Panasonic 45-150mm Lens Review – vs 45-200, 45-175, 35-100

October 9, 2012

In this article I will be talking about all the things you need to know about the Panasonic Lumix G Vario 45-150mm F4-5.6 ASPH. Mega O.I.S. lens before you decide whether to buy this lens or not.  The 45-150 mm is equivalent to 90-300 mm on a 35mm camera. This is a very popular range and it’s quite resembles the 70-300 mm full frame lenses that you can find on Canon and Nikon lens lineup, just a bit less wide. The Lumix G Vario 35-150mm is a great companion to the G Vario 14-45 mm F3.5-5.6 Mega O.I.S lens, but also compliments well the G Vario 14-42mm Mega O.I.S. and the G X Vario PZ 14-42mmas well.

This telephoto lens is very useful for shooting far way subjects but also great for shooting subjects with defocus background due to its long focal length. This lens is not a fast lens  and there are already three other MFT zoom lenses at about the same range as the 45-150mm:

  • Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm F2.8 Power O.I.S.  (70-200mm equiv.) – ~$1500
  • Lumix G X Vario PZ 45-175mm F4-5.6 Power O.I.S. (90-350mm equiv.) – ~$370
  • Lumix G Vario 45-200mm F4-5.6 Mega O.I.S. (90-400mm equiv.) – ~$240
  • Lumix G Vario 45-150mm F4-5.6 Mega O.I.S. (90-300mm equiv.) – ~$250  ← I’m reviewing this one

 

So the good thing is that Panasonic already offer a very nice selection of interchangeable lenses for the MFT system.  As you can see, the 45-150 is an entry-level telephoto zoom lens, but it’s one of the newest lens in Lumix G lens lineup. I will be comparing those three other lenses vs the 45-150 later on.

On the Olympus side we have the following competitors to the Panasonic offering:

  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm F4-5.6 R – ~$300
  • Olympus MZuiko Digital ED 40-150mm F4-5.6- ~$180

* prices are approximate prices from B&H as for the time of writing this article and might change

This should give you a good background on where we are standing and what are the available options. OK, Let’s continue..

 

(Very) Compact Size

The 45-150mm F4-5.6 is an entry-level telephoto-zoom lens, it was announced on July 18, 2012. The lens is compatible with all Olympus and Panasonic Micro Four Thirds (MFT) digital cameras. The lens features a very popular telephoto zoom range which is equivalent to 90-300 mm in 35mm terms. It’s an ultra-compact and lightweight lens, considering it’s focal length range.

“]Panasonic 45-150mm vs Nikon 70-300mm VR lens size comparison

The Panasonic Lumix G 45-150mm alongside the Nikon 70-300mm VR lens [size comparison

 

* lens height measurement is approximately the length of the lens, which is different from the length measurement that you see in the specs that is usually shows the length from the top lens element to the bottom lens element.

The above image perfectly illustrates what so amazing about the G Vario 45-150 mm lens. Compared to the Nikon VR 70-300mm, it’s a tiny lens, but offers almost the same range. This is probably the strongest argument in favor of MFT lenses, they are very small and lightweight which are easier to carry around. The Panasonic weights only 200g / 7.1 oz compare to the Nikon 70-300mm VR which weights 745g / 26.3 oz, that’s more than half a kilogram difference!

Of course Panasonic has deliberately developed this lens to be very compact so it can appeal to beginners that find big telephoto lenses a bit intimidating. This lens also perfectly matches the small size of Panasonic GF3 and GF5 compact MFT cameras as well as Olympus PEN cameras.

 

Lens Construction

This is an affordable entry-level telephoto zoom lens, but in no way it’s a cheapo lens. The Lumix G Vario 45-150mm F4-5.6 Asph. Mega O.I.S.  is constructed with 12 elements in 9 groups and features 1UHR (Ultra High Refractive Index) lens and 2 aspherical lenses to achieve high optical performance from the center of the frame to the corners. The lens features Mega O.I.S. Optical image stabilization to minimize blurriness in images by reducing the effect of camera shake during handheld shooting. This is especially useful with telephoto zoom lenses and when shooting at longer zoom range.

Panasonic 45-150mm lens

 

The 45-150mm is tagged ‘HD video Support’ and it utilizes a stepping motor for smooth and silent focusing for both stills and video recording. This is crucial for video recording when you don’t want the camera microphone to pick up the AF motor noise.  The lens also features circular aperture diaphragm to deliver smooth creamy out-of-focus background. Furthermore, the lens incorporates multi-coated lens elements to minimize ghosts and flare.

This lens is made with high-quality plastics and a metal finish but has a metal lens mount.  The 45-150mm like all the other Panasonic telephoto zoom lenses has a very smooth zoom movement which I personally really like. It feels that you are holding a quality lens in your hand, not a toyish one if you know what I mean. The lens has internal focusing mechanism which means that the front element does not rotate, so you can mount 52mm filters on it, like graduated or polarized filters. However, don’t confuse it with how the zoom behaves. When you zoom in the lens extends by quite a bit, almost the size of the lens itself when fully zoomed in.

