-200mm f/2.8-4 OIS LEICA DG

Fortunately, Panasonic's Dual IS functionality is operational with the GX9 (as well as with the GX8 and GX85). The newer Dual IS 2 is only available on this lens when mated to the higher-end, DSLR-styled bodies in the G9, GH5 and G85. We'll be bringing you an additional report with a G9 pairing, and we'll explore sports, trickier wildlife and more in low light situations.

Let's dive into some of the more common type shots you may be interested in achieving with this versatile lens.

Wildlife

Panasonic 50-200mm - Sample Image
1/4000s / f/4 / ISO 200 / 400mm eq.
Waking up: If I'd had more zoom reach here I'm sure I would have used it to get closer to this little guy, just waking up from hibernation and warming himself in the sun (as was I). But I like the composition as it is so am glad I was limited in that regard.

 

Panasonic 50-200mm - Sample Image
1/4000s / f/4 / ISO 200 / 400mm eq.
Rare bird: I have never before seen a Cormorant in our local area here north of Atlanta. I've found them along the Atlantic Coast, and have enjoyed photographing them there, but was quite surprised to see this one. I would have preferred a 1.4x teleconverter to get a bit closer, and I did crop in a bit for this edit version.

 

Panasonic 50-200mm - Sample Image
1/1300s / f/4 / ISO 200 / 400mm eq.
3D Cardinal: Once again, I would have preferred to have the 1.4x teleconverter with me for this shot, but I do still like the three dimensionality provided by the relatively shallow depth of field, in separating my subject from the trees behind.

 

Panasonic 50-200mm - Sample Image
1/250s / f/4 / ISO 320 / 200mm eq.
Country stroll: This was a much dimmer day than many of the above photos, and I needed a much slower shutter speed, and even let the ISO climb a tad. This day looked more like the countryside of England than Atlanta, and I was glad to be able to rely on Dual IS for this image.

The only real drawback for me thus far is that AF speeds in combination with the GX9 tend to not be super-fast. This combination tends to hunt a lot, especially with subjects that are close but that are still within the range of available focus. It's not a deal breaker, and I found AF to be accurate once acquired, but I anticipate focus to be somewhat faster with the higher-end GH5 and especially the G9. AF hunting with the GX9 was also problematic when trying to acquire focus on a vulture in flight I came upon while out and about, and I look forward to going back to that spot with the G9 and seeing if that combination proves more up to the challenge.

The Natural World

Panasonic 50-200mm - Sample Image
1/250s / f/4 / ISO 500 / 192mm eq.
Striking separation: Taken on the same dull day as the shot of the geese above, I once again needed to rely on IS here, and a tad more gain boost in the ISO department. At this slightly shorter focal length I actually could have opened the aperture more as well, which would have been better. But even at f/4, it's really amazing just how much separation is achievable between leaves on the same bush.

 

Panasonic 50-200mm - Sample Image
1/2000s / f/4 / ISO 200 / 400mm eq.
Close focus: This lens is capable of focusing as close as appr. 2.5 feet, or .75 meters, which is really close considering that applies to all available focal lengths. The shallow DOF potential thereby becomes razor-thin when pushed to that extreme. I wasn't quite that close to this harmless carpenter bee, but I was in the neighborhood. The shallow DOF can make for much more stunning photos in general as compared to a zoom lens that is less bright, but of course it makes nailing focus uber-critical. As mentioned earlier, I found this camera and lens combination to often struggle to attain focus when this close, even though I was shooting at distances that should have been easily within focus range. Once it did focus, the results were accurate and enjoyable to later view on the computer screen.

 

Panasonic 50-200mm - Sample Image
1/1000s / f/6.3 / ISO 200 / 244mm eq.
Stopping down: Even at f/6.3 and not extended to full telephoto, this lens can still thoroughly wash away the background into an impressionistic canvas.

In terms of usability in the field across a variety of subject matter, and for extended periods, the relatively light weight of this lens needs to be mentioned once again. At a mere 23 ounces (655g), it's just incredibly easy to tote around for the day -- and, of course, the GX9 body that I was using is fairly light already. You don't have a beefy grip as with DSLR-styled bodies, but for this type general shooting that was fine with me. A comparable combination in the APS-C world would be larger, and in the full frame world, it would be enormous by comparison.

One important component to the low weight in combination with the superb Dual IS functionality is that tripods become much less needed in general. You will still want to keep one "in the car" for really low light situations, and perhaps extended sports and wildlife excursions if waiting around for hours on end, but for your general roaming explorations when the lighting is good, there is virtually no need with a lens like this. I find that indescribably refreshing for the type shooting I most enjoy.

One additional thought to add is that electronic shutter is an absolute must-have for a lens this long and bright. I kept the GX9 set to automatic shutter, so that it would use mechanical when available up to 1/4000s, and then automatically switch to electronic if it ran out of speed. One could of course simply stop down, but then you'd lose that beautiful subject isolation provided by the bright lens in combination with the long focal lengths.

