Panasonic Lumix S 14-28mm f/4-5.6 Macro lens

      Photo Review 9.0

      In summary

      Our tests showed the S 14-28mm f/4-5.6 Macro lens has a remarkably high level of performance for its price. Being a relatively slow lens no doubt accounts for the overall high resolution performance in the centre of the frame and the relatively low distortion demonstrated by our tests, but the lens also has the advantages of robust construction, comfortable handling and an affordable price tag; hence our Editor’s Choice nomination.

      The Lumix S 14-28mm f/4-5.6 Macro lens completes a trio of ‘budget-friendly’ lenses for Panasonic’s L-mount cameras, which began with the S 20-60mm f/3.5-5.6 lens, which we reviewed in November 2020, and also includes the S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 MACRO O.I.S lens. Together, these three lenses cover all the focal lengths a keen photographer would require, offering good performance at competitive prices.

      Full review

      Announced in early January along with the S5II and S5IIX cameras, Panasonic’s latest L-mount lens the Lumix S 14-28mm f/4-5.6 Macro, provides a wide-angle alternative to the Lumix S 20-60mm f/3.5-5.6 kit zoom and adds half-life size ‘macro’ capabilities to the company’s entry-level line-up. Designed for use with the ‘Phase Hybrid’ autofocusing systems in the new cameras, it also claims minimal focus breathing and smooth diaphragm adjustments for shooting video.

      Angled view of the Lumix S 14-28mm f/4-5.6 Macro without end caps and lens hood. (Source: Panasonic.)

      The small size and low, 345-gram weight of this lens make it highly portable, while its dust- and splash-resistance enable it to be used in most weather conditions. The optical design (shown below) consists of 14 lens elements in 10 groups and includes one aspherical ED (Extra-Low Dispersion) lens, one aspherical lens, three ED (Extra-Low Dispersion) lenses and one UHR (Ultra High Refractive Index) lens. Seven diaphragm blades create a pleasing bokeh quality and 14-pointed sunstars when the lens is stopped down.

      This diagram shows the positions of the exotic elements in the optical design of the lens. (Source: Panasonic.)

      The 14-28mm f/4-5.6 Macro and 20-60mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom lenses share a common overall length and similar positions for their control surfaces. The weight and the centre of gravity of both lenses is similar, a useful feature for videographers who mount their cameras on a gimbal.

      We reviewed the new lens on the Lumix S5M2 camera, which is reviewed separately.

      Who’s it For?
      The Lumix S 14-28mm f/4-5.6 Macro lens completes a trio of ‘budget-friendly’ (to quote the company’s press release) L-mount zoom lenses, which started with the release of the Lumix S 20-60mm f/3.5-5.6 lens in May 2020 and continued with the Lumix S 70-300mm f/45-5.6 Macro OIS lens in February 2021. These three lenses give photographers a combined focal length range from an ultra-wide 14mm through to a long telephoto 300mm.

      The 14-28mm lens has a ‘Macro’ tag, although it’s not a true macro lens since it only offers half life-size magnification. However, the ultra-wide (114 degrees to 75 degrees  makes it useful for sweeping landscape shots, travel and street photography and close-ups of groups in cramped situations. Wedding photographers should find it particularly handy.

      Another welcome feature, particularly for videographers, is micro-step aperture control, which allows the user to fine-tune exposure levels seamlessly while recording. The ‘sensitivity’ of the focus control can also be set between 90 and 360 degrees for precise manual focus control.

      Wedding and event photographers looking for a wide angle lens that is suitable for video work will also welcome the fact that this lens is optimised to minimise focus breathing. Outdoor photographers and videographers will also appreciate the dust- and splash-resistant construction, although it’s not the best lens to use for close-ups of small objects like flowers and insects.

      Build and Ergonomics
      Despite fitting into the ‘entry-level’ category, Panasonic’s new 14-28mm lens looks and feels very solidly constructed. Although its barrel is made mainly from industrial quality plastic, it has a solid metal mounting plate and the sample we tested showed no unwanted slackness in any moving parts.

