Thursday, 29 July 2010

The making of a "YO DAWG" image

"YO DAWG" is an internet meme. You can search for the term "YO DAWG" to see many examples. They mostly have this in common: A picture of something inside something similar, lets call this object a, accompanied by the text

"YO DAWG I HERD YOU LIKE TO verb(a) SO WE PUT A a IN YO a SO YOU CAN verb(a) WHILE YOU verb(a)"

Another cliché in terms of photography, is to take a picture of something while holding a lens between the subject and the camera, so that the subject is seen through a lens. The obvious thing to do, is of course to combine these two by letting a be a lens.

First, let's take the image. In the setup below, I used a Panasonic Lumix GH1 camera, with the Lumix Leica 45mm macro lens attached. I used a TTL flash angeled upwards to bounce the light off the white ceiling. I used f/8 to get a reasonable depth of field.


In the front of the camera, I am holding a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 AIS pancake lens. Virtually any fast normal lens could have been used here. In the background is a Nikkor 24mm f/2 AIS lens.

Due to the CDAF system, I can use autofocus on the camera to make sure the lens on the table is in focus, even when looking at the lens through the 50mm pancake lens. This would have been difficult with PDAF systems on DSLR cameras.

The resulting image looks like this. The lens held could have been more in focus. Had I used an even smaller aperture than f/8, the depth of field would have been better. But I think it is sufficiently in focus.


Looking at a closer crop of the centre of the image, we can see that the lens on the table is in perfect focus, thanks to the CDAF system:

Now, we only need to add the text to complete the "YO DAWG" image:

Sunday, 25 July 2010

The 20mm pancake index

The Big Mac index is a well known price index. By comparing the price of the Big Mac, available in virtually any country, you get a view of the general cost level in that country.

I've tried to do the same with the Panasonic Lumix 20mm f/1.7 Pancake lens, although I must say the index is far from complete, with only a few number of countries included. I chose a lens, rather than a camera body, since cameras become obsolete, and go on clearance sale after some time. This lens is still pretty new and popular, and is less likely to be subject for various rebates.

CountryPrice in local currencyPrice in EUR
US371.95287.86
Canada419312.77
France332.89332.89
UK278.99332.99
Germany362.99362.99
Denmark2989401.08
Australia584405.06
Sweden3865409.72
Norway3999501.41


The conclusion is not surprising: It's best to be a consumer in a big market.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Bokeh comparison @ 200mm

Introduction

I have an old legacy tele lens, the Nikkor 200mm f/4 AIS. It is well suited for use on a Micro Four Thirds camera, since both the focus and aperture are operated manually by twisting the rings on the lens. This is in contrast to Canon EF lenses, in which the aperture is operated electronically, and no adapter is available to control this from a Micro Four Thirds camera.

The lens is pictured here together with the Panasonic Lumix G 45-200mm f/4-5.6 Mega O.I.S. with the zoom extended to 200mm. The Nikon lens is shown with a Nikon-M43 adapter attached.


Nikkor 200mm f/4 AIS

This is a compact and high quality tele lens. The moderate maximum aperture, f/4, makes it less bulky than professional f/2.8 lenses. However, it still gives good quality images already from f/4.

The construction is fairly simple with five lenses in five groups. This is a mature lens design, and gives a good performance overall. It has nine aperture diaphragm blades.

The lens is made of metal, and the focus ring has a well dampened professional feel. The aperture ring can be set at any size, but has click stops at one unit distance, i.e., f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, f/22 and f/32.

Lumix G 45-200mm f/4-5.6

The Panasonic Lumix G 45-200mm f/4-5.6 Mega O.I.S. is a value tele zoom, often sold with a camera in dual lens kits. For the price, it has a good quality construction, fast autofocus, and good image quality.

Setup

To look examine the bokeh qualities of the lenses, I focused them at their smallest common focus distance, which is 2 meters. The Lumix 45-200mm can focus down to 1 meter. Then I placed some backlit foliage in the background.