I personally think that it’s a very nice looking lens, simple with no big statement. Portable, lightweight and nice looking lens. The lens has two rings, the big one for zooming in and out and the smaller ring for manual focusing. You can also buy this lens in silver color, but I personally loves the black version more. The Silver version might fit better for Silver PEN cameras, but it’s your choice, what you like better.

As an entry-level lens, it’s not weather-sealed.

 

45-150mm vs Other Panasonic Telephoto Zoom Lenses

If you remember, I’ve mentioned three more Panasonic lenses that might be an alternative to this lens:

  • Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm F2.8 Power O.I.S.  (70-200mm equiv.) – ~$1500
  • Lumix G X Vario PZ 45-175mm F4-5.6 Power O.I.S. (90-350mm equiv.) – ~$370
  • Lumix G Vario 45-200mm F4-5.6 Mega O.I.S. (90-400mm equiv.) – ~$240
  • Lumix G Vario 45-150mm F4-5.6 Mega O.I.S. (90-300mm equiv.) – ~$250 ← I’m reviewing this one

 

The last one if the current lens we are reviewing right now. As you can see, there are three other options.

 

45-200mm vs 45-150mm

Panasonic 45-200 mm MFT lensThe 45-200 mm F4-5.6 offers a slightly longer zoom (extra 100mm) and it got some very good rating and favorite among amateur photographers. It offers excellent value for the money, focuses fast, has little distortions, have good sharpness and it’s small and lightweight. You can read some user opinions on Amazon and see that most people who bought this lens are very satisfied with their purchase. The lens also shows good rating on SLRGear.com with a total of 8.38 Overall rating, which is pretty high. So what’s the downsides? – Well, sharpness can be better, and it was criticized for average performance at 15-200 and relatively high Chromatic Aberration.

The 45-200mm is not a big lens, but it’s certainly not at the same compactness league as the 45-150.

45-200 mm
Length: 100mm (vs 74mm)
Diameter: 70mm (vs 62mm)
Weight: 380 g (vs 200 g)

Overall a very good lens with extremely low distortion, good sharpness and food value for the money. Considering that it costs virtually the same as the 45-150mm, and although I didn’t mention the image quality which is better on the 45-150mm, I see not reason to pick up the 45-200 mm, even considering its extra range – the 45-150mm is just a better lens, and you just cannot resist its compactness :)

Recommendation: Pass

 

 45-175mm vs 45-150mm

Panasonic Lumix G X 45-175mm MFT lensThe 45-175 costs around $120 more than the 45-150mm. It features Power O.I.S. instead of Mega O.I.S., and this is the first lens incorporating this technology. So what’s the difference you ask? – Well, the new POWER O.I.S. nearly doubles the hand-shake correction power of the conventional MEGA O.I.S., according to Panasonic. So in general, the Power O.IS. should be much more effective, and that’s very important in telephoto-zoom lenses. Just note that Power O.I.S. will drain the battery faster.

The G X Vario PZ 45-175mm F4-5.6 also features Panasonic Nano Surface Coating for dramatic reduction of ghost and flare. The 45-175 mm also has larger lens elements which can explain its overall better performance.

The 45-175mm lens belong to Lumix G X lens lineup, which is a selection of Premium high quality lenses for the Micro Four Thirds system. The lens also utilizes Multi-Actuator floating inner focus system and the lens was designed for fast operation and very high optical performance and edge to edge sharpness. This lens performs extremely well with excellent sharpness in the center of the frame and also very good sharpness at the corners. It has good build quality, has Internal focus and zoom mechanism and all in all a highly recommended lens for the MFT.

This is certainly a good alternative to the 45-150 for those who don’t mind spending more and enjoy a premium lens all the goodies that comes with it. Videographers will probably want to get the Panasonic 45-175 due to its Power O.I.S.

Recommendation:  Very good alternative, Add more and get more in return.

 

 35-100mm vs 45-150mm

Panasonic G X 35-100 mft lensFirst things first, the Panasonic Lumix G X 35-100mm F2.8 is a Lumix G X Premium lens and it costs around $1500, which is much more than the 45-150mm. It features Nano Surface Coating, Power O.I.S. UEA lens elements, constant f/2.8 aperture and it’s compact and lightweight. This lens is just amazed me with its image quality. I would pick this lens over the 45-150mm any day if I could afford it. This is a professional-grade lens for those who need and can take advantage of its capabilities. So it’s hard to compare this lens vs the 45-150mm because it wouldn’t be fare towards the 45-150mm.  The 35-100mm (24-200mm equiv.) features the best of the best that Panasonic has to offer. If you are ready to jump to a lens with a league of its own and can afford it, get it now!

