Two Great Travel Lenses: Leica 12-60mm & Olympus 12-100mm

Posted Aug. 20th, 2017 by Daniel J. Cox

Two great travel lenses Leica 12-60mm and Olympus 12-100mm to foil carry-on police

As traveling photographers, we’ve all been there. “There” is the point in the line where the gate agent looks you straight in the eye and asks you to place your carry-on in the make-believe overhead bin that determines its size. It’s never fun and always stressful. It’s been a problem since I began flying over 40 years ago.

Leica 12-60mm

A man passes along the waterfront in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Lumix GH5 with Leica 12-60mm, handheld 1/3 @ F2.9, ISO 1250

The dreaded size and weight restrictions came to a head on my recent return flight from Europe on Air France. My beloved Lowepro Pro Roller attracted the attention of the carry-on police who demanded I hand it over for a size check. The dimensions were fine, but the weight triggered bulging eyes and an authoritarian complex from the gate agent. Even with Micro Four Thirds gear, I was busted. Below is a short video of what was inside that made her crazy.

Those of you who travel with us know that part of the pre-trip process involves me giving everyone a call before any particular adventure. The goal is to check with each NE Explorer to see if they’re comfortable with the equipment they’re bringing. The number one concern I hear about is whether their camera bag is going to make it onboard. Flying is getting ever more difficult and taking less camera equipment is something to seriously consider.

In my humble little studio shooting a comparison photo of the two lenses.

With that in mind, I want to share my thoughts on two new lenses that could be all you need for travel photography that doesn’t involve wildlife. The first one is the new Leica 12-60mm F/2.8-F/4, and the second is the Olympus 12-100mm F/4. For those new to Micro Four Thirds cameras–all lenses are multiplied by two. So the two lenses mentioned above are actually 24-120mm F/2.8-F/4 and 24-200mm F/4 respectively. Both offer an extremely handy range, with the Olympus having a bit more zoom, but the Leica having a faster aperture on the wide end.

Leica 12-60mm

Looking down into a lavender plant in Provence, France. This was shot at 1/4 @ F/22. I purposely shot a slow shutter speed and zoomed the lens during the exposure, adding a pop of light from the G85’s built-in flash to help stop some of the motion. No tripod used.

During my recent two months of photo tours in Europe, I shot the new Leica 12-60mm extensively. In fact, it replaced my longtime favorite 12-35mm F/2.8 which I left at home. One of our Explorers, Fred Kurtz, had the new Olympus. So it was quite interesting to have both lenses available to see how each performed. Both of us came away feeling as though the possibility of traveling with one lens might just be upon us.

Leica 12-60mm

The famous white horses of the Camargue, France. Shot at 1/1600 @ 6.3 ISO 320

Durability and Build

Before getting into the specific differences I want to mention that both lenses are incredibly well built—made of metal—and each feels extremely durable and robust. However, based on my long term use, the Lumix/Leica lenses seem to hold the durability advantage without the excessive weight Olympus builds into their professional lenses. Olympus lenses give the impression of impeccable build quality, but unfortunately I’ve had more issues with the Olympus lenses I own than my Leica/Lumix lenses.

Leica 12-60mm

Olympus 40-150mm lens shade that has come apart on me three different times. Two times fixed by Olympus. Now just sitting in my studio.

I use the word ‘seem’ due to a couple of problems I’ve had with Olympus lenses that have either lost their screws, or in one case had a lens hood come completely apart. The lens hood was part of the Olympus 40-150mm and it’s happened three times. It’s been fixed twice but after the third time, I now just leave it back in the studio.

