Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH OIS - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - (Micro-)Four-Thirds

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published February 2009


The Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-45mm f/3.5-4.5 ASPH OIS is the standard kit zoom lens of the first micro-4/3 system camera - the Panasonic Lumix G1. The design of the lens differs from conventional SLR lenses because it doesn't need to take a SLR mirror into account anymore. On paper such lenses can achieve a higher degree of optimization, specifically with respect to wide-angle performance. Another positive side-effect are the smaller physical dimensions even when compared to the already very small 4/3 lenses. Interestingly both kit lenses are not Leica-labeled which is unusual for a "high end" Panasonic camera. Due to the smaller 4/3 sensor (18x13.5mm) you've to use a 2x factor when thinking in full format (36x24mm) terms so we are talking about a field-of-view equivalent to a conventional "28-90mm" lens here.

As already hinted above the Lumix lens is dwarfish and as such it leaves a very subjective impression of lacking "substance". However, objectively the build quality is actually very fine thanks to very tight tolerances, good quality plastics and a metal mount. The rubberized zoom and focus control ring operate very smooth. The fluted rubber rings have a downside though - they tend to collect dust (similar to Sony lenses). The lens extends when zooming towards the long end of the zoom range but there's no wobbling of the inner lens tube. The front-element does not rotate thanks to an internal focusing design.

Typical for all 4/3 lenses the Panasonic lens uses a dedicated AF motor that operates very fast and virtually silent. Thanks to the contrast AF system of the G1 the AF accuracy is extremely high (from a lens perspective). Manual focusing is possible "by wire" which works much better than it may sound - it was certainly a non-issue in field conditions (more on this in the upcoming G1 review). Olympus lenses rely on the in-camera image stabilization system whereas Leica/Panasonic follow a lens-based solution called "Mega OIS" (Optical Image Stabilization). In field conditions OIS is able to give you a 2-3 f-stop extra potential for hand-held photography.

Equiv. focal length28-90 mm (full format equivalent)
Equiv. aperturef/7-f/9 (full format equivalent, in terms of depth-of-field)
Optical construction12 elements in 9 groups inc. 1x aspherical element
Number of aperture blades7 (circular)
min. focus distance0.3m (max. magnification ratio 1:6 @ 45mm)
Filter size52mm (non-rotating)
Hoodpetal-shaped, snap-on, supplied
Other featuresImage Stabilizer