Leica Magic With A Lumix Mount: The 200mm and 50-200mm Lenses

Posted Oct. 12th, 2018 by Daniel J. Cox

Leica magic with a Lumix mount—the 200mm and 50-200mm lenses have been part of a very exciting year for Panasonic and the Micro Four Thirds category of cameras. I had to check Mylio to see exactly when I first started shooting these two new Leica lenses, and I was surprised to see it’s been almost a year!

Snow goose in flight, Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico. Lumix G9 with Leica 200mm F/2.8 and 2X teleconverter

Along with the Leica 50-200mm F/2.8-4.0 (7,489 images) and the Leica 200mm F/2.8 (22,407 images), I’ve been using the new Lumix 1.4X and 2X teleconverters with both lenses. Needless to say between the four optics, there’s been a lot of new possibilities that needed to be tested. And so I have.

American dipper, Yellowstone National Park, Montana. Lumix G9 with Leica 50-200mm @ 200mm (400mm equivalent), handheld at 1/30th of a second (which helps create the movement in the water)

Like usual, I don’t have a lab. Most of the images I’m going to share are from shoots in the field. However, I do have a few in-the-studio tests I’ve done as well. To be honest, I’m never quite comfortable with my studio tests since I don’t have any way to do them with absolute precision. But I’ve tried. I suppose there will be a few who will find fault with my procedures, but then, as my father’s always told me, “You can’t make everybody happy.”

Mom and Dad on a trip we took to see the Tetons. Dad is the one who reminds me you can’t please everybody. Mom on the other hand bucks that old adage completely.

 With that out of the way, let’s look at what I’ve found. We’ll start with my newest favorite zoom, the relatively new Leica 50-200mm F/2.8-4.0. This is now my lens of choice for most wildlife photography. 

Leica 50-200mm F/2.8-4.0

Fit and Finish

One of the first things I did once I got my hands on this lens was to give the zoom mechanism a thorough test—in and out, back and forth, zoom, zoom, zoom. Those of you reading this who have the Leica 100-400mm, you know what I was up to. As much as I’ve loved the Leica 100-400mm, the concern I had from the moment I first tested it was the stiff and less-than-buttery-smooth action of the zoom mechanism. I’m happy to report the Panasonic engineers got the 50-200mm zoom action perfected. It’s smooth as silk, not too loose, not too tight, and has none of the catches you get with the 100-400mm.

Lumix G9 with battery grip and Leica 50-200mm zoom.

Metal Construction

It’s made of all metal from what I can tell, other than the lens hood. Plastics lens hoods don’t bother me in the least. In fact, I actually prefer them since when a lens is dropped the plastic typically bounces back and doesn’t dent like a metal hood does. The body of the lens is all metal. The zoom and manual focus rings are metal as well. 

If the Lumix engineers can build a miniature camera that withstand a 50 yard bouncing tumble down a French mountain side, I’m confident this new 50-200mm and the 200mm F/2.8 are up for a lot of long term use. Here’s a video of the Lumix LX10 taking a seriously difficult tumble.

Manual Focus Ring

This lens is a so-called fly-by-wire, meaning the manual focus is actually activated by electronics. Therefore manually focusing does not give you the precise, consistent feel of a lens that’s being turned by metal gears on metal gears. Is that a problem? Not for me since I virtually NEVER use manual focus anymore. Could it be a problem for those who rely on manual focus a great deal, say somebody shooting this lens for video? I could see the fly-by-wire being a bit of an issue but only if you insist on manually focusing your lenses. The video below was shot with the Lumix G9 and Leica 50-200mm handheld from within my truck in Yellowstone National Park.

I’ve been shooting a lot more video and I find my technique of using Back Button AF extremely efficient as a video tool. Many video shooters are very proud to announce they do not use any form of AF. They don’t want the potential for the camera’s AF to start hunting while shooting a scene. But what many of them don’t understand is the power of Back Button AF. Using the Back Button AF to precisely focus on your subject and then releasing it puts the camera back to a completely manual focus state, so you’re basically getting the benefits of AF without the downside. I’ve never met even one cinematographer who uses the Back Button AF, but if they did they would see a huge upside to using lenses that Auto Focus. 

