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Panasonic Lumix G Vario PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6 M43 Lens Review

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Category: Interchangeable Lenses
Product: Panasonic Lumix X G Vario PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6 Asph
Price: £295.00
Rating: 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5

Panasonic Lumix G Vario PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6 Lens - Gary Wolstenholme reviews the Panasonic Lumix G Vario PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6 lens from the new premium X series which has a built in motor.

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Handling and Features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Panasonic Lumix X G Vario PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6 Asph

This telephoto zoom lens from Panasonic for Micro Four Thirds compatible cameras covers a range equivalent to a 90-350mm lens on a 35mm camera. It is one of Panasonic's new premium 'X' series lenses that uses a built in motor to move the lens through its zoom range, rather than a direct mechanical system. This lens costs around £400 and sports internal focus and zoom mechanisms, silent focusing and optical stabilisation.

Alternatives include Panasonic's 45-200mm f/4-5.6 Lumix G Vario lens which costs around £280 and apart from having 50mm extra reach at the telephoto end also sports optical stabilisation, internal focusing but not internal zooming.

Those looking to cover this range on a tighter budget may look towards the Olympus 40-150mm f/4-5.6 M.Zuiko lens. This lens includes neither optical stabilisation or internal zooming, but does focus internally.

Panasonic Lumix G Vario PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6 Handling and Features

The lens barrel is constructed from high quality plastics textured finish and weighs only 210g, which is very light for a telephoto optic on any system. A metal lens mount that should be able to withstand many lens changes has been fitted, adding to the overall impression of good build quality. At only 90mm long, it is incredibly compact for a lens covering this range. It balances perfectly on the Panasonic Lumix G3 used for testing, but may suit more compact Micro Four Thirds bodies even better.

Panasonic Lumix X G Vario PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6 Asph
Panasonic Lumix X G Vario PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6 Asph

As focusing and zooming are 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 fairly quick and the manual focus ring offers just the right amount of resistance to make fine adjustments easy. The motorised zoom mechanism takes a little getting used to, as there is no physical stop at each end of the zoom range. Either the rotating ring or the tele/wide switch can be used to activate the zoom, depending on your preference. The addition of the tele/wide switch is especially useful for smooth zooming during video recording. Each time the camera is switched on, the zoom resets itself to the wide position, which can be a little frustrating if the camera was switched off to conserve battery whilst waiting for a shot.

Panasonic Lumix X G Vario PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6 Asph
Panasonic Lumix X G Vario PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6 Asph

The minimum focus distance of 90cm makes this lens suitable for frame filling close ups at maximum zoom, especially as most 35mm lenses covering this range have a minimum focus distance of around 1.5 metres.

With a little care, the optical stabilisation system allows sharp shots to be taken just over half the time at 1/40sec at maximum zoom, which is roughly three stops slower than the usual rule of thumb would dictate.

Panasonic Lumix G Vario PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6 Lens Performance

At 45mm and maximum aperture sharpness in the centre is already excellent and good towards the edges of the frame. Stopping down to f/5.6 results in a slight increase in sharpness across the frame but sharpness is best from edge to edge at f/8, where performance is excellent across the frame.

As no focal lengths are marked on the zoom, the middle point of the zoom range chosen for testing ended up being 112mm. At this focal length clarity in the centre of the frame at maximum aperture remains excellent but sharpness towards the edges has dropped to fairly good levels. Again peak sharpness across the entire frame is achieved at f/8, where sharpness approaches excellent levels across the frame.

Excellent sharpness in the centre is maintained at f/5.6 and 175mm and the quality towards the edges rises to very good levels. Again peak quality across the frame is achieved at f/8, where sharpness in the centre is excellent, and very good towards the edges.

Resolution @ 45mm
Resolution @ 45mm
  Resolution @ 112mm
Resolution @ 112mm
Resolution @ 175mm
Resolution @ 175mm
 

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 G3 using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations are remarkably well controlled throughout the zoom range. At its worst, fringing just exceeds half a pixel width towards the edges of the frame at 175mm and f/22. This extremely low level should pose few issues, even in large prints and harsh crops from the edges of the frame. Throughout the rest of the zoom, chromatic fringing is barely detectable.

Chromatic Aberattion @ 45mm
Chromatic Aberration @ 45mm
  Chromatic Aberattion @ 112mm
Chromatic Aberration @ 112mm
Chromatic Aberattion @ 175mm
Chromatic Aberration @ 175mm
 

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 G3 using Imatest.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners is reasonably well controlled. At 45mm the corners are 1.53 stops darker than the image centre. At 175mm the corners are only 0.95 stops darker than the image centre. Illumination is visually uniform at f/8 throughout the zoom range.

