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Panasonic 45mm f/2.8 Macro Leica D Vario-Elmar Micro Four Thirds Lens Review

Panasonic 45mm f/2.8 Macro Leica D Vario-Elmar Micro Four Thirds Lens Review - Gary Wolstenholme reviews the premium Panasonic 45mm f/2.8 Macro Leica D Vario-Elmar Micro Four Thirds lens.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm f/2.8 ASPH OIS
Price : £549
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Handling and features
Performance
Verdict
Specification
Panasonic45mmMacro 027

This telephoto macro lens for Micro Four Thirds compatible cameras provides an angle of view equivalent to 90mm lens on a 35mm camera. It is one of Panasonic's premium lenses and carries Leica branding as a result. It is available for around £560 and sports an internal focusing system with a silent motor, optical stabilisation, a bright f/2.8 maximum aperture and full life size magnification is possible at the lens' closest focus distance.

As this lens is currently the only dedicated macro lens available for the Micro Four Thirds system without an adapter, it has no direct competition.

Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm f/2.8 ASPH OIS

Panasonic 45mm f/2.8 Macro Leica D Vario-Elmar Handling and features

Although not up to the standard of Leica's 'M' lenses, the build quality is good, with high quality plastics used for much of the barrel's construction and metal for the lens mount. This helps to keep the overall weight down. With the lens tipping the scales at 225g, it is certainly lightweight for a 1:1 macro optic with a fast f/2.8 aperture and optical stabilisation. At only 62.5mm long, it is very compact too and balances perfectly on the Panasonic G1 used for testing.

As focusing is performed internally the 46mm filter thread does not rotate during use, making this lens ideal for use with graduated and polarising filters. Focus speeds are quick at normal distances and a focus limiter switch is provided to prevent the lens hunting through the entire range of focus. The wide manual focus ring is very well damped and offers a decent amount of resistance, which makes applying fine adjustments a pleasure. The effective aperture of the lens isn't compensated for as the lens is focused closer, unlike many other macro lenses, which can cause inconsistencies with flash exposures.

The minimum focus distance of 15cm provides 1:1 magnification of your subject, but care may need to be taken not to shade the subject when this close. The optical stabiliser allows sharp shots to be taken hand held of subjects at normal distances at 1/13sec with a certain degree of consistency, which is around three stops longer than the usual rule of thumb would allow. At close distances the image stabiliser is less effective, but it still does an excellent job of stabilising the image on screen, which makes focusing and composing easier.

Panasonic45mmMacro 022

Panasonic 45mm f/2.8 Macro Leica D Vario-Elmar Performance

As you might expect for any lens bearing the Leica brand, performance is excellent from maximum aperture. Sharpness in the centre portion of the image reaches outstanding levels at f/4 and peak sharpness across the frame is achieved between maximum aperture and f/5.6.

Resolution @ 45mm
Resolution @ 45mm
 

How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations are barely detectable with Imatest towards the edges of the frame, which is an excellent result for a lens like this.

Chromatic aberration @ 45mm
Chromatic aberration @ 45mm
 

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 using Imatest.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners is quite prominent at f/2.8, where the corners of the image are 2.06 stops darker than the image centre. Stopping the lens down to f/5.6 or beyond results in visually uniform illumination across the frame.

Imatest detected 1.37% barrel distortion in images taken with this lens, which is more than may be expected. Luckily the distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, making it relatively straightforward to correct in image editing software afterwards.

Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm f/2.8 ASPH OIS Sample Photos


Even without the supplied lens hood, this optic is highly resistant to flare and contrast levels remain good, even when shooting into the light.

Panasonic 45mm f/2.8 Macro Leica D Vario-Elmar Verdict

At first, the £560 price tag may seem a little on the high side, but when the excellent performance and features included are taken into consideration, this lens represents a very good buy for Micro Four Thirds camera owners after a dedicated macro lens.

Sharpness is excellent from maximum aperture, the optical stabilisation works well and it's lightweight and compact too.

This lightweight, compact lens offers excellent sharpness levels, has a fast internal focus and is good value for money.

Panasonic 45mm f/2.8 Macro Leica D Vario-Elmar Pros

Excellent sharpness from maximum aperture
Very low CA levels
Fast internal focus
Useful optical stabiliser
Focus limiter switch
Compact and lightweight

Panasonic 45mm f/2.8 Macro Leica D Vario-Elmar Cons

More barrel distortion than might be expected from a dedicated macro lens
Falloff is quite prominent at f/2.8

FEATURES
HANDLING
PERFORMANCE
VALUE FOR MONEY
OVERALL

Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm f/2.8 ASPH OIS Specifications

ManufacturerPanasonic
General
Lens Mounts
  • Panasonic Micro Four Thirds
  • Olympus Micro Four Thirds
Lens
Focal Length45mm
Angle of View27
Max Aperturef/2.8 - f/22
Min Aperturef/2.8 - f/22
Filter Size46mm
35mm equivalent90mm
Internal focusingYes
Focusing
Min Focus15cm
StabilisedYes
Construction
Blades7
Elements14
Groups10
Box Contents
Box ContentsFront and rear caps, Storage bag
Dimensions
Weight225g
Height62.5mm

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