Panasonic unveils compact and affordable Lumix 50mm f/1.8 S full-frame lens
posted Tuesday, June 1, 2021 at 10:00 PM EDT
Panasonic continues to expand its lineup of full-frame S-series lenses, adding another compact yet bright f/1.8 prime lens to the family. The new Lumix S 50mm f/1.8 prime joins the previously-unveiled 85mm f/1.8 S lens from last November as well as two planned upcoming f/1.8 primes -- a 24mm f/1.8 and 35mm f/1.8 -- from Panasonic's lens roadmap. This new 50mm f/1.8 lens, along with the three other f/1.8 primes, are designed all with similar sizes, weights and filter sizes, allowing them to be easily swapped around (especially helpful for video creators using rigs, gimbals and other complex setups) and share accessories such as filters.
Offering a classic 50mm focal length, the new Panasonic S 50mm f/1.8 prime is a versatile lens for general photography purposes, especially low-light shooting and portraiture, thanks to its bright aperture and normal focal length that provides a pleasing, compressed appearance to subjects. Furthermore, Panasonic has taken special care to make the S 50mm f/1.8 particularly well-suited to video, as well, with a focusing mechanism that minimizes the often-distracting focus breathing and an aperture designed for smooth exposure changes. What's more, the new Lumix S 50mm f/1.8 lens is significantly lighter in weight, more compact and vastly more affordable than Panasonic's high-end Lumix S PRO 50mm f/1.4 lens.
In terms of optical construction, the new Panasonic 50mm f/1.8 lens is comprised of nine total lens elements organized into eight groups, and it includes three aspherical elements, a single ED (Extra-Low Dispersion) element and one UHR (Ultra-High Refractive Index) lens. The aspherical elements help ensure sharp optical performance across the frame and smooth, pleasing bokeh, while the ED lens helps to suppress chromatic aberrations. The lens's circular 9-bladed aperture diaphragm helps create smooth bokeh performance and nice subject isolation, while the "micro-step aperture control" allows for smooth iris (exposure) adjustments when shooting video.
As mentioned, the Lumix 50mm f/1.8's internal linear AF motor is, much like in the earlier 85mm f/1.8 S lens, designed for fast, smooth and quiet autofocusing performance as well as minimal focus breathing, making it a great lens for both photos and video. Close-focusing performance is not a strong suit of this particular optic, but it's not wildly off from other full-frame 50mm f/1.8 lenses, such as the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II or Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8 S lens, for instance. The Lumix 50mm f/1.8 lens has a minimum focusing distance of 0.45m (1.48ft), offering a maximum magnification factor of just 0.14x.
In the hand, the Panasonic S 50mm f/1.8 lens is very compact for a bright-apertured, full-frame lens, and is also particularly lightweight, weighing in at just 300g (0.66lbs) or thereabouts. It's not the smallest or lightest full-frame 50mm f/1.8 lens on the market, but it is very lightweight and portable nonetheless. The lens itself is about 82mm (3.23 in) in length and about 73.6mm (2.90 in) in diameter, though if you had the included locking bayonet-mounted lens look, you'll add a little under two inches in additional length. When mounted to the large S1R camera body, the lens does appear a bit tiny, but it balances nicely and is easy to shoot one-handed if need be. The 50mm f/1.8 lens would feel right at home on the smaller, lighter Lumix S5 camera, as well.
Despite the small size, the Lumix 50mm f/1.8 S lens includes a weather-sealed construction, with full a dust- and splash-resistant design and the ability to withstand freezing temperatures down to -10 degrees C (14 deg F). The lens features weather-sealed gaskets on either side of the large focusing ring as well as around the lens mount. The majority of the lens barrel itself is built from rugged and very sturdy-feeling engineering plastic, while the lens mount itself is made out of metal.
Pricing & Availability
The Panasonic Lumix 50mm f/1.8 lens is set to go on sale in July 2021 with a retail price of $449.99. Additionally, Panasonic states that the 24mm f/1.8 and 35mm f/1.8 lenses are currently under development, however, no availability date nor pricing information has been announced at this time.
Note: We were sent a review sample shortly before the announcement. However, the lens currently has pre-production firmware installed. As such, all images published so far are labeled as "pre-production." To browse more beta sample images from the Panasonic 50mm f/1.8 S lens, head over to our Sample Gallery.