As I noted in the intro, I didn’t really expect a lot with regards to optical quality with this lens. It is a budget 14mm lens, after all. However, I was very pleasantly surprised, as the Pergear 14mm put it a very strong performance overall, especially with regards to stopped down sharpness and distortion.
A 14mm lens is a hard lens to make, and an even harder one to make sharp. The very best modern ultra-wides can manage to get very sharp images from corner to corner, even wide open, but these are somewhat few and far between. The Pergear doesn’t manage that pin sharpness wide open, but it does perform very well overall.
At f/2.8, the lens shows very strong resolution centrally that tails off a bit as you get to the edges. There seems to be a little bit of field curvature here, so flat plane subjects as well as outdoor landscapes will show these soft edges at wide apertures. However, focusing near the edges shows good to very good resolution even at f/2.8, though then the center at the same distance suffers and can go out of focus (depending on distance). My sample did have a slight bit of decentering, with the left edge being a little softer than the right when shot at wider apertures.
Stopping down to f/4 improves things, but f/5.6 sees a very large jump in resolution, providing very good resolution across the frame, and at f/8 and f/11 it’s very sharp corner to corner. The shot above was taken at f/8 – click to view full size.
This is very impressive for such a budget lens, and frankly, it’s great for any ultra-wide. For instance, the Peargear at f/8 is sharper at the edges than the Canon RF 14-35mm f/4L IS and the Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4 S. The Pergear 14mm also shows good sharpness even when focused at the minimum focus distance of 0.22m. Overall, while not a perfect showing here, this is an excellent performance and is especially good for such an affordable lens.
While ultra-wide lenses are not known for throwing backgrounds out of focus, on full frame especially, they can do so when focused close up. The 14mm f/2.8 II shows quite pleasing bokeh when focused close up at f/2.8. Specular highlights are generally neutral, and most backgrounds fall away very nicely. Shots like the one below with lots of fine branches can show a bit of nervousness, but nothing out of the ordinary for such a wide lens. Again, a very surprising result here.
Color, Contrast and Chromatic Aberration
The Pergear 14mm f/2.8 II shows moderate contrast overall and maintains that at all apertures and focus distances. Compared to more expensive lenses like the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 S, the Pergear shows a more muted contrast response, but while unremarkable, it also doesn’t produce images that are flat. Color is generally quite good, though I did see some minor color shifting in the corners in some shots. This isn’t uncommon for many ultra-wide lenses, especially those made for Leica M mount and adapted to mirrorless bodies, though it’s a little unusual to see in a dedicated mirrorless lens. It didn’t visibly show up in all shots, though it’s something to keep an eye out for.
The lens shows very good control of chromatic aberration, with essentially no field relevant lateral chromatic aberration, and frankly no visible longitudinal CA or purple fringing in daily use. Very impressive.
Distortion, Flare, and Vignetting
Now we come to what is perhaps the Pergear’s most impressive feat optically, as well as its two weaknesses.
First, let’s talk distortion. 14mm lenses almost always have some form of distortion. The high end primes generally have a touch of barrel distortion, while 14mm zooms usually have significantly more. Budget 14mm lenses generally have a ton of distortion and that is often complex and hard to correct. However, the Pergear 14mm f/2.8 has almost no distortion at all. If you look extremely closely, there is the slightest hint of barrel distortion when focused closer up that changes to a very slight pincushion distortion near infinity. In all cases, the distortion is extremely minor and will only be visible if taking images that are grid-like in nature, and even then only when pixel peeping. This is absolutely remarkable for a $289 14mm lens, and is the lowest distortion I’ve ever seen in a lens this wide, from any manufacturer at any price point. None of the samples in this review have had any geometric distortion correction performed (though I have done the occasional perspective distortion correction to straighten verticals due to camera angle).
And now we come to the one area where the Pergear 14mm shows a relatively poor performance – flare. While the lens doesn’t show too many issues from veiling flare, showing generally strong contrast throughout even with the sun in frame, it can produce rather spectacular ghosting in a lot of circumstances. Wide open, the lens can show both red and white ghosts in partial ring formations, and these can be quite bright. Stopped down, the white ghosts go away, but the red flares remain at all apertures, depending on where the sun is in the frame. In some positions, there is essentially no ghosting at all, save for some very small multicolored spots. In others, strong dramatic red flare arcs can be seen covering portions of the image, and at one specific location at the very edge of the frame, a bright white flare can ruin your image. Sometimes the red flare can actually look pretty cool, but overall it’s a pretty weak performance here. On the plus side, when stopped down the lens can show rather well defined 10 pointed sunstars. Both the red flare and the sunstars can be seen in the shot below.
Finally, the Pergear 14mm f/2.8 shows rather strong vignetting when shot at f/2.8 that eases as you stop down to around f/5.6 but never fully goes away. The vignetting can be corrected in programs such as Lightroom, but will lead to some increased noise in the corners.
Overall, despite some weakness with regards to flare and vignetting, the Pergear 14mm f/2.8 II turns in a surprisingly good performance here. Good sharpness in the center wide open and very good resolution across the frame stopped down, very low distortion and great CA control are the highlights here.