A while ago, my wife and I got the Panasonic 12-35mm F2.8 constant aperture zoom for micro four thirds. In the hope that such information would be useful, I’d like to share some thoughts on the particular piece of photographic kit. This is by no means a technical review of course; just some thoughts.
The 12-35mm focal range makes this lens quite a useful for general shooting. We’ve used it for a wide range of situations with the only significant limitation being, of course, the 35mm limit on the tele end. It’s not bad, but more would be helpful in many situations. Of course, Olympus has an excellent alternative which goes to 40mm. I personally prefer a lens which goes to an 85mm equivalent focal length for most shooting situations, so the Olympus would be very good, but not quite there. I personally find that a more “kit zoom” 28-85 equivalent range is more useful and I’d rather have the tighter tele end than the wider 24mm equiv. That’s just a matter of shooting style though and will vary from person to person.
The construction of the lens is quite nice. Some places will say the lens barrel is metal, others will say it’s plastic. Personally, I think it’s metal, though I’m not willing to do any invasive tests to confirm that. It feels nice and cool when you touch it, just like a proper metal lens. The zoom ring is a nice plastic with a rubberized, rigged grip. Zooming is nice and smooth, probably one of the smoothest I’ve ever used actually. Besides focus and zoom rings, the only other item of note is the OIS switch.
Speaking of OIS, it works great. Video comes out nice and smooth; and one can drop shutter speeds far lower than should be possible.
Image quality is another strong point for this lens. This lens can capture some lovely detail and the color rendering is very rich and “punchy.” “Punchy” is probably a good word to describe the images in general actually. Contrast, color, and detail all come through proudly. In good light, it will probably outperform the sensor on most current MFT cameras. That’s good for the long term, because MFT sensors keep getting massively better with every generation.
Really, this lens is the lens you buy when you just need to get the job done. It doesn’t really matter what you throw at it, it’ll take it and spit out good images. Surely some of the MFT primes will give you qualitatively better images, but only one other lens will give you this high of quality over this zoom range (the Olympus) and it doesn’t give Lumix users the wonderful stabilizer that this lens does. From the weather sealing to the construction to the “just right” feeling of using a constant aperture zoom and not having to worry about the aperture changing on you, this lens simply delivers. If I were coming from a DSLR, I believe this lens would handily replace the 24-70 Goliaths from Canikon. I’m sure many would challenge that claim of course. At the end of the day though, this lens just gets the job done.