This is not a review of the lens. This is purely a single first impression I have of it. Reality is that the weather hasn’t been great in Seattle at the right times for me to give it a proper test. Hopefully that changes after this weekend, though, and I’ll be able to compile a proper review.
What I HAVE done is give the optical image stabilization a quick once or twice over. By that, I mean that I’ve sat and aimed my camera around my sitting area, seeing how slow I can set the shutter speed and still acquire a perfectly focused image. What I’ve discovered is that this lens’ OIS is amazing.
Stepping back a bit, to describe my first impressions of the OIS, I was surprised that it didn’t seem as stable, or sticky, as OIS I’ve used in Fujifilm’s APS-C XF lenses. Once locked, those lenses seem to need quite a bit of movement before they actually unstick themselves. Maybe that’s a result of a smaller sensor and larger imaging circle. Regardless, that behavior is usually the cause of frustration for video shooters as it can cause a large jump during intentional movements, like panning. The GF 45-100mm lens’ OIS has none of this. Despite what feels like a reduced tendency to remain stable, the results I’ve experienced are the complete opposite.
What I’ve discovered is that I’m able to shoot as slow as 1/3 second, handheld, with perfect precision. This requires I have 3 points of contact (2 hands and my eye to the EVF) and using “sniper breathing,” as it seems to be commonly known. Now, this isn’t for every shot, but more than I’d reasonably expect to achieve. Sped up to 1/6 second, I’m able to get at least 50% of my shots in focus. At 1/15 of a second, I’m able to nail focus on demand as long as the subject isn’t moving. Because of this, I’ve now set my auto ISO setting to 1/8 sec for use with this lens in full confidence.
I’m certainly impressed. Sharpness is also impressive. While the constant ƒ/4 aperture isn’t large by any means, it’s sharp wide open and only fractionally tightens up at ƒ/5.6 and ƒ/8.
My only complaint at this point is the size and the limited, 45mm focal length at the wide end. Comparable with 36mm on 35mm sensors, it’s not a particularly wide lens, and with its 80mm equivalent focal length at the long end, it’s not a huge zoom range. Since the maximum aperture offers ƒ/2.8 equivalent bokeh, the confluence of it all makes it obvious the lens is really aimed at portrait photographers who want a bag of primes in a single lens. Despite this, it also fills a hole for landscapists like me who need something that addresses the 70-90mm range but in a zoomable form factor for portability.
If it were an inch shorter and widened out to 35mm, it’d be perfect. But while I’m making wishes, I’d like an attack helo and a million dollars. Understanding a little about physics, this is an excellent lens so far with a strong performing OIS system. Sharpness will exceed the needs of even the pickiest people while the OIS and versatile range are ideal for most. There’s a reason why this lens is impossible to find on the used market, even a year after its release.
If you find one used, in good shape, buy it immediately. It won’t be there when you come back.
As of this writing, 26 Feb 2021, the lens has a $500 mail in rebate attached to it, making it a steal, as it often goes for over $2000 when it does show up used.