American robin in a mountain ash tree covered in snow. Lumix G9 with 50-200mm and 1.4X teleconverter

AF/MF Switch

The AF/MF switch is well positioned for easy reach but can be inadvertently moved. I’m very aware of these switches and therefore seldom find them moved to the wrong position. However, I do shoot with lots of enthusiast photographers who don’t use their gear as much as I do, and many are accidentally hitting this switch and not knowing how to get their AF back. I’ve solved this problem for several of our NE Explorers by adding a small piece of tape to keep them from being switched out of position.

Horned puffin pair, Alaska. Lumix G9 with Leica 200mm F/2.8 with 2X teleconverter

OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) Switch

Right next to the AF switch is the OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) switch. This is another control that can be easily moved to the ‘OFF’ position without knowing it. Again my suggestion is to put a small piece of tape on this switch. One reason you might want to get at this switch is when you’re shooting on a tripod. To be honest, I’ve never even checked the lens manual to see if Panasonic suggests you turn OIS off when using a tripod. I know all manufacturers did when OIS first came out, but I’ve not found it necessary on the newer lenses. However, keep in mind that if I have a lens with OIS on and the camera locked down as tight as possible on the tripod, I would definitely turn the OIS to the ‘OFF’ position. But if I’m on a tripod and keeping the head slightly loose, like I do when photographing birds in flight, I never turn the OIS off.

Caiman, Pantanal, Brazil. Lumix G9 with Leica 200mm F/2.8 and 2X teleconverter, handheld from boat

Weight and Size

Those who’ve bought MFT cameras know MFT lenses are much smaller, lighter, and typically cost significantly less than their traditional full-frame DSLR counterparts. All of that holds true for the Leica 50-200mm. This lens is so small, compact, and lightweight it’s hard to believe. A similar lens for my Nikon system was the 80-400mm, my favorite go-to lens for much of my wildlife work when I was still shooting Nikon. But the Nikon 80-400mm was an F/4.0-5.6—a two stop difference in aperture. Additionally, it was much larger and heavier than the Leica 50-200mm and almost $1000 more expensive!

Black bear feeding on rose hips along the roadside in Jasper National Park, Canada. Lumix G9 with 50-200mm

Teleconverters

Along with all the weight and size benefits, the Leica 50-200mm works extremely well with the new Lumix 1.4X teleconverter. I’ll admit I have no idea if the Nikon 80-400mm was able to take a teleconverter. I never tried it since I was never completely happy with Nikon teleconverters even on my fixed focal length lenses. The results weren’t terrible, but I always felt like I could see a bit of image degradation. That being the case, I was hesitant to try teleconverters on my zooms since historically a teleconverter on a zoom was going to be even more problematic—way too many pieces of glass with zoom and teleconverter. But those days seem to be behind us with the new Lumix 1.4X teleconverter and the 50-200mm zoom. This combination produces excellent results. I haven’t tried the 50-200mm with the 2X teleconverter in the field, but the lens test charts do have some samples with this combination.

Toco toucan, Pantanal, Brazil. Lumix G9 with Leica G9 with Leica 200mm F/2.8 and 2X teleconverter

Leica 200mm F/2.8

Doing two lens reviews in one Blog could make for some redundant reading, so I’m going to spare you where possible. If the category I’m speaking of is similar or identical to what I’ve written on the 50-200mm, I’ll label the title as such.

Capybara portrait, Pantanal, Brazil. Lumix G9 with Leica 200mm and 2X teleconverter.

Metal End to End, Except for the Lens Hood

This is a hefty, solid feeling lens. It’s not light as the 50-200mm by any means, and for those who’ve never held a 400mm F/2.8, this lens would seem excessively heavy. But if you understand the equivalency factor to a full-frame 400mm F/2.8, you know it’s a huge size and weight reduction. The black metal finish is smooth to the touch, unlike what we see on Nikon’s telephotos that have a semi-texture to them.

