This is the new Panasonic L-Mount, full-frame, 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens. There's so much to love about macro photography. Finding beauty even in the most desolate of places… creating your own fantastic scenes… capturing magazine-worthy images while grabbing a coffee, or… wait, wait a minute. Is this even a macro lens? It doesn't say “macro” anywhere on it. Oh, here. On the box. Look, there, in tiny little type, it says “macro.” This omission of the word “macro” actually tells you something really important about this lens. It tells you that being a macro lens — and by the way, macro is defined as the ability to focus extremely closely to a subject AND to capture that subject at a 1:1 ratio (that means the subject is the same size in real life as it is on the sensor) — anyway, being a macro isn't the only thing you need to know about this lens, and it may not even be its most important feature. This lens is so much more than just a macro. It's an ideal portrait focal length lens, packed with new technology that makes it smaller, faster, lighter, and closer-focusing than any other 100mm macro lens on the market. I think this is going to be a very popular lens. Think about this; most folks buying a new camera, especially their first camera, are starting with the kit lens that comes with it. Probably a pretty generic zoom. Then, the most common next lens to buy is either the nifty-50 — a fast 50mm lens that'll give you shallow depth of field without breaking the bank — or maybe a 35mm, general purpose lens. Next is usually a portrait lens; something longer that'll give you those delicious, tight portrait photos with lots of lovely bokeh. But macro. I mean, who doesn't love macro? The problem, though, with a macro lens is it's kind of limited. Historically, macro lenses are slow to focus, and especially slow to go from closest focusing distance to infinity, so they become inconvenient for general purpose use. Their focus falloff and bokeh generally aren't as pleasing as a portrait lens, so they don't even look as good for non-macro use. They're more expensive than non-macro lenses, and a lot bigger and heavier, so you're less likely to carry it around with you, or more likely to let it sit on the shelf. This lens changes all of that. It's a small, lightweight, 100mm perfect portrait focal length lens that just happens to focus down to 20.4 centimeters, or 8 inches. And remember, that's the distance from the sensor plane. It focuses just 10 centimeters, or 4 inches, from the front element. So, let's dive deep into this thing, and I'm going to aim to show you everything you want to know, and a few things you didn't know you wanted to know about this lens. Starting with a physical tour. It has two physical switches on it. The manual focus / autofocus switch, and a focus limiter, to go from 0.2 to 0.5 meters, 0.5 to infinity, or full range. If you've never used a macro before, that limiter switch prevents the lens from exploring a focus range outside of that setting. So, if you're just doing macro, set it to close focus, and it'll never try to find focus at infinity, or the other way around. If you're not doing macro work, then you can keep it from searching for focus closer than half a meter. But what's really cool is that you can actually program any focus limit range that you want in the camera's menu system. We'll take a look at that later. On the front of the lens, you'll notice a really thoughtful design element. The printed text on the front of the lens is gray, instead of white, to minimize the chance of reflections of the lens text on a shiny subject. It has a 67mm front filter thread, which actually matches the other lenses in the Panasonic lineup. In fact, when you put the collection of LUMIX S lenses side by side, you'll notice something really important. The 18mm, 24mm, 35, 50, 85, and now 100mm macro are all identical sizes and very similar weights, from 295 grams to 355 grams. And all feature the same 67mm front filter thread. This means swapping lenses in a rig or even a gimbal is really quick and easy. I keep saying that it's the smallest and lightest lens, but let's compare. Now, regular viewers will know that as a LUMIX Ambassador, I tend to shy away from comparisons because if I say I like a LUMIX something better than anything else, well, obviously I'm biased — but this isn’t opinion. This… is just facts. Here's a lineup of 100mm macro lenses from the other top manufacturers; Sony, Sigma, Nikon, and Canon. These photos are scaled as accurately as possible, so you really get a feel for the size differences. At the bottom, you can see each lens's exact dimensions, weights, and closest focusing distances. Not only is the LUMIX 100mm macro lens the smallest and the lightest, it even focuses the closest — by a lot! I kind of geeked out here and mapped out all of that data into bar charts. Here's the height or length of the lenses on a bar chart. Then, the weight. It literally weighs less than half of the Sigma or Canon! And when it comes to closest focusing distance, again, it's the closest. Size and weight may not mean much if you're just shooting on a tripod in the studio, but as soon as you hand-hold the lens or simply want to take it in the field, every gram matters. This is a lens you could easily take on a hiking trip, which is exactly the kind of place you're likely to want to take a macro lens. And even if that hiking trip takes you into the snow, this lens is rated to minus 10 degrees Celsius. And while it hasn't gotten quite that cold here yet, I can say that it's gotten pretty damn cold and the lens always performed flawlessly. Let's get into the guts of this lens; what's inside that makes it so special. What makes it so small is ironically what also makes