Jump to content

Why I don't like Panasonic Lumix lenses


Recommended Posts

I've seen references to these issues here and there, but surprisingly few. So here's my frustration with Panasonic lenses. I shoot a lot of handheld run-and-gun stuff, and need to sometimes keep zooms. These lenses make a mess of that. 


UMIX G VARIO 14-140mm f/3.5-5.6 (updated version but I have been told the original is the same)

As you zoom in or out, the focus will flutter, causing a rather ugly effect. Once you stop zooming, the focus will settle back to where you set it. But the fluttering/shifting focus effect during a zoom is very noticeable. This video was shot on manual focus, so the focus 'hunting' you see is not the auto focus.


LUMIX G VARIO 12-35mm f/2.8

Similar issue here. The focus will sometimes shift during zooms, but what always shifts with this lens is the aperture. It's supposedly a constant aperture lens, but they are using some sort of electronic iris adjustments on zooms to keep a constant exposure. Problem is, the adjustments happen in steps, making it noticeable when zooming in our out. 


Okay, before some posts about how these are designed for still photography and if I want a video lens then buy a video camera, or something to that effect. Well, the GH3 is basically a hybrid that embraced video. They did a nice job. Why not make a better lens that also embraces video? I haven't seen too many Canon or Nikon lenses with these issues, though I have less experience with those so it's possible some do. In any case, very frustrating given how great the GH3. Going to a 3rd party lens like the Sigma 18-35 means losing stabilization, which I also need. blah.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

EOSHD Pro Color 5 for Sony cameras EOSHD Z LOG for Nikon CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

Why would you shoot a shot with a zoom move anyway? Are you trying to make a 1970's movie? In that case, just buy a nice old vivitar manual zoom and an adapter. Seriously, zooms are horrible.


I always get a laugh when people say this. Watch almost any doc my friend and you'll find zooms. Seriously. They even put them in drama that is pretending to be doc. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The 35-100mm F2.8 doesn't have that focus fluffy problem when zoom in/out and the aperture is true constant unlike 12-35mm which flicker when zooming


Here is a concert recording done with G6+35-100mm


(zoom out at 25:13 and zoom in at 26:44)


wish Panasonic could do a MKII of 12-35mm with true constant aperture when zooming/improved lens flare, and a powerzoom lens similar to Sony 18-105mm PZ

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I love zoom lenses too. I have 4.  They're great run and gun lenses for getting the best focal length quickly.  


I bought my last one specifically to do one shot in a western movie, and that was just to do a direct homage to a Sergio Leone film I like.  Plus, the shot was part of a montage meant to convey an unnatural/uncomfortable scenario.  


I'm not condemning the lenses when I say "Zoom" I'm complaining about how they're too often used.


I don't like actual zooming during shots unless it's well considered.  The human eye doesn't work that way, so if you use a zoom, you better regard seriously how it fits into your narrative.

Too often I see video where people do a pull or push because they can, not because they should.

I come from a broadcasting background. Lenses are built to do "zooms" on those field production cameras and lazy TV shooters abuse the heck out of it.  It drives me nuts and it's an unfortunate visual cliche' when done wrong.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I always get a laugh when people say this. 


You can laugh as much as you wish, but that's actually telling more about you than those people you're laughing at. No offense intended, but the argument made above was quite valid.


As long as our eyes don't zoom, the best, and the most natural looking zoom will be the so called sneakerzoom. Whether that zoom is being done with actual sneakers, dollies, floaters or jibs is irrelevant. 


Want to zoom a lot like a over-caffeinated camcorder shooter, get a camcorder. Or a zoom lens made for a camcorder style camera and camcorder style shooting. At least Sony, and possibly Panasonic, too, do make and sell zooms made for their video cameras/camcorders with E and mFT mounts.


Those lenses mentioned in this thread aren't made for camcorder-style shooting, but for multi puropose shooting, for photos and video clips. Complaining that they don't work like some camcorder zooms (or that they do undesirable things when zooming very quickly) sounds a bit pointless, IMO.




Watch almost any doc my friend and you'll find zooms. Seriously. They even put them in drama that is pretending to be doc. 




Watch almost any people talking casually in videos or in real life and you'll find them saying umm and so a lot, but that doesn't mean everyone should do so in every situation, nor does it make the umm's and so's any more desirable. Watch some more movies and even documentaries, like those nature docs from BBC and NatGeo, for example, and you'll probably see that the best looking POV moves are hardly ever made by zooming the image. For a good reason.


But whatever floats your boat, doesn't matter. It's just that maybe those people whom you're laughing at may have a valid point, too.



well Paul Greengrass, Kathryn Bigelow and Barry Ackroyd certainly like zooms! Bourne 2 and 3 , Green Zone , Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty are practically ALL shot on zooms ,


I love zooms!!