Lumix G9 with Leica 200mm F/2.8, which is equal to a 400mm F/2.8 on a full-frame camera.

The lens hood is also substantial. It’s half as long as the lens, and when attached gives an additional length of about 1/3 the total length of the lens. Some might complain it’s made of plastic, but as I said earlier when we covered this subject on the 50-200mm, I don’t mind plastic. It cuts down on weight and if banged it doesn’t get bent out of shape. Plastic is just fine for this lens.

Snow geese pair in flight over Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico. Lumix G9 with Leica 200mm F/2.8 with 1.4X teleconverter

Front Manual Aperture Ring

For those who love a manual aperture ring, the new Leica 200mm F/2.8 will make you happy. Personally I never use any of the manual rings that are included on several of the Leica/Lumix lenses, but I know there are those who like this feature. When turning this ring, it is exceptionally smooth with the feel of absolute perfection. Click stops are broken into 1/3 increments. For those shooting video, having solid aperture click stops is not ideal, but for the stills crowd it’s not an issue. Lock it into the ‘A’ position and you can adjust the aperture via the front dial, as I like to do. One critique I have of this ring is the lack of a locking mechanism for keeping it set to the ‘A’ position. Before I started taping it in place, I found it moved, which eliminates the ability to use the front dial for aperture adjustment. Now I place a small piece of gaffer tape beneath the front of the lens. It works.

Horned puffin in flight. Shot with Lumix G9 and Leica 200mm F/2.8 with 1.4X teleconverter

Manual Focus Ring (same as 50-200mm)

This lens is a so-called fly-by-wire, meaning the manual focus is actually activated by electronics. Therefore manually focusing does not give you the precise, consistent feel of a lens that’s being turned by metal gears on metal gears. Is that a problem? Not for me since I virtually NEVER use manual focus anymore. Could it be a problem for those who rely on manual focus a great deal, say somebody shooting this lens for video? I could see the fly-by-wire being a bit of an issue but only if you insist on manually focusing your lenses.

Jaguar in tree overlooking the river. Pantanal, Brazil. Lumix G9 with Leica 200mm F/2.8 and 1.4X teleconverter. Shot hand held from a boat.

I’ve been shooting a lot more video and I find my technique of using Back Button AF extremely efficient as a video tool. Many video shooters are very proud to announce they do not use any form of AF. They don’t want the potential for the camera’s AF to start hunting while shooting a scene. But what many of them don’t understand is the power of Back Button AF. Using the Back Button AF to precisely focus on your subject and then releasing it puts the camera back to a completely manual focus state, so you’re basically getting the benefits of AF without the downside. I’ve never met even one cinematographer who uses the Back Button AF, but if they did they would see a huge upside to using lenses that Auto Focus.

Red colored striations of dead pines show the result of pine bark beetle infestation in the trees outside of Jasper, Alberta. Jasper National Park, Canada. Lumix G9 with Leica 50-200mm lens

AF/MF Switch (same as 50-200mm)

The AF/MF switch is well positioned for easy reach but can be inadvertently moved. I’m very aware of these switches and therefore seldom find them moved to the wrong position. However, I do shoot with lots of enthusiast photographers who don’t use their gear as much as I do, and many are accidentally hitting this switch and not knowing how to get their AF back. I’ve solved this problem for several of our NE Explorers by adding a small piece of tape to keep them from being switched out of position.

Iris missouriensis, AKA Rocky Mountain iris, Bridger Mountains, Montana. Lumix G9 with Leica 50-200mm

OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) Switch (same as 50-200mm)

Right next to the AF switch is the OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) switch. This is another control that can be easily moved to the ‘OFF’ position without knowing it. Again my suggestion is to put a small piece of tape on this switch. One reason you might want to get at this switch is when you’re shooting on a tripod. To be honest, I’ve never even checked the lens manual to see if Panasonic suggests you turn OIS off when using a tripod. I know all manufacturers did when OIS first came out, but I’ve not found it necessary on the newer lenses. However, keep in mind that if I have a lens with OIS on and the camera locked down as tight as possible on the tripod, I would definitely turn the OIS to the ‘OFF’ position. But if I’m on a tripod and keeping the head slightly loose, like I do when photographing birds in flight, I never turn the OIS off.

