In depth

The Leica DG Vario Elmarit 50-200mm f2.8-Four Energy OIS (H-ES50200) is a high-end telephoto zoom designed for the Micro 4 Thirds system. Mounted on a Panasonic or Olympus mirrorless physique, it delivers equal protection of 100-400mm. In case you want extra attain, it’s additionally appropriate with Panasonic’s 1.4x and 2x tele-converters.

Introduced in February 2018, the DG 50-200mm is one other collaboration between Leica and Panasonic for the Micro 4 Thirds system. Like earlier collaborations between the 2 corporations, the DG 50-200mm is designed and authorized by Leica in Germany, and manufactured by Panasonic in Japan. As such it will not be ‘pure’ Leica, however the optical and construct high quality is of a really excessive commonplace. It additionally turns into the third mannequin within the collection to sport a variable f2.8-Four focal ratio, becoming a member of the prevailing 8-18mm and 12-60mm fashions.

The Micro 4 Thirds catalogue already has quite a lot of telephoto zooms with the same focal vary, however few that purpose as excessive. Certainly the Leica DG 50-200mm’s largest rival is more likely to be the Olympus 40-150mm f2.Eight PRO which can not attain fairly as far, however boasts a relentless f2.Eight focal ratio all through its vary. In my in-depth evaluation I’ll carefully evaluate these lenses, from their construct high quality and autofocus efficiency, to their high quality of rendering and total sharpness throughout the body.



The Leica DG 50-200mm f2.8-Four shares a household resemblance with the sooner Panasonic / Leica collaborations with a smart-looking design, increased gloss end and distinctive Leica font for labelling. Measuring 76mm in most diameter, 132mm in size and weighing 655g / 23oz, it’s pretty compact for a premium lens with an equal protection of 100-400mm; I used to be additionally in a position to transport it standing up in my f-stop Professional ICU too, making it a really sensible possibility to hold round. Panasonic claims the lens is totally weather-sealed, and I used it in mild rain with out challenge.



By way of controls, the Leica DG 50-200mm sports activities a guide focusing ring, zoom ring and two switches to set it between AF and MF, and allow or disable the Energy OIS stabilisation. You’ll discover the lens lacks the devoted aperture ring of some earlier Leica lenses, though to be honest, these solely labored on Panasonic our bodies. There’s additionally no focus limiter, focus maintain nor a programmable perform button.



The Leica 50-200mm barrel extends as you zoom to longer focal lengths and I’ve pictured it right here in its shortest and longest configurations at 50 and 200mm respectively. On my admittedly model new pattern, there was no proof of zoom-creep when pointing straight up or down, however this may occasionally loosen over time.



The Leica 50-200mm is equipped with a considerable lens hood with a bayonet mounting. This may be reversed over the barrel for transportation.



By way of vary and high-end specification, one in every of its closest rivals is the Olympus 40-150mm f2.Eight PRO. This nonetheless is a considerably bigger lens, measuring 79mm in diameter, 160mm in size and weighing 760g. It most actually is not going to rise up in an f-stop ICU and when laying horizontally, it occupied the full-width when mounted on a physique. That stated, there are bodily advantages to the Olympus lens past the very fact it boasts a relentless f2.Eight focal ratio all through the vary. It comes equipped with a removeable tripod foot (full with Arca Swiss dovetail) and the lens hood is fast and simple to deploy by pulling it out from its folded-down configuration, as oppose to the Leica 50-200mm who’s hood have to be eliminated and reversed over the barrel for transportation. The Olympus 40-150mm additionally sports activities a guide focusing ring that may be pulled again to disclose a distance scale and laborious stops, whereas the optics make use of inside zooming, so the barrel by no means extends, which in flip means there’s arguably much less probability of mud or moisture coming into by means of the barrel mechanism. To me, the guide specializing in the Olympus felt extra physically-connected, whereas the zooming course of felt lighter and smoother all through the vary, whereas on the Leica I used to be extra conscious of gearing, the barrel’s extension and its impression on stability. Lastly it’s price noting like all Olympus Professional lenses, the 40-150mm f2.Eight includes a programmable perform button that may be configured on Olympus our bodies.



For the report, right here’s each lenses with their hoods deployed.


Leica DG 50-200mm optical building

By way of optical building, the Leica DG 50-200mm f2.8-Four employs 21 parts in 15 teams with two UED, two ED and one UHR factor. The utmost focal ratio is f2.8-4, there’s 9 diaphragm blades, and a closest focusing distance of 0.75m (for a most replica of 0.5x).

Mounted on a Micro 4 Thirds physique, the Leica DG 50-200mm delivers protection equal to 100-400mm, taking you from gentle to lengthy telephoto. Right here’s an instance of the protection beneath.