Leica 12-60mm

Sunset with bush plane on Island Lake, Minnesota. G85 with 12-60mm 1/160 @ F/2.8  ISO 160

Both lenses are advertised to be splash, dust, and freeze proof. Although I can’t comment on any of these features regarding the Olympus lens, I can offer some in the field experience with the Leica. I’m finishing up this blog post while on our Alaska Brown Bear Tour and we’ve had a lot of rain this year. I’ve purposely not used a rain cover during any of my shoots. But keep in mind we’ve not spent any serious amount of time in the field while it was actually raining. I have had my equipment exposed during

Rainwater condensation in the Leica 12-60mm zoom.

some minor sprinkles but packed it away before the hard rains would start. So in short, my GH5’s and two lenses, the Leica 100-400mm and the 12-60mm, have had some exposure to wet, damp weather. Unfortunately, one afternoon while shooting some of our NE Explorers having fun at our annual Brown Bear Hat Party, I noticed condensation on the inside of the Leica 12-60mm.  I have to say I was a bit surprised. I brought this to the attention of the Lumix team and they’re looking into it. I’m confident I must have a defective copy as far as weather sealing goes. The good news is, when the Lumix engineers hear of a problem, they fix it.

One Lens is a Bit Larger Than the Other

As far as size and range are concerned it’s a little hard to be completely objective since one lens, the Olympus, has 80mm more focal length, and it may be that extra reach that creates the perception it’s so much larger. To be fair, I checked each lenses’ weight and we’ll discuss that shortly, but I can tell you now, perception and reality are a bit further apart than what I first thought. So what are the obvious differences? Zoom range, size and weight, maximum aperture, close focusing, manual focus, and price.

Seascape with the local lighthouse just off the coast of Rovinj, Croatia. Lumix GH5 with Olympus 12-60mm handheld 1/25th @F/7.1 ISO 320

Zoom Range

Both lenses offer what is basically several lenses in one. As I mentioned above the Olympus gives us more reach—out to 200mm—but both give us 24mm on the wide end. For me, 24mm is a must have. There are many zoom lenses out there–the Lumix Vario 14-140mm is one example– that are only 28mm on the wide side and though that’s close to 24mm, but not close enough. I’m a huge fan of 24mm. If I had to choose one wide angle range it would be 24mm. There are numerous lenses that go wider and there are times I love the wider look, but 24mm gives you wide enough without the huge distortion effect super wide lenses are known for. That’s not to say there isn’t a need for even wider than 24mm, but if we’re making a decision to take less equipment, these two lenses offer what I feel is the perfect wide range that’s optimal for most situations.

Leica 12-60mm

An oil rig near Medora, North Dakota. Lumix GH5 with Leica 12-60mm, handheld at 1/10th @ F/3.7  ISO 500

When it comes to the long end, 120mm on the Leica and 200mm on the Olympus, both give us more range than many are used to. Or maybe I should say, what I’m used to. I’m guessing the reason Panasonic created this lens was the extreme popularity of something similar from both Nikon and Canon. Nikon has proven that when done right, meaning very good optics, this lens range 24-120mm is a great all around travel choice. Olympus took this to another level and is the only manufacturer that I know of that’s attempted such a long range (200mm) in one lens.

Both of these optics are exceptionally sharp so the quality of your images will certainly not be any reason to decide to choose one over the other.

Size & Weight

When comparing these two lenses size and weight are two things that jump out at you. With the Olympus having a longer range, it stands to reason it’s going to be larger. The photograph below gives you a visual of how the two compare side by side. Both are the lens only, without the lens hoods attached. Lens hoods add a lot of bulk but generally not much weight since most are made of plastic. I felt a comparison image without lens hoods is more effective for giving the true size difference. The image below is one I shot in my studio.

Olympus 12-100mm on the left and the Leica 12-60mm on the right.

As far as weight is concerned the Olympus 12-100mm F/4 weighs in at 1.23 lb (561 g). The Leica is almost a half a pound lighter at 11.29 oz (320 g). That seems substantial unless you remember the Olympus gives you at last one more lens in the overall package. So to be fair you would need to add another entire lens to the scale and combine the weight of the Leica and second lens to their weight. Doing so would most likely make the Leica with the second lens considerably heavier than Olympus alone.

