Quick Look: The Panasonic 45mm Macro Lens for Micro Four-Thirds Cameras

Quick Look: The Panasonic 45mm Macro Lens for Micro Four-Thirds Cameras

Oct 03
Quick Look: The Panasonic 45mm Macro Lens for Micro Four-Thirds Cameras

Its exciting to see the world of mirrorless cameras growing in popularity. Both Olympus and Panasonic have been great by releasing a good number of great lenses with the micro four-thirds mount, many of which work great underwater. Sony still needs to catch up, but there has been more talk about releasing new lenses next year and in the future. Today I want to take a quick look at a great underwater lens, the Panasonic Leica DG-Macro 45mm f2.8 lens. This lens filled a much needed spot for a good macro lens in the micro-fourthirds world for a while, but now that the Olympus 60mm Macro is available, do you still need it?

The short answer is yes. The 45mm lens is easier to use underwater, and allows for larger subjects to be photographed because the zoom is not as great as the 60mm. Both are amazing lenses, sharp with good focusing ability, and fantastic for macro allowing you to get up close and personal with subjects. Having a dedicated macro lens (vs. a kit lens with wet macro diopter) gives you great flexibility, more workable depth of field, and a better working distance.

The flat surface of the Jacques Cousteau Plaque was a perfect place to test sharpness. Shot at F11, the sharpest aperture on the 45mm lens you can see how much detail the lens brings out. Keep in mind that this C is only able 1/2″ tall.

The 45mm macro is effectively a 90mm lens when you think in terms of 35mm film. This zoom level paired with very close focusing makes is a great lens for shooting small to medium macro subjects and still offers enough flexibility to get some larger fish and other creatures as well. The lens is very sharp, all the way through the corners and focuses up to just a few inches away from a subject. Focusing is pretty standard of any macro lens. The focus system is quick, but I found that the lens will hunt through the entire focus range if you overshoot the minimum focus distance, a process that is slow and annoying. In addition it had some trouble focusing on a subject further away after having been focused on a closeup macro subject. I was using the Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera during this test, and have been told a recent firmware update helps improve this issue. Overall I was impressed with this lens, on my test dive I found a great range of subjects from a small eel surrounded by cleaner shrimp, a good sized octopus, a variety of gobies and this lens was able to expertly capture them all.

A nice close up of a relaxed octopus.

This octopus stayed chill while I shot several shots. The 45mm macro made it easy to capture photos of this larger subject since its focal length is not so great. This is one things that makes is an easier macro lens to start with over the 60mm.

This inch long baby Garibaldi kept swimming in and out of the rocks, and the 45mm lens was able to quickly refocus on him each time he re-emerged.

Playing around with the aperture on the 45mm allowed for some creativity when shooting this pair. For more information on how aperture affects your DOF, see this blog post.

Blue Banded Goby’s are some of the hardest fish to shoot as they tend to be very shy. Paired with the Light & Motion Sola 800 on RED mode, I was able to get close up to them for some great shots, including this “punk-rock” goby.