Panasonic Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 and Pentax DA 21mm f/3.2 - An Informal Easter Shootout

Discussion in 'Featured Articles, Reviews & Posts' started by Amin Sabet, Apr 24, 2011.

  1. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet   Administrator Subscribing Member

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    I was using these two lenses today, the Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 on the GH2 and the Pentax 21mm f/3.2 on the K-5.

    5650841408_595e51964f_z.jpg

    I briefly tested them against one another for sharpness and found them to be very much the equal of one another throughout the frame. Both have very strong central sharpness and adequate peripheral sharpness. With obsessive pixel peeping, the Panasonic was a bit sharper (and noisier) everywhere, but a little extra sharpening applied to the Pentax files (to make up for the slightly stronger AA filter of the Pentax) leveled things.
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    Here's a sample 100% center crop at f/4, Panasonic on the left (tripod, self-timer, aperture priority autoexposure, shot in triplicate, processed with default Lightroom 3.3 sharpening and NR plus default Nik Output Sharpening which maximizes detail but also increases noise and artifact):

    5650869176_d6d36f903b_o.png

    Edge crop from the same image:

    5650869330_52f0d4923d_o.png

    The Panasonic performance at f/2.5 was on par with the Pentax at f/3.2 (data not shown).

    Operationally, I find the Panasonic superior in most ways. The Lumix is much quieter, much faster to focus, is smaller, and lighter. In contrast to the Pentax, the Panasonic doesn't extend during focusing, takes a conventional filter without removing the hood, and doesn't exhibit focus ring movement during autofocus. The Pentax feels more precious (standard Pentax Limited metal build/finish) and is superior for zone focusing due to mechanically-linked manual focus (focus by wire with the Panasonic) and distance scale. In addition, the Pentax lens is stabilized on the K-5, whereas the Panasonic lens is not stabilized on the GH2.

    My strong bokeh preference was for the Panasonic. The two lenses provide a similar amount of background blur when used at their respective max apertures and min focus distances (which are very similar), but the Pentax OOF rendering wide open is very harsh relative to that of the Panasonic. Here's an bokeh sample image shot with the Panasonic:

    5650210523_482e561664_b.jpg

    I took a similar shot with the Pentax and will show two representative 100% crops. In each case, the Panasonic crop is on the left:

    5650210659_647f8645e8_o.png

    5650775050_1182fecb8c_o.png
     
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  2. Armanius

    Armanius Bring Jack back! Subscribing Member

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    I definitely like the rendering from the GH2 + 14mm better. Sharper image and more pleasant bokeh.

    I'm finding that the more I use the GH2 and K5 side by side, the more I like the GH2!
     
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  3. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus Subscribing Member S.C. Charter Member

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    Interesting comparison...plusses on both sides of the equation!
     
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  4. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet   Administrator Subscribing Member

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    Same here. The main thing keeping the Pentax in my house is the 70/2.4. If Olympus or Panasonic make a good 50/1.8, I think my K5 will be in the classifieds.
     
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  5. Pelao

    Pelao Lounge All-Pro S.C. Charter Member

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    That's really saying something. Hmmm
     
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  6. Armanius

    Armanius Bring Jack back! Subscribing Member

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    The auto focus of the GH2 seems to be much more reliable. I consistently get sharper images from the GH2 vs. the K5.
     
  7. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet   Administrator Subscribing Member

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    My K5 AF is pretty good, but the GH2 AF is better. Faster, quieter, more reliable, and better able to get a lock in low light.
     
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  8. Armanius

    Armanius Bring Jack back! Subscribing Member

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    With my K5, I get mixed results. With the FA35, it seems fairly reliable. Focus with the DA21 and FA43 were decent as well.

    With other lenses FA100, Tamron 17-50 and Sigma 17-50, the accuracy varied. But I was never able to pinpoint the condition that was causing the off focus.

    With the recent DA15, it's just bad altogether in all conditions.

    BTW, how is the AF speed on the PanaLeica 45mm? Is there a focus limiter on it for non-macro use?
     
  9. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet   Administrator Subscribing Member

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    Armando, the 45 macro is said by some to have slow AF, but that's not been my experience. It does have a focus limiter switch. With the focus limited to non-macro range, AF is reasonably fast (and also pleasantly quiet) on the GH2.
     
  10. Armanius

    Armanius Bring Jack back! Subscribing Member

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    I may just focus on expanding my m4/3 lens collection and just use the K5 solely with the FA35 for now.

    Amin, with the PL45/2.8, do you still feel the need to have a DA70 as part of the lens arsenal? Or am I comparing apples and oranges, notwithstanding the macro function?
     