Leica 12-60mm

A beautiful home on Island Lake, Minnesota. Lumix G85 with Leica 12-60mm, handheld at 1/6th @ F/2.8 ISO 1250

Whether the final weight is considerable or not depends on which body you pair each lens with. If you want to go as light as possible with all Lumix gear, you may want to pair the Leica 12-60mm with the G85. If so, you get a lens and camera weight of 1.8 lb (825 g). On the other hand, the Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark ll with the Olympus 12-100mm attached is 2.5 lb (1135 g). So overall the Olympus comes in quite a bit heavier but you get a bit more reach. The next question you have to ask is if you need that reach. One last thing to consider is the possibility of pairing the Leica lens to the more pro-oriented body, the GH5. If you do that, you get a package that weighs 2.3 lb (1045 g). Just two ounces less than the Olympus and OM-D EM-1 Mark ll with the 12-100mm attached. Admittedly, the Lumix GH5 is larger and heavier than the Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark ll, but I find it much easier to handle. The extra size of the GH5 is not a real issue since the big difference for saving weight and size is in the lenses.

Leica 12-60mm

Setting sun shines through lavender plants in France. Lumix GH5 with Leica 12-60mm 1/60th @ F/22 ISO 200

So as far as weight and size, the Olympus 12-100 is most definitely larger and somewhat heavier, but when comparing all the possibilities, it’s not as big of an issue as I thought it might be. That said, if you’re happy with 120mm at the long end and you want to go as light as possible, the Lumix G85 and the Leica 12-60mm is the way to go. During my recent two months in Europe, I found the 12-60mm to be exactly what I needed most of the time. I will admit, in a perfect world, we all want a bit more range. I’ve never met a photographer yet that didn’t want something more than what he/she was shooting.  In the end, you have to make the call on the tradeoff between weight and reach.

Maximum Aperture of F/2.8 Can Be An Advantage

The next comparison I want to discuss is the differences between the fixed F/4 aperture of the Olympus and the variable aperture F/2.8-4 of the Leica 12-60mm. In a perfect world, many photographers feel a fixed aperture through the entire zoom range is beneficial. I used to think the same, but with today’s camera technology it’s no longer an issue—most of the time. If you’re a pure manual shooter, variable aperture lenses can be a pain.

The reason variable apertures are a problem for manual exposure photographers relates to light transmission entering the lens barrel. Quite simply, the longer the barrel the more difficult it is for the light to get to the sensor. As a variable lens extends or retracts, the amount of light changes. If you’re shooting manual exposure you’ll have to readjust your shutter speed, aperture, or both as you zoom in or out. But that’s only an issue if you’re shooting on manual exposure. Since I shoot Program Mode virtually 100% of the time, the camera easily adjusts with the Leica 12-60mm. Why I shoot Program is an entirely separate blog post. You can read more about my reasons for this at Photography Using Program Mode. P for Professional is my motto

One of the other things to consider is that even though the 12-60mm has a F/2.8 aperture at 12mm (24mm equivalent), F/2.8 eventually changes to F/4. Thankfully that doesn’t happen until the lens reaches about 52mm. In short, the variable aperture is not a problem in my opinion and having F/2.8 as an option is one major advantage of the Leica over the Olympus.

Not Officially Macro Lenses But Both Focus Incredibly Close

Though neither of these optics is considered a true macro lens, both of them could suffice for macro work for most people. I regularly found myself using the Leica when I wanted to get very close to my subject. I did have the Leica 45mm macro in my camera bag, but it was very handy not to have to change lenses when I wanted that macro look. The specs for the two lenses show that the Leica can focus in as close as 7.87 inches (20 cm) and the Olympus 5.91 inches (15 cm). Not a huge difference but between the two, the Olympus is going to get you slightly closer.

