Panasonic 30mm f/2.8 ASPH MEGA OIS LUMIX G MACRO
Lab Test Results
June 4, 2015
by Andrew Alexander
The Panasonic 30mm ƒ/2.8 macro lens was announced in February of 2015, and released later that year in May. The lens uses the Micro Four Thirds mount, and is compatible with both Panasonic and Olympus cameras in that format.
Using Micro Four Thirds, the lens provides an effective field of view of 60mm (in 35mm terms). While it's designed as a macro lens, that field of view serves double duty as a good walkaround lens, especially for portraits. The lens provides a maximum aperture of ƒ/2.8 and incorporates image stabilization.
The lens is available now for around $400.
The Panasonic 30mm Macro lens provided very sharp results, even wide open at ƒ/2.8; tack-sharp results are available at ƒ/4, though you'd have to peep pretty closely at the pixels to see a difference.
The lens is super sharp all the way to to ƒ/11, though technically diffraction limiting starts to affect sharpness at ƒ/8. You probably won't notice any impact on sharpness until ƒ/16.
By the numbers, chromatic aberration is more evident as you stop down. Looking at the sample images, I do see CA in the corners of images shot at ƒ/2.8, so your mileage may vary.
With the Panasonic 30mm set to ƒ/2.8, there is a moderate amount of corner shading -- around 2/3 EV in the extreme corners -- but stopping down further reduces this shading to a negligible level.
There is practically no distortion evident in images shot with the Panasonic 30mm, though we expect there is some post-processing done in-camera to thank for that.
The Panasonic 30mm ƒ/2.8 took less than a second to slew through its entire range of focus. It is very fast as there is little to move inside the lens when focusing. Small changes are extremely fast. The front element does not rotate during autofocus operations.
The lens offers full 1:1 macro reproduction, and a minimum close-focusing distance of 10.5cm (just over 4 inches). It's worth noting that close-focusing distance is measured from the image sensor, not the end of the lens, so given that the lens' length is 2 1/2 inches, you will need to be around two inches from your subject to get the 1:1 reproduction size.
Build Quality and Handling
The 30mm ƒ/2.8 is very lightweight at just 180 grams (just over 6 ounces). The lens features 9 elements in 9 groups, including 1 aspherical element, and seven circular diaphragm blades make up the aperture for nice background blurring. It is pretty svelte in its design -- there are no buttons, indicators or scales. The only point of operation is the manual focus ring. There is also no mounting point for a lens hood, so your only option there (if you feel you need one) will be a third-party screw-in hood for the 46mm filter thread mount.
The manual focusing ring has a plastic ribbed texture and is a generous 7/8'' wide. The ring will turn forever in either direction, not being limited at the infinity or close-focusing distances. The front element does not turn during auto or manual focus.
The lens features image stabilization, though Panasonic makes no claim on its performance. In our testing, we see about two and a half stops of hand-holding improvement; see our IS Test tab for more detail.
Olympus 60mm ƒ/2.8 M.Zuiko Digital ED ~$500
Olympus has had a macro lens for Micro Four Thirds since 2002, in what some might argue is a more compelling macro distance, 60mm, or 120mm in 35mm eq. The lens is substantially larger and heavier, but it's packed with more features suited for macro work, including a focus limiter and reproduction scales. It also has an added bonus of being weather sealed.
Panasonic 25mm ƒ/1.4 ASPH LEICA DG SUMMILUX ~$600
It's not a macro-specific lens and doesn't offer image stabilization, but it does offer a very wide aperture of ƒ/1.4. It's about as sharp as the 30mm at the same apertures, though CA is slightly more evident.
Panasonic 42.5mm ƒ/1.2 ASPH POWER OIS LEICA DG NOCTICRON ~$1,600
If the ƒ/1.4 ASPH LEICA isn't fast enough for you, this is the lens you want, and it features image stabilization, to boot. However, it's about four times as expensive -- all for an extra third of a stop of light-gathering ability -- and like the 25mm f/1.4, is not a macro lens.
If you're looking for a convenient and simple macro lens (that can do double-duty as a compact portrait lens) to throw in a bag without needing a tripod, the Panasonic 30mm ƒ/2.8 Macro is a good choice; its implementation of image stabilization will let you get down to 1/8th of a second. However, if you're looking for a macro lens with more features suited to that kind of work, it's hard to recommend this lens over the Olympus 60mm macro, which has a more useful macro distance as well as features that are specifically suited to macro work.
The VFA target should give you a good idea of sharpness in the center and corners, as well as some idea of the extent of barrel or pincushion distortion and chromatic aberration, while the Still Life subject may help in judging contrast and color. We shoot both images using the default JPEG settings and manual white balance of our test bodies, so the images should be quite consistent from lens to lens.
As appropriate, we shoot these with both full-frame and sub-frame bodies, at a range of focal lengths, and at both maximum aperture and ƒ/8. For the ''VFA'' target (the viewfinder accuracy target from Imaging Resource), we also provide sample crops from the center and upper-left corner of each shot, so you can quickly get a sense of relative sharpness, without having to download and inspect the full-res images. To avoid space limitations with the layout of our review pages, indexes to the test shots launch in separate windows.
Panasonic 30mm f/2.8 ASPH MEGA OIS LUMIX G MACRO
Panasonic 30mm f/2.8 ASPH MEGA OIS LUMIX G MACRO User Reviews
10 out of 10 points and recommended by wine540 (1 reviews)Sharp! Fast and lightNone
I use this lens for operating room and specimen pictures. The Olympus 60 mm which I also own is not practical for this purpose, but this Panasonic 30 mm is perfect. Specifically the subject distance is too far to use effectively for large specimens with the 60 mm, yet the 30 mm lets you get as close as you need without having to stand on a ladder or put the specimen on the floor for proper framing. I can also use the lens for general photography and portraits. It works well for me. This is a light weight plastic lens with a metal mount and nice finish-excellent for what is does!reviewed December 26th, 2015 (purchased for $350)