Panasonic Lumix S 20-60mm f/3.5-5.6 (S-R2060) lens
As a kit lens, the Lumix S 20-60mm f/3.5-5.6 represents excellent value for money since it only adds about AU$500 to the overall price for the kit. Even as a stand-alone lens, you won’t find many similarly priced lenses as well built as this one.
The 20-60mm focal length range makes it suitable for a wide range of genres, from landscapes and interiors, where the wide angle of view will be advantageous. It will also be useful for travellers and for everyday photographers to use as a ‘walkaround lens’ for general photography. Its range is excellent for street photography.
The Lumix S 20-60mm lens is sealed against dust and moisture, as well as being freeze-resistant to -10 degrees Celsius. This makes it a good choice for outdoor use. The suppression of focus breathing will also make it ideal for recording video.
Announced late in May, Panasonic’s Lumix S 20-60mm f/3.5-5.6 (S-R2060) lens is the latest kit lens for its S-series cameras and the company’s seventh L-Mount lens. The smallest and lightest lens in its class to date, it is dust and splash resistant but lacks built-in stabilisation, relying on the sensor-shift system in the S5 camera we used for this review. It is also the lowest-priced of Panasonic’s L-Mount lenses, although at an RRP of AU$1099 it can’t be classed as ‘cheap’.
Angled view of the Lumix S 20-60mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. (Source: Panasonic.)
The optical design of this lens comprises 11 elements in nine groups, among them including two aspherical elements, three ED (Extra-low Dispersion) elements and a single Ultra-High Refractive Index (UHR) element which combine to minimise spherical and chromatic aberrations and deliver excellent corner-to-corner sharpness. A fluorine coating on the front element repels water and oil, preventing smudges that could affect optical clarity.
The optical design of the Lumix S 20-60mm f/3.5-5.6 lens showing the positions of the exotic lens elements. (Source: Panasonic.)
The lens is supplied with front and end caps plus a shallow, petal-shaped lens hood, which has a locking button and adds just under 30mm to the overall length when it’s in place. It can be reversed over the lens barrel for transport and storage.
Who’s it For?
Panasonic promotes this lens as having been ‘designed for the modern content creator’ which means it’s equally suitable for capturing stills and recording movies. Being bundled with the new S5 camera means most buyers of this lens are likely to acquire it as part of that camera’s kit offering.
Its 20-60mm focal length range makes it suitable for a wide range of genres, from landscapes and interiors, where the wide angle of view will be advantageous. It will also be useful for travellers and for everyday photographers to use as a ‘walkaround lens’ for general photography. Its range is excellent for street photography.
This illustration shows the positions of the weatherproof seals in the Lumix S 20-60mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. (Source: Panasonic.)
The new lens is sealed against dust and moisture, as shown in the illustration above, as well as being freeze-resistant to -10 degrees Celsius. This makes it a good choice for outdoor use. The suppression of focus breathing, claimed as a feature of this lens, will also make it ideal for recording video.
Build and Ergonomics
Despite its relatively light weight, the 20-60mm lens is very well built and ticks a number of important boxes. A thin rubber seal around the lens mount confirms its weather resistance, while the fluorine coating on the front element should make it easy to keep the lens free from dust and smudges.
Zooming from 20mm to 60mm extends the inner barrel by approximately 35 mm, taking its length from just over 87 mm at 20mm to around 122 mm. The front element does not rotate during this process, allowing use of angle-critical attachments.
Bayonet fittings around the outer edge of the inner barrel accept the supplied lens hood. The inner edge is threaded to accept 67 mm diameter filters as well as the supplied lens cap that has pinch clamps that fit into the threading.
The focusing ring is located in a widened section at the front of the outer barrel. It’s just under 10 mm wide and is covered in fine ridging to provide a secure grip. This ring rotates through 360 degrees without resistance when the camera’s power is off since focusing is controlled electronically by the camera.
No focus scale is provided but when the camera is set for manual focus a scale will be displayed in the EVF or on the rear monitor screen, allowing users to set focus distances with a high degree of precision. Magnification also kicks in when manual focus is selected and users can adjust the degree of enlargement with the control dials or via the touch screen monitor.
The minimum focusing distance at 20mm is only 15 cm, which is close for a full-frame standard-zoom lens. This focusing distance is retained to about the 24mm focal length but extends to around 40 cm by the 60mm position. The maximum magnification of 0.43x occurs between the 24mm and 28mm focal lengths.
The lens barrel slopes inwards for about 6 mm behind the focusing ring before meeting the leading edge of the the zoom ring, which is approximately 25 mm wide. A 20 mm wide ridged, rubberised grip band covers the front section of this ring, while the rear section is un-ridged band with stamped index marks for the 20mm, 24mm, 28mm, 35mm, 50mm and 60mm focal length positions.
Because the aperture varies with the selected focal length, depth of field at maximum aperture will also change, most obviously for close-ups. The minimum aperture remains at f/22 throughout the zoom range. The table below shows the maximum apertures and depth of field ranges at between 20 cm and 45 cm available at the different focal lengths.
|Depth of field (subject distance)||14.5-15.5 cm (15 cm)||19.3-20.8 cm (20 cm)||28.8-31.3 cm (30 cm)||29.2-30.9 cm (30 cm)||39.2-40.9 cm (40 cm)||39.4-40.7 cm (40 cm)|
Zooming from 20mm to 60mm rotates the right through roughly 30 degrees. The action is nicely damped to ensure smooth zooming while recording video clips. A special mechanism within the lens keeps focus breathing to a level that is barely detectable.
The index marks line up against a 15 mm long white mark that traverses the 20 mm wide band between the zoom ring and where the lens mount begins. A MF/AF switch is located on the left hand side of the lens barrel in this section, distinguishing it from Panasonic’s other L-Mount lenses, which have push-pull clutch switches that are faster and more convenient to use.
