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One Perfect Lens?
  • I was hoping to get some feedback from anyone who's used the Nikon 17-55 lens (with the f 2.8 available all the way through the zoom) or is familiar with it or other zoom lenses. What do you guys think about this lens as a single lens to shoot a narrative feature film. Our cinematographer wants to use one lens with a zoom as we are occasionally in cramped/tight locations, and the perfect shot is often between the fixed focal length lenses we have (18mm, 28, 50). I'm curious to see if anyone has any experience/knowledge of this lens' image quality, particularly when on a GH2 (will be using one of the Apocalypse Now settings. probably Boom - (thank you Driftwood))

    The f 2.8 is pretty good for low light, but for very very low light we'll have ample lights at all time.

    So what do you guys think...could this be one perfect lens?

    (Here's a link to the lens at B@H -

  • 47 Replies sorted by
  • I haven't tried that lens, but the Olympus 14-54mm with adapter is what I use when I need one lens that does it all. It's F2.8 on the wide and gets to F3.5 at 54mm. Plenty of DOF and speed, sharp, and has autofocus.

  • I use the Oly 14-54 a lot. It's a decent all around solution, but I wouldn't call it "Perfect". The autofocus is slow and hunts and is noisy. There are also mounting issues with the smart adaptors, sometimes the contacts don't touch and the camera will just shut down. The manual focus ring is adequate but not great. There must be something better out there. What it is I don't know. It's a good lens, just not a gamechanger.

  • Also remember that panasonic 14-35mm lens is $1100 and minus $200 discount if you get it with any modern body.

  • @Vitaliy_Kiselev That Tamron 17-50 F2.8 looks like a good option. I'm shooting all manual mode, so autofocus not critical. Do I need an adapter? I guess the adapter has an aperature control? Have you seen any footage examples from this lens and the GH2 used together? Thanks.

  • Tokina 16-50 2.8 has the same short focus throw as the Tamron, BUT it is parfocal and has a much smoother focus ring (no rattle). We're getting the 11-16, 16-50, 50-150 2.8 in Nikon mount to try out on our weddings. As much as I love working with primes, it's nerve wrecking some times!

  • Thanks for advice guys.

  • Get a Nikon G to m43 adapter with open-close ring. That way you get a step less aperture control.

  • Vitaliy - do you mean the Panasonic 12-35mm?

  • When you consider that the Nikon 17-55mm f2.8 (along with the rest of the lenses discussed here) lacks a manual aperture ring, it really cannot be considered the "perfect" choice for a mid-range manual-focus zoom on the GH2. The closest that Nikon came to filling that spec was the 17-35mm f2.8 AFS-D, a parfocal zoom whose front barrel does not extend with either zooming or focusing.

    Unfortunately, the Nikon 17-35mm f2.8 is more expensive and much heaver than any Lumix lens, in particular, the 12-35mm f2.8, which covers a far wider range of focal lengths.

    As for Nikon-mount lenses that lack manual aperture rings, I can only wonder how GH2 shooters put up with the sloppy, uncalibrated "Nikon-G" adapters. I have the Fotodiox version, and it's impossible to accurately set the lens aperture to anything but wide open. Since the iris on a Nikon lens was never intended to be manually adjusted in this way, the adapter's aperture ring is at best a makeshift kludge.

  • It is a make shift @lpowell I have the Novoflex which features quite a stiff iris control ring. The stiffness allows quite fine control over the aperture, but yes it's still difficult.

    The only lens I use the iris control with, is the Tokina 11-16. It's not ideal, but definitely workable.

  • @itimjim 2 questions 1) are you using the Nikon17-55 F2.8 with the GH2 and do you like image quality?, and 2) you said the Novoflex adapter is difficult but allows fine aperature control- what about using it is difficult?

    Thanks all.

  • I really like the Olympus 14-35 mm constant f2.0. It's not parafocal, but has a nice long throw for focus, and works well with a FF on a rig. On my GH2 it provides an effective 28-70mm zoom, so nice range from wide to tele. The only drawback is the price.

  • +1 for the Oly 14-54 II It's not perfect, but best bang for the buck. Prices have come down compared to last year.

  • i haven't used the nikon 17-55 but I use the canon 17-55 f2.8 all the time. it's a great lens but you lose i.s. and aperture control on the gh2. I'd say you're better off with the 12-35 and/or 35 - 100 2.8 panasonic lenses. but that's cause i'm addicted to i.s.

  • @matt_gh2

    1) I'm not using the 17-55, sorry. Just the Tokina set of 11-16, 20-35, 28-80.

    2) It's difficult for two reasons. One, you never know exactly what aperture you're shooting at unless wide open or fully closed - so using a light meter is mostly useless, and you have to rely on the internal meters. Two, the difference between stops is really a micro movement on the ring. The very stiff ring helps with this, but it's still challenging, although 10x easier than other G adapters I've used.

  • @matt_gh2 Are you concerned using that 28-80 and novaflex adapter without support or do you have a lens support at the end? I went with a tripod mount adapter but I would much prefer the Novaflex. Just worried about the lens mount on the camera.

  • Thanks all for feedback - very helpful.

    @itimjim Yeah, I figured you were talking about light meter usage. We're okay on that as we don't use a meter. Interesting on the difficulty with adjusting - I happened to notice their are/were 2 versions of the Novoflex adapter. I saw at B@H site the new one, which has a different blue ring. Maybe that's a better than the older ring.

    @vicharris We're looking at 17-55 as that was focal lengths we were using with primes (18,28,50) and want the total choice of exact focal length. I hear the 17-55 is a bit heavier than some other lenses, but if it seems to be a bit much for the GH2 with Novoflex, I guess I would just add rails with a lens support?

    We'll probably get this Nikon 17-55 F2.8 with Novoflex and use with Apocalypse Boom setting. Will post footage as we start shooting/testing.

    Thanks all for help and advice.

  • The Contax Zeiss 28-85mm is a fantastic zoom on the go. It's sharp and yet renders filmlike images on digital. Colours are astonishing. Other lenses that I use and feel are excellent include Contax Zeiss 60mm f2.8 Makro Planar, Samyang 85mm f1.4, Leica R 90mm f2.8, and of course Contax 85mm f1.4.

  • I've got the Nikkor 17-55 for my D7000 for photos, and use it occasionally on my GH2 for video. Haven't done any lens comparison shots with it, but at least on the D7000, the lens is extremely sharp on the wide end, even wide open. It softens up a bit at the long end until stopped down, though has been compared to the 50mm 1.8D in sharpness and contrast. And yes, it's big and heavy, but very well built (mostly metal) with a nicely weighted zoom ring and a light but evenly dampened focus ring.

    Amusingly, people thought it was a waste of money compared to similar lenses when it initially came out. Only recently have sensors been able to capture the true sharpness of the lens.

    I have a 720p60 vid of a lizard I shot last week that I can post up tonight to give you an idea.

  • @BlueBomberTurbo Cool, yeah please post the lizard vid. That would be great to view footage. Are you using any of the hack settings? Thanks

  • Uploading now. Used Canis Majoris Night, which is pretty much my favorite hack (even over the new Apocalypse Now settings).

  • @BlueBomberTurbo Vid looks great. Thanks for posting.

  • What about Olympus 12-60? I also need good sharp lens for undemanding shooting, and this Oly seems ok, cheaper, than nikon 17-55, lighter, wider range... Does anybody have some experience with this lens and gh2?