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Panasonic 7-14mm f/4 Lumix G Vario Micro Four Thirds Lens Review

Panasonic 7-14mm f/4 Lumix G Vario Micro Four Thirds Lens Review - Gary Wolstenholme reviews the ultra-wide Panasonic 7-14mm f/4 Lumix G Vario Micro Four Thirds lens.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm f/4.0 ASPH
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Handling and features
Performance
Verdict
Specification
Panasonic7-14mm 028

This ultra-wide angle zoom lens for Micro Four Thirds compatible cameras provides an angle of view equivalent to a 14-28mm lens on a 35mm camera, sports fast, silent internal focusing, a constant f/4 aperture and costs around £1000.

Those on a tighter budget may also consider the Olympus 9-18mm lens. Although this lens only provides an angle of view equivalent to an 18-36mm lens on a 35mm camera and has a variable f/4-5.6 aperture, but costs only £500.

Panasonic7-14mm 030

Panasonic 7-14mm f/4 Lumix G Vario Handling and features

Due to the extreme wide angle of view the lens offers a petal-shaped hood is permanently fixed to the front, protecting the bulbous front element from bumps, scrapes and extraneous light. High quality plastics are used for much of the construction and the lens mount is made from metal. The weight of only 300g is not much for a lens of this type and with an overall length of 83.1mm, it is only slightly larger than many other Micro Four Thirds lenses and it balances well on the Panasonic G1 used for testing.

Focusing is performed internally , but due to the bulbous front element filters cannot be attached to this lens, which may pose issues for those wishing to use this lens for landscape work with graduated or polarising filters. Focus speeds are very quick and the thin manual focus ring offers a decent amount of resistance, which makes applying fine adjustments easy to perform. The minimum focus distance of 25cm is perfect for shooting close up in claustrophobic situations.

Panasonic7-14mm 032

Panasonic 7-14mm f/4 Lumix G Vario Performance

At 7mm and maximum aperture, sharpness in the cetre portion of the frame is outstanding, with clarity towards the edges being very good. Stopping down doesn't improve the quality across the frame much, only reducing the sharpness in the centre due to the effects of diffraction and very good sharpness across the frame can be achieved with apertures between f/4 and f/8, with good sharpness across the frame being possible at f/11.

The same characteristics are present with the lens zoom to 10mm alos, with very high centre sharpness at maximum aperture and very good sharpness towards the edges between f/4 and f/8.
Finally at 14mm, similar high levels of sharpness are present in the cetre of the frame at maximum aprture with very good sharpness towards the edges of the frame. Peak sharpness across the frame is achieved at f/5.6 for this focal length, where sharpness in the centre is outstanding and approaches excellent levels towards the edges.

Resolution at 7mm
Resolution at 7mm
  Resolution at 10mm
Resolution at 10mm
Resolution at 14mm
Resolution at 14mm
 

How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 using Imatest.

Levels of chromatic aberration are very low for a lens of this type, with fringing only just exceeding half a pixel width with the lens stopped down to f/22 throughout the zoom range. This low level should pose few issues, even in large prints or harsh crops from near the edges of the frame.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame at maximum aperture is quite prominent. At 7mm the corners are 2.9 stops darker than the image centre at f/4 and at 14mm this drops to 2.61 stops darker. Stopping the lens down to f/8 results in visually uniform illumination throughout the zoom range.

Chromatic aberration @ 7mm
Chromatic aberration @ 7mm
  Chromatic aberration @ 10mm
Chromatic aberration @ 10mm
Chromatic aberration @ 14mm
Chromatic aberration @ 14mm
 

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 using Imatest.

Distortion is very well controlled for a lens with such a wide field of view. At 7mm 1.66% barrel distortion is present and at 14mm Imatest detected 0.366% pincushion distortion. Unfortunately the distortion pattern has a slight wave to it, which can make correcting straight line sin image editing software tricky.

Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm f/4.0 ASPH Sample Photos


As is common with lenses with a bulbous protruding front element like this, flare can be an issue when shooting into the light. Even so, contrast levels hold up well in under most circumstances.

Panasonic 7-14mm f/4 Lumix G Vario Verdict

This specialised lens is more than capable of producing very high quality images with very good sharpness across the frame. Although flare may be an issue caused by the large bulbous front element, so long as a little care is taken to avoid the situations where this may occur, it is only a small issue when compared with the excellent performance and build.

With the price hovering around £1000, the price alone may be off-putting for all but the most serious Micro-Four Thirds shooters. Although the performance is excellent in most areas, this lens may still be confined to a small niche, who can justify such a purchase.

Outstanding sharpness in a lens that's lightweight, well built and offers low CA levels.

Panasonic 7-14mm f/4 Lumix G Vario Pros

Outstanding sharpness in the centre at maximum aperture
Lightweight
Decent build quality
Low CA levels

Panasonic 7-14mm f/4 Lumix G Vario Cons

Wave type distortion pattern can be difficult to correct
Prone to flare is not used with care
Falloff is quite prominent

FEATURES
HANDLING
PERFORMANCE
VALUE FOR MONEY
OVERALL

Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm f/4.0 ASPH Specifications

ManufacturerPanasonic
General
Lens Mounts
  • Panasonic Micro Four Thirds
Lens
Focal Length7mm - 14mm
Angle of View75 - 114
Max Aperturef/4
Min Aperturef/22
Filter Size0mm
35mm equivalent14mm - 28mm
Internal focusingYes
Focusing
Min Focus25cm
StabilisedNo
Construction
Blades7
Elements16
Groups12
Box Contents
Box ContentsLens hood, Lens Caps, Soft Case
Dimensions
Weight300g
Height83.1mm

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Comments


I've been using Olympus's original 4/3rds version since 2006, which I still use this with a 4/3rd to m4/3rds adaptor on an E-M1, Panasonic's version is a lot cheaper, smaller and lighter, and I initially wondered what 'sacrifices' had been made in the process; I'm pleased to say that whilst the Olympus version, in some respects might be slightly better optically, (lab-test wise) in real-world situations, it is not likely many will notice the difference. At the end of the day, whilst the Olympus is undoubtedly a lot more rugged, with it also comes penalties due to it's much greater weight and size. I also think the price difference between both versions is justified, but only to those who are going to subject the lens to a pretty heavy levels of abuse, or intend using it in a dedicated underwater housing, it's a 'Horses for courses' thing, and both are exceptionally fine optics. In the end I decided to forgo the 'convenience' that the Lumix version delivers, as that would mean either owning both lenses, or losing a fair bit of money when selling the original Olympus version.

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