Micro Four Thirds System
400mm (35mm Equivalent)
Aperture Range: f/2.8 to f/22
Two Ultra Extra-Low Dispersion Elements
77mm Filter Thread
Since I spent five years using Micro Four Thirds cameras from Olympus on a nearly exclusive basis, there are many lenses from Panasonic I never got to test.
I resigned as an Olympus Visionary last fall because I started a job as a cinematographer that required me to use different cameras. So now I am free to use any camera I like.
Lumix sent me a GH6 and the 200 f/2.8 to test on my Alaska trip last month. I have barely even heard of this lens so I was excited to try it.
As far as I know, Olympus makes no equal. And at a retail price point of 2997.99 from B&H, it’s the second most expensive M43 lens you can buy, behind the Olympus 150-400 f/4.5.
I am guessing $3000 is a little steep for most M43 users, but I can tell you that if you need it and can afford it, you should absolutely buy it.
The lens is sharp corner to corner, and even tack sharp wide open. It is at its VERY sharpest at f/4.5 but that is really the nit in nit pick. It’s barely noticeable v. f/2.8.
Somewhere between f/11 and f/16 (which is not an aperture I would ever use on a lens like this) you start to see some diffraction but even then it isn’t bad.
Like all big M43 telephotos (the Olympus 300 f/4 included) the lens performs at its absolute best in Anti-shock (or silent shutter modes.)
It is a big, heavy lens, but not as big and heavy as a 400 f/2.8 lens on a full-frame camera would be. It has power Optical Image Stabilization and supports Dual I.S. and Dual I.S. 2.0 for even better stabilization performance. But it’s weight might tempt you to use it on a tripod. If so, just turn off stabilization and go to Silent Shutter mode and you will have one deadly beast at your disposal.
I was working from a boat for a week and I can attest to the splash and dust proof design of the camera lens. It got wet but it never faltered.
Vignetting, distortion and chromatic aberration on this lens are VERY, VERY well controlled and not worth mentioning.
The problem I have with the GH camera line is its reliance on nothing more than contrast-based autofocus. But this lens in particular makes the most of that system because it has a triple linear AF motor system that really works. My keeper rate was highest with this lens mounted to the GH6.
Another advantage of M43 telephoto lenses is that they tend to focus very close to the subject (compared to telephotos on FF cameras.) The 200 from Lumix is no exception. At 4.8 feet you get 0.4X magnification.
There is a removable tripod collar on this lens but I must confess that was my least favorite part of the 200. I don’t like the way Panasonic uses a screw knob to hold the collar in place and found that it is easy for it to come loose. I experience the same problem on their 100-400. I prefer the system used by Canon. But this is a minor complaint.
The lens does work with a 1.4 teleconverter but I didn’t use it enough to form an opinion about it. I only had the camera in the field for eight days and just didn’t get around to using the TC much.
This is not a new lens, but it’s new to me. I am a little sad Olympus doesn’t have something to match this lens. I think they should get to work on one right away because I guarantee that Oly shooters are gonna want to try this lens on the Olympus system. I don’t know how well it will work on the Olympus cameras. I know the TC won’t work on Olympus cameras but everything else should work just the same.
This is a sharp, sharp, sharp lens. At just under 2.8 pounds, it is light for a lens of this focal length but still will feel heavy to most M43 users. Don’t let that deter you. I got the above image of a bald eagle flying by my boat in Alaska while shooting hand-held. And the proof is in the pudding as they say. I have (literally) hundreds of thousands of bald eagle images and this one lands in my top 100 favorites.