Olympus 12-100mm

Chokecherries in Montana. GH5 with Olympus 12-100mm lens ISO 400

Manual Focus

Both lenses are very fast and very accurate when used with auto focus. Each also has the ability to be set to manual focus. On the Leica, it’s a simple switch of the back AF lever to set the lens to manual focus. On the Olympus, you simply pull the focus ring backward which releases a clutch-like mechanism that initiates manual focus. This type of system seems quite clever at first, but after using it for some time, I found myself regularly accidentally changing the lens to manual focus as I reached into my bag, grasping the lens and pulling my camera out. Many other Olympus lenses work in this manner and one way to fix this issue is to put a small piece of gaffers or duct tape on the focus ring. I’ve done just that on two Olympus lenses I own and it stops the lens from being disengaged when you least suspect it.

Cost

Between the two the Olympus is more expensive at $1299.99US. The Leica is a bit more affordable at $997.99. Not a huge difference but $300 will be a deciding factor for many photographers.


Special Thank You to Natural Exposures Explorer Fred Kurtz for sharing a great collection of images he shot with the Olympus 12-100m zoom. 

Conclusion

Both of these lenses are terrific new additions to the world of Micro Four Thirds lens choices. For me, the 12-60mm has become my go-to lens for almost all my travel photography, now coupled with the new Leica 8-18. The super wide 8-18mm allows for a considerably wider views of interiors I often shoot in Europe. But overall, during our last trips that included Croatia, Slovenia, and France, almost 95% of all my pictures were taken with the Leica 12-60mm F/2.8-4. Whether you decide to buy the Leica or the Olympus, it will most likely depend on how light you want to go since the Leica is a bit lighter than the Olympus. I’ve carried both and I will admit that I feel the Olympus more when it’s on a camera hanging from my shoulder. You could make the argument that having that additional reach of the Olympus’ 100mm (200mm equivalent) that you have a perfect combination when pairing it with the Leica 100-400mm. But I’ve found I don’t miss the additional 80mm, and giving that up for the lighter weight and bulk seems a worthwhile trade off.

The last thing to consider is how important Dual IS is to your shooting style. This is becoming an important issue when making the decision to mix and match our lenses from these two great companies. For those who don’t know, when adding an Olympus lens to a Lumix body, you give up the Dual IS capabilities we have with a Lumix lens on a Lumix body.  Just last week Lumix announced a firmware update for the 12-60mm which I immediately downloaded. A quick test showed the amazing ability to shoot handheld at 1.3 seconds at 12mm (24mequivalentnt) using Lumix’s Dual IS. I wouldn’t be able to do that with an Olympus lens on a Lumix camera.

Leica 12-60mm

Image Stabilization test, new firmware for 12-60mm. I shot this from my kitchen counter just after the new firmware update, handheld at 1.3 seconds @12mm (24mm equivalent).

In theory, being able to put an Olympus lens on a Lumix body is a great idea, but I’m starting to think that losing the Dual IS is not worth the benefits. Part of what I used to have to consider was whether Lumix had the particular lens I needed. That’s no longer much of an issue. Most of the Lumix lenses are matching Olympus and vice-versa. So the days of me thinking about purchasing Olympus lenses seem to be fading into the rearview mirror.

In the case of these two lenses, they don’t match each other perfectly but it’s close enough. They are both extremely sharp.  However, the lighter weight and the fact I get Dual IS are two of the main reasons I’ve chosen the Leica 12-60mm. Either way, they are both great lenses. The final decision is obviously yours.


Special Thanks to F-11 Photo in Bozeman, Montana for letting me borrow the Olympus 12-100mm for studio photos. Can’t thank Marsha enough for lending me gear I don’t own. For your Olympus or Fuji needs you can always drop F-11 Photo a line on there website at www.F11Photo.com.

Marsha Philips of F-11 Photo on safari with Natural Exposures Invitational Photo Tours. Kenya

As I’ve suggested in the past, support your local camera dealer if you have one. If not, support a smaller camera dealer like the folks at F-11 Photo in Bozeman, Montana. We need the little guys and gals in our life.