Both lenses were focused manually, by using the magnified view on the Lumix GH1. Here are the images at f/5.6 for both lenses:

Nikkor 200mm f/4 @ f/5.6

Lumix 45-200mm @ 200mm f/5.6

Field of view difference

What we can note at once, is that the field of view is not the same. The Nikon gives a closer view of the foreground. This surprised me at once, and I made sure to check the EXIF to see that the Lumix picture was indeed taken at 200mm.

However, we can note that the focal length specification is always given at infinity focus, while in this case I am focusing closer to the minimum focus distance. I did confirm that at infinity focus, the field of view of the two lenses is the same.

The Nikkor lens features a traditional focus assembly, which moved the lens elements forward when focusing closer. The Lumix, on the other hand, features internal focusing. Internal focusing is know to give a change of focal length as the focus is altered. So the effect we are seeing here is not unexpected, and I am guessing the Nikon lens maintains the most correct field of view when focusing closer.

Bokeh

To better compare the bokeh, I am providing 100% crops from the two images above (click to enlarge):

It is pretty difficult to conclude anything from this test. I think I was a bit unlucky with my test subject, it doesn't reveal any bokeh weaknesses that easily. Perhaps we can say that the 45-200mm bokeh at 200mm is a bit more "dirty". But it's hard to point out any significant weakness with any of the bokeh examples.

In the Nikkor 200mm image, it is possible to see the diaphragm blades, since it is stopped down one step. The Lumix bokeh rings, on the other hand, are round, since the lens is not stopped down at all.

The Nikkor could appear to be less affected by flare, which is natural due to it's simpler construction with a much smaller number of lens elements.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Diffraction

Diffraction is a physical phenomenon. In digital photography, it is used to describe the blur which is associated with a high sensor pixel pitch, and a small aperture. This blur will potentially make your images less sharp, when you close down to very small apertures. This is still a physical phenomenon, and not a defect with the camera or the lens.

The amount of diffraction depends on the pixel pitch, and the aperture opening. The sensor pitch depends on the sensor size and the number of pixels. The smaller the sensor, or the higher the number of megapixels, the more diffraction. Also, the smaller the aperture, the higher the diffraction.

For Micro Four Thirds cameras, it is generally said that one should be careful using apertures smaller than f/8. For example, f/11 or f/16 could potentially generate diffraction.

This can be a problem with macro photography, in which you will need to close down the aperture a lot to get sufficient depth of focus. How much can you close down the aperture before the diffraction becomes a problem?

In my reviews of the Olympus Zuiko Digital 50mm f/2 1:2 macro lens, and the Panasonic Lumix Leica 45mm f/2.8 1:1 macro lens, I have looked at the effect of stopping down the aperture on the depth of focus. In general, we see that with closeups, at least f/5.6 is needed to get a sensible depth of focus, unless the subject is pretty flat.

Here is a series of images taken as maximum magnification with the Panasonic Lumix Leica 45mm f/2.8 1:1 macro lens. Focus was set on the middle LEGO face eyes. The left face is 8mm to the front of the centre face, and the right face is 8mm to the rear. One LEGO unit is 8mm. Click on an image to view it larger.

f/2.8:
f/4:
f/5.6:
f/11:
f/22:
As you can see, the depth of focus increases as the aperture gets smaller. Looking at these scaled down images, it is hard to see much effect of diffraction, though.

To examine the effect of diffraction more closely, let's look at 100% views of the centre face mouth. Click on the image to view it larger.


What we see here, is that the image taken with f/22 shows some diffraction effect. It is less sharp than the other images.

Still, it is up to the user to decide what is more important: Depth of focus, or sharpness at pixel level. If it is important to have a large depth of field, I would say the image taken with f/22 is the best, despite some dullness at the 100% view. If used on the web, for example, this dullness would not matter at all, due to scaling the image down to fit a typical window. Looking at the series of images above, the latter one is the most sharp on overall, despite being less sharp when zooming in.

