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Old Dec 13, 2005, 12:29 AM   #1
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[align=left]I finally had a Panasonic LW55 0.7X in hand late yesterday. Due to bad weather (seems to me few eastern and Midwest states have good weather today) I could not shoot extensively with the new toy. Instead of having actual images, let me start with some first impression of the lens itself. Panasonic made two lenses for FZ-30: LT55 1.7X (see here http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1033&message=15301662 ) and LW55 0.7X. Some comparison pages of various telephoto lenses were posted here and at my to-be-made-public FZ-30 guide ( http://www.cs.mtu.edu/~shene/DigiCam/User-Guide/FZ-30 ).
(1) Just like the LT55, LW55 is also plastic and comes with front and rear lens caps and soft pouch. Using plastic seems a trend among lens makers except for a few such as Nikon. I have no objection in using plastic lenses; however, they can easily attract dust, hairs, etc due to static. In fact, with such a high price tag, I actually expect to have a metal barrel. Plastic barrel lenses/thread can make some troubles (e.g., difficult to mount and unmount) when using in humid and hot environment. So, if you have pets, pay more attention to the front and rear lens elements. The following shows the lens and its caps:

(2) The lens has a 55mm thread and can be mounted on a FZ-30 easily:



This lens can also be used on a FZ-10 (and FZ-20, I guess) with a 55mm adapter (e.g., Yoshida and Pemaraal) without vignetting. However, very slight vignetting can be seen with 62mm adapter and 62-55 step-down ring. This vignetting disappears if the 62-55 step-down ring is replaced with a 62-55 thread converter.

(3) This is a small lens, just slightly larger than the Raynox DCR 6600pro. The following image shows the top view of four lenses. From left to right, they are Olympus WCON07 0.7X, Sony VCL DH0758 0.7X, Panasonic LW55 0.7X and Raynox DCR 6600pro 0.66X:

The following is a front view of the above four lenses. The Raynox DCR6600 0.66X looks fat because I used a third-party 62mm ring rather than the original 52mm ring to remove vignetting when using a 62mm adapter on my FZ-10. Again, the front profiles show that the LW55 is indeed smaller than the WCON-07 and Sony VCL DH0758, which means the LW55 is easier to be carried around.

(4) The LW55 does not have a front thread. Hence, the use of filter would be difficult. However, reversing and hand holding a Cokin P series polarizer carefully can minimize vignetting to minimal. One may jam a 77mm filter into the lens front barrel; however, some vignetting is possible. The rear end of the lens, which is similar to that of the LT55, uses six screws to fix the thread mount to the lens barrel.

(5) In terms of the optical formula, the LW55 is definitely from that of the Olympus WCON-07. The following image shows the difference. The LW55 has a flatter front glass element, while the WCON-07 has big convex front surface. But, the LW55 shares the same problem in that if the camera lens starts to zoom in, image quality deteriorates quickly. This means the LW55 is only designed at be used at 1X (i.e., 24.5mm = 35*0.7).

(6) Panasonic did not say anything about the optical construction of the LW55. The following is what Panasonic said about this lens:
Dimension: 80mm (W) and 41.5mm (L)
Weight: 195g
Thread Size: 55mm

I believe Panasonic should reveal more because this is not a cheap lens.

(7) My initial shooting experience shows that the LW55 is very good. It seems a little better than the WCON-07. And, purple fringing is not very significant, although more testing would be needed to justify or disprove this claim. I have to wait until I will have a Raynox HD6600pro-55 in hand because I can do any comparison.
When weather permits, I will add sample images here.


Nikon Coolpix 950/990/995/2500/4500/5700, Panasonic FZ-10 and Canon A95 User Guides
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