Luminary Disclaimer

In the spirt of complete transparency I want all my readers to know that I am a Lumix Luminary. That means I get paid a small stipend for writing about a system I absolutely love. That said, I want you all to know there is no amount of money more important than my integrity. Much to the chagrin of my Lumix colleagues, I often point out the bad with the good regarding Lumix technology and their camera gear. My belief is honesty and truthfulness will not just help you, but it also helps a company I love to work with. To that end, it’s full steam ahead telling it like it really is. 

Daniel J. Cox

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There are 10 comments on this post…
  1. Mike MarcusOn Sep. 23rd, 2017 (4 weeks ago)

    Dan, I stumbled onto your site and blog not too many months ago and I am glad I did. I find both your views on photo gear and your writing style a nice match to my biases. I think my ongoing experience may have some interest related to this comparison of yours. As background, since I am a first time poster here, my photo life started about 60 years ago with a Sawyer 120. Since then, I have traveled with various cameras and brands, and my life with MFT started with a Pany G1 and its very fine 14-45 kit lens. My MFT kit has morphed over time, including times with GF2, G3, GX1, GX7, and EM5, to where I now only have a GX8, which I grow increasingly fond of, with that old GX1 with a 14 pancake sometime still used for the pocket and for backup. Maybe because of my cheap, Dutchman genes and because I am a photo hobbyist, I typically buy softly used gear.

    Along the way, I added the Oly 12-40, in part due to its glowing reviews on DXO and elsewhere, its weather sealing, etc. and gave my 14-45 to my daughter to go with her/my old GF2 and G3. Now when I travel by air or hike I take a subset of my MFT kit (as defined by destination). What I now find at age 70, similar to your experience with the 12-100, is the weight of the 12-40 on GX8 sometimes gets to be too noticeable on longer carries, so I ended up buying a used 14-45 for travel. Then, recently I started to wonder why I still have the 12-40, so I did a shootout with it and the 14-45 in the backyard at near and far distances. Surprisingly, with these real world photos, I find no consistent difference in the GX8 image quality coming from the two lenses. Perhaps that is because of the in-camera lens correction on the old 14-45, which does not happen with the 12-40? Don’t know. (To me the difference between a 24 and 28mm is too little to really care about; but I am only an old hobbyist who wants nice photos. But I do like the near macro quality possible with the 12-40.)

    Next, during my recent time wandering the streets of Cusco and other interesting parts of Peru, I found the 14-45 sometimes lacking on the long end for some photos (as I took my P100-300 and fisheye, I had left my P45-150 home to minimize travel weight). After returning, I started to read nice reviews on the newer Pany 14-140 with Power OIS and its ability to pair with Dual OIS, so I bought a used copy to check out. In another comparison to the 12-40 through their overlapping range, I find both sets of real world photos are relatively comparable. As I found with the earlier test, sometimes one lens seems better on one comparison photo set with 100-200% blow up in Lightroom, sometimes the other one was marginally better. (On the longer end of 14-140 I see the older P100-300 to be somewhat better in the 100-140 range…maybe to be expected, but the quality difference when stopped down is again marginal and varying in my photo comparison.) So, I am again thinking, why keep the 12-40? Yes, it has weather sealing. Yes, it has much a higher DXO rating, I but I am not seeing very obvious difference my real-world photo comparisons, including details on spruce cones at distance. Then too, I really have not yet used the 14-140 much, its first real workout will come in few weeks as a “spectator” during my niece’s wedding and for fall leaves in Michigan. For that trip, I will also take the PL25 as a backup lens and for some comparison shots, as well my RX100ii as my in pocket and backup camera.

    So, after reading your article, I think yes, it is time to sell the 12-40. If I find that the 14-140 doesn’t make me happy, it too will get replaced, maybe by dropping back to my existing 14-45/45-150 pairing or to follow your choice for a Pany kit of the PL12-60. My experience agrees with yours for OIS with MFT: mate the same brand of lens to the camera brand whenever possible.

