Reviews |Panasonic Lumix S 35mm F1.8

Panasonic Lumix S 35mm F1.8 Review

Panasonic Lumix S 35mm f1.8 review
Review

Price when reviewed

£579.88

€659.99
Check current price

Our Verdict

Although we tend to think of zoom lenses as being more versatile, 35mm primes are one of the most popular optics because they can be put to a wide range of uses. They’re great for street photography and environmental portraiture, and they have a wide enough field of view to make them attractive for shooting landscapes or cityscapes.

The Panasonic Lumix S 35mm F1.8 slips neatly in amongst the company’s existing F1.8 primes lenses offering this versatile focal length with first-rate image quality and an attractively large aperture. It’s also compact without being tiny, and relatively lightweight, making a nice pairing on Panasonic’s full-frame cameras.

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 35mm F1.8?

The Panasonic Lumix S 35mm F1.8 completes the quartet of compact prime lenses that, in September 2020, Panasonic promised were in the pipeline for its full-frame L-mount cameras. The first of these to come to market was the Lumix S 85mm F1.8 which was revealed in November 2020. This was followed by the Lumix S 50mm F1.8 in June 2021 and then the Lumix S 24mm F1.8 in September 2021.

While the Panasonic Lumix S 35mm F1.8 is the first 35mm prime lens in Panasonic’s full-frame optics range, there are four zoom lenses that incorporate that focal length. However, the largest available aperture on any of the zoom lenses is f/2.8, which makes the S 35mm F1.8 considerably faster, enabling shorter exposures in low light.

Specification

  • Product type: Wide prime lens
  • Mount: L-mount
  • Format: Full-frame
  • Focal length: 35mm
  • Maximum aperture: f/1.8
  • Minimum aperture: f/22
  • Construction: 11 elements in 9 groups with 3 aspherical and 3 ED (Extra-Low Dispersion) elements
  • Minimum focus distance: 0.24
  • Maximum magnification: 0.22x
  • Stabilisation: No
  • Number of diaphragm blades: 9
  • Filter size: 67mm
  • Weight: 295g (excluding caps and lens hood)
  • Diameter x length (extension from lens mount): 73.6 x 82mm / 2.9 x 3.23inches
Panasonic Lumix S 35mm f1.8 review

Features

Panasonic has constructed the Lumix S 35mm F1.8 from 11 elements in 9 groups. Of these elements, 3 are aspherical and 3 are ED (extra-low dispersion) elements. The aspherical elements help reduce the number of lenses required within the barrel to get the light to focus at the same distance across the image frame. This keeps the size and weight of the lens down while maintaining sharpness into the corners of the frame.

Meanwhile, the ED elements reduce chromatic aberrations by ensuring that the different wavelengths of light are focused at the same point.

The aperture is formed by 9 blades which create a rounded shape to deliver attractive bokeh.

Panasonic’s S-series cameras, including the Panasonic Lumix S1, Lumix S1R and Lumix S5 have in-body image stabilisation (IBIS) which means that the company hasn’t felt compelled to stabilise the Lumix S 35mm F1.8.

Autofocusing is handled by a linear motor but the manual focus response can be switched to non-linear via the camera’s menu. In non-linear mode, the shift in the focus is determined by the speed of the rotation of the focus ring, rotating it quickly makes a big jump in the focus distance while rotating slowly enables precise adjustments. In linear mode, the position of the focus ring is more important 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 to ‘maximum’.

Panasonic Lumix S 35mm f1.8 review

Build and handling

Panasonic revealed that was planning to introduce four f/1.8 primes lenses with the L-mount because the lenses all have the same design, similar weight and identical control arrangement. This makes it easy to switch between the four lenses because the camera always has similar balance and your hand reaches to the same points with each optic. It’s especially useful for videographers using a motorised gimbal like the Zhiyun Weebill 2 or Zhiyun Crane 2S because there’s little rebalancing required when swapping between the lenses.

With that in mind, the Panasonic S 35mm F1.8 weighs 295g (0.65lb) and measures 82mm (3.23inches) from its tip to the base of the lens mount. It also has a maximum diameter of 73.6mm and accepts 67mm filters, just like the S 85mm F1.8, S 50mm F1.8 and S 24mm F1.8.

As I have observed in the reviews of the earlier S F/1.8 lenses, the four optics are so similar that you could easily pick up the wrong one, but the focal length of each is clearly displayed on the barrel.

