LensTip.com

Lens review

Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18 mm f/2.8-4 ASPH.

21 August 2017
Arkadiusz Olech

6. Distortion

As long as you work with JPEG files the distortion won’t be very bothersome – the photos below prove that much.

Olympus E-M5 II, JPEG, 8 mm
Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18 mm f/2.8-4 ASPH. - Distortion
Olympus E-M5 II, JPEG, 10 mm
Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18 mm f/2.8-4 ASPH. - Distortion
Olympus E-M5 II, JPEG, 13 mm
Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18 mm f/2.8-4 ASPH. - Distortion
Olympus E-M5 II, JPEG, 18 mm
Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18 mm f/2.8-4 ASPH. - Distortion

At the shortest focal length you deal with a ‘barrel’ variety of that aberration, amounting to −1.59%. At 10 mm it decreases to an imperceptible level of −0.37%. At 13 mm you still deal with barrel distortion but, within the margin of error, the results are equal with zero (official result being −0.14%). Pincushion distortion is negligible as well, amounting to +0.32; you can observe that effect only at the maximum focal length.


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After passing to RAW files the situation changes dramatically and photos below show it very well.

Olympus E-M5 II, RAW, 8 mm
Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18 mm f/2.8-4 ASPH. - Distortion
Olympus E-M5 II, RAW, 10 mm
Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18 mm f/2.8-4 ASPH. - Distortion
Olympus E-M5 II, RAW, 13 mm
Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18 mm f/2.8-4 ASPH. - Distortion
Olympus E-M5 II, JPEG, 18 mm
Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18 mm f/2.8-4 ASPH. - Distortion

At 8 mm distortion is huge. You deal with its barrel variety and its level amounts to as much as −6.59%. Of course it can be corrected but only at a cost. Firstly, the field of view has to be cropped but it is a smaller problem than you might think because, fortunately, the Micro 4/3 optics producers state fields of view already after distortion correction. Another effect might be a more serious problem, though.

Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18 mm f/2.8-4 ASPH. - Distortion

As you can notice in the photo taken at 10 mm, after distortion correction and image cropping from original 16.1 million pixels, offered by the E-M5 Mark II, you are left with 13.4 million. If you deal with JPEG files or RAW files developed by a program which corrects distortion automatically, almost 3 million pixels have to be added.

Unfortunately the Panaleica’s 8-18 mm distortion level decreases quite slowly with the increase of the focal length. At 10 mm you deal with a still high level of −4.51%. Barrel distortion is also noticeable at 13 mm where it reaches −1.68%. Only at 18 mm you see just slight ‘pincushion’ of +0.32%.