I believe that for each of those examples mentioned there are umphteen other (better) examples with no zoom. But that wasn't really the point here, was it.


I agree with the notion that sometimes you see footage where zooming has been done for the sake of zooming, apparently because the shooter/director just happens to "love zooms." Like mentioned above, even though you could doesn't always mean you should. Even if someone else does.


I'm not saying that one should never zoom while recording. I'm just suggesting that less is often better, even in documentaries, and if you insist on zooming (a lot) and want to minimise the annoyances, there are some special lenses for just that. Or try zooming slower and in shorter increments. Those lenses mentioned in the beginning of this thread aren't such special lenses, but that (alone) doesn't make them crappy lenses. Horses for courses.


Disclaimer: I'm not a Panasonic fanboi, not even close, nor am I nowhere near being the new Stanley Kubrick, either. However you decide to zoom, and whatever gear you choose to accomplish the desired end result is fine with me. It's mostly a matter of taste, anyway, isn't it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What makes me laugh is the argument that zooms = the 70s and nothing more. I've seen that argument thrown around in ways that show it to be completely unconsidered. @Fuzzynormal clarified his comments later in a much more considered way. I have total respect for shooting with discipline. And it sounds like you do too @Quirky. So while I don't share your hatred of zooms, I won't try to make some prescriptive argument for or against them--they are simple a tool that is available.


And yes, I need equipment that can handle them--clearly that's the point. The title of my post did not say that Panasonic lenses are crap and no one should use them. I posted this to explain my frustration with them so that if there are others out there who are thinking about buying these lenses to use the way I would like to use them, they will be warned of the potential problems. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So while I don't share your hatred of zooms, 


That's a non-sequitur, actually. 

I never said I hate zooms. I said I don't like the excessive zooming in videos for the heck of it. It often doesn't look that good, or not good at all. Like said, sometimes one shouldn't, even if one could.

It's true that coming from the world of (d)SLR stills shooting, I tend to prefer primes but I do own a zoom lens, too. In fact the camera I'm currently using for video only has a zoom lens. I've never zoomed while shooting video, though. I might, in very short increments, but I usually end up editing all the zoomy bits off my final videos.


Other than that, I think two of my previous three comments today may have come out sounding grumpier than intended, for an unrelated reason. I think a nice cup of coffee will fix the mood.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My way with Pana zooms is to zoom as fast as possible. Just a very quick change of view. Pana lenses are usually not very smooth to zoom. Controlled zoomings are very hard to do. When you do it fast then focus problems are minimized especially with AF. It may not look nice but it is a rapid inconvinience.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The advice 'when you want a camcorder zoom, buy a camcorder' can be taken literally. Indeed, there are decent camcorders that cost less than a decent zoom lens. And there are decent zoom lenses (parfocal, 20x, some even with electronic zoom lever) that cost less than a family sized pizza. They are calculated for SD resolution, true, they will vignette at wide angle and if not proper adapted will not focus on infinity, but for the odd 70ies zoom ... (kidding)

Zooms, pans and transitions - these should be prohibited for beginners, but in the right hands, they are fantastic. Vocabulary of film language.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Why would you shoot a shot with a zoom move anyway? Are you trying to make a 1970's movie? In that case, just buy a nice old vivitar manual zoom and an adapter. Seriously, zooms (edit: the zoom 'move' not the lens itself) are horrible.


You haven't seen any films in the  2000's with zooms? Because I've seen several and they've all worked just fine. Even some really good looking films have used them several times. Not to even mention tv-series that are now full of whip pans and snap zooms.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Isn't this a technical topic, not about how something is used or isn't? Or anyone can just add their own "I don't like this and that"- to any topic.


Well, for starters, you can't really escape "I don't like this or that" on the web.  And, yes, technical seems to be the focus here of a lot of people for logical reasons.


However, this blog is called "EOSHD, Directed by DSLR Filmmakers."  


So, if one filmmaker suggest to another filmmaker that they might be making an bad assumption about motion picture imaging, and that they would be better off not worrying about their perceived problem and consider another style of shooting, seems like that would be productive a little bit.  Even if they agree or disagree.  That's up to them, but it's a viewpoint they might not have even considered otherwise.


Believe it or not, (this is the internet after all) I'm not trying to win an argument about how to do things, my suggestions and opinions are just there to offer a personal perspective.  If you think zoom moves in motion pictures are better than sex and chocolate, and the coolest thing you could do with a lens while having sex with chocolate, then that's up to you.


I could have easily said to the OP, just buy a constant aperture lens to do your zoom moves. That would solve a technical problem, but IMHO the artistic short comings are still there.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • EOSHD Pro Color 5 for All Sony cameras
    EOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs
    EOSHD Dynamic Range Enhancer for H.264/H.265
  • Create New...