Could We See the Return of an Unusual Panasonic Lens?

Panasonic came out with a 3D Lens for Micro Four Thirds years ago; will we see a full-frame version?

Is 3D still kind of a gimmick? I’ve been pondering that for the last few days. So much is possible with technology like LIDAR and depth scanning. But then there’s also the fun stuff. For example, over a decade ago, Panasonic made a 3D lens. The Panasonic 12.5mm f12 was very weird, but at the same time incredibly intriguing. People are yearning for a variety of visual experiences, and this could be something that returns. With Panasonic entering the L mount alliance a few years ago, it’s possible. Of course, I could also just be doing some wishful thinking.

Let’s first catch you all up to speed. Here are some of the key specs of the old Panasonic 12.5mm f12 lens:

  • Micro Four Thirds mount
  • View of 25mm
  • f24 depth of field
  • Fixed f12 aperture
  • Close focusing of just under 2 feet
  • 1.59 oz weight

When the Panasonic 12.5mm f12 3D lens was released, it was a much different time. In 2010, the camera world was a bit more experimental. Mirrorless was still in its infancy then, but it’s the standard for a camera today. Only if you don’t know any better will you call them DSLRs. 

So why would a lens like this come back? 3D content isn’t all that huge, right? I mean, we’re in the middle of a pandemic. Who’s seeing movies in 3D? Who watches TV in 3D? WandaVision didn’t have a 3D option, did it? 

Well, that’s a great question. Panasonic already has a Post-Focus option technology too. This is similar to what Google, Apple, and the Light camera did. 3D, however, would be a bit odd to do. The problem has more to do with how to consume 3D content. Usually, you need 3D glasses. And I think that it has a great place in the future of VR and augmented reality. After all, modern cameras are centered around content creation. 

So how do you solve that problem? Well, there are lots of great VR headsets that support it. The Oculus Quest 2 supports 3D movies, and they’re still pretty usable. Even a legally blind guy like me can see content very clearly. It’s fun and different from the traditional cinematic experience. If you think about it, Panasonic has always been about this. They’ve targeted content creators for most of their time in Micro Four Thirds. Then they brought that to the L mount They’re a company better known for video than photos. But that can change.

If you look at typical 3D photos these days, they’re animated GIFs. And they tend to go back and forth to get this weird, slightly coked-out effect. This brings up another thing: why haven’t companies let us create animated GIFs? How awesome would it be for us to have that ability in-camera? Sigma lets you do cinemagraphs. Sony used to do this until they took it away with the PlayMemories store.

In short, I’m really just saying we need something different. There’s so much of the same stuff out there. Technology like this gets photographers and creatives excited. It opens up a ton of possibilities and gets us excited to create again. And I’m not talking about creating just to satisfy the YouTube, Tik Tok, or Instagram algorithms. I’m talking about creating for the sake of it.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.