Field Test: Panasonic Leica 42.5mm f/1.2 DG Nocticron


When I did a search on YouTube, most of the ‘tests’ I saw of the Nocticron were of weeds and garbage (literally), with shutter speed set at 1/000 second (because the uploader didn’t want to shell out for an ND filter); or set exclusively at f/1.2 (WTF?), when stopping down to f/2.8 gives you 30 lines per mm more resolution; or shot in a studio by a reputable cameraman, but with the ugliest set and lighting imaginable. And this is already two years after the lens was released. Then I came across this lunatic who can go on for 15 minutes blabbing about the ‘8 best lenses without compare’, without even bothering to give any criteria or showing sample images, yet he has over 50,000 subscribers! I guess I have too much time on my hands…

To avoid focus ‘hunting’ I set my GH4 according to Gordon Laing’s recommendations:

The Lumix GH4 has three main focusing modes, selected with a dedicated collar on the back: AFS (Single), AFC (Continuous) and MF (Manual focus). The AFS mode is actually labeled AFS / AFF, with the choice adjusted in a menu and set to AFF by default. This means when the GH4’s AF switch is set to AFS / AFF, it may actually be operating in AFF mode and automatically switching between single and continuous as it sees fit. While this seems to work well in casual use, I prefer to set it to Single AF in the menus so I know there won’t be any unexpected hunting. There’s two pre-focusing options, one which refocuses as you recompose, and another which focuses on the AF area when you first bring your eye to the viewfinder. Both allow the GH4 to essentially focus on a likely subject before you’ve even had a chance to think about pressing the shutter. They certainly speed up the operation, although again I preferred to override this and turn both off.

Technical details: Panasonic Lumix GH4, iFootage Wild Bull T7 carbon fiber tripod, Hoya NDX8 filter, C4K, Natural, ISO 200, -4, -4, 0, -2, 0. Most clips shot at f/2.8 (where the lens is reaching the peak of its potential). No color correction or sharpening added in post.

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