Panasonic Lumix S 35mm F1.8 hands-on

The new Panasonic Lumix S 35mm F1.8 is the fourth in a series of ergonomically-similar F1.8 primes for L mount. This full-frame prime lens is intended for both photographers and videographers, and we’ve had our hands on one. Read on for more details, and if you didn’t already, check out our initial gallery of samples.

Size and weight

As we’ve come to expect from this generation of ‘built for mirrorless’ prime lenses, the Lumix S 35mm F1.8 is about as big as a typical F1.4 lens would be for D/SLR. It’s not particularly heavy though, weighing in at only 295g (10.4 oz).

Optical construction

Optically, the 35mm F1.8 comprises eleven elements in nine groups, including three aspherical lenses and three ED elements. The front filter ring is a relatively large but still fairly standard 67mm, and chosen so it matches those of the 24mm, 50mm and 85mm F1.8 primes.

Minimum focus is 0.24m (~9.5″), making this lens useful for moderate closeups, as well as general photography. Panasonic claims that the optical design provides excellent control of chromatic aberrations and pleasant bokeh.

Image quality

We’ve only had a short time to shoot with a sample of the S 35mm F1.8 but our impressions so far are fairly positive. It gives good results considering its price and positioning, and critical sharpness is high. Bokeh is pleasant in most situations, but defocused highlights can be a little hard-edged, which can make bokeh a little ‘busy’ depending on the amount of blur.

Longitudinal chromatic aberration (LoCA) is fairly well-controlled, but some colored fringing can still be seen in some of our shots ahead and behind the point of focus, especially around high-contrast scene elements.

Dust and moisture-sealed

The S 35mm F1.8 is sealed against dust and moisture, and Panasonic claims that it can be used in temperatures as low as –23°C (–10°F). Just visible in this shot is the thin rubber gasket which runs around the outside of the mount, to create an environmental seal between the lens and camera.

Controls and ergonomics

There’s only one control on the S 35mm F1.8: the AF/M focus mode switch. Automatic focus is fast and quiet, with manual focus ‘by wire’. The amount of focus movement varies depending on the rotation speed of the focus ring, but this behavior can be customized to allow for linear ‘rack focus’, which is particularly useful when shooting video, where you might need a predictable and repeatable amount of focus adjustment, per degree of ring rotation.

Focus breathing

Speaking of video shooting, the S 35mm F1.8 demonstrates very little focus breathing, meaning that subject magnification does not change appreciably when focus is adjusted. Here, you can see the S 35mm F1.8 attached to a Panasonic Lumix DC-S1R. This package feels perfectly well-balanced (with the camera making up most of the total weight) but the S 35mm F1.8 is especially well-matched to the smaller Lumix DC-S5.

Included hood

A petal-style bayonet hood is included with the lens, to help prevent flare and loss of contrast from bright light sources just outside of the frame.

Compared to S 85mm F1.8

The S 35mm F1.8 is the fourth in a series of F1.8 lenses from Panasonic which are designed to be as far as possible interchangeable for videographers shooting with their cameras in built-up rigs. This shot shows the older S 85mm F1.8 S alongside the new 35mm, showing their similarities in terms of build, side and ergonomics. What you can’t see externally is that all of these lenses have a similar center of gravity, which – again – is so that they can be swapped out without changing the dynamics of a camera rig, or a gimbal.

Alongside the 35mm, Panasonic teased the development of a fifth lens in the F1.8 series – an 18mm, but no pricing or availability details have been released as yet.

Meanwhile the S 35mm F1.8 S will be available at the end of this month for $699.99.

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