The Panasonic 35-100 mm f/4 - 5.6 is offered with the Panasonic GM5 on PhotoKina in 2014. The field of view of this lens—or: what you see on the photo—is 34 to 12 degrees. That corresponds with the field of view of a 70-200 mm zoom lens on a camera with a full-frame sensor. Just like Canon and Nikon have released a more attractively priced, more compact and lighter f/4 variant of their 70-200 mm lens, Panasonic has now produced an attractively priced, ultra-compact f/4 version of this universal telephoto zoom.
Many photographers go on vacation with a 24-70 mm and 70-200 mm lens and a camera with a full-frame sensor. The prefer two high-quality zoom lenses over one all-in-one super-zoom. In terms of focal distance, the brands are all fairly comparable, but the size, weight and purchase price of such a set are significant. You need a large, sturdy photo bag, and after walking around with that photo bag for a day, you'll notice that the weight grows throughout the day.
Photographers with an Olympus OM-D, Panasonic GH4 or G6 have the choice of a 14-140 mm vacation zoom, or a Panasonic 12-35 mm/Olympus 12-40 mm with a Panasonic 35-100 mm. The high brightness makes short shutter times possible, and all three of these lenses deliver high image quality. You don't see any difference from shots made with a similar set on an SLR camera with an APS-C sensor and practically no difference from a full-frame camera. Not everyone has the need to make a print of A3 or larger. If you have an Olympus OM-D E-M10, a Panasonic GM1, GM5 or GX7, then these lenses are relatively large, certainly in comparison with the Panasonic 12-32 mm zoom. Happily, there is now also a more compact 35-100 mm zoom lens for the Panasonic GM, GM5 or GX7 in order—along with the Panasonic 12-32 mm—to take along on a trip, or for bridal photography, or for street photography or for conc... No, for concert photography, you're better off with the brighter Panasonic 35-100mm f/2.8, which we reviewed previously.
If you're used to a smartphone or compact camera, then you take a big leap forward in creative possibilities and in image quality if you choose a micro-43 camera with 2 lenses. A small photo bag is sufficient, but it's also possible to get by without one. When I hang the camera with a 12-32 mm around my neck, the Panasonic 35-100 mm fits in my pocket, although it does make a big bulge in your pants. The other way around, with the 35-100 mm on the camera and the 12-32 mm in your pocket, works better. In bad weather, I take a jacket along, and the 35-100 mm lens fits in that easily.
Review Panasonic LUMIX G VARIO 35-100 mm F4.0-5.6
DeThe Panasonic 35-100 mm is an ideal, not very noticeable lens for street photography. (100mm, f/5.6, 1600 ISO, 1/125 sec).
Construction and auto focus
The Panasonic Lumix G Vario 35-100 mm f/4-5.6 ASPH Mega O.I.S. comes in black or silver. The lens is constructed of metal, with a retractable design, and it's fitted with built-in image stabilization, which you turn on or off in the camera menu. The same applies to the choice between manual or automatic focusing, since there are no switches on this lens. AF works fast—on the GM5 with speeds up to 240 fps with the high-speed contrast auto focus system—and accurately. The internal focus drive system and the step motor are quiet: ideal for photos and video shots. The minimal focal distance is 91 cm.
After use, this lens can be manually retracted to a length of 5.5 cm by turning the zoom ring further to the right than the shortest focal distance. That means that you first have to turn the lens to the left before you can take a photograph. You can't forget: a warning appears on the screen that you must turn the lens, and only after that do you see the image. Every advantage has a disadvantage. The advantage of a compact lens during transport has the disadvantage that you first have to unfold it before use. In that, this lens is not unique, as the most compact lenses from Olympus and Nikon 1 have a retractable design.
The thin and compact Panasonic Lumix G Vario 35-100 mm f/4.0-5.6 ASPH Mega O.I.S. lens includes the Mega O.I.S. Panasonic Optical Image Stabilizer with gyro sensors built into the lens in order to suppress motion blur. Owners of an Olympus camera have the choice of whether they want to use the image stabilization of the lens, or the image stabilization of the camera. Owners of a Panasonic camera turn the image stabilization of the 35-100 mm on or off via the camera menu. Experienced photographers may find it bothersome that there's no switch on the lens for image stabilization. Buy the 35-100 mm f/2.8 in that case, I would say. Amateur photographers probably like the fact that they turn on the image stabilization in the camera menu, and that the image stabilization will then do its job as soon as there is low light and the risk of motion blurred photos arises. We reviewed the image stabilization on the Panasonic GM5 at a focal length of 35 mm. We measured a profit of over 3 stops: a shot taken without image stabilization and a shutter speed of 1/200 sec is just as sharp as a shot taken with a shutter speed of 1/6 sec with image stabilization.
Vignetting at full opening and particularly at the shortest focal distance is visible, but not thereafter. Here you see a practice shot of a blue light. Move your mouse over the image for the Imatest results. That's a good performance from the Panasonic designers, given the compact format of this lens. On the Olympus test camera, the vignetting in jpg files was the same as in the un-corrected RAW files. It's possible that vignetting is corrected in Panasonic cameras. Vignetting is simple to correct with software, but that will almost never be needed.
Detail shot of a new market hall in Rotterdam that opened 1 October 2014. (Panasonic GM5, 1600 ISO, 64mm, f/6.3, 1/125 sec)
Distortion Panasonic 35-100 mm F4.0-5.6
No distortion across the entire zoom range.
