Review: Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 lens

Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 lens
This review will be looking at the lens being used on a Panasonic GF2 (& GF1) and Olympus E-PL2.

Design

The Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 lens is the smallest lens in the Micro Four Thirds system. Much smaller than the 20mm f/1.7 lens, and just slightly smaller than the Olympus 17mm f/2.8 lens. Even the front and back lens cap are thinner than the ones from the 20mm lens.

The construction feels solid. It weighs only 55g. The manual focusing wheel is nicely-damped.

Autofocus

The autofocus on this lens is fast - faster than the 20mm anyway. It also focuses silently so it's great for shooting videos.

Sharpness

The tests below are shot using cameras on tripod with a 2s timer.

This image below is shot are various aperture on the two cameras.
Bugis (E-PL2 & 14mm at f/4 | 1/640s)

14mm sharpness comparison

Centre sharpness is excellent but sides are slightly soft. Edge sharpness seems very acceptable when looking at the photo as a whole.

Reducing the aperture size doesn't make any noticeable improvement so you can shoot at any aperture you like.

Chromatic Aberration

14mm lens chromatic aberration
There's no chromatic aberration on the Panasonic body (image above). On the Olympus body, it's very slight and barely noticeable - look at the second tier non-tiled roofs from the earlier photos.

Vignetting

There is slight vignetting which goes away at f.5.6.It's not really noticeable in real life. I only see it because I was comparing a series of photos shot on the same location at various aperture.

Bokeh

14mm f/2.5 lens bokeh background blur
At f/2.5, it does have some background blur. It's not much but it's nice and creamy enough.

Distortion

Pictures from the GF1 and EPL2 respectively:
Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 barrel distortion
Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 barrel distortion
There's some distortion, but equally matched on both the cameras.

Lens flare

The lens does suffer from some lens flare, unfortunately.

The lens has a 46mm thread. So it can take a lens hood. I bought the metal lens hood below on eBay for less than $20 including shipping.
Olympus E-PL2 and 14mm f/2.5 with lens hood

Quirks

This lens is operationally silent, but on the E-PL2 (or maybe other Olympus), you might hear sounds from its shutter blade.


When the EPL2 is pointed to a bright area, the aperture will become smaller, so as to give a properly exposed preview on the LCD screen.

You can hear this on the Panasonic cameras as well, but there's less noise. On the EPL2, the aperture gradually changes, so each f-stop will give you a sound. On the Panasonic cameras, they go instantly to the appropriate aperture, hence less shutter blade movement.

Video

Since this lens is quiet, it's great for shooting videos.

Here are some videos shot using the lens. They are 720P videos. If you visit the individual Youtube page, you can choose to view the video in a pop-out window at 100% 720P.

E-PL2:

In the video above, pay attention to the flare created by the bright lights. I do have a lens hood on while shooting this.

GF2:


Conclusion


This lens is a very good performer. It's great for landscape and architecture. People shots require more thought as the 28mm equivalent focal length can be challenging. Group photos are no problems though.

The only (minor) downside worth mentioning is softness by the sides, but it's not much of an issue because it's not really that soft. By the way, the ultimate performer at 14mm is actually the Panasonic 7-14mm f/4 lens - yes, surprising, I know.

This lens performs equally well on both Panasonic and Olympus bodies. There seems to be no disadvantage using it on an Olympus body.

Availability

The Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 lens is available on Amazon (US | UK | DE | FR | JP)

Be sure to check out more reviews on Amazon.

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