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.
Mount: Micro Four Thirds
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
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.
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.
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).
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.
There’s virtually no color fringing to be seen, even at the extreme edges and corners of the image frame.
Helped by automatic corrections applied by firmware, there’s virtually no barrel or pincushion distortion at any focal length.
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.