With the Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm F2.8 ASPH OIS, we have a Leica optical design, optical image stabilization (OIS), aspherical glass elements, and all in a very compact lens intended for macro-photography that stays true to the design and spirit of micro 4/3 technology.

To provide such impressive specs, Panasonic teamed up with Leica to create a lens with an intricate optical design that features 14 glass elements in 10 groups.

By contrast to the Olympic Zuiko 45mm f/1.8, this lens is specifically designed for use as a macro (making it the first micro 4/3 macro lens).

The description is enough to make one drool — all the more reason to take a good look at the Leica Elmarit 45mm’s DxOMark test results.

Measurements

Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm F2.8 ASPH OIS mounted on a Panasonic GH2

Alas, a DxO Mark score of 13 points… isn’t all that great.

The good points of this Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm F2.8 ASPH OIS lens:

  • Good resolution.
  • Zero distortion.
  • Optical image stabilization (OIS)

The “debatable” points for this lens:

  • Somewhat weak transmission.
  • Vignetting is a bit too noticeable.
  • Its price.

Comparison

Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f1.8 vs Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm F2.8 ASPH OIS, both mounted on a Panasonic GH2

Against a DxO Mark score of 17 for the Olympus, Panasonic loses the battle of the 45mm lenses, even if the use cases are slightly different for the two lenses.

The advantages of the Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm F2.8 ASPH OIS:

  • Better correction of distortion (although that of the Olympus is negligeable).
  • Stabilization (OIS).

The advantages of the Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.8:

  • A brighter lens.
  • Better handling of vignetting.
  • Better correction of chromatic aberrations.

Another interesting comparison: Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm vs ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 50mm f/2.0 Macro (full results for the Olympus 50mm will be available shortly).

Conclusion

On the basis of optical quality, a Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm F2.8 ASPH OIS lens is not about to dethrone an Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.8. Still, it has some features that may very well merit a second look:

  • While less bright than the very good Zuiko 45mm f/1.8, the Leica’s stabilization feature (which we have not evaluated here) should permit some recovery by varying the exposure time. Stabilization is also a real plus in macro mode.

Thus this Leica-branded 45mm has certain advantages over the Olympus 45mm. However, those who are looking for a lens with which to take portraits will prefer the Zuiko.