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Panasonic Lumix 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 G X Review

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Category: Interchangeable Lenses
Product: Panasonic Lumix G X Vario PZ 14-42mm f3.5-5.6
Price: £179.39
Rating: 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5

Panasonic Lumix 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 G X Review - Gary Wolstenholme reviews the Panasonic Lumix 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 G X lens.

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Handling and features
Performance
Verdict
Specification
Panasonic1442xI_666

This compact standard zoom lens for Micro Four Thirds cameras covers a range equivalent to a 28-84mm lens on a 35mm camera, sports a unique compact design and optical image stabilisation. It is currently available as a kit with the Lumix G1X camera and can be picked up on its own for around £370. It is unique because it uses motors to drive the zoom and manual focusing, and this design has allowed Panasonic to create a lens that is only 26.8mm deep when not in use.

Panasonic also offer another 14-42mm lens which comes standard as a kit option on their other cameras, such as the Lumix G3. It is similarly specified to the lens being reviewed here, except that it doesn't sport the power zoom, compact size when not in use, or metal lens mount and costs only £170.

To crowd things even further, Panasonic also offer a 14-45mm lens, with similar specifications except for the compact, power zoom design and an additional 3mm to the telephoto range. This lens sits between the other two in the range, costing around £230.

Olympus also offer two 14-42mm lenses. Both their 14-42mm lenses feature a collapsible design, making them more compact when not in use, but they lack optical stabilisation. The Olympus MkI 14-42mm optic costs around £230 but doesn't focus internally. The newer MkII version focuses internally and costs around £230.

Panasonic1442xI_667

Panasonic Lumix 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 G X Lens Handling and features

The lens barrel is constructed from high quality plastics which feel very robust and it weighs only 95g, which is incredibly lightweight. As this lens is marketed as a luxury alternative to their other standard zooms, the lens mount is metal. The small size of this lens means it is perfect for use with Panasonic's more compact Micro Four Thirds bodies and it makes the G1X used for testing quite pocket-friendly.

As focusing is performed internally the 37mm filter thread does not rotate during use, making this lens ideal for use with graduated and polarising filters. Manual focusing and zoom are operated via rocker switches similar to what you might find on a camcorder. On the G1X focal length and focusing information is displayed on the screen as the switches are moved. This mode of operation takes a little getting used to if you're used to using manually operated lenses, but should suit those moving up from a compact camera perfectly. It is especially suited to zooming during video recording, as it is easier to zoom in and out smoothly at low speeds.

The minimum focus distance is 20cm, which makes this lens suitable for shooting in tight spaces, or for frame filling close ups at maximum zoom.

The optical stabiliser is operated from the in-camera menu. With a little care, the optical stabilisation system allows sharp shots to be taken just over half the time at 1/10sec at 42mm, which is roughly three stops slower than the usual rule of thumb would dictate.

Panasonic1442xI_671

Panasonic Lumix 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 G X Lens Performance

At 14mm sharpness in the centre portion of the image is already excellent at maximum aperture and the clarity towards the edges of the frame isn't too far behind. These high levels of sharpness in the centre with good clarity towards the edges is maintained down to f/8.

As is the case with many zoom lenses, overall sharpness levels drop off a little as the lens is zoomed in. Saying that sharpness is still excellent in the centre at maximum aperture at 25mm, and very good towards the edges of the frame. Stopping down a little improves the clarity in the centre a little, with peak quality being achieved at f/5.6.

At 42mm, overall sharpness is reduced, but at f/5.6 it still approaches excellent levels in the centre portion of the frame, with the quality towards the edges being fairly good. Peak quality across the frame is achieved at f/8, where the clarity of images is good across the frame.
Resolution at 14mm
Resolution at 14mm
  Resolution at 25mm
Resolution at 25mm
Resolution at 42mm
Resolution at 42mm
 

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-GX1 using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations are kept commendably low throughout much of the zoom range, peaking towards the edges of the frame at 14mm at apertures of f/4 and above.
Chromatic aberration at 14mm
Chromatic aberration at 14mm
  Chromatic aberration at 25mm
Chromatic aberration at 25mm
Chromatic aberration at 42mm
Chromatic aberration at 42mm
 

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-GX1 using Imatest.

