It was first mentioned at Photokina 2016, but the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit f/2.8-4.0 8-18mm ASPH lens has just been released, ahead of many people expectations.
The Micro Four Thirds lens has an equivalent focal length to a 16-36mm full frame lens, effectively making it a 16-35mm equivalent.
Unlike other similar lenses for the Micro Four Thirds system, the front element of the lens is hugely curved. This has allowed Panasonic to include a 67mm filter thread to the front of the lens, which will hopefully win plaudits amongst landscape photographers and videographers who will no doubt wish to use graduated and ND filters with this lens.
Externally the lens seems familiar, having the standard Panasonic/Leica markings, and having a AF/MF switch on the side of the barrel. As usual there is no aperture ring, and manual focusing is an electronic, fly-by-wire, affair.
To match the Panasonic Lumix GH5, the 8-18mm lens is also weather sealed, offering protection, not only from a spot of rain, but also dust and sand. We can testify as to how good the weather sealing is on these current generation of lenses after Photo Gear News Editor, Richard Sibley, used the Leica 12-60mm f/2.8-4 lens is the pouring rain and cold weather in Iceland.
Optically the lens is constructed of 15 elements in 10 groups, but impressively it weighs just 315g.
We are currently waiting for news on UK pricing, but the lens is expected to arrive towards the end of May 2017 and will cost $1099.