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Panasonic PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6 Power OIS review

The Panasonic PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6 Power OIS packs impressive telephoto reach into a super-small build

Panasonic PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6 Power OIS
(Image: © Panasonic)

Digital Camera World Verdict

With an effective 90-350mm zoom range in full-frame terms, this Panasonic lens is amazingly small and lightweight for a telephoto range. Nevertheless it packs and optical image stabilizer and motorized zoom mechanism that makes it ideal for shooting movies as well as stills. That’s further reinforced by a smooth and virtually silent autofocus system. Levels of sharpness could be a little better but overall it’s a highly attractive proposition at the price.

Pros

  • +

    Motorized zoom

  • +

    Optical stabilization

  • +

    Powerful zoom range

Cons

  • -

    Only 3-stop stabilization

  • -

    Sharpness could be better

The Panasonic PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6 Power OIS is designed for Micro Four Thirds system cameras. These give a real boost to telephoto photography, thanks to the 2.0x crop factor, or ‘focal length multiplier’. As such, the lens has a powerful ‘effective’ zoom range of 90-350mm yet measures just 62x90mm and weighs in at an unfeasibly light 210gm making it amazingly compact and lightweight for a telephoto zoom.

Specifications

Mount: Micro Four Thirds
Full-frame: No
Autofocus: Yes
Stabilization: No
Lens construction: 14 elements in 10 groups
Angle of view: 27 to 7.1 degrees
Diaphragm blades: 7
Minimum aperture: f/22
Minimum focusing distance: 0.9m
Maximum magnification ratio: 0.2x
Filter size: 46mm
Dimensions: 62x90mm
Weight: 210g

Key features

The lightweight build of this lens is achieved despite featuring a metal rather than plastic mounting plate. A good choice for shooting movies as well as stills, the lens has a stepping motor autofocus system that’s quick yet enables smooth focus transitions. It also features a power zoom mechanism for similarly smooth zoom transitions.

Optical image stabilization is generally preferred to in-body stabilization for telephoto lenses, and is all but essential for cameras that don’t feature in-body stabilizers. As such, the Panasonic features an optical stabilizer, although its 3-stop effectiveness lags behind that of many more recent lenses. Even so, it’s very much worth having.

Another surprise, given the light weight of the lens, is that it features no less than 14 optical elements, arranged in 10 groups. These include two aspherical elements and two ED (Extra-low Dispersion) elements. Nano Surface Coating is also applied to minimize ghosting and flare, and the lens is supplied complete with a bayonet-fit hood.

Panasonic PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6 Power OIS

(Image credit: Panasonic)

Performance

Levels of sharpness proved to be good rather than completely great in our tests, and dropped off a bit at the long end of the zoom range. However, helped by automatic corrections applied by firmware, color fringing is negligible and the lens is effectively a zero-distortion optic.

Lab results

We run a range of lab tests under controlled conditions, using the Imatest Master testing suite. Photos of test charts are taken across the range of apertures and zooms (where available), then analyzed for sharpness, distortion and chromatic aberrations.

We use Imatest SFR (spatial frequency response) charts and analysis software to plot lens resolution at the center of the image frame, corners and mid-point distances, across the range of aperture settings and, with zoom lenses, at four different focal lengths. The tests also measure distortion and color fringing (chromatic aberration).

Sharpness:

(Image credit: Future)
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(Image credit: Future)
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Levels of sharpness are pretty average, tailing off from the center to the edges of the frame throughout the zoom range, and dropping off further at the longest zoom setting.

Fringing:

(Image credit: Future)
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There’s virtually no color fringing to be seen, even at the extreme edges and corners of the image frame.

Distortion:

(Image credit: Future)
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Helped by automatic corrections applied by firmware, there’s virtually no barrel or pincushion distortion at any focal length.

Verdict

With an effective 90-350mm zoom range in full-frame terms, this Panasonic lens is amazingly small and lightweight for a telephoto range. Nevertheless it packs and optical image stabilizer and motorized zoom mechanism that makes it ideal for shooting movies as well as stills. That’s further reinforced by a smooth and virtually silent autofocus system. Levels of sharpness could be a little better but overall it’s a highly attractive proposition at the price.

Read more:

• Best camera lenses (opens in new tab) to get
• Best Canon lenses (opens in new tab)
• Best Nikon lenses (opens in new tab)
• Best Sony lenses (opens in new tab)

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Matthew Richards is a photographer and journalist who has spent years using and reviewing all manner of photo gear. He is Digital Camera World's principal lens reviewer – and has tested more primes and zooms than most people have had hot dinners! 


His expertise with equipment doesn’t end there, though. He is also an encyclopedia  when it comes to all manner of cameras, camera holsters and bags, flashguns, tripods and heads, printers, papers and inks, and just about anything imaging-related. 


In an earlier life he was a broadcast engineer at the BBC, as well as a former editor of PC Guide.