The conclusion here, I think, is that when using f/16 or smaller, there is some diffraction effect. However, you should not be afraid to use these apertures, if depth of focus is important. The photographer must decide what is most important.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Panasonic Leica Lumix DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm f/2.8 1:1 Macro review

Introduction

As a macro lens, the Leica Lumix 45mm f/2.8 is pretty ordinary. The max aperture f/2.8 is completely adequate for a macro lens, in fact, you would usually want to stop down to at least f/5.6 when taking close up pictures. Closing down for macro images is a necessity to achieve some depth of focus.

However, I think a lot of people also anticipated to use this lens as a portrait lens. Being the only prime lens available for the Micro Four Thirds format with a typical portrait focal length, there are not any alternatives at the moment. And I think some would find the max aperture of f/2.8 to be too small for portrait use. High end portrait lenses typically come with a max aperture of f/1.4, which is two stops larger than f/2.8.

Size

One of the prime advantages of the lens is the size. It is very small for a macro lens. The plastic construction, which, by the way, does not feel cheap, makes it light and easy to handle.

The lens does not extend when focusing, which makes it quite solid, and it is probably more weather resistant for that reason. It is not marketed as a weather resistant lens, though, so don't expose it to water if you can avoid it. The focusing is entirely internal, neither the front nor rear elements move during focus operation.

The size is roughly the same as the Panasonic Lumix 14-45mm kit lens when not extended.

Autofocus

The autofocus speed is very fast for typical portrait distances. It is also virtually inaudible. The precision of the autofocus is very good, as you would expect with a contrast detection autofocus (CDAF) system. Back focus and front focus are not issues with this system.

Here is an illustration video showing the Panasonic GH2 focusing the lens from infinity down to 45cm distance in 0.6 seconds. This was done in dull, indoor lightning. In daylight, the focus time is usually even faster.




When using the autofocus for close up focus distances, it does not function perfectly. At close to the magnification limit, you will some times experience false positives. The camera reports that focus is achieved, while nothing in the frame is in focus. This also happens sometimes with the Lumix 20mm f/1.7 pancake at close distances, by the way.

Some times, for example when photographing flowers, the camera will focus on the background, and not see the foreground flower at all, even if it covers the whole focus point. In this case, I've found that it helps to temporarily switch to manual focus (MF), manually choose the largest magnification, and then switch back to AF.

You can experience some focus hunting at close distances also. But mostly, the autofocus experience is favorable even at close distances.

Manual focus

Manually focusing the lens works in the same way as for the Olympus 50mm f/2 Four Thirds lens. The focus ring works in the same way, but has a different feel. On the Olympus 50mm f/2 lens, the focus ring runs very easily, but has a distinct click feel. You can feel when the angle sensor is triggered, and the lens makes discrete moves back or forth.

On the Leica Lumix 45mm lens, the focus ring is more dampened, and runs slightly less easily. You cannot feel the click stops in the same way. I would say that the Leica Lumix has a higher quality feel, but from a functional point of view they are equally good.

Sharpness

The lens is sufficiently sharp in the centre at f/2.8. I have not been unsatisfied with the centre sharpness. This is not a lens where you would expect good corner sharpness at max aperture, and closing down a bit will yield good results where corner sharpness is needed.

I have compared the sharpness with the Olympus Zuiko 50mm f/2 macro Four Thirds lens, and found that the Panasonic 45mm has slightly better sharpness for closeups images.

Bokeh

There is some ringing around the highlights. You could experience this, e.g., when having back lit foliage in the background in a portrait photo setup. Other than that, I've found the bokeh to be quite nice.