American pika, Beartooth Mountains, Montana. Lumix G9 with Leica 50-200mm

Two features on the 200mm that aren’t on the 50-200mm are the Memory Recall/Fn button and Focus Limiter button.

Memory Recall/Fn Button

Memory recall is an option most useful for sports photographers. It allows you to focus on a particular spot, let’s say second base in the game of baseball. Selecting this spot and marking it by way of setting the Memory/Fn button allows you to quickly return to that particular place by hitting the button. This allows you to pick a point where action may happen and when it does, push the button to quickly focus where the action is taking place. It’s a very specialized feature, and all the big lenses by Nikon, Canon, and Sony have it, so Lumix has added it as well to compete.

Bighorn sheep, Jasper National Park, Canada. Lumix GH5 with Leica 50-200mm

Focus Limiter Switch

Using the focus limiter switch is helpful for things like birds in flight where the camera might miss focus. The idea behind the focus limiter switch is to reduce the amount of travel the lens has to move if it misses focus. All AF systems have to move through the entire length of the lens’ AF, from closest focus to furthest focus. At the end of the range, the AF motors hit a stopper which triggers the focus motors to go the other way. If that distance it reduced by way of the focus limiter, the lens and camera can get back on track to reconnect with the subject. The focus limiter switch allows you to set it from full focus to 3m-infinity. If shooting birds in flight, it’s good to set the lens to 3-infinity, since typically a bird won’t come any closer than three meters. This limits the lens from trying to focus at the closest position since we know the subject won’t be there anyway.

Canadian jay, Jasper National Park, Canada. Lumix G9 with Leica 50-200mm

Tripod Collar and Foot

Unlike the 50-200mm, the Leica 200mm F/2.8 does have a 360-degree rotating tripod collar. Yes, you read that right, 360 degrees—not the very strange 45 degrees we have on the Leica 100-400mm. Notice I mention nothing about a tripod collar for the 50-200m lens. Some reviews of the 50-200mm have criticized Lumix for not including a tripod collar, but I can tell you, it doesn’t need one due to its light and compact form factor. The Leica 200mm on the other hand does have one, and it needs it.

Salvinia water droplets, Pantanal, Brazil. Lumix G9 with Leica 50-200mm and 1.4X teleconverter

A nice feature of the 200mm tripod collar is that the foot can be swapped with the same foot as the Leica 100-400mm zoom. Both are identical. I would be even more excited if this foot used the common and omnipresent Arca Swiss Quick Release style plate, the same one that Olympus is now incorporating into all their telephotos. This would be such a simple bonus. If by chance a photographer was using something other than the Arca Swiss Quick Release tripod head, there could be a tripod socket in the bottom of the foot just like the Olympus 300mm has. This could be such a small but really important feature, since almost the entire natural history community uses Arca Swiss plates. Kudos to Olympus for adopting this very simple idea.

Teleconverters

I had many opportunities to shot both 1,4X and 2X teleconverters with the Leica 200mm F/2.8 and overall I was very pleased. Without a doubt, as expected, the 1.4X was the superior performer. But… the 2X also produced stellar results, just not as consistently.

Full image of jaguar resting on the banks of the river. Shot with Lumix G9 and Leica 200mm with 2X teleconverter, 1/100th of a second at F/5.6, ISO 640

Why? I’m not sure, but it reminds me of the nagging feeling I often have with my Leica 100-400mm racked all the way out to 400mm. However, it too is capable of producing stunning results at 400mm. I’m starting to believe my disappointment with the 800mm range on both the 100-400mm and the 200mm with 2X teleconverter is mainly due to atmospheric issues and trusting the DUAL IS more than I should.

