Panasonic Lumix S Pro 50mm f/1.4 Review
Perfect, ideal, faultless, flawless, exquisite, superb, glorious, unmatched – these are some of the adjectives I can use to describe the Panasonic Lumix S PRO 50mm f/1.4 for L Mount cameras such as the Panasonic Lumix S1, Panasonic Lumix S1R, the Leica SL2 and the Sigma FP.
If you are a professional wedding, event and portrait photographer or an enthusiast who uses the L Mount system who has to have the very best in image quality, then this impressive full frame L mount lens is for you.
Panasonic has referred to this lens as a reference lens, which simply means they believe it is the best in class for all other to measure up to.
I will discuss the lens from a wedding, event and portrait photographer point of view with images to match to see if this fast 50mm lens is right for you.
Panasonic Lumix S PRO 50mm f/1.4 Lens Specs
- Sharpness and image quality
- Fast and accurate focusing
- Build quality
- Large size
- Prime normal-length lens is designed for full-frame L-mount mirrorless cameras, however it can also be used with APS-C models where it will provide a 75mm equivalent focal length.
- Bright f/1.4 maximum aperture is well-suited for working in low-light conditions and also provides greater control over the focus position when using shallow depth of field techniques.
- Two aspherical elements help to minimize distortions and spherical aberrations throughout the zoom range in order to maintain edge-to-edge sharpness and illumination.
- Three extra-low dispersion elements greatly reduce chromatic aberrations and color fringing in order to produce a high degree of clarity and color accuracy.
- A double focus system employs both a linear motor and a stepping motor to deliver impressively fast, precise, and quiet autofocus performance.
- Manual focus clutch allows you to simply push or pull the focusing range to quickly switch between AF and MF focusing modes.
- Splash, dust, and freezeproof design benefits working in inclement weather conditions down to -14°F.
- Rounded 11-blade diaphragm contributes to a pleasing bokeh quality.
- Dimensions: 3.54 x 5.12″ / 90 x 130 mm
- Weight: 2.1 lb / 955 g
Build & Ergonomics
The Panasonic Lumix S PRO 50mm f/1.4 is Leica certified and given the Pro designation, meaning it will deliver the highest possible image quality. While that may be marketing mumbo-jumbo, it doesn’t mean it isn’t true.
The lens is the largest sized and heaviest 50mm f/1.4 lens I have ever used in any system. I don’t think I would shoot this lens without world class IBIS such as in the Lumix S1 that I own, as that size and weight will add shake blur to my images without it.
I’m very confident in it’s weather sealing and have used it in the rain multiple times this wedding season.
It’s also seen the usual hustle and bustle that comes with shooting weddings and has been able to withstand a few table bumps in the tight confines my clients homes and hotel room during bridal prep.
At this time of writing, Panasonic is offering a very generous 3 year warranty on this and other lenses – see here if it’s still available.
The Lumix S PRO 50mm f/1.4 has a manual focus clutch for instant change over and back. I was worried that I would be accidentally bumping it during shooting but that has not been an issue.
I have occasionally activated the manual focus clutch while taking it out of my Think Tank Security Roller Bag and would love the option to turn this off in the menu in a future firmware update. However, it’s not a huge hindrance at all.
The lens also features an aperture ring, and this is something I really have to get used to. Film shooters will be accustomed to this and probably love it.
As someone who started in the digital age in 2008, this is my first experience with an aperture ring and I admit I rarely have used it, choosing to simply set the lens to A and change f-stops via a camera control dial. This is also a feature I’d like the option to disable in menu.
The Panasonic Lumix S PRO 50mm f/1.4 Lens is a very fast focusing lens despite the large chunk of glass.
As I get more accustomed to the eye AF functionality of my Lumix S1 camera, I’ve been using it more and more with this lens at f/1.4 for a lovely out of focus fall off.
It is an extremely accurate lens as well, even when shot wide open.
The Panasonic Lumix S PRO 50mm f/1.4 lens will give you outstanding image quality whether it be event, wedding or studio photography.
I have shot with many 50mm lenses of various bands throughout the years and have found them to be soft.
Like many photographers I started out with a “nifty-fifty” and soon moved on. I adopted an attitude toward these lenses and would often talk negatively of them to the community of photographers I know.
I attended a Panasonic Lumix touch and try event and shot a model with this 50mm f/1.4 and it was then I understood why they called it a “reference lens”. After pixel peeing the images in camera I turned to the counter of the camera store and made my purchase right then and there.
I like very sharp lenses but I also like lovely fall off when shooting wide open and this lens has both of those qualities.
There is absolutely no chromatic aberration, even in very contrasty scenes, and distortion is non existent as well.
Value for Money
The Panasonic Lumix S PRO 50mm f/1.4 comes in at around $2,200. This is not a casual purchase.
If you are a wedding, event or portrait photographer who makes their living in photography and own or are considering owning an L Mount camera, you cannot go wrong with purchasing this lens.
The Panasonic Lumix S PRO 50mm f/1.4 is an incredibly quick and accurately focusing lens with sublime image quality. It will also save you time in post as this lens has absolutely no flaws.
Concurrently, if you are an enthusiast who covets the best in image quality in their camera equipment, then this lens is also for you.
For the starter photographer whose instructor told them to get a fast 50mm and start shooting, there are obviously also far cheaper options that are perfectly good lenses.
Alternatives for L Mount in a standard lens include the less expensive Sigma 5omm f/1.4 Art, the higher priced Leica Summilux-SL 50mm f/1.4 and Leica APO-Summicron-SL 50mm f/2… as well as the Sigma 45mm f/2.8 lens, which are all tiny in comparison to S Pro.
Panasonic Lumix S PRO 50mm f/1.4 Review | Conclusion
The Panasonic Lumix S PRO 50mm f/1.4 lens is arguably the best in class, and a true reference lens as Panasonic has dubbed it.
All of the new batch of full frame mirrorless lenses from all brands are leaving their DSLR counterparts in the dust. If you seek out lens reviews on the Canon R, Nikon Z etc you will read these same thoughts.
We also seem to be in an era of large lenses unlike we’ve ever seen before. Perhaps more pancake lenses like the Sigma 45mm f/2.8 will come, but on a whole – big is in.
As someone who has shot the very portable m4/3 system for years in the Olympus OMD EM1 II and lenses like the Olympus 25mm f/1.2, this is quite the shock… but I am adapting.
For me this is definitely a lens I plan to use for years to come. I find it perfect for obliterating a messy bridal prep area and it’s my new favorite for environmental portraits at engagement sessions and events.
Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.