Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f/2.8: an awesome native lens for the GH5 [Video]

If you’re a new GH5 owner and still debating on which lenses to get, then this post is for you. Of course, much will depend on your personal needs and budget, but in many cases it’s hard to go wrong with the Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 II.

This native glass provides a compact form-factor, good build quality, and an ideal zoom range that can handle a wide variety of shooting situations. The 12-35mm f/2.8 II also supports the GH5’s new Dual IS 2 feature, which combines the camera’s 5-axis in-body stabilization with the lens’ stabilization for ultra-smooth handheld shooting that’s a step up from version 1.0.

I mainly shoot with a tripod, but if you do lots of handheld shooting, then you’ll surely appreciate how ridiculously good the stabilization is when using this combo.

The 12-35 f/2.8 is currently available in two versions. Version two was released to coincide with the launch of the GH5, and this lens supports Dual IS 2. Like the initial version of the lens, you can disable optical image stabilization by means of a switch on the barrel of the lens itself.

There are also some visual differences between the two lenses, such as font color on the unit’s markings. At times you can find the original 12-35 available for $699 or less, but it seems those deals come and go. The updated Mark II version, which Panasonic seems to be pushing GH5 owners towards, is $999.

Video walkthrough

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Inside the box, you’ll find the 12-35mm lens, a lens hood, a carrying pouch, lens and rear caps, as well as documentation. The lens itself is a high-quality durable material, yet it’s super-lightweight and feels a bit like plastic. As expected, the lens comes with a metal lens mount.

The GH5 itself is built like a tank, and although this lens doesn’t feel quite as durable, it is both dust-proof and splash-proof, and features operating temperature ranges between 14 degrees and 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

With the Lumix G X Vario 12-35 f/2.8, you’re getting what amounts to a 24-70mm lens on a full frame setup. This provides a lot of flexibility when shooting, as it allows you to get wide 24mm (equivalent) shots, along with tight portrait shots at 70mm (equivalent) and everything in between. In other words, it’s a great primary lens that can handle a variety of situations.

The 12-35 Mark II features 12 lens elements in 9 groups and comes with a nano surface coating to help reduce reflections. The lens features a 58mm filter diameter, making it easy to add UV and ND filters where necessary.

This lens is also really good for up close shots. Featuring a 0.82-ft minimum focusing distance, you can get up close and personal and capture a great amount of detail from your subject. This, along with the fast aperture makes it easy to acquire that desirable bokeh in photos and videos.

Although there are faster prime native lenses available, such as the Panasonic LUMIX G 42.5mm f/1.7, the 12-35 will oftentimes prove to be fast enough, as its f/2.8 aperture is constant throughout the entire zoom range.

The zoom ring on the lens is made of soft grippy rubber, while the focus ring is comprised out of a harder material. The focus is accomplished via the typical fly-by-wire setup, but with a little practice it’s fairly easy to pull off manual focus moves as long as you don’t grip the ring too tightly.

One of the great things about the GH5 is its new Focus Transition feature that will allow users to pull off rack focus moves with ease. This is an item that I discussed in my Top 10 GH5 features post and video. If possible, I definitely suggest wielding Focus Transition instead of trying to manually move the focus ring yourself.

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At $999 this lens is a definite investment, but it is, in my opinion, a must-have lens for video shooters who wish to capture footage using native glass. Obviously the Sigma 18-35 f1.8 + Metabones Ultra 0.71x Speed Booster brings more to the table for low light shooters and those wishing to achieve shallower depth of field. Yet, the Sigma + Metabones combination isn’t an automatic buy in my opinion, especially since you get less of a zoom range (18*2)*.71 = 25.56 – (35*2)*.71 = 49.7 35mm equivalent, a much bigger and heavier lens setup, no Dual IS 2 (though you still benefit from the 5-axis IBIS), and a higher cost.

Granted, the Metabones adapter isn’t just compatible with the Sigma 18-35, so it’s an investment that will be beneficial for a wider range of lenses that you’d like to adapt to the GH5. You’ll need to weigh your needs, budget, and use-cases when making a decision.

I think that the 12-35 is a must have for any GH5 owner’s kit. Its small, lightweight build, weather resistance, and Dual IS 2 make it particularly nice for handheld shooters on the go. Would you consider going native with the 12-35, or are you eyeing something else? Sound off in the comments below with your thoughts and opinions.

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