finally the 45-175mm lumix g x vario pz had arrived hong kong this week. i picked up one from panasonic’s showroom in sogo last night. i was so anxious to try out the lens, i had brought my two gh2 bodies with me to the shop so that i could do some quick comparisons on the spot.
despite having owned two gh2 bodies for a while, i have had only one mft lens until last night – the 14-140mm hd kit lens. for previous works that had required two cameras, i mounted one of my sony alpha lenses on either one of them (usually the carl zeiss 24-70mm) with the other using the 14-140mm. i had been reluctant to invest in mft lenses because i use the gh2 almost exclusively for video works. until panasonic’s recent release of new firmware for 7 of its existing lenses to make them more video friendly (they might be quieter now but i doubt they are any more faster than they had been shipped out of factory), the 14-140mm was the only auto-focus lens optimized for video (by panasonic). but still, none of them has powered zoom (something nice to have especially when shooting handheld).
below is the test video i took with the 45-175mm mounted on my gh2 with official firmware and the 14-140mm mounted on my other gh2 with hacked firmware:
while shooting video the first time with the 45-175mm, i thought i could probably make use of a faster zoom. the zoom felt really slow. when viewing the footage on the computer afterwards, the zooming looked much “faster” and “natural” than i had felt at the time of shooting.
to test the effectiveness of the new power o.i.s. for photos, i took the following two photos using the widest end of the zoom (i.e. 90mm 35mm-equivalent) and the longest end (i.e. 350mm) respectively from the same spot without any support:
shutter speed used for the zoomed photo was 1/13s – that’s like 4 stops below the safe shutter speed of 1/320s. not bad for indoor available light condition.
from what i’ve tried out last night, the new power o.i.s. is much more effective than the “old” mega o.i.s. in stabilizing both stills and videos. i think panny is going to update the 14-140mm very soon with at least power o.i.s.
besides the improved performance, i really like the size of the new lens. it’s overall length doesn’t change during the whole zoom range (like the canon 100-400L i used to have). i know 3.8 times is not a lot in zoom range. but still it got a 35mm equivalent of 90mm to 350mm. when attached to the gh2, the overall length of the body plus the lens is about the height of my sony alpha 70-300mm lens when it is at its shortest.
all in all, the 45-175mm lumix g x is not just tiny but delivers improved performance over the 14-140mm lens. it makes a very discrete long-reaching lens – perfect for street photography. i think i will be using it a lot more for photos than i used to with the 14-140mm. for photos that doesn’t need long reach, i will continue to use my sony nex-5n and the 18-55mm kit lens. meantime, i am waiting for the arrival of the 14-42mm lumix g x lens.