The Panasonic 14-140 mm zoom lens has entered the market mid-2009, as one of the first lenses for the Micro-43 system. The Panasonic 14-140 mm combines a 10 times zoom range to a nearly silent autofocus and integrated image stabilization. This makes the lens ideal for making videos. But for a photographer who wants to minimize lens exchange or occasionally wants to go out with one lens, this is an ideal choice too.
Construction and autofocus
It is nice that the image stabilization can be turned off or on via a button on the lens. The drive of the AF is made extra quiet because this lens is also intended for video. Focusing with the Panasonic 14-140 mm with a Panasonic GH2 is not only silent, but also fast. There is sometimes searching in low light, but there are more cameras that suffer from that, both traditional SLR cameras with phase-detection AF and other cameras with contrast AF.
This time, the test of the image stabilization is performed with a relatively long focal length: 140 mm (280 mm @ full-frame). Because you do not suffer from a mirror that flips up and down when taking a photo, you can even take handheld shots without image stabilization at longer shutter speeds than with an SLR. The image stabilization ensures that you still get a 50% chance to have a sharp picture at the longest focal length at a shutter speed of 1/13 second! That is just very good.
At the extreme focal lengths on the zoom range, 14 mm and 140 mm, vignetting is visible in the corners. Yet even there, the vignetting, less than 1 stop, is well controlled.
Apart from the clearly visible barrel distortion at 14 mm, the distortion is low throughout the zoom range. Panasonic applies correction to the distortion, both on the jpg files – using regular RAW converters like Lightroom or ACR – the RAW files.
Bokeh is not a section where this lens excels. This is caused by the small sensor in combination with the relatively small opening.
Despite a relatively complex design, with 17 lenses in 13 groups, we have not come across flare or ghosting in the field test. We have to post a comment on that though; during the short test period we only had clouds, so we have encountered no direct sunlight that could make it more difficult for this lens. The backlight test in the studio was endured well by the Panasonic 14-140 mm lens.
The sharpness of this lens is very good in the range from 14 mm to 35 mm. Above the 35 mm, you win considerably in sharpness by stopping down to aperture 8. Above the 100 mm, it does not help anymore and the focus remains behind somewhat. In all cases, the sharpness in the corners lags behind the center.
The longer the focal length, the less sharp the images become. In practice, this is especially visible when you compare the two extreme focal lengths directly.
In the Panasonic GH2 test are a few more practice shots taken with the Panasonic 14-140 mm lens.
With the Imatest measurements, we encountered a chromatic aberration over 0.1% from the distance to the center a couple of times. This may mean that in practice you could sometimes encounter chromatic aberration. In practice, we encountered no chromatic aberration with this lens.
- Large zoom range
- Quiet AF and integrated IS
- Low vignetting or distortion
- Up to 100 mm: high resolution
- Distortion at 14 mm
- Lower resolution at longer focal lengths
The Panasonic 14-140 mm is an attractive kit lens with multiple positive attributes. Up to a focal length of 50 mm, the optical performances are very good, and then they slowly continue to decrease. Apart from the wide angle, the distortion is well controlled. The silent AF and built-in IS make the lens an ideal companion for the video enthusiast or the photographer who wants to have just one lens. This Panasonic 14-140 mm kit lens has a much larger zoom range than the Panasonic 14-42 mm kit lens, while the Panasonic 14-140 mm is less than 2 cm longer. But the price difference is large; the Panasonic 14-140 mm is much more expensive. Mind you.