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 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.

Panasonic is going to release new portable wireless speaker system SC-MC20 on February 14.

SC-MC20 is designed to make people hear television sounds more clearly. TV sounds are sent from the accompanying sound transmitter to the speaker via Bluetooth so that you can hear your TV clearly when you are having trouble hearing the sounds or you are far from the TV.

Built-in battery is able to run for 10 hours. It's also compatible with an AC adapter.

Price: Open price

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)

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 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.

Editor - April 14, 2014

AkihabaraNews on YouTube!

AkihabaraNews on YouTube
The weekly roundup of our new, original tech videos from here in Tokyo and all over Japan, plus favorites from our partners and the best clips from the past week's posts - subscribe and automate! 

Panasonic announced that they are going to release the world's first compact digital camera with 4K video recording capability - LUMIX DMC-FZ1000 - on July 17.

It will be sold for around 100,000 yen.

LUMIX DMC-FZ1000 is able to record 4K video (3,840×2,160) at up to 30 fps in the MP4 format. There is also a built-in functionality called "4K PHOTO" to capture 8MP images in the 4K video footage. It can also output 1920×1080 60fps full HD resolution video.


Panasonic is releasing a slim pen-shaped IC recorder "RR-XP007" in early December for about ¥11,000.

The device has a clip like a pen, and you can record sounds while you keep it clipped in your chest pocket. There are several different settings for recording depending on the situation such as meetings with another person, meetings with multiple people, lectures, musical events and so on.

Color: black, white, violet, pink
Size: 14.8×14.8×126mm
Weight: 22g (excluding battery)
Memory: 4GB
Interface: USB 2.0

Panasonic - LED Video Light - Illuminate objects naturally while shooting a video


Even in a dark place, Panasonic's new "LED Video Light" mounted on your video camera will illuminate objects naturally and you will be able to take a clear movie.

It has 36 white high-brightness LEDs built-in and the luminance is 1500 LUX at a distance of 50cm from the object. You can adjust the brightness with the illuminance dial.

Price: ¥15,750
Compliant video cameras: HC-Z10000/X920M/V720M/V620M/X900M
Size: W70 x H111 x D53 mm
Weight: 120g


Panasonic has announced the Lumix GM, an ultra compact 16MP Micro Four Thirds camera, which will be released in Japan in late November.

"This camera uses the same sensor and engine as the GX7 which was released last month. The GX' features extremely high image quality and has received various awards around the world. We have packed the high image quality of the GX7 into this camera."

"The compact body is made of magnesium alloy, giving it a very robust feeling."

Panasonic is going to release 2 new models of their business-oriented tablet TOUGHPAD. The Windows 8 embedded handheld model "FZ-E1" will be out in mid-June and the Android model "FZ-X1" will be out in late August.

They feature a highly sensitive touch panel that enables full control even while wearing gloves and allows proper operations even when wet.