Review: Panasonic 7-14mm f/4 Lens

Panasonic 7-14mm f/4.0 Micro Four Thirds Lens - 50

This review will be looking at the lens being used on Panasonic and Olympus bodies.

Design

The Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm f/4 lens is the widest zoom lens available for the micro Four Thirds cameras. That's 14-28mm (35mm camera equivalent) on a 2x crop camera.

The built quality is excellent. It feels sturdy, something you expect from a relatively pricey lens.

There is no image stabilization but not too bad because at this focal length, hand vibration doesn't affect it much.

It comes with a built-in petal-shaped lens hood protects against flare but also blocks a bit of the in-camera flash. The lens cap is the slip-on type. Because of the design, it takes no filters.

Panasonic GF2 with 7-14mm f/4 lens
This lens weighs 300g. Compared to DSLR wide angle lens, this is small. It might feel a little front heavy depending on the camera you fix onto. With lens and camera, it's still comfortable enough to be lugged a whole day.

Autofocus

Focusing speed is snappy.

The f/4.0 aperture is constant over the zoom range. But it isn't fast enough for low light photography - you have to dial the ISO way up for that.

When you're shooting HD movies, you can even set the lens to auto-focus and auto-expose. The near silent operating noise makes this great for taking videos as well.

Sharpness

At 7mm:
7mm test on GF2 and EPL2
At 7mm, centre sharpness is terrific but there are slight softness at edges which is barely noticeable.

At 14mm:
GH2 with various 14mm lens
At 14mm, it's sharp from centre to edge. This lens is even sharper than the Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 lens.

Distortion

Even with software correction, there's slight distortion. It's not totally unexpected from an ultra-wide angle lens.

Chromatic Aberration

On Olympus cameras, there will be some color fringing from chromatic aberration, especially at the wide end. Panasonic cameras removes that with the camera software.

Vignetting

There is slight vignetting but 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.

Olympus E-PL2 with Panasonic 7-14mm f/4 at 7mm | f/4 | 1/2000s

GH2 and 7-14mm lens | Sketchwalk at Marina Bay Sands (Mar 2011)

This lens is great for landscape photography when you want to capture as much of the scene as possible.

It's also great for shooting in tight spaces. With the depth of field, you can get everything into frame and focus even where distance is limited. Compared to the Olympus 9-18mm, the extra 2mm (4mm equivalent) gives it more power to exaggerate perspective. As with wide angle lens, subjects in images often appear more dynamic, with strong perspective.

The downside is that the f/4 aperture can be quite slow to use at low light. If you often shoot indoor under low light, do consider the Olympus 12mm f/2 lens instead. If you really need the ultra wide, then you should work on a tripod indoors.

People shots with Panasonic 7-14mm f/4 lens
The wide angle perspective makes shooting portraits challenging because of the distortion unless you're looking for special effects. It's great for group photos in tight spaces when no other lens can.

Nearer subjects will appear much bigger. If you point it at a nose, the nose will be made larger relative to the whole face.

Conclusion


If you need one lens that goes wider than the default kit lens, this is the one to consider. The price is higher compared to other alternatives, but the beautiful images the lens produce should easily justify that.

Compared to the Olympus 9-18mm lens, this lens' main advantage is that extra 2mm at the wide end. The Olympus lens however is much smaller.

The image quality of this lens is excellent.

Highly recommended to landscape and travel photographers.

At a glance
+ Super-wideangle zoom range (14-28mm equivalent)
+ Sturdy build quality
+ Small and light, relative to DSLR equivalent
+ Very good image quality
+ Constant f/4 aperture compared to Olympus 9-18mm lens.
+ Inbuilt lens hood
+ Fast focus
+ Near silent operating noise
- Relatively expensive
- Takes no filter
- Strong lateral chromatic aberration on Olympus bodies
- Not as small and light as the Olympus 9-18mm
- Constant f/4 aperture could be too slow for low light

Availability

Panasonic 7-14mm f/4 Lens is available on Amazon (US | UK | FR | DE | JP)

Be sure to check out more reviews on Amazon.

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