Portraits

Panasonic 50-200mm - Sample Image
1/200s / f/4 / ISO 200 / 254mm eq.
Bokeh bubbles: I like the bokeh rendering from this lens on most of the shots in this piece. The background in the photo below this of the trees behind the white dog is not quite as pleasing, but I do fancy it in this one here.

 

Panasonic 50-200mm - Sample Image
1/4000s / f/4 / ISO 200 / 400mm eq.
I find the bokeh here in this shot a bit more distracting than in most of the other photos for this piece, but it's unlikely that any lens can conquer all distracting backgrounds.

 

Panasonic 50-200mm - Sample Image
1/160s / f/4 / ISO 200 / 400mm eq.
Whether due to the subject-to-background distance or the nature of the background itself, this bokeh seems far preferable to that rendered in the trees from the image above this one. And at a 400mm equivalent focal length at only a 1/160s shutter speed, this is another good example of the IS performance between the lens and the GX9.

Summary

Versatility? Very much so. Long and bright, yet still very light? Indeed it is. Professional feel in the hands? Absolutely. Would I like to own one? You bet! The 50-200mm is also weather-resistant, and so I can certainly see sneaking it out for a much-needed beach shooting excursion this summer.

Stay tuned, as we'll have you more to come from this lens, both from our test laboratory and also from some local sporting events paired with the G9. In the meantime please see our 50-200mm f/2.8-4 Gallery for additional images, EXIF data, as well as RAW files available for download for many of the images.

Panasonic 50-200mm - Sample Image
1/4000s / f/4 / ISO 200 / 244mm eq.

Panasonic 50-200mm f/2.8-4 Gallery

 

• • •

 

Product Overview

(From Panasonic lens literature) Panasonic introduces a new telephoto zoom digital interchangeable lens, the compact LEICA DG VARIO-ELMARIT 50-200mm / F2.8-4.0 ASPH. (35 mm camera equivalent: 100-400 mm), the third lens to be introduced from its LEICA DG VARIO-ELMARIT F2.8-4.0 Series. And like all lenses in the series, includes Panasonic's Nano Surface Coating technology to minimize ghosts and flaring, plus a rugged, dust/splash-proof design that is freeze-proof to -10°C.

Product Image

The LEICA DG VARIO-ELMARIT 50-200mm / F2.8-4.0 ASPH. has a zoom range of 100mm to super telephoto 400 mm (35mm camera equivalent) to cover shooting situations from wildlife and indoor sports to portraits. The POWER O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer) effectively compensates for hand-shake movement to shoot even without a tripod. The lens works with Dual I.S.*1 (Image Stabilizer) and Dual.I.S.2*2 when mounted on compliant Panasonic LUMIX DSLM (Digital Single Lens Mirrorless) cameras.

Product Image

Comprising 21 elements in 15 groups, the lens system features two UED (Ultra Extra-low Dispersion) lenses, two ED (Extra-low Dispersion) lenses and two aspherical lenses. The sensor drive at max. 240 fps takes full advantage of cameras with high-speed, high-precision Contrast AF for exceptional video recording performance, and an inner focus drive system ensures smooth, silent operation. A micro-step drive system in the aperture control helps the camera smoothly catch up to brightness changes when zooming or panning. The optical design provides exceptional barycentric stability to minimize image shifts during zooming.

Product Image

By attaching a filter (67mm) such as ND or PL, the lens provides a wider range of expression in photos and video. A 1.4x Teleconverter DMW-TC14*3 extends focusing distance to 560mm (35mm camera equivalent) and the 2.0x Teleconverter DMW-TC20*3 to 800mm (35mm camera equivalent) for more close-up shots.

Product Image

The LEICA DG VARIO-ELMARIT 50-200mm will be available in stores at the end of June 2018. Suggested retail price is $1699.99 Available in sharp, metallic black.

The LEICA DG VARIO-ELMARIT F2.8-4.0 Series covers 16 to 400mm (35mm camera equivalent) with three outstanding lenses - LEICA DG VARIO-ELMARIT 8-18mm / F2.8-4.0 ASPH. (H-E08018), LEICA DG VARIO-ELMARIT 12-60mm/F2.8-4.0 ASPH. (H-ES12060) and LEICA DG VARIO-ELMARIT 50-200mm / F2.8-4.0 ASPH. (H-ES50200), to provide versatile, superb picture quality.

*1 Dual I.S. can be used with LUMIX GX9, GX8 and GX80/85.
*2 Dual I.S.2 can be used with LUMIX G9, GH5, G80/G81/G85.
*3 To be sold separately as optional accessories.
• Design and specifications are subject to change without notice.
• LEICA is a registered trademark of Leica Microsystems IR GmbH.
• ELMARIT is a registered trademark of Leica Camera AG.

Panasonic 50-200mm f/2.8-4 ASPH POWER OIS LEICA DG VARIO-ELMARIT User Reviews

The Panasonic 50-200mm f/2.8-4 ASPH POWER OIS LEICA DG VARIO-ELMARIT doesn't have any user reviews yet!