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I'm not all that impressed by the Panasonic 14mm...am I the only one?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by LowriderS10, Jul 28, 2014.

  1. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    Hi all,

    A few weeks ago I picked up the 14 and 20 pancakes. To be honest I LOVE shooting with them. I keep doing day trips with just these two lenses and am really enjoying the freedom that's afforded by two extremely light lenses.

    However...when viewing the photos at home, I'm blown away by the 20's quality, but not really impressed with the 14. It's good. But not great. As far as sharpness goes (my only real issue with this lens), it's about on par with my 9-18 zoom (at 14mm). I'd have expected a prime to perform at least somewhat sharper than a consumer zoom. By no means is the 14 horrible...and it's only really at around 100% that I'm disappointed by it - funnily enough, I am quite satisfied with the results out of the 9-18 -, but I hold primes to a different standards.

    The 9-18 is excellent from about 9 to 15, then from 16 to 18, things get much uglier, so the ultra-sharp 20 is an excellent addition to my kit. However...at this point, the 14 offers no real benefits to my kit other than being small and light, as it does not optically outperform my existing lenses.

    Am I being too fussy? I mean the IQ is GOOD...great, even. I was just expecting it to blow me away like the 20, 45 and 75 do. As far as my primes go, I'm constantly impressed by the other 3...and just okay with the results out of the 14.

    Thanks for listening to my ramblings!
    • Like Like x 4
  2. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    call me Arg
    Even wide open at f/2.5, the 14mm is a couple of notches sharper than the 9-18 wide open (only f/4.9 BTW) at 14mm. Shoot the prime at f/4.9 and a no-contest becomes a joke-contest.

    That said, and prime 'primacy' established, the 9-18 is a very good lens and probably even beats the 14mm in a couple of areas like distortion and vignetting. This is partly due to the limitations of pancake designs, especially ultra-compact wide ones like the 14. If you want the best of the best in this focal length, try a non-pancake prime like the Leica DG 15mm recently released by Panasonic.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. RichardB

    RichardB Snapshooter

    Nov 19, 2012
    Maryland, US
    I sold off my first 14mm because my Oly 14-42mm kit lens had sharper, flatter corners at 14mm. Later, I reconsidered and bought another 14mm for its compact size and the extra f-stop at the wide end. Most of my subjects are near the center anyway, and most people who look at my photos don't peep at 100%. As Arg said, you can't expect perfection from a wide pancake, especially an inexpensive one, but it serves a purpose.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. fransglans

    fransglans Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 12, 2012
    ive had same thoughts about it. and i think its a gas syndrome. cos when the interesting light and object shows up the iq mojo of the certain lens is not that important.
  5. littleMT

    littleMT Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 8, 2012
    Lucille Sanchez
    I find the Panny 14 f/2.5 to be amongst the best lenses for micro 4 3rds and a must own, this lens is magical and has mojo, I like it better then my Panny Leica 25mm.
    • Like Like x 6
  6. It's possible that there may be some sample variation issues with the 14mm pancake. The copy that I had was, well, pretty bad to be honest. It was quite sharp in the centre, but was soft in all corners at all apertures (so it wasn't simply decentred) and showed quite a lot of vignetting. Without having tried a second copy I don't know if my 14mm was representative or an outlier.
    • Like Like x 2
  7. bigboysdad

    bigboysdad Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 25, 2013
    Sydney/ London
    I've seen a few respected people refer to it as not so good but in practical use it is imo, a very handy good quality lens.

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    London Underground by bigboysdad, on Flickr

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    Heisenberg in Sydney by bigboysdad, on Flickr

    There may be a bit of barrel distrortion but this is easily fixed in post processing.
    • Like Like x 6
  8. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter Subscribing Member

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    The 14 has never had the critical sharpness of the 45. It's just one of those lenses that some folks really like. For me, the 14 has always come through when I wanted that FL, and I'm a big fan of the "pop" of the Oly 25/45. I suspect size and price play a factor, but that's part of any lens. I'll be curious to see more stuff from the new Pan-Leica 15.
  9. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2013
    It's not really fair to compare the 14 to the 45, 75 or 25. I think the IQ is pretty good, but needs a little PP to get some pop. It's the smallest 4/3rds lens, which makes some cameras pocketable and light and for that it is a great lens. As a "replacement" for a kit lens it might not live up to high expectations. It's a very solid practical and affordable go anywhere lens. Slightly better corners than the 17 2.8 IMO.

