Introduction

The Panasonic Lumix S 70-300mm F4.5-5.6 Macro O.I.S. is a reasonably sized, reasonably far-reaching and optically stabilized telephoto zoom lens for full-frame or APS-C L-mount cameras.

Aimed toward wildlife, sports activities, plane and car pictures in addition to portraiture, it helps you tightly body extra distant topics when you may’t rise up shut on foot. It additionally provides spectacular close-focusing capabilities, and so can serve double-duty for gentle macro use.

Out there from April 2021, it carries a listing value of $1249.


Key specs:

  • Focal size: 70-300mm (105-450mm with Leica T/TL/CL our bodies or APS-C crop)
  • Aperture vary: F4.5 vast / F5.6 tele – F22
  • Stabilization: Sure, Panasonic Optical Picture Stabilizer
  • Filter thread: 77mm
  • Shut focus: 0.54m (21.3″) vast / 0.74m (29.1″) tele
  • Most magnification: 0.5x (tele)
  • Diaphragm blades: 11
  • Hood: Included
  • Weight: 790g (1.74 lb)
  • Optical building: 17 parts in 11 teams (2 ED, 1 UED, 1 UHR)

ISO 640 | 1/1250 sec | F5.6 | 300mm | Panasonic S1R
Picture by Dale Baskin

70-300mm F4.5-5.6 lenses are pretty commonplace within the SLR world, however that is however solely the second such lens to be particularly designed to be used with a full-frame mirrorless digicam. (The primary being Sony’s FE 70-300mm F4.5-5.6 G for the competing Sony E-mount, and Fujifilm has not too long ago launched a 70-300mm F4.5-5.6 R for its X-mount APS-C cameras.)

As such, there aren’t any direct rivals for L-mount cameras from Panasonic or both of its L-mount Alliance companions, Leica and Sigma. The closest L-mount equivalents can be the considerably brighter, bulkier and much costlier Leica APO-Vario-Elmarit-SL 90-280 mm F2.8–4 or the reasonably bigger, heavier and extra telephoto Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.Three DG DN OS.

Wildlife and sports activities shooters specifically might discover the Sigma to be a extra enticing possibility, nevertheless. Not solely will it carry extra distant topics even nearer, it additionally carries a listing value that is about $300 lower than the Panasonic. The tradeoff is that it is rather less brilliant, and so might push you to greater sensitivities or longer shutter speeds.

ISO 640 | 1/80 sec | F14 | 219mm | Panasonic S1R
Picture by Dale Baskin

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Dealing with

The Panasonic S 70-300mm F4.5-5.6 is just a bit bigger than we would anticipate of a full-frame lens with its focal size and aperture ranges, however however additionally a bit lighter.

Its barrel diameter is similar to that of the Sony FE 70-300MM we talked about beforehand, and 5mm (0.2in) smaller in diameter than the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM for Canon EF-mount DSLRs. It is a bit longer than each, although. The Canon is about 5mm (0.2in) shorter, and the Sony is about 4.5mm shorter.

Barrel diameter and weight are about what we would anticipate for a lens of this sort, however the size at 70mm is a bit longer than is typical for a 70-300mm zoom of this type. The lens extends when zoomed.

Limiting ourselves simply to the less-direct alternate options on the L-mount, nevertheless, it is a good bit smaller than the Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.Three DG DN OS, which is a full 49.2mm (2.Zero in) longer. The aforementioned Leica 90-280mm, in the meantime, is the most important of the bunch, at a full 3.5 inches longer.

On the identical time, it is also rather less hefty than its nearest opponents. It is 64g (2.Three oz) lighter than Sony’s E-mount equal and a worthwhile 260g (0.6 lb) lower than Canon’s EF-mount lens, which each carry broadly related listing pricing and goal prospects. It is also a full 370g (13.1 oz) lighter than the L-mount Sigma, and weighs lower than half as a lot because the high-end Leica, which is a whopping 920g (2.Zero lb) heavier.

