Wide and bright: Say hello to the Panasonic 12mm f/1.4 Leica Summilux lens
posted Wednesday, June 15, 2016 at 12:01 AM EDT
Say hello to the widest and brightest autofocus rectilinear prime lens for Micro Four Thirds, the new Panasonic 12mm f/1.4 Leica Summilux. Now, that's a lot of qualifiers, for sure. Voigtländer's got the Nokton 10.5mm f/0.95, which is both wider and faster, but does not have autofocus. Then there's the Olympus 8mm f/1.8 PRO, which is wider and has AF, but is not as bright and offers a characteristically distorted fisheye perspective. For Micro Four Thirds photographers looking for a wide, 24mm eq. lens with excellent low-light capabilities and subject isolation as well as quick, quiet autofocus, the new Panasonic Leica 12mm f/1.4 promises to be just the ticket.
This high-grade lens is constructed completely from metal, mirroring the design and build quality of other Panasonic Leica lenses, such as the 42.5mm Nocticron. Featuring a splash- and dust-proof design -- including a rubber gasket around the metal lens mount -- the new 12mm f/1.4 should be able to withstand the elements when paired with an equally weather-sealed camera body like the GH4 or GX8. The lens also sports a manual aperture adjustment ring like the earlier Nocticron and 15mm Summilux lenses and features a rounded 9-bladed aperture diaphragm for smooth, pleasing bokeh.
Inside the barrel, the Panasonic 12mm f/1.4 Leica lens includes a total of 15 elements situated into 12 groups. The lens features two aspherical elements, a pair of Ultra Extra-Low Dispersion (UED) and a single Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) element, which according to Panasonic is necessary in order to meet Leica's strict image quality standards. The exotic elements in this lens help combat CA as well as distortion and flare, which can be quite common and problematic for wide-angle lenses with such a bright aperture, especially when shooting wide open. According to Panasonic, the 12mm f/1.4 lens should offer sharp images across the frame with minimal corner softness and distortion as well as very little flare and ghosting thanks to multi-coated lens elements.
Utilizing a stepping motor for its autofocusing mechanism, the new lens offers smooth, fast and quiet AF performance, which should be excellent for stills as well as video. Like a number of recent Panasonic lenses, the new 12mm f/1.4 is compatible with Panasonic's Depth From Defocus technology for impressively fast AF performance.
The new 12mm f/1.4 is the latest member of Panasonic's partnership with famed German optics company Leica, and the third Summilux lens in Panasonic's lineup next to the 15mm f/1.7 and 25mm f/1.4. In all, Panasonic's Leica-branded lenses have grown to a family of six with primes spanning the range between 12mm and 45mm and the recent 100-400mm pro-level super zoom lens.
The new Panasonic 12mm f/1.4 Leica Summilux is priced at about US$1,300 and is scheduled to ship in August 2016, with front and rear caps, a metal bayonet-mount lens hood and a storage bag.
We've just gotten our hands on this brand new lens, so below are a few real world images we were able to shoot today on the new Panasonic GX85. Be sure to keep an eye out for more gallery images in the coming days as we begin our lens review process!
(Gallery images have been resized to fit this page and slightly altered in post to balance shadows and highlights. Clicking any image will take you to a carrier page for access to the full resolution file as delivered from the Panasonic GX85.)