Compact camera lovers are having their best year yet. Panasonic has just announced a new series of high-end lenses, Lumix X, utilizing a Micro Four Thirds mount, which will lie between the current standard Lumix G and the premium Leica lenses. The big news however is that the first two X-lenses feature an electric-powered zoom — the world’s first digital interchangeable power zoom lenses; you zoom-in/out using a rocker level rather than rotating a mechanical barrel. Utilizing a power zoom, Panasonic has managed to shrink the lenses and cut down on their weight.
The first lens is the LUMIX G X VARIO PZ 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6, a collapsible zoom. When the camera is off the lens measures just 26.8mm (1.1in) in length and automatically extends when it is turned on; that’s about the size of the 20mm pancake and at approximately 95g (3.4oz) it weighs less. Comparably, the standard LUMIG G 14-42mm measures 63.6mm (2.5in) in length and weights 165g (5.8oz). For those who like a few more numbers, the total weight of the GF3 + the new LUMIX G X VARIO 14-42mm including battery and SD card comes to 359g (12.7oz).
Panasonic is the first to have addressed the issue that although mirrorless interchangeable camera bodies have shrunk, their compactness is destroyed by large zoom lenses. The new lens features Power O.I.S. (optical image stabilization) suppressing large, slow movements more effectively than Mega O.I.S. and Panasonic also claims the new collapsible zoom will offer better overall performance than the standard lens. The lens will be sold individually for around $400, and will also be sold as a kit with the GF3 for $750 . Panasonic has announced new firmware for the DMC-G3, DMC-GF3, DMC-GF2 digital cameras to allow compatibility with the new lenses, though no word on older models such as the GF1.
The second lens is the LUMIX G X VARIO PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6 telephoto zoom. Similarly this is a power zoom lens which has an electronically connected zoom and focus ring but also a zoom lever. The lens measures 90.0mm (3.5in) in length and weighs approximately 210g (7.4oz) — compare to the LUMIX G 45-200 at 100mm (3.9in) 380g (13.4oz). The lens will retail for around $450.LUMIX G X VARIO PZ 14-42mm, LUMIX G X VARIO PZ 45-175mm]