Though its outer barrel is predominantly constructed from polycarbonate, the lens however has a really rugged construct and a pleasant, high-quality really feel. It is actually a notch above the standard of typical 70-300mm zooms across the $500-600 mark, however does not method the construct of higher-end optics like Canon L-series or Sony G Grasp lenses.

Stability is excellent with bigger our bodies just like the Panasonic S1R that we used for gallery capturing round our Seattle HQ, however remains to be nice with smaller our bodies just like the Panasonic S5 utilized by the DPReview TV group in Calgary, Alberta.

We discovered good stability on smaller our bodies just like the S5, and nice with bigger ones like this S1R.

Each the zoom and focus rings are fairly gentle and never considerably dampened. The main target ring has the softer really feel of the pair, whereas the zoom ring has a bit extra stress. On the facet of the barrel there are 4 switches, offering for (prime to backside) focus vary limiter, focus mode, optical picture stabilizer and zoom lock controls.

Since you will most likely want the main focus mode management extra steadily than the remaining, there is a small bump subsequent to it that gives an important tactile reference, serving to guarantee your fingertip has discovered the right swap with out eradicating your eye from the viewfinder.

A lens hood is included within the product bundle.

As for the optical picture stabilization system, for which Panasonic claims a 5.5-stop corrective impact, we discovered it to be fairly efficient, serving to each to fight blur from digicam shake at decrease shutter speeds, and likewise to stabilize the digital viewfinder view for a clean, regular preview. Each are vital given the pretty highly effective most telephoto on provide.

The 77mm filter thread is bigger than common, which is able to price a bit extra when shopping for filters.

Up entrance, there is a larger-than-typical 77mm filter thread, and the Panasonic 70-300mm can also be comprehensively weather-sealed, with a complete of seven seals offering for each mud and splash resistance. It is also freeze immune to -14°F (-10°C), as our closely snowbound and deep-frozen Canadian group can attest.

In comparison with…

Panasonic S 70-300mm F4.5-5.6 Macro OIS Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.Three DG DN OS | C

Worth (MSRP)

$1249 $949
Optical building 17 parts, 11 teams 22 parts, 16 teams
Aperture blades 11 9
Stabilized / mfr score Sure (5.5 stops) Sure (Four stops)
Climate sealed Sure Sure, mount-gasket solely
Minimal focus distance / max magnification 0.54 m (1.77) / 0.50x 1.60 m (5.25) / 0.24x
Diameter x Size
(no hood)
84mm x 148mm (3.31″ x 5.83″) 86mm x 197.2mm (3.38″ x 7.76″)
Filter measurement 77mm 67mm
Weight 790g (1.75lb) 1160g (2.56lb)

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Autofocus and focus respiratory

Autofocus is supplied by a really quick linear-drive AF motor which is each silent and really swift. With a full-rack AF time of about two seconds, or simply 1.1 seconds with the main focus vary limiter lively and considerably quicker for the smaller changes typical of real-world use, it is undoubtedly as much as the duties of wildlife or sports activities capturing.

ISO 100 | 1/3200 sec | F4.8 | 87mm | Panasonic S5
Picture by Chris Niccolls

The main target limiter is a reasonably commonplace possibility on a telephoto zoom like this, and one which’s undoubtedly value having, particularly due to this lens’ insanely shut minimal focusing distance. It locks the main focus vary to a minimal of 3m (9.Eight ft) when lively.

That shut focusing, by the way, offers this lens a reasonably respectable macro potential, for a telephoto zoom. You may get bodily closest to your topic at wide-angle, with a minimal focusing distance of 0.54m (1.77 ft). For the very best magnification ratio, although, swap to telephoto as an alternative. Right here, a minimal focusing distance of 0.74m (2.43 ft) is sufficient to garner a 1:2 (0.5x) most magnification.

