Worth every yen in build and image, but still a tall order for all but the most heavily invested professionals.

Arise Lord Vader!
The new Panasonic LEICA DG NOCTICRON 42.5mm F1.2 is a beauty to behold. Its satin black, metal body has a heft and finish that exudes a quality that one would expect from glass this expensive. It is simple and understated, but has a presence akin to Luke's daddy. The design is undeniably worthy of the Leica name, as is the image quality and performance. We would need to spend an extended period of time with it to be sure, but first impressions count, and -my word- what an impression it made.

GALLERY: Panasonic’s new LEICA DG NOCTICRON 42.5mm F1.2

With the full frame equivalent of around 85mm, this is an ideal portrait lens. At CP+ 2014, Panasonic was kind enough to provide a well lit scene and model to showcase that. While the scene was controlled and we didn't have much time to really get intimate with the lens, the little time we had revealed astounding image quality and sharpness, and wide open, it’s faster than a rat in a sombrero. When the lens testers and benchmarkers, with their grids and charts, put it through its paces, it wouldn't be surprising if it were better across the board than the Leica DG SUMMILUX 25mm F1.4 and famed Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 75mm F1.8.

It's not all praise and glory, however. At that focal length, Olympus already has a pretty impressive lens in the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 45mm F1.8 - at almost a fifth of the price of the Leica. And for just about every real world use that the hobbyist, enthusiast and a good many professionals may have, that is more an adequate. Which prompts the question…

Who is this Lens For?
Pros who need every little bit of available light and want to extract every bit of quality their camera's sensor has to give and/or enthusiasts with money to burn...

While the Micro Four Thirds pro contingent is steadily growing, more often than not professionals and enthusiasts who fit those descriptions are already invested in one of the more established systems. If they do own M4/3 gear it’s often as personal/back up kit. At the new NOCTICRON’s price of around ¥210,000 (~US $2,100), this is more than just another prime lens, it’s a commitment to the M4/3 system. It’s asking buyers to express absolute confidence therein as it goes toe to toe with the behemoths Nikon, Canon and Sony and their extensive professional support networks.

The M4/3 system, with beautiful lenses like the one featured here, certainly has the chops for professional work, but Panasonic’s ability to provide support systems for photographers similar to Nikon’s global professional services remains unknown.

And there’s the Crunch
In Japan at least, there isn't even a Panasonic pro community let alone any official feedback and support structure. Cameras and lenses have woefully short warranties, and if repairs are needed, there is no way to guarantee timely turnaround, nor is there any feedback on the repair process, nor is any system in place to guarantee loaner cameras during repairs. The end result is downtime or investment in backups, which is not always easy on the glamourless pay all but the most established shooters earn.

There is a US pro support center, but it still needs some work before it can compare to yellow and red. However, Panasonic reps at CP+ 2014 assured us that they will have some professional support structure in place for the upcoming GH4 and its successors.

Which leaves the buyer with an interesting dilemma:
Trust them to deliver and take the plunge, hold off for some sort of support framework to be put in place, or make do with cheaper alternatives and overcome the shortcomings with photographic skills.

All that being said, it’s important to appreciate that Panasonic has a pretty impressive track record for doing what they set out to do. In the short time since they released their first M4/3 camera, they have developed more innovative products, made more technological leaps and democratized hybrid photography more effectively than any other camera brand on the market.

We’ll see if they can keep it up. In the meantime, appreciate the power of the Dark Side:


Related Articles

Panasonic is going to start selling new interchangeable lens LEICA DG NOCTICRON 42.5mm/F1.2 ASPH./POWER O.I.S. H-NS043 (model: H-NS043) for LUMIX G digital single lens mirrorless cameras using Micro Four Thirds-size image sensor on February 13.

It's certified by Leica for its high quality optics and has achieved fast F1.2 aperture called NOCTICRON. It also has optical image stabilization system POWER O.I.S. to prevent both fast and slow camera shakes.

