Mentryville, 4K, and the Leica 14-50
I was feeling antsy and cooped up the other afternoon so I decided to take a drive up to Mentryville, CA. Sounds exciting, no? I had no idea it existed until just the other day when I decided to go up. Mentryville was home to the oldest commercially successful oil drill in California, Pico Number 4. Not only was this the first successful oil drill in California, it was the longest continually producing oil drill in the world, finally being capped in 1990 after being run for 114 years. The more I learn about Santa Clarita, the more I realize why this place is here at all. In any case, Mentryville is now a park and National Historic site and it is all within about a ten minute drive from the house and office.
The real reason for heading up to shoot was to give a little try out with a new-to-me lens, check that the rig works as I expected, and see steady the monopod is for static scenic shots. Mentryville was much easier to get to than Castaic lake, which is still on the shot list for a project on the drought that I’m scheming together. All in all, a success I think.
The Leica 14-50 2.8/3.5 Four-Thirds lens is an old lens, by digital specific lens standards. It was introduced with the Panasonic L1 range finder in 2006, and carries the Leica badge throughout. No Pana-Leica emblems here. That said, it is an obvious collaboration between the two. I wanted to get my hands on a lightly used Panasonic 12-35, but none came up in my searching. So I just bit the bullet, ordered this up with a MFT adapter and called it good. So far I really like it. I wanted to find a comparison between it and the Panasonic 12-35, but couldn’t find any direct comparisons. I will eventually buy the Panasonic, and when I do I’ll do some shot-shot comparisons. For now, its anecdotal.
The lens isn’t very heavy, in spite of its rather large size. In comparison it is probably half again as long and wide as the 12-35. The autofocus isn’t great, but it is tack on when it locks. To focus it racks in then out, then locks. When you turn the camera off the AF resets to infinity. The barrel extends when you zoom about 3/4 of an inch, and the focus ring is an infinity electronic job. Both are tactile enough that they don’t feel too finicky. The cool thing about the lens is that even though it is an electronically controlled iris, they have included an iris control ring – I’ve heard it only works on Panasonic cameras however. Why this instead of a prime? It has image stabilization. Yes I usually use a shoulder rig, a pod, or something else, but stabilization is still key for me in many situations. All in all I can live without the extra 2mm on the wide side, and the extra 15mm of reach on the long side makes a big difference for me so I think it should do the trick.
The video below is just a bit of random shots, straight out of the camera. Originally shot in 4k then downrezed to 1080p at export. Equipment is a Benro S6 monopod, a short rail system, a Tiffen Variable ND, the Leica 14-50, and the GH4.
I think in the end, the older four-thirds lens will be a good one. Also, since I end up shooting quite a bit of stuff that requires a telephoto I can pickup a fast telephoto Olympus that will we half the weight and size of my Nikon, but get the same results.