    Thank you for sharing that nice lens comparison of the PL to the Oly Pro. I will keep looking forward to many more informative and interesting blog posts from you.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Sep. 23rd, 2017 (4 weeks ago)

      Great to have you join the NE Corkboard community, Mike. Insights like yours are always appreciated from our readers. I’m betting you’re going to love the Panny 14-140mm. The new one is very sharp. Its only shortcoming is its durability. That’s based on the fact it has a lot of plastic in it, not lens elements, but body structure. However, it’s relatively cheap, is light as a feather and is very very sharp. All of that and it makes a fabulous all around travel lens. But it is more delicate than say the metal lenses in the Leica line. I’ve seen one G85 and 14-140mm take a drop onto concrete, from a lunch table, and due to the metal lens mount being screwed into a plastic body, the screws were ripped from the lens body. It wasn’t usable after that for the rest of the trip. Not sure how the repair went. But overall, many of our Explorers use them and they love that lens. Thaks for stopping by.

  2. Dennis WagnerOn Sep. 22nd, 2017 (4 weeks ago)

    Thank you for an overall excellent review of these 2 lenses. I agree that these are two very fine lenses, and I struggled to decide (after our last trip to Japan in 2016) which of these would be overall best for me on our next trip in the Spring, as part of my weight and lens reduction plan.

    I would like to point out some information missing from your review.

    The first is the PL 12-60mm’s variable aperture. The way you wrote implies that it is a gradual drop off until f/4 at 52mm, but actually it rapidly darkens, as follows: f/2.8 at 12mm, f/2.9 at 13mm), f/3.2 at 18mm, f/3.5 at 25mm, f/3.9 at 40mm to 50mm, f/4 from 51mm to 60mm.

    The second area is with respect to Dual IS. It is true that with the PL 12-60mm Dual IS does not work on the EM1ii. However, the EM1ii does have a similar feature (Sync IS) with the Olympus lenses which have OIS, including the 12-100mm.

    I wish it were reasonable for me to own both cameras and both lenses, but alas I cannot afford that, so in the end I decided on the Olympus EM1ii and 12-100mm, and at the time the 12-60 and GH5 had not yet shown up at my local dealer but he had the EM1ii in stock and a 12-100 on the way, plus $400 in “instant rebates”. I had already handled the GH5 and 12-60 months before and really liked it, but still was warmer to some of the Olympus features which I would miss.

    I do however have the PL 8-18mm and PL 100-400mm lenses, and the 8-18 replaced my Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 because I like the range better and it is much smaller and lighter (and I obviously don’t mind the variable aperture).

    “So many cameras and lenses, and so little time!”

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Sep. 23rd, 2017 (4 weeks ago)

      Dennis, thanks for your input. I’ll take a look at my wording in regards to discussing the lack of Dual IS when using an Olympus lens with a Lumix body and vise versa. I didn’t mean to infer Olympus does not have the same capabilities as Dual IS (what Olympus calls Sync IS) when it’s an Olympus with an Olympus body. My point was to make sure readers are aware that, as we move forward, intermixing Lumix and Olympus bodies and lenses, the optimum combination is a Lumix lens for a Lumix camera and Olympus lens for an Olympus camera. In a perfect world these two companies would get the Dual IS and Sync IS figured out for the consumers benefit but alas it seems each company is getting a bit more territorial, wanting us to go with their respective lens and bodies. I will say that I worry about this a bit for the future since the adoption of MFT has benefited immensely from their cooperative agreement. Unfortunately, each of these companies alone most likely will never break the Canon/Nikon nut, but together they have created a chance.

  3. Mike GOn Sep. 22nd, 2017 (4 weeks ago)

    Hi Dan,
    I moved to micro 4/3s some time ago for the size advantage when traveling and also hiking. For travel I currently use Olympus 9-18 (variable), and Panasonic 20 F/1.7 and 40-150 (variable). I’m going to pick up the Leica 8-18 as a replacement for my Olympus 9-18 due to improved range and aperture.

