The Fujifilm 70-300mm packs big performance into a compact body.
The Fujifilm 55-200mm f3.5-4.8 is a great lens. Still, when I was invested in the system, that lens always left me wanting just a little bit more. A little more reach. More sharpness. A little more, well, everything. I think many photographers felt the same way. Well, good news, people. Fujifilm has just announced the new Fujifilm 70-300mm f4-5.6 R LM OIS WR. Yes, it has a mouthful of a name, but it also packs more reach, weather-sealing, image stabilization, and more. Over the last week, I’ve been able to put a pre-production version of the new lens to the test in multiple situations. Will it do enough to make hobbyist birders and wildlife photographers drop $799.95 on it when it launches in March? Read our first impressions and see if this could be the X mount telephoto lens for you.
Note: This article represents our first impressions of this pre-production lens. It is not our full review. In the interest of transparency, we mention statements like this to build trust with our audience, as we have for the past 11 years. Our full review of this lens will be coming later when we have our hands on a full production model.
All of the tech specs listed here were provided by Fujifilm:
- 107-457mm (35mm Equiv)
- Weather Resistant
- “A” Position Lock
- Fast Auto Focus with Linear Motor
- Filter Size: (67mm)
- Minimum Focus: 83cm
- Weight: 1.27lbs (580g)
- 5.5 Stops O.I.S.
- Compatible with Tele Converter (1.4x, 2x)
- Magnification: 0.5x Magnification (Half Macro) for 35mm Format
Any photographer who has used the Fujifilm 55-200mm f3.5-4.8 will feel right at home with the new Fujifilm 70-300mm f4-5.6. To me, the two lenses feel pretty identical in hand. The new 70-300mm f4-5.6 is roughly 5.5-inches when at 70mm. When zoomed out to 300mm, the lens is just under 8.5-inches in length. This lens is incredibly small for a lens with a 35mm equivalent zoom range of 107mm to 457mm. On top of that, it’s also nice and light. Weighing in at just 1.27lbs, the Fujifilm 70-300mm f4-5.6 is easy to carry around for extended periods.
The lens has the usual look and feel of Fujifilm lenses. The Fujifilm 70-300 f4-5.6 has the fantastic aperture control ring we all love. Move down the lens just a hair, and you’ll find a large zoom ring and a small yet still easy to use manual focus ring. There is no autofocus to manual focus switch on the lens. In fact, there aren’t many controls on this lens at all.
Here you can see that there is a lock switch, which will hold the lens in place at 70mm. It’s probably there because the Fujifilm 55-200mm used to suffer from horrendous lens creep. However, even when unlocked, I have not seen any lens creep with the new Fujifilm 70-300mm f4-5.6. You’ll also find a handy zoom limiter switch and the aperture control switch.
Around the business end of the lens, you’ll find a front element that has a filter thread size of 67mm. If you like to use filters on your lenses, keep that in mind. Overall the Fujifilm XF70-300mm f4-5.6 R LM OIS WR is a small telephoto lens that feels great when attached to the Fujifilm X-T4. The large zoom ring provides a nice place for your hand to rest when in use. From an ergonomics standpoint, the Fujifilm XF70-300mm f4-5.6 is very good.
I spent a week with the Fujifilm 70-300mm f4-5.6, and I have to say that the build quality has impressed me. Initially, when I unboxed the lens, I wasn’t blown away, and I had a feeling that it would be just another plastic fantastic like the 55-200mm. Now, though, I am sold. Yes, it’s an all-plastic build (apart from the metal mount), but the plastic doesn’t feel cheap. All of the switches feel nice and solid, and they move into place with a solid click. The zoom and manual focus rings are covered in a nice textured rubber. The aperture ring clicks positively, and again, there’s enough resistance there to stop it from being bumped accidentally to another setting. There is also enough resistance in the zoom ring to stop the lens from creeping when being carried.
