Home 8 Panasonic LUMIX S PRO 24-70mm f/2.8 review
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Panasonic LUMIX S PRO 24-70mm f/2.8 review

The key feature of this lens is its f/2.8 aperture rating, which remains available throughout the entire zoom range. This enables a fairly tight depth of field, especially at longer focal lengths, useful for portraiture and still life photography. The availability of faster shutter speeds also helps to freeze action and reduce the effects of camera-shake under dull lighting, without the need to bump up your ISO setting too much.

Naturally, the quality of the optical design is a key consideration in any lens, especially those with professional aspirations. Panasonic states that the 24-70mm ‘satisfies the stringent certification standards of Leica Camera AG’ and a notice of this is duly stamped onto the barrel. The optical path itself contains 18 elements in total, including three aspherical elements, four ED (Extra-low Dispersion) elements and one UHR (Ultra-High Refractive index) element. The aim is for optimum sharpness and contrast with the minimum of colour fringing and other aberrations.

BUILD AND HANDLING

The lens features a dual-drive autofocus system, employing both linear and stepping motor actuators. Autofocus is intended to be quick and whisper-quiet, while also enabling smooth focus transitions during movie capture. Reminiscent of Tokina lenses, a clutch mechanism allows autofocus or manual focus to be selected by snapping the focus ring forward or backwards respectively. It’s certainly quick and easy to operate but can be a frustration if you nudge the ring backwards accidentally and lose autofocus at a critical moment.

As with most standard zooms, the physical length extends at longer zoom settings. There’s no zoom lock switch but, despite the fairly heavy front group of elements, we didn’t experience any zoom creep when testing the lens. Weather-seals are fitted to assure dust/splash resistance and the lens is built to operate in freezing conditions down to -10 degrees Celsius. A plastic petal-shaped hood is supplied with the lens, which is of good quality and features a lock-release button.

PERFORMANCE

The speedy, high-precision autofocus lives up to its billing, while manual focusing benefits from a smooth-action control ring with just over 45 degrees of rotational travel. Sharpness is a bit of a moveable feast. In the 24-35mm sector of the zoom range, centre-sharpness is excellent even when shooting wide-open, although corner-sharpness is underwhelming at apertures wider than f/5.6. In our tests, sharpness in the 50-70mm range proved less impressive than in the competing Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG DN Art lens.

Bokeh is nice and smooth, and remains high quality when stopping down a little, helped by a well-rounded 11-blade diaphragm. Again, Sigma’s lens matches the Panasonic in this respect. Both lenses display negligible distortions, thanks to auto-corrections which are applied even to raw files. Both lenses also perform similarly well in minimizing ghosting and flare. The only facet of image quality in which the Panasonic beats the Sigma is that wide-aperture vignetting is less apparent, when disabling the in-camera correction.

Panasonic’s pro-grade 24-70mm f/2.8 is a first-class standard zoom with very good handling characteristics and a very sturdy construction. Autofocus is fast and reliable, although the clutch mechanism for swapping between autofocus and manual focus won’t meet universal approval. Image quality is very pleasing although it’s really no better than from the competing Sigma lens, which only costs half the price, making the Panasonic relatively poor value for money.

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