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Though I have R lenses that cover the same range, I was interested in being able to use AF and wanted to see if the IQ was good enough and is the AF worth the expense. First thing I noticed is that AF drains my battery a lot faster than I would have guessed. I started with a half charged battery and after under 200 images, I was getting a low battery warning. I realize that zooming close then zooming far repeatedly is going to require a lot of focus motor movement, but I didn't expect it to drain the battery that fast. Going on that same outing with R lenses would have not been an issue and I could have continued shooting for 2 or 3 more days at that same battery charge. Lesson learned, always charge your batteries the night before; lithium don't set to a memory, so no reason to run them down before recharging.

The AF was good enough for birds in flight. 75mm ISO 400 F4.5  1/8000s This is the only image I processed, I only adjusted the exposure and contrast because of the back light. Colors are true to what I saw yesterday.

It was accurate enough to find a dark bird in dark branches and undergrowth on a rainy overcast day.

200mm ISO 400 F2.8 1/50s     Handheld at 1/50s electronic shutter

The Jpeg blurred a little, the .dng file shows the bird's eye and feathers tack sharp.

 


 

200mm ISO 400 F2.8 1/100s

There doesn't appear to be any CA. The water drops are clear and the light around the edges of the backlit portions shows no color fringing.

117mm ISO 400 F2.8 1/800s

The bokeh was pleasant and images at F2.8 were quite sharp.

I intentional looked for shots with low contrast to test the AF.  The edge to edge performance was very good. 

200mm ISO 400 F2.8 1/320s

 

I did notice a few time that the AF seems to focus just behind the subject. The image quality was far superior to what the Sigma 85 F1.4 Art produced. If I didn't have R lenses, I would be content with the images from the Panasonic.  For $2700 USD it is a good value. I think it will steal sales from the Leica SL 90-280 lens.

Now I need to decide if I really want AF or am I content with manually focusing everything.

Edited by Brian C in Az
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On 7/24/2021 at 5:20 PM, Archiver said:

Thank you for posting these images. Which R lenses do you use in this focal length range? Have you compared them by shooting the same subjects?

I used the Vario APO Elmarit f2.8 70-180 the next day (Saturday) shooting the same area, the weather was very similar, but the subjects obviously were different. I compared out of camera images and the R lens was noticeably and obviously the winner. This lens is easily my favorite lens even though it quite a workout carrying it all day. (I consider the workout just another benefit of the lens. ;) ). I initially considered  doing a side by side comparison using a tripod but after Saturday's experience I don't see it as necessary.

The colors, contrast, detail, IQ and generally pleasing results of the R lens are obvious. For people who enjoy the post process editing procedure, the IQ of the Panasonic is good enough. For those of us who prefer to not learn the ins and outs of Lightroom to saturate and modify colors, the R lens gives the better results.

I don't mind MF; I actually enjoy it. Though for birds in flight, my hit rate is 1/4 to 1/3 of the AF of the Panasonic. To me, MF is part of the process, part of the pleasure, part of the journey of capturing the image. I captured several dragon flies with the Vario Elmarit while  the Panasonic captured zero;  AF can't see them. Score a point for MF.....

I also have the Vario Elmar f4.5 75-200 that I purchased prior to the 70-108. I may sell that since I rarely use it anymore.

 

So back to my original question, is the AF worth the money? Is the AF worth $2700 and the slightly lesser IQ out of camera?

I'm thinking for me, maybe not. But not everyone has the Vario APO Elmarit f2.8 70-180 in their kit, so for others, the Panasonic may be good enough. Though some take offense at the statement "good enough", that is what we are always asking. Do I need to spend $7000 for the SL lens or is the $2700 lens "good enough" for my purposes?

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