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PanaLeica 45mm - Disappointed

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by Jman, May 9, 2011.

  1. Jman

    Jman Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 20, 2011
    Columbus, OH
    Just wondering if I got a bad copy of if this is how the lens is. Just got the PanaLeica 45mm f/2.8 macro today, and I took about 80 shots of various things, both macro and longer range. At close range and f/2.8, it's Ok. not great, but ok. At any further than about 3 feet, though, it's pretty darn soft at f/2.8...and this is on a range of subjects from buildings to parking meters to portraits, and at shutter speeds ranging from 1/150 to 1/4000s. At f/4, the thing is quite sharp, at least in the center, and the edges are certainly quite decent at f/4, but at f/2.8, it's just not there. If it was as sharp at f/2.8 as it was at f/4, I'd be happy, but it's just not, and for an $800 macro lens, it is quite unacceptable. I'm going to take a few more shots with this under very controlled conditions to see what's up, but as for now, this one I think is going back.
    The question is, can I expect another one to perform similarly, or is this a bad copy? For $800, I expect it to be quite sharp wide open. This is only $50 less than I paid for my Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS, and that lens is one of the best lenses optically I've ever seen (and I've owned a TON of lenses, including about 10 Canon L lenses, the Panny 7-14, 8mm fish, 20/1.7, etc....plus a ton of legacy glass). If this is pretty typical for this lens, I'll just return it and hopefully the rumored Oly 50mm f/1.4 will actually come out soon. (I've also thought about getting the Nokton 50mm f/1.1, but I already have the Hexanon 57/1.2, so I don't know if it's worth it just for a slightly sharper f/1.1-f/1.8 range). I was hoping that the 45/2.8 would be the lens that would allow me to finally sell my Canon gear...a sharp, slightly fast portrait range lens with fast AF. But this 45mm is walked on by my Oly 40-150, which cost me $109 and is sharp as a tack wide open (though a stop slower at 45mm).
    For an example, these are 100% crops straight from RAW, unsharpened. 1/4000s on the f/2.8, and 1/2000s at f/4. Focus distance was about 4 feet. I took 3 shots at f/2.8, and this was the best one.
    100% crop @ f/2.8:

    100% crop @ f/4:
  2. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    If you're shooting with an Olympus, do you have the in-body IS turned on or off? Same question for the lens?
  3. Jman

    Jman Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 20, 2011
    Columbus, OH
    This is on the GH2. OIS was on.
  4. Jman

    Jman Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 20, 2011
    Columbus, OH
    Ok...further testing done just now. The optics are fine...the OIS is the culprit. OIS on, f/2.8 = garbage. OIS off, f/2.8 = very sharp. Odd thing is that OIS on and f/4 = very sharp. Will have to try the different IS modes and see if perhaps mode 2 or something will make it fine.

    Here are two 100% unsharpened crops from RAW, both at f/2.8. Both were taken at 1/160 second, with flash, so shutter speed should be taken out of the equation (1/160 is too fast for proper exposure so the entire exposure here is from the flash, so super short duration of exposure) I took two shots with OIS, two shots without (and did other subjects at different distances with the same results...these are representative):

    With OIS On:

    With OIS Off:
  5. stratokaster

    stratokaster Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 4, 2011
    Dublin, IE
    Well, your lens probably has a defective OIS unit. You should send it back for replacement.
  6. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    If it means anything, here's how I shoot with it on my E-PL2
    E-PL2 IS = On
    Panasonic OIS = Off
  7. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    Whoops! Just read that you have a GH2....:redface:
  8. taikuodo

    taikuodo Mu-43 Rookie

    Jan 17, 2011
    yeah, next time you complain - make sure you know whats the culprit. looking at your initial images, it looked more like motion blur due to shake or something else than sharpness issues with the lens.
  9. Jman

    Jman Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 20, 2011
    Columbus, OH
    Ok...even more testing! Good news...workable solution.

    OIS Mode 2, while not giving the stabilized view in camera, works fantastic....very sharp handheld shots, and the sharpest of the bunch on the flash shots (did the same tests as before, and the OIS mode 2 shots are sharper than OIS off or OIS mode 1 (which is terrible).

    I wonder if there is something with the GH2's implementation of Mode 1, as I sometimes had similar stuff happen with my 45-200 (which I no longer own). My 14-45 has never had any issues, though. Anyway, I'll now happily test the lens tomorrow in real world situations, shooting in mode 2, and hopefully all will be well.
  10. Jman

    Jman Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 20, 2011
    Columbus, OH
    To be fair, I think it's reasonable to expect the OIS unit to be OK in mode 1 with 1/1000 second shutter speeds. I'm not a newbie, and have experience with a huge range of lenses of various types. It's not like I was saying "hey, why is my lens soft at 1/5 sec?" Also, when the f/4 shots are sharp, it doesn't exactly point to OIS being the issue right away.
  11. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    Have you checked your settings for Limit?
  12. longimanus

    longimanus Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 29, 2011
    Madrid (Spain)
    I have no problem at all with or without OIS in my 45mm copy, always I have very sharp images and I usually does not desactivate OIS (only on macro photos with tripod).
  13. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Was the camera on a tripod or not?
  14. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    I've got no problem getting sharp shots with this lens at f/2.8 and OIS Mode 1 on my GH2.
  15. Jman

    Jman Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 20, 2011
    Columbus, OH
    Well, it appears there may be something wrong with my GH2. Mode 1 is not good with this lens (and was hit and miss with the 45-200), yet mode 2 and off are great. Tried with my GH1, and it's great in all OIS modes. Hmmm.....since everything else is AOK with my GH2, I'm not too worried about it, though I would bring it up if it ever needs service (and maybe I'll send it in when I'm close to a year....) But it's interesting to note.
  16. ajramirez

    ajramirez Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 16, 2010
    Caguas, Puerto Rico
    I did some tests on mine and found out that it is razor sharp in the center at all apertures, but a bit soft in the corners wide open. It sharpens up when you close it, but you need to close it down to 7.1 before the corners are as sharp as the center. I posted about it at Serious Compacts.

    FWIW, the test was conducted with a tripod mounted G2. OIS was on.

    Quick and dirty Lumix 45mm 2.8 test


  17. Howi

    Howi Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 23, 2011
    If tripod mounted, surely OIS should be off!!!

    Don't see why OIS should be on above 1/60 anyway.
    I did my own tests with the Pany 14-50, from 1/30 and above (handheld) no difference IOS on or not.
    Below 1/30 noticable difference all the way down to 1/8, didn't think there was any point going below that.
    Is is not perfect, I will only use if shutter speeds below 1/30 needed.
  18. Jman

    Jman Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 20, 2011
    Columbus, OH
    My tests were not tripod mounted, for those asking. But anyway...update:

    I did a lot more shooting today, switching between IS modes and off. Generally, the lens was better behaved overall today, even on mode 1, though I still got the occasional blurry pic even at high shutter speeds in mode 1, though not nearly as bad as yesterday. Wonder if switching the modes around cleared a bug or something in the GH2 programming. Don't know.. Anyway, shot most of the time with Mode 2 after determining it yielded the most consistently sharp photos and was rather pleased. It's not the absolute sharpest lens I've owned, but it's quite good, and it's got a very pleasing rendering. While the bokeh isn't perfect (some slight outlining at further focusing distances), I like the character of it...it's quite attractive, IMO. The contrast curve is nice. Good overall tonal contrast without being too bold. Makes for good postprocessing fodder.

    Some samples from today...first two are wide open; the macro of the tulip stamen is at f/5.6:


    100% crop (after processing):


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