The Miracle of Micro Four Thirds

There are days when I just marvel at the design of my cameras and lenses. Today is one of them.

I'm testing the new Panasonic LUMIX G VARIO 35-100mm f/4.0-5.6 ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. lens that solved a real problem for me. I needed a longer zoom for upcoming trips, but did not have the room or the spare weight for my larger Olympus 75-300mm zoom. (Yes, by Micro Four Thirds standards, the 75-300mm is a big lens. How times have changed!)

By contrast, the new Panasonic weighs less than 5 ounces and is only 2" long. Yet, it provides me with the equivalent of a 70-200mm zoom. Let's take a minute to digest that. This optic is smaller and lighter than a plastic 50mm lens for DSLRs, yet covers 70-200mm. Incredible.

So what's the catch? I mounted the zoom on my Olympus OM-D E-M10 and went outside to take pictures. After studying the results on my Retina Display Mac, I'll tell you that the catch IS NOT image quality. The photos looked great, edge to edge.

Maybe chromatic aberration is the problem. I photographed tree branches against a bright sky and studied the edges at 100 percent on the computer. Nope. Not that either.

Well, then it must cost a lot. Wrong again. I bought it for $397 at B&H. And that included a lens hood. Cheap design. Nada. Beautiful metal housing and mount.

So the only drawback is the f/4.0-5.6 maximum aperture. This is not an indoor zoom. It is for working outside in the light of day... which is exactly what I needed. If I want a tele indoors, I'll use my trusty Olympus 60mm f/2.8. (A miracle lens itself, BTW.)

This Panasonic optic, and so many like it, are what I call the miracle of Micro Four Thirds. It's the sweet spot of nimble photography - with a sensor big enough for great image quality, but small enough to allow for amazing, compact lenses like the Panasonic 35-100mm.

I am truly impressed.