it so fast. It employs what's called a “dual focus” system, where instead of a single group of elements moving around to achieve focus, it has three aspherical lenses moving in two groups. This means less movement in less space, allowing the lens to be 25 millimeters shorter. Then a newly developed motor called DPLM or Dual Phase Linear Motor moves the elements faster than ever before. You see, the movement of the optics in the lens are controlled by magnets, much like a maglev train. This new dual phase system has magnets on both sides pulling on each other, allowing them to move the elements even faster. If you've ever seen the videos on the Magnetic Games channel where he propels magnets with magnets, you get the idea of the power and speed that comes from this technique. Practically what this translates to is very fast focus moves from closest focus to infinity. Look, here's the 100mm macro on the LUMIX S5 Mark II and a flower at its closest focusing distance. I'll focus on the flower, then move out of the way and focus on the background, then put the flower back in and focus again. You can see just how quickly the focus motor moves the lens, even from the closest focusing distance to infinity — or near infinity, in this case. There's also a whole new circuit board in here and even the aperture was redesigned to be thinner. Every millimeter counts, and the result is an impossibly small 100mm macro lens. If you're learning something from this video, do me a solid and hit that subscribe button. And if you really want to support the channel, consider joining as a member. We have our own private Discord, which is a great place to talk about gear like this outside of the comment section. All right, let's have a look at lens control from inside of the camera. Lens settings aren't limited to the switches on the barrel. There's actually quite a bit more you can do from the camera's menu. First, the Focus Limiter feature. You already saw that the switch on the barrel could limit focus from 20 to 50 centimeters or 50 centimeters to infinity. If you switch it to full though, you can now go into the menu system and define your own focus limiter range. I'll show you how to set it up, but first look at this scene. I have a couple of flowers, one close and one behind it, but in the background there's more flowers that I don't want the camera to try to focus on. To limit focus, open the menu, go to the photo or video menu depending on what mode you're in, then go to the focus page, then focus limiter, and choose set. Notice on top of the focus distance readout, there's a “1” and a “2”. Those are the current limits. So for now, the full range. I'll manually focus to set the focus on the farthest subject I might want in range. Let's say… right about there. See on the left, it shows that to set limit “1”, you press the white balance button or you can just tap the LCD. So I'll go ahead and set that. Notice that the “1” over the focus readout has moved. Next, I'll set the near range, and I can focus manually again, or I can move the focus box and then press the AF button to auto focus on that position – and of course manually adjust it if necessary. Then set limit “2”. Finally, press SET when you're done, to activate it. You can see in the menu the Focus Limiter is now on. With those set, auto focus won't seek outside of that range. This way, when you're photographing something small, especially handheld, by limiting the range of where it's going to seek focus, you can more quickly find focus, especially in a composition like this one where you have subjects both near and far. This way, the camera will never try to focus on the background. Autofocus plus Manual Focus is another awesome feature. Again, this isn't unique to the macro lens, but it is a super useful feature when shooting close-ups. I already have it enabled; look at what happens. First, I'll auto focus, but maybe that's not the exact part of the flower I want to focus on. With my finger still half pressed on the shutter, I can now rotate the focus ring manually to adjust focus. This becomes even better yet again with Manual Focus Assist. While manually focusing, you can punch into the image to see your subject even more closely so you really know what's in focus. This feature is under the custom (or gear) menu, then the first Auto Focus page, and it's called Manual Focus Assist. You can choose how it's activated; I like to activate it by pressing the joystick. And you can choose whether it's going to be Picture in Picture or Full Screen. Now, when I'm manually focusing, if I press the joystick, it'll punch into the shot so I can really clearly see exactly what I'm focusing on. Another feature that's really helpful in macro photography is focus peaking. Typically peaking is used when manually focusing, but you can also enable it for single auto focus. This is a great LUMIX feature and not unique to this lens, but can be quite useful as a way to know precisely what portion of your tiny subject is in the sharpest focus. To enable that, go again into the Photo or Video menu, Focus, then Focus Peaking. This is what it looks like on the LCD or through the viewfinder. As you can see, it makes it very clear exactly what the camera is focused on. There's one more software controlled feature I want to show you, and this one is especially wild on this macro lens. With all modern LUMIX lenses, you can define in software whether manual focus is linear or non-linear. Non-linear meaning the focus changes faster or slower depending on how fast or slow you rotate the focus ring. And you can define how far you have to rotate the lens to go from closest focus to infinity. Do you want to rotate it just 90 degrees, 180 degrees, 360 degrees? These LUMIX lenses can be set up to a 