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Panasonic DMC-GX7 + Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm 1:1.2 ASPH. Lens Review

Introduction

I got an email from Panasonic on reviewing their Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm 1:1.2 ASPH. Lens (What a lengthy name! Let’s call it Noct from now on…) few weeks back. Yes, I have expressed my interest in the lens when I got the Panasonic DMC-GM1 for reviewing last month.

To show the best potential of the lens, it must be coupled with the best camera from Panasonic. So, they offered the GX7 together with the Noct. I am happy with the package offered, and receive the set 2 weeks back.

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It is a complete set as per what you will get outside. The lens comes with a hood, which is quite long (as long as the lens itself).

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So I decided not to use the hood, and keep it in the box. All the photos I took in this review is without the hood.

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This is the first image I took with the lens. Very shallow depth of view.

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The power of the lens is definitely at its shallow depth of field, making the subject very 3-dimensional looking.

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One of the really good feature that I love about the GX7 as compared to GM1 (as previously mentioned as lacking in the GM1) is the instantaneous preview of the captured photo on the LCD at the back of the camera. This is really useful and and great for photographer that came from DSLR background. With the GX7, if you decided not to review the images, you can just continuously pressing the shutter button and it will continue shooting and previewing at the same time. I believe it is the processor / image engine inside the camera that makes such a big difference from GM1.

Nocticron Specifications

Focal Length42.5mm
Comparable 35mm Focal Length: 85 mm
ApertureMaximum: f/1.2 – 16.0
Camera Mount TypeMicro Four Thirds
Format CompatibilityMicro Four Thirds
Angle of View29°
Minimum Focus Distance1.64′ (.5 m)
Magnification0.1x
Elements/Groups14/11
Diaphragm Blades9
Filter Thread67 mm
Dimensions (DxL)Approx. 2.91 x 3.03″ (74 x 77 mm)
Weight14.99 oz (425 g)

 

Close Focusing Distance

For my style of photography, I prefer to go close to my subject when taking photos. Though the Nocticron is quite a long lens (85mm in 135 format), but minimum focusing distance is quite short (50cm). This is good as one can go very close to the subject and still able to focus and take close distance shot.

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Very shallow DOF at F/1.2 aperture, yet the focused path is still extremely sharp!

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F/1.2

The reason of getting this lens is for its F/1.2 aperture. This is also the reason why one pay so much more price for such a lens (Besides the Leica name stamped on the lens). Hence in my two weeks shot with the lens, I took most photos with the largest aperture setting.

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Below is a 100% crop view (click to view full size)

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Besides pleasant BOKEH, F/1.2 produces very sharp photo at the focused point. I am very pleased with the sharpness and BOKEH combination from the lens. One can create a very artistic shot with such aperture.

Nocticron Built Quality

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The lens is made by Panasonic, but with a Leica tag on it. Being a lens with Leica tag, it is of the highest quality in Panasonic lens line up. The Nocticron is of no disappointment. The body is made of metal (magnesium alloy?), and even the hood is made of metal as well. Manual focusing is extremely smooth, and the AF/MF button is easy to access. There is also a OIS on/off button below the AF/MF button, I set it to ON though throughout my test.

Nocticron 42.5mm Focal Length

I do find the Nocticron to be a bit too long the focal length when taking shots of the fish in the aquarium and photos of my kids. On a micro 4/3rd camera with 2x crop factor, effective focal length becomes 85mm. Yes, this is a lens for portrait photography.

I have to constantly back away from the subject when shooting, in order to frame and cover the shot that I want. My style of shooting is that I prefer to be closer to the subject in taking shots. However, for portrait of lady, it is just fine. It gives a very pleasant framing of shoulder shot of your subject.

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Very sharp yet retaining a pleasant BOKEH in the background.

The lens has an AF / MF button on the body to allow you switching between Autofocus and Manual Focus. When changed to MF, the GX7 automatically turns on the magnifier at the center of the LCD to show the focus of your subject. A good feature for precise focusing.

GX7 Battery Life

Battery life of GX7 is impressive. I get over 600 shots in a single charge, with around 5% of flash shots. Lens is in Autofocus most of the time.

Video on GX7

I done a short video shooting using the GX7 and the Nocticron, handheld, and the result is quite good.

GX7 records in full HD resolution, which is impressive. Sound quality is so so though (one should get an external mic if you want good sound quality in video recording)…so the above video I used other music to replace it.

Conclusion

This is an expensive lens, so you pay for the F/1.2 glass mainly. If you are looking for a great portrait lens, you will not be disappointed. If you shoot often at F2.8 or F4, then this lens might be overkilled for you (for its weight and high price tag). Pleasant BOKEH combines with great sharpness, Panasonic Leica has created another great lens to their line up.

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