Saturday, 31 October 2015

Lumix tele lenses compared

Panasonic makes an impressive number of tele zoom lenses. This is not a stupid choice, after all, the interchangeable system camera market relies on the consumer actually buying the extra lenses. So there needs to be some lenses to choose from. And a tele zoom lens is a popular aftermarket choice, probably the most popular together with a fast prime lens.

In this article, I will be comparing six of them:

Rear row: Lumix G 100-300mm f/4-5.6, Lumix G 45-200mm f/4-5.6, Lumix X 35-100mm f/2.8

Front row: Lumix G 14-140mm f/3.5-5.6, Lumix X PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6, Lumix G 45-150mm f/4-5.6

One lens missing here is the ultra compact Lumix G 35-100mm f/4-5.6. While this is a good lens, it is not very long in terms of reach. I would only recommend this lens to those who value compactness very high. Otherwise, I would say go for the Lumix G 45-150mm, which is also quite small.

I made this diagram to illustrate the aperture ranges of the six lenses (click for larger image):

As you see, the two most compact tele zoom lenses, the 45-175mm and 45-150mm, are penalized for their compactness by rather steeply stopping down the maximum aperture as you zoom in.

About the lenses:

LensLumix G 100-300mm f/4-5.6Lumix G 45-200mm f/4-5.6Lumix X 35-100mm f/2.8
Front lens thread67mm52mm58mm
Lens elements/groups17/1216/1318/13
Physical OIS switchYesYesYes

Lumix G 100-300mm f/4-5.6

Panasonic's first, and so far, only, long tele lens. This lens is fairly inexpensive, and provides a great reach. However, the zoom ring can be a bit sticky, and the image quality at 300mm is not super good.

See my review here.

This lens is superseded with the longer Leica branded Lumix 100-400mm f4-6.3. However, keep in mind that this is a very expensive lens, priced at US$1800. It was launched in January 2016:

Lumix G 45-200mm f/4-5.6

The very first tele zoom lens from Panasonic. Compared with newer lenses, it is heavy, and the zoom can be a bit sticky. The image quality is fine up to about 150mm, but the at the longest reach, it is not very good. I would rather recommend to get one of the newer lenses, e.g., the 45-175mm or 45-150mm.

Lumix X 35-100mm f/2.8

Panasonic's take on the classic pro portrait tele zoom lens. It is remarkably compact, compared with a 70-200mm equivalent lens for DSLR formats. The lens performs very well up to about 75mm, but in the longest end, it is not so sharp wide open. At 100mm, you may need to stop it down to between f/4 and f/5.6 for the best quality. At shorter focal lengths, it does very well already at f/2.8, though.

See my review here.

LensLumix G 14-140mm f/3.5-5.6Lumix X PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6Lumix G 45-150mm f/4-5.6
Front lens thread58mm46mm52mm
Lens elements/groups14/1214/1012/9
Physical OIS switchYesNoNo

Lumix G 14-140mm f/3.5-5.6

The second superzoom lens from Panasonic, this is not really a tele lens, but it extends well into the classic tele range anyway. I find this lens to be a stellar performer, a must have if you would like a compact "do it all" lens for use on Panasonic camera bodies.

See my review here.

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

One of my favourite lenses, this is a remarkably compact motor zoom tele lens. The operation is very easy, with a zoom-by-wire ring, and a two speed motor zoom lever. The image quality is very good. The only fault I can see, is that out of focus highlights outside of the image centre can have a non-round appearance.

See my review here.

Lumix G 45-150mm f/4-5.6

The newest basic tele lens from Panasonic, it is very compact and light.

Image quality comparison

To compare the lenses, I have taken the same image with all the lenses at 100mm. I took the pictures using the Olympus OM-D E-M5 II. I used a tripod, of course, and 4s shutter delay to avoid camera shake.

Here are the thumbnails, click for larger images:

Lumix G 100-300mm @ 100mm f/4
Lumix G 45-200mm @ 100mm f/4.7
Lumix X 35-100mm @ 100mm f/2.8
Lumix G 14-140mm @ 100mm f/5.4
Lumix X PZ 45-175mm @ 100mm f/5.3
Lumix G 45-150mm @ 100mm f/5.5

For easier comparison, here are 100% crops from the centre of the images:

And from the top left corner:


In this test, we find the somewhat surprising result that the most expensive lens performs the worst. The Lumix X 35-100mm f/2.8 requires stopping down to f/5.6 to reach acceptable centre sharpness at 100mm, and even then, the corner sharpness is not very good. However, it does perform much better in the shorter end of the focal length scale, see more tests here.

The oldest of the lenses, the Lumix G 45-200mm f/4-5.6, is the worst performer, and it worsens even further at longer focal lengths. Don't buy this lens, unless you know what you are doing.

The Lumix G 14-140mm shows very good performance for a superzoom lens. Don't be afraid to use this lens. It is good for when you want to travel light and not change lenses.

Out of the two smaller tele lenses, the most expensive Lumix X PZ 45-175mm is slightly better than the Lumix G 45-150mm, but both are very usable.

Further reading

A similar comparison of Lumix standard zoom lenses.

Another sharpness comparison at 100mm.

A sharpness comparison at 140mm.

A sharpness comparison at 100mm and 200mm.

Lenses from other systems

Here are some similar tele lenses for other systems:

To the left is the smallest Lumix lens for comparison, the Lumix G 45-150mm. Further to the right, the Nikon 1 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 (orange), the Nikon 1 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6, and to the far right, the big Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Sports.

LensLumix G 45-150mm f/4-5.6Nikon 1 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6Nikon 1 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Sports
SystemMicro Four ThirdsNikon 1Nikon 1Nikon F, Canon EF, fullframe
System crop factor2x2.7x2.7x1-1.5x
Equivalent reach90-300mm81-300mm190-810mm225-900mm (on APS-C)
Front lens thread52mm40.5mm62mm105mm
Lens elements/groups12/918/1216/1024/16
Physical OIS switchNoNoNoYes
Focus ringYes, by wireNoYes, by wireYes, physical
Tripod footN/AN/ATR-N100, not includedIncluded

The Nikon 1 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 is a basic, inexpensive, very compact, and well performing tele zoom lens. See a comparison with the Lumix G 45-200mm here.

The most unique of the lenses above is clearly the Nikon 1 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6, which is an impressively small ultra long tele lens. With an equivalent reach of over 800mm, it is a very good lens for anyone interested in bird photography, and who does not like lugging along large lenses.

See my review here, with a comparison with the Lumix G 100-300mm. Here is a description of how the lens fares for birds in flight (BIF) photography. Even if I like the lens a lot, it could still benefit from better weather protection, which is probably its weak point.

Finally, the gigantic Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Sports is an ultra long reach lens for DSLR users, suitable for both fullframe and APS-C. My review.

This is a good lens for those who are interested in sports and wildlife photography, and want to stay on a low budget. The lens is weather protected, and feels very solid and rigid. The image quality is quite good, even at full 600mm extension.


  1. Very interesting comparison.Thank you.

  2. Interesting comparison. Thanks. The 35-100/2.8 is mislabelled in your plot of the focal ratio.

    1. Thanks for finding the typo! I have fixed it now.

  3. Hi. Still doubts about 14-140 vs 45-150..