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Olympus M.Zuiko ED 300mm f4.0 IS PRO provides extra reach in a small package

Create: 01/08/2016 - 22:57
M.Zuiko ED 300mm f4.0 IS PRO

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Pro-level lens with image stabilization that works in conjunction with body stabilization
  • Movie & Still Compatible for movie makers
  • Compact length of 8.9 inches for a 600mm full-frame equivalent optic

With a sensor that is half the size of a full-frame DSLR, the Micro Four Thirds format can offer a real advantage for those who enjoy shooting with a telephoto lens when you take into account the 2x crop factor.

Olympus' new M.Zuiko ED 300mm f4.0 IS PRO gives its photographers (and those who shoot with Panasonic's G series) extra reach at 600mm full-frame equivalent and a significant weight savings, compared with their full-frame equivalent counterparts.

As the name says, the M.Zuiko 300mm PRO is part of its stable of high-end lenses that is intended for the professional, as well as those who demand the highest quality optic.

The lens is composed of 17 elements in 10 groups, including three Super ED lenses, three HR lenses and one E-HR lens. The aperture range is f/4.0-22, using nine blades that form a circular opening.

Olympus says the lens can be combined with its 1.4x teleconverter to deliver the equivalent view of a 840mm lens. Close focus distance is 4 feet, 7 inches (1.4 meters), and that remains unchanged when the 1.4x teleconverter is used.

The M.Zuiko 300mm PRO has a focus clutch mechanism that makes it easy for the photographer to manually focus the lens. On the side of the lens barrel is a "Focus Limit" switch that sets the focusing range of the camera: 1.4-4 meters, 4 meters to infinity and full focusing range. This can be useful if you are focusing in a narrow range and want to prevent the lens from incorrectly focusing to the other end of the focusing range.

The M.Zuiko 300mm PRO is surprisingly compact at 11 inches (280mm), and that's with the integrated lens shade extended. With the lens hood retracted, the lens is just 8.9 inches long (227mm). Olympus includes a graphic on its website that compares the overall length of the lens with that of a true 600mm lens.

Although the lens collar is optional, using a 600mm equivalent lens will require support of some kind, whether it's a bean bag, monopod or tripod. The lens weighs 44.8 ounces (1,270 grams) without the lens collar, which adds another 7 ounces (205 grams).

To help reduce vibration, the lens has its own image-stabilization system, which can integrate with the five-axis IS of the E-M1 and E-M5 Mark II cameras. Aside from being weather sealed, the lens also is Movie & Still Compatible – a new designation to indicate optics that operate with almost no noise. That's important for those who shoot in very quiet situations, as well as for movie makers who don't want any lens noise to be recorded by the camera.

The M.Zuiko 300mm PRO is expected to begin shipping in late February 2016 for US$2,499.99.

About the Author

Mike Elek is a longtime journalist and was one of the original editors for The Wall Street Journal Online. He also has worked as a reporter and editor in Pittsburgh; Philadelphia; Vineland, N.J.; Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; New York City; and Hong Kong. He is a U.S. Air Force veteran. He shoots with film and digital cameras.