Review PANASONIC LUMIX S 20-60MM F3.5-5.6

Panasonic has released a unique standard zoom: the Lumix S 20-60mm F3.5-5.6. On the telephoto side, it offers 10mm less than the usual 24-70mm zoom. On the wide-angle side, it offers 4mm more. And it does that in a super light package. 

Click on the lens for specifications, prices and test results.

TEST RESULTS: Panasonic Lumix S 20-60mm F3.5-5.6

PROS

CONS

  • Exceptionally light
  • Small
  • Unique range
  • Reasonable image quality
  • Few chromatic aberrations
  • No distortion (after corrections)
  • AF-MF switch
  • Moisture- and freeze-resistant
  • Not very bright
  • Some vignetting in the wide-angle modes
  • Bokeh isn’t great
  • DFD AF in video

The Panasonic Lumix S 20-60 mm F3.5-5.6 is a fine zoom for traveling and using on the street.

The Panasonic Lumix S 20-60mm F3.5-5.6 is a unique zoom lens. If you look at the brightness, then this looks like an ordinary budget entry zoom. But pay attention to the zoom range: 20-60mm. Yes, the telephoto side is slightly shorter than on the usual 24-70mm zooms. But on the wide-angle side, this lens offers 4mm more. Four millimeters on the wide-angle side makes more difference than 10 millimeters on the telephoto side. This is the only standard zoom that offers a 20mm wide angle. There are also no wide-angle zooms that go up to 60mm. You can therefore use this lens perfectly for landscapes and interior shots in the wide-angle mode and, without changing lenses, zoom in for environmental portraits. Anyone who expects these specifications to come from a big, heavy lens with a huge front lens is in for a surprise. This is the lightest Lumix S zoom so far. It is also nice and compact and can use ordinary screw filters. That makes it one of the most attractive zoom lenses for walking around with all day or to travel with. The new and equally compact Lumix S5 camera forms a perfect pair with this lens.

From 20mm to 60mm is “only” 3x zoom, but the difference between the two positions is nevertheless quite big. Of course, this is mainly due to the 20mm wide angle.

Of course, you have to make some concessions if you want to make a lens small and light. In this case, it is at the expense of the brightness. An initial aperture of f/3.5 at 20mm is not even that bad, but f/5.6 at 60mm is not very bright. In that respect, this is really a different lens than the only other wide-angle to standard zoom with which you can compare it. That happens to be a Panasonic as well: the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25 mm f/1.7 ASPH. Converted to full frame, this Micro Four Thirds lens has a range of 20 to 50 mm with a fixed brightness of f/1.7 over the entire range. But that’s a lot bigger and heavier lens that was made for a much smaller sensor. Those who like to make portraits with little depth of field should supplement this zoom with a bright 85mm.

BUILD

The dimensions of the Panasonic Lumix S 20-60 mm F3.5-5.6 are very modest. With a length of 87 mm and a diameter of 77 mm, this is a small lens. It is also extremely light: 350g. The optical design consists of 11 elements in 9 groups. Two of those elements are aspherical, and three are made of ED glass. The Panasonic Lumix S 20-60 mm F3.5-5.6 is dust- and splash water-resistant and resistant to temperatures down to -10 degrees Celsius. A fluorocoating on the front element repels water and oil and prevents these substances from sticking to the lens. The diaphragm has 9 blades, and the filter size is a very common 67mm.

Autofocus

The Panasonic Lumix S 20-60 mm F3.5-5.6 has a stepper motor. These are extremely quiet and accurate. Because it is not a phase detection system but an improved contrast detection AF, and the Lumix S 20-60 mm F3.5-5.6 in video also shows something of the back and forth search for sharpness. Unfortunately, that makes continuous AF unsuitable for video. The lens does have an additional correction to prevent focus breathing. Focus breathing is a phenomenon in which the image scale changes if you shift the focus. It then appears as if you are zooming in or out while you are only shifting the focus from one subject to another. That’s annoying in video. Panasonic is a pioneer in the field of hybrid cameras, and that is also evident from the attention paid to details like these.

Another great feature of this lens is that you can focus very close with it, up to 15cm from the sensor. That results in a magnification of no less than 0.43x. That is ideal for capturing very small details.

IMAGE QUALITY

The sharpness of the Lumix S 20-60 mm F3.5-5.6 is fine, and if you stop down a bit, it even becomes good. It is not an absolute winner, such as the Lumix 24-70 mm f/2.8, and it is therefore not the first choice for the Lumix S1R with its high-resolution sensor. On the 24-megapixel sensor of the S1 or S5, this lens comes into its own.

Vignetting is definitely there. Of course, especially in the wide-angle mode and at full aperture, but for a lens that is as compact as this and that offers so much wide-angle at the same time, it’s not bad. It’s about three-quarters of a stop at full aperture at 20mm. The vignetting is corrected considerably by the built-in lens corrections, and in practice, it will not bother you much. It does mean that you will have a little less dynamic range at 20mm in the corners, because the corrections already absorb a part of it, but it’s also quite reasonable in practice. At 35 mm, it is already much less, and at 60 mm there is virtually no vignetting, even at full aperture.

20mm f/3.5
35mm f/4.4
60mm f/5.6

Chromatic aberrations are hardly detectable. Only at full aperture in the extreme wide-angle mode and with a lot of backlight will you sometimes see a few colored edges. Stopping down an aperture or two, you no longer have any problems with it. That is a very good result. If you stop down to f/16, you can get sun stars with the Lumix S 20-60 mm F3.5-5.6. They are not very sharply defined, but still quite pretty.

The Lumix S 20-60mm F3.5-5.6 also suffers little from backlight situations and flare is hardly a problem.

 

Distortion is corrected very well. In practice, everything looks beautifully straight, and you really don’t suffer from curved lines at all. 

The edges left and right are concrete columns, and they are nice and straight. The same applies for the jetty.

 

Bokeh is of course not the strongest point of the Lumix S 20-60 mm F3.5-5.6. Especially at f/5.6 at 50mm, you have to get very close to your subject in order to really get a bit of background blur. For portraits, of course, you can’t get too close if you also want a head completely in frame, and then you really have to ensure a considerable distance from your model to the background.

A “portrait” at 60mm at f/5.6. With two stops of extra brightness (and then we’re only at f/2.8), the background would have been much less intrusive.

Specifications: Panasonic Lumix S 20-60mm F3.5-5.6

field of view 94° – 40°
sensor formatFull Frame
shortest setting distance0.15 m
filter diameter67 mm
diaphragm blades 9
image stabilizationno
dimensions87×77 mm
weight350 g
mountL-mount
particulars20mm wide angle
importerwww.panasonic.nl/be
list price669.00
  
resolution 8
contrast9
chromatic aberration9
distortion4.5
vignetting4
autofocus4
flare4
finish 8
  
final score8.4

 

ConclusiON: REVIEW Panasonic Lumix S 20-60mm F3.5-5.6

The Panasonic Lumix S 20-60 mm F3.5-5.6 is a unique kit lens that gives you a lot more options in small spaces or in wide landscapes than the usual 24-70 mm or 28-85 mm lenses.

The Panasonic Lumix S 20-60 mm F3.5-5.6 is a reasonable standard lens. It is also the kit lens for the Lumix S5, and, if we look at the dimensions, the unique range and the attractive price, you can say that it is a very attractive kit lens. With this lens, you really have an option that you don’t have with other brands. And that alone is a good thing.