    Do you have any idea if the potential Leica 50-200 F/2.8-4 will go ahead? I think this would be a fantastic choice for travel. As much as the 100-400 is an amazing lens, that effective 200mm starting is too long for me to travel with as a single telephoto option.
    Thanks,
    Mike

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Sep. 22nd, 2017 (4 weeks ago)

      Could not agree with you more as far as the 100-400mm being a bit too much for people not shooting wildlife. The coming 50-200mm F/2.8-f will be a superb addition to the MFT lens lineup. And yes, it is coming. Not sure if it will be 2 months of 6 months but it is coming I’m confident. Hang in there Mike, we’re going to be very happy in the not too distant future. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  4. DougOn Sep. 22nd, 2017 (4 weeks ago)

    Thanks for the quick response! One last question, if I may…Will I see a significant difference in stills between the G85 and the GH5?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Sep. 22nd, 2017 (4 weeks ago)

      Doug, yes I believe you will have an advantage with the GH5 due to it’s somewhat larger sensor. The GH5 gives you almost 5 more megapixels at being 20.3 megapixel sensor compared to the G85’s 16 megapixel sensor. One of the benefit of  a larger

      Toco Toucan, Pantanal, Brazil. Shot with Lumix GH5 and Leica 100-400mm lens. FL 260 flash for fill

      sensor is the ability to crop if needed. That’ snot very often necessary since but it’s not to have more megapixels when it is. Here’s an example from my recent trip to Brazil. The first image is no crop. The second image is a much more effective photo for the clients I work with.

      Toco Toucan, Pantanal, Brazil.

  5. DougOn Sep. 21st, 2017 (1 month ago)

    Dan: Thanks for a great review. The Panasonic 12-60 looks great! I’m currently shooting Fuji and love their 100-400mm. However, because I travel a lot, I’m considering Panasonic. A couple of quick questions: 1) How does the Panasonic 100-400mm compare to the Fuji? And to the Panasonic 100-300 (new version)? 2) How much will I gain for stills photography if I choose the GH5 over the G85?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Sep. 21st, 2017 (1 month ago)

      Hi Doug, the Fuji 100-400mm is a stellar lens. I shot it and the Leica in a caparison test awhile ago. The Fuji was a tad sharper but not enough to make a difference based on the stunning results I’m getting with the GH5 and the Leica 100-400mm. Additionally, the Fuji is BIG. Much bigger than the Leica 100-400mm. Add to that Fuji’s ongoing AF issues with things like Birds in Flight and as good as this lens is, it’s just not an option for action or going small, light and mobile. On our recent Brown Bear Invitational Photo Tour in Alaska, one of our NE Explorers had the new Fuji X-T2 with the Fuji 100-400mm zoom. On a couple of days we shot flying puffins together and he never did get anything, with the Fuji system, he considered sharp. He had a Nikon D5300 and a 70-300mm zoom he took out on our second try and got quite a few results he was happy with. I’ve heard great things about the XT-2 so I was interested in seeing how it would do in an action situation. Unfortunately we were both disappointed.

      The 100-300mm version 2 is a huge leap, as far as AF speed is concerned, over the original version 1. This new lens is definitely worth looking at for people who just don’t want to spend the mopey on the more expensive 100-40mm Leica. The new 100-300mm is a very good option for those on more of a budget. That said, I’m a huge fan of the little better glass, more sold build and professional quality of the Leica 100-400mm. On top of that, the 100-400mm combined with the Lumix GH5 and their combined Dual IS has been getting me photographs I’ve never been able top capture in the past. Like the photo below of a black bear cub I shot this summer. It was taken with the GH5 and Leica 100-400mm. Shot at 1/80th of a second, 400mm (800mm equivalent) hand held at ISO 2000.

      Black bear cub in tree. Bridger Mountains. Montana

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