Apparently, Lens Rentals (lensrentals.com) has gotten its hands on one of the new 12-35mm lenses before it's officially in stock anywhere else.
(Click Here) to see Roger Cicala's impressions from shooting with the Panasonic Lumix 12-35mm f2.8 lens over at lensrentals.com.
They are planning to offer it up for rental in the next couple of weeks. I like that they are going to let this new lens sit on their own Olympus OM-D body for a while, just to make sure there's no crazy fungus living inside that will affect their customers' cameras.
Roger did an informal comparision of the OM-D and Lumix 12-35 to a Canon 5d MkIII and Canon 24-70 f2.8 lens (same field of view as the 12-35, except for the difference of 24x36mm vs. 4:3 format). This was a quick, admittedly unscientific comparison. All that I can gather from it is that the Lumix images look every bit as good to me, perhaps better in some cases. What is difficult to factor in though, is that the Lumix lens will have a larger depth of field than the full frame Canon lens, at a given focal length and f-stop. In other words, more will be in sharp focus with the Lumix lens. This is not always what you want as a photographer, especially when shooting portraits, where you'd like the background to be soft and unobtrusive.
Anyway, I look forward to trying out one of these lenses. Roger suggests that it performs very well, a little less well than equivalent primes, but at least as good as the fast, high priced zoom from Canon.
I may actually rent one before deciding on this lens. $1,300 is nearly a third of the way to a used Leica M9 body, which is something I'd rather have. And, I have the primes to cover most of this range already. Again, $1,300 is a lot to pay for the convenience of not having to switch prime lenses, especially if it comes with any image quality compromise, which of course it does.
I know that many people have already preordered this lens. For those of you - it looks like you may not have to wait much longer. I hope you all share your results! I'm looking forward to seeing more from this lens.