Review Panasonic 14-42mm PZ

Panasonic 14-42 mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH POWER OIS LUMIX G X VARIO PZ & Panasonic Lumix GX1

Size and weight make the Panasonic 14-42 mm X zoom lens, introduced at the end of 2011, an unique interchangeable zoom lens with a viewing angle which equals a 28-84 mm zoom lens on a full frame camera. The Panasonic 14-42 mm X powerzoom is, combined with the Panasonic GX1 just as compact as a high-end compact camera like Powershot G; it easily fits in a large  pocket. But is the Panasonic 14-42 mm X better than its cheaper and larger predecessor, the Panasonic 14-42 mm?
Results in this review are based on standard in-camera jpg files. De image ratio of the camera has been set to 2:3, which enables comparing the measurement results with our measurements of lenses on a camera with an APS-C or full frame sensor. For further information on the test method, see the FAQ.Panasonic 14-42 mm X review
Panasonic 14-42 mm reviewThe 3x zoom range of the Panasonic 14-42 mm X equals a viewing angle of a 28-84 mm zoom lens on a camera with a full frame sensor. 

Construction and autofocus

Panasonic 14 42mm-X-review

The Panasonic 14-42 mm PZ X zoom lens is well built. The advantage of smaller lenses for micro-43 camera’s with respect  to APS-C or full frame cameras is very large here. During transport the  Panasonic 14-42 mm X is even smaller.

Focusing and zooming takes place through levers on the lens. Those who are used to using a compact or video camera might find this familiar. When you’re used to a SLR type camera, you will need some time to get accustomed.

The autofocus is fast, silent and accurate. Micro-43 camera’s gfocus using the sensor signal, and therefore don’t have any front focus or back focus.

This lens has built-in image stabilization which has to be operated from the camera menu in stead of a switch on the lens itself. We haven’t tested the Image stabilization.

Image stabilization

Vignetting Panasonic 14-42mm Powerzoom

Starting at a focal length of 17 mm, vignetting is acceptable even at fully opened aperture. When stopped down two stops, there is no more visible vignetting left at a focal length of 14 mm. Vignetting is easily corrected by software, so it surprised us that Panasonic didn’t correct for vignetting in-camera.

Panasonic-14-42-X-vignet

Distortion Panasonic 14-42 mm X

For a zoom lens distortion is very well corrected for in the design of the Panasonic 14-42 mm PZ. Barrel shaped distortion is visible at focal length of 14 mm and 42 mm, but at other focal lengths absent. Distortion can be corrected afterwards by photo editing software.

Panasonic-14-42-X-distortion

Bokeh

Bokeh is not too well with this lens, as expected, since this lens doesn’t have a wide aperture and micro-43 sensors are small compared to full frame sensors.

Panasonic14 42mm-X-review-bokeh2

Flare


The Panasonic 14-42 mm PZ X has a special multi-coating in order to minimize flare and ghosting. Nevertheless you can experience flare when there’s a light source just outside the image.Panasonic-14-42-X-praktijkvignet

Resolution Panasonic 14-42mm Powerzoom

The resolution of Panasonic 14-42 mm X jpg files is high over the entire zoom range. Sharpness in the extreme corners lags behind at all apertures, as can be seen from Imatest measurements.Panasonic1442X1review-resolutie
Panasonic 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH POWER OIS LUMIX G X VARIO PZ @ 19 mm f/5.6The resolution of the Panasonic 14-42 mm X equals or outperforms the resolution of the regular Panasonic 14-42 mm. At a focal length of  35 mm the overall optical quality of the Panasonic 14-42 mm X is almost equal to the performance of the famous Panasonic 20 mm lens. See our overview of tested micro-43 lenses to compare this lens with other micro-43 lenses.Panasonic-14-42-X-resolution3

Chromatic aberration Panasonic 14-42 X


Panasonic corrects in-camera for chromatic aberration. This delivers jpg files where there’s no visible chromatic aberration. Here the Panasonic 14-42 mm X outperforms the old Panasonic 14-42 mm.Panasonic-14-42-X-CA3Even a 100% crop from the extreme corners doesn’t show any  visible chromatic aberration, as you can see in this image.

Panasonic14 42mm-X-review no CA

Conclusion Panasonic 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH POWER OIS LUMIX G X VARIO PZ review

Pros

  • Good optical performance, especially for resolution at focal lengths beneath 25 mm
  • Very compact
  • Built in Image Stabilization
  • Powerzoom (especially for video)

Cons

  • Relatively high price
  • Focusing and zooming using levers needs practice
  • Visible vignetting at 14 mm up to aperture 5.6

The Panasonic 14-42 mm X powerzoom is, given its size and weight, an unique interchangeable zoom lens. Focusing and zooming takes place through levers on the lens. Those who are used to using a compact or video camera might find this familiar. When you’re used to a SLR type camera, you will need some time to get accustomed. When you compare the performance of the Panasonic 14-42 mm X  with the cheaper Panasonic 14-42 mm, the Panasonic 14-42 mm X scores a little bit higher. This is mainly because of the low chromatic aberration of the Panasonic 14-42 mm . When you add the optical performance to the compact size and the powerzoom, you will forget the higher price completely  within a few weeks.