Screenshot of above image at 100% showing excellent detail. Shot with Lumix G9 and Leica 200mm with 2X teleconverter (800mm full-frame equivalent), 1/100th of a second at F/5.6, ISO 640

Here’s what I mean. With the 2X teleconverter on a 200mm lens attached to a Micro Four Thirds camera, you get an effective focal length of 800mm. That is a very, very powerful lens. When shooting telephotos you have to keep in mind that along with your subject magnification, you get magnification of ANY movement.

Additional frame near the one above where either the jaguar’s head moved slightly or the boat I was shooting from moved. Either way, it’s soft, and that’s not unusual for this much magnification. Shot with Lumix G9 and Leica 200mm with 2X teleconverter, 1/100th of a second at F/5.6, ISO 640

This includes the photographer’s hand and body shake, as well as ANY movement by your subject, like in the jaguar sample above.  I use both the 100-400mm and the new 200mm with converters, exclusively, off tripod, depending heavily on Dual IS. Dual IS is supposed to give us at least five stops lower shutter speed than the typical shutter speed needed of equal to or greater than the lens you’re shooting.

Having less ability to increase the ISO due to a smaller MFT sensor, I often shoot at speeds slower than I would like. And that may be the culprit of some less than exceptional image detail when using 800mm on any of my Lumix/Leica lenses. That said, it is possible to get excellent results as witnessed by the jaguar image two pictures above.

Conclusion

So there you have it. That’s my take on two of what I consider the best lenses Lumix has ever released. In fact, I like these two optics so much, they’ve now replaced my beloved Leica 100-400mm.

100% crop of a test chart showing the Leica 200mm with 2X teleconverter on the left and the 100-400mm @ 400mm on the right. Test shots were not exact, but I found the numbers—both on left side, edge of image—to be sharper on the left test chart/the Leica with the 2X teleconverter. No sharpening was added.

The 100-400mm will still be part of my ongoing Leica arsenal, but I have to say, these new lenses are sharper, enough that I absolutely have to use them especially when following what I’ve come to refer to as the Micro Four Thirds Triad.

Micro Four Thirds Triad

So what is the Micro Four Thirds Triad? Quite simply it’s a combination of equipment and software that will allow anyone following these three simple rules to compete with full-frame cameras. They are:

  1. The best, most up to date MFT camera possible such as the Lumix G9, GH5, and GH5s or the Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark ll (for now)
  2. The finest and highest quality optics you can buy – Leica glass for Lumix and Pro versions for Olympus
  3. The best, most up to date RAW conversion software on the market. Today I’m convinced that it’s DxO PhotoLab.

Follow these three simple directives and you can do prints as large as 40×60 inches as well as offer your work to the most elite publications in the world. In short, you can actually use Micro Four Thirds cameras to lighten your load, improve your bank account, and still realize your creative photography dreams whether they are for fun or profit.

Sample Images Free to Download

Follow this link for a set of sample images shot in my studio of a lens test chart. All images shot on the Lumix G9 with the following lenses:

  • Leica 50-200mm F/2.8-4.0 (with and without 1.4X and 2X teleconverters)
  • Leica 200mm F/2.8 (with and without 1.4X and 2X teleconverters)
  • Leica 100-400mm F/4.0-6.3
  • Olympus 40-150mm F/2.8
  • Olympus 300mm F/4.0

If you have an interest in these lenses and want a great camera store to deal with, check out my friends at Bozeman Camera. They’ve become one of the biggest Lumix dealers in the Pacific NW. “Small town store, big time dealer” I like to call them. They often have hot, hard to get products of all kinds, that the big dealers may have sold out of.   Under the heading of full disclosure, I get no kickback from Bozeman Camera other than the perk of having lots of gear available for testing.

