I found this lens to be very quick to use and its lightweight made it easy to position and swing around when necessary. It doesn’t feel like a 400mm f/2.8 lens in the hand at all, as it is so much smaller and more manoeuvrable. On each of the bodies I tried this on the AF responds very quickly, and in complete silence when used wide open. When used closed to some other aperture setting there is the faintest noise as the iris moves – but you have to be right next to the barrel to hear it. The focusing is silent at all times though.
The effect of the image stabilisation is quite sensational, especially when the lens is paired with the DC-G9 or other models equipped with Dual IS ll. I spent some time switching it on and off to see the effect, and remained amazed every time I did so. It really is excellent. I tested it handheld down to 1/8sec and the images recorded are sharp – even in mechanical shutter mode.
Panasonic’s Leica lenses have a characteristic that makes them very nicely sharp at their widest apertures, and I’m pleased to say this Leica DG Elmarit 200mm f/2.8 Power O.I.S follows suit. Even when used at f/2.8 it produces the most deliciously crispy images that are stuffed full of detail and texture. Having been a fan of the Leica range since it begin I expected this to be sharp at the widest aperture, but I honestly wasn’t prepared for quite how sharp. That sharpness holds right across the frame as well, and only gets better as the lens is stopped down to f/4. Depth of field at this focal length and wide aperture is severely restricted so focused areas are emphasised by the blur around them, but that adds to the effect of resolution rather than simply providing a dramatic comparison.
Image quality doesn’t appear to dip even when the DMW-TC14 1.4x teleconverter is mounted between the lens and the body, and again used wide open the results are crystal-clean and detailed. I had expected some degradation in sharpness, but there appears to be none – it is very impressive.
With the DMW-TC14 the only thing that tells you it is fitted is that your subject becomes larger in the frame. The AF works in exactly the same way and at the same speed, and in bright light you won’t notice the aperture dropping to f/4. In dim light though the loss of light means higher ISO settings – especially with moving subjects.
Once I’ve spend some more time with the lens I’ll post some more images and observations.
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