Panasonic LEICA DG MACRO-ELMARIT 45mm F2.8 ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. Review
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The Panasonic LEICA DG MACRO-ELMARIT 45mm F2.8 ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. is a macro lens for the Micro Four Thirds system. Offering a 35mm camera equivalent focal length of 90mm, the Panasonic 45mm lens uses both an aspherical lens and an ED lens in its fourteen lenses in ten groups. It incorporates an inner focus direct-drive linear motor with three groups of floating structure for focusing, and the inclusion of a stepping motor makes the focusing action smooth and silent for use in both photo and movie recording. The closest focusing distance can be instantly changed to 15cm or 50cm via a switch on the lens barrel. The LEICA DG MACRO-ELMARIT 45mm F2.8 ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. lens is available for £599.00 / $899.99 in the UK and the US, respectively.
Ease of Use
The LEICA DG MACRO-ELMARIT 45mm F2.8 ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. lens attached to a Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2
The LEICA DG MACRO-ELMARIT 45mm F2.8 ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. is quite small and light for a macro lens offering a 35mm equivalent focal range of 90mm, easily fitting in the palm of your hand.
Front of the lens
Zooming is internal, so it's a pretty compact affair for a lens that offers a short telelphoto focal length. It's also very light at only 225 grams.
Front of lens, isometric view
In terms of features, the lens doesn't have a distance scale, but there is a focus limiter with two settings, Full and Limit, which instantly changes the focusing distance to either 15cm or 50cm respectively, speeding up the autofocus for longer ranges. There's also image stabilisation which is turned on and off via a switch on the side of the barrel, an essential feature given the close-up nature of the lens. Note that the switches aren't very positive and can easily be knocked to the wrong setting.
Focus Limiter and Mega O.I.S. switches
The LEICA DG MACRO-ELMARIT 45mm F2.8 ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. lens may have quite a lot of plastic parts, but the lens mount is, thankfully, made of metal. Panasonic does not claim any sort of weather resistance for this lens, and indeed you cannot see a rubber seal around the mount (note that no current Micro Four Thirds camera is weather sealed anyway).
Rear of lens, isometric view
Usefully the lens comes with a hood and a cloth storage bag, and it accepts 46mm filters.
Alongside the DMC-GH2
The lens has a diagonal angle of view of 27°, equivalent to that of a 90mm lens in a 35mm system.
Field of view at 45mm
The LEICA DG MACRO-ELMARIT 45mm F2.8 ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. lens offers almost silent focusing. In use, we have also found the system surprisingly quick on the DMC-GH2, though not quite as zippy as the GH2 and 14-140mm lens combo.
The 46mm filter thread does not rotate on focus, which is good news for users of polarisers and graduated neutral density filters.
Manual focusing is possible in a focus-by-wire fashion. This should not put you off using it as it feels pretty natural in use, and actually enables the camera to display a magnified view of the subject automatically, i.e. without your having to press a dedicated button or enter the menu. The focus ring is slim but adequate for the job.
Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or blue fringes along contrasty edges, are only conspicuous by their almost complete absence, as shown by the 100% crop below.
With the lens set to its maximum aperture, there is no light fall-off in the corners.
TheLEICA DG MACRO-ELMARIT 45mm F2.8 ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. has a closest focusing distance of 0.15m / 0.5ft and a maximum 2.0x magnification rating.
Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc. In the LEICA DG MACRO-ELMARIT 45mm F2.8 ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. lens, Panasonic employed a diaphragm with 7 rounded blades, which has resulted in a pretty nice bokeh, at least in our opinion. However, recognising that bokeh evaluation is subjective, we have provided a few examples for your perusal.
In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following page.