      This tightness of construction goes some of the way towards sealing the lens against ingress of moisture and dust, while the firm rubber flange around the lens mount seals off the vulnerable contact area between the lens and the camera body.

      Another point in its favour is that focusing and zooming are both internal and achieved by moving designate elements.  The front lens element also has a fluorine coating that repels water, oil, grease and other contaminants and makes it easier to keep clean.

      The lens is supplied with a shallow, petal-shaped plastic lens hood that has a locking button to keep it in place. The bayonet mounting for the hood is on the outer side of the filter ring, which is almost 5 mm deep and threaded to accept 77 mm filters.

      The front element of the lens has a diameter of approximately 42 mm and bows outwards, covering a second, aspherical element with a greater curvature. It is surrounded by a 15 mm wide ring of black plastic that slopes inwards to allow for the curvature of the lens elements.

      The focusing ring, which is located just behind the hood mount, is also approximately 15 mm wide and entirely covered by fine rubberised ridges. Because autofocusing is driven from the camera, this ring turns unimpeded when power is not supplied.

      The lens barrel slopes inwards for about a centimetre and then levels out for a couple of millimetres in front of the zoom ring.  This ring is roughly 25 mm wide and mostly covered in fine rubber ridging, with an un-ridged band at its rear, which carries marks for the 14mm, 16mm, 18mm, 20mm, 24mm and 28mm focal lengths.

      These settings are aligned against a prominent white line on the remaining section of the lens barrel, which runs for 17 mm before sloping inwards to the lens mount. An AF/MF slider switch is located on the left hand side of this section of the barrel. Inside the mount are 10 electronic contacts for passing data between the camera and the lens plus a black plastic rectangular frame that prevents stray light from reaching the sensor. The lens is supplied with a shallow, petal-shaped lens hood, which has a locking button to prevent it from being dislodged accidentally.

      Our Imatest tests showed the review lens to be a generally good performer despite suffering from edge and corner softening at wider aperture settings. JPEG measurements in the centre of the frame had resolutions well above expectations for the S5M2’s 24-megapixel sensor, while RW2.RAW files yielded results that were substantially higher, thanks to their greater dynamic ranges.

      This level of performance persisted through all focal length settings up to between f/8 and f/10, where diffraction began to take effect. The graph below shows the results of our Imatest tests on JPEG files

      Because the camera provides internal corrections for JPEGs, our lateral chromatic aberration measurements are based on RW2.RAW files, which produced slightly higher values but also showed chromatic aberration to be well within the ‘negligible’ zone. In the graph of our test results below, the vertical red line marks the boundary between ‘negligible’ and ‘low’ CA.

      To sidestep internal processing by the camera, both vignetting and rectilinear distortion had to be assessed through raw files with all optical and profile corrections disabled in Adobe Camera Raw. Interestingly, we found vignetting to be surprisingly low for such a wide angle lens. There was slight vignetting at the widest apertures with all focal lengths, but in most cases it was gone once the lens was stopped down by two stops.

      Unsurprisingly, there was obvious barrel distortion in uncorrected raw files at 14mm and 16mm but it decreased as the lens was zoomed in. Barrel distortion remained visible in uncorrected files right up to the 28mm focal length but because the in-camera corrections are generally effective, it’s not a serious issue. Both aberrations are largely irrelevant since they are corrected automatically in JPEGs and most raw file converters.

      Our flare tests yielded some interesting results.  We found slight veiling flare, along with some minor flare artefacts in wide angle shots taken with the sun on the edge of the frame. Both were present in JPEGs as well as raw files, as shown in the Samples section below, although in each case to a much lesser degree than we had expected. There were also some minor coloured flare artefacts in our sunstars shots, which were otherwise clear and relatively sharp as well as 14-pointed, thanks to the seven-bladed iris diaphragm. The combination of an effective lens hood and anti-reflection coatings on the lens elements have obviously played key roles in this result.

