Panasonic Lumix 24-105mm f/4 Review
The landscaped has changed. It used to be that when a manufacturer designated one of their lenses a kit lens, you could expect lower quality build and optics with a price to correspond.
With the release of the Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm f/4 Macro OIS as part of the kick-off of their new full frame L mount system, the company has broken away from that unwritten rule and offered up a high quality and versatile lens that, while not cheap, doesn’t break the bank.
As a wedding and portrait photographer, the expansive focal length and macro capabilities really makes it a valuable lens to have.
Landscape photographers will also enjoy the versatility and want to have it in their bag for high resolution cameras such as the Panasonic Lumix S1R or Leica SL2.
Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm f/4 Macro OIS Specs
- Versatility in reach
- Macro capability
- Relatively light in weight and small in size
- Robust build quality and weather sealing
- Lens OIS
- Focus and zoom rings tend to collect dust
- Relatively slow aperture of f/4
- Maximum magnification – 0.5x
- Macro Reproduction Ratio – 1:2
- Minimum focusing distance – 11.81″ / 30 cm
- Image stabilization – Yes
- Dimensions – 3.31 x 4.65″ / 84 x 118 mm
- Weight – 1.5 lb / 680 g
Build & Ergonomics
The Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm f/4 Macro OIS lens features a splashproof, dustproof, and freezeproof design that will work in inclement weather conditions down to -14°F (-25°C).
The lens is relatively lightweight at 1.5 lbs (680 g) which may be important to you considering the Panasonic S1 and Leica SL bodies are more DSLR-like in size and weight.
While the focus and zoom rings are very smooth, they do tend to attract a lot of dust – so you will need to keep up with your maintenance on this lens. The side buttons for OIS, AF/MF and focal length lock (24mm only) are solid and I have never triggered them accidentally.
As with most lenses in this focal length, the Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm f/4 Macro OIS does not focus internally, which could pose an issue with some macro shots.
While this is not a true 1:1 macro lens, it is terrific for someone like me who needs close focusing for wedding rings, etc.
When I jumped into the L mount alliance, full frame mirrorless world with the Panasonic Lumix S1 camera body and this Lumix S 24-105mm f/4 lens, I was concerned about focusing in low light at F/4.
I came to find that it really wasn’t much of an issue with the high ISO performance of the camera and a bit of fill-in bounce flash from my Profoto A1.
The added bonus was the close up focusing ability allowing me to get a lot of detail shots of rings, garters, etc, quickly and without changing lenses.
While the Panasonic Lumix S PRO 24-70mm f/2.8 lens was not available to me at launch, even today it’s really a toss up on which of these lenses you want to purchase, as this “kit lens” focuses very fast in all kinds of light.
The in-body image stabilization in the Panasonic Lumix S1 and Panasonic Lumix S1R is incredible and almost as good as the leader in the area, the Olympus OMD EM1X.
However, with the macro capabilities of this lens, shake can be even more prevalent so having OIS built into this lens was a smart choice.
At this writing, all L Mount cameras have contrast-based AF, with Panasonic flavoring this with their own DFD technology.
In the past, this type of AF would have trouble focusing in backlit situations. I’m happy to report that this should not be a concern unless you are in an extremely backlit scene.
While focusing speed and accuracy also depends on the camera being used, the lenses certainly play a part.
While not a Leica-certified Pro lens, the Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm f/4 Macro OIS is no slouch in the AF department.
I’ve found that the new crop of full frame mirrorless lenses are simply sharper than their DSLR counterparts. The Lumix S 24-105mm f/4 Macro OIS lives up to that.
I’m not a pixel peeper by any means, but I can certainly tell when I bring images up on my computer during editing after a wedding that this lens is plenty sharp.
It is simply a great all-around performer for many situations.
While the Panasonic Lumix S PRO 24-70mm f/2.8 Lens is a tad sharper and a tad faster focusing, this is only if I’m really paying close attention in post or printing, or when I’m shooting in a very critical timed situation.
The main reason for getting this Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm f/4 Macro OIS lens is versatility.
While I’m not a fan of jack-of-all-trades types of lenses, this one can go from close up portrait to environmental portrait to faux macro with ease.
Perfect for Getting Ready all the way to the beginnings of the reception, where it falters slightly. I’ll get into that in a bit.
There are always compromises in photography and for this lens, it’s the maximum f/4 aperture.
When you get to the reception or any other dark environment, you have to decide if you want to raise the ISO of your L mount camera or will you/can you use flash to compensate.
In my estimation, the Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm f/4 Macro OIS lens isn’t the best choice for dance floor shooting so I’ve tended to pack it away for that portion of the wedding day.
However, for everything else during a wedding it’s perfect for the task.
I don’t see any fringing and distortion is minimal and within the boundaries of what I require as a wedding and event photographer.
This focal length is considered the “workhorse lens” in the bags of most pro photographers, and this is how I would approach a lens like this.
It isn’t the bokeh master of say, the Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens for L mount nor a true macro like the Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Art lens for L mount.
However, this lens still has excellent bokeh and the close focus abilities of those lenses and will get you there for those times when versatility is of utmost importance.
Value for Money
I consider the Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm f/4 Macro OIS a good value lens at around $1,200 and even better value in the kit along with the Panasonic Lumix S1 or Panasonic Lumix S1R, which lowers the cost by around $400.
However, the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG DN Art lens for L mount has now been released for less money than buying this lens standalone.
You have to decide if you need the extra reach and macro capability. Is the brighter aperture of f/2.8 also important to you?
If you have to have it all – ultimate image quality, fast aperture and extra reach, then consider the Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24-90mm f/2.8-4 ASPH.
If budget is a higher priority, the Sigma or Panasonic lenses are excellent choices.
Panasonic Lumix 24-105mm f/4 Review | Conclusion
As a wedding and event photographer, I tend to be in the “it must always be a fast aperture” camp of shooters. The term “kit lens” has very negative connotations to me.
The Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm f/4 Macro OIS lens made me re-think this attitude. Most of my weddings are in the summer when it stays light out later, the macro capability saves space in my bag, a fast prime can do the dark dance floor stuff, and the extra reach is great too.
Mmmm….. I get the logic now of this being the first lens released with the new Panasonic full frame system.
Unless you need the faster AF of the dual motors within the Panasonic Lumix Pro series lenses and have to have f/2.8 light-gathering, this “kit lens” will serve you very well.
I shot an entire session of weddings and just as many events and other sessions with this lens and my clients and myself were thrilled with the results.
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.