The Bozeman Camera crew including Mike Gover, Gary Bummer, Marshal Lewis Brian Sorg, Tanner and some really cute little blonde, hey wait a minute that’s Miss Nikon Dixie Dixon trying to get in on the Lumix love. The Bozeman Camera guys have no idea Dixie has snuck in behind to get in on the action. No doubt, everybody loves Leica glasss.

Even Nikon’s Dixie Dixon stops by the “Small town store, big time dealer”, Bozeman Camera. Dixie is all about good glass and Bozeman Camera has loads of it.

Lumix Ambassador Disclaimer

In the spirit of complete transparency, I want all my readers to know that I am a Lumix Ambassador. That means I get paid a small stipend for writing about a system I absolutely love. That said,  there is no amount of money more important than my integrity. Much to the chagrin of some of my Lumix colleagues, I often point out the bad with the good regarding Lumix technology and camera gear. My belief is honesty and truthfulness will not just help other photographers, but it also helps a company I truly admire and enjoy working with.

Add Your Voice!
There are 16 comments on this post…
  1. Riley ShieryOn Nov. 16th, 2018 (4 weeks ago)

    Hi Daniel,

    Current Nikon user here, your blog is extremely helpful. I have been shooting a Nikon D300/D3s for years, with 300mm and 400mm f2.8 lenses and teleconverters. Carting all that gear around plus the necessary tripod/gimbal is an impracticality few people appreciate.

    Seeing that the m43 system is good enough for someone with your eye, and your experience is very valuable at a time when most internet ‘photographers’ are hyping FF so much. The benefits of the FF format are overblown, and the weaknesses of m43 are exaggerated so much that even as a person who has used both professionally (I have a new-to-me E-M1 Mark I and 12-40 + 40-150 f2.8 lenses) I have anxiety about selling off the last of my Nikon kit.

    I have moved into a van, and am preparing to leave my day job to pursue full-time nature/science photography. I am determined to make the dream a reality, or die trying. However, I worry (irrationally I think) that selling off my FF gear and relying on m43 gear will handicap me. Your work and writing on this subject has really helped assuage those fears, this whole endeavor is terrifying enough as it is XD

    Thank you again, keep up the good fight!

    -Riley

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Nov. 17th, 2018 (4 weeks ago)

      Riley,

      Thanks for the kind words. I could not agree more with your comments about FF and MFT hype both ways. Believe me, I understand the anxiety of selling off your last piece of Nikon gear. I held on to my 600m F/4 for almost three years after not owning a Nikon camera. I just did not want to have to buy that lens again. But, this past spring it too went the way of my other Nikon equipment.

      You mention that you’re about to embark on your quest to be a full-time wildlife photographer. I congratulate you but feel I should offer some sage advice that actually relates to your decision to shoot the smaller gear. This is something I’ve never written before but have discussed with many of our NE Invitational Photo Tour participants. One very small but definite reason I switched to the smaller cameras was due to the incredible expense the FF cameras imposed on my business of wildlife photography. I’m not sure if you know this but the actual money people pay for wildlife images today is literally a fraction of what they used to pay us in the 80’s and 90’s. My average sale for an image back before 2000 was about $250.00US. Even at that price, I had to sell one hell of a lot of images to pay for my travel, my home, my insurance, my expensive camera gear, and the list goes on and on. And keep mind that that $250.00Us was for ONE TIME USE with a limit attached. Meaning that if a card company wanted to use my image for a greeting card, that was ALL they could use it for. AND it had a top end limit on how many they could produce before they had to pay me again for additional rights. There were many times over my career that one image sold as RIGHTS MANAGED produced tens of thousands of dollars in ongoing usage rights.

      Today the standard licensing agreement is ROYALTY FREE which means, when the client pays you, they can then use your picture as long as they want, anyway they want, and never even have to contact you let alone pay you again. It’s a horrible business model. Today, iStockPhoto sells similar pictures to the ones I used to shoot for $12.00US. And as I said, once the client pays $12.00US they can use that picture FOREVER. Below is a screenshot from iStock photo showing a beautiful image that at one time would have been worth tens of thousands of dollars.