I've made four studies of the bokeh for this lens:
  1. Bokeh comparison between a number of fast lenses
  2. a comparison of the bokeh at various apertures for the Panasonic 45mm f/2.8 macro lens

  3. a bokeh comparison with the Olympus 50mm f/2 macro (Four Thirds format lens)

  4. a comparison with the Panasonic Lumix 45-200mm and 14-140mm zoom lenses

Macro As a macro lens, the performance is quite impressive. It is capable of 1:1 macro reproduction. This is sometimes also written as "1×", and means that the lens is capable of focusing on something which is the same size as the sensor, i.e., 17.3×13.0 mm. A full frame macro lens specified as 1:1, on the other hand, can be used to photograph something which is the same size as a traditional 35mm negative frame, i.e., 36×24 mm. As you can see, the Leica Lumix 45mm can focus on smaller objects, with about half the diameter. Assuming you use this lens on a camera with 12 megapixels, this means that the number of pixels per 1mm length in the subject is 231. For comparison, let's say you use some premium full frame equipment, the Canon EOS 5D Mark III camera and the Canon EF 100mm F2.8 L IS USM Macro lens. At the closest maginification, this combination gives you 156 pixels per 1mm length in the subject photographed. This means that you can take higher resolution photos of small items with the Leica Lumix 45mm, as compared with the Canon setup. Here is a series of example images taken at 1:1 magnification. The focus distance is about 15cm, measured from the sensor. The distance from the lens front to the subject is about 6cm. I focused on the head in the centre. The distance between the heads is one LEGO unit, or 8mm, for those who are not familiar with this measure. Even at f/22, the heads in front of and to the rear of the centre head are not in focus.
f/2.8
f/4
f/5.6
f/11
f/22
Note that when using small apertures like f/22, you will get some negative effect from diffraction. Hood There is a hood supplied in the box, and I have to say it's the most hideous hood I have ever seen. It looks stylish in a retro-Leica-way, but the functionality is poor. The hood can not be reversed on the lens for storage. It is much wider than needed. This is a short tele lens, while the hood could have been used on a medium wide angle lens. Hence the hood is not as efficient to keep out unwanted light. The hood is pictured on the lens below: The lens is fairly suspectible to flare, so using a hood is advisable. Rather than using the supplied hood, you can get a third party tele hood designed for screwing into the 46mm front threads. What I chose, was to get a black 46-37mm step down ring, and use that as a hood. It may look odd, but in fact it protects the lens from flare better than the supplied hood. You'll also need a 37mm lens cap. Getting both should set you back around US$10 on various auction sites. Here it is pictured: To get even better protection against flare, you can put a 37mm stand off ring into the 46mm-37mm step down ring. There is still no vignetting due to the step down ring and stand off ring being used as hood. Attaching both looks like this: Compared with the Olympus 50mm f/2 macro It is natural to compare this lens with the Four Thirds format Olympus Zuiko Digital 50mm f/2 1:2 macro lens. Sizewise, the Leica Lumix 45mm is the smaller lens, but not by much. You can see the Leica Lumix to the left in the picture below. The Olympus 50mm was pictured with the adapter needed to use the lens on Micro Four Thirds cameras. The Olympus lens is better suited as a portrait lens, given it's one stop larger aperture. On the other hand, the Leica Lumix 45mm has optical image stabilization, which to some degree makes up for the smaller max aperture. Whether you would prefer a larger max aperture or OIS depends on the situation. The Lumix Leica will focus much faster on Micro Four Thirds cameras, which is a huge advantage. The Olympus 50mm is not optimised for CDAF, and will not autofocus at all with the Panasonic Lumix G1, GH1 and GF1 cameras. With other cameras, it will autofocus, but very slowly. The Olympus 50mm f/2 1:2 macro is a very sharp lens. It is probably sharper than the Leica Lumix 45mm f/2.8 macro. On the other hand, the Olympus 50mm has somewhat harder highlight edges on the bokeh, while the Lumix Leica 45mm has smoother bokeh blur. In terms of macro use, the Lumix Leica 45mm has the edge, achieving 1:1 macro. The Olympus 50mm f/2 is only capable of 1:2 macro, meaning it can take a close up picture of an object with twice the diagonal as the Lumix Leica 45mm. The Leica Lumix 45mm has extra lens groups to handle the Optical Image Stabilization, and hence has a more complicated construction. It has a construction of 14 lenses in 10 groups, while the Olympus 50mm on the other hand has 11 lenses in 10 groups. Conclusion This is certainly a good lens. Macro users will find it easy and fun to use. The compact size is a big advantage. The max aperture is a bit disappointing for portrait use, but if you mind the background a bit, it is no problem. It comes at an expensive price, though, which is probably at least partially due to the premium Leica branding. Example image This image was taken using a cheap macro soft box, and a Panasonic Lumix DMW-FL360 TTL flash placed on the outside of the softbox. The exposure parameters are: ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/80 second. The image was scaled down and then sharpened. Here is a picture showing the setup used to capture the image. The camera is placed on a tripod pointing into the bucked, while the TTL flash lies on the outside of the bucket. Example video Here is an example video, recorded at f/2.8. I had autofocus turned on, but in retrospect, it would probably have been better to leave it off, as it doesn't really do anything good.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Rolling shutter

