Introducing the new FUJINON XF70-300mm f/4-f/5.6 R LM OIS WR lens from Fujifilm!
70-300mm lenses are known for their versatility and flexibility, they cover focal length ranges that are popular with different photographers in varying genres. Certainly wildlife, sports, travel and for some, candid portraiture work too. This popularity also comes from the expectation that as well as producing incredible image quality, the lens is portable and lightweight. This makes them ideal for travelling and using on the move in live action and changing scenarios.
The focal length of 70-300mm gives us the equivalent field of view of 107-457mm in 35mm terms. The lens is configured with 17 elements in 12 groups with 1 aspherical element and 2 ED elements. The widest aperture is f/4 at 70mm and it stops down to f/5.6 as we zoom through the range. We’ll have a look at this in more detail further on in this blog post.
The R designation means the lens has a dedicated aperture ring, LM means the lens has a linear motor for fast and quiet focussing, OIS means the lens is equipped with Optical Image Stabilisation which for this lens is 5.5 stops. Lastly this is a WR lens which means the lens build includes various sealings and precautions for weather resistance.
One of the first things I noticed is this lens doesn’t have a tripod collar and foot, it weighs in at just 580g. This is much lighter than the 50-140mm and of course the 100-400mm so there is no strain on the lens mount to require a tripod collar. I’ve been using this lens since the weekend to photograph some mute swans in the beautiful winter morning light and it’s been great having it on the camera with a traditional neck strap. No specialised slings, or a monopod or tripod needed to take the strain!
Please note, these photographs were taken with a pre-production model of the lens.
Starting at the lens mount… This is an XF lens so we have a metal rather than plastic mount and also one of the rubber weather sealings is present. In all, there are 10 weather resistant seals applied throughout the lens. It is rated to operate in temperatures down to -10 degrees Centigrade (14 degrees Farenheit).
Also, this lens accepts both the XF1.4 and XF2 x converters.
We have an aperture lock switch for selecting control of the aperture via the lens aperture ring, setting to automatic or assigning it to a command dial. To the right, a focus range selector with the option of full range or restricting autofocus range to a 5m to infinity. The minimum focus distance of this lens is 83cm, with teleconverters this makes the lens potentially a very good option for close-up photography and hopefully in the near future I will explore this a bit more.
The aperture ring is well positioned for using our thumb or ring finger when cradling the lens when in use. We shouldn’t expect to have aperture value markings as this is a variable aperture lens which depends on the focal length.
The lens has a zoom lock switch to lock the lens at 70mm. Incidentally with it unlocked, there is no creep from 70mm with the lens elements pointing downward. It’s handy to engage the lock when storing or transporting gear, so it is still a welcome feature. The substantial zoom ring feels very smooth with a comfortable amount of resistance. It takes a little under 90 degrees of turning to zoom from 70mm to 300mm.
The manual focus ring is much narrower, again it is very smooth with less resistance than the zoom ring. At the front of our lens we have a 67mm filter ring and fittings for our lens hood. The hood is slightly different to the 50-140 and 100-400mm lens but it still fits well, it’s easy to take on and off and feels solid when in place. The hood does of course store inwards over the lens body when not in use.
Overall, the build quality feels very good but it’s still nice and light at just 580g. It’s obviously a lot smaller than the 100-400mm lens and retracted, also smaller than the 50-140mm f/2.8. In terms of actually using the lens these are probably spurious comparisons given the differences in focal length and aperture differences but if you have experience of handling these lenses it’s interesting to see how the physical proportions of the 70-300mm compares.
The lens also comes with a cloth bag which I find useful when packing gear for transporting.
These are just my initial thoughts on the Fujinon 70-300mm lens and I will be using it a lot more over the next few weeks. It produces very sharp images, it’s certainly portable and lightweight and has great build quality. So, it is ticking the requirement boxes for what I would consider to be crucial for this sort of lens.
The big question is, will it find a place in my camera bag? The answer, yes! Hopefully for our trips to South Africa and Kenya later this year!