Panasonic 14mm F2.5 and 100-300mm F4-5.6 lenses - quick preview
Panasonic officially unveiled two long-expected Micro Four Thirds lenses alongside its DMC-GH2 interchangeable-lens camera - the 100-300mm F4-5.6 ultra-telezoom and the 14mm F2.5 wideangle. In addition it announced the commercial incarnation of a 3D stereoscopic lens which is primarily designed to produce images for viewing on its Viera TVs.
The 14mm F2.5 and 100-300mm F4-5.6 sit at almost diametrically opposite positions in the Micro Four Thirds lineup - the telezoom is the largest, heaviest and longest lens yet made for the system, whereas the wide prime is one of the smallest (and certainly the lightest) interchangeable autofocus lenses we've ever seen. Let's take a closer look, starting with the pancake prime.
Panasonic Lumix G 14mm F2.5 ASPH Pancake
The Lumix G 14mm F2.5 ASPH (also known as the H-H014) is Panasonic's second slimline 'pancake' prime for Micro Four Thirds, and has a 28mm-equivalent wideangle field of view. It's gained a welcome third of a stop maximum aperture from the original F2.8 design Panasonic originally exhibited at trade shows early in 2010, meaning that it's now capable of gathering twice as much light as the various Micro Four Thirds kit zooms which start at the same focal length.
The most striking aspect of the 14mm F2.5 is its size. In a word, it's tiny; in two words, really tiny. We must admit to being somewhat skeptical about the value of this lens in a system that already boasts no fewer than seven zooms covering this focal length, but the moment you take it out of the box you begin to understand Panasonic's line of thought. Resembling nothing more than a 20mm F1.7 that's been shrunk in the wash, the 14mm is substantially smaller than its stablemate, and noticeably more petite than even the Olympus Zuiko Digital 17mm F2.8 Pancake. Panasonic goes so far as to claim that it's the 'world's lightest interchangeable single focal length lens', tipping the scales at a featherweight 1.9 ounces (55g).
To achieve this Panasonic has gone to town on the optics: squeezed into the ultra-short barrel are six lens elements, no fewer than half of which boast aspheric surfaces. Internal focusing is employed, promising high speed and low noise for movie shooting. Owners of the 20mm F1.7 will be pleased to see the same size filter thread (46mm), but may also find themselves re-engaging in the pastime of sourcing a suitable third-party hood (as Panasonic again don't supply one with the lens).
The 14mm F2.5 has a design immediately reminiscent of the 20mm F1.7. Despite its light weight it feels just as well made as its big brother, with a smoothly-damped manual focus ring and solid-feeling construction. To complete the package, it comes with new slimline front and rear caps (click here for a picture), which better complement the 'pancake' concept than the chunkier ones which are supplied with the 20mm F1.7 (credit to Panasonic for this, it's always nice to see a company paying attention to the small details).
On the camera
These views give some perspective on just how tiny the 14mm F2.5 really is - it looks almost comically small on the GH2 (which isn't exactly huge), and its slim lines are apparent from the top-down shot on the GF1.
The lens's dimensional minimalism really begins to make sense when you think of it as a complement not to the kit zoom, but to Panasonic's other small primes: the wonderful 20mm F1.7 ASPH and the Leica-branded 45mm F2.8 OIS Macro. Put these together and you have a modern-day equivalent of the three-lens kits that came with classic 35mm cameras such as the Leica CL(E) and Contax G1 / G2, and which are so light you'll be able to carry them around all day and night and scarcely notice. (Of course what we'd still really like to see for Micro Four Thirds is a wider prime around the 12mm mark, plus a true large-aperture 'portrait' lens, maybe something like a 50mm F1.4. Hopefully these will show up in due course.)
Compared to other pancake lenses
Here's the 14mm sitting snugly in the midst of a number of other contenders in this currently-fashionable segment. None of these could ever be described as large, but the 14mm is clearly the smallest of all. This despite being the second-widest in this group, and slightly faster than the other wideangle designs.
|Five Flavors of Pancake. From Left to Right: Samsung 20mm F2.8 (30mm-equivalent), Sony 16mm F2.8 (24mm-equiv.), Panasonic 14mm F2.5 (28mm-equiv.), Olympus 17mm F2.8 (35mm-equiv.), Panasonic 20mm F1.7 (40mm-equiv.)|
Panasonic Lumix G 14mm F2.5 ASPH Specifications
|Price|| US: $tbc
|Manufacturer's product code||H-H014|
|Date introduced||September 2010|
|Maximum format size||Micro Four Thirds|
|35mm equivalent focal length||28mm|
|Diagonal angle of view||75°|
|Lens Construction||• 6 elements/ 5 groups
• 3 Aspherical elements
|Number of diaphragm blades||7, rounded|
|Minimum focus||0.18m / 0.59ft|
|Maximum magnification||Approx 0.1x|
|AF motor type||DC Micro motor|
|Focus method||Internal focus|
|Filter thread||• 46mm
• Does not rotate on focus
|Supplied accessories*||• Front and rear caps
• Lens case
|Weight||55g (1.9 oz)|
|Dimensions||55.5mm diameter x 20.5mm length
(2.2 x 0.8 in)
|Lens Mount||Micro Four Thirds|
Preview Samples gallery - 14mm F2.5 on GH2
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|Panasonic DMC-GH2 14mm F2.5 ASPH samples gallery Posted 8th October 2010|