  11. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet   Administrator Subscribing Member

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    I don't exactly feel the need for the DA70, but it is nice in that it gives me the opportunity to go a bit more shallow w/ DOF. Also, the DA21 and DA70 make a very nice two-lens kit when going out with the Pentax.
     
  12. Armanius

    Armanius Bring Jack back! Subscribing Member

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    Ah, so you keeping the DA21?

    In retrospect, the DA21 was a very nice lens in spite of being "only" a F3.2. It was the only lens that I have used that I didn't do any microadjustments on the K-5.

    Do you think it's worth the $$$ to get a 14/2.5 or better wait for the upcoming fast pro grade standard zoom that's rumoured to come out? I'd love to see a m4/3 version of Oly's 12-60. Or even the 14-54.
     
  13. vincechu

    vincechu Lounge Veteran

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    You guys are makin me want to get bk to m43 lol. I do miss the size and lightweight of m43 badly. Indeed IQ difference isn't massive, but I just don't like spending to much time doing PP on the Panasonic files for colour, I like Pentax colours more.

    Although I think the upcoming new sensor and fast lenses might just be enough for me to actually mke the return with an olympus body...

    Ultimately all I want is a reliable body with good ooc colour, reasonable ISO 6400 and a fast zoom and fast normal. So far my Pentax setup fits, just a little heavy and weighty
     
  14. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet   Administrator Subscribing Member

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    Armando, I'm not really the right person to answer that, because I don't enjoy using zooms very much. In fact, I sold my last zoom today.

    I will keep the DA21 and DA70 for as long as I keep the K-5. It's just a great overall package. However, if Pana or Oly come out with a good 50/1.8, it will become that much harder for me to to justify keeping the secondary (Pentax) system.
     
  15. vincechu

    vincechu Lounge Veteran

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    armando u missed the 12-35 f2f ;) wish they could make that for m43. I'd guess it'll b smaller so cheaPer than the 43rds version... though still expensive
     
  16. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet   Administrator Subscribing Member

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    When looking at other systems, one of the main things that keeps me with MFT is the lens rendering. I just don't see another maker with a compact autofocus prime lineup that delivers the same combination of sharpness, smooth bokeh (referring to quality not amount of blur), and lack of color fringing (in my workflow with a Pana RAW files processed in Lightroom 3.3) that my current Pana primes give me.

    In terms of quality of images, I'd rate the following in order of most important to least important (to me):

    1. Talent and effort (tie)
    2. Operational characteristics of gear (easy to carry, easy to use to good effect, etc)
    3. Lens performance/character
    4. Sensor performance
    For me, Micro 4/3 is a win on #2 and #3, and what it gives up with regards to sensor performance is minor compared to what it offers in those categories.
     
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  17. Armanius

    Armanius Bring Jack back! Subscribing Member

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    I guess you mean the 14-35/2? I've used it once at the local store, and was pleasantly surprised that the lens was not as big of a monster as I'd thought it was going to be.

    I think I'd be happy with a smaller version of the 12-60. Or 14-54.
     
  18. Armanius

    Armanius Bring Jack back! Subscribing Member

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    I guess the closest thing to a 50/1.8 that Pany or Oly ever had is the legendary 50/2 (and its horrible AF). Maybe Oly will remake one with a better AF motor and lose the macro function. Maybe even turn it into a pancake! If Pentax can make a 70mm pancake, I don't see why Oly or Pany shouldn't be able to make a 50mm pancake. Of course I know nothing about lens manufacturing ... :(
     
  19. vincechu

    vincechu Lounge Veteran

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    Interesting points Amin. I've been looking over my old G1 files (both raws and jpegs) and it seems that the G1 files are sharper than my K5 files in the majority of cases. Both cameras with no additional sharpening. The G1 had the 14-140 or 20 1.7 and the K5 the 31ltd or 17-70 sigma. Whats really puzzling is that the 14-140mm wide open (f/4) at 14mm on the G1 seems to be more sharp across the whole frame than my 17-70 sigma at f5.6 or f8 (its prime apertures) when viewed at 100% size. To me this is really astonishing, I heard the g1 has a weaker AA filter so that might be the cause and also Panny's live mos sensors are apparently well known for detail resolution. But I wonder how pixel sharpness plays 12mp vs 16mp when viewed at 100%? I'll have to make a post of this somewhere when I have time

     
  20. Armanius

    Armanius Bring Jack back! Subscribing Member

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    Other than the weaker AA filter in the GH2, I get the feeling that accurate AF may have something to do with my experiences.
     

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