Panasonic officially announces is full-frame L mount “nifty fifty” 50mm f/1.8

Jun 2, 2021

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Panasonic officially announces is full-frame L mount “nifty fifty” 50mm f/1.8

Jun 2, 2021

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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It looks like Nikon isn’t the only one dropping long-overdue new glass today. Photos and bits of info have been leaked over the last few days and now, as expected, it’s Panasonic’s turn. Yup, today, Panasonic has officially announced their new Lumix S 50mm f/1.8 full-frame lens for L mount.

Coming in at around $450, this isn’t an inexpensive lens, given that it’s “just” a 50mm f/1.8 lens. With Canon & Sony still floating around at $200-250 for their 50mm f/1.8 mirrorless lenses, the new Panasonic lens sets expectations pretty high.

YouTube video

Panasonic’s new Lumix S 50mm f/1.8 looks to be about as standard a 50mm f/1.8 as we can expect. Nothing really seems out of the ordinary or spectacular enough to justify more than double the price tag of Canon’s 50mm f/1.8 RF mount lens. It has the same 50mm focal length and f/1.8 max aperture of other 50mm f/1.8 lenses and it has no stabilisation – like other 50mm f/1.8 lenses.

They do say, though, that it’s dust, moisture and free resistant, which is a relatively recent consideration for 50mm f/1.8 lenses. Historically, they’ve been regarded as the first lens most people buy besides their kit lens, but they’re not exactly designed to be workhorses. It sounds, though, as if Panasonic expects this one to be exactly that.

Focal Length50mm
Maximum Aperturef/1.8
Minimum ApertureUnknown (but probably f/22)
Lens MountLeica L
Format CompatibilityFull-Frame
Angle of View47°
Maximum Magnification0.14x
Minimum Focus Distance45cm
Optical Design9 Elements in 8 Groups
Diaphragm Blades9, rounded
Focus TypeAutofocus
Image StabilizationNo
Filter Size67 mm (Front)
Dimensions (ø x L)73.6 x 82.0 mm
Weight300g

It also offers “high-resolution sharpness and performance” to support 4K video – whatever that’s supposed means. 4K is only 12-megapixels, and 12-megapixel cameras are a couple of decades old at this point – I’ve yet to find a lens that can’t handle that. But it also offers “micro-step aperture control” for video uses, which I suppose is about as close to a declicked analogue aperture as we’re going to get.

It also doesn’t use focus-by-wire, offering a true mechanical focus system. So, you can use it effectively with follow focus units and gimbals that provide focus motor control without having to worry that your markings are going to be irrelevant as soon as you start to spin that dial.

The humble 50mm f/1.8 lens, or the “nifty fifty” as it’s become popularly known, isn’t generally regarded as an amazing lens, but it’s an almost essential one that resides in the bag of most photographers. Even if it’s not a lens we use all the time, it’s a versatile focal length with a fast aperture that’s become our backup to just about everything.

And everybody having one in their bags is fine when it’s a $150-250 lens, as 50mm f/1.8 lenses typically were in the DSLR days. But at $450, even with Panasonic’s boasts, the Lumix S 50mm f/1.8 is one that many potential buyers are going to be thinking much harder about than they used to when it comes to whether or not to make the purchase.

Still, it’s nice to see that Panasonic’s finally actually released one.

The Panasonic Lumix S 50mm f/1.8 is available to pre-order now for $447.99 and is expected to start shipping in July.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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