Comprehensive review of Panasonic 35-100 F/2.8

Started Feb 25, 2013 | Discussions thread
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Najinsky
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Comprehensive review of Panasonic 35-100 F/2.8
Feb 25, 2013

It's great, buy it.

-Najinsky

Okay, perhaps it wasn't that comprehensive, but what more do you need to know?

Cost

It's expensive, but it's the only native 35-100/2.8 for µ4/3 and it's a very good one.

Build

The lens is ridiculously small and light in comparison to my Canon 70-200/4L but it feels well made and looks modern, functional, and pretty smart. The zoom action is internal and near silent while the ring that controls it is very nicely weighted, firm but easy and accurate. The manual focus ring feels nicely weighted too, less firm and nicely responsive, the best manual focus by wire I've used on mirrorless cameras so far.

AF Performance

Auto focus is very quick in daylight. I didn't shoot much in the dark, but what I did focussed reasonably quick too. I missed a number of shots due to the CDAF deciding the background was more interesting than the subject, even when using the smallest AF region, but I'm used to that with my others lenses too, it seems that's just the way CDAF is.

OIS

I tried the OIS rather than the OM-D's IBIS for a few shots. it seemed very effective and delivered some very sharp images. Initially I thought they were sharper than with IBIS, but closer examination of the images revealed slight focussing differences. The display doesn't freeze as much as when using the IBIS but I had no complaints about the resulting images. This may be the first lens I regularly shoot with OIS rather than IBIS, but I have more thorough testing to do before deciding that.

Image Quality

I've been using the lens with my OM-D, so one of the things I've been looking out for is CA. I've seen hardly any, which very encouraging, and on the very few shots where it has shown up it was so minor it got completely eliminated with the appropriate slider in raw processing. For my usage, CA is all but absent.

The other aspects of image quality; sharpness, detail, geometry, etc seem very good to me. Nothing scientific, I'm not a test chart shooter, but I have gone out of my way to shoot a large range of scenes and textures, and to my eyes the lens is performing very well indeed. I'd sum it up like this:

It delivers tons of the stuff you like and want, and almost none of the stuff you don't.

Some reviews have noted some corner softness, and I think I did see a little of that on one image, but essentially, the corners aren't that critical for my shooting so it's unlikely I'm every going to notice it unless I go looking for it.

I'm getting mixed results with colour, but that's almost certainly because the light hasn't been great (bright sun or overcast) and I think I've seen enough to be happy it is delivering nice colour.

Anyway, enough words, here's some pictures so you can see for yourself. But first, a few notes about the processing:

Usually I would go to town on the processing, but I've intentionally left these a fairly neutral so as not to hide the lens performance, and so you can have a bit of a play with them to see how they look with your style.

I generally shoot slightly underexposed to protect the highlights, so the processing used here is:

  • Exposure correction
  • White balance
  • Saturation / Contrast (on a couple)
  • Straighten / Crop

The files are all 100% so there is no downsizing going on once you look at the full size version (but the full size version is sometimes a crop, you can tell those by the size).

There is no real sharpening; Aperture applies a little after Demosaicing and my export process applies a little just as part of the conversion to JPEG for upload here. I've done it this way so you can add your own stronger sharpening if you decided you want to have a play with any of the images.

Same with noise too; Aperture automatically removes the very low levels of chroma noise (present even at base ISO), but leaves the grainy contrast noise. I rarely remove this because it's all but invisible when printed. However, because there's very little sharpening, you should be able to run it through you clean up software if you want examine a noise free version



















-Najinsky

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