Panasonic has launched a relatively compact and affordable large-aperture short-telephoto prime, in the shape of the Lumix S 85mm F1.8. It’s the first in a new line of L-mount primes that will all share the same dimensions, filter size and control layout. Similar 24mm, 35mm and 50mm siblings are all promised for the near future, with a wider-angle optic also planned. The firm faced criticism for its initial set of full-frame lenses being too large, heavy and expensive, so this comes as a very welcome response.
Optically, the 85mm f/1.8 is designed to deliver high image quality, with a smooth transition from sharp in-focus regions to attractively blurred backgrounds. It comprises 9 elements in 8 groups, including two ED glass elements to suppress colour fringing due to chromatic aberration, while the aperture diaphragm employs 9 curved blades. A frictionless linear motor is used for rapid, silent autofocus, and Panasonic claims to have specifically designed the optics to suppress focus breathing. The minimum focus distance is 80cm, which gives a maximum magnification of 0.13x.
With a splash-, dust- and freeze-resistant design, the lens measures 73.6mm in diameter and 82mm in length, while weighing in at 355g. This makes it one of the smallest and lightest lenses in its class. It’s fitted with a broad manual focus ring and an AF/MF switch, employs 67mm filters, and will ship with a deep bowl-shaped lens hood. Due to go on sale at the end of November, the Panasonic Lumix S 85mm F1.8 will cost £599.99.