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Panasonic Lumix G VARIO 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II Lens Review

Gary Wolstenholme reviews the compact new Panasonic Lumix G VARIO 14-42mm II lens.

|  Panasonic LUMIX G VARIO 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II ASPH in Interchangeable Lenses
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Handling and features
Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14 42 H Fs1442a (6)

This new, standard zoom lens for Micro Four Thirds cameras covers a range equivalent to a 28-84mm lens on a 35mm camera, sports a compact design and optical image stabilisation.

Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14 42 H Fs1442a (1)


Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-42 mm f/3.5-5.6 II Handling and features

The lens barrel is constructed from high quality plastics, with a gun-metal effect finish, which feel quite sturdy and it only weighs 110g. As this lens is marketed as a luxury alternative to their other standard zooms, the lens mount is plastic. The small size of this lens should make it perfect for use with even the most compact Micro Four Thirds bodies and it also feels right at home on the Panasonic Lumix G3 used for testing.


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As focusing is performed internally the 46mm filter thread does not rotate, which makes this lens ideal for use with graduated and polarising filters. The manaul focusing ring is lightly damped, which means only a light touch is required to apply adjustments. The minimum focus distance is 20cm between 14mm and 20mm, but raises to 30cm at longer focal lengths, which makes this lens suitable for shooting in tight spaces at short focal lengths. The difference in minimum focusing can take a little getting used to, especially if the lens is zoomed to alter the composition at close distances.

The optical stabiliser is activated from the in-camera menu on Panasonic cameras. 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.

Panasonic Lumix 14 42mm II Lens (3)


Panasonic Lumix G VARIO 14-42mm II Performance

At 14mm sharpness in the centre portion of the image is already outstanding, although the clarity towards the edges of the frame just falls short of good levels. Stopping down the aperture improves the clarity towards the edges of the frame, peaking at f/8. Here sharpness is still outstanding in the centre of the frame and the clarity towards the edges of the frame approaches excellent levels.

Zooming to 25mm results in a reduction in sharpness in the centre of the frame, although excellent levels are still attained here between f/4 and f/5.6. Very good levels of clarity towards the edges of the frame are also attained at these apertures.

Finally, at 42mm. Sharpness remains excellent in the centre of the frame at f/5.6, although stopping down to f/8 results in a slight increase in sharpness here. Clarity towards the edges of the frame for this focal length falls just below excellent levels.

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.


Resolution @ 14mm
Resolution @ 14mm
Resolution @ 25mm
Resolution @ 25mm
Resolution @ 42mm
Resolution @ 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-G3 using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations are pretty well controlled throughout the zoom range, peaking towards the edges of the frame at 25mm and maximum aperture. Here fringing covers 0.7 pixel widths, which may become visible along high contrast edges if images are printed at large sizes, or harsh crops are taken from the edges of the frame.

Chromatic aberration @ 14mm
Chromatic aberration @ 14mm
Chromatic aberration @ 25mm
Chromatic aberration @ 25mm
Chromatic aberration @ 42mm
Chromatic aberration @ 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-G3 using Imatest.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners is fairly typical for a standard zoom lens, and shouldn't pose too many issues. At 14mm and f/3.5 the comers are 1.52 stops darker than the centre of the image and stopping down to f/8 results in visually uniform images. At 42mm, there is even less falloff to speak of. At f/5.6 the corners are only 0.758 stops darker than the image centre and stopping down to f/8 also results in visually uniform illumination.

Quite unusually for a lens of this range, mild pincushion distortion is present at either end of the zoom range. At 14mm 0.273% pincushion distortion is present and at 42mm this level raises to 1.04%. The distortion pattern is uniform across the frame throughout the zoom range, which should make applying corrections in image editing software afterwards, relatively straightforward.

A deep petal-shaped hood is supplied with this lens, which does an excellent job of shielding the optics from extraneous light that may cause flare, or loss of contrast. However, this hood is quite large relative to the size of the lens, which makes it noticeably more bulky. Even without the hood in place, this lens is quite resistant to flare and produces images with good contrast, even when shooting into the light.

