Panasonic announces new Post Focus technology, two new lenses including first Leica 100-400mm zoom lens
posted Thursday, July 16, 2015 at 12:30 AM EDT
In addition to their GX8 and FZ300 camera announcements, Panasonic also shared some news fresh from the R&D lab in the form of a development announcement of two new Lumix lenses as well as an upcoming camera function for the two brand new cameras (and some other models as well) called Post Focus.
Starting with the lens announcements, nature and wildlife lovers, your attention please: Panasonic is announcing a new super-telephoto zoom. The new LEICA DG 100-400mm F4.0-6.3 is the first Micro Four Thirds zoom lens born from the Panasonic and Leica partnership. In what can be considered the spiritual successor the Panasonic 100-300mm zoom lens, the new Leica 100-400mm offers a highly versatile 200-800mm-equivalent focal length range, built-in Power O.I.S. stabilization technology, and is compatible with Panasonics's Depth From Defocus technology for impressively fast AF performance.
Benefiting from the inherently more compact and lightweight nature of the Micro Four Thirds system, Panasonic claims the new Leica 100-400mm lens can easily be used handheld, even at 800mm, without the need for a tripod. The lens also sports a splash- and dust-proof design for ease of use in all-weather conditions; a much welcomed feature for nature and outdoor shooters.
Panasonic also announced that a new 25mm prime lens is under development. In addition to the well-regarded Leica 25mm f/1.4 lens, the new Lumix 25mm f/1.7G aims to presumably offer a more budget-friendly option for those looking for a 50mm-equivalent fast prime lens. Details are scarce at present about the exact features and specs of the lens, but Panasonic has said the lens will also be compatible with their Depth From Defocus technology for quick, precise AF performance.
And lastly on the docket of new announcements is Panasonic's new Post Focus function. Promised for either late this year or sometime in 2016 via firmware updates for the new GX8, FZ300 and other future models, the technology dubbed Post Focus stems from continued development of their 4K Photo technology. Functionally, Post Focus is in some ways reminiscent of the result provided by light-field cameras like the Lytro in that you'll be able to re-focus an image, or in this case, select the best image with the preferred subject focus after the fact.
The way in which it works -- as well as its strengths and weaknesses -- are going to be very different, though. Lytro's weakness has always been its resolution, which even in the current-generation Lytro Illum is just four megapixels. By contrast, the Panasonic's Post-Focus imagery will have the same 8.3-megapixel resolution as 4K video. However, it's achieved not in a single shot as in the Lytro camera, but with a series of sequential frames. (We don't yet know how many, but they're said to be captured at the same 30 frames-per-second rate used for 4K Photo.) Between frames, the lens' focus will be adjusted somewhat, giving you a selection of images with varied focus. You can then select the area you want to be in sharpest focus post-capture, and the camera will compare the frames it captured before selecting the one in which that area is best-defined. The downside here is that your composition and subject position may also vary between frames, because they're being captured sequentially over a short period of time. In that respect, the Lytro has the advantage because no matter where you choose to put the point of focus, the overall composition won't change. (At least, not unless you intentionally use its pseudo-3D parallax effect, that is.)
Pricing and availability details regarding the two new upcoming lenses are, of course, not yet available as are dates regarding availability of the Post Focus-enabling firmware updates.
(Correction: We originally stated that the Leica 100-400mm was the first zoom lens from the Panasonic/Leica partnership, but it's in fact the first Micro Four Thirds zoom lens born from this collaboration.)