Panasonic Lumix G-Vario 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH/MEGA O.I.S. Lens

      Photo Review 8.5
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      leadpic_Lumix_14-45mm-lens

      In summary

      A capable and compact, although not particularly fast, 3x zoom lens for Micro Four Thirds System cameras.The Lumix G Vario 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. lens is currently only supplied with one of Panasonic’s G-series bodies. Its optical design comprises 12 elements arranged in 9 groups with one Aspherical element. . . [more]

      Full review

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      The Lumix G Vario 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. lens is currently only supplied with one of Panasonic’s G-series bodies. Its optical design comprises 12 elements arranged in 9 groups with one Aspherical element.

      With a diameter of 60 mm and measuring 60 mm from the tip of the lens to the base of the lens mount, it is petite for its zoom range. Zooming from the 14mm position to 45mm extends the front of the lens by 28mm. Overall weight is approximately 195 grams.

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      Lumix_14-45mm-lens

      The Lumix G Vario 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. lens. (Source: Panasonic.)

      The iris diaphragm has seven blades and closes to create a circular aperture. Minimum aperture at all focal lengths is f/22. The focus ring is about 6 mm wide and made from hard, ribbed plastic. It rotates through 360 degrees wand there are no stops for setting close-up or infinity positions. The front element of the lens doesn’t rotate during focusing, enabling use of angle-critical filters and other attachments.

      Build and Handling
      Built from high-quality polycarbonate plastic, it has a metal bayonet mounting plate. Inside the mounting plate are 11 electrical contacts that enable the camera to interact with the lens. A 16 mm wide gunmetal grey ring sits between the camera body and the zoom and focus rings and carries the on/off slider switch for the built-in MEGA OIS stabilisation system.

      The zoom ring is covered by a ribbed, rubberised ring roughly 15mm wide. Engraved on its (unribbed) leading edge are marks for the 14mm, 18mm, 25mm, 35mm and 45mm focal length settings.

      The focusing ring is a narrow (5 mm wide) ridged band that is recessed into the lens barrel. It rotates through 360 degrees and is easy to use because the MF Assist function on the GF1 provides an enlarged view of part of the subject when the shutter button is half-pressed.

      Both rings turn smoothly and the zoom ring showed minimal creeping. No zoom lock is provided. The zoom ring rotates through roughly a quarter of a turn as it is moved from the 14mm to the 45mm setting. On the GF1, the maximum aperture changes with focal length as follows:

      Focal length setting

      Max. aperture

      14mm

      f/3.5

      18mm

      f/3.9

      25mm

      f/4.9

      35mm

      f/5.5

      45mm

      f/5.6

      The front of the lens is threaded to accept 52mm filters. A clip on lens cap and end cap are provided but no lens hood was supplied with the review lens.

      Performance
      Our tests on this lens were carried out on the GF1 body (a review of which is posted on the Photo Review website. Click here to read the review.) Autofocusing was fast and generally accurate, although with close subjects the placement of the sensor was critical to getting the wanted area in sharp focus. Spot focusing is recommended in such situations.

      The MEGA O.I.S. stabilisation system engaged quickly and worked almost noiselessly during our tests. It enabled us to shoot hand-held at shutter speeds down to 1/30 second with the 45mm focal length setting with a 100% success rate for blur-free images. This equates to more than one f-stop of shutter speed advantage over an unstabilised lens. (At 1/20 second, roughly 80% of test shots were blur-free.)

      Imatest showed this lens to be capable of high resolution through most of its aperture range, with the best performance being at the widest aperture settings. A small degree of edge softening was revealed throughout the aperture range, although this was barely visible in test shots. The graph below shows the results of our tests on raw files.

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      Lumix_14-45mm_Res-vs-FL-graph

      Our tests showed this lens to have very good flatness of field, with only a slight degree of barrel distortion at the widest focal length. This has vanished by the 25mm setting and no pincushioning was observable at 45mm.

      Lateral chromatic aberration was negligible at most apertures and focal lengths, creeping into the ‘low’ band at the widest aperture settings. The graph below shows the results of our Imatest tests.

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      Lumix_14-45mm_CA-graph

      We found no evidence of coloured fringing when test shots were enlarged to 100%. Vignetting was also negligible, with only a trace of corner darkening detected at the 45mm focal length.

      The small sensor made it quite difficult to obtain truly out-of-focus backgrounds at wide apertures when the lens was set at the 45mm focal length – and even more difficult at 14mm. Bokeh was compromised as a result. However, with subjects in which there was a good distance to the background, the resulting out-of-focus blurring was attractive and natural looking.

      You can only buy this lens with the camera body, but choose it if:
      – You want a zoom lens that delivers high performance across a wide aperture range.
      – You’d like a general-purpose lens for shooting portraits and scenes.
      – You require relatively distortion-free images.
      Don’t buy this lens if:
      – You want to photograph wildlife and sports action (its range isn’t long enough).
      – You shoot lots of close-ups.

      IMATEST GRAPHS

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      14-45_P1000550_YBL73_ca
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      14-45_P1000550_YAR35_cpp
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      14-45_P1000550_YBL73_cpp

       

      SAMPLE IMAGES

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      14-45mm_P1000424

      Wide-angle; 14mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/20 second at f/5.6.

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      14-45mm_P1000423

      Zoomed in;45mm focal length, ISO 400, 1/25 second at f/8.

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      14-45mm_P1000420

      Close-up;45mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/320 second at f/7.1.

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      14-45mm_P1000468

      Close-up showing bokeh; 45mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/250 second at f/5.6.

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      14-45mm_P1000425

      45mm focal length, ISO 400, 1/50 second at f/5.6.

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      14-45mm_P1000430

      Backlighting; 14mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/60 second at f/9.

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      14-45mm_P1000446

      Backlighting; 14mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/60 second at f/9.

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      14-45mm_P1000462

      43mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/200 second at f/5.6.

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      14-45mm_vignette-14mm

      Vignetting at 14mm f/3.5.

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      14-45mm_vignette-25mm

      Vignetting at 25mm f/4.9.

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      14-45mm_vignette-45mm

      Vignetting at 45mm f/5.6.

       

      Specifications

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      leadpic_Lumix_14-45mm-lens

      Picture angle: 75 degrees (wide) to 27 degrees (tele)
      Maximum aperture: f/3.5 to f/5.6
      Minimum aperture: f/22
      Lens construction: 12 elements in 9 groups (includes one non-spherical lens)
      Lens mount: Micro Four Thirds System
      Diaphragm Blades: 7
      Minimum focus: 30 cm at all focal lengths
      Maximum magnification: 0.17x (equivalent to 0.34x in 35mm format)
      Filter size: 52 mm
      Dimensions (Diameter x L): 60 x 60 mm
      Weight: Approx. 195 grams

       

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      Rating

       

      RRP: $649 (but currently not sold separately)

      Rating (out of 10):

      • Build: 8.5
      • Handling: 9.0
      • Image quality: 8.8
      • Versatility: 8.5
      • OVERALL: 8.5

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