Telephotos that offer macro as an option are always an interesting choice for creatives who like to capture subjects at long distances but also like to have the means to go closer without having to change lenses. I’ve for a long-time favored telephoto lens that offer some kind of close up or macro capability, and that’s one of the reasons why since it was first introduced, the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM white lens from Canon was in my bag all the time. The first version offered close focus at 1.8 mts but the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM took the minimum focusing distance to astounding 98 cm, offering a magnification of 0,31x which takes us into the realm of “close up” photography.
Canon’s feat put the lens ahead of the lenses from most other brands, until Sony introduced its FE 100–400 mm G Master lens, also able to focus at 98cm. It’s not macro, but for many subjects it’s enough, and one of the reasons why my prime macro lenses mostly stay home if I am photographing flowers the way I like.
Panasonic also introduced, back in 2016, at CES, a telephoto zoom lens for Micro Four Thirds able to focus closer than usual. The Leica DG Vario-Elmar 100-400mm F4.0-6.3 ASPH, equivalent to a 200-800mm focal length, has a 0.5x magnification capability, meaning it’s an interesting solution for those who need to work with both distant and close subjects and want to travel light. Built with professional photographers in mind, the LUMIX S Series pursues, says Panasonic, uncompromising photographic expression with its high-quality cameras and lenses.
Maximum magnification of 0.5x
The new LUMIX S 70-300mm boasts high descriptive performance and beautiful bokeh throughout the entire zoom range, which create exceptionally impressive photo and video. It also provides high-speed, high-precision AF and Dual Image Stabilizer (IS) for use in a wide-range of situations including sports, animals, portraits and vehicles.
Adopting the state-of-the-art optical technology, the optimum alignment of the 17 lens elements in 11 groups, including one ultra extra-low dispersion (UED) lens, two extra-low dispersion (ED) lenses and one ultra-high refractive index (UHR) lens, effectively suppresses axial chromatic aberration at tele-end, and chromatic aberration of magnification at the wide end. Specifically, the UHR lens achieves uniform image quality from the center to the edges of the image, while contributing to an overall smaller configuration of the lens unit.
With an outstanding minimum focusing distance of 0.54m at the wide-end, the LUMIX S 70-300mm achieves maximum magnification of 0.5x (at 300mm) realizing half life-size macro photography and videography. Circular aperture with an 11-bladed iris diaphragm provides beautifully rounded bokeh for unfocused lights.
Combining the Optical Image Stabilizer (OIS) in the lens and the Body IS in the LUMIX S series camera, the Dual IS system powerfully compensates for the handshake in telephoto shooting, making it possible to use a 5.5-stop slower shutter speed (Based on the CIPA standard [Yaw/Pitch direction: focusing distance f=300mm, when LUMIX S5 is used). The focus control with a maximum 480 fps high-speed sensor drive realizes fast, high-precision AF, according to Panasonic.
Designed with video recording in mind
Despite being a telephoto zoom lens with macro capability, the LUMIX S 70-300mm F4.5-5.6 MACRO O.I.S. is compact and light weight for stunning mobility. The rugged, dust/splash-resistant design withstands use under harsh conditions even at 14°F / -10°C. One important note: dust and splash resistant does not guarantee that damage will not occur if this lens is subjected to direct contact with dust and water.
Those who work outside under inclement weather will be glad to know that the fluorine coating on the front element repels water and oil. The filter diameter is 77mm, what is somehow usual in this type of telephoto zoom lenses.
The LUMIX S 70-300mm, like all LUMIX S Series lenses, excels in video recording performance with a mechanism that minimizes focus breathing, a fatal problem in all interchangeable lenses designed for still image photography. Furthermore, focus shift is suppressed during zooming with an exceptional zoom tracking performance, with the subject always in sharp focus. As a result, the new lens meets the exceptionally high standards required to achieve professional-grade video footage.
Panasonic says that newer L-Mount lenses including three more F1.8 large-aperture lenses are under development to further enhance the LUMIX S Series lens lineup and fulfill the needs of our customers.
The LUMIX S 70-300mm F4.5-5.6 MACRO O.I.S. (S-R70300) will be available at valued channel partners in April for $1249.99 MSRP.