Since the introduction of the Panasonic 45-150 mm telephoto zoom lens, mid July 2012, owners of a micro-43 camera may choose from three at first sight almost identical Panasonic telephoto zoom lenses: the Panasonic 45-200 mm, Panasonic 45-175 mm PZ, and the Panasonic 45-150 mm.
The Panasonic 45-200 mm is the lens with the largest zoom range, but it is also the biggest and heaviest of the three lenses. The Panasonic 45-150 mm is the smallest and lightest, with a length of 73 mm and a weight of 200 grams. The most important difference between the Panasonic 45-175 mm and the Panasonic 45-150 mm is that the Panasonic 45-150 mm does not have a Power Zoom. Therefore, the Panasonic 45-175 mm is a better choice for a photographer who also wants to make video recordings. These are the obvious differences so far. How do the Panasonic 45-150 mm and the Panasonic 45-175 mm PZ compare in image quality?
FOV Panasonic 45-150mm 4.0-5.6 @ 175 mm f/ 5.6
The 3.3x zoom range of the Panasonic 45-150 mm (equivalent to a 90-300 mm lens on a camera with a full frame sensor) makes the Panasonic 45-150 mm ideal for telephoto shots of sports or close-ups of pets or animals in the Zoo. In terms of focal length, this lens could be used as a portrait lens. However, a faster lens, like the Olympus 45 mm 1.8, is a better choice for portraits since it renders a smoother background.
Construction and autofocus
The Panasonic 45-150 mm has a stylish design with metal and you can choose between a black and a silver version. The black version is made of the same metallic plastic with a purple glow as the Panasonic 12-35 mm. The lens mount is made of metal. The lens comes with a pouch and a lens hood. The supplied lens hood can reversed, which is useful during transport, but manual focus becomes impossible because the focus ring disappears under the reversed hood.
Focusing is quickly and quietly, with both the Olympus OM-D E-M5 and the Panasonic G5. The use of a stepping motor ensures smooth and silent focusing. When zoomed out to the maximum focal length of 150 mm, the lens is about 5 centimeters longer.
Image stabilization Panasonic 45-150mm
The Panasonic 45-150 mm offers MEGA OIS optical image stabilization, for sharper images in low light. In our test, we realized a gain of approximately 2 stops. An image taken with a shutter speed of 1/100 sec without image stabilization, is as sharp as an image taken with MEGA OIS stabilization and a shutter speed of 1/25 sec.
In our image stabilization tests, we regularly notice that the images taken with image stabilization are much more alike in terms of sharpness. When you take multiple images without image stabilization, most of the images are more blurred, but there might be a lucky shot between them.
The image stabilization of the Panasonic 45-150 mm is switched on through the camera menu. There is no physical switch for image stabilization on the lens itself. For Olympus OM-D E-M5 users this implies that they have no choice between the Panasonic image stabilization and in-body stabilization of Olympus. That in itself is not a problem, since the Olympus in-body image stabilization also works well in combination with the Panasonic 45-150 mm.
Below are two representative crops of test images from the image stabilization test.
Vignetting Panasonic 45-150 mm
We have measured the vignetting of raw and jpg files created with the Olympus OM-D E-M5 and the Panasonic 45-150mm. At full aperture, we encountered visible vignetting at all focal lengths. At this point, the Panasonic 45-175 mm scored better. Vignetting is easily corrected by software.
Panasonic 45-15 mm vs. Panasonic 45-175 mm
In direct comparison of the front view of the Panasonic 45-150 mm (left) and the Panasonic 45-175 mm PX (right), you can see that the Panasonic 45-175 mm has larger lens elements. This may explain the better performance of the Panasonic 45-175 mm for vignetting. On the other hand, the Panasonic 45-150 mm showed less flare and ghosting than the Panasonic 45-175 mm.
In terms of sharpness and ghosting, the Panasonic 45-150 mm is slightly better than the Panasonic 45-175 mm PZ. However, in terms of chromatic aberration and vignetting, the roles are reversed. The differences are so small, you do not have to worry about it. When you like to make many videos, choose the power zoom. If not, choose the smaller, lighter, and cheaper Panasonic 45-150 mm.
Distortion Panasonic 45-150mm
We have measured the distortion of jpg files taken with an Olympus OM-D, using Imatest. Over the entire zoom range, the distortion is limited. Further reduction of distortion can easily be obtained using software.
Bokeh Panasonic 45-150 mm
According to Panasonic, the even aperture blades form a circular aperture and yield an attractive, smooth background, even when shooting with a wide aperture. We take a look at the background blur with a fixed test set-up in each lens review, which includes a number of lights in the background.
The Panasonic 45-150 mm is a nice addition to the Panasonic 14-42 mm PZ. Even at 45 mm, you get a nicer background blur with the Panasonic 45-150 mm than with the Panasonic 14-42 mm PZ.
The Lumix G VARIO 45-150 mm f/4.0-5.6 ASPH. / MEGA O.I.S. consists of 12 elements in 9 groups, with one UHR (Ultra High Refractive Index) lens and two aspherical lenses. Lens elements with multiple coatings are used to minimize ghosting and flare.
Thanks to the included lens hood, we encountered no ghosting or flare in the practical test. In the studio, I did succeed to cause ghosting and flare, but that has little to do with the everyday practical situation. Here is a shot taken at a focal length of 50 mm.
Over the entire zoom range, the Panasonic 45-150 mm delivers sharp images. At the extreme focal lengths 45 mm and 50 mm and the aperture wide open, the edges and corners are less sharp than the center. In the middle of the zoom range (60 mm – 125 mm), the sharpness in the center already is at its maximum at full aperture and the resolution is almost equal over the entire image.
In terms of sharpness, you will not detect significant differences between pictures taken with the Panasonic 45-150 mm or the Panasonic 45-175 mm.
Here you see a Panasonic 45-150 mm sample image, taken without the use of a tripod, at full aperture and a focal length of 150 mm.
Sharpness at infinity?
To test the resolution of the Panasonic 45-150 mm properly, we have taken shots of test charts at a distance of 30 meters (for a focal length of 150 mm). For testing the sharpness of a lens at a greater distance, we are dependent on the weather. We can only test the quality of a telephoto lens at infinity in the open air. Even with a little bit of fog or haziness, our images taken with a telephoto lens set to infinity will tell you more about the weather than about the optical qualities of the lens. The opposite image is taken on a clear day at a focal length of 150 mm, f 5.6. Especially the ropes behind the balloonist show that this lens retains detail, even at the longest focal length.
The Panasonic 45-150 mm lens includes ED glass, intended to suppress chromatic aberration.
As our Imatest measurements show, you do not have to worry about visible chromatic aberration with the Panasonic 45-150 mm.
Conclusion Panasonic 45-150mm review
- Good optical performance at an attractive price
- Compact and light for a telephoto zoom lens
- Built-in image stabilization
- No power zoom for video
- Visible vignetting at full aperture
With the Panasonic 45-150 mm, Panasonic has succeeded in further miniaturizing a telephoto zoom lens. If you wish to choose between a Panasonic 45-175 mm and a 45-150 mm Panasonic, you do not have to worry about the image quality. The image quality of these two lenses is almost the same, despite a clearly different design. In terms of sharpness and ghosting, the Panasonic 45-150 mm is slightly better; in terms of chromatic aberration and vignetting, the roles are reversed. These are no differences to worry about. When you like to make video recordings, choose the Panasonic 45-175 mm power zoom. If not? Choose the smaller, lighter, and cheaper Panasonic 45-150 mm.