The barrel slopes steeply inwards after this section before running straight for approximately 5 mm to end in the metal mounting plate. A narrow rubber flange at this junction keeps dust and moisture out.
Imatest showed the review lens to be a capable performer on the DC-S5 camera we used for our tests. We obtained the best performance from the mid-range focal lengths and aperture settings, where the camera and lens combination was able to meet expectations for the sensor’s resolution with JPEG files when sampled around the centre of the frame. Raw files delivered higher resolution, as expected, and shown in the TESTS section below.
We found some, relatively slight, image softening towards the periphery of the frame throughout most of the focal length and aperture ranges. Diffraction began to take effect from about f/11 on, as shown in the graph of our test results below.
We assumed the S5 included built-in corrections for chromatic aberration so we checked raw files, which are uncorrected. It’s worth noting we found no evidence of coloured fringing in any of our test shots and our Imatest tests showed lateral chromatic aberration to be mostly negligible for JPEGs and towards the lower end of the ‘low’ band for RW2.RAW files. The results of our tests are shown in the graph below in which the red line marks the boundary between negligible and low CA.
Distortion and vignetting performance were also assessed by looking at uncorrected raw files. Very slight vignetting could be seen with the widest aperture settings at the shorter focal lengths, but it vanished by the time the aperture had been closed by two stops. Vignetting was effectively negligible at the widest apertures from about 35mm on.
As expected, we found obvious barrel distortion at 20mm, which reduced as the lens was zoomed in. But by the 28mm focal length, there was no obvious distortion although by 50mm slight pincushioning was apparent and it became a little more obvious at 60mm. Since both vignetting and distortion can be corrected in the camera and are easily corrected in most raw converters and image editors, we don’t see either as a serious problem.
Flare and ghosting were effectively negligible, even when shooting directly towards a bright light source. We also found no ‘sun spots’ in shots taken with strong contre-jour lighting.
Autofocusing was a little patchy. When subjects were a couple of metres from the camera and reasonably well lit, the camera and lens locked on quickly and consistently. However, in poorly lit conditions with low contrast and close to the minimum focusing distance, the lens tended to hunt for focus occasionally. This is likely to be due to the contrast-based focusing system.
With a minimum focusing distance of 15 cm at 20mm and 40 cm at 60mm, this lens is not ideal for close-up shooting, although it’s usable for close-ups of larger flowers and pet portraits. At wide apertures, bokeh in de-focused areas was a mixed bag.
With evenly-lit backgrounds, out-of-focus areas could be relatively smooth. But hard outlining and slight ‘onion skin’ effects could be seen around bright highlights in blurred backgrounds across the focal length range.
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Picture angle: 94 to 40 degrees
Minimum aperture: f/22
Lens construction: 11elements in 9 groups (including 2 aspherical, 3 EWD and one UHR elements)
Lens mounts: L-Mount
Diaphragm Blades: 9 (circular aperture)
Weather resistance: Yes, Dust and splash resistant
Focus drive: Stepping motor
Minimum focus: 15 cm at 20mm, 40 cm at 60mm
Maximum magnification: 0.43x
Filter size: 67 mm
Dimensions (Diameter x L): 77.4 x 87.2 mm
Weight: 350 grams (without lens caps and hood)
Standard Accessories: Lens cap, Lens rear cap, Lens hood
Distributor: Panasonic Australia; Ph. 132 600
Based on JPEG files recorded with the Panasonic DC-S5 camera.
Vignetting at 20mm f/4.0.
Vignetting at 24mm f/4.5.
Vignetting at 28mm f/5.0.
Vignetting at 35mm f/5.0.
Vignetting at 50mm f/5.6.
Vignetting at 60mm f/5.6.
Rectilinear distortion at 20mm.
Rectilinear distortion at 24mm.
Rectilinear distortion at 28mm.
Rectilinear distortion at 35mm
Rectilinear distortion at 50mm.
Rectilinear distortion at 60mm.
20mm focal length, ISO 100 1/250 second at f/9.
24mm focal length, ISO 100 1/250 second at f/9.
28mm focal length, ISO 100 1/250 second at f/10.
35mm focal length, ISO 100 1/250 second at f/10.
50mm focal length, ISO 100 1/200 second at f/11.
60mm focal length, ISO 100 1/200 second at f/11.
Close-up at 20mm focal length, ISO 50 1/500 second at f/3.5.
Close-up at 60mm focal length, ISO 50 1/250 second at f/5.6.
Absence of flare and ‘sun spots’ at 20mm focal length, ISO 100 1/640 second at f/8.
Absence of flare and ‘sun spots’ at 60mm focal length, ISO 100 1/500 second at f/11.
Contre-jour lighting at 20mm focal length, ISO 100 1/60 second at f/8.
20mm focal length, ISO 100 1/160 second at f/11.
49mm focal length, ISO 100 1/200 second at f/11.
Crop from the above image magnified to 100% showing absence of purple fringing.
60mm focal length, ISO 100 1/200 second at f/8.
60mm focal length, ISO 640 1/60 second at f/5.6.
60mm focal length, ISO 100 1/60 second at f/5.6.
60mm focal length, ISO 100 1/80 second at f/5.6.
Bokeh in a close-up at f/3.5; 20mm focal length, ISO 100 1/100 second.
Bokeh in a close-up at f/5.6; 60mm focal length, ISO 125 1/60 second.
Additional image samples can be found with our review of the Panasonic DC-S5 camera.
RRP: AU$1099; US$599
- Build: 8.8
- Handling: 8.8
- Image quality: 9.0
- Autofocusing: 8.5
- Versatility: 8.8