Distortion is very well controlled with 0.139% barrel distortion being present at 45mm and 0.506% pincushion at 175mm. These distortion levels are very slight and should pose few issues in normal photography. If you do require absolutely no distortion, the small amount that is present is easily corrected in image editing software afterwards, as the distortion pattern is uniform across the frame.
This lens is one of a few from Panasonic that sport their Nano Surface Coatings to reduce flare and loss of contrast. Even when shooting into the light, it is very difficult to create lens flare with this optic and contrast is retained remarkably well.

Panasonic Lumix X G Vario PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6 Asph Sample Photos

Portrait with Flash 1/125 sec | f/4.2 | 52.0 mm | ISO 160

Portrait with Flash 1/125 sec | f/4.2 | 52.0 mm | ISO 160
High-Res

Blurred backgrounds are rendered reasonably smoothly | 1/160 sec | f/7.1 | 175.0 mm | ISO 400

Blurred backgrounds are rendered reasonably smoothly | 1/160 sec | f/7.1 | 175.0 mm | ISO 400
High-Res

Sharpness is excellent across the frame when the lens is stopped down a little | 1/250 sec | f/8.0 | 122.0 mm | ISO 640

Sharpness is excellent across the frame when the lens is stopped down a little | 1/250 sec | f/8.0 | 122.0 mm | ISO 640
High-Res

Nano Surface Coatings reduce flare, even when shooting into the light | 1/125 sec | f/6.3 | 120.0 mm | ISO 160

Nano Surface Coatings reduce flare, even when shooting into the light | 1/125 sec | f/6.3 | 120.0 mm | ISO 160
High-Res

1/50 sec | f/5.0 | 45.0 mm | ISO 400

1/50 sec | f/5.0 | 45.0 mm | ISO 400
High-Res

1/320 sec | f/5.0 | 45.0 mm | ISO 400

1/320 sec | f/5.0 | 45.0 mm | ISO 400
High-Res

The focal range is useful, being equivalent to a 90-350mm lens on a 35mm camera 1/125 sec | f/6.3 | 120.0 mm | ISO 160

The focal range is useful, being equivalent to a 90-350mm lens on a 35mm camera 1/125 sec | f/6.3 | 120.0 mm | ISO 160
High-Res

1/200 sec | f/8.0 | 175.0 mm | ISO 800

1/200 sec | f/8.0 | 175.0 mm | ISO 800
High-Res


Panasonic Lumix G Vario PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6 Lens Verdict

For a lens carrying a premium price tag, the performance is good but could be better in some areas. Excellent sharpness levels are maintained throughout the zoom range at maximum aperture, but sharpness towards the edges falls behind. Stopping down does improve sharpness a little, but as diffraction limits how effective stopping down can be, quality peaks at f/8 throughout the zoom range.

Overall this lens is a very good, if a little pricey, general purpose telephoto, with good build quality and design. It may take those who are used to using more traditional lenses a little while to get used to the motorised zooming mechanism, but any issues will soon diminish with time given to familiarise yourself with its quirks.

 
  The Panasonic 45-175mm lens is a very good general purpose telephoto, with good build quality and design.

Panasonic Lumix G Vario PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6 Lens Pros

Good build
Internal focus and zoom
Effective stabilisation
Nano surface coatings
Good optical quality

Panasonic Lumix G Vario PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6 Lens Cons

Novel zoom system make take a little getting used to
Lens resets itself to widest setting each time the camera is switched off

FEATURES
HANDLING
PERFORMANCE
VALUE FOR MONEY
OVERALL

Panasonic Lumix X G Vario PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6 Asph Specifications

ManufacturerPanasonic
General
Lens Mounts
  • Panasonic Micro Four Thirds
  • Olympus Micro Four Thirds
Lens
Focal Length 45mm - 175mm
Angle of View 7.1 - 27
Max Aperture f/4 - f/5.6
Min Aperture f/22
Filter Size 46mm
35mm equivalent 90mm - 350mm
Internal focusing Yes
Focusing
Min Focus 90cm
Stabilised Yes
Construction
Blades No Data
Elements 14
Groups 10
Box Contents
Box Contents Lens cap / Lens rear cap / Lens storage bag / Lens hood
Dimensions
Weight 210g
Height 61.6mm

View Full Product Details





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Comments

Debspix
Debspix  2 United Kingdom
10 Dec 2011 - 4:15 PM

Each time the camera is switched on, the zoom resets itself to the wide position, which can be a little frustrating if the camera was switched off to conserve battery whilst waiting for a shot.
With the gh2 updated software, it is possible to set the camera to resume the previous zoom length when the camera is switched back on. I cant say about any other camera!Grin
http://takeanotherpicture.blogspot.com/

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