First Impressions: Panasonic 50mm f1.4 Lumix S Pro (Panasonic L Mount)

With the Panasonic 50mm f1.4, the company is creating what they call an absolutely no compromise lens.

The last time we heard of a no compromise lens of any sort, it was with Zeiss–but the Panasonic 50mm f1.4 S Pro is looking to do what Zeiss did and vastly improve. For starters, Zeiss didn’t give the user autofocus and those lenses didn’t have weather resistance. For what they charged, I was always shocked at this. With the Panasonic 50mm f1.4 S Pro though, the company hasn’t only created a massive 50mm f1.4 lens, but they’ve given it autofocus capabilities, a clutch to bring it back to manual focus, an aperture ring, hard stops on the focusing ring, weather sealing, and a nice feel. Best of all, they’re not doing it at the Zeiss price of well over $5,000. Instead, the Panasonic 50mm f1.4 S Pro is going for $2,299. That’s still pricey for a 50mm lens, but it’s promising to be a very special one.

3/1/2019: We’ve got an update with portraits shot by Reviews Editor Paul Ip.

Tech Specs

  • High possible quality you can make according to Panasonic
  • This is the no compromise performance lens
  • 11 blade aperture
  • Dual Focus Motor system
  • 2 aspheric lenses
  • Focus clutch mechanism
  • Dust, splash and freeze resistant
  • The first aspheric optic in the path is larger than 40mm, one of the largest ever made
  • $2299

Ergonomics

Look at the Panasonic 50mm f1.4 S Pro. The lens is said to be full weather sealed, and that means that it doesn’t need a 77mm UV filter to complete the sealing. For what it is though, that’s a massive front element.

Looking at the Panasonic 50mm f1.4 S Pro, you can see a number of critical controls. There is no image stabilization built into this lens for the reason that the Panasonic S1 has it built into the sensor. But what we see here instead is the aperture ring and the focusing ring. The focusing ring can be pulled back and turned to switch it to manual focus immediately. It’s nice, and there honestly need to be more lenses like this. Olympus has implemented it to be a standard for much of their glass and Fujifilm does it for lots of their wider lenses.

Build Quality

The Panasonic 50mm f1.4 S Pro is said to have weather sealing and we can see that at the base mount here. There is a rubber ring–though admittedly this is a small ring akin to that of what Sony used to put on their lenses when the FE system first started up. Now, Sony and the like use much bigger seals. We’ll need to test this in a real life situation, but I’m a bit concerned from what this Panasonic 50mm f1.4 S Pro prototype has shown me.

Ease of Use

“How do you operate a lens with an aperture ring?” If that’s your question, you’re going to probably have usability issues. Hopefully, you can set the aperture ring to A mode and perhaps operate it via controls on the Panasonic S1–we’re not 100% sure of this just yet. But if you have no problems using an aperture ring, then you’ll be fine. Photographers coming from the Sony FE prime, Fujifilm GF, Fujifilm X series, and Leica series of lenses will perhaps have the most simple time adapting. A number of Panasonic’s other primes also had aperture rings–though those rings were more like Leica M lenses and placed towards the front of the body.

Autofocus

The prototype of the Panasonic 50mm f1.4 S Pro that we were playing with seemed to have fast enough focus. Comparatively, I’d rate it to be up there with what Sony produces but I’m going to need to do far more thorough testing. I’m highly doubtful that folks would be using this lens in the confines of an office most of the time.

Image Quality

Since the Panasonic 50mm f1.4 S Pro that we used was a prototype, we couldn’t take home images with it. But that’s probably going to change soon.

UPDATE: Here are image samples

Pauleth Ip / The Phoblographer

Pauleth Ip / The Phoblographer

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Pauleth Ip / The Phoblographer

Pauleth Ip / The Phoblographer

First Impressions

I think what Panasonic is doing with the Panasonic 50mm f1.4 S Pro is pretty admirable. But as a system being targeted to the professional, I also wonder how this lens will do in terms of sales. As it is, if a user wanted to build a set of primes for the L mount they have this and a number of Leica L mount prime lenses. We’re going to have to see how the Panasonic 50mm f1.4 S Pro performs in real life, daily situations. From what I’m seeing so far, the overall experience seems to be akin to that of a DSLR due to the large size.