Panasonic is always one of the biggest announcers at CES and this year is no exception. They of couse go seriously beyond digital photography with everything from microwaves to giant illuminations being announced. Their digital camera division just unveiled 5 new Micro Four-Thirds lenses. The two big changes across the board are improved image stabilization with the new Power OIS 2 system, now fully working in conjunction with in-camera stabilization which is why they call it Dual IS 2, and weatherproof construction on all lenses. Several are also freezeproof down to -10C.
The newest and most-improved lens is the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm F/2.8-4 ASPH Power OIS. This one runs parallel to the older Lumix G Vario 12-60mm F/3.5-5.6 lens as a higher-end model given it is freezeproof and offers a brighter maximum aperture, from ½ on the wide end to 1 stop on the long end. Magnification has been improved slightly to 0.3X with a minimum focus-distance of 20cm at wide-angle and 24cm at the telephoto end. Panasonic also pre-announced future additions to the Leica DG Vario-Elmarit series: An 8-16mm and a 50-200mm lens.
Four second version of existing lenses were released this morning:
The Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm F/2.8 II ASPH Power OIS is the new constant bright aperture standard zoom in the lineup. It is freezeproof down to -10C and offers better image stabilization than its predecessor, although Panasonic does not quote efficiency for lenses alone now, counting on them being used on a body with built-in image-stabilization.
The Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm F/2.8 II ASPH Power OIS is the new constant bright aperture telephoto zoom in the lineup. It is freezeproof down to -10C offers improved image-stabilization. Labelled Lumix G X, this completes the pair of large aperture zoom which are part of Panasonic high-end offerings.
The Panasonic Lumix G Vario 45-200mm F/4-5.6 II Power OIS is another refresh, this time of the basic Lumix G series. This is one is weatherproof but not freezeproof. It also offers Dual IS 2 stabilization and is compatible with new high-speed focusing at 480 Hz.
The Panasonic Lumix G Vario 100-300mm F/4-5.6 II Power OIS provides exactly the same improvements as the previous lens: a weatherproof body and improved image stabilization.
While a lot of these changes are repetitive, it is great than Panasonic is pushing weatherproofing in its historically excellent lenses. This makes weatherproof bodies much more versatile, particularly with the Lumix G X and Leica DG series which are most likely to be needed by professional photographers.