Then there’s the weather sealing. Fujifilm designates their weather-sealed lenses with a WR in the name. If you buy a WR Fujifilm lens, you can rest easy knowing that the lens will be just fine if you get caught in a rain shower. The Fujifilm 70-300mm f4-5.6 R LM OIS WR is no exception to this rule. I have used the lens while the rain fell and fog swirled around me. It just kept on ticking on with no issues. We need to do more testing with the lens to see how it holds up over a longer period. Still, our first impressions are good ones when it comes to the build quality.
Ease Of Use
Unbox it, uncap it, twist it into the mount, and off you go. The Fujifilm XF70-300mm f14-5.6 R LM OIS WR is a very easy lens to pick up and use. Even if you have never used telephoto lenses before, you’ll have no issues with this offering from Fujifilm. You can set this lens up to allow you to use the aperture ring or control the aperture on the camera body. The zoom ring is easy to use and offers a firm yet easy to turn experience. The lens hood attaches easily, and it helps to control flares.
The IBIS, which is rated for 5.5 stops, will allow you to handhold this lens, even at 300mm (457mm equivalent), with ease. In fact, I was able to handhold at 300mm with a shutter speed of 1/13th of a second and still got nice sharp images. Fujifilm claims you can even use this lens as a half macro lens thanks to the 0.33x (0.5x 35mm equivalent) magnification, and I do have to say that the lens performs pretty well here. The image above was shot at the minimum focusing distance while at 300mm. There’s a ton of detail there. We will need to play around with this more during our full review. The take away is that there’s no steep learning curve with this lens. Just plug and play.
During my week with the Fujifilm 70-300mm f4-5.6, I have put it to the test in many different scenarios. We do this so that we can see how the autofocus works in different lighting situations. This lens from Fujifilm has so far impressed when it comes to autofocus performance. As you would expect, in great light, the lens is very fast to find and lock down focus. The lens is still a snappy performer in lower light scenarios, though a little hunting was noted. You have to remember, though, that this is a pre-production model. There may be tweaks to the firmware of the lens or the camera before it is officially launched, and those small hunting issues could be rectified. The lens performs quite well while tracking too.
The focus motors are quiet but not silent. However, they aren’t loud enough to cause a disturbance or startle wildlife. We need to do a lot more testing before giving a full and final verdict when it comes to autofocus performance. We’ll surely do that when we get our hands on a full production model.
All of the images shared below were taken with a pre-production version of the Fujifilm 70-300mm f4-5.6 R LM OIS WR. All of the images are JPEGS as Fujifilm will not allow us to shoot or share RAW files while using pre-production hardware. Only slight changes to the overall exposure have been changed. No other corrections have been applied to the images. I used the Provia/Standard profile for all of the images.
The images from this lens are sharp. Like, impressively sharp. When mated to cameras that use the 26MP X-Trans sensor, you’ll capture detail-rich images. The colors rendered are nice and natural too and have a nice amount of contrast. As you would expect, the bokeh is smooth and creamy, especially when shooting past 200mm. I have seen some purple fringing, but it only rears its head in extreme circumstances. I haven’t seen any vignetting, which is always nice. When it comes to flares, the lens does a pretty good job of controlling them. Still, you’ll not want to shoot directly into the sun often. Of course, we will test the lens in more scenarios when we get our hands on a final version. The big take away from this first impressions look, though, is that this $799.95 lens will deliver fantastic images.
Our First Impressions
I have to say that I have been impressed with the Fujifilm 70-300mm f4-5.6 R LM OIS WR during my time with it. The lens is small, light, and easy to use for long periods. It may have a plastic body, but it feels solid. The weather sealing seems to do a great job too. Autofocus performance is great overall. Still, we hope there might be a firmware update issued to help with the small amount of hunting in low light situations. The image quality, though, for a pre-production lens is excellent.
As we have said above. We will do a full review and will break things down even further once we get our hands on a full retail unit. This lens is one that hobbyist wildlife and bird photographers should get excited about, though. The Fujifilm XF70-300mm f4-5.6 R LM OIS WR will cost $799.95 when it launches around March.