Reviews |Panasonic Lumix S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 Macro OIS

Panasonic Lumix S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 Macro OIS Review

Panasonic Lumix S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 review
Review

Price when reviewed

£1259.99

€1349.99

Our Verdict

I need to do a bit more shooting before passing final judgement but the Panasonic Lumix S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 Macro OIS is a great-feeling lens with lovely build quality. So far, I’m pressed by its image quality and the stabilisation system works very well.

What is the Panasonic Lumix S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 Macro OIS?

The Panasonic Lumix S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 Macro OIS is a full-frame telephoto zoom lens with the L mount. It is the longest focal length L-mount lens from Panasonic to date.

Although Panasonic would prefer you to use the Lumix S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 Macro OIS on one of its S-series of full-frame mirrorless cameras, it can also be used on the L mount cameras from Leica and Sigma.

Leica currently has two full-frame L-mount cameras, the SL2 and SL2 S full-frame mirrorless cameras and two APS-C format L-mount cameras, the Leica TL2 and CL. Meanwhile, Sigma has the fp.

Specification

  • Lens type: Full-frame telephoto zoom
  • Announced: 18th February 2021
  • Mount: L
  • Focal length: 70-300mm
  • Construction: 17 elements in 11 groups with 1 UED (Ultra Extra-low Dispersion), 2 ED (Extra-low Dispersion)and 1 UHR (Ultra-High Refractive Index) elements
  • Maximum aperture: f/3.5 at 70mm, f/5.6 at 300mm
  • Minimum aperture: f/22
  • Angle of view: 34°-8.3°
  • Minimum focus distance: 0.54m / 1.77ft at 70mm and 0.74m / 2.43ft at focal 300mm
  • Optical Image Stabilizer: Yes
  • Filter size: 77mm
  • Maximum diameter: 84mm
  • Length: 148mm to the base of the lens mount
  • Weight: 790g / 1.74lb

The Panasonic Lumix S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 Macro OIS is available to pre-order from Wex Photo Video in the UK and Adorama in the USA.

Panasonic Lumix S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6

Features

Panasonic has constructed the Lumix S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 Macro OIS from 17 elements arranged in 11 groups. This includes 1 UED (Ultra Extra-low Dispersion), 2 ED (Extra-low Dispersion)and 1 UHR (Ultra-High Refractive Index) elements to reduce axial chromatic aberration at the telephoto end and chromatic aberration at the wide end.

The UHR element also maintains image quality across the frame while keeping the size of the lens down.

Panasonic’s Optical Image Stabiliser (OIS) is built-in and is able to work with the in-body image stabilisation in Lumix S Series cameras as part of the Dual I.S. (Image Stabiliser) system. This is claimed to enable sharp images to be captured hand-held at shutter speeds as much a 5.5-stops slower than normal.

The focus drive is also able to operate at up to 480 fps for fast and precise focusing. And, like other Lumix S Series lenses, focus breathing is minimised so there’s minimal shift in focus during zooming.

In addition, the lens is dust and splash-resistant and can operate at down to -10°C.  There’s also a fluorine coating on the front element to repel water and oil (fingerprints).

Panasonic Lumix S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 review

Build and Handling

As it has a variable aperture, the Panasonic Lumix S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 isn’t as big or as heavy as either the Lumix S Pro 70-200mm f/4 or the Lumix S Pro 70-200mm f/2.8 OIS which weigh in at 985g and 1570g respectively.

However, the S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 still feels well made, with just the right amount of effort required to zoom from one focal length to another or to focus manually. And although there’s a lock on the barrel to prevent zoom creep when walking with the lens mounted on a camera, the lens doesn’t extend too readily without locking it.

It feels like a premium lens.

On one side of the Lumix S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 Macro OIS barrel, there are three switches just above the zoom lock. There are to switch the focusing range (full and 3m to infinity), to change between auto and manual focus and to turn the image stabilisation (OIS) on and off.

Matching the rest of the lens, these switches feel well made and have a nice action.

Performance

I’ve had the Panasonic Lumix S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 Macro OIS for a couple of days and so far, I’m impressed with the results it produces.

The weather has been pretty murky over the last few days, which means that I’ve had to push the sensitivity level up a bit and distant objects don’t look their absolute sharpest. I’m looking forward to brighter conditions when I’ll be able to really test the lens’s resolving power. However, the early signs are good.

I’m particularly impressed by the close focusing distance of 54cm at the widest point of the lens and 74cm at the longest. What’s more, at the closest focusing point, the reproduction is half life-sized at 300mm. The results look great, with natural levels of sharpness and plenty of detail, while the out of focus areas look smooth and nicely blurred.

After hunting around the images I’ve shot so far, I’ve only been able to find the merest suggestion of chromatic aberration. It’s only just visible when the images are at 100% on a computer screen and although it’s easily removed from raw files in Adobe Camera Raw, it’s not really problematic enough to warrant it.

Shooting at the 300mm end on the Panasonic S1R, I was able to get 100% sharp results at 1/15 sec, which is over 4EV slower than you would normally expect when hand-holding at that focal length. At 1/8sec, the results aren’t bad, but they don’t look completely sharp at 100% on a computer screen.

The Panasonic Lumix S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 Macro OIS is available to pre-order from Wex Photo Video in the UK and Adorama in the USA.

Panasonic Lumix S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 Macro OIS Sample Images

Follow the link to browse and download full-resolution images shot on the Panasonic Lumix S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 Macro OIS.

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