Above: Leica DG 50-200mm at 50mm (left) and 200mm (proper)


And now for comparability, right here’s how the protection of the Olympus 40-150mm seems from the identical place. It offers you a small benefit on the wide-end, however misses out on the longer attain of the Leica; that stated, if you happen to’re blissful to crop and lose some decision, you possibly can simply match the sphere of view.


Above: Olympus 40-150mm PRO at 40mm (left) and 150mm (proper)


In case you’d like extra attain, the Leica DG 50-200mm f2.8-Four is appropriate with the Leica 1.4x and 2x teleconverters, whereas the Olympus 40-150mm f2.Eight PRO is appropriate with the Olympus 1.4x teleconverter. I hope so as to add some checks and comparisons with teleconverters sooner or later.

Whereas telephoto lenses sometimes cry-out for sports activities, wildlife and distant portraiture – all of which I’ll cowl in a second – a protracted vary also can ship distinctive views on landscapes and structure. Specifically it may be enjoyable to {photograph} a topic from additional away with a protracted lens for a much less distorted, square-on perspective. Longer focal lengths additionally compress the attitude, delivering attention-grabbing results in comparison with broad angles. Right here’s some examples with the Leica DG 50-200mm.


Above: Leica DG 50-200mm at 200mm



Above: Leica DG 50-200mm at 200mm (left) and 156mm (proper)



Above: An equal focal size of 400mm isn’t going to ship an enormous Solar or Moon on the body, however the consequence can nonetheless be enticing when coupled with some panorama parts. That is an un-cropped picture.


The focal ratio varies between f2.Eight and f4 relying in your place within the vary, and as all the time I like to notice precisely the place these variations happen. The lens solely operates at f2.Eight between 50 and 52mm, closing a tad to f2.9 at 53mm, f3 at 56mm, f3.1 at 59mm, f3.2 at 62mm, f3.three at 70mm, f3.Four at 76mm, f3.5 at 84mm, f3.6 at 100mm, f3.7 at 116mm, f3.Eight at 144mm, f3.9 at 150mm, then shedding the complete cease to f4 from 179mm to 200mm. Keep in mind the Olympus 40-150mm f2.Eight PRO boasts a relentless f2.Eight focal ratio all through its vary, so is nearly an entire cease sooner when each lenses are at 150mm.

The lengthy focal lengths obtainable imply it’s potential to get pleasure from pretty respectable blurring behind your topic if you happen to can step-back and zoom-in. Right here’s a few portrait photographs at 88 and 200mm, and whereas they appear fantastic I’d advocate one thing shorter and brighter if shallow depth-of-field portraits are your foremost topics: ideally the Olympus 75mm f1.Eight or one of many 42.5mm / 45mm choices.


Above: Leica DG 50-200mm at 88mm f3.5.



Above: Leica DG 50-200mm at 200mm f4.


As all the time, if you will get nearer to your topic, you possibly can obtain better blurring. The closest focusing distance of 75cm doesn’t sound significantly intimate, however with the lens working on the long-end of its focal vary it will probably fill the body with pretty small topics, such because the flower, espresso and beer bottles beneath.



Above: Leica DG 50-200mm at 200mm f4 and near minimal focusing distance.



Above: Leica DG 50-200mm at 200mm f4 and near minimal focusing distance.



Above: Leica DG 50-200mm at 50mm f2.8 (left) and 200mm f4 (proper), at minimal focusing distances.


And at last if bokeh blobs are your factor, it’s potential to attain some large shapes on the long-end of the focal vary, once more particularly in case your topic is shut. Right here’s an excessive instance near the minimal focusing distance at 200mm f4.



Above: Leica DG 50-200mm at 200mm f4 and near minimal focusing distance.


In case you’re into macro, the longer focal size of the Leica DG 50-200mm offers it a small benefit over the Olympus 40-150mm PRO by way of most replica. Within the instance beneath I centered as shut as potential to the topic with each lenses at their longest focal lengths and the Leica has delivered a barely tighter field-of-view, though once more nothing you couldn’t match with a minor crop on the Olympus.


Above: Leica DG 50-200mm at 200mm (left) and Olympus 40-150mm PRO at 150mm (proper), each at closest focusing distances


However how does the potential for blurring – to not point out the standard of the rendering – evaluate to the Olympus 40-150mm f2.8. As soon as once more the Olympus boasts a brighter focal ratio on the long-end, however doesn’t zoom fairly as far. To check them I shot two topics side-by-side with each lenses. First-up a portrait of your’s really with each lenses set to an an identical focal size of 150mm and their most respective apertures.


Above left: Leica DG 50-200mm at 150mm f3.9. Above proper: Olympus 40-150mm at 150mm f2.8.


