Monday, 30 September 2013

Comparison at 140mm

A number of zoom lenses include the 140mm focal length. I have tested five of them here. They are laid out below:



The second row: Lumix G 100-300mm f/4-5.6, Lumix G 14-140mm f/4-5.8 and Lumix G 45-200mm f/4-5.6
The first row: Lumix X PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6 and Lumix G 14-140mm F3.5-5.6



Somewhat strangely, all of these have different front lens thread diameters, ranging from 46mm to 67mm.

This diagram illustrates the focal length ranges, and the corresponding maximum apertures for these five lenses:



All of these lenses focus very fast, and operate virtually silently.

To test these, I set the Panasonic GH3 camera on a tripod, set the ISO to 200 (base value), and used two seconds shutter delay to avoid camera shake. In this first scene, I focused on the buildings in the background:

14-140mm II @ 140mm f/5.614-140mm I @ 140mm f/5.6PZ 45-175mm @ 140mm f/5.5
45-200mm @ 140mm f/5.1100-300mm @ 140mm f/4.4

Here are some 100% crops from a house in the top left part of the image:




And in this second scene I focused on the structure in the front:

14-140mm II @ 140mm f/5.614-140mm I @ 140mm f/5.6PZ 45-175mm @ 140mm f/5.5
45-200mm @ 140mm f/5.1100-300mm @ 140mm f/4.4

Here are 100% crops from the centre area:



And from the lower part:



In the second scene, it appears that the image taken with the Lumix G 14-140mm f/4-5.8 at f/8 was focused wrongly, so disregard that specific image.

Lumix G 14-140mm F3.5-5.6 (version II)


Considering that this lens is a 10x superzoom lens, I think it is remarkably sharp in the very long end, significantly improving on the predecessor. It has replaced the Lumix 45-175mm as my "always bring along for flexibility" lens. I highly recommend it.

Lumix G 14-140mm f/4-5.8 (version I)


I was never quite pleased with this lens, despite the promise of the "HD" branding. I think it is quite poor in the long end, and not the best in the wide end as well. As we see from these test images, it is not perfect, but quite usable still. Compared with the better lenses, though, it lags behind.

Some users have reported on the internet getting good results from this lens. Based on my experience, though, I would not recommend buying it.

Lumix X PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6


This has been one of my favourite lenses for a while, being very compact, light, non-extending when zooming, as well as having good optical properties. It also adds power zoom, which is useful for video recording. In this test, it performs very well.

I recommend this lens to anyone interested in a compact, light tele lens for use on Panasonic cameras. Especially for video users, but the resolution is very good also for photography. Olympus users can still use this lens, but do not easily get the best image quality from it, due to the need for in-camera CA corrections, so far only done by Panasonic cameras.

Lumix G 45-200mm f/4-5.6


In this test, the lens performs well. However, when zooming further out to 200mm, it becomes duller. It is generally considered to be quite poor when fully extended.

The lens was the very first tele zoom lens from Panasonic, and is still a good value lens. But it is not the best lens any more. This lens could be bought by those wanting the longest reach for a reasonable price. Perhaps video users would not mind that it is a bit dull at 200mm, since the video resolution is much lower.

Lumix G 100-300mm f/4-5.6


If you want a very long lens for use on a Panasonic camera, e.g., for pictures of sports, birds, wildlife, this is pretty much the only choice. And it is a good lens, performing among the best in this test. Keep in mind, though, that at 140mm, it is still close to the short end. And when zooming in towards 300mm, the sharpness deteriorates, and it becomes more prone to loss of contrast in backlit situations. Still, it is a good lens considering the price.

Other lenses


Panasonic also has the Lumix G 45-150mm f/4-5.6. It is very compact and light, and is considered to be good optically. When zooming towards the long end, the max aperture drops to f/5.6 rather quickly, since this is a small lens.


Lumix G 45-150mm f/4-5.6

Olympus camera users are mostly best off using Olympus tele zoom lenses, due to the different strategies of the two manufacturers when it comes to image stabilization. In the lower end of the price scale, there is the Olympus 40-150mm f/4-5.6, which is a good value tele zoom lens.

In the longer end, there is the Olympus 75-300mm f/4.8-6.3. It has good optical qualities, but to make it compact, it was designed with a smaller maximum aperture.

Olympus has their own superzoom lens too, the Olympus 14-150mm f/4-5.6. Tamron has announced that they, too, will launch a lens with similar specifications, however, it has still not materialized after almost a year.

Olympus 40-150mm f/4-5.6Olympus 75-300mm f/4.8-6.3Olympus 14-150mm f/4-5.6

In 2014, Olympus will release a lens with the very exciting specifications 40-150mm f/2.8. While it will be a very large, heavy and expensive lens, it will also most likely be of very good quality.

Also in 2014, Panasonic plans to release a non-zoom tele lens rated at 150mm f/2.8 with optical image stabilization (OIS). Also going to be priced at a premium level, it will probably give you very good images indeed.

Conclusion


The Lumix X PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6 is a very good and compact tele zoom, at a reasonable price. The power zooming is not very useful for still images, but can come handy for video recording. The non-extending zoom design makes the lens compact and sturdy.

If you want a long tele zoom lens for use with sport events, bird photography and the like, the Lumix G 100-300mm f/4-5.6 is a good choice at an ok price level.

The updated 14-140mm lens, the Lumix G 14-140mm F3.5-5.6 has impressed me a lot, improving on the predecessor in almost every conceivable way. It is a good walk around lens, with a lot of flexibility.




5 comments:

  1. Thank you for this comparison. I would have liked to see how the 45-150mm lens would have performed. I am impressed by the new 14-140mm and the old pz 45-175mm lenses.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Based on what I've read and seen, the 45-150mm lens does quite well optically. The aperture drops quite quickly to f/5.6, though, as illustrated here.

      Delete
  2. My 14-140 MK1 is not the sharpest tool in the shed, but the images you show indicate that either you have one of the worst copies out there, or you missed focus. The way it looks to me is not a loss of contrast issue (the classic problem with superzooms) but plain softness, so I favour the latter explanation. Your results, on the other hand, for the 100-300 mirror my own. That lens stomps every other long zoom I have used, especially in good light.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Regarding the 14-140mm v.1 lens, these results are very consistent with my previous experiments. Hence, I do not believe that the focus is the problem here, but rather the lens.

      I have certainly heard about people getting good results from their 14-140mm v.1, but most people say it is dull in the long end.

      Delete
  3. Ante Vrdoljak from Croatia
    I have old version of 14-140mm and it performs just opposite from your samples taken here with same lens. Just, at the end my 14-140 at F5.8 to F6.3 makes nicely sharp images! So, maybe you have bad copy version.

    ReplyDelete