As falloff and distortion are corrected by the camera's image processing engine when shooting JPEGs, falloff and distortion will only be easily visible when working with RAW files. CA of 0.67 pixel widths was detected by Imatest here, which may start to become visible in high contrast areas towards the edges of the frame.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners is typical for a lens of this range, and shouldn't pose too many issues. At 14mm and f/3.5 the comers are 1.35 stops darker than the centre of the image and stopping down to f/5.6 results in visually uniform images. At 42mm, there is even less falloff to speak of. At f/5.6 the corners are only 0.7 stops darker than the image centre and stopping down to f/7.1 results in visually uniform illumination.

Distortions are quite strong at both ends of the zoom range for a lens covering this range. 4.02% barrel distortion is present at 14mm and 1.34% pincushion distortion at 42mm. The high distortion levels at 14mm may cause issues with critical applications where straight lines are paramount, such as photographing architecture. Luckily the distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, which should make it relatively straightforward to correct in editing software afterwards.

Panasonic Lumix G X Vario PZ 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 Sample Photos

Sharpness between 14mm and 25mm is excellent at optimum apertures | 1/1000 sec | f/7.1 | 14.0 mm | ISO 160

Sharpness between 14mm and 25mm is excellent at optimum apertures | 1/1000 sec | f/7.1 | 14.0 mm | ISO 160
High-Res

Sharpness at 42mm is good | 1/160 sec | f/8.0 | 42.0 mm | ISO 160

Sharpness at 42mm is good | 1/160 sec | f/8.0 | 42.0 mm | ISO 160
High-Res

An effective image stabiliser helps to tame  camera shake at low shutter speeds | 1/25 sec | f/7.1 | 14.0 mm | ISO 160

An effective image stabiliser helps to tame camera shake at low shutter speeds | 1/25 sec | f/7.1 | 14.0 mm | ISO 160
High-Res

The compact size and lightweight make this lens ideal for travel | 1/640 sec | f/8.0 | 31.0 mm | ISO 160

The compact size and lightweight make this lens ideal for travel | 1/640 sec | f/8.0 | 31.0 mm | ISO 160
High-Res

1/250 sec | f/6.3 | 42.0 mm | ISO 160

1/250 sec | f/6.3 | 42.0 mm | ISO 160
High-Res

1/640 sec | f/6.3 | 20.0 mm | ISO 160

1/640 sec | f/6.3 | 20.0 mm | ISO 160
High-Res

1/640 sec | f/8.0 | 14.0 mm | ISO 160

1/640 sec | f/8.0 | 14.0 mm | ISO 160
High-Res

1/60 sec | f/3.5 | 14.0 mm | ISO 800

1/60 sec | f/3.5 | 14.0 mm | ISO 800
High-Res


The Nano surface coating applied to lens surfaces on this lens do an excellent job of reducing flare and maintaining contrast when shooting into the light. This is just as well as there is no lens hood supplied as standard.

Panasonic Lumix 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 G X Lens Verdict

Although other lenses in this range may be able to turn out slightly sharper images, the compact size of this lens and excellent build quality will still win over many fans, especially those attracted to the Micro Four Thirds system for compactness.

The novel design and controls may take a little getting used to for some, but the implementation of the rocker switch controls is very good, which ultimately leads to a pleasant user experience.

With this lens costing over £100 more than less-compact equivalents, those looking to this lens as an upgrade may be put off slightly. If the compact size will make a notable change to your picture-taking habits, then this lens could be worth every penny to you.

The Panasonic Lumix 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 G X is compact and is pleasant to use.

Panasonic Lumix 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 G X Lens Pros

Excellent sharpness between 14mm and 25mm
Compact size
Good build quality
Light weight
Effective optical stabilisation
Nano surface coatings help to reduce flare

Panasonic Lumix 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 G X Lens Cons

Distortion at both ends of the zoom range
Pricey when compared to alternatives

FEATURES
HANDLING
PERFORMANCE
VALUE FOR MONEY
OVERALL

Panasonic Lumix G X Vario PZ 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 Specifications

ManufacturerPanasonic
General
Lens Mounts
  • Panasonic Micro Four Thirds
  • Olympus Micro Four Thirds
Lens
Focal Length 14mm - 42mm
Angle of View 29 - 75
Max Aperture f/3.5 - f/5.6
Min Aperture f/22
Filter Size 37mm
35mm equivalent 28mm - 84mm
Internal focusing Yes
Focusing
Min Focus 20cm
Stabilised Yes
Construction
Blades No Data
Elements 9
Groups 8
Box Contents
Box Contents Lens cap, Reap Cap, Lens Pouch
Dimensions
Weight 95g
Height 26.8mm

View Full Product Details




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