Just received the Lumix G Vario PZ 14-42 lens at DVinfo.net

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Panasonic LUMIX G / GF / GH / GX Series
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Old March 21st, 2012, 08:01 PM   #1
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Just received the Lumix G Vario PZ 14-42 lens

I'll post a video review next week but here are my initial impressions of the 14-42 power zoom lens:

1) Physically small lens. Totally mechanized without any manual ring controls including focus. The focus and zoom toggles are very small.

2) The zoom is par-focal so it stays in focus throughout the zoom.

3) The zoom speeds are moderately fast and medium. I haven't been able to coax any other speeds out of it.

4) The focus toggle is functional and getting sharp manual focus isn't hard.

5) The f-stops noticeably change during a zoom with a fixed ISO in a low light situation.

I'll do some test shooting this weekend.
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Old March 21st, 2012, 11:59 PM   #2
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Re: Just received the Lumix G Vario PZ 14-42 lens

William,

I'll be looking forward to some good news regarding this lens. I cancelled my order after waiting 8 months, then reading some very poor reviews.

Fingers crossed.
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Old March 22nd, 2012, 06:30 PM   #3
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Re: Just received the Lumix G Vario PZ 14-42 lens

I got mine with the GF3 which comes with a menu option for adjusting the zoom speed separately for photo vs video.

My GH2 which is still firmware 1.0, doesn't have this menu option... I'll probably update my firmware tonight.

:edit: just updated my firmware to 1.1 and there's 3 speed options now for the zoom, just like the GF3. It's a bit buried in the Custom menu, pg 4 under Power Zoom Lens.
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Old March 23rd, 2012, 09:06 AM   #4
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Re: Just received the Lumix G Vario PZ 14-42 lens

Looking forward to your review, William. The power zoom and unlimited recording time really make the GH2 unique among large sensor interchangeable lens video cameras.
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Old March 23rd, 2012, 11:51 AM   #5
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Re: Just received the Lumix G Vario PZ 14-42 lens

I'll do some shooting tomorrow. My initial impressions are lukewarm since a noticeable f-stop change during a zoom is worrisome. However it may not be an issue in good lighting. I'll post something early next week.
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Old March 23rd, 2012, 12:04 PM   #6
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Re: Just received the Lumix G Vario PZ 14-42 lens

William, not to be a wet blanket, but I vaguely recall reviews here and there that suggest the lenses being shipped, or those that shipped in the past, may have issues. I specifically remember seeing something on Amazon about it. You might check this out if you are not aware, in case you experience anything similar to what other folks have discussed online. Good luck with it, sound like an interesting lens.
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Old March 23rd, 2012, 01:27 PM   #7
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Re: Just received the Lumix G Vario PZ 14-42 lens

Don't worry, I am a wet blanket when it comes to things like this. A change in f-stops during a zoom is to expected in many lenses and it is not noticeable in many instances, as it's gradual, but when it hits in abrupt increments as was my experience at 3200 ISO in my not brightly lit apartment at night, that's unusable. But, please be aware, I wasn't being very careful and I am not sure if I didn't have the picture control set to Dynamic which will abruptly change the image in small increments when the composition changes. The camera went back into it's case and I haven't used it since I put the lens on just to make sure it worked.

Tomorrow is the big test in full manual and various increments of automatic.
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Old March 26th, 2012, 10:54 AM   #8
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Re: Just received the Lumix G Vario PZ 14-42 lens

The weather didn't turn out so well and a planned filming trip to a flea market was cancelled. But I did play around with the lens some more and here are some additional observations:

- The slowest the zoom can be adjusted is what I consider a moderate zoom, nothing slow and subtle. The menu options are not much different from each other and you only get two speeds from each option.

- The sudden f-stop changes during a zoom seem to be there but it's very subtle in a well lit scene. In fact I had to really examine the zooms during playback and check the waveform. The reason I saw it in the first place was that I was at 3200 ISO and at manual iris. Shooting in Program AE seems to minimize it. But it is there and I will shoot some scene at my studio in controlled lighting to demonstrate it this week.

- The DOF is wide at 14mm so anyone looking for pretty shallow DOF shots should stick with the other wide lenses available or zoom this lens in.

- The auto focus works quickly but the manual focus toggle is not easy to pull off an accurate rack focus at f4.

So, after about two hours with the lens, I am not yet impressed with the 14-42 PZ lens. The 45-175 PZ lens is a better overall lens especially with the manual zoom and focus rings. However the size of the 14-42 PZ is a selling point as the camera is very light with it attached and you have a zoom lens. For video work having a lens that does not change focus throughout the zoom range can be a boon when shooting interviews or getting quick alternate shots. As for doing a live zoom during an interview, I'm definitely not sure yet. There are a number of photographers who don't like this lens from a still taking standpoint. There are complaints about the optic quality but for HD video I haven't seen those problems yet.
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Old March 26th, 2012, 04:25 PM   #9
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Re: Just received the Lumix G Vario PZ 14-42 lens

Thank you for the update William. The video optic quality was my concern, and I'm happy to hear you've not had issues.
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