“Oh. Oh. Oh!” was the ejaculative ‘sentence’ I uttered when I saw the press release for this new Micro Four Thirds lens. It comes from Panasonic, and runs from 12-35mm, or 24-70 in old money, and also packs in image stabilization.
That’s fine. But the reason I’m excited is that the maximum aperture is a constant ƒ2.8 along the whole zoom range — a first for mirrorless systems says Panasonic.
Most zooms change their maximum aperture as you zoom, letting in less and less light as you zoom closer to the subject. Panasonic’s own 14-45 lens runs from ƒ3.5 to ƒ5.6 as you change focal length, for instance. This not only makes it useless for things like taking photos in a dark theater, where you need to zoom all the way in, but also means you lose the great shallow depth-of-field of the relatively large-sensor Micro Four Thirds cameras.
The lens includes other niceties such as aspherical elements and a seven-blade circular aperture diaphragm, but the constant aperture is the big deal here. And considering what it does, the lens is remarkably small.
You know when you see somebody out in the street shooting touring photos on an SLR that has a huge lens on the front? That lens probably isn’t a very long zoom. More likely it’s one of Canon or Nikon’s (very expensive) fixed focal-length zooms.
Which brings us to price. Panasonic hasn’t yet told us what this will cost, but I don’t expect it to be cheap when it becomes available in August. Then again, compared to the 14-45mm lens I own but almost never use, it will be a relative bargain.