The Absolute Best Lens in Nepal


Good Gear




The Photography Blog

Photographic Field Guides
Practical Philosophies
Careers and Ideas
Inspiring Journeys


“Sunset at Boudhanath”
November 2019

LEICA DG 10-25/F1.7
1/200th @ f/1.9
ISO 640
Lumix DC-G9



The Absolute Best Lens in Nepal
Very rarely a new lens comes along that changes how I think about photography. This is one of those lenses. My priority for glass is always quality over convenience, but this time you get enough of both to make it a hard one to walk past. The newly released "DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 ASPH" by Panasonic+Leica is not only a great lens for MFT systems, but may well be good enough to tempt full frame owners to look seriously at adopting the smaller mirrorless format of the Lumix G series.



The Photography Blog




This is the best lens I've ever taken to Nepal. I'll be seriously heart-broken to send this one back to Panasonic but am very grateful to have had the pleasure to roam across Nepal with it. I need to make some tough decisions on whether this becomes my default lens from now on, or whether to stick with a pair of compact primes. If I was starting with a clean slate the 10-25mm f/1.7 would be an easy choice.

Panasonic have engineered a whole new format of wide angle zoom here.

The "DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 ASPH" is not a small lens at all, but a full frame equivalent would be immensely bigger of course. They've made the best best out of the MFT format with this lens. On this trip I not only shot stills but also video. I normally avoid this idea because it's better to do one properly, but the 10-25mm f/1.7 proved to be the ideal lens for the combination of tasks.

Here's a few reasons why...

10mm sweet spot

I love shooting with a 24mm perspective but every now and then going wider is that little bit nicer. I spent a lot of time at 10mm (20mm full frame equivalent) on this trip and just loved it. A few years ago I did a trip in Bhutan with the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 prime lens (full frame) for a review and after two weeks travelling across familiar territory I realised the value of that little bit extra wide angle combined with the big aperture of a prime. 20mm is the new 24mm.

Stunning Portraits

I can always tell when I'm doing my best work when at the end of the day I have a collection of lovely portraits. This lens gives me exactly what I need for that, a fast 50mm lens to isolate my subject for more intimate scenes, but also the ability to go much wider and draw in context. That flexibility between tight intimacy versus generous street scenes is totally my jam, and I have written about this countless times for magazines in the UK and AU.



Slip ring to manual focus

When shooting video I often want to tweak my focus and I prefer to do that direct on the lens than through the electronic servo. The slip ring is great for that and also makes it easier to see where you need to pull focus when moving through a range.

Macro

This really surprised me. I was looking to capture the red hues of some Alpine plants one afternoon and so slipped the manual focus ring and dialed in the closest focus range. I figured 25mm is likely to get me closer than 10mm. I was stunned at just how close it focused and quickly realized I was holding a beautiful lens for near-macro photography. Filling the frame with a single flower was possible, and this at f/1.7 for super lovely bokeh.



Full frame feel
The Lumix G9 is designed to be practical rather than tiny, and this lens matches that ethos wonderfully. Indeed the combination no longer feels like a MFT camera at all, instead could easily be mistaken for a full frame setup. It feels every inch a fully grown professional camera with that lens in hand.

Dust

My standard kit is 25mm and 12mm prime. They're f/1.4 and I love to work with shallow depth of field. This lens is almost as good as those primes but I never have to take it off the camera body. In Nepal dust is a killer, so not having to change lens is a very welcome convenience. The level of weather sealing on the G9 and the lens meant I had confidence to expose it dust on trails and spray from waterfalls without being anxious.



Video

Until you've tried to respond to changing scenes and sudden moments capturing video you may not appreciate how wonderful this lens is. Flipping from 20mm wide angle landscapes to 50mm portraits in the blink of an eye is truly powerful. The number of times I was able to capture a scene that I might have missed had I been limited to prime is incredible. All the while ready to roll with "shake dough of forks" shallow depth of field and that kick arse autofocus that the G9 is famous for.