Above you possibly can see the distinction virtually one cease of aperture makes at 150mm: f3.9 on the left and f2.Eight on the precise. Is it as a lot as you had been anticipating? The Olympus on the precise at f2.Eight undoubtedly has better and extra enticing blurring than the Leica on the left at f3.9, however it’s not an enormous distinction. And keep in mind the Leica has the potential of an extended focal size at its disposal, so let’s now evaluate it at 200mm f4 versus the Olympus at 150mm f2.8.



Above left: Leica DG 50-200mm at 200mm f4. Above proper: Olympus 40-150mm at 150mm f2.8.


Within the instance above, the Olympus on the precise stays the identical as earlier than at 150mm f2.8, however for the Leica now zoomed-into 200mm f4, the digital camera was pulled again to match the topic measurement on the body. The longer focal size does nonetheless imply much less of the background is now seen which can or will not be preferable. By way of blurring and rendering, I’d say the Olympus nonetheless delivers a smoother-looking consequence, however once more the distinction is refined.

Right here’s one other instance to match them, once more beginning with them each at 150mm and their most respective apertures of f3.9


Above left: Leica DG 50-200mm at 150mm f3.9. Above proper: Olympus 40-150mm at 150mm f2.8.


Within the instance above the place each lenses had been set to 150mm, the Olympus once more delivers barely softer and creamier background parts. The rendering is extra enticing to me, though just like the portrait instance earlier, the distinction will not be as important as you assumed between f2.Eight and f3.9 (their most apertures at 150mm). As earlier than although, I repeated the check however this time with the Leica zoomed-into its most focal size of 200mm.


Above left: Leica DG 50-200mm at 200mm f4. Above proper: Olympus 40-150mm at 150mm f2.8.


Within the instance above you possibly can see how zooming the Leica DG to 200mm on the left has delivered a tighter crop of the background parts which can or will not be what you’re after. By way of rendering you might have a desire between the outcomes above, however I’d name it pretty even. So finally whereas the Olympus 40-150mm PRO will ship a barely shallower depth-of-field all through most of their shared vary with arguably extra enticing rendering at instances, the distinction on this regard will not be as a lot as you’d assume.

By way of focusing, each lenses are very swift and able to snapping onto and monitoring motion, relying in fact on which physique they’re mounted on. I attempted each lenses on the Lumix GX9, GH5 and the Olympus OMD EM1 Mark II and don’t have any complaints relating to autofocus, though as famous in my evaluations of every physique, Panasonic’s DFD know-how feels most comfy monitoring pretty predictable motion whereas the OMD EM1 Mark II’s embedded phase-detect system feels better-equipped to cope with extra random motion corresponding to birds in flight. Right here’s some examples of each.


Above: Ben biking in the direction of me with the Leica DG 50-200mm at 200mm f4 on a Lumix GX9 physique. Panasonic’s DFD know-how simply stored him in sharp focus as he approached.



Above: One among Brighton’s best with the Leica DG 50-200mm at 200mm f4 on an Olympus OMD EM1 Mark II physique. The OMD EM1 Mark II centered this lens very efficiently for unpredictable topics like birds in flight.


Transferring on, the Leica DG 50-200mm f2.8-Four options optical stabilisation that helps Twin IS to additional improve the efficiency when mounted on appropriate Lumix G our bodies. I wished to check the optical stabilisation in isolation although, so mounted it on an Olympus OMD EM1 Mark II physique which lets you disable the physique stabilisation and use optical provided that desired.

When mounted on the OMD EM1 II, I required a shutter pace of 1/400 to efficiently handhold the lens at 200mm with none stabilisation; lowering to even 1/200 resulted in fairly seen digital camera shake ruining the picture. With the Energy OIS optical stabilisation enabled although, I may obtain the identical consequence right down to 1/6, leading to a powerful six stops of compensation.

Out of curiousity, I repeated the check with OIS disabled and the EM1 II’s physique stabilisation enabled as an alternative. This time I achieved a pointy consequence right down to 1/13, leading to a stable 5 stops of compensation, albeit not fairly the efficiency I loved with the lens’s optical stabilisation alone. For the report, I additionally tried the mix with each the lens and physique stabilisation enabled, regardless that they’re not designed to work collectively; on this occasion I once more wanted a shutter of 1/13 or sooner for a crisp picture. So a very good consequence for the optical stabilisation on the Leica lens there.



Above: Leica 50-200mm at 200mm and a shutter of 1/6. OIS disabled (left), enabled (proper). 100% crops.


Now it’s time to match their sharpness at lengthy distances on my high quality web page or to take a look at extra pattern photographs. Alternatively head straight to my verdict!

, B&H, or Adorama. Alternatively get your self a replica of my  or deal with me to a espresso! Thanks!

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