Review: Lumix 14mm f2.5 ASPH

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Lumix 14mm f2.5 ASPH Pancake Lens

Lumix 14mm f2.5 ASPH Pancake Lens

The Lumix 14mm f2.5 ASPH is a tiny pancake style lens included with several Lumix cameras as well as being available separately. It’s fashioned in the same style as the amazing 20mm f1.7 but is much faster at focusing, has a wider angle of view and is even smaller!

Could this be the perfect travel & landscape lens?

Lumix 14mm f2.5 Front Back and On GH4

Lumix 14mm f2.5 ASPH Front Back and On GH4

Design & Build Quality
Made in Japan, the Lumix 14mm f2.5 ASPH is made largely from plastic, helping to keep the weight as low as 55g, while the rear camera mount is reassuringly metal.

The focus ring is smooth and easy to operate, being dampened just enough to provide some feedback while remaining easy enough to turn.

Auto focus is fast and reliable and I’ve yet to experience any problems, including on moving subjects, though given the wide angle and relatively large depth of field that’s hardly surprising.

Easily fitting in most coat pockets the Lumix 14mm f2.5 ASPH looks tiny on any micro-four-thirds camera, but as can be seen in the pictures on the left, it’s totally dwarfed by the Lumix GH4, fitting even within the envelope of the hand grip.

The small size and low weight makes this lens a favourite amongst many micro-four-thirds shooters when travelling, either on it’s own or combined with one or two other primes, such as Panasonic’s own Lumix 20mm f1.7.

Let’s look at some statistics:
• 6 lenses in 5 groups, including 1 aspherical
• Silent high speed internal focusing
• 7 blade circular diaphragm
• Filter thread: 46mm
• Maximum Aperture: f2.5
• Minimum Aperture: f22
• Weight: 55g
• Length: 21mm

Sharpness at Full Stop Apertures
As with most micro-four-thirds lenses it’s pretty good wide open (f2.5) and improves marginally at f2.8 and again at f4.0. The sweet spot is in the f4-f8 range with diffraction starting to show at f11 and really hurting at f16 onwards.
[clear_both]Below is a series of images taken from f2.5 and then stepped up to full stop apertures, f2.8, f4, f8, f11, f16 and f22.

Lumix 14mm Sharpness at Full Stop Apertures

Lumix 14mm Sharpness at Full Stop Apertures

Chromatic Aberrations
As with many prime lenses, the Lumix 14mm f2.5 ASPH suffers from chromatic aberration when shooting wide open, though this is largely gone by f4. Even when present it’s easily fixed in Lightroom.

Lumix 14mm f2.5 Chromatic Aberration

Lumix 14mm f2.5 ASPH Chromatic Aberration

Some lenses are more susceptible to flare than others and while the Lumix 14mm f2.5 ASPH is quite well behaved in this respect I was able to create flare shooting at specific angles to the sun, though shooting a little straighter did not present the same problems. It’s worth playing with any lens to understand the flare characteristics before heading off and shooting on sunny days.

Lumix 14mm Flare Test Angle

Lumix 14mm Flare Test Angle

Lumix 14mm Flare Test

Lumix 14mm Flare Test

Sample Images
Given how easy this lens is to walk about with it makes sense to take it with you if travelling light. Here are some sample images taken walking in and around the historic city of York in northern England.

Lumix 14mm Bettys

Lumix 14mm Bettys Tearooms – Always a favourite with visitors

Lumix 14mm Stubbs

Lumix 14mm Stubbs painted sign

Lumix 14mm York Centre

Lumix 14mm York Pedestrian Centre

Lumix 14mm York

Lumix 14mm York Minster in the distance

Lumix 14mm York Passage Ways

Lumix 14mm York Passage Ways

Lumix 14mm Lendal Bridge York

Lumix 14mm Lendal Bridge crossing the river Ouse York

14mm competitors
So how else can you get to 14mm and why would you pick this instead of the others?  The following sequence shows 14mm shots on the following lenses:

Lumix 7-14mm f4 – set to 14mm
Lumix 14mm f2.5 ASPH
• Lumix 12-35mm f2.8 – set to 14mm
Lumix 14-140 f3.5-5.6 – set to 14mm

Lumix Quartet of 14mm Lenses

Lumix Quartet of 14mm Lenses

In all shots the camera was mounted to a static tripod and did not move.  Any variation in framing is down to the variation in what Panasonic is calling 14mm on that particular lens.

All shots taken at f5.6 which is considered a relative sweet spot across all of them.  To my eyes the framing on the 14-140 most closely matches that of the 14mm prime, which considering it’s the super zoom is quite amazing.

Comparing 14mm on 4 different lenses

Comparing 14mm on 4 different lenses

Conclusions & Summary
The Lumix 14mm f2.5 ASPH is a tiny lens that does not offer much in the way of bells and whistles.  There’s no image stabilisation, no focus scale and no focus limiters, but then for the size that’s no big deal either. It does what it’s supposed to do very well while remaining simple, small and light.

There’s no weather sealing and there is some mild vignetting / light fall off when shot wide open, but nothing that should worry you and something that’s easily fixed in post production.

It’s not a macro lens and doesn’t have particularly close focusing capabilities (0.18m / 0.59ft).

Optically this is a great performer for the price and will suit several kinds of photographers, including travel, street and landscape shooters. It’s relatively sharp wide open and improves towards the sweet spot of around f5.6.  Just don’t think about shooting at f22 because the image suffers horribly.

All in all, I think this is an outstanding lens for the size, weight and the price I paid (just under £100). It’s certainly going to be acompanying me on future holidays.

The Good
• Small size
• Lightweight
• Smooth focus ring
• Relatively sharp wide open (f2.5)
• Available relatively cheaply on eBay due to being a kit lens

The Bad
• No weather sealing
• No image stabilisation
• No focus scale
• Chromatic Aberrations wide open need fixing in Lightroom (1 click)

The Score
Given the good results for relatively low cost, small size and low weight I’d have to give this lens 9/10.

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Lumix 14mm f2.5 ASPH
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