      Shooting less expensive camera gear was one way I changed my business model to try and compete with this new reality. From a business perspective and that’s what wildlife photography is–a business–unless you have a boatload of cash from a different life–it’s not possible to justify a Nikkor 600mm F/4 that sells for $12,000+ when you can get something almost identical in the Olympus 300mm F/4 for $2500.00US. If I were making my full-time living shooting photos that I had to be guaranteed would be the highest quality possible in dark light, fast-moving subjects, and could be printed larger than billboards, I would still be shooting my Nikons. But… nobody is willing to pay for those images anymore so why would I spend the money to have the absolute best equipment when it won’t pay for itself due to the deflated prices in the industry? It makes no business sense.

      Thankfully, the MFT gear has other benefits I enjoy besides costing less. Things like less difficult to travel with due to much smaller size. They make me less conspicuous in places people want to harass professional photographers and they have technology available that my big old Nikon’s could not compete with. The one downside for MFT is dark light and that can be drastically improved by way of software.

      I hope this bit of honesty and experience, having done what you are about to do, doesn’t discourage you but I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t share the things I’ve learned over a 40-year career in the business of wildlife photography. I’m still in the business today due to lots of irons in the fire that include teaching, stock sales of stills and video, as well as speaking engagements etc. I used to be able to do it with stock photo sales exclusively. I wish you the best and please stop by and join the conversation when you can. I admire your detemination and spirit.

  2. Chris BaudeOn Nov. 5th, 2018 (1 month ago)

    >> It cuts down on weight and if banged it doesn’t get bent out of shape. Plastic is just fine for this lens.

    Not only is it BETTER than metal, if knocked on door frames, hard bounce when putting down the camera, the plastic absorbs the shock and is resilient. Metal will transmit the shock to the lens, right down to the mount. Metal lens hood belong on Leica’s that sit on shelf, and for the week-end or vacation shooter.

  3. Robert LaddOn Oct. 29th, 2018 (2 months ago)

    Hello Daniel,

    Thanks much for your blog and insights. A few months ago I bought a G-85 and then I got the Leica 12-60mm 2.8-4 lens which I really like. But I haven’t printed large prints yet, just posted images to websites (need to set up printer) and I’m wondering how significant the difference is between the G-85 and G9. I think I would rather invest in something like the 50-200mm than upgrade to the G9 but not sure if the G85 will take full advantage of the great Leica lenses.
    Many thanks, Robert

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Oct. 31st, 2018 (1 month ago)

      Robert,

      I think the G85 would prove an excellent option for pairing with the 50-200mm. Have a G85 since it’s first release and love it. The G9 will give you bette AF for really fast moving subjects but even I don’t shoot super fast action more that maybe 5% of my photography. The 50-200mm is such a special lens I would suggest getting that first and maybe down the line you can add the G9.

  4. David RobinsonOn Oct. 23rd, 2018 (2 months ago)

    Thanks Dan for an excellent comparison review. Just what I was looking for. It seems to Jive with a technical comparison done by Richard Wong comparing the 50-200, 200 F2.8 and the 100-400. The 100-400 is versatile, but slower and not as sharp at longer focal lengths. The 50-200 is excellent through its range and matches well with the 1.4x teleconverter but did not match up as well with the 2x converter which was noticeably, but not horribly softer. The 200 F2.8 seems which tested as the sharpest of the 3 lenses all the time was impressive with the 2X converter and the 1.4x converter. And another thing, common to both the Olympus lenses and the Panasonic lenses that I like is how very close they focus compared to their equivalent FF lenses. Thanks again for a very helpful review.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Oct. 26th, 2018 (2 months ago)

      Thanks David, I appreciate your input.

  5. Deborah AlbertOn Oct. 19th, 2018 (2 months ago)

    I find my images are not as sharp with the G9 and 100-400 than my Nikon D500 and Tamron 150-600. What could I be doing wrong?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Oct. 26th, 2018 (2 months ago)

      There are lots of possibilities Deborah. First of all what shutter speed were you shooting with the 100-400mm.

