The Panasonic 70-300mm F4.5-5.6 Macro OIS Is the Lightest Around

There isn’t a lens like the Panasonic 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 Macro OIS for L mount yet.

I’m going to be the first to admit that I’m really, really liking what the L Mount alliance is becoming. Like Android phones, there’s still a lot of fragmentation, but the pieces are starting to work better. And the new Panasonic 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 Macro OIS is a critical part of the puzzle. The L Mount needs more native lenses that are affordable yet good. I’ve got a ton of faith in this latest offering from Panasonic. Mind you, this doesn’t seem like a Panasonic Lumix S Pro lens, so it’s not their highest grade option. But they’re packing a lot of quality into it!

Panasonic 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 Macro OIS Tech Specs

These specs are taken from a Panasonic spec sheet sent to the Phoblographer.

  • 17 elements in 11 groups
  • 2 ED lens elements
  • 1 UED lens element
  • 1 UHR lens element
  • L mount
  • Optical Image Stabilization
  • 11 aperture blades
  • 1.7 foot close focusing distance
  • Dust and weather resistant
  • 77mm filter thread
  • 5.83 inches
  • 1.75 lbs
  • $1,249 price point

For When We Can Travel Again?

The Panasonic 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 Macro OIS is not a small lens. If you’re accustomed to using small primes a lot, you’ll raise your eyebrows. From the technical specifications above, it seems pretty large. There’s a 77mm filter thread, 5.83-inch length collapsed, and it weighs 1.75 lbs. I’m wondering how it’s going to pair on the Panasonic S5. (Currently, that’s the camera I’ve spent the longest with and loved the most.) The Pansonic S1 and S1R, I think, made a lot of mistakes, but the S5 is fantastic and one of the smallest DSLR style full-frame cameras out there.

I dove back into our archives and compared it to the Sony 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 G OSS lens. In our review, I said:

“The Sony 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 G OSS lens looks very much like many other comparable lenses like this in the DSLR world, but this one is a bit more compact. Some of the defining characteristics of this lens are the zoom ring and the focusing ring. Obviously, Sony put more emphasis on zooming vs the super small focusing ring. When zoomed in fully, the lens almost doubles in size. Of course, what makes it seem larger is the lens hood.”

The Panasonic 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 Macro OIS seems lighter by just a little bit. And considering that I felt the lens was pretty balanced with a Sony camera, this one might not be so bad. However, keep in mind just how small the Panasonic S5 is. I won’t be stuffing this lens attached to a camera into a dedicated camera pocket of a bag anytime soon. Let alone, I’m probably not going to get on a plane soon. And I’m still a guy who sticks to small primes. Even though this lens is lighter and about the same size as the competition, it’s probably too big for me.

For the record, Tamron has a smaller option, but at the cost of a smaller aperture at the telephoto end.

But this lens has a lot going for it. Consider the fact the fact that it’s weather-sealed and you get a lot better durability. Without even holding it, I’ll give Panasonic credit over Sony, considering our past testing.

By all means, though, this is the lens the system needs. Panasonic doesn’t have anything like this, and there’s a significant need for more zoom lens options. 

Could you travel with the Panasonic 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 Macro OIS? You probably can. I could surely see it being affixed to a Panasonic s5 and taken for a hike. It’s huge, but the system doesn’t have any excellent, small, fully weather-sealed prime lenses. 

An Issue of Autofocusing

Further, there’s a mishmash of lens motors and autofocus algorithms talking to one another. Just the other day, I tried using the Sigma 24mm f3.5 DG DN Contemporary with the Panasonic S5. In good, cloud-day morning lighting, with high-speed sync flash and face detection, it couldn’t always nail focus. It’s sometimes very frustrating. Most of the time, L mount cameras should be kept in continuous autofocus.

I’m going to expect the same here with Panasonic. With Panasonic’s own cameras, the autofocus should perform best. With Leica’s cameras, it will slow down. And let’s not even talk about Sigma’s. 

If the L mount can really work together to get their autofocus tuned up, it’d be a major start to being a better system.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.