Is This Panasonic Zoom Lens the Ideal Balance Between Full-Frame and Super 35?

Panasonic's new zoom lens steps outside the box. What do you think about it? 

When Leica, Panasonic, and Sigma announced the L-mount alliance, it was good for creators. The initiative meant each manufacturer would produce lenses using a single mount, allowing filmmakers to mix and match glass no matter the camera body. A Leica SL-Prime can be mounted to the Sigma fp. A Sigma 40mm F1.4 DG HSM can be used on a Panasonic LUMIX DC-S1H, and so on. However, the alliance didn't mean each company had to produce the same focal lengths.  

Panasonic has introduced a new zoom lens, the full-frame LUMIX S 20-60mm F3.5-5.6, which is an interesting focal range for video shooters. Typical standard zooms typically cover 15-40mm, 18-55mm, 24-70mm, 50-135mm, and 70-200mm. But there has always been outliers and with good reason.

When Panasonic updated its lens roadmap last year to include a "to be announced standard zoom," it surprised me to see the LUMIX S 20-60mm F3.5-5.6 fill that space. At least from a video standpoint.  

  • S Pro 16-35mm F4.0
  • S Pro 20-60mm F3.5-5.6
  • S Pro 24-70mm F2.8
  • S Pro 70-200mm F2.8 OIS
  • S Pro 70-200mm F4.0 OIS
  • S Pro 24-105mm F4.0 MACRO OIS

Optically, the S Pro 20-60mm F3.5-5.6 aligns with the rest of the S Pro series. It's made from 11 elements in 9 groups, and uses 2 aspherical lenses and 3 ED (Extra-low Dispersion) to reduce axial chromatic aberration and chromatic aberration of magnification. Astigmatism is also corrected with the aspherical lenses for better high resolution performance on cameras like the LUMIX DC-S1H. Panasonic also added a UHR (Ultra-High Refractive Index) lens that contributes to edge-to-edge image quality while reducing its overall size. A AF/MF switch is on the lens barrel with the autofocus being powered by a stepping motor.  

The lens has a minimum focusing distance of 5.9" with a 0.43x magnification making it ideal for indoor environments or close-up videography like v-logging. But is it wide enough for video shooters to be an all around lens? There's a big difference between a 10mm lens and a 18mm. But what about 18mm and 20mm? My personal preference for a wide angle zoom is that 14-50mm range, using 16mm or 18mm more than 14mm. 

When you consider the Panasonic zoom lineup as a whole, the S Pro 20-60mm F3.5-5.6 fills the gap between the 16-35mm and 24-70mm. Could something like a 16-80mm focal length have been more attractive? Probably, but it would have cannibalized other lenses in the series. So you have to wonder if Panasonic is considering the crop shooting modes in its cameras when developing a lens. In Super 35 mode on the DC-S1H, the 20-60mm is a 30-90mm equivalent which is advantageous range for shooters. The cost is relatively inexpensive too, under $600 USD. Panasonic is expected to announce a new S Pro telephoto lens at a later date. You have to wonder what that will be. 

But what do you think about a 20-60mm focal range? Share your thoughts below.      

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2 Comments

Wish in were parafocal.

June 4, 2020 at 2:04AM

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Jerry Roe
Indie filmmaker
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Would have been even more interesting if they had built-in a removable ND... this doesn't scream serious video production work in a cage.
(I think Canon R5 video shooters may well prefer EF lenses with the adaptor containing an ND over R lenses, BTW.)

I think 20mm is okay as the wide end of a "standard" lens for full-width FF sensor shooting.

Is it parfocal, or can it be electronically (where the optics aren't but the camera sorts it out for you)?

Also f/2.8-4 would have been nicer. Or will there be a similar Leica lens at some point (like the two 12-60s for m43)?

June 5, 2020 at 3:11AM, Edited June 5, 3:14AM

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