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Date: 28/11/2016 | By: Heather

Nearly a year with the versatile Panasonic 14-140 v.2 by Peter Frailey


Nearly a year with the versatile Panasonic 14-140 v.2 by Peter Frailey

By Peter Frailey

In December of last year (2015) I decided it was a good time to add to my mFT lens collection.  As a bit of background, I also use Sony and Fuji mirrorless gear, but most of my equipment is mFT, having owned several Panasonic and Olympus cameras and a bunch of mFT lenses. My current mFT camera is the Olympus EM-1, a lovely and hugely capable camera which I have owned since it first become available. I also owned a Panasonic GX8 for a few months, and have some nice images from it and the 14-140.  For what it’s worth, the GX8, though lovely and robust, just didn’t feel right in my hands.

Panasonic 14-140 v.2
Panasonic 14-140 v.2

So last December I decided that my new lens would be the Panasonic 14-140mm F3.5-F5.6. This is the second version of the 14-140. I’d been thinking of this lens configuration (28-280 mm equivalent) for quite some time, as I know so many people who have enjoyed these “super zooms” (more typically 28-300 mm equivalent) on their respective camera systems, especially for travel. An all-in-one lens is a very attractive choice when you want to travel light and simple.

When the first Panasonic mFT version of the 14-140 was introduced in 2009 (with a slightly slower aperture of F4-F5.8), I was interested. But at an initial offering price of about $700, I was not interested enough to pull out the credit card.

“Golden Mantel Ground Squirrel at Mount Saint Helens” 1/400, F5.6, ISO 200, @140mm
“Golden Mantel Ground Squirrel at Mount Saint Helens”
1/400, F5.6, ISO 200, @140mm

Version 2 came along in 2013.  It has a lot going for it: a stepper motor, better optical image stabilization, a slightly faster lens, smaller, lighter, sharper in the corners (though arguably less sharp in the center according to at least one review), 58mm filter threads instead of 62mm, 1:4 (1:2 equivalent) magnification instead of 1:5, and closer minimum focusing distance. Looking back, I’m surprised I resisted.

E-M1 plus 14-140 plus Really Right Stuff L-bracket A nicely balanced setup Note: Though pictured here without the lens hood, I always use it.
E-M1 plus 14-140 plus Really Right Stuff L-bracket
A nicely balanced setup
Note: Though pictured here without the lens hood, I always use it.

Well, last December I saw the lens from a high quality N.Y. vendor for a $200 savings plus 4% rewards… and that had me smiling big time.  Out came the credit card. Ever since then, this lens has been almost permanently attached to on my E-M1.

“Lobster Boat in Morning Light” 1/640, F5.6, ISO 200, @140mm
“Lobster Boat in Morning Light”
1/640, F5.6, ISO 200, @140mm

How good is this lens?

My immediate response is “good enough”.  I’m happy with the images I have taken, at least when it comes to the lens’ contribution to the image pipeline. But I should say that it is not quite as sharp as the PRO 12-40 F2.8 by Olympus or the 35-100 F2.8 by Panasonic, both of which I also own. The 14-140 is light and small and I view this as a positive; however, on the flip side it does feel a bit more “plastic-y” than I had hoped. I suppose light, small and plastic go hand-in-hand. That being said, the parts fit together well and the focus and zoom rings are pretty smooth. There is a metal lens mount, as one would guess for a lens of this price.

“Sea Smoke at Sunrise” 1/2500, F5.6, ISO 200, @140mm
“Sea Smoke at Sunrise”
1/2500, F5.6, ISO 200, @140mm

Lens sharpness is always a primary concern, though folks will argue about how sharp is sharp enough.  For me, this lens is sharp enough for 95% of the pictures I take. I say 95% because if I see a shot that might possibly be a “portfolio shot” (the other 5% of my images and likely far fewer) I will want to switch out the 14-140 for the sharper and faster 12-40 or 35-100, assuming I even brought these two lenses with me. I do, however, realize that in most cases it will not make a difference in the appeal-factor of the resulting image…perhaps until you start printing bigger than 12’ x 18”.

