Review Panasonic 14-42 mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH MEGA OIS LUMIX G VARIO (m43)
The Panasonic 14-42mm kit lens has entered the market as a successor to the Panasonic 14-45 lens in March 2010. The Panasonic 14-42 is mainly sold as kit lens with a Panasonic camera body. A big difference with the Panasonic 14-45 is that the image stabilization of the Panasonic 14-42 is set with software instead of with a button on the lens, like the Panasonic 14-45. Compared to an Olympus 14-42 mm lens, or to the recently launched Panasonic 14-42 X zoom lens, this Panasonic 14-42 mm zoom lens is less compact. But if you buy a Panasonic camera including this 14-42 mm lens, you only pay a few extra bucks, while the Panasonic 14-42 X or the Panasonic 14-140 mm are a lot more expensive as kit lens. Test results are based on standard jpg files from the camera. The resolution is tested by the setting the sensor ratio of the test camera ( Panasonic GH2) to 2:3, making the results directly comparable to the results of lenses on a camera with an APS-C or full-frame sensor. If the camera is used in the standard 4:3 ratio, the number of lines per image height is even higher. For further information on the test method, see the FAQ.
Panasonic 14-42 mm @ 14 mm, f/3.5, 1/13 s
Panasonic 14-42 mm @ 42 mm, f/5.6, 1/13 s
Zoom lenses with a 10x zoom range are becoming increasingly popular. But with a 3x zoom range like the Panasonic 14-42 mm too, you already get a very different perspective
Construction and autofocus
The Panasonic 14-42 mm is well built from high quality plastic and offers a focal range equivalent with a 28-84 mm zoom lens on a camera with full-frame sensor. Probably to save weight, the bayonet mount not of metal but of plastic. With less than 7 centimeters of length and weighing 165 grams, it is a fairly compact lens, especially compared to zoom lenses for cameras with APS-C or full-frame sensor. But because the lens extends when zooming out and it makes sense to actually use the free the supplied lens hood, you walk around with a less compact camera in practice.
For those who like to focus manually with this lens, or sometimes manually override the autofocus, it is also an advantage that the Panasonic 14-42 mm is not very compact. The drive of the AF by the Panasonic G3 runs quietly and quickly.
Move your mouse over the image to see how the length of the lens increases as you zoom to 42 mm and the hood is used.
Image stabilization Panasonic 14-42 mm
The image stabilization works properly. With a focal length of 42 mm and a shutter speed of 1/6 seconds, is still possible to photograph from the hand with image stabilization. Without image stabilization, the shutter speed of 1/50 seconds already offers 50% less chance of success. A big disadvantage of the image stabilization is that you have to set it in a menu and there is no switch on the lens. If you work without tripod, you might consider always leaving the image stabilization on. This way, you do not forget to turn it on when you need it.
Vignetting Panasonic 14-42
At all focal lengths, the vignetting already remains under one stop at full aperture , which is already reasonably good. At aperture 5.6, it is only one fourth stop (good) and from aperture 8, it is negligibly small (very good).
Resolution Panasonic 14-42 mm
To get an idea of the resolution of this lens, click on the image below. For example, look at the flies on top of the back of the cow in the 100% magnification.
Panasonic 14-42 mm @ 14 mm, 160 ISO, f/6.3, 1/800 s
From 14 to 25 mm, the Panasonic 14-42 mm has much to offer in terms of resolution in the center, with a resolution of about 2000 LW/PH. The highest scores are achieved at aperture 5.6. At 42 mm, the resolution in the center decreases to 1500 LW/PH and the best performance are achieved with aperture 8. In all cases, the resolution at the edges and corners lags behind the resolution in the center. But in the case of a focal length of 25 mm set at aperture 5.6, you get a shot with 1500 LW/PH in the farthest corners. This is a value that some other lenses do not even get in the center. When you click on the graph with your mouse, you will see the resolution at different focal lengths.
Distortion Panasonic 14-42
Despite in-camera correction, there is still a very visible barrel distortion at 14 mm. Even at 25 mm, the barrel distortion is still nearly 1%. The other values are pretty good.
In terms of Bokeh, the Panasonic 14-42 mm is no high-flyer. You may easily experience a troubled background with this lens, even at full aperture, depending on the focal length ranging from 3.5 to 5.6. The low brightness of this lens combined with the relatively small sensor is to blame. In that respect, the Panasonic 14 mm 2.5 scored better at full aperture.
Move your mouse over the image to view another example of the Panasonic 14-42 mm Bokeh.
The Panasonic 14-42 mm lens is, especially in the 14 mm position, sensitive to ghosting. You will encounter ghosting in the form of hexagonal aperture rings with backlight in practice. It is good to have a free lens hood supplied with the lens, but in direct light, the lens hood too cannot prevent glare and ghosting.
Click on the image for an example of flare with this lens at 14 mm.
Chromatic aberration Panasonic 14-42 mm
Usually, the chromatic aberration remains below 0.1%, which is pretty good, but in the worst cases, it can go up to 0.15%, which could occasionally be seen in a corner. Chromatic aberration is a relatively lower strength of the Panasonic 14-42 mm, but this is more due to the good performance of this lens on the other optical properties.
When you click on the chart with your mouse, you see the chromatic aberration at different focal lengths.
Conclusion Panasonic 14-42 mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH MEGA OIS LUMIX G VARIO review
WYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens when you save the files in the camera as jpg, including all in-camera lens corrections (distortion, chromatic aberration). This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: "What you see is what you get".
Good optical performances, especially on resolution at focal lengths under the 25 mm
Cheap, especially as kit lens
No switch on the lens for image stabilization
Sensitive to flare at 14 mm
Moderate performances on chromatic aberration
The Panasonic 14-42 mm is primarily sold as a kit lens. Few users will be dissatisfied with the optical qualities of this lens. You can already take surprisingly good shots in terms of image quality with this lens. Simple instructions for the Panasonic 14-42 mm: put the lens on aperture choice, choose aperture 5.6 and try to avoid the highest focal length. Do not forget to turn on image stabilization if you are not using a tripod. More important than image quality, the size of the Panasonic 14-42 mm can be a reason to buy an extra, different lens. A Panasonic GF3 or G3, combined with a Panasonic 14-42 X, Panasonic 20 mm 1.7 or a 14 mm 2.5, fits in your pocket. The Panasonic 14-42 mm is really just too big for that. The easier you can take a camera with you, the more your camera is with you at a time when you want to take a photo and the more nice pictures you will take.
Author: Ivo Freriks
With Camera Review Stuff I hope to make a modest contribution to the pleasure that you get from photography. By testing cameras and lenses in the same way, evluating the results and weighing up the pros and cons, I hope to help you find the right camera or lens.
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