      It’s unreasonable to expect a relatively slow, ultra-wide angle lens to be a ‘bokeh master’ so we weren’t surprised to find it didn’t blur out backgrounds particularly well at wider angles of view at the minimum focusing distances. Out-of-focus transitions in close-ups at the 28mm focal length were smoother and background blurring was a bit softer and smoother at f/5.6 than we expected.

      Autofocusing was generally fast and accurate in different lighting conditions and with different subject types, thanks to the updated AF system in the S5M2 camera. It was also virtually silent, enabling this lens to be used for recording videos. We found no evidence of focus breathing.


      Please Login or Register to access the Conclusion.



      Picture angle: 114 to 75 degrees
      Minimum aperture:  f/22
      Lens construction: 14 elements in 10 groups (including one aspherical ED, one aspherical, 3 ED and 2 UHR elements plus fluorine coating on front element)
      Lens mount: L-mount
      Diaphragm Blades: 7 (rounded aperture)
      Weather resistance: Dust and Splash Resistant
      Focus drive: Not specified
      Stabilisation: No
      Minimum focus: 15 cm at 28mm focal length
      Maximum magnification: 0.5x (at 28mm)
      Filter size: 77 mm
      Dimensions (Diameter x L): 84 x 89.9 mm
      Weight: 345 grams
      Standard Accessories: Front and end caps, lens hood

      Distributor: Panasonic Australia, Ph. 132 600



      Based on JPEG images recorded with the Panasonic Lumix S5M2 camera.

      Based on RW2.RAW files recorded simultaneously and converted into 16-bit TIFF format with Adobe Camera Raw.



      Vignetting at 14mm f/4.0.

      Vignetting at 16mm f/4.3.

      Vignetting at 18mm f/4.5.

      Vignetting at 20mm f/4.7.

      Vignetting at 24mm f/5.1.

      Vignetting at 28mm f/5.6.

      Rectilinear distortion at 14mm.

      Rectilinear distortion at 16mm.

      Rectilinear distortion at 18mm.

      Rectilinear distortion at 20mm.

      Rectilinear distortion at 24mm.

      Rectilinear distortion at 28mm.

      14mm focal length, ISO 640, 1/60 second at f/11.

      28mm focal length, ISO 320, 1/60 second at f/11.

      14mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/400 second at f/7.1.

      28mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/320 second at f/7.1.

      Close-up at 14mm focal length, f/4; ISO 100. 1/800 second.

      Close-up at 28mm focal length, f/5.6; ISO 100. 1/400 second.

      Low light AF; 16mm focal length, ISO 1600. 1/60 second at f/7.1.

      Strong backlighting; 14mm
      focal length, ISO 100, 1/125 second at f/10. JPEG file.

      Strong backlighting; 14mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/125 second at f/10. From RW2.RAW file

      Strong backlighting; 14mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/250 second at f/6.3. From RW2.RAW file

      Sunstar at 14mm focal length, f/22; ISO 100. 1/20 second.

      Sunstar at 18mm focal length, f/22; ISO 100. 1/20 second.

      Sunstar at 20mm focal length, f/22; ISO 100. 1/25 second.

      Sunstar at 28mm focal length, f/22; ISO 100. 1/25 second.

      14mm focal length, f/8; ISO 200. 1/25 second.

      14mm focal length, f/8; ISO 200. 1/20 second.

      14mm focal length, f/4; ISO 100. 1/125 second.

      28mm focal length, f/5.6; ISO 100. 1/80 second.

      28mm focal length, f/8; ISO 100. 1/500 second.

      28mm focal length, f/5.6; ISO 200. 1/80 second. Cropped from vertical image to retain the maximum width of the frame.

      focal length, f/5.6; ISO 160. 1/60 second.

      28mm focal length, ISO 200. 1/30 second at f/5.6.

      28mm focal length, ISO 200. 1/30 second at f/5.6.

      28mm focal length, ISO 100. 1/160 second at f/7.1.

      14mm focal length, ISO 100. 1/250 second at f/6.3.



      RRP: AU$1499

      • Build: 9.0
      • Handling: 9.0
      • Image quality: 9.1
      • Autofocusing: 9.0
      • Versatility: 8.8