“View From Cadillac Mountain, Mt. Desert Island” Shot toward the sun, 1/800, F8, ISO 200, @73
“View From Cadillac Mountain, Mt. Desert Island”
Shot toward the sun, 1/800, F8, ISO 200, @73

Other than that, for downsides I do notice some occasional vignetting which has always been fixable in post, and some annoying difficulty in finding focus at infinity when using small size apertures. It is especially annoying when using a polarizer, which of course reduces the amount of light reaching the sensor, artificially creating a low-light (or at least lower-light) situation. The work-around for me is to simply switch to manual focus when the occasional situation requires it.  (These comments are based on my experience with the lens on an Olympus body.  I suppose it might be possible that the focusing issue is non-existent on a Panasonic body.)

“Yellow Sailboat” 1/200, F5.6, ISO200, @97mm
“Yellow Sailboat”
1/200, F5.6, ISO200, @97mm

The versatility of the 14-140 is very comforting. And, amazingly, it only weighs 9.3 ounces or 265 grams, and measures only 3.25” in length when retracted (full expansion is 5“).

“Soup and Sandwiches” 1/320, F5.6, ISO 200, @37mm
“Soup and Sandwiches”
1/320, F5.6, ISO 200, @37mm
“Farmer’s Market, Bath, Maine” 1/160, F8, ISO 1000, @73mm
“Farmer’s Market, Bath, Maine”
1/160, F8, ISO 1000, @73mm

I love this lens for travel and landscapes.  For this I typically shoot at F4 (where available) through F8 depending on the desired depth of field.  I generally shoot in aperture priority and auto ISO.

“Rainforest, Olympic National Park” 1/30, F8, ISO 3200, @14mm
“Rainforest, Olympic National Park”
1/30, F8, ISO 3200, @14mm

The macro capabilities are excellent.  I take a lot of flower images in botanic gardens where one needs to stay on a walkway.  The fact that this lens has ample magnification (1:4 which is equivalent to 1:2 on a full frame camera) when fully zoomed to 140mm is fantastic for these situations. You can get a flower closeup image without getting, well, close up. Generally for flowers I shoot wide open and at least 1/200th.  That shutter speed might seem high, but all my flower work is outdoors and there is always some air movement.

“Brown Eyed Susan” 1/400, F5.6, ISO 400, @125mm
“Brown Eyed Susan”
1/400, F5.6, ISO 400, @125mm
“Tulip” 1/200, F5.6, ISO 400, @140mm
1/200, F5.6, ISO 400, @140mm

I am so confident in this lens that in June, on a two week mobile home vacation in the state of Washington, this was the only lens I took for the E-M1.  Even the 12-40 stayed home!  (Having said that, I also had a Fuji X100T, a fixed lens camera with a 35mm equivalent lens.)

“Lake Diablo” 1/200, F8, ISO 200, @14mm
“Lake Diablo”
1/200, F8, ISO 200, @14mm


“Mount Rainier” 1/1250, F4, ISO 200, @14mm
“Mount Rainier”
1/1250, F4, ISO 200, @14mm

The images shown above were all taken over the last 11 months and were picked to show the versatility and capabilities of the 14-140.  Post-processing is in Lightroom CC. Most of my images are taken at base ISO of 200.  There are a couple here shot at ISO 400 and 1000.  The one taken in the rainforest of Olympic National Park was at ISO 3200.

I have a larger collection (70) of higher resolution images taken with this lens on my Web site.  Here’s the link to that collection:

About the author: Heather Broster

Heather Broster was born in Canada, has lived in Japan and Italy but currently calls Wales home. She is a full-time gear tester at MirrorLessons. You can follow her on Google+, Twitter or Facebook!

  • Vincent In Geneva

    Thank you, we need commonsensical reviews! So the ideal travel kit looks something like a versatile zoom + one great prime lens. Mine are the new Olympus 12-100mm f4, and the gorgeous Panasonic-Leica 15mm 1.7.
    Best wishes from Geneva, Vincent

  • Paul Stuart

    great review i will show this to my farther who owns this lens 14-140 and i have just given him my old omd em-1 now i have purchased the mk2 agreed a super zoom lens worth owning paired with the pl 100-400mm 14-800 35 eqv you have most events covered in a light weight package .i do borrow it from time to time when i do want the bulk of f2.8 lenses

  • Peter F

    Great comments and observations Turbofrog. It’s amazing what Panasonic has delivered at less than 10 ounces. Yes, that Olympus 12-100 will be an awesome lens, though in a different league than the 14-140… at nearly 3x the price and 2x the weight. From what I’ve seen on a few websites it will loose nothing (except being f4 and not F2.8) to the 12-40 over shared focal lengths and apertures. Sweet lens, that 12-100, but the price has me crying.

  • Peter F

    Thanks, Wesley. I’d say, slap in on and go for a hike!
    Should be good enough for anything you might encounter 😉

  • Turbofrog

    There are some websites that will skin you alive for praising superzooms, but I think they are an invaluable addition to any photography kit. With the noise performance, dynamic range, and incredible image stabilization of modern cameras, they need for fast apertures for everyday shooting seems like a relic of the film days. But having that huge focal range available to you is invaluable, and it simply means that you get photos you would not get otherwise (unless you happen to be carrying two bodies with two zooms, which is a whole other level of commitment).

    In fact, the quality of the superzooms is one of the aspects that keeps me invested in M4/3. The Fuji 18-135 and Sony 18-200 and 24-240 are all big, heavy, and expensive compared to the M4/3 14-140 and 14-150, and they are certainly no better optically. One of those M4/3 gems with a tiny fast prime for low light shooting and a compact ultrawide, and there’s nearly nothing I can’t shoot, all in a kit that fits in the tiniest of camera bags.

    Once the prices come down on the 12-100/f4, I think I may be tempted to jump to it, since it looks like it eliminates the sharpness penalty that you mention, putting it well above the Fuji and Sony competition in terms of optical quality and versatility (though jumping into a similar size and weight class, sadly).

  • Wesley Coleman

    This is a great piece, my 14-150ii doesn’t get the attention it deserves. There really is something to be said for having such a huge zoom range in such a small package. Maybe I’ll slap it on and go on a hike this weekend!

  • Peter F

    Hello Calvin, Thank you. I am pleased that you enjoyed my article. Yes, Heather and Mathieu do an awesome job. Please note that I am a guest poster 😉 and am very pleased that Heather and Mathieu published my piece. As to your question, I have not used the Olympus 14-150, but Heather has a nice review of it here on mirrorlessons. If I were buying today instead of 11 months ago, it is quite likely I’d opt for the Olympus 14-150 v.2 due to the weather sealing and the fantastic USA pricing as of today ($400!! at the big Internet stores).

  • Peter F

    Thanks for your kind complement, Mal. I am so happy that Mathieu and Heather were interested in publishing my article, as this site is of the highest caliber IMO. I think like you do! On my recent trip to the state of Washington, The 14-140 was fixed to the E-M1. Where you have the 14mm mFT prime on your second camera, the GM1, I carried the Fuji X100T with its fixed 23mm (35mm full frame equivalent) lens.

  • Peter F

    Thanks, Mike. Sadly, I’ve not had a chance to use the Olympus 14-150. And right now, in the USA, there is a great price on the 14-150 in the big Internet stores. I think I saw $400! This is quite a bit less than the Panasonic current price of about $550. That’s as of today anyway (11/29/16). The Olympus 14-150 is certainly is a “good looker” and is weather sealed I think. Check out Mathieu and Heather’s review of the Oly 14-150 in the lens reviews section.

  • Mike Hendren

    Very nice review, Peter, and some great photos. Any chance you could compare this lens to the Olympus 14-150?

  • Mal Shephard

    Great article. Being from BC Canada and familiar with the haunts on your trip I was paticularly interested since I own the Version 1 of this lens which I shoot with a Panasonic GX7. Frankly apart from the weight and size, both of which the V2 seems to fix I like this lens a lot more than I expected and like you tend to leave it on my GX7 most of the time. I find the at the full 14mm setting it isn’t as nice as my prime Pany 14 mm lens but other than that it is surprisingly good. I picked up a brand new GM1 with the kit short zoom lens for a steal and now when shooting the great outdoors in the Pacific NW I keep the GM1 with the 14mm lens attached, in my pocket (yes it fits easily) and carry the GX7 with 14-140 attached around my neck or wrist. Your article might just tempt me to sell my V1 and pick up the V2 though to make the kit that much lighter and compact.

  • Calvin Lewis

    Great piece! I have version 1 and while the zoom rubber has loosened it still works well. It would like to get version 2 but sadly electronics are pricey here in New Zealand. How would you compare this to the Olympus version since it has IS absolutely weather sealing.

    I love what you both do here!

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