X vario PZ 14-42 WTF?!

Started Feb 21, 2012 | Discussions thread
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oluv Senior Member • Posts: 1,973
X vario PZ 14-42 WTF?!

Ok this is the second x14-42 i am testing. The first one I only tested in front of a store some months ago and was not overwhelmed with the performance, you can read it here (in german) and download some samples compared to my 14-140:


Now I decided to give it a try again and ordered one. I am not sure if this particular sample is particularly broken or if this is normal behaviour, but reading all the other threads of mushy pictures at 42mm and also dpreview confirming that there seems to be a problem, i would suggest to avoid this lens at any cost.

During the last days I took lots of images at various focal lenghts in various conditions.

First there really seems to be a problem with OIS at shutter speeds around 1/100-1/200 but i noticed that even shutter speeds faster than this are affected and above all also all the other focal lenghts are affected as well.

I didn't use a tripod for my tests as most of the time i am shooting without and have never had any problems regarding camera-shake. my old canon G5 didn't have any OIS, neither did my Fuji F20. I also don't miss an OIS with my 20mm pancake mounted to my GF2. But with the x14-42 lens the results are so inconsistent, that I really think as if panasonic has a serious design-flaw here.

Usually I can immediately say if my new lens is decentered or not after some test-shots. But not so with the x14-42 as softness varies from shot to shot and sometimes affects only small parts of the image, while sometimes the whole image is affected.

I took various images with and without OIS. Some were taken seconds apart but look totally different.

Please have a look at the first sample-crops. Both images were taken with exactly the same settings, I took the first image and seconds later i took it again only to notice afterwards that both have serious flaws at their borders. Interestingly both have different areas of "mush". The first one is soft at the lower left side, the other one at the upper right side, this was taken at 17mm/4.1 with 1/2500 and I really don't understand what I am seeing:

The next sample was taken at 42mm with OIS turned off for the first shot and then turned on for the second. You can see that the shot with OIS enabled resulted in visible mush through most of the frame, although shutter speed 1/320 is higher than the claimed 1/200 that usually cause problems:

The next one is also quite interesting as it is softer in the center with OIS disabled, but sharper at the edges compared to the shot with OIS enabled. This was taken at 38mm with 1/1000 where I usually won't expect any camera-shake:

I have tons of other examples that verify something fishy is going on with this lens.

I just ordered another one in order to compare both side by side. To me it seems as if the "moving lens" of the OIS is even causing softness if it shouldn't be active at all.

I hope my second sample will arrive the next days, so I can test them against each other and post my results. But as for now I would claim to stay away from this lens, if you really want sharp photos.

 oluv's gear list:oluv's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm F4 ASPH Panasonic Lumix G 20mm F1.7 ASPH Panasonic Leica Summilux DG 25mm F1.4 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm F1.8 +1 more
Leica X Vario Leica X1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2
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