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

Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f4 quality at 14mm

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To evaluate the real-life performance of the Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f4 lens at its longest focal length, I shot this landscape scene at 14mm 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.
  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, much of the stretching in the corners due to distortion and subsequent correction has disappeared at the milder focal length of 14mm, although I'd say while the degree of detail is still very good, it's not quite as crisp as my 10mm and 7mm results. One thing remains constant though and that's the vignetting which darkens the corners at f4, but is greatly reduced by closing the aperture to f5.6, or simply applying correction either automatically for in-camera JPEGs or using your RAW converter.

No complaints as you move towards the center though where the degree of detail remains very sharp and well-defined at f4 and f5.6. As with the other focal lengths though, beware of shooting at smaller apertures as a veil of softness due to diffraction begins to descend at f8 and becomes quite noticeable by f11.

So 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 while the corner performance peaked mid-way through the focal range, the 7-14mm still delivers great quality across the frame at 14mm, and as you move into the center of the image, the quality remains superb.

But how does this compare to other lenses? Find out in my Panasonic 7-14mm vs Olympus 12mm or Panasonic 7-14mm vs 14-42mm pages. 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 14mm
 
Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f4 center sharpness at 14mm
Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f4 corner crop at 14mm f4
Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f4 center crop at 14mm f4
     
Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f4 corner crop at 14mm f5.6
Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f4 center crop at 14mm f5.6
     
Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f4 corner crop at 14mm f8
Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f4 center crop at 14mm f8
     
Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f4 corner crop at 14mm f11
Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f4 center crop at 14mm f11


But how does this compare to other lenses? Find out in my Panasonic 7-14mm vs Olympus 12mm or Panasonic 7-14mm vs 14-42mm pages. 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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