The "rolling shutter" concept is related to the shutter not reading out the exposure values at once, but rather scanning across the sensor vertically or horizontally. This implementation could be mechanical, as with the shutter curtain on the Micro Four Thirds cameras, or electronical, as when the sensor output is read during a video recording.

This is not strictly related only to digital cameras. Older film based cameras often feature a focal plane curtain shutter, which "rolls" across the film plane and exposes the film horizontally or vertically. A very famous example of this is the racing car picture taken in 1913 by Jacques Henri Lartigue using a 4x5 Speed Graphic camera.


The shutter moves relatively slowly on this camera, when compared with modern SLRs, which gives the distortion of the racing car. The distortion is especially visible in the wheels, which appear to be leaning forward. This effect was later copied by cartoonists when they wanted to give the impression of speed.

The term "rolling shutter" is not only used to describe the mechanical or electronic shutter implementation, but also the distortion itself. You're not likely to see this distortion effect when using Micro Four Thirds cameras, since the shutter is moving very fast. You must take a picture of something very fast moving to be able see the effect.

One such example is recording a rotating propeller. Here are two images captured from a 1080-line video recording using the Panasonic Lumix GH1 camera and the Panasonic Lumix 20mm f/1.7 pancake lens.



While the camera is exposing the video frame vertically, the propeller is moving, making it look bent. In reality, the propeller blades are straight, of course.

Rolling shutter distortion artefacts can be very annoying in video. You may see this as a "wobbling" when the photographer is panning horizontally. Luckily, the GH1 handles this rather good when recording videos. In normal use, you'll need to look very closely to find these artefacts in typical video captures.

I have made a study of the amount or rolling shutter distortion in Panasonic GH1 and GH2. It seems that the GH2 is slightly better than the GH1. Even though I generate rolling shutter artefacts in my study, they are not commonly seen in real life usage. So this is not any big issue at all.

The concept of rolling shutter becomes quite relevant again with the electronic shutter option available with cameras like the Lumix G5, G6, GH3, GM1, GX7. Using this electronic shutter feature can produce large rolling shutter effects. Using one of these cameras, you can again make pictures like the one from 1913:


Read more about how to do it here.

Comparison with other systems


The Nikon 1 mirrorless cameras were designed with electronic shutter in mind from the start. The Nikon 1 S1 10MP camera has a 1/60s readout, six times faster than that of the Panasonic GH3. The Nikon 1 J3 14MP camera is even better, with an electronic shutter capable of reading the whole image during 1/80S.

Only the Nikon 1 V2 camera features a mechanical shutter at all, usable when you want to be sure the image comes out without any rolling shutter artefacts. Further, the camera can take full 14MP images at a staggering 60FPS rate using the electronic shutter, opening up for very interesting uses.

