Panasonic H-FS014045PP 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS Micro Four Thirds Lens – Product Description:
A standard zoom interchangeable lens designed specifically for the cameras compatible with Micro Four Thirds System standard. Suitable for a wide range of scenes from portrait to landscape photography, the lens offers a zoom range of 14-45mm (35mm equivalent: 28-90mm) while featuring its ultra-compact size and lightweight. The aspherical lens element also improves optical performance by minimizing distortion, even at the 28mm wide end. The lens incorporates Panasonic’s MEGA O.I.S. optical image stabilizer, which makes it easy to shoot super clear shots even in low-lit situations by suppressing the blur caused by a hand shake. When the lens is mounted on the Lumix G Micro System DMC-G1 camera, you can use the contrast AF system, which is implemented in the DMC-G1 to offer a wide variety of convenient functions. With its minimum focus distance of 30 cm even at full zoom, the lens provides a maximum photographic magnification of 0.34x.
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Panasonic H-FS014045PP 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS Micro Four Thirds Lens – Review:
EXCELLENT LITTLE KIT ZOOM!
Compact, lightweight, quick autofocus, effective stabilization, and excellent sharpness. No light falloff issues.
My main camera and lens combo is the Nikon D200 with a $1,300 17-55mm f/2.8 as the standard zoom; so I am used to professional quality lenses that produce excellent edge-to-edge sharpness, neutral color, consistent brightness across the frame, very little flare, etc. I bought the Panasonic GF1 and 20mm f/1.7 as a more portable alternative to my DSLR. I carry the GF1 every day, so I shoot with my m4/3 gear quite a lot.
About the only negative I can say about his lens is that it has a variable aperture, but that is what all consumer oriented standard zooms have. By variable aperture I mean that it can only open up to f/3.5 (which lets in more light) at the wide end of the zoom. At the long end it can’t open wider than f/5.6. A constant fast f/2.8 aperture would result in a much larger, heavier, and more expensive lens like my Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8. While my Nikon might be a better zoom in low light, and for getting shallow depth of field, the Panasonic 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 is much easier to carry. The O.I.S. stabilization helps it out in low light, but stabilization can’t stop action the way faster shutter speeds (from a wider aperture) can. The image quality is excellent. I would still say that the 20mm f/1.7 is the one lens that every m4/3 user should own, but I might put the 14-45mm up there with it in terms of versatility. The build quality is good for such an inexpensive zoom. I’ve definitely seen DSLR kit zooms that felt cheaper, and some that felt more rugged. Panasonic does have a newer 14-42mm kit zoom that is supposed to be even less expensive and has a plastic mount instead of the metal mount of this lens. Based on the reviews I’d say go for the 14-45mm. The IQ of the 14-42 probably isn’t that different, but the price isn’t that different either. Olympus also has a 14-42mm that locks into a shorter length for carrying, but it doesn’t have stabilization since the Olympus cameras use IS built into the camera instead of the lens.
I’ve used the 14-45mm for landscapes, architecture and street photography, flowers, people, dogs, etc. I have printed as large as 13×19 and the image quality really is very nice. Similar lenses I have used include the Nikon 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 and the Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR. The Panasonic 14-45mm certainly compares well and I would say it’s more consistently sharp than the Nikon superzoom (18-200). The nice thing about the Panasonic is that distortion and chromatic aberration are corrected automatically in the camera for both RAW and JPEG. So the lens is likely worse than it appears, but you’d never know it looking at the end result… unless you use a RAW converter that doesn’t support the correction info in the RAW file. Adobe Camera RAW for Lightroom and Photoshop does.
The 14-45mm comes with a nice little lens hood that can be stored in the reverse position for carrying, and of course it includes front and rear lens caps. The GF1 is not quite as compact using the 14-45mm as it is with the 20mm, but it’s still a well-balanced combination. I can wear the GF1 with 14-45mm comfortably around the neck as well. Zoom action is smooth, manual focusing is smooth, and it’s a nice range for a zoom. I would prefer to sacrifice a little of the reach for a little bit wider at the other end, but I guess there is always the 7-14mm or the Olympus 9-18mm. 14mm is wide enough for most purposes. I carry this lens almost every day with my GF1 and 20mm. It’s a great little combination.