Review: Panasonic 50mm f1.4 Lumix S Pro (A Beauty of the L Mount)

The Panasonic 50mm f1.4 Lumix S Pro is an exceptional lens that is held back by a system that needs to evolve.

Something really amazed me during the presentation of the Panasonic 50mm f1.4 Lumix S Pro. They compared it to a Zeiss Otus lens. They specifically said that that’s what they were going for when it came to image quality. To be honest, they’ve either met or exceeded it. Further, they’ve added autofocus and some of the best weather sealing that I’ve seen. With 11 aperture blades at the heart of the Panasonic 50mm f1.4 Lumix S Pro, one could say that it’s doing what the Sony G Master system is striving for. But that would leave out the Panasonic 50mm f1.4 Lumix S Pro’s biggest weakness.

Pros and Cons

Created with RNI Films app. Preset ‘Fuji Natura 1600 +’

Pros

  • Very sharp
  • Beautiful bokeh
  • Nice colors
  • Sharp images
  • With Panasonic’s latest firmware updates, it focuses surprisingly quick.
  • Well built
  • Super well weather sealed

Cons

  • Deserves better autofocus camera bodies
  • That price, oof!
  • It’s very big

Gear Used

We tested the Panasonic 50mm f1.4 Lumix S Pro with the Panasonic S1. The camera had the latest firmware updates as of January 2020.

Panasonic 50mm f1.4 Lumix S Pro 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

Taken from our first impressions post

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

Created with RNI Films app. Preset ‘Fuji Astia 100F v.3’

We took the Panasonic 50mm f1.4 Lumix S Pro out into some of the most insane rain NYC saw in December 2019. When we posted the images, folks were wondering whether or not it would survive. Indeed, it did. The Panasonic 50mm f1.4 Lumix S Pro is built every bit as well as the products from their competitors. We decided that this wasn’t enough though. So to simulate more real-world testing, we took it to the Polar Bear Plunge of 2020. With the seawater up to my knees and the Panasonic 50mm f1.4 Lumix S Pro even getting splashed, the duo continued to work. Toughness like that is what working professionals need. And this totally does it.

Ease of Use

Created with RNI Films app. Preset ‘Agfa Optima 200’

The Panasonic 50mm f1.4 Lumix S Pro falls into one of two categories. I’m the type of photographer that likes aperture rings around the lens. So if you’re one of us, then you’ll really like the Panasonic 50mm f1.4 Lumix S Pro. However, I wish the aperture ring were fatter to grip onto. If you’re a Fujifilm user, you’ll really like that the aperture ring is towards the back and not the front the way it would be with a Leica.

On the other hand, if you don’t like aperture rings, then you can set it to the A mode and just use the dials on the camera to control it. Further than that, there is also a focus clutch around the manual focus ring. By all means, this is a lens designed for a photographer that has years on them. From the start, it seemed like a system that appealed to those who used DSLRs. This lens only reinforces that.

Autofocus

Here’s an image that we shot before the Panasonic S1 received an update in late December. As you can see, it’s not perfectly in focus.

However, in better lighting and during a real photojournalistic event, the Panasonic 50mm f1.4 Lumix S Pro and the S1 worked well together. The same performance is to be said for lower light situations. With all this in mind, It’s only just better. It’s still not going to keep up with the Sony a7 series, Fujifilm X series and Canon RF series of cameras. Instead, it’s more akin to the Nikon Z6 after its latest firmware update. Ultimately, just know that it’s usable. But to ensure that you get the shot, I’d set your camera to continuous shooting burst.

This is pretty sad honestly. While this lens is able to exhibit great potential and results, it can’t realize either of these because the cameras aren’t up to snuff. Let’s hope that changes and that the Pansonic S1 becomes the real competitor to Sony that so many folks thought it would be at Photokina a while back. To that end, don’t use it for street photography.

Image Quality

Editor’s Note: Some of these images were subject to basic edits to simulate what you folks would do.

Now with all heartfelt honesty, the strongest feature of the Panasonic 50mm f1.4 Lumix S Pro is the image quality. Photojournalists, wedding photographers, landscape photographers, portrait photographers and those who just like pixel peeping will admire what the Panasonic 50mm f1.4 Lumix S Pro can do. This lens is so sharp that it makes the Panasonic S1 seem like it’s a higher megapixel camera. Beyond that it has beautiful bokeh, can focus closely, and has no major problems at all. Let’s show you!

Bokeh

Of course, I’m focused closely on his face. But this is how you’ll be able to see the bokeh. With ambient lighting, you can tell how creamy the bokeh is. It’s gorgeous. And we’re very happy with the results that we have here.

Chromatic Aberration

In our tests we found no issues with fringing, major distortion, or anything else. So let’s move on. This passed all of Capture One 20’s tests with ease.

Color Rendition

Just look at this! It’s far different than the muted stuff that Panasonic has put out in the past. Instead, it’s vivid and beautiful. Further, it’s very unique in its look. This doesn’t remind me of a super saturated Sony shot or the warm photos that a Canon sensor will render for me. Nor does it seem to have the tint that I’d get from a Nikon. Instead, the Panasonic 50mm f1.4 Lumix S Pro renders it owns unique colors. Bravo!

Sharpness

When the autofocus is on, it’s spot on! The sharpness of the Panasonic 50mm f1.4 Lumix S Pro is uncanny. It really makes the Panasonic S1 seem like it’s actually a higher megapixel camera. And that’s awesome. This could even be the sharpest lens that Panasonic has right now.

Extra Image Samples

Conclusions

Likes

  • Image quality
  • Weather sealing
  • Build quality overall

Dislikes

  • Price
  • It needs better camera bodies
  • It’s very big

The Panasonic 50mm f1.4 Lumix S Pro is a truly exceptional lens. It really delivers where it counts with image quality. This lens is not only very sharp but also delivers beautiful bokeh. Portrait photographers will appreciate the colors as will wedding photographers and photojournalists. Those who travel will like the build quality. However, all of these photographers won’t like the size. Combine this with the mammoth bodies that the L Mount has right now, and you’ll realize that it’s all going to take up a lot of space in your camera bag. $2,297.99 also seems a bit steep for a lens like this. But once the system gets better camera bodies, this lens will prove itself to be a very worthy long term investment.

We’re giving the Panasonic 50mm f1.4 Lumix S Pro 4 out of 5 stars. Want one? They’re $2,297.99 as of writing this review.