Its quite a mouthful, we test the new Panasonic LUMIX S 24-105mm F4 Macro Lens! From now on its the Pana 24-105mm, ok. I have been testing this lens for a couple of weeks now, and I have a pretty good feel for its performance. Panasonic designed this lens as a kit lens, kinda like Canon did with the 5D series, and it was a good idea. The 24-105mm range is always useful, and if it’s a good lens, it’s really useful…

So lets get to the specs:

Specifications

Focal Length: 24 – 105mm

Aperture Range: f/4.0 – f/22

Diaphragm Blades: 9 (circular)

Lens Construction: 16 elements in 13 groups, including 2 aspherical ED, 2 aspherical, 1 EUD and 2 ED elements; Fluorine coating on front element.

Auto Focus: Yes, Internal AF with linear motor; AF/MF switch

Front Element Rotation: No

Zoom System: Rotary (with lock switch)

Closest Focus: 0.30m / 0.98 ft.

Magnification Ratio: 0.5x / 1:2

Filter Size: 77mm

Dimensions(Length x Diameter): 118mm x 84mm / 4.65 in. x 3.31 in.

Weight: 680g / 24.0 oz (excluding lens caps and hood)

Bag Weight: Including 77mm UV Filter and caps – 770g / 27oz

 

Ergonomics And Handling

This lens is quite light, especially if you are used to the Leica 24-90mm lens which weighs in at 1140g / 40.2 oz. To be fair to the Leica, it is a faster lens, and its built like a tank out of metal not plastic, like the Panasonic. But, when you are lugging this all day, those extra grams add up, and the Panasonic does feel like a robust lens. On the outside, you will find a zoom lock switch, which only works at 24mm. My copy of this lens is quite stiff, so I don’t think that zoom creep is a problem with a new lens. After a couple of years of hard use – well we’ll see.

Also on the outside is an Autofocus to Manual Focus (AF-MF) switch, and a Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) on off switch. The OIS switch is for use on a tripod, it is not self sensing like the Canon. The following lens tests were conducted on a tripod, with the OIS set to off. My lens was part of the kit, so it came with a hood, caps, and that’s about it. It takes a 77mm filter. Just an FYI, the Lumix 50mm, and 70-200mm also take 77mm filters, So Panasonic seems to standardizing their lenses to this size.

Th grip material is rubber, and it works well. It reminds me of the grip used in Leica R lenses. It is finer than the current Leica SL lenses. The hood is your standard petal type, and well, its a hood, and it works.

All in all, this is a pleasant lens to use, its weight is reasonable, and it feels good in the hand. It balances well on the S1R, and combined, they are a comfortable weight. Much the same as a Canon 5dx and its 24-105mm lens. My guess is that Panasonic is going to concentrate on zooms for a while, and I expect that the 16-35mm will be along soon too.

24mm Performance

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F/4.0
F/8.0

At 24mm, we see very good centre performance. The lens is resolving the 47MP sensor with no issues. No Chromatic Aberrations (CA) are present. As with almost all modern camera and lens combinations, this lens uses a built in lens profile to correct the image. With this in mind, we see a fully corrected image for CA, distortion and vignetting. So we are left to talk about sharpness. Corner performance is just ok. we see blur in the extreme corners at F/4.0, and surprisingly it does not improve by F/8. I think that there is considerable field curvature, and that the lens is capable of sharp corners, but not in a flat field image.

This blur maybe induced by aggressive distortion reduction. In lightroom, it is not possible to view the image without the correction applied, and honestly one is not going to shoot this lens without the corrections applied. So it is as we see it.

35mm Performance

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F/4.0
F/8.0

Moving to 35mm, we still see very good centre performance wide open at F/4.0 The corners are slightly better wide open, as the lens is carrying its sharpness deeper into the corner, effectively reducing the soft area. At F/8, we see excellent centre performance, and considerable improvement in the corners. I would call the corners acceptable at F/8.0 for a zoom with this range. Again, no CA, vignetting or distortion is evident due to the applied corrections.

50mm Performance

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F/4.0
F/8.0

At 50mm, the lens exhibits excellent centre sharpness at F/4.0 and F/8. Corner performance improves considerably to sit between good to very good even at F/4.0 There is still a very slight blur at the very extreme edge of the corner, but sharpening will help this a lot. Please remember, these are unsharpened images, and with a little sharpening they really pop. At F/8, corner performance is very good with fine details rendered well.

70mm Performance

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F/4.0
F/8.0

Things improve slightly at 70mm. Centre performance is excellent. Corner performance at F/4.0 is now very good. Fine details are rendered all the way into the corner. At F/8.0, and we see excellent performance all the way into the corners.

85mm Performance

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F/4.0
F/8.0

Moving up to 85mm, we still see excellent centre performance wide open at F/4.0 The corners are still very good at F/4.0, with fine detail rendered all the way into the corner. At F/8, we see excellent corner performance.

105mm Performance

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F/4.0
F/8.0

105mm brings excellent centre performance wide open at F/4.0 and at F8. Corner performance drops off slightly to very good wide open, but remains excellent at F/8.0

Flare

This particular lens has quite nice flare characteristics. Panasonics cinema experience shows here, as the flare is quite cinematic. It is present, but you need to push the lens to get it to flare like below. The first image is wide open at F/4.0 and the second at F/8, with both being shot at the medium focal length of 50mm.

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

The Panasonic 24-105mm F/4 is somewhat comparable to the other manufacturers lenses of this range. All of the other manufacturers lenses exhibit weaknesses at some point in their range. The Panasonic is no different, it is at its weakest wide open at 24mm, then 105mm. The ranges in-between are actually quite good.

Shooting at 24mm is usually about the wide view, and correspondingly stopped down as more light is entering the lens. As we have seen the lens steadily improves from 35mm to 50mm, with 50mm being this copies peak performance focal length. The lens stays very good all the way up to 85mm, where it begins a gradual, but slight reduction in corner performance. Shooting at 105mm is usually wide open, and its all about centre performance.

The lens is excellent in the centre at all focal lengths, and all apertures. For a zoom this is impressive, as there is no discernible drop in sharpness. This is an excellent lens considering its zoom range. Real world shooting actually yields better corners that the infinity test. This does point to some field curvature, but it works in the field to your advantage. Have a look at the images below, and you will see what I mean, the corners are very good.

In conclusion, its a great 24-105mm lens, I dare say one of the best out there. Panasonic has done a stellar job at this price point. Does it replace the Leica SL 24-90mm, no, but its much cheaper and lighter. A great all around lens, suited for day to day use and travel. Recommended!

 

Sample Images

  
24mm @ F/4.054mm @ F/8.0
105mm @ F/4.0105mm @ F/8.0
24mm @ F/4.0105mm @ F/11
25mm @ F/4.0105mm @ F/4.0
105mm @ F/4.024mm @ F/10

 

 

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