Panasonic 7-14mm lens review at Cocos Island

Panasonic 7-14mm F4 lens review, with amazing photos using the GH4 from Cocos Island
By Scott Gietler, photos by Kadu Pinhiero

Many people ask me which lens they should use for big animal destinations like Cocos, Malpelo, Socorro or the Galapagos Islands. A fisheye lens can often be too wide, while a mid-range zoom lens often doesn't do some of these stunning animals justice. Kadu Pinheiro, one of South America's best known underwater photographers, shows us what can be done when using the right focal length. Although at first I was surprised when he told me he was going to use only a mirrorless camera on his recent Cocos trip, I think the results from the GH4 and the Panasonic 7-14mm micro-four thirds lens speak for themselves.

Location: Cocos Island, Costa Rica, aka "Island of the Sharks" in late October 2015

Photographer: Kadu Pinheiro

Gear: Panasonic GH4, Aquatica Housing, Panasonic 7-14mm F4 lens, Aquatica SW8 acrylic dome port, dual Sea & Sea YS-D1 strobes

Equivalent focal lengths on different sensor sizes:

  • Micro-four thirds:  7-14mm

  • Canon 1.6x crop:   9-18mm

  • Nikon, Sony APS-C: 9-19mm

  • Full Frame:  14-28mm

Recommended lenses for Socorro / Cocos / Galapagos:

I've selected some of the lenses that will give the closest results to the Panasonic 7-14mm F4 lens, on different bodies:

  • Micro-four thirds: Panasonic 7-14mm F4, Olympus 7-14mm F2.8

  • Canon 1.6x crop: Canon 10-22mm, Sigma 10-20mm

  • Sony 1.5x crop: Sony 10-18mm

  • Nikon 1.5x crop: Nikon 10-24mm, Sigma 10-20mm

  • Canon full-frame: Canon 11-24mm F4, Canon 16-35mm F2.8, Canon 16-35mm F4

  • Nikon full-frame: Nikon 16-35mm F4

About the Panasonic 7-14mm lens

The Panasonic 7-14mm F4 lens came out in March of 2009. Although originally $1,000 USD, the price has come down and it is now on sale for a short time, for a more affordable $698 USD. This focal length not only works well for sharks and pelagics underwater, it is also the perfect focal length for shooting landscape photos, I used a similar focal length during my entire hiking trip of New Zealand.

The lens has 16 elements in 12 groups, including 4 ED glass elements, and 2 aspherical elements. In has internal "Micro motor" auto-focus - auto focus is very fast, and a diagonal angle of view of 75 to 114 degrees.

For an ultra-wide angle lens - lens is very small, only 83mm long.  Having a bulbous front element, it does not accept filters.

For underwater photography, I think the best way to show the capabilities of this lens is through real photos, so please view and enjoy. These were all taken on a single dive trip at Cocos Island in late October 2015.

panasonic 7-14mm lens review underwater


hammerhead shark underwater photo


Giant Trevally underwater photography

Cocos Island underwater photos





Eagle ray Cocos


Stingray with Panasonic 7-14mm lens underwater


Over-unders with the Panasonic 7-14mm

The Panasonic 7-14mm lens is a good option for over-unders, especially since the only port options are 6-inches wide or larger. Be sure read our guide to over/under split shots

Panasonic 7-14mm over/under shop

Panasonic 7-14mm lens - focus speed, sharpness

Having usually shot with a fisheye lens underwater, Kadu was a little nervous taking the 7-14mm lens down on his first trip to Cocos Island - but it turned out to be the perfect choice, allowing him to get marine life photos with divers, and also hammerhead shark portraits. The marine life generally did not come close enough to warrant using a fisheye lens.

Focus speed was excellent, and using the default focus modes of the Panasonic GH4 worked well, using a half-press on the shutter to focus the camera. Matrix focus mode (49 area) was used for animals in motion, and spot focus was used for still scenes. Almost all of this photos from Cocos were in focus.

Overall the lens was very, very sharp. Corners were soft at F4 - F5.6, but got better at F6.3 and higher.

If you are a mirrorless shooter looking to shoot big animals, then the Panasonic 7-14mm, or the Olympus F2.8  7-14mm lens, is highly recommended. If you are using a larger sensor, consult the recommended lenses we mention earlier in this article.

Links to Gear & Destinations

Panasonic 7-14mm F4 lens
Olympus 7-14mm F2.8 pro lens
Panasonic GH4 Body
Aquatica GH4 Underwater Housing
Nauticam GH4 Underwater Housing
Sea & Sea YS-D2 strobe
Aquatica SW8 dome port
Sony 10-18mm F4 lens 

Cocos Island Dive Travel & Liveaboards
Socorro Island Dive Travel & Liveaboards
Galapagos Islands Dive Travel & Liveaboards 

Full trip report from Kadu's Cocos Trip
Join our Cocos Island Trip October 2016 


Scott Gietler is the owner of Bluewater Photo, Bluewater Travel, and the Underwater Photography Guide. Bluewater Photo, based in Culver City, CA is one of the world’s largest and most prestigious underwater camera stores, serving many thousands of customers each year, where nothing is more important than customer service. The Underwater Photography Guide is the world’s first website to feature free tutorials on underwater photography, and has become the most trafficked resource on underwater photography worldwide. Bluewater Travel is a full-service dive travel wholesaler sending groups and individuals on the world’s best dive vacations. 

Scott is also an avid diver, underwater photographer, and budding marine biologist, having created the online guide to the underwater flora and fauna of Southern California. He is the past vice-president of the Los Angeles Underwater Photographic Society, has volunteered extensively at the Santa Monica aquarium, and is the creator of the Ocean Art underwater photo competition, one of the largest underwater international photo competitions ever held in terms of value of prizes. He lives in California with his wife, newborn girl and scuba-diving, photo taking 4 year old son.

Follow Scott on Facebook or Instagram.


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