Equipment Review – Panasonic 14-42mm Zoom

I’ve just bought a new lens for my Panasonic Lumix GF1 Micro 4/3rds system camera. Having been using the lovely 20mm EF f/1.7 pancake lens with it since I got the camera in 2010, I have sometimes felt I needed something either a little bit wider or a bit more telephoto.

Panasonic 14-42mm Zoom
Panasonic 14-42mm Zoom

I discovered a friend was selling his 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 IOS lens at a very reasonable price, so I snapped it up along with the LCD viewfinder for the GF1. Occasionally I’ve had problems seeing what’s on the rear LCD screen when in very bright conditions. I didn’t want to shell out full price for it but got a bargain with the lens, so thought it was worth getting the viewfinder too.

The lens itself is very lightweight, being constructed entirely from plastic. This includes the rear lens mount, unlike the 20mm pancake which has a metal mount. Overall  build quality seems OK. The size is obviously much longer than the 20mm pancake, but you have to pay the price for flexibility in terms of zoom range! Here are a set of images from 14-42mm to give you an idea of the range (28-84mm equivalent on 35mm systems):

14mm focal length
14mm focal length
18mm focal length
18mm focal length
25mm focal length
25mm focal length
35mm focal length
35mm focal length
42mm focal length
42mm focal length
42mm focal length 100% pixels
42mm focal length 100% pixels

You can see that it has a very versatile range which will be suitable for many types of photography. On the way to and from work today, I decided to take some more test shots. The lens produced pleasing bokeh at the f/3.5 aperture at the widest angle:

Nice selective focus
Nice selective focus
Bush House - hand held at 1/5s!
Bush House - hand held at 1/5s!

The speed of focus and image stablisation of the new lens seem excellent – the 20mm was a little slow to sharpen up at times, and has no IS at all, but it does win for maximum aperture (f/1.7 vs f/3.5-5.6 for the zoom). The zoom’s low light performance seemed very good – and I was amazed that I was able to hand-hold some shots down to 1/5s without noticeable camera shake [see right].

It looks like a great little lens and one which will make my GF1 kit have much more scope for pictures on days when I don’t want to carry my Canon EOS7D around. I’m looking forward to using it a lot more.

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