First Impressions: Panasonic Lumix S Pro 24-70mm F2.8 (Super Sharp!)

The Panasonic Lumix S Pro 24-70mm f2.8 is arguably the best zoom we’ve used for the system so far.

The results of Panasonic Lumix S Pro 24-70mm f2.8 will mean a lot for the company. In my opinion, it’s one of three lenses that will determine the success of the L mount alliance in its early stages. Along with the Panasonic 50mm f1.4 and the Sigma 35mm f1.2, these lenses are some of the options most targeted to professional photographers. Leica has an excellent selection of glass, but let’s be honest: it also comes at a premium. We’re not sure how many professional photographers will reach for Leica lenses. But, they’ll reach for Sigma and Panasonic due to the price and performance they offer. If Panasonic can fix its autofocus algorithms, the Panasonic Lumix S Pro 24-70mm f2.8 will make their cameras an excellent contender vs the rest of the options on the market.

Editor’s Note: Panasonic flew us and other journalists to Hollywood to play with this and the S1H. We find the latter to not really be for photographers. Either way, Phoblographer staff (including me) are trained to offer overly honest coverage when being jet set, fed, hydrated, and arguably doing things that make everyone else jealous on Instagram. We opt to keep it real.

Tech Specs

Specs are taken from Adorama

General

Brand
Panasonic
Lens Series
Panasonic S
Color
Black
Lens Type
Wide Angle Zoom
Lens Mount
L-Mount
Format Compatibility
Full Frame

Focus

Focus Type
Auto Focus
Closest Focus Distance
0.37m / 1.21ft

Optics

Focal Length
24-70mm
Angle Of View
84 Degree (Wide) – 34 degree (Tele)
35mm Equivalent Focal Length
N/A
Maximum Aperture
f/2.8
Minimum Aperture
f/22
Maximum Magnification
Approx. 0.25x
Filter Size
82mm

Construction

Lens Elements / Groups
18 elements in 16 groups (3 aspherical lenses, 4 ED lenses, 1 UHR lens)
Diaphragm Blades
11 diaphragm blades / Circular aperture diaphragm
Dimensions Diameter x Length
3.58″ x 5.51″ (91 x 140 mm)
Weight
32.9 oz / 935 g (excluding lens cap, lens rear cap and lens hood)

Features

Image Stabilization
No

Ergonomics

With the Panasonic Lumix S Pro 24-70mm f2.8, photographers are getting mostly the same thing that they’ve come to expect from the industry. But there are a few differences. For example, inside the lens is 11 aperture blades. The only other company to offer this is Sony. Beyond that, there is a focus clutch mechanism with focus distances.

The Panasonic Lumix S Pro 24-70mm f2.8 is characterized by two big rings. The ring towards the back is a zoom ring. The front ring is for focusing.

When extended, the Panasonic Lumix S Pro 24-70mm f2.8 doesn’t become much more substantial. That’s nice to know when you combine this fact with the light weight of the lens.

Here’s a view of the focus ring pulled back and the clutch system activated. This will be great for cinema and documentary work.

On the front of the Panasonic 24-70mm f2.8 is an 82mm filter thread. Keep that in mind for ND or other kinds of filters.

Build Quality

The Panasonic Lumix S Pro 24-70mm f2.8 is built every bit as reliably as one would expect for a lens in the mirrorless camera category targeted to professional photographers. The exterior is plastic and similar to the 24-105mm lens option from Panasonic. But the Panasonic 24-70mm f2.8 has a few differences. The biggest one with regard to build quality is the focus clutch mechanism. With the pre-production version of the Panasonic Lumix S Pro 24-70mm f2.8 we used, the clutch was a bit loose. But Panasonic assured us that the final version will be better. In fact, they’re the ones that brought the issue up with us without us even checking it out first. It’s designed to be weather resistant, and Panasonic said that it’s as durable as their G series.

At the mount, you can find a rubber ring. To be honest, Panasonic’s statement about durability is pretty paltry. I’ll be sure to test this in the rain when I get it though.

Autofocus

Please note that we’ve made these images black and white for photographers to see the differences a bit more clearly. We used the Panasonic Lumix S Pro 24-70mm f2.8 with the Panasonic S1R in tracking continuous focusing mode. Besides the reticle being challenging to see, the system seemed to track the subjects adequately. I’m saying the word adequately as I feel like both Canon and Sony have better results with their full-frame mirrorless options. This saddens me: I really, really want the L mount alliance to succeed here.

As you can see in these sequences, I was tracking the fencer closer to me. She went in and out of focus, but the hit rate was usable. This isn’t the Sony a9 or even the Sony a7r Mk VI at all. But it’s decent.

Where I was quite shocked though was with face detection. The Panasonic Lumix S Pro 24-70mm f2.8 still isn’t up to par with Sony’s or Canon’s face or eye detection. Even if the system says that the face is in focus, it isn’t at times. For professional photographers, this will be a bit of an annoyance. What it means in practical terms is that you need to choose the focusing point yourself. After you select your subject’s eye, you can shoot your portrait.

Image Quality

Please note that, on our test, there were no strobes available for use. However, when using the Panasonic Lumix S Pro 24-70mm f2.8 with the Panasonic S1R, we were quite amazed at the image quality. This is a sharp lens when it focuses correctly. Professional photographers are going to be pleased if the final image quality is like this or better. For what it’s worth, we were using a pre-production sample of the Panasonic Lumix S Pro 24-70mm f2.8. To that end, this isn’t the final image quality. However, those 11 aperture blades are making beautiful bokeh. Still, I prefer what a fixed prime lens can offer me instead. I’m sure many others would agree.

Some of these images were subjected to exposure enhancement. But no contract adjustment, clarity, or sharpness was added to these photos. They were run through Capture One Pro with JPEG Mini.

First Impressions

The Panasonic Lumix S Pro 24-70mm f2.8 seems pretty attractive thus far. The pre-production model we used provided very sharp images. Our main qualm has to do with the autofocus. But Panasonic needs to fix this overall. We’re waiting for a full review unit to come in. We’re really hopeful for this lens as it’s going to be one of the biggest reasons to buy into the system.

Stay tuned for a full review.