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    • Like Like x 7
  10. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter Subscribing Member

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    It will be the favorite mu43 lens of post-apocalyptic cockroaches.
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    • Funny Funny x 1
  11. Uncle Frank

    Uncle Frank Photo Enthusiast

    Jul 26, 2012
    San Jose, CA
    The Oly 25/1.8 is my go-to lens, but when I can't back up, the 14/2.5 is very useful. Stop looking at 100%, and you'll grow to love its renderings and size.

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  12. Drdave944

    Drdave944 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Feb 2, 2012
    It makes your camera more pocketable. Has a lot of CA,but GX 7 corrects for this. I don't use it much since I have the 12-35 f2.8.
  13. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter Subscribing Member

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Lowrider: What body are you using?
  14. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    Thanks, guys...I'm glad this forum is full of people like you, where we can have a normal, good conversation! :D 

    I wholeheartedly agree with all of you...this lens's charm isn't (and really, never was, and deep down I know it) its sharpness at 100%. It's the fact that it's tiny, light and renders quite well. When I look at a photo I've taken with it...I'm fully satisfied. When I'm taking the photo...I'm fully satisfied. When I slap it in my pocket and forget about it on an outing...I'm very satisfied. It's only at 100% that I'm a bit...meh...about it. But, really...that's not what this lens is about. It's about all the other things that it does well (size, rendering, etc).

    As for the 9-18, I honestly thing I may have a freak copy...it's way sharper than what I hear most people talk about, and it definitely is right up there with my 14. The results are virtually indistinguishable.

    Anyways...I think I have to stop comparing the 14 to my other primes, and keep enjoying it for what I bought it for: To have a tiny, light, toy-like lens that delivers seriously awesome shots. By the way...I just took this yesterday with the 14:

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    EDITVOM6488 by Tamas V, on Flickr

    and a couple from last weekend:

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    EDITVOM6144 by Tamas V, on Flickr

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    EDITVOM6143 by Tamas V, on Flickr
    • Like Like x 9
  15. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team Subscribing Member

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Sharpness (as a general characteristic across lenses) is highly overrated, but I must say I was never wild about the 14 either. I found CA to be quite an issue on Oly bodies too (although I accept it can be fairly easily removed). Given its size and price though, it's hard not to like the 14. It's one of the classic and defining lenses of u43.
  16. fin azvandi

    fin azvandi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 12, 2011
    South Bend, IN
    I thought the 14mm was just decent, and since it wasn't a great focal length for me anyway I sold it off. Now I use the 9-18 for my wide shots and find it plenty sharp. The Oly 17/1.8 comes out when I need a small wide(ish) lens.
  17. Steven

    Steven Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2012
    It's always been the consensus that it's not as great as 20mm. Not sure why you were expecting differently . Great little lens for the eBay price Imho.
  18. Theo

    Theo Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 26, 2013
    Theo K.
    There must be wide range of sample variation. Check out my wide open night shot with my 14. It's sharp all the way to the corners. This is my favorite and most used lens among my collection of 14/17/25/45.

    View attachment 375957 P6290991 by CyberTred, on Flickr
    • Like Like x 2
  19. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jun 26, 2013
    Andrew Lossing
    Yeah, the 14mm is definitely good, but not great. For the value I think only the 17mm f2.8 delivers better, and only since it can be had for around $130-150 if you look hard, while the 14mm is usually closer to $175-200. Both excellent deals. But the 14mm consistently needed more PP when I used it, there's nothing arresting, no pop, to its output. Whereas I think the 17mm, while slightly less sharp, has vivid colors and an interesting output pretty consistently.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  20. rparmar

    rparmar Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 14, 2011
    Limerick, Ireland
    It's a very good lens in an absolute sense. It's a stupendous lens considering its size and price. I'm not sure how sharp you expect a wide-angle lens to be. Or what you mean by "sharpness" -- perhaps you are referring to the amount of detail. But that is never going to be as abundant as a lens with a longer focal length. The Pana 14mm is equally as nice as some of the great 28mm FF lenses I have used. I prefer it to my brief experience with the 12mm.

    But we are all different, no doubt.

    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/rparmar/14484093258" title="on the terrace by Robin Parmar, on Flickr">
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    "800" height="800" alt="on the terrace"></a>

    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/rparmar/14771127403" title="hungry cat by Robin Parmar, on Flickr">
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    "800" height="800" alt="hungry cat"></a>

    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/rparmar/14452029647" title="Museu waterfall by Robin Parmar, on Flickr">
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    "1024" height="683" alt="Museu waterfall"></a>
    • Like Like x 6
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