I highly recommend reading the Panasonic 35-100mm F2.8 review to really understand how amazing this lens is. This lens also perfectly compliment the Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm F2.8 lens.

Recommendation: Professional grade lens, buy it if you can afford

 

 

See, making a decision is not that hard. You know know the difference between the 45-150mm and its alternative and make a decision which path you should go for. If you are on a tight budget and want a telephoto zoom lens, the best option is to go with the 45-150 mm in my opinion.

 

Image Quality Analysis

magnifying glass on image, inspecting qualityThe Image Quality of the Panasonic Lumix G 45-150 mm Mega O.I.S. is excellent with excellent sharpness at the center of the frame and also very good sharpness at the edges of the frame. At 45mm the lens actually performs best at f/5.6, but f/4 performance is still excellent. The resolution drop as you zoom in which is still excellent at 75mm but drops to good sharpness at 150mm.  Still the overall performance of this lens is very good, but we can see that at the end of the range it drops. This is a typical behavior of entry-level telephoto zoom lenses and consider its price tag its a very good performance. What I really likes about this lens is that it maintained a good sharpness across the frame, including the edges.

Chromatic aberrations, distortions, and purple fringing are very low. The lens does suffer from vignetting at all focal lengths, but those are more evident in f4 and dropped considerably as you close the aperture.  It’s worth noting that the 45-175 mm lens performs better than this. Images are contrasty and have natural colors and very good color definition. So it’s main downside is its relatively low performance at 150mm, but as I said, it’s pretty normal for entry-level lenses to behave like that.

You can checkout some sample images on ephotozine.com to comprehend how good this lens is in practice. You can see the tower clock image that was shot at 150 mm / f8 and you can see how sharp this lens is at 150mm if you stop it a bit. At the picture of the warehouse you can see a bit of flare there but the micro-contrast and sharpness is just excellent.

After observing some quite a lot of sample images, I can clearly say that the Bokeh is very pleasing. The Panasonic Lumix G Vario 45-150mm F4-5.6 utilizes 7 diaphragm blades that help produce this smooth looking out-of-focus areas. It kinds of reminds me the Bokeh of my Nikon 70-400mm VR lens, even at 45mm (90mm equivalent) you can get a very nice Bokeh, depends on your distance from the subject and how far away the background is behind and in front of your subject.

Summary: Excellent overall image quality, sharpness drop at 150mm, high degree of vignetting at F4 and between 45mm and 68mm, drops as you close the shutter.

 

Video Shooting

This little lens impresses in video as it does in stills. In the next video you can the quality of the Bokeh and get an overall impression about the quality of the lens in video mode (make sure you watch it in 1080p)

BEAUTIFUL! (shot with the DMC-G5)

 

Conclusion

The Panasonic Lumix G Vario 45-150mm F4-5.6 Asph. Mega O.I.S. is an amazing little lens. An entry-level MFT telephoto-zoom lens that behaves like a more expensive model.  It’s sharpness is excellent, distortions and optical disturbances are kept very low. It’s main downside is it’s performance at 150mm, which sharpness drops but still good overall. The lens focuses very fast, has beautiful smooth Bokeh,  the 52mm filter thread doesn’t rotate so you can mount filters on it and the manual focus ring is smooth make it easy to fine tune focus. It’s a compact lens that weight only 200g. It’s one of those lenses that it seems that you get more than you paid for. It reminds me my Tamron 55-200mm lens that I bought a few years ago, cheap, but when it comes to performance it’s a winner!

If you are on a tight budget and really want to get your hands on a telephoto-zoom lens, the 45-150mm is your best choice in my opinion. There are alternatives, but they are more expensive and you nee to decide whether you will take advantage of those added features. The 45-150mm isn’t a fast lens and for those who have the money to spend and want the best of the best, I recommend without thinking twice to get the 35-100mm F2.8 lens – much more expensive, less reach, but what a lens it is.

Although Panasonic has quite a large selection of telephoto-zoom lenses, the choice isn’t so hard after all.  This is the most affordable way to jump into the telephoto-zoom branch and start shooting beautiful images without breaking your wallet. You will love this lens and everything about it. It has its cons, but the pros outweigh the cons by a long mile. Buy it, and you’ll be happy that you did (although don’t overlook the more expensive alternatives). Thanks for reading.

Click here to Buy Panasonic Lumix G Vario 45-150mm F4-5.6 (Black) from B&H Photo

Click here to Buy Panasonic Lumix G vario 45-150mm F4-5.6 (Silver) from B&H Photo

* the Amazon price is an imported lens from Japan sold by AOYAMA&CO., will be update when Amazon have it in stock.

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  • http://500px.com/juliaaltermann Julia

    Thank you very much for this in-depth article and comparison. This is exactly what I wanted to know. I was undecided about the lens but your review gives me enough confidence to grab a copy and see for myself if it suits my style of shooting.

    Cheers from Germany!