Panasonic 42.5mm f1.7 LUMIX G Lens Review

I will start this quick review by saying what I always do with regards Micro Four Thirds, as I like to put my cards down on the table at the beginning.

Until mid 2016 (I like many other working pros) thought M43 was designed for amateurs, toys if you will. Nothing at all wrong with that, just not for professionals. Then I tried the Panasonic Lumix GX8 and all that changed !!!

It changed so much in fact that this little Panasonic is my weapon of choice for 80% of my professional work !

There won't be many images in this review as my aim isn't to show my photographic skills, and also looking at images on the internet to see anything of a technical nature is futile. The images that are scattered about however are shot wide open, at the lenses largest aperture to show that actually M43 can actually have shallow depth of field (contrary to popular belief).

Camera: Panasonic GX8 Aperture: F1.7 Shutter Speed: 1/200 ISO: 200

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So onto the review.

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Panasonic 42.5mm f1.7 LUMIX G ASPH POWER OIS

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The baby brother of Panasonic 42.5mm F1.2 ASPH Leica DG Nocticron O.I.S. Lens. The Nocticron is the lens that is reviewed most and revered by many, so I didn't honestly hold out much hope for it's "rather cheap" sibbling.

I won’t lie I “instantly” fell into the trap of ---- OMG it’s tiny, it’s a toy. At just 55mm long and weighing in at a ridiculous 130g it is no wonder.

M43 lenses are small and compact as a matter of course ……. But CRIKEY !

Just look how big it is compared to my iphone 6

NO it isn’t an iphone 6s just a plain and simple 6 !

This for me is where M43 wins hands down compared to “other” mirrorless systems. The lenses are designed from the ground up to suit the format. This not only means lenses are in “proportion” to the cameras they are being mounted onto but also they are also optically matched. Many “other” mirrorless systems just become bulky (near DSLR in size) when lenses are attached and often fall short optically; as the lenses haven’t been designed around the format from the ground up.

So back onto the Panasonic 42.5mm f1.7 LUMIX (sorry I still struggle with these lens and aperture sizes. In 35mm terms it is an 85mm f1.7 ----- f1.7 ?!?!? Sorry that aperture is just plain odd).

When you first pick this lens up, yes of course the lack of weight hits you. After the initial shock you start to look closer. It may be minimal in design (which I actually love) but it also feels superbly put together. The lens itself is metal in construction so feels solid while the lens hood is plastic (although it also feels exceptional quality I have to say). There isn’t much to say about the autofocus except it just “does it”. No fuss. No nonsense. Manual focus is smooth and accurate with not grating or dead spots. Although I have to say being "fly by wire" it does take quite a large amount of revolutions to get where needed, not too much but it is noticeable non the less.

Camera: Panasonic GX8 Aperture: F1.7 Shutter Speed: 1/15 ISO: 3200

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So what about optical quality ……?

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When back at my computer I downloaded the images and took a quick glance in Lightroom.

Something wasn’t right.

NOTHING could surely be THAT sharp at f1.7 ?!?!?

Honestly this lens blows me away …… this lens is EPIC (at ALL apertures) !

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In fact I would go as far as to say this is possibly the best lens I have EVER used !!

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I just LOVE IT !

What isn’t there to love ?!?!

It is cheap as chips at £299. Compare that to it’s “bigger brother” the Panasonic 42.5mm F1.2 ASPH Leica DG Nocticron O.I.S. Lens at £1099 !

Would I swap it for the Nocticron ?

N E V E R …… not in a million years.

The Lumix G is lighter, smaller and optically stellar. I would rather invest the extra in something else without any doubt at all !!!

Please feel free to download the layered file (located at the end of this review) of this lens test, to see for yourself the results at full resolution.

Camera: Panasonic GX8 Aperture: F1.7 Shutter Speed: 1/400 ISO: 200

I make no excuses for "my way" for testing lenses

Photographing Brick Walls ---- YES you read that correctly

I have been using this method for many, many years and it has stood me in good stead throughout my photographic career, so there is no way I am going to change it now !

Occasionally I get people saying things like “why photograph brick walls” ---“nobody photographs brick walls so why?”

So, in order

Why photograph brick walls ?

Quite simply they are accessible to all. They take no time to set up (where as lens testing rigs in the studio do). They do the job required.

What is the job required?

For me it is to see how a lens performs at all focal lengths (if a zoom) and at all “major” apertures. Being on a single flat plain and of uniform pattern photographing brick walls shows any and all flaws for any given lens.

Nobody photographs brick walls so why?

Actually I do !!

For my main photographic business walls, windows and doors are VERY important to me. So yes, some of us do photograph these “scintillating” items for a living ;)

If you still don’t get it ----- try it and you might be surprised at what you find !

How do I conduct my tests?

In a nutshell, with minimum fuss. It is a means to an end for me (to see if a lens stays in my camera bag or goes back to the shop).

I have a “favourite” wall (yes I know sad – but its true). I always tripod my camera and turn off all image stabilization (as certain types don’t like tripods). I ALWAYS use a cable release to ensure I do not knock anything. Contrary to popular methods I “DO NOT” use manual focus !! I use AF as that way I can also assess if a lens is focusing correctly. I tend to fluctuate between Aperture Priority and Manual depending on the lighting situation on the day.

I also ensure that the “brick wall” ALWAYS fills the frame at all lens lengths (eg no floor or sky), to ensure a flat plain to check edge sharpness.

When testing lenses I only ever test major apertures ---- eg. F2.8, f4, f5.6, f8 etc

Also when testing zooms I tend to only test at set points throughout the zoom range ----- eg on a 24-70mm zoom I would test 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 70mm.

Working in this way you can also assess where a lenses strong and weak points are within the zoom range (ALL lenses have strong and weak points so it is worth assessing this) !!!

So for example if you have both a 24-70mm and also a 70-200mm working using these testing methods you can determine which lens is strongest at 70mm focal length !

It is a tried and trusted method and one I urge everyone to try !

Scintillating ? ..... NO ----- Useful? ..... YES !!!

Yes OF COURSE i then test the lenses in a more balanced way, in as many challenging conditions as I can, varying distances (again to find weak points) and a multitude of other ways. The "brick wall test" however is ALWAYS the first !! If a lens doesn't pass this, it goes no further than back in the box and back to the supplier.

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Hi Resolution files available here to download

Please be aware this is a BIG (500mb) file as it is all apertures from this lens at full resolution

so please be patient

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If you want to find out more about me and my work please feel free to visit my website

www.davewallphoto.co.uk

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No article could ever be called "complete" without a picture of a grumpy cat !

So please meet Mildred the Miserable Moggy !

Boring Technical stuff for the geeks.

Credits:

www.davewallphoto.co.uk

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