Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Panasonic 14-140mm f/4-5.8 Mega O.I.S Micro Four Thirds Lens Review

© PanasonicUSA

Background

We all want the best image quality we can get.  Sometimes we need to make compromises though when going out.  Some gear is to big or heavy, others don't do so good in low light... focus sled can be an issue.

There are times when it is most convenient or conducive to only have one camera and one lens, hopefully it is enough to cover the majority of the situations you'll encounter.

I've been hunting for that one lens solution for my Micro For Thirds lot for a long time.  I've already found a worthy one lens for Nikon DX in the Nikon 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 VR.  I use it a ton on the Nikon D500.

So far, I've struck out on my selections in m43.  Having tried the best Olympus iteration of the 14-150/4-5.6II.  As much as there was to love about it, with weather sealing and a good range of focal length... It just did not do it for me.  There was something lacking in sharpness and feel.  I've reviewed it here, so feel free to check out that post for more details.

I've had people tell me to try out the Tamron equivalent and I might some day.  One has just not come across my path yet.  The internet does have a buzz about the Panasonic 14-140 lens though.  A local camera store had one for a good price.

Having had experience with the Panasonic pron line of lenses, such as the 12-35 and 35-100 f/2.8 and the great bang for the buck 12-32 pancake soon...I thought I might have a wonder in this all in one.

Keep reading to see how this lens fared in of testing.

© PanasoincUSA


Handling/Size/Weight

I don't really consider this lens heavy.  Honestly even the Olympus 40-150/2.8 Pro lens is not heavy to me.  Coming from all metal Nikon lenses, just about anything in the m43 line up is small and light.

One thing I always give Panasonic credit for is having rubbery like costings on their zoom rings.  I love the functioning of the Olympus lenses, especially the Pro line - however, bring in an environment like Ohio, you having the baking sun in the summer and frigid temps in the winter, having an all metal lens makes it difficult to use sometimes. Definitely will give the Panasonic a not in the positive for the rubbery zoom ring.

Size wise, it is decent, but still unobtrusive.  It felt good in the hand and balanced just fine on both the PEN-F and the EM5.2. 

Image Quality

This is where I really look hard on these lenses.  Having such a stellar line up of both zoom and prime lens offerings I was hoping that I had another diamond in the rough.  Hoping that the lens would be close if not identical to the Panasonic 12-32 through most of the range.

This is where I was let down.  From 14-80mm in the range, the lens performed acceptably well.  It was beyond that where it lost me and fell out of consideration.

I tried everything I could think of to get acceptable image quality.  I shot with anti shock mode, which is something I need to do with a lot of the Panasonic lenses.  No help.  I tried full electronic shutter...still no good.  I even placed the camera on a solid surface...a bit better, but still not passing the grade.

I tried wide open and stopped down apertures, shutter speeds all the way to 1/2000...still not getting there.

Now, I've seen some good stuff coming from this lens and it could possibly be me, for sure.  My best guess is that this might be a bad lens.  Unfortunately, the camera store only had this one copy so I have no other samples to check out.  Alas, though, I feel that this kind of lens is not going to be in the cards for me in m43 mount.

I will some day test the Olympus 12-100/4, but it does not fit the budget or size requirements I am looking for at the moment.

When the images are taken under 80mm focal length, I found the color and contrast very pleasing, as I do with most Panasonic lenses.

As shot image
1/200, f/5.3, ISO 200 @ 41mm
Center crop of above image.  I'm thinking this might not be a bad lens!   Good contrast and decent enough sharpness.
1/1600, f/5.6, ISO 200 @ 15mm
Again, I'm not having a lot of issues here.  The wider to middle focal lengths are showing to be very usable.  Again...my hopes are high.  Now to check the longer end of the zoom range.
1/250, f/8, ISO 250 @ 140mm
And from about 100mm through the end of the range...it just does not cut it anymore.  this center crop at f/8....I was hoping for much more.    The Olympus 40-150/4-5.6R is much better than this.  This is where I'm not sure that the lens is just bad across all the copies or if I have one that has an issue at infinity focus.  Closer focusing at the same focal length gives much better results.
For example, this image was shot from just a few feet away and the IQ is much better.  I do know that the 1/250 shutter speed on the construction worker shots is pushing the boundary....but the IBIS on the PEN-F has handled situations like this much better and I did test the same scenario with a 1/2000 shutter with no appreciable difference in sharpness.
1/1250, f/5.8, ISO 200 @ 140mm
Close up crop of the above.   Very acceptable sharpness here at this closer focusing distance.

Focusing

I can't really complain here.  The focus never really Hunter and felt quick and sure.  The manual focus ring is toward the front of the lens, like many others and I could find it without having to take my eye from the viewfinder.

Bottom Line

Searching for a one lens solution that fits my needs is still ongoing.  The Panasonic is a fine lens from the outside looking in, but the sample I had just let me down. If I ever get the opportunity to try another I certainly will, maybe even check out the newer version with f/3.5-5.6 aperture range.  For now, I'll just stick with a 2 lens solution that I know works for me.

I'm just let down by the focus toward infinity, which is where a lens like this would be working hard for me.  For now, I'll stick with the Olympus 75-300/4.8-6.7II and the Panasonic 35-100/2.8 for my longer lens needs.

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