Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Sharpness comparisons @ 100mm and 200mm

Panasonic has got several Micro Four Thirds lenses that span the tele focus range, with the Lumix G 45-200mm f/4-5.6, Lumix G HD 14-140mm f/4-5.8, and Lumix G 100-300mm f/4-5.6 being three of them. The last one is the recently announced powerzoom capable Lumix X PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6.

The Lumix G 45-200mm f/4-5.6 is a value tele zoom lens, with a useful focus range reaching from the typical portait to long tele area. It gives a good value for money for those who want to try out the tele range.

Marketed as a video optimized lens, the Lumix G HD 14-140mm f/4-5.8 is in fact versatile superzoom lens for photo and video use alike. It is large, expensive, and generally regarded as being very good.

The largest of the three, the Lumix G 100-300mm f/4-5.6, is a very long tele zoom, useful for various event photography, like spectator sports, birdwatching, safari, and so on. For this use, the price is in fact rather reasonable.

The three lenses are seen below:


But how do their sharpness compare? To try to answer this, I've tried to compare them where they overlap. In this experiment, I put the camera on a sturdy tripod, shot at ISO 160 with the Panasonic GH2, and used a delayed shutter to avoid camera shake. I also turned off OIS. I set the white balance to "overcast" for all the images.

I left the exposure at auto at all time, and sadly, the exposure turned out to be slightly different for some of the images. That's a bit negative for this comparison, but I think we can live with it.

Sharpness at 100mm

Here are the full images shot at 100mm, scaled down and sharpened. Click for larger images.




Lumix 45-200 @ 100mm f/4.7Lumix 100-300 @ 100mm f/4Lumix 14-140mm @ 100mm f/5.8

To better compare the sharpness, let's look at 100% crops. I have not applied any sharpening to these 1:1 images. These are taken from the image center. Click for larger images.

As it was a bit windy, I recommend that you don't look at the leaves to evaluate the sharpness. They may be negatively affected by motion blur due to the wind.


Sharpness at 200mm

Here are the full images shot at 200mm, scaled down and sharpened. Click for larger images.



Lumix 45-200 @ 200mm f/5.6Lumix 100-300 @ 200mm f/4.9

To better compare the sharpness, let's look at 100% crops. I have not applied any sharpening to these 1:1 images. These are taken from the image center. Click for larger images.


And from the top right corner:


Conclusion

Based on this study, it is quite clear that the Lumix G 100-300mm f/4-5.6 is the sharpest of the three lenses. It appears to be quite sharp even wide open. On the other hand, one could say that this is not surprising: It was used in the shorter end in this study, compared with the Lumix G 45-200mm f/4-5.6 which was used in the longer end of its zoom range. Also, the Lumix G 100-300mm lens has the lowest zoom ratio, which allows the designers to make less compromises.

The Lumix G HD 14-140mm f/4-5.8 disappoints a bit. But then again, it is a well known fact that it is not at its sharpest in the longer end, and 100mm is surely a long focal length for this lens.

The bokeh appears to be comparable between the 45-200mm lens and the 100-300mm lens. Perhaps one could say that the Lumix G 45-200mm is slightly more busy with the longer of these lenses, with some more "ringing" around the out of focus highlights. But they are pretty similar.

4 comments:

  1. thank you for the work you did, great info

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the great info. It reaferms my experiance with the 100 300 lens, which I feel is great.

    Has anyone done a comparison to legacy primes?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi, m43photo:

    I'm in the process of sorting out the photos I took in the last four months using my GH2 (and the very recently bought G3) and the 14-140mm and 100-300mm lenses. I plan to share them with you when I put them up on my future blog in blogspot (we'll be neighbors then :-))

    Busy Mom

    ReplyDelete