Sometime last year I added a Lumix S Pro 70-200mm f/4 to the arsenal, the idea being to pair it with a 2X teleconverter to get some reach for chasing birds with L-mount. A friend whose work I greatly respect was shooting with the lens and 1.4X at the time, and her shots were pretty spectacular—in Leica-quality territory. Other images that I saw online that had been made with the lens were also great.
Maybe it was because my copy was a KEH BGN, or maybe a China-made copy, or maybe it was a just-before-happy hour copy; but it clearly didn’t render images of the same quality as my friend’s copy, or the others I saw. I ended up ditching it in a multiple-items trade.
Left with the two teleconverters, momentary insanity (no other excuse) prodded me to try the overpriced f/2.8 sibling. This one was definitely made in China (meekly printed in microscopic print on the shroud inside the rear mount!). It had veiling flare wide open and was generally a mediocre, way-too-heavy lens. It got ditched as well.
Wanting a moderate telephoto with weather resistance, internal focus, OIS, and comparatively portable, a survey of existing L-mount glass pointed to the f/4 as the only option. A glutton for punishment, I decided to try the one copy I could find locally.
As an aside, today was the second time I’ve been told by a dealer that the local Panasonic warehouse does not stock Lumix full-frame products, which must be ordered by the dealer and shipped from Japan, arriving months, not weeks, later. Add one more reason for the brand’s lack of success in these parts.
Anyway, the new copy I turned up today was most definitely made in Japan, as engraved on the underside of the metal housing. And, yes, this one does render images like my friend’s copy. In fact, the one thing I’ve noticed so far that stops it from being on the same level as Leica is that stopped down a stop, at 200% magnification, there’s a discernible improvement in acuity, whereas Leica’s better telephotos are already at top performance wide open.
All I need is a great 100% view, and I’m happy to have a tool that fills a gap in the kit.