With such a wide variety of choices for the MFT system, choosing the right wide angle lens can be tricky. This is how my brains led me to my choice.
Me relation to wide angles
Wide angle shots have never really been my thing. I’m a tele kinda guy. Sure, I have always kept my gear bag prepped with a wide, should a customer request pop up, but I’ve rarely used one for artistic purposes in my own projects. It’s not that I don’t like wide angles, don’t get me wrong, I’m simply more comfortable with the flat tele look.
In my video productions, and especially the work done on the Ellimacs SFX Makeup channel on YouTube, I often need both wide and tele but there I’ve found that 24mm (full frame equiv.) is more than wide enough. So we actually use the Olympus 12-100mm f/4 for almost all shots on the channel, but that’s a story for a different post.
So why ultra wide now?
Well, for quite a few years I have been working on a story and writing a script for a sci-fi short. It’s a very slow process and I’m in no hurry but 2019 is the year I will try to make this short a reality.
Quite a few scenes have been written in such a way that the story is best told with a super wide angle so, there you have it. I need a proper lens for this project.
The Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18/2.8-4 Asph
My main reason for choosing this lens over the other offerings from Panasonic (7-14mm f/4) and Olympus (7-14mm f/2.8) is because it’s the only one of the three that takes regular screw-in filters. That, and the fact that it’s just a sharp as the other two and arguably the best built one, made it a pretty simple choice. Sure I lose a little on the wide end but since its going all the way to 36mm (full frame equiv.) it doubles as a great allround lens for street photography too.
It’s a solid chunk of metal and balances very well on both the new and the old Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Cameras, as well as smaller MFT bodies like the Olympus OM-D EM10 MK III. Zoom and focus is smooth and precise and the whole package is weather sealed.
The image quality is really great and I myself have no issues with the slight vingeting. It goes away when stopping down. The variable f/2.8-4.0 aperture is not bothering me either. It’s a super wide lens, not many things will be out of focus anyway and most cameras have a good enough ISO performance to make up for the f/4 maximum when zoomed in. The bokeh, when you manage to get close enough, is really nice too as seen in the sample raw files below. 23cm close focusing distance by the way.
If you plan on doing any perspective correction you can expect good results. The examples below are just quickies and yes, I do know that the lamp line in one of the shots is not fixed haha. Its arching like crazy. But you get the idea.
Panasonic 8-18mm f/2.8-4.0 sample photos + raw files
As usual with lens reviews here is a pack of raw sample files shot with the Olympus OM-D EM10 MKIII. Some of the subjects you have seen in the article and the rest you can preview under the pros/const list below.
Click here to download all sample raw files (10 files, 142 MB)
The Panasonic Leica 8-18mm is an all around great lens, if you have the money to shell out. The filter thread makes this a clear winner compared to its peers, at least for me since I need to use a variable ND filter on it when filming. If you’re not planning on using filters then I would suggest the more affordable Panasonic 7-14mm f/4 instead unless you really need that f/2.8 aperture, in which case the Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro is your choice.
– Excellent build quality
– Excellent image quality
– Weather sealed
– Takes regular filters
– Smooth focus and zoom rings
– Great zoom-range
– Steep price tag
– Only goes to 8mm on wide end