From the Sony NEX line, some of the recent cameras, e.g., NEX-5R and NEX-6 have an electronic front curtain shutter. This means that the mechanical shutter is not closed prior to the start of the exposure. The only mechanical shutter is the one which closes when the exposure is stopped, the rear curtain. The advantage is obvious: It reduces the vibrations before the exposure commences, and also reduces the number of mechanical movements overall, while still avoiding the rolling shutter artefacts discussed above.





Friday, 9 July 2010

Bokeh comparison, ZD50 and PL45

The Olympus Zuiko Digital 50mm f/2 macro and the Panasonic Leica Lumix DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm f/2.8 macro lenses are somewhat similar. The 50mm is a Four Thirds lens, and requires an adapter to be used on Micro Four Thirds (MFT) cameras. The Lumix Leica 45mm, on the other hand is a native MFT lens.

The Olympus 50mm is not optimized for Contrast Detection Autofocus (CDAF), and will autofocus slowly on MFT cameras, and not at all on the first series of Panasonic MFT cameras (G1, GH1, GF1). The Olympus has an edge when it comes to maximum aperture, one full stop faster than the Lumix Leica. On the other hand, the Lumix Leica has optical image stabilization built in.

Both lenses are useful both for macro photography and portrait photography.

This study looks into the bokeh (out of focus rendering) for a typical portrait setup. In the comparison, the subject, which is not a face in this case, is about one meter away from the camera. This corresponds to a headshot distance. The background foliage is about five meters from the camera. When taking a portrait under these conditions, it is important that the background is nicely blurred, and does not stand out to distract from the main subject.

I have previously compared the bokeh of the 45mm f/2.8 macro with two zoom lenses at 45mm, and looked at the bokeh for the 45mm f/2.8 macro at various apertures.

Here is the full image, taken at maximum aperture with both lenses. The images were taken within less than five minutes, so the lightning is mostly similar. I used a tripod, and ISO 100 in all the images. I used the P exposure mode, and auto white balance. The camera used was Panasonic Lumix GH1.

For both lenses I focused manually using the maximum enlargement. The images were rescaled and sharpened. Click on the image to view it larger.

Panasonic Leica Lumix DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm f/2.8

Olympus Zuiko Digital 50mm f/2

What's more interesting in terms of bokeh, though, is to compare 100% views of various regions at the same aperture.

Here is the centre at f/2.8 (click to enlarge):

The centre at f/4 (click to enlarge):

The centre at f/5.6 (click to enlarge):

Here's also 100% crops from the lower left corner. Since the field of view is not exactly the same for the two lenses, the crop might not be from exactly the same area.

The corner at f/2.8 (click to enlarge):
The corner at f/4 (click to enlarge):
The corner at f/5.6 (click to enlarge):
Conclusion

Honestly, I was expecting the Olympus 50mm lens to perform best in terms of bokeh. This study, however, shows that the bokeh is somewhat smoother with the Lumix Leica 45mm. The highlight circles have harder edges with the Olympus 50mm.

Both lenses are certainly very capable, though.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Leica Lumix 45mm f/2.8 bokeh

I have previously made a comparison of the bokeh for the three lenses Leica Lumix DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm, Panasonic Lumix G 45-200mm and Panasonic Lumix G HD 14-140mm. Since the largest common aperture for these lenses at 45mm is f/5.6, I found it fair to use that for all of them.

Readers interested in this topic may also want to see the bokeh comparison with the Olympus Zuiko Digital 50mm f/2 macro.

However, anyone possessing the Leica Lumix 45mm f/2.8 macro are likely to be using it with a larger aperture than f/5.6. Therefore, it makes sense to examine the bokeh for larger apertures as well.

The setup is still the same: The focus distance is one meter, and the background foliage is about five meters away from the camera. This is consistent with typical portrait situations, in which you fill the head into the frame, and want the background to be blurred and non-distracting.

All the images were taken within less than one minute, and the lightning is hopefully pretty similar for all of them. I did not use any filters on the lens. The camera used was the Panasonic Lumix GH1, at ISO 100.

