Review Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 ASPH LUMIX G (Micro 43)
The Panasonic 14 appeared on the market at the end of the year 2010 as the first fixed focal point wide angle lens for micro-43. Since then the Olympus 12mm 2 lens appeared as well; a larger and heavier, fixed focal point wideangle lens for micro-43. The compactness of the Panasonic 14, with its 2 cm length and a weight of 55 grams, still make this interchangable lens unique.
Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 ASPH LUMIX G, 14 mm, f/5,6, 1/250 s
Panasonic 14-140mm f/4-5.8 ASPH MEGA OIS LUMIX G VARIO HD, 25 mm, f/5,6, 1/320 s
Construction and auto focus
The Panasonic 14 lens is, including lens caps, less than 3 centimeters high, which more are less equals the height of a SLR's lens cap alone! But despite its low eight and compact size, this lens is well built and finished. Because of the "drive by wire" focus system, you will not feel mechanical resistance when you focus manually. The focus ring keeps on turning, even when you've reached a distance of 18 cm or infinity. You have to get used to it. The lens maybe too small for convenient manual focusing. But autofocusing the Panasonic 14 mounted on a Panasonic GH2 is fast and accurate. In some situations Image Stabilization will be very useful and might be missed. But because of the short focal point and large aperture opening, these moments will be rare.
This lens is very small and this might be the cause why vignetting is a relatively weak feature of this lens. Up until aperture 5.6 you can observe vignetting, for example in blue skies. Still these numbers are quite good for a wide angle lens.
Despite the in-camera correction for distortion applied by Panasonic, the Panasonic 14 lens still shows a 1 % barrel shaped distortion. For a wide angle lens this is not bad. For architecture photography you will have to correct for distortion afterwards in Photoshop or Lightroom.
According to Panasonic, the 7 Diaphragm-blades of the circular aperture will yield nice background blur / Bokeh when used wide open. A wide angle lens focused at 1 meter distance already has a large depth of field, even with a large aperture. Therefore you have to approach your subject really close ( approx 25 cm) in order to obtain real Bokeh. Hold your mouse over the image for a 100% view and see for yourself.
This lens did very well in our test, which is remarkable for a wide angle lens. Usually, a wide angle lens has a large front lens combined with many lens groups, which is very susceptible to glare and ghosting. The Panasonic 14 uses multi-coated lens elements in order to minimize glare and ghosting. Furthermore this lens consists out of 6 very tiny lens elements, in 5 group. So there isn't much glass to reflect on at all. During our Panasonic 14 review we didn't find any ghosting or glare.
Sharpness is tested after changing the image ratio from 4:3 in 2:3 on the test camera ( Panasonic GH2). This makes it possible to compare resolution measurement data for this lens directly with measurement data for lenses on a camera with an APS-C or full frame sensor. Looking at sharpness, the Panasonic 14 performs very well with a resolution of 2000 lines per picture height (2000 LW/PH for a jpg file), but the sharpness decreases towards the edges to 1200 LW/PH and 1000 LW/PH at the extreme corners. If you keep the camera set at an image ratio of 4:3, the number of lines per picture height will be even higher.
A lower resolution towards the corners of the image is a commonly observed phenomenon for wide angle lenses. When you compare the resolution performance of the Panasonic 14 with the Canon 16-35 2.8 L MK2, mounted on a Canon 5D MK2 with a full frame sensor, than you will see their performance is very similar. Hold your mouse over the graph for the comparison. At aperture 8 the larger, heavier and much more expensive Canon has a slightly hogher resolution in the corners, but at larger apertures you will not see a difference in resolution between these two lenses. For an impression of the sharpness of this lens, hold your mouse over the left side of the image shown in the Bokeh section. The stalk on the foreground will give you an impression of the sharpness of this lens.
According to Panasonic, 3 aspheric lenses reduce the chromatic aberration. But the RAW files (using common RAW conversion software like Lightroom or Photoshop) and the jpg files are also corrected automatically for chromatic aberration. During our tests, we didn't encounter any chromatic aberration. The measurement values for chromatic aberration are low.
Conclusion Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 ASPH LUMIX G 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".
High optical quality (center sharpness, no glare or chromatic aberration)
Well built and finished
Average sharpness in the corners
Too small for manual focussing
The Panasonic 14 is a lens with much more advantages than disadvantages. Vignetting, distortion and towards the corners decreasing resolution are its weakest spots. The advantages of this lens are much more present than its disadvantages.This interchangeable lens weighs 55 grams only and is very small, but nevertheless built and finished very well. The Panasonic 14 2.5 doesn't show signs of glare or ghosting and chromatic aberration is absent (after in-camera correction). The resolution shown by the Panasonic 14 2.5 is, definitely in the center, but for a wide angle lens certainly also at the edges, very high.
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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