Straight up. This is a fantastic lens. I love everything about it. It’s unique, tactile, involving, solid and damn fun. Would I recommened it to everyone? Well, that’s a tough call.Let me start here by saying that I’m by not means a “technically” minded photographer. I’ve been though film school, but for me photography is simply about having a solid camera that’s fun and mobile enough to have around at all times that produces images that really pop. My previous favorite cameras have been my beloved Nikon F3, a Panasonic Lumix LX3, and now, the Panasonic GH2.
So, here are my reasons for loving this lens.
It’s a film lens. Having spent time around motion picture cameras, handling this lens reminds me of glass we used to carefully pass around the set for an Arri 16mm. The rings are buttery smooth and offer a solid resistence. They’re also “geared” (as in the texture of the ring), as if to mate with follow-focus units, more evidence this is more video focused. For photography, focusing takes time and care. To overcome this hurdle, I leave it on inifinty, wide open and ISO on auto. A snap shot just requires a tiny focus adjustment if the subject is any closer than a few feet away. But part of the joy of photography for me is getting involved in the subject, up close and person. Another reason why the 12mm/24mm range is so fun for me. Although I do love shooting video (see my travelogue with the GH2 & 20mm 1.7), photography is what I spend most my time with.
The glare. Yeop. There’s glare. Try shooting towards a light source at f/1.6 and you’ll hear “Crimson and Clover” echoing in the distance. Stop is down just a tad, and the glare disappears. I like this quirk though.
Clarity and quality. Certainly not as crisp as my other favorite lens, the panasonic 20mm 1.7, but this is still a serious lens. It produces images that feel very intamite, sincere and cinematic. There’s distortion, but it all adds to the mojo.
Size and weight. The HyperPrime is a big, hefty, solid lens. My one complain about the construction is that there is some wiggle in the m4/3 mount that attaches the lens to the GH2. There’s a very tiny bit of play, and because turning the rings requires some force, you can feel it all the time. Perhaps this is just mine. If you have one, I’d like to know please!
All in all, this lens suits me and my approach to photography. It’s involving to use, opens up many creative options, forces you to really craft your shot and produces images that draw you in. It’s not for everyone, but for those it is for, this is truely a special lens.
Here are examples of my past week with this lens. All shot on the GH2 (setting on “Smooth”), enjoying in the fall wonderland in and around my city, Toronto.
(cick images to enlarge)