The number of lenses for micro-43 cameras is increasing steadily. In September 2011 Panasonic released the Panasonic 45-175 mm zoom lens, which at first sight overlaps in focal length range with the Panasonic 45-200 mm. A big difference between these two lenses is that the Panasonic 45-175 mm lens is equipped with a Power Zoom, making it more suitable for the photographer who also wants to make videos. Note also that the Panasonic Power Zoom 45-175 mm lens weighs 210 grams only and is much lighter than the Panasonic 45-200 mm lens, which weighs 380 grams. If you buy the Panasonic PZ 45-175 mm together with the Panasonic 14-42 mm X lens, then this combination - in terms of zoom range- can compete with the Panasonic 14-140 mm. But will it make a difference in image quality?
Panasonic 45-175 mm f/4-5.6 ASPH POWER OIS LUMIX G X VARIO PZ @ 45 mm
Panasonic 45-175 mm f/4-5.6 ASPH POWER OIS LUMIX G X VARIO PZ @ 175 mm
The 4x zoom range of the Panasonic PZ 45-175 mm is equivalent to the range of a 90-350 mm zoom lens on a camera with a full frame sensor. For a lens with a focal length of 350 mm (@ full frame), this lens is remarkably small and light.
Construction and autofocus
The lens body is largely made of plastic, in order to save weight as much as possible, but the lens mount is made of metal. The lens comes with a pouch to store the lens in and a lens hood. The supplied lens hood can be placed upside down on the lens, which is useful during transport.
Focusing with the test camera's (Panasonic GX1 and Olympus E-M5) is fast and quiet. The latter is especially important for those who want to use this lens for video. Zooming in or out using the switch on the lens is very fast and therefore requires some time getting used to it. In the beginning you will quickly zoom past the focal point that you really wanted. Fortunately, you can also manually adjust the focal length with a wide zoom ring. The Panasonic 45-175 mm has a built-in image stabilization (OIS Power), which you control via a menu on the camera.
Up to aperture 5.6 you can observe some very light vignetting, as shown in this image. The Panasonic 45-175 mm performs good, here. Especially when you consider that Imatest measurements of uncorrected RAW files yielded exactly the same results for vignetting as jpg files that came straight out of the camera. Apparantly here is no in-camera correction of vignetting applied to the jpg files.
Move your mouse over theimage in order to see the Imatest results for vignetting.
We have analyzed the distortion of jpg files from a Panasonic GX1 measured. Over the entire zoom range, the distortion is negligible! This is a very good performance. RAW files are processed in Lightroom or Photoshop show the same good values.
But if you open the RAW files with a RAW converter that no correction of the distortion run it, then show the images taken with a 70 mm focal length greater than 1% distortion. That is still very common, but less perfect than the deformation of RAW files in Lightroom / Photoshop or jpg files.
Move your mouse over the image for the deformation of unadjusted RAW files.
We look at each test the background blur with a fixed test setup, which includes a number of lights in the background are processed. The bokeh of the Panasonic 45-175 mm is us, all at a focal length of 175 mm, very expected.
Bottom left you can see the bokeh at a focal distance of 45 mm, which is slightly more rings are visible. Bottom right you see the bokeh at a focal length of 175 mm. The bokeh is pretty smooth, but not quite round.
The Nano Surface Coating on the lens elements, according to Panasonic, ensures reduction of ghosting and flare, maintaining an extreme brightness in your images. Yet we are able in the studio to induce ghosting and flares at focal lengths across the entire zoom range. Here is an image made at a focal length of 45 mm.
Here is a image made at a focal length of 175 mm. About the radiation is limited to a much smaller area than at a focal distance of 45 mm. In practice, we test, thanks to the supplied lens hood, no ghosting or flare encountered.
Over the entire zoom range delivers sharp images, notably at the extreme focal lengths 45 mm and 175 mm, the angles uitesrte something behind in sharpness at the center. But at the other focal lengths you will see no difference in sharpness between center and corners.
The Panasonic 45-175 mm X includes ED glass lenses, designed to suppress chromatic aberration. Sometimes Panasonic applies in-camera correction of chromatic aberration. With the Panasonic 45-175 mm you will not suffer from chromatic aberration.
Below at the left is a high contrast image with on the left a red rectangle. At the right you see the corresponding 100% image area, which indeed no chromatic aberration is visible.
Click on the image.
Conclusion Panasonic 45-175 mm f/4-5.6 ASPH POWER OIS LUMIX G X VARIO PZ review
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WYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens when you save the files in the camera as jpg, including all in-camera lens corrections (distortion, chromatic aberration). This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: "What you see is what you get".
Good optical performance
For video: Powerzoom
Optical Image Stabilization
More expensive than the Panasonic 45-200 mm, which also has a larger zoom range
With the design of the Panasonic PZ 45-175 mm, Panasonic has succeeded in further miniaturizing a telephoto zoom lens without compromising on quality, as is shown in our review. At a focal length of 68 mm, the Panasonic 45-175 mm, like the Olympus 75-300 mm at 75 mm, is better than many fixed focal length lens on a camera with an APS-C sensor.
Since we haven't tested the Panasonic 45-200 mm yet, we dare not advise on the choice between the Panasonic 45-200 mm or the Panasonic 45-175 mm PZ. See the review @ m43photo in our review-overview above, But if I had to choose between the combination of the Panasonic 14-42 mm X with the Panasonic PZ 45-175 mm or the Panasonic 14-140 mm lens, I would buy the power zoom combination. Although you will occasionally have to change the lens, you'll have a much more compact camera and a higher image quality in return.
Author: Ivo Freriks
With Camera Review Stuff I hope to make a modest contribution to the pleasure that you get from photography. By testing cameras and lenses in the same way, evluating the results and weighing up the pros and cons, I hope to help you find the right camera or lens.
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