Review: Panasonic 14-140mm f/4-5.8 LUMIX G Vario HD ASPH Lens

Review: Panasonic 14-140mm f/4-5.8 LUMIX G Vario HD ASPH Lens

The Panasonic 14-140 f/4.0-5.8 lens has a versatile zoom range equivalent of 28mm to a 280mm, a 10x optical zoom. It's a general purpose lens that's good enough for most situations.

Build quality

It has excellent build quality. Both the manual focus and zoom ring are well damp.

It's big lens with a 62mm filter thread. It measures 7cm in diameter and 8.4cm in height. It extends even longer at the telephoto end. It's big because it cannot be smaller and still yield the same focal length. In that respect, the size is actually quite remarkable.

It's also a rather heavy lens at 460g. Because of the weight, it's more suitable to use this lens on a camera with a substantial grip. On a GH2, it feels really balanced, but on a GF1 it is front-heavy.

It's a rather slow lens that starts at f/4 for 14mm and goes to an even slower f/5.8 at 140mm. The inbuilt Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) sort of compensates the slowness in a way. Shooting at 1/10s might still be possible at 14mm with OIS, but you won't be able to freeze action like you can using a faster shutter speed.

It has a 50cm minimum focus distance.

The lens comes with a bayonet mount hood and carrying case.

Image quality

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This lens is reasonably sharp throughout the range and the OIS really helps. It's able to capture good details, especially when zoomed in.

Colours and contrast are great but using it with the lens hood provides even more contrast.

There's not much bokeh at the wide end to talk about as the aperture starts from f/4. Close subjects at 140mm can still have nicely blurred backgrounds.

There's no chromatic aberration or vignetting to speak of.

Focus

AF is snappy and accurate at the wide end, and slightly slower at the telephoto end where there's less light.

When it's really dark and subjects lack contrast, there's a tendency to hunt for focus. This is not usual for other lens in extreme low light, but it's more of an issue here because at 140mm, the aperture is a slow f/5.8.

Focusing is near-silent which makes this lens great for video.

Video


This is a great lens for video.

The only consideration while shooting video is when the lens is used during low light. There's a slight tendency to hunt for focus at the telephoto end when AF is on. It's much better to shoot video using manual focus.

The AF speed is actually quite good. In event of it losing the focus lock, it can refocus itself quickly. You can see that in the video below after the 15s mark.



Conclusion and who this lens is for

This is not a suitable lens to use during low light, such as indoors. It starts at f/4 and it reaches ISO1600 easily with AutoISO on. So you need a camera with decent ISO performance to get the best out of this lens.

Considering its focal length, it's a really good walkaround lens during the day. Even though it's heavy, it's not that heavy since it's going to be used on a Micro Four Thirds camera body.

And of course, you must know if you require that telephoto end of 140mm. If not, you can just stick to the 14-42mm kit lens.

It's a pricey lens when bought on its own. It's a better deal to get this lens bundled as a kit with a camera.

At a glance
+ Good range of focal length
+ Great travel lens, primarily for outdoor usage
+ Excellent build quality
+ Sharp throughout range
+ Good colours
+ OIS works well
+ Includes lens hood and pouch
- Heavy and big
- Limited aperture of f/4.0-5.8 means it's...
- Very challenging to use under low light, indoors
- Autofocus slightly slower at tele end
- It has a tendency for focus hunting during extreme low light
- Pricey when not bought as a bundle

Availability

Panasonic LUMIX G Vario HD 14-140mm f/4.0-5.8 ASPH Lens is available on Amazon (US | UK | FR | DE | JP)

Be sure to check out more reviews on Amazon.

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