The Best Nifty 50 Made! Panasonic 50mm F1.8 S Review

I’m a huge fan of Panasonic’s smaller lenses. And I think Panasonic has a lot to teach the rest of the photo industry. A case in point is the Panasonic 50mm f1.8 S. It checks off all the needs one could have and does so at an affordable price. What’s even more exciting is that it does this better than any other brand on the market. And if you’re going to buy any lens for the L-mount, this is the absolutely essential one. In fact, it could probably be the lens that makes you swap systems.

Editor’s Note: I bought the Panasonic 50mm f1.8 S of my own accord. And trust me, I’m glad I did! We declare this to let everyone know we aren’t paid by manufacturers, and our reviews are honest. We’ll also receive an affiliate commission on the purchases made using our links.

Too Long, Didn’t Read

The Panasonic 50mm f1.8 S is an incredible lens. It’s affordable, focuses quickly, has great image quality, is weather sealed, lightweight, and handy. Panasonic has taken the nifty 50 and really stepped it up. The rest of the industry should recognize this.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Beautiful image quality
  • Fast focus to get the first target
  • Weather sealing
  • Small size
  • Lightweight
  • Incredibly affordable for what it is

Cons

  • I wish it were metal
  • Not so fantastic and reliable autofocus tracking, but good for one shot. When it hits, it nails it

Gear Used

We tested the Panasonic 50mm f1.8 S with the Leica SL2s and a Flashpoint flash.

Tech Specs

Specs table taken from LensRentals.

35mm-Equivalent Focal Length

75mm

Angle of View

47°

Aperture Blades

9, Rounded

Autofocus

Autofocus

Brand

Panasonic

Compatibility

Full Frame

Diameter

2.9″

Extra Low-Dispersion Elements

1

Filter Size

67.0mm

Fluorite Elements

22

Focal Length

50.0-50.0

Groups/Elements

8/9

Hood Included

Yes

Image Stabilization

No

Item Type

Lens

Length

3.0″

Lens Type

Normal Range and Normal Range

Max Aperture

1.8

Maximum Magnification

0.14x

Mfr. Model Number

S-S50

Minimum Aperture

22.0

Minimum Focusing Distance

1.5feet

Mount

L Mount

Ultra High-Refractive Index Elements

1

Weight

0.7 lb.

Innovations

While not necessarily innovative, Panasonic has made the first 50mm f1.8 under $500 that boasts weather sealing. Compared to the rest of the industry, there’s no compromise here. Sony’s 50mm f1.8 doesn’t have weather sealing and has a few issues. Canon’s doesn’t have weather sealing either. Nikon’s has weather sealing but is pricier. And Sigma and Leica don’t make a nifty 50. In the full-frame camera world, Panasonic is teaching the masterclass on the nifty 50.

Ergonomics

The Panasonic 50mm f1.8 S has a 67mm filter thread in the front. So, of course, you know this isn’t a huge lens.

Here’s a view of it from the side. The only control is the switch on the side. Of course, there’s also the focusing ring that’s covered in ridged rubber.

Here’s another view from the top. The lens has a fully plastic body, and the only major control is the focusing ring. It also provides a lot of the grip needed for the lens.

Build Quality

Here’s where I’m slightly torn. First off, I wish the Panasonic 50mm f1.8 S had a metal exterior and weather sealing. I’ve got personal qualms with plastic and the environment. But I know that the industry moves like a mummified sloth. So I’m not going to hold that against Panasonic.

Through and through, the Panasonic 50mm f1.8 S is weather resistant. So you’ll have few worries about that. We took it in the rain, got splashes on it in the community garden, and it kept working. You can’t ask for anything more, really. Then in the hands, it’s small and lightweight. The rubber ring provides more than enough grip. And even on the heavy Leica SL2s, it feels balanced. Seriously, I can’t complain here.

