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

Sample Images & Verdict

Make OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP.
Model E-M5MarkII
ISO Speed 640
Focal Length 8.0mm
Aperture: f/2.8
Exposure 1/15s
Make OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP.
Model E-M5MarkII
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 11.0mm
Aperture: f/7.1
Exposure 1/250s
Make OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP.
Model E-M5MarkII
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 8.0mm
Aperture: f/7.1
Exposure 1/400s
Make OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP.
Model E-M5MarkII
ISO Speed 400
Focal Length 8.0mm
Aperture: f/4.0
Exposure 1/20s
Make OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP.
Model E-M5MarkII
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 13.0mm
Aperture: f/7.1
Exposure 1/640s
Make OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP.
Model E-M5MarkII
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 18.0mm
Aperture: f/4.0
Exposure 1/1250s
Make OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP.
Model E-M5MarkII
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 13.0mm
Aperture: f/7.1
Exposure 1/500s
Make OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP.
Model E-M5MarkII
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 13.0mm
Aperture: f/7.1
Exposure 1/320s
Make OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP.
Model E-M5MarkII
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 8.0mm
Aperture: f/7.1
Exposure 1/160s
Make OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP.
Model E-M5MarkII
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 8.0mm
Aperture: f/7.1
Exposure 1/500s
Make OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP.
Model E-M5MarkII
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 12.0mm
Aperture: f/7.1
Exposure 1/160s
Make OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP.
Model E-M5MarkII
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 8.0mm
Aperture: f/7.1
Exposure 1/800s
Make OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP.
Model E-M5MarkII
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 8.0mm
Aperture: f/2.8
Exposure 1/2500s
Make OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP.
Model E-M5MarkII
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 8.0mm
Aperture: f/8.0
Exposure 1/200s

Competition

As mentioned in the introduction, you have at least 3 lenses in this class to choose from - if you include the consumer-grade Olympus M.Zuiko 9-18mm f/f4.5-5.6 ED (not shown below) there are even 4. The funny thing is - there's not a hell of a difference between them in terms of optical quality. They are all "good" really - although they stay short of excellent. The Olympus M.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO (to the left below) is certainly the most impressive one in terms of visual appearance. Whether you really require a constant aperture of f/2.8 - well, that's up to you really. On the downside, it's rather heavy for an MFT lens and it has a bulb-like front element thus you can't mount front filters. The latter also applies to the Panasonic 7-14mm f/4 ASPH (center). Thanks to the moderate aperture of f/4, it is the smallest of the gang which certainly has its appeal. The Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4 ASPH (to the right) sits in between those two lenses.

Visual comparison courtesy of camerasize.com.

Verdict

As you might expect, the Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4 ASPH is a very decent performer in its category. The image center is very sharp and the borders and corners are pretty good as well - technically at least. Field curvature is a bit of an issue at 12mm albeit that's not unheard of in this class (albeit usually at the wide end). Image distortions as well as vignetting are low when taking advantage of image auto-correction (obviously). The quality of the native design isn't quite as hot in these respects though. Lateral CAs are very low and contribute to the high-quality perception. If pushed you will be able to spot some ghostings are a bit of glare with strong light sources in the scene. However, it isn't worse than the competition in this respect.

A highlight of the lens (as well as its Leica cousins) is the build quality. We really wished this would be standard across all lenses. The Leica lens feels both sturdy and extremely well assembled with smooth controls and weather sealing on top of all that. Some may regret that Panasonic skipped an image stabilizer but honestly we agree with this approach because it's already difficult enough to produce ultra-wide lenses without much sample variations.

Overall the Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4 ASPH follows a balanced approach in this category. It skips a constant aperture in favour of having front filters combined with a compact size. We wouldn't state that it excels compared to its Olympus and Panasonic mates but it is in the very same league and as such an appealing option.

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