Like the other F1.8 lenses, the S 35mm F1.8 has a single ring that is designated for manual focusing and cannot be customised to adjust other parameters such as the aperture or exposure compensation. This ring occupies almost half of the length of the barrel towards the front element and it has a ridged rubber-like coating that gives good purchase. It has a high-quality feel and the movement is assured, neither too stiff or too sloppy.

Regardless of whether the manual focus response is set to linear or non-linear, there’s no physical end point to the ring’s rotation. However, a focus distance scale appears promptly in the viewfinder or on the screen on the back of the camera when the ring is rotated. Also, when ‘MF Assist’ is activated via the camera’s menu, the area under the selected AF point also enlarges with the magnified area either taking up the whole screen or operating ‘picture-in-picture’, depending upon what’s selected in the menu. I like to use the picture-in-picture display because it enables you to keep an eye on the composition.

It’s also possible to use the manual focus ring to adjust the focus in autofocus mode provided that ‘AF + MF’ is activated in the camera’s menu and the shutter release is half-pressed. Again, if ‘MF Assist’ is activated via the camera’s menu, the focus distance scale and enlargement appear in the viewfinder or on the screen.

The only switch on the barrel of the S 35mm F1.8 is for switching between manual and automatic focus mode. This can also be done via a switch on the camera body.

Panasonic has put seals around all the joints and moving parts around the S 35mm F/1.8 so that it is weatherproof and dust-proof.

Panasonic Lumix S 35mm f1.8 review

Performance

I tested the Panasonic S 35mm F1.8 on the 47Mp Lumix S1R, the highest-resolution camera in Panasonic’s line-up. This means that there’s plenty of scope to assess the lens’ ability to sharp render detail. And it’s good news on that score because it captures an impressive level of sharpness right through the aperture range.

As usual, there’s slight fall off in sharpness towards the corners of the frame at the wider apertures, but it’s not bad. It’s improved significantly by closing down to f/5.6 or smaller, but it’s unlikely to be problematic in real-world shooting situations.

Whether or not the in-camera Vignette Compensation feature is activated, you may notice some corner shading but it’s not troublesome and can be almost completely eradicated by closing down to f/2.8. Activating the Vignetting Compensation reduces the corner shading that’s visible at the widest aperture but it does’t completely remove it.

Adobe Camera Raw indicates that the raw files captured by the S1R with the 35mm F/1.8 lens mounted have a correction profile applied to them automatically to address distortion and chromatic aberration. This either does a very good job or there’s little to be done as curvilinear distortion is not an issue and straight lines remain straight. This makes the S 35mm F/1.8 a good choice of lens for photographing architecture and cityscapes.

After scrutinising images with strong contrast edges and backlit branches, leaves and twigs, I’ve only found a few subtle examples of chromatic aberration that are visible when the image is viewed at 100% on a computer screen. These can be dealt with in a matter of seconds using Adobe Camera Raw’s Defringe tool.

Panasonic supplies a petal-shaped lens hood with the lens and this helps to keep flare at bay. Of course, you can force the issue by including the sun or other light source in the frame, but even then, the flare is controlled pretty well.

Thanks to the rounded 9-blade iris, the Panasonic S 35mm F1.8 captures attractive out of focus areas with circular highlights at the centre of the frame – although they can look a bit hard-edged. When highlights extend into the corners of the frame they start to take on a cat’s-eye shape and a few have some chromatic aberration.

Paired with the S1R’s contrast detection focusing and DFD (Depth From Defocus) technology, the S 35mm F1.8 does a good job of getting subjects sharp quickly in most situations. It’s only when the subject is close to the minimum focus distance of 24cm (0.79 feet) that it starts to become hesitant and prone to hunting. This is when a focus limiter switch would be nice, but the ability to adjust the focusing manually while AF is engaged pays dividends and the subject is soon rendered sharp.

As promised by Panasonic, the focusing is silent and focus breathing is controlled very well.

Panasonic Lumix S 35mm f1.8 review

Panasonic Lumix S 35mm F1.8 sample images

Follow the link to browse and download full-resolution images from the Panasonic Lumix S 35mm F1.8 on the Lumix S1R.

Panasonic Lumix S 35mm F1.8 image gallery

Verdict

Like Panasonic’s first three F/1.8 prime lenses, the Lumix S 35mm F/1.8 has a simple design and lacks handling frills like function buttons or a customisable ring, but it’s nice and compact, well made and weatherproof. It also produces high-quality results with well controlled chromatic aberration, flare, curvilinear distortion and vignetting.

This isn’t a lens that you need to worry about too much, you can use any of the aperture settings without fear of a dramatic dip image quality and it can be relied upon to get most subjects sharp quickly.

guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments