Panasonic Lumix 14-140mm Lens Review by NE Explorer Mark Pemberton

Posted May. 19th, 2014 by Daniel J. Cox

Mark used the new 14-140mm version ll Lumix lens on our Japan's Winter Wildlife Invitational Photo Tour this past February, 2104

Mark used the new 14-140mm version ll Lumix lens on our Japan Winter Wildlife Invitational Photo Tour this past February, 2014

Panasonic Lumix 14-140mm Lens Review by NE Explorer Mark Pemberton –  a real-world enthusiast’s user report on this terrific little lens. There are more extensive reviews with lots of graphs, charts, sample images, etc. (like this one on Micro 4/3’s photography), but I asked Mark to offer his thoughts from a general user’s perspective on this updated version of Panasonic’s original 14-140mm. Those of you who read this Blog know I regularly reach out to our Explorers for their everyday, general user’s perspective on equipment I think many of you may be interestd in. Spending weeks with our Explorers in the field often times alerts me to what the average, nonprofessional shooter is interested in. One of our longtime Explorers, Mark Pemberton, has helped me out in this manner several times and I’ve requested his personal insight once again. Here is Mark’s report. 

Daniel J. Cox

The Panasoinc Lumix 14-140mm F/3.5-5.6 zoom.

The Panasonic Lumix 14-140mm F/3.5-5.6 zoom Version ll, not to be confused with the original, heavier and bulkier version 1

I love photography. I love everything about photography. I love the equipment, the feel of the camera in my hand. I love the click of the shutter, the AHA moment. I love seeing the images and I love sharing my images. So if I love photography so much why did I quit it for 20 years?

Admittedly there was this pesky thing that I referred to as “my career” that occupied a lot of my time but that wasn’t the real reason. At some point in time it just seemed like my vacations had become more about photography and hauling gear around than about experiencing foreign (and local) cultures. I have great photos of Paris and Montmartre but few memories. After I gave up hauling all my gear with me and bought a (God forgive me) Yashica APC point and shoot film camera things changed. I have lousy photos of Tuscany but many great memories.

With the dawning of the digital age I re-entered the field of photography with a passion. However, I now find myself back in the same old position. In order to be prepared for any eventuality, and to obtain the type of professional images that I demand, I once again am hauling around a huge amount of gear. Two camera bodies, wide angle lens, mid-range zoom, telephoto zoom, flash, tripod, etc. My pack will typically weigh close to 50 lbs. And there is always the fear that there won’t be room in the overhead bin of the airplane for it.

What I wanted was something lighter and compact that would still deliver professional results. For years we’ve had a pretty good compromise with the combination of a Nikon D300 fitted with an 18-200 mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens. While it did not fill every need this was a very good, all-in-one, walking around lens for wide angle as well as short telephoto needs. However, it is still a fairly large lens/body combination. In some countries where we want to travel we would like to be as inconspicuous as possible. Nothing like wearing a big honkin’ Nikon camera around you neck to advertise to the local pickpockets and thieves that you are a “rich” tourist.

So finally I get around to the topic of this blog, the new Panasonic 14 to 140 mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom. Dan Cox has been touting the benefits of the Micro Four Thirds format for years and I recently reported on my experiences using this format with the 100-300 mm zoom lens on our photo tour of South Africa last September. When I saw the new lens advertised I thought that this just might be the answer to my prayers for a light weight, compact, all-in-one camera combination.

The new 14-140 mm lens (35 mm equivalent to 28-280 mm) is an upgrade to a lens that Panasonic already had on the market. However, the new lens is almost half the weight of the old one and has multiple other improvements. Unfortunately I was unable to purchase this new lens prior to the South Africa trip but I was able to obtain one for our recent visit to Japan.

I used the lens on my Lumix GH3 extensively during that trip. First to photograph the snow monkeys at Jigokudani Monkey Park and then for general photos while exploring Tokyo and small villages in Hokkaido.

My overall impression was that this was a great little lens. It functioned smoothly. Autofocus was rapid and accurate. The image stabilization worked very well for hand held shots. But mostly it was small and lightweight. For the sake of comparison I have listed below the alternatives to the GH-3/14-140 that I have used in the past.

Pro Gear Option 

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Nikon D700 – 31.8 oz 24-70 mm f/2.8 – 31.8 oz 70-200mm f/2.8 – 54.3 oz Total weight – 117.8 oz (7.4 lbs)

 Nikon All-in-one Option

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Nikon D300 – 29.6 oz 18-200 mm – 19.8 oz Total weight – 49.4 oz

 Lumix with 14-140mm lens 

Lumix GH-3 body – 19.4 oz 14-140 mm lens – 9.35 oz Total weight – 28.75 oz

Lumix GH-3 body – 19.4 oz
14-140 mm lens – 9.35 oz
Total weight – 28.75 oz

But the proof is in the images. The following images were all shot handheld with the Lumix GH3 and 14-140 mm lens under a variety of conditions. In this first set of images the 14-140 mm zoom lens shows its capabilities for wildlife photography. Compelling, razor-sharp images were obtained at both full telephoto and wide angle focal lengths. 1/60 sec., f/6.3, ISO 250, 140 mm 1/100 sec., f/4.1, ISO 200, 24 mm.

snow monkey

snow monkeyIn the next set of images, the 14-140 mm lens shows its ability as an all-around lens in a city setting, capturing both the overall setting and close-up detail – in this case, of the Imperial Gardens in Tokyo.1/400 sec., f/8, ISO 200, 28 mm 1/800 sec., f/7.1, ISO 200, 140 mm

imperial-palace3

While exploring the streets and markets of Hokkaido and Tokyo we came across many fascinating sights. Most intriguing were the people. Whether it was using it’s wide angle capability in tight alleyways or the telephoto capability to capture intimate portraits, the 14-140 mm lens was up to the task.

ninja1

I was extraordinarily pleased with the performance of the new LUMIX G VARIO 14-140mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH. POWER O.I.S. Lens. In combination with the GH3 body it returned the clear, sharp images that I demand. Mated to one of the other Lumix cameras, such as those in the GX line you could have an even more compact option. If you are like me and looking to lighten your load I highly encourage you to check out this lens.

Mark and Cathy Pemberton’s website

 

 

 

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