Panasonic's all-in-one zoom reviewed
Handling for the 14-45mm lens is excellent thanks to an unfussy design and a logical layout, both of which echo the appearance of Leica’s Micro Four Thirds 45mm prime lens. The zoom ring is wider and closest to the camera body, pushing the narrower focusing ring further forwards. The lens extends by almost 50% as it is zoomed from 14mm to 45mm but focusing is entirely internal, leaving the front element undisturbed.
The AF system is brisk, accurate and virtually silent. As with other lenses, manual intervention is possible in AF mode via an electrically driven rather than mechanical linkage. The resistance on both collars is just about perfect, though the zooming movement lacks a little smoothness.
Resolution test results exceeded expectations given the price of this lens. The MTF curves were all above the critical 0.25 cycles-per-pixel level from wide open down to more-or-less f/16 at all three tested focal lengths. Admittedly, the resolution dropped below 0.2 cycles-per-pixel at f/22 but there ought to be no reason to set so small an aperture on a camera where the ISO can be varied to accommodate brightly-lit scenes.
There was a trace of chromatic aberration at 14mm but this was not visible in real-world images. To cap this very solid performance, the lens incorporates Panasonic’s Optical Image Stabilisation, which is effective and unobtrusive.
Overall this is a really nice lens. The fact that it has a relatively modest and variable maximum aperture is less significant than it would be on an optical reflex camera because the electronic viewfinder maintains its brightness regardless of the lens fitted. In its own way, this versatile and well-equipped lens is every bit as good as the 7-14mm zoom at about one-quarter of the cost.
Even the minor deviation recorded cannot detract from the fact that this is an excellent set of curves, especially for a low-cost kit lens.
View sample shots of the Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 Aspherical Mega OIS
Lumix /Olympus Pen
12 / 9
AF/MF and MF
60 x 60mm
14-45mm Max aperture f/3.5-5.6