The Panasonic Lumix S Pro 50mm F1.4 is the first prime lens that was launched with the Panasonic S system as part of the L-mount Alliance. This is my second native L-mount autofocus lens.
I have heard a lot of good things about this lens from people who used it. When a local Gumtree ad of an as-new lens pops up in a fraction of the recommended retail price, I bought it straight away. I want to know why Panasonic call it their reference lens. Almost all of this set of photos are taken at full aperture F1.4 with the Leica SL2 camera body.
Body Design and Built Quality
Lumix S Pro 50mm F1.4 balances well with the Leica SL or Panasonic S system cameras, not so for the Sigma fp, Leica TL or CL series compact L-mount cameras. For smaller body I am holding the lens and not the camera, like below.
It has a magnesium alloy body, and a lot of glass (13 lens elements in 11 groups), so it is heavy, almost 1kg heavy. It is like Panasonic wants to beat Sigma in the size and weight category at a heavy-weight championship. The L-mount lens line up is full of these incredible performers that is over-sized and over-engineered. This is the biggest and heaviest 50mm lens I owned. There is no lens buttons.
The physical controls are traditional with manual focus ring and manual aperture ring. The design appeals to me, who typically works with manual focus Leica M lenses. On native L-mount, I prefer the Panasonic S lenses compare to the Leica SL lenses in the body form. There is a choice of old school control if you like to enjoy the manual operation experience. The Leica SL lens body counterpart look refined but boring in comparison.
I preferred the metal ridged aperture ring with nice third-stops clicks. Auto mode on the dial can easy switch between auto and manual aperture mode on the lens. Reminds me of the Panasonic LC-1 lens control, the design shared with the Leica Digilux-2. Step-less aperture in Auto mode is beneficial for video use.
No optical stabilisation. Splash-proof and good weather sealed. The button release snap-on hood is reversible for storage on lens is convenient. The hood is in polycarbonate, but exact texture finished to match the metal body finish. I can only tell the difference where metal is colder to touch.
The lens body is beautifully designed with good tactile feedback in-use.
Fast single auto focus, relatively quiet and precise. I can hear faint motor operation only in a very quiet room, the sound is not perceivable on day-to-day usage at all. The SL2 allow change of settings of the lens focus ring on camera. You can change from standard ramp (fast turn for fast focus change, slow turn for precise change) to linear focus with 90° to 360° turn in 30° increments. You can set the rotation length to your heart’s content, or to match follow-focus system need for video use.
A pull down manual focus clutch with distance scale and focus distance memory, independent focus from autofocus control directly switchable on lens on clutch mechanism. There is a soft stop at focus limits with increased resistance. Focus down to 0.44m is reasonable but not suitable macro. Rubber on focus ring is a dust collector.
The continuous auto focus can be improved if you select the right mode. On the Leica SL2 camera body, I can select AF profiles (Children/pet/team sport/wildlife) that better suit the photographic task. Continuous AF behaviour can be fine-tuned in depth sensitivity, field movement and shift in direction. I need to use this combo more to understand how it works, and it can be improved over firmware updates in the future.
Loving it. At full aperture at F1.4, the lens is very sharp, good contrast, colour rich and smooth out of focus transition. 11 aperture blades clearly beneficial in this area.
Let the images do the talking.
The lens is so big, I think it is to maximize performance at corner of frame by oversized lens elements. The images are saturated punchy. Both front and back bokeh are round and soft. The subject separation is so nice, so vivid. It is artistic. Focus separation is so clear and sharp with layering and depth. 3D out of this world look!
Purple fringing, chromatic aberration, astigmatism, ghosting are not showing even at high contrast scene. The photos are razor sharp and dynamic with three-dimensional contrast and fine detail rendering. I need to test the 187mp mode on this lens next time.
The combination of very sharp corner to corner drawing and very smooth out-of-focus rendering, this lens is worthy of the reference lens status.
- weather sealed
- great tactile control
- easy switching between auto to manual with clutch focus ring
- aperture ring with auto position
- good handling ergonomics,
- outstanding reference image quality
- fast and accurate focus
- no focus breathing with step-less aperture control
- large and heavy
- no optical stabilisation
- not balanced with fp, TL or CL system compact bodies.