Seven Weeks With The Lumix S Pro 24-70mm f2.8 (Pre-Production) Lens
“Mmmmm, this is going to be special”. This was what I said to myself as soon as I looked at the the very first test frame I shot with the lens on my Lumix S1R. Followed by, “Its so sharp!”. This was a very good way to start shooting with a brand new lens. In fact, a pre-production model at that, with early, pre-production firmware.
I felt rather honoured when Panasonic Lumix UK got in touch to see if I’d like to test out the unreleased S Pro 24-70mm f2.8, ahead of it’s global launch on August 28th, 2019, which was around 1.5 months away. Unboxing the generic brown box, cutting away the bubble wrap, revealed the new lens. I found out the lens had been carried by hand, all the way from Japan! I got out some black tape, covered up all the markings and began shooting.
It’s a bit of a special feeling knowing only a handful of people globally have seen the lens and I’ve been asked to test it and make images with it to be possibly used for the global launch. It’s also quite stressful, knowing photographs have to be made to not only showcase, but live up to every aspect of what was already proving to be a spectacularly good lens.
One of the characteristics that hit me as I begun shooting more and more, was that this wasn’t just a sharp lens, but it had something special. Pure clinical sharpness is ok for forensic type photography, but for being creative, for conveying mood, for sharing a story, one also needs gentleness, subtlety and grace. The rendering from this lens has all of that.
Generally, a 24-70mm f2.8, is a bread and butter lens; pretty much everyone will have one in their bag and it’s the standard professional zoom. Versatile, useful and a safe choice. What I found special though, was this wasn’t just a bread and butter lens. Where one may have a standard zoom for safety, one would also have a special prime with nicer rendering, for making those special portraits or creative shots.
Well, the S 24-70mm f2.8 has all of that. It’s truly special to have all these qualities wrapped up in one lens. Versatility and speed, but also beautiful rendering, colour, contrast, detail and well, a bit of poetry too. I found it captured light and colour beautifully and rendered a nicely soft background in out of focus areas. As much as I hate talking about this and using the word bokeh, it does have beautiful bokeh! (I need to add my dislike is purely based on people who only care about bokeh and nothing else, especially not the craft of photography).
It is chunky though. I felt the same way as when I first picked up the S Pro 50mm f1.4. Although I wished all of the S Series lenses could be a little smaller, just as with the S 50mm, as soon as I started shooting with the S 24-70mm, it justified it’s size and won a place in my camera bag. In fact, I pretty much didn’t shoot with anything else and seven weeks on, it’s always been mounted on either my S1 or S1R.
It just produces beautiful images and no matter what type of subject I point it at, it does as I ask and produces what I want. Fast to react and precise in rendering.
Super fast and silent AF, outstanding build quality and stunning optics. I have a feeling the scientific types at DxO Labs are going to enjoy putting this through their rigorous tests.
So please don’t read this small post as a review; it really is a quick preview. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. Keep in mind though that this is a pre-production lens with early, non final firmware and so is definitely a pre-release lens. Yet, it helped make these images with grace. I can’t wait to get my hands on the final thing! If you have an L Mount camera, I suggest you try it too!
A bittersweet email from the British Journal of Photography and 1854 Media Awards let me know that “…your entry made it to the second & final round of judging, we regret to tell you that your image has not been shortlisted on this occasion”.
Still, nice to make it that far! Rather than the work remain unseen, thought I would share my Portrait Of Britain here and show the ten images I entered for the awards.
Many thanks to the judges and many congratulations to those shortlisted.
Camera and lens details can be found in all the captions below. All raw files were edited and processed using Adobe Lightroom Classic and finished off in either Alienskin Exposure X4 or Nik Collection Silver Efex Pro.
Great to see the L Mount shaping up and the L Mount Alliance going from strength to strength. I was at Sigma UK’s Made In Aizu event earlier today and as well as being treated to wonderful aspects of Japanese culture in the way of Geisha performances of traditional Japanese song and dance, wonderfully delicious varieties of Sake from Aizu, it was great to see 11 prototype L Mount ART lenses from Sigma. Sigma will have 10 fast aperture ART lenses and one macro by the end of this year. The 35mm f1.4, 50mm f1.4 and 85mm f1.4 will be first and are due within months.
This year Panasonic Lumix will launch a 16-35mm F4, 24-70mm F2.8, 70-200mm F2.8 along with 1.4x and 2.0x teleconverters. Next year will bring a super telephoto, a macro and at least another fixed focal length lens. The scheduled lens line up for the L-Mount by the end of 2020 from Panasonic, Sigma and Leica will stand at a staggering 42 lenses. From what I’ve seen so far from all three manufacturers, most of these are going to be world class lenses. We’re certainly in for a treat!
Thrilled to have two of my photographs selected by the curators of the BPPA’s (British Press Photographers’ Association) tremendously powerful and not to be missed, Assignments 2019 exhibition. The show is beautifully curated and thanks has to be given to the talented team of curators, comprised of some of the brightest beacons in the photojournalism industry. Many thanks to Tom Stoddart, John Downing, Nikki Sutherland, Lawrence Lustig and Julie Edwards.
At the private view of the exhibition, it was an absolute joy to meet Fleet Street’s legendary press photographer John Downing for the first time. He had been a huge inspiration for me and my ethos of never being without a camera came from reading about his work. When a colleague pointed out my photograph (The Joys Of Life), it was an absolute honour to hear him kindly praise the image, saying it was one that he had chosen personally and to hear his kind compliments about the composition, timing and light, pushed me to blush!
This photograph was made on a Panasonic Lumix G9 and Leica DG 50-200mm lens. The raw image was processed in Adobe Lightroom and the monochrome treatment was finished in Nik Collection’s Silver Efex Pro on an Apple Mac Pro and fully calibrated Eizo CG monitors.
The second image kindly chosen by the curators was of a homeless man, seemingly passed out from wine, after another hard day on the streets.
The photograph was shot on a Sony RX1RII camera. The raw image was processed in Adobe Lightroom and the monochrome treatment was finished in Alienskin Exposure X3, on an Apple Mac Pro and fully calibrated Eizo CG monitors.
The photograph was made on a Panasonic S1R and the S24-105mm lens. The raw image was converted to a DNG file using Adobe’s Raw Converter (as Lightroom hadn’t yet released support for the S Series, which is has done since). The Raw DNG file was then processed in Lightroom and finished in Alienskin’s Exposure X4, on an Apple Mac Pro using calibrated Eizo CG monitors.
Absolutely thrilled to see the fabulous Travel Photographer Of The Year exhibition. So many stunning photographs in such a wonderful setting, just by the River Thames and City Hall, with a backdrop of Tower Bridge in London, UK. The free, open air exhibition is on until April 30th this year.
It’s great to have one of my images in the show. Shot on my Panasonic Lumix G9 with the wonderful Leica DG 50-200mm. If you like the image, I would appreciate if you could vote for it please 🙂 To vote, please use this link and choose image number 53. Thank you 🙂