Powerful vs Flexible

I'm not a fan of the word "flexible" when shopping for a lens. Flexible is code for lots of convenience at the expense of quality. Giving priority to convenience over quality is great way to hold back your photography and creativity and ensure you never reach your potential. So I have a lot more interest in a lens that is powerful than flexible. The new 10-25mm f/1.7 happens to be both, so I'll focus on the powerful but just quietly admit that yes indeed it is very flexible.

Landscape Lover

The Lumix G9 contains several special features under the hood and the 80.5MP pixel shift mode is one of my favourites. Combining the pixel shift feature with this sweet and flexible lens is a magic combination, giving you precision focal lengths for composition and stunning quality of detail. I've travelled in Nepal a lot with my 15mm (full frame equivalent) but this trip I wasn't tempted to change lenses even once because I love what I'm seeing at 20mm.




Take a closer look at a few videos shot with this gorgeous lens on my website for the Nepal Photo Tour (https://ewenbell.com/itinerary-nepal.php) or just have a sneak peek at the video section below for a short clip that takes advantage of both the 180fps slow motion of the Lumix G9 and the powerful abilities of the 10-25mm f/1.7.

To my way of thinking lenses are far more important than the camera behind them. It matters little how good a sensor or camera body may be if the lens in front of it fails to deliver quality light. This new lens just doubled the power of the Lumix G9, and that is no small achievement.


Please Share Your Thoughts



JUST THE FACTS



The official name for this lens is the DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 ASPH, or LEICA DG Lens H-X1025 in the catalogue listing. Here's the lens on the Panasonic website for it with all the specs:

panasonic.com

Heres's my tour page for Nepal and you'll some loooooovely videos lower down that were captured with this lens. It's a peach:

ewenbell.com





This feature was last updated on Wednesday 04th December 2019

Copyright: All images and words on this web site are copyrighted and may not be used without permission.
Article published and written by
#1265


Related Links
  Nepal  Good Gear  Inspiring Journeys  Lumix  10-25mm  Kathmandu  MFT

Very selected features on the hardware, software and extra wares that help me get the job done.

LUMIX GH6 Custom Settings

LUMIX GH6 Custom Settings

If you're new to the GH6 or new to the custom dial on the camera, this primer will get you moving quickly to set and reset your baseline and access a wide range of this camera's features.


Full Frame Himalayas

Full Frame Himalayas

It's been a long time since I travelled in Nepal with a full frame camera, having enjoyed the LUMIX G9 and its mix of power and convenience in recent years. This time I returned to the Annapurnas with a pair of LUMIX S5 full frame cameras in my bag, and loads of lovely Spring sunshine.


Make The Custom Dial Work For You

Make The Custom Dial Work For You

One of the most powerful features on any Lumix G or S series camera is the custom dial. C1 and beyond. This is a short primer to put you in control of the custom settings, and start working your own baseline towards better captures.


SD Cards Explained

SD Cards Explained

Shopping for an SD card is frustratingly hard, with so many brands, standards and price points to navigate through. Especially when speed is a necessity rather than a luxury. It's also possible that the best value SD card is a MicroSD card, if you have the right adaptor.


Platypod Extreme Gone Bush

Platypod Extreme Gone Bush

It's not a tripod. It's less than that. But maybe it's more than that too. It's very easy to pack and could be very handy when you least expect it.


The Best 35mm Lens for My LUMIX

The Best 35mm Lens for My LUMIX

If you appreciate the value of a 35mm prime lens, you’ll also appreciate that there are a good many 35mm designs to choose from now. Here are my favourite two 35mm lenses from Panasonic and Sigma, both for full-frame L-Mount bodies, and why they appeal to such wildly different photographic styles.




Ewen's New Book



"ReIMAGINE" is now available to order online.
It's a very big and very generous book that will help you to reconnect with your creative side.


ReIMAGINE







Stay Inspired
Join Ewen's newsletter for short updates on new articles and photographic inspiration.

Thanks, you are now subscribed. Please check your inbox for a welcome email.




Computer says NO.
Please check the email address.