Anyone who's used Panasonic's 14-42mm Micro Four Thirds zoom lens has probably noticed its relatively bulky design, especially when compared to Olympus's counterpart. Today, the company announced a new lens that offers the same zoom and f/3.5-5.6 aperture range in a housing less than half the size when closed, and still noticeably smaller when extended. The first of two optics in Panasonic's premium X-series -- the second is a 45-170mm f/4-5.6 zoom -- it's been billed as the world's smallest digital interchangeable power zoom lens, thanks to its internal zoom motor which lets you adjust the focal length using a side-mounted rocker -- the design is similar to the zoom toggle included with the company's new FX150 superzoom. Priced at $399, it also includes a metal lens mount, instead of the plastic mount used with the existing $199 14-42mm lens.

That second 45-170mm zoom ($449) can replace Panasonic's 45-200mm lens ($349), and while the size difference isn't as dramatic is its smaller X-series sibling, it's still noticeably smaller and lighter. Both lenses include optical image stabilization and feature nano surface coatings, designed to reduce ghosting and lens flare. The 14-42mm lens will ship in October in black and white (for use with silver bodies), and the 45-170mm zoom will ship in September. They'll only be compatible with the GF-2, GF-3, and G3 at launch after downloading a firmware update -- Panasonic is leaving it up to Olympus to release supporting firmware for its own cameras be compatible with all G-series cameras at launch, without the need for a firmware update. Jump past the break for more details from Panasonic, and check out the gallery below -- complete with side-by-side shots for both lens classes.
Gallery | 19 Photos

Panasonic X-series Micro Four Thirds Lenses


Update: Panasonic issued a correction saying that both lens will be compatible with all G-series cameras without the need for a firmware update.
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PANASONIC ANNOUNCES THE LUMIX GF3X, THE COMPANY'S SMALLEST COMPACT SYSTEM CAMERA COMPLETE WITH A NEW RETRACTABLE POWER ZOOM, LUMIX G X LENS

Panasonic's New Premium LUMIX G X VARIO PZ 14-42mm Lens Features a Retractable Design to Achieve Ultra-High Mobility and Stunning Photo Quality

SECAUCUS, NJ (August 26, 2011) – Panasonic today announces a newly designed and innovative LUMIX G "X" lens that retracts to help minimize its size, without compromising its focal length or image quality. Panasonic's new premium LUMIX G X VARIO PZ 14-42mm/F3.5-5.6 ASPH./ POWER O.I.S. (H-PS14042) lens, will be available with the company's smallest and lightest compact system camera as a lens kit option in the DMC-GF3X model. With electric-powered zoom operation, the retractable Power Zoom H-PS14042 lens is extremely compact, approximately 26.8mm in length, and weighs approximately 3.35oz, offering ultra-high portability.

Panasonic's new premium LUMIX "X" Series of lenses, including the LUMIX G X VARIO PZ 14-42mm/F3.5-5.6 ASPH./ POWER O.I.S., offers a versatile zoom range of 14-42mm (35mm camera equivalent: 28-84mm) suitable for a wide range of scenes, such as dynamic landscape to portrait. Also announced today is another LUMIX X lens, the LUMIX G X VARIO PZ 45-175mm/F4.0-5.6 ASPH./POWER O.I.S. Crystallizing Panasonic's optical technologies, the LUMIX X lenses feature superb image rendering for lifelike textures, crisp edge-to-edge contrast, a unique Nano Surface Coating to help minimize ghosts and flaring in natural settings with remarkable transparency.

"Panasonic continues to innovate in digital photography by offering advanced features in small and compact bodies, thus addressing the consumer's need for camera equipment to be lightweight and easy to carry," said Darin Pepple, Senior Product Manager, Imaging, Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company. "With the new LUMIX X Series of premium lenses, we do not sacrifice size for quality and Panasonic still offers top-of-the-line image quality for our G Series, but in a smaller design that makes it extremely mobile."

With the LUMIX GF3X, the camera and lens combination can achieve Light Speed AF of approximately 0.1 second – making it an extremely quick and high-performing digital camera. The LUMIX GF3X with the new 14-42 PZ lens also features POWER O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer), to make it easier to shoot clear photos even in low-lit situations. The convenient zoom lever on the lens barrel gives users a stable way to zoom. Manual focusing is also available with a manual focus lever for even more precise control.