You may get fairly shut at wide-angle (left), however transferring simply 20cm additional out of your topic and switching to telephoto (proper) will get you a fair higher 1:2 macro. Each photographs at ISO 100 with Panasonic S5.

Video shooters will likely be happy to listen to that in addition to autofocus drive being basically silent, focus respiratory is minimal, with only a slight trace at 70mm that largely goes away as you zoom in in direction of the 300mm telephoto. Our solely delicate disappointment on the video entrance is that the lens makes use of a spotlight mode swap on the facet of the barrel, moderately than a push/pull focus clutch discovered on some Panasonic lenses.

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Picture high quality

Picture high quality for the Panasonic 70-300mm F4.5-5.6 is mostly superb; bokeh is enjoyable, there’s good resistance to distortion and flare, and aberrations are as well-controlled as we would anticipate on a lens of this sort. We did discover some copy variation by way of sharpness, nevertheless. Whereas each copies we examined had nice sharpness at wide-angle, one of many two was noticeably higher on the telephoto finish of the zoom vary. Pattern variation in telezooms is extraordinarily widespread (probably extra so in early manufacturing runs), however it’s one thing to look out for.

Sharpness

At vast angle, the 70-300mm is sort of sharp even when capturing at F5.6, and the aircraft of focus is fairly flat. Stopping right down to F8 does enhance element just a bit, however you will solely discover that distinction at giant print sizes or when viewing 1:1.

One among our two copies of the Panasonic 70-300mm was loads sharp wide-open at full telephoto.
ISO 640 | 1/1250 sec | F5.6 | 300mm
Picture by Dale Baskin

That efficiency holds true as you zoom in to round 200mm, however past that time, we seen on one among our copies that issues weren’t so pleasing. We discovered it to be fairly comfortable at 300mm, whereas our different copy was as sharp as we’d anticipate from a lens of this sort and at this value level.

ISO 320 | 1/250 sec | F7.1 | 74mm | Panasonic S1R
Picture by Dale Baskin

We discovered on our less-impressive copy we may work across the softness a bit by stopping right down to F8, however this is not the brightest lens to begin off with. Having to cease down even additional will push you in direction of longer shutter speeds or greater sensitivities, additional buying and selling away potential picture high quality within the course of. The primary takeaway? Do some fast testing in the event you select this lens for your self, and be sure you’re happy together with your copy.

Vignetting and distortion

There’s actually not a lot vignetting to talk of past the 70mm wide-angle.
ISO 1000 | 1/400 sec | F10 | 96mm | Panasonic S1R
Picture by Dale Baskin

Excellent news right here: The Panasonic 70-300mm F4.5-5.6 displays solely minimal distortion. It additionally controls vignetting fairly properly. It is barely noticeable however simply corrected on the lens’ 70mm wide-angle, and virtually nonexistent by the point you attain its 300mm telephoto.

Bokeh

One other power of the 70-300mm is its pleasing bokeh. That is achieved due to an 11-bladed aperture, and you’ll anticipate good, spherical bokeh balls not solely when capturing vast open, however even in the event you cease down somewhat. Look carefully and you may discover just a bit polygonality by F8, however lower than you’d anticipate with a extra typical nine-bladed aperture. The ‘cat’s eye’ impact, which turns the balls into ellipses in direction of the corners, is current as you’d anticipate on a lens like this, however fairly properly managed.

ISO 400 | 1/400 sec | F5.6 | 144mm | Panasonic S5
Picture by Chris Niccolls

There’s additionally no signal of onion rings within the specular highlights, which may usually trigger lenses’ bokeh to look busy and distracting with a noticeable sample of concentric circles contained in the bokeh balls. Actually, the one slight shortcoming we famous is that there is a noticeable cleaning soap bubble impact, the place the outer periphery of the bokeh balls are somewhat brighter than their facilities.

