In a welcome bit of news for owners of Olympus Four-Thirds System digital SLRs, Panasonic is making the Leica-branded lens that it produces for its own L1 DSLR available separately, and also introducing two new lenses to compliment its existing f/2.8-f/3.5 14-50mm lens, which up until now was only sold as part of a kit with the L1. A Panasonic spokesman has also acknowledged that the L1 will soon be available body-only.
Leica D Summilux 25mm F1.4 ASPH
The first of the new lenses is the Leica D Summilux F1.4 ASPH, a high-speed non-zoom standard lens with a focal length of 25mm, equivalent to 50mm on a full-frame camera.
The new lens has a minimum focusing distance of 38cm, and is constructed with 10 lens elements in 9 groups, including a large-diameter aspherical lens, which should assure high optical performance, with one Super ED (extra-low dispersion) lens and three ED lenses to reduce chromatic aberration. Like the 14-50mm, its design incorporates an aperture ring. but it is unknown if it has the same electro-mechanical manual focus control. This lens is going on sale now at a recommended retail price of £749.99.
Leica D Vario-Elmar 14-150mm/F3.5-5.6 ASPH
Also newly announced is a Leica D Vario-Elmar 14-150mm/F3.5-5.6 ASPH which incorporates Panasonic’s Mega O.I.S anti-shake mechanism. The focal length of this wide-to-telephoto lens is equivalent to 28-300mm on a film camera. The new lens is the first Leica D lens to incorporate Extra Silent Motor (XSM) technology, which, like Canon’s acclaimed USM system, uses an ultrasonic motor to provide quick, quiet, accurate auto focusing control. The lens has minimum focus distance of 50 cm even at full zoom, providing a maximum photographic magnification of 0.36x (35mm equivalent).
It also features a traditional aperture ring, as well as focus and zoom rings. It has a seven-blade aperture diaphragm for smooth circular out-of-focus areas when shooting at wide apertures. The 14-150mm lens is in development at the moment, but should be available later this year. No retail price has yet been confirmed.