The LUMIX GF3, like all the LUMIX G Series of Compact System Cameras, captures high-quality photo images with real-to-life details through excellent resolution, image rendering and color reproduction. With its stunningly small compact profile, the LUMIX GF3 boasts high-speed, precise Contrast AF system and quick response times. The LUMIX GF3 is also capable of 1920 x 1080 Full High Definition video in the AVCHD format.

The LUMIX GF3X will be available in a black body and black lens or a silver body and silver lens kits options in October 2011 for a suggested retail price (SRP) of $749.99. The new LUMIX G X VARIO PZ 14-42mm/F3.5-5.6 ASPH./ POWER O.I.S. (H-PS14042) lens will also be available separately for an SRP of $399.99 and will be compatible the Panasonic LUMIX G Series. For more information about Panasonic LUMIX digital cameras, please visit www.panasonic.com/lumix.

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PANASONIC ANNOUNCES BRAND'S FIRST DIGITAL INTERCHANGEABLE POWER TELE-ZOOM LENS

Panasonic's New Premium LUMIX G X VARIO PZ 45-175mm Lens Offers State-of-the-Art Design to Achieve Increased Functionality and Spectacular Image Quality

SECAUCUS, NJ (August 26, 2011) – Today, Panasonic announced the LUMIX G X VARIO PZ 45-175mm/F4.0-5.6 ASPH./POWER O.I.S. (H-PS45175), the company's first cutting-edge digital interchangeable lens with electric-powered zoom operation. This marks the launch of the company's premium lens brand "X" which is compatible with the Panasonic LUMIX G Series and complies with the Micro Four Thirds™ system standard. This lens introduction accompanies another LUMIX X lens announced today, the LUMIX G X VARIO PZ 14-42mm/F3.5-5.6 ASPH./ POWER O.I.S.

The new LUMIX G X VARIO PZ 45-175mm/F4.0-5.6 ASPH./POWER O.I.S. lens features superb image rendering for lifelike textures and crisp, edge-to-edge contrast. A unique Nano Surface Coating technology minimizes reflections at entire visual light range (380nm-780nm) for a dramatic reduction of ghosts and light flare, resulting in outstandingly clear picture quality.

Using a Multi-Actuator Floating Inner Focus System to control three lens groups separately the LUMIX G X VARIO PZ 45-175mm/F4.0-5.6 ASPH./POWER O.I.S. achieves a reduction in both size and weight without compromising picture quality. Boasting outstanding compactness, the lens is approximately 90mm in length and 7.4oz in weight, resulting in ultra-high mobility.

Offering a versatile zoom range of 45-175mm the LUMIX G X VARIO PZ 45-175mm/F4.0-5.6 ASPH./POWER O.I.S. allows distant subjects to be captured sharply at the tele-end. Also notable, the lens is extremely suitable for portrait and landscape shots, as its high contrast and resolution helps images shot at the wide end maintain exceptional quality, and the zoom lever allows for quick and stable zooming, even while shooting a moving object.

The new lens system features two Extra-low Dispersion (ED) lenses which suppress chromatic aberration and contribute to high descriptive performance across the entire zoom range 45-175mm. The POWER O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer) integrated into the LUMIX G X VARIO PZ 45-175mm/F4.0-5.6 ASPH./POWER O.I.S. makes it easy to shoot sharp images even in low-lit situations. With improved sensitivity of the gyro sensor, the new POWER O.I.S. also suppresses large, slow movements two times more effectively** while small, fast movements are compensated for by the conventional MEGA O.I.S.

LUMIX G X VARIO PZ 45-175mm/F4.0-5.6 ASPH./POWER O.I.S. contains seven aperture blades to help produce an attractive smoothness in out-of-focus areas even while shooting at large aperture. Adopting an inner focus system driven by a stepping motor, the lens' superior optical design supports Light Speed AF of approximately .15 seconds and fast aperture control results in a shortened shutter time lag of approximately 20% when compared to the LUMIX G VARIO 45-200mm/F4.0-5.6/MEGA O.I.S.

The Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO PZ 45-175mm/F4.0-5.6 ASPH./POWER O.I.S. (H-PS45175) will be available in black and silver starting September 2011 with a suggested retail price of $449.99. For more information about Panasonic LUMIX digital cameras and lenses, please visit www.panasonic.com/lumix.