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Panasonic Lumix G Vario 45-200mm f/4.0-5.6 Lens Review

Panasonic Lumix G Vario 45-200mm f/4.0-5.6 Lens Review - Gary Wolstenholme reviews the Panasonic Lumix G Vario 45-200mm f/4.0-5.6 Micro Four Thirds lens for Panasonic and Olympus Micro Four Thirds cameras.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Panasonic Lumix G Vario 45-200mm f/4.0-5.6
Price : £249
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Handling and features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Panasonic Lumix G Vario 45-200mm f/4.0-5.6

This 4.4x zoom lens for Micro Four Thirds system cameras, provides a zoom range equivalent to a 90-400mm lens on a 35mm camera. It also includes optical image stabilisation, a silent focusing motor and a relatively lightweight, compact design.

Panasonic Lumix G Vario 45-200mm f/4.0-5.6 Handling and features

For a lens covering a range stretching into super-telephoto territory, this optic is remarkably light weight and compact. Even so it can feel a little large when used on one of the more compact Micro Four Thirds bodies, such as the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 used for testing.

Panasonic Lumix G Vario 45-200mm f/4.0-5.6

High quality plastics have been used for much of the lens barrel's construction and the lens mount is metal. The zoom action is smooth, and zoom creep isn't an issue as the zoom mechanism has just enough resistance to prevent the lens travelling forward on its own when pointed downwards.

Focusing is performed internally, so the 52mm filter thread doesn't rotate, which makes this lens ideal for use with polarising and graduated filters. Autofocus is reasonably quick in single focus mode in good light, although it may struggle to keep up when attempting to track moving subjects. The manual focus ring is well damped, which makes fine adjustments quite easy to apply.

Panasonic Lumix G Vario 45-200mm f/4.0-5.6

The optical image stabiliser allows sharp hand held images to be taken at shutters speeds as low as 1/50sec at 200mm, which is around three stops slower than the usual rule of thumb would allow otherwise.

Panasonic Lumix G Vario 45-200mm f/4.0-5.6 Performance

Sharpness in the centre of the image area at f/4 is already very good, with the clarity towards the edges of the frame falling slightly behind. Stopping down the lens improves sharpness across the frame with peak clarity being attained at f/8.

Zooming to 75mm improves overall clarity, with excellent sharpness levels being recorded by Imatest at maximum aperture in the centre of the image area and very good sharpness towards the edges of the frame. The resolution of the lens doesn't change much with stopping down as far as f/8, where it remains excellent in the centre and very good towards the edges of the frame.

Finally, at 200mm, overall sharpness is reduced somewhat, with the clarity recorded just exceeding good levels in the centre and only being fairly good towards the edges. Stopping down improves sharpness towards the edges until f/11, but it never quite reaches good levels of clarity.

Resolution at 45mm
Resolution at 45mm
  Resolution at 75mm
Resolution at 75mm
Resolution at 200mm
Resolution at 200mm
 

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-GF3 using Imatest.

Levels of chromatic aberrations hover around the borderline of acceptable throughout the zoom range towards the edges of the frame. CA levels peak at 75mm and maximum aperture, with fringing here exceeding one pixel width. This may start to become visible in images with high contrast areas towards the edges of the frame, especially in large prints, or harsh crops.

Chromatic aberration @ 45mm
Chromatic aberration @ 45mm
  Chromatic aberration @ 75mm
Chromatic aberration @ 75mm
Chromatic aberration @ 200mm
Chromatic aberration @ 200mm
 

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-GF3 using Imatest.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners is reasonable, with the corners being 1.32 stops darker than the image centre at 45mm, and 1.44 stops darker at 200mm. Visually uniform illumination is achieved with the lens stopped down by two stops form maximum aperture throughout the zoom range.

Distortion is extremely well controlled, with Imatest only recording 0.227% barrel distortion at 45mm and 0.153% pincushion at 200mm. These levels are so low they will be virtually imperceptible in most images. If absolutely straight lines are paramount, then what little distortion is there should be relatively straightforward to correct, as the distortion pattern is uniform across the frame.

A deep circular hood is supplied as standard, which does an excellent job of shielding the front element from extraneous light that may cause a loss of contrast, or flare. Even when shooting into the light, contrast levels hold up well, only being reduced slightly at 200mm and maximum aperture.

Panasonic Lumix G Vario 45-200mm f/4.0-5.6 Sample Photos


Value for Money

Priced at around £250, this lens represents pretty good value for money, given the closest equivalent for Micro Four Thirds cameras is the Panasonic 45-175mm f/4-5.6 X lens, which retails at around £320 and is a little shorter at the telephoto end.

Panasonic Lumix G Vario 45-200mm f/4.0-5.6 Verdict

Although the optical performance of this lens may not be up to the lofty heights of some other Micro Four thirds lenses, the budget price and good features still make this a decent value choice.

Sharpness is good throughout the zoom range in the centre and those looking for a 400mm FOV lens on a budget should be able to get great images from this lens, so long as its limitations are taken into account.

