First Impressions: Panasonic 100-300mm f4-5.6 (Micro Four Thirds)

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Panasonic 100-300mm product photos (5 of 5)ISO 8001-320 sec at f - 2.8

Seriously, where was this lens when I was still in the paparazzi business? The Panasonic 100-300mm f4-5.6 is a compact telephoto zoom that renders a 200-600mm field of view on a Micro Four Thirds camera. The lens also incorporates Panasonic’s Mega OIS system for stabilization when you’re shooting out at focal lengths like this. With seven aperture blades and 17 elements in 12 groups comprising its build, we’re still scratching our heads in wonderment as to why Panasonic decided to forego the incorporation of weather sealing.

But in our testing so far, we believe that this is the lens for the weekend warrior–and adventure types will have loads of fun with it.

Tech Specs

Specs taken from the B&H Photo listing

Performance
Focal Length 100 – 300 mm
Comparable Four Thirds and Micro 4/3 Focal Length: 200 – 600 mm
Aperture Maximum: f/4 – 5.6
Minimum: f/22
Camera Mount Type Micro Four Thirds
Format Compatibility Micro Four Thirds
Angle of View 12° – 4.1°
Minimum Focus Distance 4.92′ (1.50 m)
Magnification 0.21x
Maximum Reproduction Ratio 1:4.76
Groups/Elements 12/17
Diaphragm Blades 7
Features
Image Stabilization Yes
Autofocus Yes
Tripod Collar No
Physical
Filter Thread 67 mm
Dimensions (DxL) Approx. 2.89 x 4.96″ (7.34 x 12.60 cm)
Weight 1.14 lb (520 g)

Ergonomics

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Panasonic 100-300mm product photos (2 of 5)ISO 8001-240 sec at f - 2.8

The Panasonic 100-300mm f4-5.6 is a fairly large lens considering the size of most Micro Four Thirds camera bodies. However, for the focal lengths that it incorporates we’re not sure that many people could really complain about it. Additionally, when the lens hood isn’t reversed (or completely off) the lens looks even larger than what it really is.

The lens’s construction comprises of mostly plastic, with the exception of the mount being constructed of metal.

With this said though, we’re a bit baffled as to why this lens doesn’t ship with a tripod collar of some sort.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Panasonic 100-300mm product photos (3 of 5)ISO 8001-75 sec at f - 2.8

Making up most of the ergonomics is the one big ass zoom ring smack dab in the middle of the lens. The zoom indicators clearly mark off just how far out you’re zooming. Then there is the focusing ring towards the front for when you choose to manually focus–but we haven’t really done that very much yet.

Behind all of this is the switch for Mega OIS–which should really be turned off if you’ve got Olympus’s IS enabled so that the two systems don’t conflict with one another. But to be truthful, we found the OIS in this lens to be more efficient than Olympus’s 5 axis system.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Panasonic 100-300mm product photos (4 of 5)ISO 8001-160 sec at f - 2.8

 

When the lens is zoomed in all the way, it extends out quite a bit–nearly almost as long as the lens body when zoomed out. But when you consider that you’ve got the equivalent of a 600mm field of view, that problem really goes away.

Build Quality

This lens is mostly designed and built with plastics, with the exception of the mount. We really wish that there was some sort of metal in the exterior design and also weather sealing. And again, we’re a bit puzzled as to why there is no tripod collar bundled with the lens.

Ease of Use

When shooting handheld, we found the best images to come out when the in-lens stabilization was turned on and Olympus’s in-body stabilization was turned off. But further, we highly recommend shooting with this lens with the camera mounted to a monopod. We’re using a MeFOTO monopod right now with this camera and even then we recommend using the Mega OIS.

Otherwise, this is a basic point and shoot lens.

Autofocus

We tested this lens in both single focusing and tracking focusing. The lens performs stellar for single focusing when combined with the OIS. When it comes to tracking, it can sometimes be a bit slow on the OMD to track a subject moving through the frame. We have yet to test it out on a GH3–but we suspect it will be faster.

Image Quality

Here are some sample images shot with the lens so far.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

First Impressions

So far, we have nary a complaint about this lens. We’re really enjoying it so far. Not only do we like the image quality and the sharpness, but we’re also happy with just how much of a reach we have in a fairly small package though still large for a mirrorless camera lens. The autofocus is pretty darned good in most situations–as is the OIS system.

Stay tuned for our full review.

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