Panasonic LUMIX G VARIO 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II ASPH Sample Photos


Value for Money

This lens will costs around £219 when it becomes available, which is a good price for a brand new lens design.

Panasonic also offer three other lenses in this range. Two of the lenses are a little more bulky, but offer optical image stabilisation and the same f/3.5-5.6 maximum aperture. The discontinued lens this replaces can still be bought new, for only £130. The 14-45mm lens, which is considered an upgrade to the discontinued lens by many costs around £230 and offers 3mm extra telephoto reach. Finally, Panasonic's 14-42mm X lens may also be considered. This lens is shorter when not in use, but uses a motorised zooming mechanism and costs around £250.

Olympus also offer a 14-42mm lens, which costs around £100. This lens sports a collapsible design, but lacks optical stabilisation, as this feature is built into Olympus camera bodies.


Panasonic Lumix G VARIO 14-42mm II Verdict

Most people purchasing this lens will probably pick it up as part of a kit with a new Panasonic G series camera, and shouldn't need to be in any rush to replace it, as it performs well. Those with existing Panasonic optics may find the compact size and manual zoom control appealing. Whether it is a worthy upgrade to Panasonic's other 14-42mm optics, is open to debate.


  The Panasonic Lumix G VARIO 14-42mm II Lens has excellent sharpness throughout the zoom range.


Panasonic Lumix G VARIO 14-42mm II Pros

Excellent sharpness in the centre throughout the zoom range
Compact size
Good build quality
Light weight
Optical stabilisation
Good value


Panasonic Lumix G VARIO 14-42mm II Cons

Sharpness towards the edges of the frame could be better at 14mm



Panasonic LUMIX G VARIO 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II ASPH Specifications

Lens Mounts
  • Panasonic Micro Four Thirds
  • Olympus Micro Four Thirds
Focal Length14mm - 42mm
Angle of View29° - 75°
Max Aperturef/3.5 - f/5.6
Min Aperturef/22
Filter Size46mm
35mm equivalent28mm - 84mm
Internal focusingYes
Maximum magnificationNo Data
Min Focus20cm
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data
WeightNo Data
HeightNo Data

View Full Product Details

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Paul Morgan 21 19.6k 6 England
13 Mar 2013 9:23PM
The 46mm filter thread has to be a plus, the old version has a 52mm thread.

This newer lens with the 46mm thread is in better keeping with Panasonics 14 and 20mm, handy if you use filters.
lemmy 15 2.9k United Kingdom
14 Mar 2013 10:40AM
Yes, one of the things I like about my 12-35 and 35-100 is that they use the same size filters.
Paul Morgan 21 19.6k 6 England
14 Mar 2013 6:17PM
I believe that little Sigma lenses use a 46mm filter thread as well.
abucci 10 United States
16 Mar 2013 6:16AM
I got to try the new 14-42 at the WPPI expo here in las vegas and was very impressed. The build quality is excellent, the sharpness is great, and it focuses fast. The only problem I saw was is its not out yet.
13 Jul 2013 12:37PM
I have this lens but the lens mount is plastic not metal?
How can there be different versions of the same lens, it is definitely the H-FS1442A.
5 Aug 2013 1:51AM
Oddly, my copy has a plastic mount.

It doesn't seem to be available in the US yet. In fact, it isn't even listed on Panasonic's US web site!
joshwa Plus
11 927 1 United Kingdom
8 Aug 2013 1:48PM
We've updated the review to show the kit lens that comes with the G6/GX7.
22 Aug 2013 9:56PM
I'm confused now. So are there two versions, one with a plastic and one with a metal mount?
6 Jan 2016 2:00PM
I bought one of these second hand and it is a lovely lens. One thing I particularly like is that when the lens is full retracted it postions itself at the 25mm focal length. A quarter turn either way then takes you to either wide angle or telephoto focal lengths. [The old design fully retracted was at the 14mm end and you twisted out to the fuller telephoto lengths].

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