Reviews |Panasonic Lumix S 24mm F1.8

Panasonic Lumix S 24mm F1.8 Review

Panasonic Lumix S 24mm F1.8 review
Review

Price when reviewed

£799

$897.99
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Our Verdict

While zoom lenses are convenient and versatile, prime lenses are often smaller, lighter and brighter. They also encourage you to walk around the subject, using your feet instead of the zoom ring. The Panasonic Lumix S 24mm F1.8 is an excellent choice of lens for landscape, cityscape and interior photography, delivering a high level of sharpness, especially between f/2.8 and f/11 while aberration and distortion are controlled very well.

For

  • Nice size and weight for full-frame
  • Weather-resistant design
  • Excellent image quality

Against

  • No stabilisation
  • No focus limiter switch
  • Focus ring not customisable

What is the Panasonic Lumix S 24mm F1.8?

In September 2020 Panasonic announced that four compact f/1.8 prime lenses would be coming for its L-mount full-frame S-series mirrorless cameras. The first to arrive was the Lumix S 85mm F1.8 in November 2020, followed by the Lumix S 50mm F1.8 in June 2021 and now we have the Lumix S 24mm F1.8. The Lumix S 35mm F1.8 is yet to come.

The Lumix S 24mm F1.8 is Panasonic’s first 24mm prime lens for its full-frame cameras, but there are currently four zoom lens that incorporate that focal length. Nevertheless, the Lumix S 24mm F1.8 is the fastest 24mm option for photographers with S-series cameras such as the Lumix S1, S1R and S5. I tested the new lens on the 47Mp Panasonic S1R as that is the highest-resolution model available in Panasonic’s range, but it’s just as at home on the 24Mp Panasonic Lumix S5 and S1.

Specification

  • Product type: Wide prime lens
  • Mount: L-mount
  • Format: Full-frame
  • Focal length: 24mm
  • Maximum aperture: f/1.8
  • Minimum aperture: f/16
  • Construction: 12 elements in 11 groups 3 aspherical, 3 ED (Extra-Low Dispersion) and 1 UED (Ultra-Low Dispersion) elements
  • Minimum focus distance: 0.24
  • Maximum magnification: 0.15x
  • Stabilisation: No
  • Number of diaphragm blades: 9
  • Filter size: 67mm
  • Weight: 310g
  • Diameter x length (extension from lens mount): 73.6 x 82mm
Panasonic Lumix S 24mm F1.8 review

Features

Inside the weather-sealed barrel of the Panasonic Lumix S 24mm F1.8 there are 12 elements arranged in 11 groups. Amongst those elements there are 3 aspherical, 3 extra-low dispersion (ED) and 1 ultra-low dispersion (UED) lenses.

The primary purpose of the special elements is to get the light to focus at the same point across the frame, delivering better sharpness from centre to edge and reducing chromatic aberration which is caused by different colour light not focusing at the same point.

While there are faster prime lenses, a maximum aperture of f/1.8 enables fast shutter speeds to be used when light levels fall without the need to push the sensitivity (ISO) up excessively. This is useful for night time photography and when shooting indoors without flash.

As the S 24mm F1.8 is unstabilised photographers have the rely on the in-body stabilisation of Panasonic’s S-series cameras. That’s not too much of a loss as lens-based stabilisation tends to be more effective with telephoto lenses rather than wide-angle optics.

Panasonic has employed a linear motor that operates at 240fps for the focusing system. It’s claimed to be swift and silent.

Panasonic Lumix S 24mm F1.8 review

Build and handling

Panasonic’s four f/1.8 prime lenses each have the same design and very similar weight to make it easy to change between them. That’s especially useful for videographers using a gimbal such as the Zhiyun Weebill 2 or Zhiyun Crane 2S to stabilise the camera. Having very similar lenses should mean that there’s minimal rebalancing required when the lenses are swapped.

The Lumix S 24mm F1.8  weighs 310g, which is 10g more than the S 50mm F1.8 but 45g less than the S 85mm F1.8. As the Panasonic S1R weighs 1,016g with its battery and an SD card, it’s unlikely that you’ll notice the difference in weight between the lenses when you’re holding the camera.

Like the other two announced f/1.8 prime lenses, the S 24mm f1.8 is 82mm in length and its maximum diameter is 73.6mm. All three lenses also have a 67mm filter thread, which is a nice affordable size.

As they are so similar in size and weight, it could be easy to pick up the wrong optic, but the focal length is clearly marked on the top of the lens barrel.

There’s only one ring on the Lumix S 24mm F1.8 and it can’t be customised so its sole function is to adjust the focus. If ‘AF + MF’ is activated in the camera’s menu, the ring can be used to adjust the focus manually when the camera and lens are set to autofocus and the shutter release is half-pressed.

The focus ring takes up nearly half the length of the lens and is at the far end of the barrel, near the front element. It’s perfectly positioned for use with your left thumb and forefinger when you’re looking through the camera’s viewfinder.

