The Panasonic Leica 8-18mm f/2.8-4.0 is the latest lens in Panasonic’s range of Leica premium DG Vario-Elmarit optics. It becomes the fourth wide-angle zoom for Micro Four Thirds following the high-end Olympus 7-14mm PRO, Panasonic’s own Lumix G 7-14mm and the budget Olympus 9-18mm.
With an equivalent 35mm range of 16-36mm and a fairly bright aperture range of 2.8 to 4, it is a very versatile yet surprisingly light and compact zoom that can be used for landscapes, architecture, street, and environmental portraits. As always, you can find our full review in video format below!
Ethics statement: The 8-18mm was kindly provided to us by Panasonic UK to test for three weeks. We were not asked to write anything about the lens nor were we provided with any other compensation of any kind. Within the article, there are affiliate links. If you buy something after clicking the link, we will receive a small commission. Don’t worry – prices remain the same for you. To know more about our ethics, you can visit our full disclosure page. Thank you!
- Mount: Micro Four Thirds
- Focal length: 8-18mm (16-36mm in 35mm equivalent terms)
- Lens configuration: 15 elements in 10 groups (3 aspherical lenses, 2 ED lenses, 1 aspherical ED lens, 1 UHR lens)
- Lens coating: Nano surface coating
- Angle of view: 107° (wide) or 62°(tele)
- Minimum focusing distance: 23cm
- Magnification: 0.12x
- Aperture blades: 7 circular diaphragm blades
- Aperture range: 2.8 to 22 (wide) or 4 to 22 (tele)
- Filter diameter: 67mm
- Weather-sealing: Yes (dust, splash and freeze proof)
- Optical stabilisation: No
- Dimensions: 88mm x 73.4mm
- Weight: 315g
Table of contents:
- 0:37 – Design and Build Quality
- 2:39 – Optical Quality
- 5:00 – Autofocus
- 6:09 – Price and Conclusion
Summary of our findings
- The build quality is exactly what you’d expect from a Panasonic Leica product: it is solid, mostly composed of metal and completely weather-sealed (splash, dust and freeze proof).
- The zoom and focus rings are smooth and precise, and the AF/MF switch on the barrel is handy if you often have to switch between auto and manual focus for your work.
- It is a better match for mid-to-large Micro Four Thirds cameras than the smaller models.
- Sharpness is excellent throughout the zoom/aperture range and across the frame: the best results are generally found between f/4 and f/5.6 but f/2.8 (at 8mm) and f/8 are never far behind.
- The minimum focus distance is 23cm (0.12x magnification) through the entire zoom range which is useful for close-up work.
- Despite being a wide angle lens, you can achieve a decent bokeh by focusing close to your subject and using the fastest aperture available.
- Vignetting, distortion or chromatic aberration are all very well controlled but you can come across ghost flares in direct light.
- The AF motor is fast, accurate and silent.
- The lens is pricey compared to the Lumix 7-14mm and Olympus 9-18mm but it a little less expensive than the Olympus 7-14mm PRO and actually delivers slightly sharper results.
Before testing the Panasonic Leica 8-18mm, I wasn’t convinced that it was bringing anything new to the table given that there are already three wide-angle zooms for the Micro Four Thirds system.
However, having used it for a few weeks now, I have to say that I’m a convert. Not only is the optical quality superb and the zoom range extremely versatile, but it is also fairly compact and light, especially when compared to the Olympus 7-14mm, the only other premium wide-angle zoom for the system.
Another big advantage compared to the Olympus lens is that it comes with a filter thread, so you don’t need to buy a third-party adapter to use ND filters with the lens.
The only small drawback is the lack of a constant 2.8 aperture for low light work but the 2.8 value is available for astrophotography if you use it at the widest angle.
Finally, if the price puts a damper on your enthusiasm, you can always turn your attention to the more affordable Lumix 7-14mm or Olympus 9-18mm.