Panasonic is going to release new optical 30X zoom compact digital camera LUMIX DMC-TZ60 with electric view finder built-in. It will be available for about ¥48,000 on February 13.

REVIEW: Testing the Panasonic GH4's 4K Video Capabilities
Some caveats aside, the GH4 has AMAZING 4K video quality and colors that are even better than the Sony AX100. The GH4 offers stunningly sharp videos, which some have complained are too sharp! Seriously guys? Too Sharp? This is freaking 4K here not SD! Dive in for more from Aki founder DAIMAOU!

Panasonic is going to release an ultra high-end speaker system SB-R1 under its Technics brand. It is a build-to order product and will be released for 1,340,000 yen in February.

Technics is Panasonic's brand for audio devices. It was discontinued in 2010, but Panasonic recently discussed the revival of the brand on September 4th. The new high-end speaker system SB-R1 will be one of the first products celebrating the brand's revival.

Panasonic just announced their new 4K wearable video camera HX-A500 in Europe and they are going to release there sometime in May.

HX-A500 is able to shoot 4K videos (3820x2160, 25fps). It features a new lens, the image processor Crystal Engine Pro+, and backlight CMOS sensor.

Panasonic unveiled their new LUMIX mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera DMC-GH4 which is now displayed at CP+ 2014 currently taking place in Yokohama, Japan. It is the world's first MILC that is able to shoot 4K quality movies (Cinema 4K: 4096x2160 / 24 fps and QFHD 4K: 3840x2160 / up to 30 fps) in MOV/MP4.

Panasonic is going to release an electric steam mask for the face called Booster Mask EH-XM10 on November 28 from the Panasonic Beauty Premium series.

The price will be 40,000 yen.

Panasonic officially announced that their new mirrorless camera LUMIX DMC-GH4, which is able to shoot 4K video, will be released on April 24 for the following price:  

  • Body (LUMIX DMC-GH4) - About ¥170,000
  • Lens Kit (DMC-GH4 and the lens "LUMIX G VARIO 14-140mm/F3.5-5.6 ASPH./POWER.") - About ¥230,000

You can read details about the camera in Akihabaranews.com's coverage when the news of the camera was first made.

Panasonic's new LUMIX CM1 digital camera can be also used as a SIM-free Android 4.4 smartphone. It will be available for about ¥120,000 on March 12 in a limited quantity - 2,000 units ONLY.

Panasonic announced that their new 4K Ultra-HD VIERA TV - AX800 series - will be released in mid-May. 5 models will be available:

Standard Design Model:
- TH-58AX800F (58 inch)
- TH-50AX800F (50 inch)

Slant Design Model:
- TH-65AX800 (65 inch)
- TH-58AX800 (58 inch)
- TH-50AX800 (50 inch)

Nayalan Moodley - December 31, 2014

REVIEW: Panasonic Lumix GH4 [TOP 14 of '14]
Panasonic has (arguably once again) done what no other camera manufacturer seems keen to do, and they've delivered an easy to use, madly capable true hybrid photography camera that can go toe to toe with specialist systems in both stills and video. Read on for the why!

Panasonic is going to release 2 new LCD TV models from their VIERA series, 50-inch model "TH-50AS630" for ¥175,000 and 42-inch model "TH-42AS600" for ¥135,000.

Both of the 2 models have a voice-controlled touchpad remote control. Via Wi-Fi connection, you can control the remote control, such as searching TV shows or recorded shows and making a recording reservation. Even if you are not familiar with voice command control, control examples can be displayed to help you.

Reno J. Tibke - May 24, 2014

JTFF - Japanese Technology from the Future Friday! - AkihabaraNews.com

This week it’s Japanese researchers tacking orders of magnitude greater performance onto solid state computer memory (SSD), and Panasonic has gone public with its plans to be the sole battery provider for the awesomely sexy Tesla Motors’ electric automobiles...which, technically and unfortunately, still run on fossil fuels. 

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