Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-140mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens Review

Friday, 7 June 2013
Panasonic presents an amazing Lumix G Vario With a 10x zoom range, this lens will suit those photographers who want an all-in-one lens that will cover most shooting situations. Its light weight makes it a better choice for travelers, while the improved stabilization will deliver a higher percentage of sharp pictures and movie clips in poorly-lit situations.

This lens is perfectly suitable for snap-shooters than serious photographers, performance-wise who are picky about image quality. However, it's a good choice for anyone wanting a quiet and versatile lens that zooms and focuses smoothly for shooting movie clips.

This new 10x zoom lens for Micro Four Thirds system cameras, is an update to the existing lens, which is essentially the same specification, except that this lens has a marginally faster aperture throughout the zoom range. This lens provides an angle of view equivalent to a 28-280mm lens on a 35mm camera. Panasonic's Power Optical Image Stabilization system is included, which is another upgrade over the other 14-140mm lens.

Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-140mm f/3.5-5.6 Handling and Features

Weighing only 265g, this lens is quite lightweight and compact, especially for a 10x zoom. High quality plastics finished with a gun-metal effect have been used for much of the lens barrel and a metal lens mount adds to the overall robustness. The lens balances well with the Panasonic Lumix G3 used for testing.

Much like its predecessor, this lens doubles in length as it is zoomed to maximum telephoto. The zoom action is smooth, not tightening at any point in the zoom range and zoom creep isn't an issue.

Focusing is performed internally, so the 58mm filter thread does not rotate, making this lens ideal for use with graduated and polarizing filters. Autofocus is very quick in good light, only struggling slightly in darker conditions. The manual focus ring is smooth to operate and well damped, which makes applying fine adjustments a pleasure.

The Power Optical Image Stabilizer is activated via a switch on the lens barrel. It allows sharp hand held images to be taken at shutters speeds as low as 1/20sec at 140mm, which is roughly four stops slower than the usual rule of thumb for sharp hand held images allows.

Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-140mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH. HD Performance

Sharpness in the center of the frame at 14mm and maximum aperture is already excellent, and the clarity toward the edges of the frame approaches very good levels. Stopping down improves sharpness slightly, but not by all that much, with similar performance being maintained until the lens is stopped down past f/11.

With the lens zoomed to 50mm, performance is much the same as at 14mm, with sharpness being excellent in the center fo the frame and very good towards the edges. In fact, this is one of the most consistent super-zoom lenses tested so far, as at 140mm, there is little to differentiate the performance here from that at other focal lengths.

For a 10x zoom lens, chromatic aberrations are very well controlled throughout the zoom range. Fringing is at its most prominent at 14mm, where it covers just short of 0.7 pixel widths. The amount of fringing may be visible in some situations, but is low enough not to cause too much concern.

Distortion is extremely well controlled for such a superzoom lens. At 14mm Imatest detected 0.978% barrel distortion, and at 140mm this decreases to 0.01%. The distortion pattern remains constant across the frame throughout the zoom range, which should make corrections in image editing software afterwards relatively easy to apply although the amount of distortion present is so low, it will rarely need correcting.

Value For Money:

At around £600, the price of this lens is almost the same as what its predecessor sold for at launch. If you don't mind the slightly slower maximum aperture and slightly reduced performance on the whole, then the older lens can be picked up for around £470.

Those who want a lens to cover this range for less money have the Olympus 14-150mm as an option. This lens costs around £400 but lacks optical stabilization, which may not be too much off a loss if your Micro Four Thirds camera already has stabilization built into the body.

HD Verdict:

When we tested this lens' predecessor, we liked it a lot, as it offered good performance for a 10x zoom. As this lens performs even better throughout the zoom range, we like it even more. Very few zoom lenses are able to deliver as consistently as this lens does throughout the zoom range. Although this lens may seem expensive when compared to its predecessor, or the Olympus equivalent, it is probably worth the premium.