Neither the RAW files that you open in Photoshop, Silkypix or Lightroom and the jpg files from the camera show any distortion across the entire zoom range. If we open the RAW files with software that does not apply any corrections, then we see the characteristic pattern of barrel-shaped distortion at the shortest focal distance to pincushion-shaped distortion at the longest focal distance. In comparison with 70-200 mm zooms on a camera with a full-frame sensor, the distortion is low, as you can expect from a smaller lens.
The lens design consists of 12 lenses in 9 groups. Therefore, there's a chance of internal reflections when you photograph a bright light source in the dark. In order to minimize that chance, Panasonic applies a coating, and a sun cap is included. In the night shots that we made, the zone around light poles was somewhat flared, but there were no ghosts visible. That's a good performance. During the day, we photographed directly into the sun from all angles, and in that way tried to cause ghosts. That worked, as the picture here shows, but honestly, we were surprised at how difficult that was. In testing lenses on SLR cameras, I often encounter green ghosts. With Olympus and Panasonic lenses, they're purple. Most shots had no trouble at all with flare and ghosts, despite the extreme conditions.
Already at full aperture, the highest sharpness is reached, for all focal distances.
The sharpness in the corners at full aperture is already reasonably high, but not as high as in the center. The difference is so small that most photographers will not see the difference. That comes from the correction of distortion in the jpg files (and RAW files that you open in Photoshop or Lightroom). The uncorrected RAW files are sharp from center to corner. When I stopped down, the differences in sharpness between center and corners of the corrected files became even smaller. What you might well see is that the Panasonic 35-100 mm gives the highest sharpness at the shortest focal distance and the lowest—but still acceptable—sharpness at the longest focal distance.
In order to compareMTF50 results for this lens with MTF values for lenses tested oncameras with anAPS-C or full frame sensor, we set the micro-43 test camera to a 2: 3ratio. In other words: we testedthis lenswith a resolution of14megapixels (2:3 ratio) instead of16megapixels (4:3 ratio). Using the native 4:3 aspect ratio will yield slightly higher MTF values.
Image of the new market hall in Rotterdam that opened recently. (Panasonic GM5, 1600 ISO, 35mm, f/4, 1/40 sec)
On a Panasonic camera, any lateral chromatic aberration from Panasonic lenses will be automatically corrected. That doesn't work the same on all Olympus cameras, but in this case it makes little difference because even in the uncorrected RAW files, the chromatic aberration appears to be well suppressed; in the corners it's a bit more than 1 pixel. The aspherical lens elements and two extra-low dispersion (ED) elements—which you don't often find in less expensive lenses—help to reduce chromatic aberrations and ensure high contrast.
Bokeh Panasonic 35-100 mm F4.0-5.6
To isolate a subject from the background well, you choose the largest sensor possible, the largest aperture possible (<f/2.8) with—preferably as much as possible—rounded blades and a long focal distance. The lens design also has an impact on the quality of the bokeh. The most beautiful bokeh is thus limited to expensive, bright lenses on a camera with a full-frame sensor. If you're used to photographing with a compact camera, then you'll be surprised by the beautiful bokeh/background blur that this lens—in particular at the longest focal distance—delivers. At shorter focal distances (move your mouse over the picture above), the bokeh sometimes is less quiet. The Panasonic 35-100 mm f/4-f/5.6—despite the limited brightness— nevertheless holds its own and gives nothing up to the bokeh of less expensive zoom lenses on an SLR camera with an APS-C sensor. In some cases, the bokeh was even more creamy than the 35-100mm f/2.8 (using the same aperture.
Conclusion Panasonic 35-100 mm F4.0-5.6 review with Panasonic GM5 and Olympus OM-D E-M1
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WYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens if you store the files in the camera as jpg, with all available in-camera lens corrections (see: distortion) applied. This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: "What you see is what you get".
Pure RAW score: This table shows the performance of this lens when the file is stored in the camera in RAW format. This score approaches the intrinsic quality of the combination of lens and test camera. If you make use of Photoshop, Lightroom or SilkyPix for converting RAW files, then the RAW scores for distortion, vignetting and chromatic aberration are the same as the jpg scores.
Very compact and light 70-200 mm (full frame equivalent) zoom
Often-requested zoom range
Good image quality across the entire zoom range
Fast and quiet AF
Built-in image stabilization
You can't immediately start taking pictures
The Panasonic 35-100 mm f/4-f/5.6 is a very attractively priced telephoto zoom lens, which is also very compact and light. For the first time, I headed out without a photo bag with a system camera fitted with a telephoto zoom (70-200 mm full frame equivalent) and a standard zoom (~24-70 mm full frameequivalent), with the camera around my neck and 1 lens in my pocket. The whole set of camera and two lenses (Panasonic 12-32 mm, 35-100 mm and GM5) was not only compact, but weighed a total of just 400 grams. That is as little as an inexpensive SLR camera body, without battery and without lenses. In terms of construction and image quality, the Panasonic 35-100 mm gives nothing up to other inexpensive, but larger, micro-43 telephoto zooms (45-150 mm, 45-175 mm) that we have reviewed previously. The metal construction of the Panasonic 35-100mm f/4 is more luxury and might even be better. The even sharpness, the beautiful background blur ("bokeh") at the longest focal distance and the low sensitivity to flare and ghosts surprised us in a positive way. The Panasonic 35-100 mm f/4 guarantees beautiful vacation photos, without neck pains.
Author: Ivo Freriks
With Camera Review Stuff I hope to make a modest contribution to the pleasure that you get from photography. By testing cameras and lenses in the same way, evluating the results and weighing up the pros and cons, I hope to help you find the right camera or lens.
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