While the ridged ring can be rotated by just one finger, it’s easier to make precise movements when it’s grasped by your forefinger and thumb.

When ‘MF Assist’ is activated in the camera’s menu, the area under the selected AF point enlarges and a focus distance scale appears as soon as the ring rotates. The enlarged image can be shown as picture-in-picture, which I prefer as it means you can still assess the composition, or it can occupy the whole of the viewfinder or screen display.

Like the S 50mm F1.8 and S 85mm F1.8, the S 24mm F1.8 has a simple design with only one switch on its barrel. This is used to switch between manual and automatic focusing, which can also be done by the MF/S-AF/C-AF switch on Panasonic’s S-series cameras.

Panasonic’s full-frame cameras have an option in the their menu to enable the S 24mm F1.8’s manual focus response to be switched between linear and non-linear. In non-linear mode, the speed of the rotation of the focus ring helps to determine the size of the change in the focus distance. Rotating quickly shifts the focus dramatically while rotating slowly enables smaller, more precise adjustments.  In linear mode, the position of the focus ring plays a more important role in setting the focus point and it’s possible to set the size of the focus throw from 90° to 360° in 30° increments, or ‘maximum’.

Whichever focusing response you use, there are no physical end stops to the focusing, instead you need to keep an eye on the distance scale on the screen or in the viewfinder.

Panasonic Lumix S 24mm F1.8 review

Performance

Panasonic has persisted with contrast detection focusing for its cameras and while it’s not quite as responsive as phase detection focusing, the company’s DFD (Depth From Defocus) technology helps the Lumix S 24mm F1.8 focus quickly even in quite gloomy conditions. It also manages to focus pretty quickly when the subject is at, or close to, the nearest focusing point (24cm). Consequently, the lack of a focus limiter switch seems less of an omission than with the S 50mm F1.8.

During my testing of the S 24mm F1.8, there were only a few occasions when the camera didn’t nail the focus quickly by itself, so I didn’t make extensive use of the ability to tweak the focus using the focus ring, but it’s nice to have the option.

Further good news, especially for videographers, is that the Lumix S 24mm F1.8 focuses silently or at least it’s too quiet for me to hear it. In addition, focus breathing is controlled very well so the framing stays the same regardless of how near or far the focus point.

Checking my images captured with the S 24mm F1.8 on the S1R reveals that it’s capable of rendering plenty of sharp detail throughout the aperture range. Closing down from f/1.8 to f/2.0 results in a slight increase in sharpness at the centre of the frame and a more noticeable one at the corners of the image. The level of sharpness increases again at f/2.8 and it’s maintained up to almost f/16 when there’s very slight softening as a result of diffraction.

I’d happily use the S 24mm F1.8 at any of its f/1.8 to f/16 aperture settings, but if you want the very best sharpness, limit yourself to f/2.8 to f/11.

Panasonic’s cameras have a Vignetting Compensation option in their menu which applies a profile to raw and Jpeg images. This does an excellent job of reducing the degree of vignetting that’s visible at the widest apertures, but even without it, the corner shading isn’t objectionable.

If the Vignetting Compensation isn’t activated, closing down to f/2.8 makes it only just noticeable and it’s eliminated by f/4.

Wide-angle lenses are prone to barrel distortion, but it’s not an issue with the Panasonic S 24mm F1.8 and straight lines remain straight.

Chromatic aberration is also controlled very well, I only found a few mild examples along backlit edges in the far corners of some images. In most cases it would go unnoticed at normal viewing sizes, but it can be removed quickly using Adobe Camera Raw.

Panasonic has given the S 24mm F1.8 a 9-blade iris with a rounded aperture for more appealing bokeh, and it delivers. At wide apertures, the background behind close subjects is attractively soft with circular highlights. Some small highlights have slight chromatic aberration, but generally they look very good and have no sign of onion rings or other issues.

Panasonic Lumix S 24mm F1.8 sample images

Follow the link to browse and download full-resolution images shot with the Panasonic Lumix S 24mm F1.8 on the Lumix S1R.

Panasonic Lumix S 24mm F1.8 image gallery

Panasonic Lumix S 24mm F1.8 review

Verdict

While it doesn’t have some of the features of fancier lenses, the Panasonic Lumix S 24mm F1.8 delivers where it really matters, with solid performance. It’s also attractively compact and light, making it a great choice for landscape photography when you’re planning to cover a lot of ground on foot.

With the camera’s Vignette Compensation activated, there’s only a hint of corner shading at the widest aperture. In addition, chromatic aberration isn’t problematic and curvilinear distortion is controlled extremely well. These points, combined with high levels of sharpness, makes the Lumix S 24mm F1.8 an excellent choice of lens for landscape, cityscape and interior photography as well as videography.

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Jamie
Jamie
9 months ago

Why would you need stabilization when all the cameras that use this have in body stabilization? Skipping features like this are also essential to having any lens options that aren’t enormous.

Clint
20 days ago
Reply to  Jamie

I have a Leica SL….it does NOT have image stabilization built in. So I guess that answers your question.