OLYMPUS EP-3 Panasonic Lumix 45-175mm X lens
I tried the 45-175mm with my Olympus E-P3 and again was pleased with the results. The fact that the lens doesn't extend when zooming is a nice feature. My Olympus 14-150mm telescopes out quite dramatically and can look very odd. However the 45-175mm is WYSIWYG.
150mm f/5.5 ISO 400 1/200 sec.
175mm f/5.6 ISO 640 1/200 sec.
175mm f/5.6 ISO 200 1/200 sec.
175mm f/5.6 ISO 250 1/200 sec.
The lens is definitely softer wide open. Though this is a "smooth" softness. I think it has rather nice bokeh for a lens of this type, which helps. Wide open it would work very well as a "flattering" portrait lens. It is important to remember that this isn't a 45mm f/1.8, and that biting crisp definition just isn't here. But having said that, it gives a very pleasing look. Its even across the frame which is nice, and doesn't have that "busy" out of focus area look that many zooms of this type have.
175mm f/5.6 ISO 500 1/200 sec.
116mm f/5.3 ISO 800 1/200 sec.
144mm f/5.6 ISO 250 1/200 sec.
One of the things contributing to the look, is that it seems to be have quite low contrast. I'll discover whether this is true the more I use it.
68mm f/6.3 ISO 160 1/320 sec.
107mm f/6.3 ISO 160 1/500 sec.
175mm f/5.6 ISO 160 1/15 sec.
Two things that I always look for to assess the quality of a lens are, firstly, how quickly does it get to those "sweet" apertures. The answer with this lens is very quickly. f/6.3 is very nice and by f/8 its performing really well. Secondly, I always check to see how well a lens responds to sharpening. Poor lenses tend to produce worse images when sharpened up, but good lenses produce nice crisp images. Thats certainly the case here, and a bit of discreet smart sharpening in Photoshop produces very nice files.
So, a light lens with good handling and an interesting zooming feel, nice bokeh, decent results when stopped down a tad and a reasonable price. Whats not to like?
Incidentally, I loaded the new firmware for the G3 and it gives a display on the back showing you what focal length you are selecting. It also apparently gives control over the zoom speed and allows both manual selection of the zoom and the ability to retain where you were when the camera was switched off. I'm going to try these out when I give the lens a test for video, which it is obviously designed for.
So far I like it. Its nothing spectacular, just a good solid piece of kit that fills in a gap for me and allows me to shoot some telephoto material with decent image quality without breaking my back. I have no hesitation in recommending it.