  6. Glen FoxOn Oct. 15th, 2018 (2 months ago)

    Thank you for this Daniel. The Lumix-Leica collaboration definitely provides great lenses. I gather you can’t buy the 1.4x separately at the moment. Out of curiosity, will the 1.4x work on the 100-400, and the 2x on the Oly 300/4? Thanks!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Oct. 26th, 2018 (2 months ago)

      You’re correct Glen. The 1.4converter is not yet available separately. I have heard it’s coming however. The 1.4X will not work on the 100-400mm. The 2X should work with the Olympus 300mm though I’v not tried it yet. Thanks for stopping by to join the conversation.

  7. JimLandersOn Oct. 14th, 2018 (2 months ago)

    Thanks for the terrific article Dan. I saw your FB post. I know that you already know this, but if you don’t feed trolls, they go away. ;-).
    Regarding these lenses, I am very tempted by the 50-200 with the 1.4x. I just like the aded flexibility of a zoom. The problem is, Panasonic doesn’t sell the 1.4X separately in the US. The only place I can find one is on some Chinese site on eBay which I’m not comfortable with. Very strange decision by Panasonic.
    All that aside, one of the parts of the article I found most interesting was your remarks about shooting at 800mm. I’ve recently come to similar conclusion after years of frustration. As a 69 year old male, walking is as important to me in my bird photography, as the pics I get.(for my health), hence, I shoot pretty much exclusively hand held and just carry a Sony RX10IV. I’ve been frustrated of late because I find I get better, sharper images with my Sony , than I do with the bigger, more expensive, 840mm kits. (Canon, Nikon, Fuji, tried em all). The conclusion I’d come to and which you sort of confirmed, is that hand held, 600mm is less effected by hand shake, and at 600mm I subconsciously avoid taking those ridiculously long shots that I might have gone for with an 800mm kit. A longer focal length lens may help fill more of the frame, but it doesn’t help at all with all that annoying air between you and your subject.
    I would love to be able to step up from the 1″ Sony sensor to m43, but 600mm is my minimum acceptable FL so until Panasonic decides to release the 1.4x, I’m kind of stuck with the Sony. I own the G9 so I’m ready to go when that happens.
    Again, thanks for great review .

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Oct. 14th, 2018 (2 months ago)

      Great input Jim. I appreciate you adding your voice.

      Regarding the trolls, It’s so amazing how many bullies there are on the internet. Growing up with the last name Cox I learned very early you can’t back down and so I don’t. Sometimes I may sound a bit harsh but I’ve found few are able to take any kind of pushback.

      Hold tight for the 1.4X teleconverter. I promise it’s coming. Lots of folks want it badly.

      Thanks again for joining the conversation with well thought-out comments that offer quality substance. Unlike some internet bullies.

  8. christian fuerstOn Oct. 13th, 2018 (2 months ago)

    I fully agree with Dan’s judgement ragarding the Leica-Lenses. As a mainly stills photographer I also prefer the G9 to the GH5 which up to now serves as a backup-camera body for “just in case”. ergonomically speaking the G9 is simply the best camera I ever used in my photographic life of more the 55 years! As a stage photographer I am frequently confronted with a competition stubbornly sticking to FF-cameras including heavy equipment and huge tripods which they carry in massive board-cases etc and constantly compain about aching backs and shoulders. And finally their photographic results are by no means any better, or rather the opposite: when they have to change cameras and put on their heavy-weight gear (2,8/300 etc) I can freely move around with my light-weight 50-200 getting closer (at 400mm FF). for my stage-photography I have not used the 1,4 converter yet since with MFT I try to stay as low as possible with my ISO. at emergencies I sometimes use the 1,8/75mm Olympus, also a great piece of equipment (i.e. 1500mm in FF) but generally I prefer the 3 new Leica-Zooms

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Oct. 13th, 2018 (2 months ago)

      Thanks for your input Christian. Great real life example.

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