First Impressions / Summary
We were impressed by Panasonic's first F2.8 Micro Four Thirds zoom, and the Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm F2.8 OIS promises to be more of the same. Build quality feels excellent, autofocus is lightning-fast and deadly accurate, and overall it's a joy to shoot with. It's good to see Panasonic having the courage to make premium fast zooms for its mirrorless cameras, and the 35-100mm F2.8 emphasizes again just how much further advanced the Micro Four Thirds system is with regards to lens choice compared to Sony NEX, Samsung NX or Fujifilm X - let alone Nikon 1 or Canon M.
The lens we've used is still at the pre-production stage, but Panasonic has allowed us to publish full-size image samples, and suggested they should closely represent the final image quality. We can't see any glaringly obvious flaws - sharpness is impressive, chromatic aberration is low on Olympus bodies and processed-out completely on Panasonic cameras, while geometric distortion is likewise removed in software with both brands. There's a little vignetting when the lens is shot wide open, but it's far from unpleasant (and we're pleased Micro Four Thirds hasn't gone down the route of removing it without leaving any choice to the user). Flare seems well-controlled too.
Naturally it's important to keep in mind the limitations of the lens as well - Panasonic can't circumvent the laws of optics, and the 35-100mm F2.8's small size means it can't offer the kind of subject isolation and background blur that you'll get from F2.8 zooms on cameras with larger sensors. This isn't a bad thing per se; it's simply the compromise you make to gain the extra portability.
Overall, then, our first impressions of the Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm F2.8 OIS are that it's an excellent little lens - well made, fast-focusing, and optically impressive. A familiar question mark hangs over Panasonic's pricing, though; the $1500 / £1000 tag is far from insignificant.
Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm F2.8 OIS Preview Samples Gallery
There are 20 images in the preview samples gallery. Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter / magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review), we do so in good faith, please don't abuse it.
Unless otherwise noted images taken with no particular settings at full resolution. Because our review images are now hosted on the 'galleries' section of dpreview.com, you can enjoy all of the new galleries functionality when browsing these samples.
Note that the lens used for this gallery was pre-production, and so may not fully represent the final image quality.