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Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f4 Gordon Laing, Feb 2013
 

Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f4 quality at 7mm

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To evaluate the real-life performance of the Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f4 lens at its widest focal length, I shot this landscape scene at 7mm with every aperture setting using a Panasonic Lumix GX1 mounted on a tripod.

The GX1 was set to its base sensitivity of 160 ISO and the lens focused on the center of the composition using magnified Live View assistance.

I also shot this scene moments later using the Olympus 12mm f2 and the Panasonic Lumix 14-42mm Power Zoom for direct comparisons, with the 7-14mm set to 12mm and 14mm respectively. You can find the results in the contents, above right. I hope to add further comparisons with the Olympus 9-18mm when I get a chance to test it.
  Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f4 results
1 Panasonic 7-14mm sharpness at 7mm
2 Panasonic 7-14mm sharpness at 10mm
3 Panasonic 7-14mm sharpness at 14mm
4 Panasonic 7-14mm vs Olympus 12mm
5 Panasonic 7-14mm vs 14-42mm PZ
6 Panasonic 7-14mm Sample images


I shot the scene using the GX1's RAW mode and processed the files in Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) via Photoshop using the following settings: Sharpening at 70 / 0.5 / 36 / 10, Luminance and Colour Noise Reduction both set to zero, and the Process to 2012 with the Adobe Standard profile. The high degree of sharpening with a small radius enhances the finest details without causing undesirable artefacts.

All lens corrections were disabled, so there's no additional software compensation for vignetting, geometric distortion or chromatic aberrations. Normally this would allow us to evaluate the uncorrected optical performance of the lens alone, but with Micro Four Thirds lenses there are additional corrections stored as profiles within the firmware; these are automatically applied to JPEGs in-camera, and also by most RAW converters including ACR when opening the RAW file. You can't turn them off.

As such it's often hard to see exactly what's going on behind the scenes of Micro Four Thirds lenses without using an obscure RAW converter which ignores the profiles, so instead of trying to chase the pure optical performance of the lens for the sake of it, I thought it would be much more useful to simply show how it will perform in normal use. That said, as a Panasonic lens on a Panasonic body, I believe both the geometric distortion and chromatic aberrations are being automatically corrected by the RAW processor here, with only vignetting being left untouched.

Which now lets me tell the simple story of the performance you can see in the crops below. With the lens operating at its minimum focal length of 7mm, there's some inevitable stretching of the subject in the extreme corners, but the actual degree of recorded detail is very respectable with only a little softening. There's noticeable darkening in the corners due to vignetting with the aperture wide open, but this is easily corrected in RAW converters (or automatically on JPEGs in-camera). If you close the aperture one stop to f5.6 though, most of the vignetting disappears, although the detail doesn't noticeably improve.

In the center you'll enjoy very sharp results even with the lens wide open, which continues at f5.6. There's nothing to complain about here, although at f8 diffraction has begun to soften the image, a process which becomes noticeably worse at f11. As such I'd recommend shooting with the lens at f4-f5.6 for the sharpest results. Since these have an effective full-frame depth of field of f8-f11, you'll also have no worries over getting everything in focus from near to far. I'd avoid using anything smaller than f8 at 7mm due to the impact of diffraction unless you're chasing a starburst effect on lights or the Sun, or simply have too much light even at your maximum shutter speed and minimum ISO.

So a great start for the Lumix 7-14mm at its widest focal length. Next up see how the lens performs mid-way through the range in my Panasonic 7-14mm quality at 10mm results. Alternatively if you've seen enough you may wish to check out my Panasonic 7-14mm sample images or skip straight to my verdict.



Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f4 corner sharpness at 7mm
 
Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f4 center sharpness at 7mm
Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f4 corner crop at 7mm f4
Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f4 center crop at 7mm f4
     
Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f4 corner crop at 7mm f5.6
Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f4 center crop at 7mm f5.6
     
Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f4 corner crop at 7mm f8
Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f4 center crop at 7mm f8
     
Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f4 corner crop at 7mm f11
Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f4 center crop at 7mm f11


So a great start for the Lumix 7-14mm at its widest focal length. Next up see how the lens performs mid-way through the range in my Panasonic 7-14mm quality at 10mm results. Alternatively if you've seen enough you may wish to check out my Panasonic 7-14mm sample images or skip straight to my verdict.
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