It’s the first new Panasonic Lumix G lens released for a little while, and will fit not just Leica MFT cameras but Olympus cameras too and MFT cine cameras like the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K. What makes this lens exciting is its combination of focal length, size and price.
The 9mm focal length equates to 18mm in full frame camera terms, so this is a serious wideangle prime. It fills a significant gap in the MFT lens line-ups from both Olympus and Panasonic, where the only ultra-wide lenses are big and hefty zooms. (There is an older retracting Olympus 9-18mm, but that looks pretty price and ancient by today's standards.)
This new Leica-badged lens can fit in a corner of your bag and come out when your regular standard zoom can’t quite go wide enough. There are wider MFT lenses than this, of course, but they are substantially larger.
And then there’s the f/1.7 maximum aperture. That is pretty huge for an 18mm ultra-wide, especially since the lens itself is far from large. It also carries the Leica branding, which indicates a premium optical formulation, which makes the price even more tempting.
LEICA DG SUMMILUX 9mm F1.7 key features
The focal length and maximum aperture we already know about, but this lens can also focus down to a remarkable 0.095m (3.7 inches). You wouldn’t normally expect much background blur from a wide MFT lens, but this can focus so close, and has such a wide maximum aperture, that the potential is definitely there.
The optical configuration consists of 12 lens elements in nine groups including two aspherical lenses: two ED (Extra-Low Dispersion) lenses and one UHR (Ultra High Refractive Index) lens to suppress axial chromatic aberration and “chromatic aberration of magnification” (bokeh fringing).
The lens works with Panasonic’s DFD contrast AF system at 240fps and offers both linear and non-linear manual focusing. It also suppresses focus breathing and has a micro-step aperture control, both ideal for video.
All of this is crammed into a lens that weights just 130g – but is also dust and splash-resistant. It can take regular 55mm filters, too.
At an RRP of $499.99 / AU$849 (about £403), the SUMMILUX 9mm F1.7 looks terrific value for money, even up against more modest rivals like the Laowa 10mm f/2 Zero-D – which is not as wide, not as fast and does not have AF.
The bad news, though, is that the LEICA DG SUMMILUX 9mm F1.7 will not start shipping until late July. It’s not fair for Leica to launch such a great-looking lens and then make us wait!