Ease of Use

Of course, this is a nifty 50. So it’s easy to use. Put the Panasonic 50mm f1.8 S on any L-mount camera, and it should perform very well. There’s a focusing switch on one side. So, make sure you don’t accidentally hit this. But in all my time using the lens, that didn’t happen.

Autofocus

Here’s where I’m super impressed. The Panasonic 50mm f1.8 S focuses incredibly quick. It outperforms even Panasonic’s 50mm f1.4 Lumix S Pro lens. When it comes to nailing a shot the first time around, it does a great job. Where it starts to trip up a bit is with tracking a subject. The Leica SL2s is a pretty capable camera, but even this combo has a few issues.

I didn’t test it on Panasonic camera bodies. But for what it’s worth, the Leica SL2s has some of the most advanced and best autofocusing for photojournalism in the L-mount. And I know I’m not alone on that though. I recently shipped my Leica SL2s to Reviewer Brittany Smith, and she said it ran laps around other cameras. 

Speaking in terms of photojournalism, I can’t complain about the Leica SL2s with the Panasonic 50mm f1.8 S. Combined with the face/body detection mode, it does a great job.

Image Quality

The Panasonic 50mm f1.8 S excels in pretty much every category of our testing. It can offer nice bokeh, beautiful color, and sharpness. It doesn’t have character per se, but it also doesn’t exhibit anything that folks these days would consider to be flaws. Again, we used the Panasonic 50mm f1.8 S with the Leica SL2s in vivid mode. 

Bokeh

The Panasonic 50mm f1.8 S has 9 aperture blades. And of course, that’s more than enough to give it creamy bokeh. Is it the creamiest 50mm? No. I’ve seen creamier for sure. But I think that for a 50mm f1.8, it’s more than usable.

Above is a photo from the Panasonic 50mm f1.4 Lumix S Pro. That lens has 11 aperture blades. And it’s far creamier when it comes to bokeh. Below is the Leica 50mm f1.4 SL. Again, the f1.4 lenses are creamier. But what else would you expect?

Color Rendition

The Panasonic 50mm f1.8 S renders beautiful, vivid colors. Combined with the vivid color rendering of the Leica SL2s, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how beautiful they are. This transfers into the ProStandard ICC profile in Capture One. There’s going to be so much more information for you to edit if you wish.

Lens Character

This lens has no issues with fringing or major distortion problems. But at the same time, it also doesn’t have any character to it the way a Leica lens would. It doesn’t have a specific “look” to it.

Sharpness

The image of this eggplant was shot with a flash bouncing off of the soil to illuminate it from below for a more balanced shot. As you can see, the Panasonic 50mm f1.8 S can be pretty sharp when a flash is added to the scene. This is still something that LEDs can’t do.

Extra Image Samples

From day one, The Phoblographer has been huge on transparency. Nothing from this review is sponsored. Further, lots of folks will post reviews that show lots of editing in the photos. The problem then becomes that anyone and everyone can do the same thing. It’s not showing what the lens can do. So we have a section in our Extra Image Samples area to show edited and unedited photos. From this, you can make a decision for yourself.

Edited

Unedited

Conclusions

Likes

  • Small size
  • Lightweight
  • Fast focusing
  • Build quality – it’s weather sealed
  • Image quality is good!
  • Pretty affordable for everything they’re stuffing in here 

Dislikes

  • I wish it had a metal body.

The Panasonic 50mm f1.8 S is a pretty obvious choice for the Editor’s Choice award. Panasonic has done what loads of manufacturers have refused to. They’ve made a 50mm f1.8 that’s under $500 and boasts all the bells and whistles possible. The only other weather-sealed 50mm f1.8 is from Nikon, which is more pricey for arguably worse performance. But Panasonic did it! This thing has everything. It focuses quickly for photojournalism work (but not necessarily for street photography with enough reliability). It’s weather-sealed and lightweight. And most of all, it delivers good image quality. 

For $449, you really can’t complain. That’s why I’m giving this lens 5 out of 5 stars and the Editor’s Choice Award.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.