Lens technology is something we don't often write about as often as the camera body itself, but this week we saw a lens that is a little bit different.
The LUMIX G X Vario PZ 45-175mm and 14-42mm lenses are being touted as the world's first interchangeable Micro Four Thirds System lenses offering electric powered zoom operation.
Instead of manually extending the zoom with your hand, it's done with the press of a button: like with a compact camera. In addition to making the lenses more compact, this also gives them an instant familiarity to people upgrading from a compact camera. They also provide smooth zooming when shooting video - something that is not always easy to achieve with a manual lens.
The Lumix G X VARIO PZ (H-PS14042) on the left, compared to its manual-zoom equivalent.
For enthusiasts, lugging around lenses with interhcangeable lens cameras is one of the big hassles - these smaller Lumix G lenses, dubbed 'Series X', reduce the bulk and weight.
Also read: Panasonic's GF3 is big loser in race to shrink cameras
Compatible with Pansonic DMC-GH2, DMC-G3, DMC-GF3 and DMC-GF2 cameras, the new lenses also boast improved image rendering courtesy of Panasonic's Nano Surface Coating (for improvements to ghosting, flaring and reflection issues).
The LUMIX G X Vario PZ 45-175mm/F4.0-5.6 ASPH./POWER O.I.S. (H-PS45175) comprises three lens groups which are separately controlled by Panasonic's Multi-Actuator Floating Inner Focus System. It offers a zoom range of 45-175 mm (35 mm camera equivalent: 90-350 mm), measures 90mm and weighs approximately 210g.
Pictured: Lumix G X Vario PZ 45-175mm/F4.0-5.6 ASPH./POWER O.I.S. (H-PS45175). Note the zoom lever on the lens' barrel.
The LUMIX G X Vario PZ 14-42mm/F3.5-5.6 ASPH./POWER O.I.S (H-PS14042) retractable zoom lens, meanwhile, comes with four aspherical lenses. With its minimum focus distance of 0.2m (14-20mm) / 0.3m (21-42mm), the new lens provides a maximum photographic magnification of 0.34x (35 mm equivalent). It measures 26.8mm in length and weighs 95g.
Series X in action
We has a brief play with the new lenses yesterday during a Panasonic visit to our office, and they do exactly what they say on the tin: a push of the zoom lever springs the morotised lens into action; just like an ultra-zoom compact camera. The lens barrel also features a manual focus lever for more precise manual control.
The Series X lenses reminded us of Samsung's
albeit with the addition of an electric-powered zoom.
Both lenses will be available in a choice of black and silver and are expected to hit stores in late October. Pricing is yet to be announced.
Panasonic has also announced a firmware update for its Lumix G Micro System digital interchangeable lens system cameras (DMC-GH2, DMC-G3, DMC-GF3 and DMC-GF2).
Firmware version 1.1 will enhance functions when the cameras are used with the new power zoom lenses.
The new firmware program ver.1.1 will be available worldwide from the beginning of October at http://panasonic.jp/support/global/cs/dsc/.