Flare, ghosting and sunstars

Panasonic tells us that it particularly engineered the 70-300mm to realize higher sunstars, which is attention-grabbing provided that’s not usually one thing one expects and even seems for in a telephoto. And whereas they are not superb, they’re actually current and look moderately good to us.

ISO 1000 | 1/500 sec | F22 | 71mm | Panasonic S1R
Picture by Dale Baskin

With the bundled lens hood mounted, the lens has good resistance to flare. Even with out it or when capturing straight into the solar, solely minor ghosting seems in direction of the far reverse facet of the body, and it’s extremely properly managed. We did not discover any washing out from flare, and distinction stays robust.

Lateral and longitudinal chromatic aberration (fringing)

ISO 100 | 1/1600 sec | F7.1 | 71mm | Panasonic S5
Picture by Chris Niccolls

Lateral chromatic aberration (LaCA), which regularly reveals up as coloured fringing alongside high-contrast edges close to the sides of the body, are well-controlled on the Panasonic 70-300mm; that is simple to right in publish anyway, however as you may see from the above picture with no CA discount, it isn’t an issue. As we’d anticipate for such a lens, there’s principally no longitudinal chromatic aberration (LoCA), which might present up as inexperienced or magenta fringing behind and in entrance of the aircraft of focus at wider apertures.

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Conclusion

What we like What we do not
  • The L-mount’s first 70-300mm possibility
  • Stable construct with a top quality really feel
  • Totally weather-sealed
  • Very swift autofocus
  • Minimal focus respiratory
  • Efficient picture stabilization
  • Minimal distortion and aberration
  • Pleasing bokeh
  • Good flare resistance
  • Shut focusing offers good macro capabilities
  • Checklist pricing is a bit on the excessive facet
  • Giant 77mm filter measurement will price extra, too
  • Barely longer than you’d anticipate for a lens of this sort
  • A bit comfortable even within the facilities in direction of telephoto when wide-open
  • Focus aircraft is not very flat in direction of tele, both

We discovered lots to love within the Panasonic Lumix S 70-300mm F4.5-5.6 Macro O.I.S., however a comparatively excessive price ticket however makes it a lens the place it’s essential handle your expectations. An inventory value of $1249 places it in roughly the identical league as some Canon L or Sony G glass on different mounts, however it’s not fairly in the identical class by way of its construct or optical efficiency.

ISO 500 | 1/125 sec | F4.5 | 70mm | Panasonic S1R
Picture by Dale Baskin

However that listing value does not essentially inform the entire story. From launch, Panasonic is providing a steep low cost that brings the price right down to a extra cheap $1000, placing it roughly halfway between client glass and higher-end choices on different mounts. And that appears about proper, as that is the place we see it becoming, each optically and bodily.

It pairs fantastically with Panasonic’s L-mount our bodies, and has a stable, high quality really feel in-hand. And it is able to nice picture high quality throughout a lot of its zoom vary, although we do have a slight concern about pattern variation, notably concerning sharpness on the telephoto finish.

ISO 3200 | 1/100 sec | F5.5 | 245mm | Panasonic S1R
Picture by Dale Baskin

Inform your self that you simply’re paying much less at retail than for high-end rivals and nonetheless getting full weather-sealing, nice autofocus efficiency, good macro capabilities and fairly beautiful bokeh, although, and it looks like a a lot better worth than that listing value would possibly in any other case counsel.

But when what you care about most are worth and zoom vary, you would possibly think about the Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.Three DG DN OS as an alternative. It is rather less brilliant and noticeably bulkier, however it’ll additionally provide you with much more telephoto attain whereas nonetheless saving you just a bit money over its Panasonic rival.


DPReview TV evaluate

See what our group at DPReview TV has to say concerning the Panasonic 70-300mm F4.5-5.6.

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Pattern galleries

Please don’t reproduce any of those photographs with out prior permission (see our copyright web page).

Samples shot with the Panasonic S1R

Samples shot with the Panasonic S5

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Scoring

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