Panasonic Lumix G Vario 45-200mm f/4.0-5.6 Pros

Budget friendly price
Lightweight
Deep circular hood included
Extremely low distortion
Effective optical stabiliser

Panasonic Lumix G Vario 45-200mm f/4.0-5.6 Cons

Sharpness could be better towards the edges of the frame at 200mm
CA levels on the high side

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
OVERALL  

Panasonic Lumix G Vario 45-200mm f/4.0-5.6 Specifications

ManufacturerPanasonic
General
Lens Mounts
  • Panasonic Micro Four Thirds
Lens
Focal Length45mm - 200mm
Angle of View7 - 47
Max Aperturef/4 - f/5
Min Aperturef/22
Filter Size52mm
35mm equivalent90mm - 400mm
Internal focusingYes
Focusing
Min Focus100cm
StabilisedNo
Construction
Blades7
Elements16
Groups13
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data
Dimensions
Weight380g
Height100mm

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Comments


19 May 2012 10:53AM
I have very sharp pictures from 45-200mm both on Panasonic G3 and Olympus OM-D. Looks like you do something wrong in your tests...
Regards

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joshwa e2
4 710 United Kingdom
19 May 2012 11:25AM

Quote:I have very sharp pictures from 45-200mm both on Panasonic G3 and Olympus OM-D. Looks like you do something wrong in your tests...
Regards



Hi Krasitsky, if you go here:
http://www.ephotozine.com/equipment/item/panasonic-lumix-g-vario-45-200mm-f-4-0-5-6-1120

You can upload photos from this lens, and we can have a look at the images,

Thanks

Josh
19 May 2012 11:32AM
Hi Josh
I have some at flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/photodrug/tags/45200mm/
I do reviews about 4 years in Russia so I can say that 45-200mm is more sharp than new 45-175mm
Regards
Dmitry
19 May 2012 11:56AM
Good results also:
http://photozone.smugmug.com/photos/664208094_wBuf2-O.jpg
http://photozone.smugmug.com/photos/664201927_sqE7c-O.jpg

No it's not an ideal but not as terrible as on your shots. Bad copy? Sad
19 May 2012 1:18PM
Hi Dmitry.

I'm not sure what's happened to the sample shots between here and going up on the web, but they certainly look sharper this end. They certainly should look sharper too, as the lens is capable of good sharpness, as I said in the review.

I'll re-process them and resend them so they can be replaced on the site. I'm sure Josh will pop a message for you here when they've been replaced.
Thank you. Don't think I'm just teasing you, I really like your site and wish it run forever Smile

P.S. Just processed files from Olympus OM-D + Panasonic 45-200mm and I can say that 200mm is not as good now... and it has strange vignetting at left and right sides of shot frame.
19 May 2012 2:12PM
No worries.

Thank you for pointing it out. The only thing I can think it that they've either been compressed horribly again somewhere along the line, or sharpening was turned off when I processed the files.

Even so, they look a lot worse here than the mild sharpening I normally apply to the Raw files would remedy.

Hopefully Josh will have them replaced soon.

Looking back through he files, the lens looks considerably softer at 200mm & minimum focus, but still not as bad as it looks from the samples up there. the difference is almost night and day Wink
19 May 2012 2:41PM
I use the Panny 45-200 on my DMC G3 and I get really sharp pictures, much sharper than is shown in this review. There must be some sort of discrepancy some where!

Kodachrome
joshwa e2
4 710 United Kingdom
19 May 2012 4:04PM

Quote:I use the Panny 45-200 on my DMC G3 and I get really sharp pictures, much sharper than is shown in this review. There must be some sort of discrepancy some where!

Kodachrome



Hi Kodachrome, we uploaded soft images mistakenly (as you'll see in the previous comments), we have now corrected this, so if you refresh you should see sharp images, thanks Josh
Kloid e2
5 10 3 United States
23 May 2012 6:31AM
I bought this lens for US $199 and free shipping, all I can say is I am glad I gave it a shot. Its a remarkable lens for 3 times that price in my opinion. I get very nice sharpness, color and focus on the OMD. What a bargain!!!!
Barney64 e2
3 1 3
23 May 2012 1:10PM
I have been using this lens for a month now, mainly for water fowl and flowers. My example produces excellent images from fully open right down (or is it up?) to f11. I never use f16 or beyond on any lens, ever. It also works extremely well as a psuedo-macro with its ability to focus down to 115cms even at 200mm. The additional working space of the longer focal lengths is a huge advantage when snapping nervous creatures.

Subjectively, I cannot differentiate the performance from my beloved Tamron SP90 macro using a Nikon adaptor on my G1 body. The only proviso is that one must use RAW and be a little bit agressive with the sharpening (Silkipix: Outline 65, Detail 65, False Outline 20)

This has become my favourite lens, but then I am using a G1. Maybe a GH2 or G3 would show up faults that are not revealed by my kit.
I'm not sure was it same person, who wrote review about g vario 45-150mm.
Can you say how suitable is this lens to sport? I would use it photographing dogs.


I'm thinking which is better 45-200mm vs 45-150mm.. In 45-150mm is comment that performing is not best at sport and continous focusing.

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