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Panasonic Lumix S 35mm f/1.8 (S-S35) Lens Review

John Riley has been putting the Panasonic Lumix S 35mm f/1.8 (S-S35) lens through its paces to see if it can score as equally well as the Panasonic S 24mm and 85mm f/1.8 lenses did.


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Panasonic Lumix S 35mm f/1.8 (S-S35)
 

Panasonic has clearly been giving much thought to their new range of light, reasonably priced prime lenses for the Lumix S full-frame system. The 24mm, 50mm and 85mm lenses are now joined by the 35mm, all matching in terms of size, weight, fast f/1.8 aperture and 67mm filter thread. The recently reviewed 24mm and 85mm lenses have been very impressive, being Highly Recommended and Editor's Choice respectively. Now it is the turn of the Lumix 35mm f/1.8S, again coupled with the 24MP full-frame Panasonic Lumix S5 camera. Let's see how it handles and performs and whether it can match up to its look-alike siblings.

 

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Panasonic Lumix S 35mm f/1.8 (S-S35) Handling and Features

Panasonic Lumix S 35mm f/1.8 (S-S35)

 

This dust and splash resistant lens weighs in at a svelte 320g and matches up with the S5 body to give us a combination that is unusually light for a full-frame camera. It all balances well. As well as the weather resistance, the lens is also freeze-proof down to -10C.

The generously sized round lens hood bayonets securely into place and, like the other lenses in the quartet, now has the improved locking catch that does not have any tendency to become accidentally dislodged. Within the bayonet fit for the hood is a conventional 67mm filter thread, a consistent size across the range of four matching primes.

In terms of controls, we have utter simplicity. The electronic manual focusing ring is, as expected, as smooth as silk, and the AF/MF switch is self-explanatory. Focusing is down to 0.24m, or 0.79 feet, for a maximum magnification of 0.19x. This is usefully close. AF is snappy and accurate and has no difficulty locking on to almost any subject. Accuracy when focusing on the eyes is excellent. The focusing ring is active in AF and can be used to tweak the focusing point after AF has locked on. In MF the camera switches in focusing magnification that is very positive and easy to control and magnify from 0.1x to 1.0x. It works well.

The Leica L mount is substantially made and there is no play in the lens fit when seated. There is the usual gasket around the lens to ensure there is a good seal against water splashes.

Panasonic Lumix S 35mm f/1.8 (S-S35)
 

Optical construction is 11 elements in 9 groups, including 3 Aspherical and 3 ED (Extra-Low Dispersion). The diaphragm comprises 9 blades giving a circular aperture to enhance the bokeh of the lens.

35mm lenses are, in full-frame terms, a "wide standard" and have always commanded a keen following with those photographers who feel the 50mm lens is too tight. So groups portraits may be easier, depth of field is slightly greater and we have the possibly ideal lens for reportage/street photography. Corrections are expected to be of a high order. Subject matter suitable for such lenses extends from environmental portraits to architecture, landscape, still life and, as mentioned, street photography. With the fast AF provided here, the Lumix 35mm f/1.8S is a very reliable companion for a wide range of styles and subjects.

 


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