1080 degrees, which is three full rotations. This is great when you want really critical manual focus control; the ability to focus extremely precisely. Well, there's always one more setting beyond 1080 called maximum. Look… Custom menu… Lens Settings… Focus Ring Control. And there you can see your Linear or Non-Linear options. And then under Set, you can choose the rotation from 90 up to 1080, or maximum. So what is maximum rotation on this 100mm macro lens? It seems to be about four and three quarter rotations, or about 1700 degrees. That's a lot of precision! Of course, none of this matters if the images captured don't look fantastic. Let's talk about color rendering. Color rendering of this 100mm macro is consistent with the other lenses in the lineup. Here's a color chart comparison of the 100mm versus two of the lenses in the series, the 85 and 24mm lenses. As you can see, the colors are very consistent across the series. Focus breathing is a topic you're unlikely to hear discussed with other macro lenses. Why? Because it's so bad. So what is it? Focus breathing is the expansion or contraction of an image as you focus from one extreme to the other. The practical result of this is the lens effectively zooms as you focus. Focus length on any lens, in this case 100 millimeters, is measured when focused at infinity. As you focus closer and closer, if the lens breathes, then the image expands. Basically meaning it zooms. A 100mm lens at infinity may become a 110mm, 120mm, 130mm lens the closer you focus. Now, focus breathing to a degree is inevitable. Even really expensive cinema lenses exhibit it. Watch for it in the movies as focus racks between subjects near and far; you may notice elements on the edge of the screen moving in and out of frame. Okay, so if it's so common, why does it matter in a macro lens? Well, other than just being annoying because your framing literally changes as you focus, it becomes extremely important in focus stacking. What's focus stacking? In macro photography, the plane of focus can be extremely narrow, making it difficult to get a small close subject like a piece of jewelry or flower entirely in focus. By the time you stop down far enough to get the entire subject in focus, if you even can, the image won't be as sharp and you'll lose the creamy bokeh of the background. So stopping down isn't a great or even viable solution. Focus stacking is where you take a series of photos of a subject, moving the focus ever so slightly across the scene, capturing slices of your subject in focus, and then you merge the sharp bits together in the computer. Okay, so again, what does this have to do with focus breathing? Well, with heavy breathing, the size of your subject changes dramatically from photo to photo, meaning you're scaling each photo to match the previous or next ones in the stack and ultimately cropping quite a bit off the edges. Here's an example of bad focus breathing. This is NOT the Panasonic lens. Notice how as I focus between the back of the second card and the front of the first card, the image zooms so much that the front card scales out of frame. Here's the same shot with the LUMIX lens. While there is still a little breathing, it is considerably reduced. This is what you want; as little focus breathing as possible. Now, I'm not going to name names, but I was scratching my head trying to figure out how a lens with the same focal length as the LUMIX, which reproduces at a 1:1 ratio, can advertise as a 1.4:1 ratio without focusing more closely. Then I realized they're calling their awful focus breathing a feature. The lens breathes — zooms! — so much that at its closest focus point, the subject is 40% bigger. Now, obviously, this could be seen as an advantage for some work, but it means that focus stacking with that lens will be pretty rough. In fact, any lens that doesn't focus as closely as the Panasonic, but still can claim to be a 1:1 lens, well, it's because of focus breathing. So let's see it in practice. Here's an example of focus stacking. I wanted to shoot a cute little glowing mushroom scene, but it's the middle of winter. So I built this little set in the studio so I could get the shot. A single photo at f/4.5 shows the tiny grass and droplets just as I want them, but barely any of the mushroom is sharp. So using the LUMIX built-in Focus Bracketing feature, I made this focus stack of 25 images. You can see as it racks through that once again, the focus breathing is absolutely minimal. I assembled the focus stack in Photoshop, but the auto blending feature really didn't work on this shot. See how I grabbed sharp parts of the blades of grass and stuck them in the middle of nowhere! So I ended up doing this one by hand, brushing sharp elements of the mushroom in layer by layer. I think it came out pretty cool. In the beginning of this video, I made a point to saying that this lens isn't just a macro lens. So let's see some non-macro examples. I asked my friend Neža to model for me over a cup of coffee. With this lens, you can easily go back and forth between shooting portraits and shooting details. Images are incredibly sharp with a beautiful fall-off from focus plane to bokeh. There's no noticeable vignetting and the highlight roll-off is gentle and pleasing. If you do buy this lens, be sure to check out the Panasonic website for free firmware updates for your camera. There's a lot of new tech in here and some of the older cameras need to be updated to take advantage of it. The S5, S5II and S5IIX don't need updates, but the S1, S1R, S1H and BS1H all have updates ready to download and install. Next, since you're still here, you obviously like cool lenses. So check out my video on the TT Artisan's tilt lens. That lens is a whole other approach to fun photography.