Back in January, Panasonic announced a new line of converters for their Micro four thirds cameras which included a fisheye, a macro, a wide converter (which modifies their 14mm lens to 11mm), and a telephoto (which converts their 42mm to 84mm). The only one that interested me was the wide converter because I already owned the 14mm. At $130, the decision was a no-brainer. After the obligatory wait of four and a half months, it finally showed up on Amazon this week. I bought one a couple of days ago and it arrived last night.
If you own Panasonic’s 14mm lens you’re getting the equivalent view of a 28mm lens on a 35mm camera. The DMW-GWC1 converter changes the view to 22mm. In the days of film, I frequently used the 903 SWC Hasselblad, so I’m already comfortable with a view this wide.
This morning I took my G3 over to Sag Harbor for some pictures with the converter. When I opened up my RAW files in Photoshop an hour ago I was pleased to see pictures that were bright and sharp. This picture, by the way, was photographed handheld @ f5.6 at only 1/50 second. You can click on it if you’d like to see it a little bigger.
I’m not sure yet if the profile for the converter is supplied in the most recent ACR upgrade from Adobe, but you can easily correct for any vignetting or barrel distortion manually in Photoshop. Be warned: both ailments occur with this converter, (especially barrel distortion) so if you’re unwilling to deal with it in front of your computer, then this gadget is not for you. With my first few landscapes (including the one up above), I didn’t find any of those corrections were necessary. If I was shooting architectural subjects, I would’ve corrected for barrel distortion. Vignetting? On wide fields of view–I sorta like it (at least in small amounts).
Do I consider these things drawbacks to the converter? Well…if you’re only spending a $130 for a 22mm field of view, you can’t demand perfection. (I used to spend about that much for the filters on my Hasselblad.) To me, the biggest issue is corner to corner sharpness especially if you want to shoot wide open. Stopping down isn’t a big deal for me since I already tend to do that with prime lenses. If you do find a bit of fall-off in terms of sharpness–again, you can compensate for it in your post processing.
Once you take your converter out of its box, it easily twists onto an adapter ring (supplied)–which then screws onto the front of the lens. The converter doesn’t come with a pouch, but it does have the front and back caps. Mounted on the 14mm on the Panasonic G3 the camera is a bit too large to be truly called a “point and shoot”. I’m fine with that because it’s ergonomic. Even with the converter attached, the camera is considerably smaller and lighter than any 35mm camera.
btw– you can’t screw a filter onto front of this converter…so be aware of your bare glass at all times.
I’ve posted more images from the converter here at these two links:
For specs, pictures and more info about all four of these converters, visit the review at dpreview: