14mm Lens Review

My GF2 came with the Panasonic 14mm lens as part of the kit so I never realised how many street photographers haven’t tried this powerful little lens. Recently I’ve met more and more micro four thirds street shooters and I’m still shocked at how many of you haven’t tried the pocket rocket.

Panasonic 14mm pancake

The 14mm handles bright lights fine. There’s a bit of flare but it’s part of the charm.

Put simply, the 14mm is the best value lens for micro four thirds. If you’re building a kit for street photography then the 14m is an important part of your toolkit.

Three lens kit

The 14mm Panasonic is part of a holy trinity of fast and cheap primes:

  1. Wide angle 28mm equivalent: Panasonic 14mm
  2. Same viewing angle as the eye 50mm equivalent: Panasonic 20mm
  3. Portrait lens 90mm equivalent: Olympus 45mm

You could argue that the 12mm Olympus or the 17mm Olympus have their place in a three lens kit. But the 14mm is equivalent to the common 28mm wide angle lens and it’s a stunner on the street. It balances cost and performance much better than the 12mm or 17mm.

Panasonic 14mm v 20mm

The 14mm can capture crystal sharp images.

Fast glass

The wide aperture allows you to shoot it in lots of situations. It’s not a perfect low-light lens like the 20mm, but it’s more than wide enough to work for any street situation. The f2.5 aperture is enough to get you out of the kit zoom lens comfort zone and to allow for more creative control of your aperture.

Field of view

The wide angle field of view forces you to get close to your subject or to deliberately stand back and capture the context scene. There is something about the 28mm wide angle that really replicates the feel of being there. This is great for street shooting.

London Street Photo 14mm

The 14mm focuses fast for street photos.

Sharpness

Steve Huff loved the 14mm and found it visibally sharper than the 17mm Olympus. He also noted that you have to get close to your subject to start getting bokeh. This is true for most wide angle lenses, but once you’re close enough, the 14mm produces a creamy shallow depth of field.

The overall sharpness of the lens was a big part of making the GF2 really work for me. SLR Gear has a technical review. Suffice to say that the lens packs a lot of technical punch into a small space and a small price.

14mm Lens Review

The Panasonic 14mm is slim enough to make a GF series camera pocketable.

Creativity loves constraints

I have to admit that a day out shooting with the 14mm can feel pretty constraining. Craig Mod has a wonderfully visual 14mm Lumix review that was part of inspiring me to take up street photography. He talks about how prime lenses can act as positive creative constraints. Craig’s comment was that, “Creativity flourishes with the right boundaries.”

Street Portrait with 14mm Lens

The 14mm is slim enough that you can remain inconspicuous on the street.

Real life shooting

Image quality is important but the real test of a lens for a street photographer is how it performs on the street. The all internal focusing means that it’s fast, robust and reliable. The 14mm pancake really frees up your micro four thirds camera because it’s so small and light. The slim pancake style of the lens is not to be underestimated.

Lumix G 14mm f2.5

The 14mm is small and light so you can capture street scenes quickly.

14mm vs 20mm

The 20mm is widely considered to be the classic micro four thirds lens. If you could only have one lens then I agree that the 20mm would be it. If you compare them on image quality they are very close and the 20mm is slightly better. But the 14mm might be a better first prime lens to buy.

The 14mm is cheaper and smaller than the 20mm. Most importantly for a street shooter, the wide angle is a strong learning tool. If you’re building a kit then the 14mm will be a robust first step to build on. I’m naturally quite a shy person so being forced to fill the frame (by zooming with my feet) is a real adrenaline buzz.

Panasonic Lumix G 14mm F2.5 ASPH Lens H-H014

The 14mm fits a lot more than the 20mm into the frame.

I’ve now shot the 14mm on the GF2, G3, E-P3, and GX1. It’s a stunner on all of them. If you don’t have this lens then you have a wonderful couple of months ahead of you incorporating this pocket rocket into your life.

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16 thoughts on “14mm Lens Review

  1. I bought a 14mm last Christmas to put on my GF-1 as a part time replacement for the Ricoh GRD2 I was using.

    I bought the lens for £160 and picked it up from a relatively local high street independent store that was using their eBay UK shop to sell 3 copies off that were parts of split 2 lens GF2 kits.

    It hasn’t completely replaced the Ricoh since I love the absolute discretion of the GRD2 when you need it but I’ve been pleased with how right I was that the Panasonic 14mm coupled with an M43 camera produces [arguably] the best bang-for-buck street images available.

    Add the fact that it’s a pancake into the mix and, coupled with the 20mm pancake, I have all I need in 2 pockets [+ spare battery] to spend a day on the street.

    Happy Bunny :o)

  2. I must add that the Panny 14mm is the fastest focusing lens I’ve tried on MicroFour-Thirds cameras. It’s so fast that I simply couldn’t adapt to the 20mm f/1.7 after using this baby for a month. I also have a Panny/Leica 25mm which I hardly use as again it doesn’t focus as fast.

  3. I too have the 14mm and the 20mm. There’s a difference in resolution between the two lenses that gets me hooked on the 20mm, but I also love the 14mm. And the focusing is way better then the 20mm’s no doubt.

    If only my GF2 shutter were quieter… 🙂

    grouchomarx
    PS: great site you have here!

  4. After using Leica M6…I went into digital using older prime lenses. Picked up the 14 mm lumix, trying to adjust to using the camera for aperture priority because I do not like to shoot above iso 400. The lens performs well and got a feel for it and will keep it for as a 28mm which is about as wide as I go. Nice lens.
    Waiting for a minolta rokkor 20mm mf and skip the lumix 20mm.

  5. When it comes to the Olympus 17mm vs Panasonic 14mm there is simply no contest. The 17mm renders flat, low contrast and low quality images. It’s an embarrassment to the otherwise stunning lineup of quality lenses from Olympus. The 14mm is better in almost every way.

  6. I know that in low light situation 20mm focuses faster than the 14mm, when in normal light situation/day light, is the 14mm focuses faster than the 20mm?

  7. This is a fantastic review and has really helped me out on deciding which prime lens to choose for my Olympus PEN. Thanks so much 🙂

  8. Since this lens does not have image stabilization, how does it perform in a Panasonic camera without BIS. What is the usable limit of shutter speed (without shake/blur coming into picture) for this lens ?

  9. I have been using the same kit as you for most of my street photography and agree it is an amazing setup. I love your website and have learnt some great things about the GF2 from you. I’ve just got myself a Leica CL with a 40mm Nokton Classic F1.4 to start a new adventure. Have got an M mount on the way too, I’ve heard this lens on my GF2 and EP1 is awesome too!

  10. I own a Lumix G3 + 14-42mm which replaced my LX1 & Cannon 10D + 50mm but portraits and woodland walks with the G3 are not quite the same.

    So I need to cure the itch, after reading the review and all your views, I have prescribed myself the 14mm. I love fast aperture but the focus must also be fast, so I’ve ruled out the 20mm.

    Thank you and may my smile return 🙂

  11. I picked up an Olympus E-PM2 a few months ago which came with the M.Zuiko standard 14-42mm lens and included the 40-150mm variety as well. They both have their uses but I really was looking for a wider angle than the kit lens or the Panasonic Lumix 20mm, which came highly recommended by others for just everyday photos.

    I just ordered this lens and will let you know what I think of it after enough practice. Thanks for the great review!

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