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Panasonic LEICA 9mm F1.7 MFT Lens – Review and Mini-Documentary


The Panasonic LEICA DG Summilux 9mm F1.7 Micro Four Thirds Lens has been announced and I took it for a short spin. Is it the wide-angle lens you have been waiting for? For me personally, the answer is very obvious! If you are interested in finding what I mean, please continue on reading my Panasonic LEICA 9mm lens review.

Spring is here in Europe and if you are reading this review on your computer, then you might not be doing everything right in life, because the weather is beautiful and life is too short to sit indoors and stare at your computer screen… Well, easier said than done, as someone who “has to” put certain experiences into words. Luckily, I’m one of those guys who has the privilege to do both: spending time at the computer, yet, going out and film engaging people. As I did with Ido, a young student with a passion for running ultra marathons. Just to put it into perspective: the distance I run in an entire week, he does in just one session (about 50km) – and that’s impressive! More about Ido’s sporting activities can be found here. Also, make sure to check out our article for specs and details.

Panasonic LEICA 9mm Lens – What I like about it

It’s rare that stars get aligned in such a way that filmmakers get what they were hoping for at an attractive price, and this is definitely the case with this new Panasonic lens. In more ways than one, Panasonic and Leica did a great job, and let me explain why.

Perfect circle
Click to see how perfect the middle circle is. Credit: CineD
  • I really appreciate how Panasonic kept the middle of the frame completely distortion-free. Best to demonstrate what I’m talking about is by placing our resolution chart in arm’s reach where you usually would be holding your camera when vlogging. By clicking on the above-animated GIF, you can see, how perfect the middle circle is. So in reality, when facing the camera while vlogging for example, your face won’t be distorted and this is a big plus! 
Checking lens distortion
Checking lens distortion from around 10cm. Image credit: CineD

We did the same thing at a closer distance, (10cm) and the circle was still perfect.

Panasonic LEICA 9mm at f1.7
Panasonic LEICA 9mm at f1.7. Image credit: CineD
  • Other than that, the lens is very sharp, even when wide open. (Here at F1.7). Maybe even to the point that I would recommend using a filter in order to give a less digital look and feel.
vertical lines kept straight
vertical lines kept relatively straight. Image credit: CineD
  • Geometry speaking, see how relatively well the outer vertical lines are kept.
  • Another plus is the almost zero focus breathing effect.
Minimum close focus
Minimum close focus of less than 1cm. Image credit: CineD
Great for very close distance shots
Great for very close distance shots. Image credit: CineD
  • The lens is half macro and the closest focusing distance is less than 1cm.
Bokeh appearance.
Bokeh appearance. Nice and smooth. Image credit: CineD
  • The bokeh is very nice and unified with no “onion rings effect”
  • Chromatic adoration is well controlled  
compact and lightweight
At 130g, this lens is very compact and lightweight. Image credit: CineD
  • The Lens is very compact and weighs only 130 grams which makes it perfect for traveling! 
Placing a filter
Placing a filter on the front lens thread is possible. Image credit: CineD
  • Another thing that I appreciate is the ability to add filters to the front 55mm lens thread. 
  • Fast F1.7 aperture on a micro four thirds sensor is very nice to have as it allows greater flexibility when filming in more challenging light conditions.

In the field

I shot the above video on the Panasonic LUMIX GH6. Settings-wise, I used 5.7k 25p, ProRes Recording for the “normal” shots, and MOV 5.7K 60p for the slow-motion shots. Mind you that autofocus is NOT possible while filming in Variable Frame Rate Mode. So AF has to be set prior to hitting the record button, but this is of course not ideal when filming sports activities.

Other than that, the lens was a pure joy to use. Put it together with any of your LUMIX GH series of cameras, and you have a compact setting nice for traveling and vlogging if you are into filming yourself talking into a camera…

One thing that I did not have the chance to test, is how well this lens would work on an Olympus camera or even DJI Zenmuse. (Some of you asked us on YouTube if this lens will work on such a set-up and I have no solid answer to give).

Panasonic LEICA 9mm lens on the LUMIX GH6
Panasonic LEICA 9mm lens on the LUMIX GH6. Image credit: CineD

Conclusion

Depending on what projects you do and your filming style, for $499 I think this lens is a good purchasing option, at least for myself. And back to what I wrote before, the stars aligned perfectly here, and this particular product is very well made, has great optical performance, is well priced, and a joy to use.

Well done Panasonic and LEICA!

What do you think about the new Panasonic LUMIX 9mm lens? Do you miss filming wide-angle shots with your Micro Four Thirds camera and can this be the solution for you? Please share with us your thoughts in the comment section below.





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