Here is the full image, taken with f/2.8. The image is scaled down and sharpened a bit, otherwise unchanged from the camera JPEG.


To learn more about the bokeh characteristics, let's look at 100% crops from various parts of the image. Here are 100% view crops from the centre of the image, at f/2.8, f/4 and f/5.6. Click on an image to see an enlarged view.


And crops from the upper right hand corner:


Finally, crops from the lower middle region:


Conclusion

The bokeh looks better at larger apertures. There is still some ringing around the highlights even at f/2.8. This causes some distraction, even in the downscaled view. However, keep in mind that this is a very tricky situation for any lens to render.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Bokeh comparison @ 45mm f/5.6

I have made a comparison of the bokeh (out of focus rendering) for three lenses, Leica Lumix DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm, Panasonic Lumix G 45-200mm and Panasonic Lumix G HD 14-140mm. These lenses share a common focal length, 45mm. The largest common aperture is f/5.6, so I used that for all lenses in my study. (Actually, the maximum aperture of the 14-140mm lens is f/5.5 at 45mm, but I rounded it off to f/5.6.)

Anyone having the Leica Lumix DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm are likely to be using larger apertures than f/5.6 for non macro images. I have also made a comparison of the bokeh rendering for larger apertures for this lens, and a bokeh comparison with the Olympus Zuiko Digital 50mm f/2 macro.

All the images were taken within less than five minutes, and the lightning is hopefully pretty similar for all of them. I did not use any filters on the lenses. The camera used was the Panasonic Lumix GH1.

One situation which is commonly difficult to handle in terms of bokeh, is foliage, especially when hit by direct light. So I put foliage in the background. The lens was focused to about 1 meter, which is the closest focusing distance of the Lumix 45-200mm. The Lumix 14-140mm focuses down to 0.5 meter, while the 45mm macro, being a macro, of course focuses much closer.

This distance corresponds to taking a close head portrait at 45mm, which is one of the situations when you may be worried about the bokeh of the background. The background leaves are about 5 meters from the camera.

Here are the full images, all taken at 45mm, f/5.6, ISO 100, one meter focus distance. They were scaled down, but not processed in any way beyond that.

Leica Lumix DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm



When looking at the full images, they look pretty similar. However, let's zoom in on some of the details. Here are 100% crops of the centre from all three lenses (click on the image to see an enlarged version):


In this picture, the Lumix 14-140mm has the least pleasing bokeh. The bokeh for this superzoom lens is "dirty" and "swirly".

The flare also appears to be more pronounced for the superzoom lens, as is visible in the lower left corner. This is probably due to the more complicated construction of the superzoom lens. After all, the superzoom lens has 17 elements, as compared with 16 elements for the 45-200mm, and 14 elements for the 45mm macro. More lens elements usually means more stray reflection inside the lens, giving flare when there is a strong light source in the front of the lens.

The other other lenses are pretty similar in terms of bokeh. The bokeh is completely adequate, even if they do display a bit of ringing around the highlights.

Let's look at 100% crops from the upper right corner area.

In the corner, I think the 45mm macro is a tad bit better than the 45-200mm. And they are both much better than the 14-140mm.

Finally, a crop from the lower middle area:


Conclusion


There is hardly anything surprising in this study. The Panasonic Lumix G HD 14-140mm is a superzoom lens, and not optimized for bokeh. It has a small maximum aperture, and you're not going to see much bokeh in your pictures anyway.

The value tele zoom Panasonic Lumix G 45-200mm has a pretty nice bokeh for such a lens. I would say you could use this lens as a portrait lens, given that you mind the background a bit.

The Leica Lumix DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm has probably got the best bokeh among the three, but I would have expected that it fared better compared with the zoom lenses. Most people would probably prefer using a smaller aperture for portrait distances with this lens. I have made a comparison of the bokeh for smaller apertures as well.