Panasonic is aiming its new flagship stills camera, the Lumix G9 at keen wildlife and outdoor photographers and to underline its seriousness in the endeavour, it’s also introduced the Leica DG Elmarit 200mm f/2.8 Power O.I.S. lens.
That large aperture will enable fast shutter speeds while the long reach, which translated to 400mm on a Micro Four Thirds camera allows frame-filling shots of distant subjects.
Even better news is that the lens will be sold with the new 1.4x Teleconverter (DMW-TC14). This effectively turns it into a 560mm lens, giving it greater appeal to wildlife photographers, particularly bird photographers.
If you want more reach, however, Panasonic has also announced the 2.0x Teleconverter (DMW-TC20) which is also compatible with the lens and effectively turns it into an 800mm optic.
Further good news is that 200mm lens has Panasonic’s stabilisation system (Power OIS) built-in and it’s compatible with the G9’s Dual IS system that is slated to deliver a 6.5EV shutter speed compensation.
The new lens is built under an agreement with Leica that sees Panasonic apply the renowned optics manufacturer’s stringent quality standards to some of its products. The new 200mm optics 15 elements arranged in 13 groups, with two UED (Ultra Extra-low Dispersion) lenses.
These UED lenses help boost resolution and contrast while reducing distortion and chromatic aberration.
In addition, the lens has a triple linear motor system along with a maximum sensor drive rate of 240fps for high-speed autofocusing while a micro-step drive in the aperture control enables smooth transitions during video filming.
Like the G9, the new lens is dust and splash proof and can withstand temperatures down to -10C.
The Leica DG Elmarit 200mm f/2.8 Power O.I.S. feels very bit as good as it looks, possibly better even, with a high-quality metal barrel and solid-feeling switches. Panasonic’s neat foot/tripod collar attachment adds to the high-quality feel.
Towards the front the broad focus ring moves smoothly, should you need to focus manually, but on the G9 it seems to focus extremely quickly even in quite dim conditions.
This high-quality feel extends to the aperture ring just in front of the focus ring (further away from the camera), putting it in convenient reach of your supporting hand.
Thanks to the chunky grip on the G9, the 200mm lens feels quite at home on the new camera. I’m looking forward to shooting with it in the not too distant future.