Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4 Asph Review

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4 Asph Handling and Features

Panasonic Leica 8 18mm Vertical View

The quality of finish is not in doubt, the controls of the lens all being as smooth as silk in operation. If we start at the front of the lens, the first interesting feature is the deeply recessed front element. Although the lens moves in and out whilst zooming, it is totally enclosed in an outer casing. This means the actual physical length of the lens does not change. There is a standard 67mm filter thread, plus a bayonet fitting for a very well made lens hood. The hood has a locking catch.

Moving along the barrel, we reach the manual focusing ring. This is electronic in operation and has a firm but smooth action. As a wide angle zoom has plenty of depth of field the use of manual focus is not the easiest option, but whatever focusing aids a camera can provide will make it a little more viable. For this review, the AF system was crisp and efficient and the need for manual focus was never felt.

The zoom ring has an equally pleasant feel and the various focal lengths are marked clearly, with the engraving being of very high quality. Closer to the camera body, there is just the one AF/MF switch. We then reach the electronic mount, which has additional water resistance in the form of a rubber sealing ring. The whole lens is “dust-proof and splash-proof”, fast becoming almost a required feature for any outdoor use.

Nano coatings are used and the lens construction comprises 15 elements in 10 groups. This includes 1 Aspherical ED (Extra Low Dispersion), 3 Aspherical, 2 ED and 1 UHR (Ultra High Refractive Index) elements. There is a 7 bladed diaphragm with a rounded design to the blades.  

Panasonic Leica 8 18mm With Hood On Gx8

Focusing is silent, down to 0.23m (9.06 inches), a maximum magnification of 0.12x. Weight is a reasonably light 315g. This is a varifocal zoom, meaning that the lens should be refocused after any change in the zoom setting.

With no depth of field scale, no distance markings and the bare minimum of controls, the lens abdicates control of most parameters to the camera. The interface is clear and with the GX8 it offers an efficient way of working. It is interesting that although the maximum aperture varies with focal length, from f/2.8 to f/4, the minimum aperture remains a constant f/22. This is probably a wise choice as diffraction will soon set in with such a small format as MFT, taking the edge off sharpness at those smaller apertures.

It is, without a doubt, a very useful lens, with a commendably wide 8mm making quite a difference compared to the more usual standard zooms. The long end of 18mm encompasses the traditional wide standard, 35mm in full frame terms. This makes the lens a candidate for street photography. It may be a little wide for conventional portraits, but very usable for environmental shots of people.

Panasonic Leica 8 18mm Rear Oblique View

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