Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 50-200mm f/2.8-4 ASPH Power OIS review

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 50-200mm f/2.8-4 ASPH Power OIS

This is a two-page article

  • Page OnePhysical Comparisons and Tele-converters
  • Page TwoVariable Aperture, Image Stabilisation, AF, Zoom Ring, Image Quality

 

The latest of Panasonic’s f/2.8-4 Leica zoom lenses has got a number of photographers pretty excited – and rightly so. The Elmarit 50-200mm provides a very useful set of focal lengths over its 4x zoom range, and includes the 24-6.2° angles of view we’d expect to see in a 100-400mm zoom from a full frame system, but in a much smaller barrel.

I managed to get hold of one for a short while and was able to put it through some of its paces and to find out a bit more about how it works and what it will be good for. I’ve taken some questions from forums and Lumix users and hope that I have covered at least some of the things people wanted to know about this lens.

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 50-200mm f/2.8-4 ASPH Power OIS

Zoom positions compared

The physical

Unsurprisingly, the lens is very well made and feels nice and solid in the hand. The design is very much in keeping with the Leica 12-60mm f/2.8-4 and the 8-18mm f/2.8-4, and it is clear from the outset that they are all part of the same system. The tapered barrel is metal and cool to the touch, as are the well-ribbed zoom and focusing rings. At the mount end of the barrel we have sliding switches for auto and manual focus, and for the powered 5-stop optical image stabilisation system.

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 50-200mm f/2.8-4 ASPH Power OIS
The top of the barrel tells us that the closest focus distance is 0.75m/2.46ft, and the distinctive orange/yellow paint denoting the focal lengths makes the point that this is one of Panasonic’s Leica lenses.

Despite the focal range and the wide maximum apertures the lens is remarkably small. 132mm in the closed position, it’s only just longer than the standard Lumix 100-300mm f/4-5.6 but a good deal shorter than the 100-400mm f/4-6.3. As you can see here too, there isn’t a massive difference in the diameter of the barrels either.

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 50-200mm f/2.8-4 ASPH Power OIS

Picture credit – Carol Hartfree

Unlike the 200mm f/2.8 and the 100-400mm f/4-6.3, this 50-200mm f/2.8-4 lens doesn’t have tripod foot of its own. It just isn’t long enough to warrant one – and there’s not really much room on the barrel to house one either.

Fully extended the lens measures about a third of the length again, while the zoom ring needs only a quarter turn to achieve the extension from the 50mm position.

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 50-200mm f/2.8-4 ASPH Power OIS

Top left, the lens at 50mm. Top right, at 200mm. Bottom left, with the 1.4x converter. Bottom right, with the 2x converter

If you need a little more focal length Panasonic provides a pair of tele-converters that increase the focal reach by 1.4x and 2x. These are the same converters that were introduced with the Leica 200mm f/2.8, and this is currently the only other lens that is officially compatible with them.

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 50-200mm f/2.8-4 ASPH Power OIS

The Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 50-200mm f/2.8-4 ASPH Power OIS compared for length at its 50mm and 200mm settings, and with both tele-converters. Click to enlarge and to see the GIF in action.

With the 1.4x converter the lens behaves as a 140-560mm f/4-5.6 and with the 2x converter we have something like a 200-800mm f/5.6-8 – but all in a much smaller package then we’d expect for those focal lengths. You can see that the converters add hardly anything to the physical length of the lens, and even with the 2x converter mounted the lens is very easy to handle. In comparison the 200mm f/2.8 with the 2x converter is much heavier and much more in need of its own tripod foot.

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 50-200mm f/2.8-4 ASPH Power OIS

The Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 50-200mm f/2.8-4 ASPH Power OIS with 2x converter compared to the Leica DG Elmarit 200mm f/2.8 Power O.I.S. with the 2x converter

 

This is a two-page article

  • Page OnePhysical Comparisons and Tele-converters
  • Page TwoVariable Aperture, Image Stabilisation, AF, Zoom Ring, Image Quality

Pages: 1 2