Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4 ASPH - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - (Micro-)Four-Thirds

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published July 2018

Introduction

Every mature system is offering the holy trinity of zoom lenses - thus a relatively fast ultra-wide-, standard- and tele-zoom lens. The only exception to the rule is Panasonic ... they got two of them - one native Panasonic set (7-14mm f/4, 12-35mm f/2.8, 35-100mm f/2.8) and one Leica branded set (8-18mm f/2.8-4, 12-60mm f/2.8-4, 50-200mm f/2.8-4). You may notice that the Leica variant has a slightly different flavour regarding the variable aperture and the focal length range here. Unless you are religious about having a constant aperture, the Leica lenses appear to be more attractive ... assuming that the performance is high up there at least. A while ago we reviewed the Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4 ASPH OIS - a good lens albeit not jaw-droppingly superb. This review will focus on its wider cousin - the Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4 ASPH - thus an ultra-wide zoom lens with a focal range equivalent to "16-36mm".

Usually, we are associating Leica lenses with sky-high price tags. However, this perception isn't entirely true. At 1000USD/1100EUR, it is just marginally more expensive than the slightly wider Panasonic 7-14mm f/4 ASPH and actually cheaper than the Olympus M.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO. There's also another message in this list of lenses - MFT users are blessed with choices in this quality class.

The Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4 ASPH is beautifully made with an outer shell made of a metal. The zoom- and focus rings operate smoothly. The physical length of the lens remains constant throughout the zoom and focus range albeit there's an inner tube that moves inside the lens body. Unlike many other professional lenses, it is not only splash- and dust-proof but also freeze-proof down to -10C. A petal-shaped lens hood is part of the package.

The AF shows no surprises - it is quick and silent. As usual manual focusing works by-wire thus you are driving the lens motor by turning the focus ring. An optical image stabilizer is not provided but there are many MFT cameras that provide you with in-camera IS anyway.

Specifications
Equiv. focal length"16-36mm" (full format equivalent)
Equiv. aperture"f/5.6-8" (full format equivalent in terms of depth-of-field)
Optical construction15 Elements in 10 Groups (3xaspherical, 1xaspherical-ED, 1x ED, 1xUHR)
Number of aperture blades7 (circular)
min. focus distance0.23m (1:8.33)
Dimensions (L x W)73.4x88mm
Weight315g
Filter size67mm
HoodPetal-shaped, supplied, bayonet mount
Other featuresDust- and splash-proof, Freeze-proof (-10C), Nano-Surface Coating