Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH
Announced in March, Panasonic’s new Leica-branded DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH. lens is the latest companion lens for its Lumix G cameras. Covering the same angle of view as a 30mm lens on 35mm cameras, it replicates a ‘classic’ wide-angle lens for that format. The fast maximum aperture provides scope for shooting with a shallow depth of field and selective focusing plus the ability to be used in low-light levels.
Designed for cameras with Micro Four Thirds sensors, this lens can also be used on Olympus camera bodies, where the in-body stabilisation system will provide an advantage. Olympus produces a similar prime lens, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f/1.8, which isn’t quite as wide and is marginally slower but is much the same size and weight.
Both lenses include a manual aperture ring, which was over-ridden by the rear control dial on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 we used for some of our shooting tests. The Panasonic GH4 supported manual aperture adjustment with the ring. Panasonic includes a lens hood, whereas Olympus doesn’t.
The optical design of the Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 consists of nine elements in seven groups, including three aspherical elements to reduce distortion and spherical aberration. A Nano Surface Coating has been applied to lens elements to suppress lens flare and ghosting. Autofocusing is internal and controlled by a stepping motor, which operates quickly, quietly and smoothly, making this lens ideal for shooting video movies.
The Panasonic Lumix G Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH. lens, shown without the supplied lens hood. (Source: Panasonic.)
The fast f/1.7 maximum aperture and associated depth-of-field control are the key features that will attract buyers of this lens since its modest wide-angle coverage is included in all popular kit lenses. Aside from that, the excellent build quality and well-designed external controls will be welcomed by serious photographers.
We see this lens as being popular among photo journalists and street photographers who use M4/3 equipment and work in poorly-lit situations. Both will benefit from its compact size and light weight. The relatively high price tag (particularly in Southern Hemisphere countries) will put it out of the reach of family photographers, who could also benefit from these characteristics.