Lumix S Pro 70-200mm f/2.8 Review

After much excitement the Lumix S Pro 70-200 f/2.8 is finally here and even beating Nikon to the punch with their lens. However let’s concentrate on the new Lumix lens and I can tell you, I am busting with joy.

As I picked up the box which is of huge over-sized proportions, I knew I was hoping the lens offered much more than a full on box beast mode. And beast it is ! I mean it feels solid to touch as the quality of the exterior is superb. It seems like the weather proofing has been carefully thought out, the structure of the 3 side buttons on the barrel are perfectly placed. So far so good.

Let’s get into this “work in progress review”. Images and samples will be updated over the next week or so.

Lumix S Pro 70-200mm f/2.8 Review

Image Quality

Let’s talk about the quality of the images I got out of the lens today. Firstly I was a tad concerned with the price point of the lens as this is more expensive than some of the other mirrorless rivals out there and let’s face it while Lumix made great video cameras the stills from their range was a little touch and go in non-full frame formats.

Saying all that; after using the lens for around 3hrs I’m delighted to say the image quality is exceptional, I mean gold standard good. It’s sharp in almost any focal length and aperture even under a 1:1 crop to pixel peep in Capture One. I’ll have some samples ready on that soon.

Having used Sony (a-mount) for so long, jumping to Nikon and Lumix (yes I’m using two formats) I feared I would be switching between bodies to get the best out of each platform but I didn’t need to worry as I doubt that the Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8 will beat this out by any length that’s worth worrying about. A full review for that lens will follow as soon as I have a copy. So for my everyday work it looks like I will be staying with the Lumix for now.

CA is managed well, color is well managed and faithful too. I haven’t got lens flare without purposely looking for it and the hood does a great job of protecting the flare from occurring anyway, the only soft spot was at 70mm and wide open the extreme edge is teeny bit squidgy as I could call it but nothing you would notice under normal viewing conditions or off putting in anyway shape or form. Certainly nothing you see less of in other lenses from other brands. No vignetting was spotted at any focal length.

One thing about the lens hood, it’s got a very unique design that I haven’t seen before except maybe something similar on the Sony 70-400 SSM II many moons ago. It’s bigger than most hoods as is the lens but the hood is of great design too which really helps.

Anyway image quality . . . the CA and lens flare are well managed and the pictures seem sharp right across the frame. Tracking objects is even better than I expected and the handy AF/MF clutch really does a nice job of helping me shoot faster and more economically than when compared to using an adapter for Nikon glass for example or having no clutch to switch with. It’s a pretty handy feature.

Bokeh is very beautiful and soft but depending on how “soft” you like I guess and as ever, maybe won’t be soft enough for some but I doubt will be an issue for 90% of portrait and wedding photographers. If you are a bokeh whore I would think the 70-200 f/2.8 would be the third or fourth lens you would select behind an 85mm or Macro for example.

For wildlife photography the best I could do this quickly living in NYC was some shots of birds at the seaside and found the background fall off was spot on. Without taking this lens out for some serious wildlife photography I can’t comment any more on that, yet anyway.

Ergonomics

If you bought the S1R the chances are you bought it for its size. Almost an obnoxious size but a camera that felt like a DSLR but one who has trimmed down the fat and replaced with muscle. The lens follows this ethos too.

At 3.45 lbs the Lumix S Pro 70-200mm f/2.8 is no fairy and makes it heavier than it’s Sony and Nikon counterparts but that’s ok, the extra weight in exchange for better stabilization is a concession I’m willing to give “7 stops” of shake as Panasonic’s marketing blurb will have you believe. If anyone complains about its length, remind them it’s actually shorter than the Nikon Z 70-200 f/2.8 which is 1/4 inch longer than the Lumix S Pro 70-200 f/2.8 and I won’t want to hear anything more on the matter either, yes it’s big but not the biggest.

The collar for the tripod has a nice touch to include arca-swiss build into it, a very nice touch indeed. Although most of the time the collar will be in the bag for a lot of shooters to try and lighten the lens up a little bit. Good news is that it’s perfectly crafted and slipped into the Manfrotto BeFree GT ball head without an issue.

On the left of the lens you have the OIS modes which help you control shake and the focal limiter on the top which falls on my thumb well for me to control focus and zoom with the rest of my left hand. Being a new boy to the Lumix scene I found myself genuinely pleased at how well this lens had been thought out from a design stand point.

One point I want to make about the feel of the focus ring is the level of resistance feels slightly heavier than I’m used to, and that’s in no way a bad thing. The resistance is perfect and means I have a smoother transition, more accurate transition in fact when using manual focus.

Conclusion

Everything about this lens oozes class and quality, the build and image quality are amazing and in a blind test I would challenge anyone to start complaining about the bokeh, speed of focus and overall image quality this lens produces. One area that impressed me was how silent this lens is, it’s whisper quiet and coupled with the fantastic focus ring which gives enough push back without being over powering; I’d say this is the best 70-200mm f2.8 I have used to date.

I bought into the Lumix family for it’s weather proofing and size, I needed a great button config and a build quality that would cope with a real bashing my cameras get from daily life as a photographer. This lens matches the S1R for its rugged strength and image quality in every way. Had this lens been made with less than with a quality feel I would have been running for the hills, now I feel quite the opposite and want the next super zoom. I want it now please Lumix, a 100-400mm maybe ?

If Lumix / Panasonic can make gold standard glass like the Lumix S Pro 70-200mm f/2.8 then I see no reason why others will not jump from DSLR to this platform especially if they like size and great weather proofing not only in the body but with the lenses too.

If you have questions about the Lumix 70-200mm f/2.8 pro lens then ask in the comments below. 

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