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

Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f4 quality at 10mm

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To evaluate the real-life performance of the Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f4 lens midway through its focal range, I shot this landscape scene at 10mm using 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.
  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


Once again 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.

Moving onto the crops below, I'd say the performance has actually improved a little in the corners compared to the 7mm focal length. There's still some stretching due to geometric distortion and subsequent correction, but the actual recorded detail is sharper with very little to complain about. Once again the most noticeable artefact in the corners is vignetting at f4, which again mostly disappears at f5.6, or is easily corrected in RAW converters.

In the center of the image, the recorded detail is again exemplary - it's very sharp and there's so much to pore over. As before though, this tack-sharp detail begins to soften at f8 and becomes noticeably impacted by diffraction at f11, so choose your aperture carefully to maximize the quality from this lens. I'd again recommend shooting between f4 and f5.6 and avoid using anything smaller 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 result at 7mm has become even stronger mid-way through the range at 10mm, which only leaves the performance at the longest focal length - see my Panasonic 7-14mm quality at 14mm 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 10mm
 
Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f4 center sharpness at 10mm
Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f4 corner crop at 10mm f4
Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f4 center crop at 10mm f4
     
Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f4 corner crop at 10mm f5.6
Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f4 center crop at 10mm f5.6
     
Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f4 corner crop at 10mm f8
Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f4 center crop at 10mm f8
     
Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f4 corner crop at 10mm f11
Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f4 center crop at 10mm f11


So a great result at 7mm has become even stronger mid-way through the range at 10mm, which only leaves the performance at the longest focal length - see my Panasonic 7-14mm quality at 14mm 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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