Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8 Review

November 9, 2020 | Mark Goldstein |

Introduction

The Lumix S 85mm F1.8 is a fast short-telephoto prime lens for the Panasonic, Sigma and Leica "L-mount" full-frame mirrorless camera system.

The Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8 lens features a bright f/1.8 maximum aperture and has 9 rounded diaphragm blades for smoother bokeh.

It is comprised of 9 elements in 8 groups, including 2 ED (Extra-low Dispersion) lenses to prevent axial chromatic aberrations.

The Panasonic 85mm F1.8 has a closest focusing distance of 0.8m/2.62ft and a maximum magnification of 0.13x.

It boasts a dust, splash and freeze resistant design that can operate at 10 degrees below zero.

The Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8 (S-S85) is priced at £599.99 / €679.99 / $599.99 in the UK, Europe and the USA respectively.

Ease of Use

Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8

The Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8 is a small, compact and very light portrait prime lens, and measuring 8.2cm in length, 7.4mm in diameter and weighing in at a mere 355g / 12.52oz.

When mounted on the new Lumix S S5 mirrorless camera that Panasonic sent us for testing, the Lumix S 85mm F1.8 feels extremely well-balanced and suitable for both two-handed and one-handed use.

Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8
Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8

Build quality is very good. The Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8 feels solid in your hand, even if it is mostly made out of plastic, with a metal lens mount.

It's also weather-proof, being both dust and splash resistant and working all the way down to -10 degrees. We successfully used it in a heavy shower with no adverse effects.

Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8
Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8

There is no built-in Image Stabilisation, though, with the lens instead relying on the camera body's stabilisation system (if it has one).

In terms of controls, there is just one - a focus mode switch with the standard AF/MF settings.

Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8
Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8

The Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8 lens has a fairly wide focus ring with a ridged, rubberised grip band.

There are no hard stops at both ends of the range, making it more difficult to set focus at infinity.

Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8

Polariser users should be pleased that the 67mm filter thread doesn't rotate on focus.

When it comes to auto-focusing, the Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8 is a fairly quick performer, taking around 0.15 seconds to lock onto the subject when mounted on the Panasonic S5 camera that we tested it with.

Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8

Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8

We didn't experience too much "hunting", either in good or bad light, with the lens accurately focusing virtually all of the time in the single AF-S mode.

The liner motor focusing mechanism is very quiet, in fact virtually silent, making this lens well-suited to video recording as well as candid stills photography.

Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8
Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8

The lens ships with a large, round, high quality lens hood (ET-77) with a lock button, but there's no case included.

Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8
Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8
Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8
Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8

Focal Range

The Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8's 85mm focal length provides an angle of view of 28º 30' degrees.

Panasonic 35mm F1.4 DG HSM

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or blue fringes along contrasty edges, are only conspicuous by their almost complete absence from our Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8 test shots.

Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8
Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8

Light Fall-off and Distortion

With the Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8 lens set to its maximum aperture of f/1.8, there is significant light fall-off in the corners. Stopping-down to f/4 virtually eliminates this.

Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8

Pin-cushion distortion is not at all evident.

Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8

Sunstars and Flare

The Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8 is capable of producing quite nice sunstars when stopped-down to f/16 or f/22, as shown below, with flare being well controlled even when shooting directly into the sun.

Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8

Macro

The Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8 isn't claimed to be a macro lens, with a minimum focusing distance of 80cm/2.62ft and a maximum magnification of 0.13x.

Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8
Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8

Bokeh

Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc.

In the Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8 lens, Panasonic have employed an iris diaphragm with 9 rounded blades, which has resulted in nice bokeh in our view.

We do realise, however, that bokeh evaluation is subjective, so we've included several examples below for your perusal.

Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8
Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8
Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8
Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8
Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8
Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8

Sharpness

In order to show you how sharp the Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8 lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following page.