Fujifilm XF 70–300mm f/4-5.6 R LM OIS WR: A Wild, Wonderful World

 

The Fujifilm XF 70–300mm f/4-5.6 R LM OIS WR is a promising addition to the company’s XF series. Nilofer Khan puts it on BP’s test bench to see how it fares.

Fujifilm’s lineup of interchangeable lenses for the X series mirrorless digital cameras has grown exponentially. In March, they announced yet another addition in the XF lineup, the Fujfilm XF 70–300mm f/4-5.6 R LM OIS WR. It is situated between the company’s XF 55–200mm f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS and the XF
100–400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR.

Features
Constructed using 17 elements in 12 groups, including one aspherical and two ED elements, the 70–300mm has a 22.9°-5.4° angle of view, as well as a rounded nine-bladed diaphragm. It has a minimum focusing distance of 0.83m and a maximum magnification of 0.33x. The lens offers up to 5.5-stops of optical image stabilisation (OIS). It has a linear-motor drive system, enabling fast and near-silent autofocus. It is compatible with the XF 1.4X TC WR and the XF 2X TC WR teleconverters, making it possible to achieve a maximum 35mm equivalent focal length of up to 914mm. It has a 1/3EV-step aperture ring, is dust- and moisture-resistant, and can operate in temperatures as low as -10°C (14°F). It also comes with a lens hood.

Handling
Weighing 580g and measuring 132.5mm in length, the lens is lightweight and quite compact. However, when you zoom in, the length increases to 205.5mm. I used it on the X-T3, and it fit perfectly. It was quite comfortable to use as well.

The lens has a large, rubberised zoom ring. The thin focus ring is situated at the front, while the aperture ring is located at the back near the camera. The aperture ring isn’t marked as this is a variable aperture lens. The maximum setting changes along with the focal length.

Between the zoom and the aperture ring is the zoom lock switch that only locks at 70mm. Also, if you move the zoom ring, the lock will be disabled automatically. This is great if you unexpectedly come across an interesting moment. Right behind the aperture ring are the focus range selector and aperture mode switch. The lens will focus on subjects beyond 5m to infinity with the focus range switch. The placement of the switches is ergonomically perfect, enabling you to change the settings in dimly lit conditions. The manual focus is exceptionally smooth, and has a fly-by-wire mechanism.

Performance
The 70–300mm performs exceptionally well, providing centre-to-edge sharpness across the entire zoom range. At f/4 on the wide end, the corners of the image are slightly softer than the centre. However, you will not notice it unless you look closely at the edges. As you move to f/5.6, this issue is resolved. In addition to this, the overall image quality is marvelous, along with true-to-life colour renditions.
The autofocus performance is extremely quick. The lens can lock focus in a second, even if your subject is moving. I photographed a few kids running opposite my building at a distance, while it was drizzling. It quickly focused on them, which was impressive The AF is extremely precise and silent, even when recording a video. Moreover, users will not have to worry about focus breathing.

As you can see here, there is sagittal bokeh towards the edges of the frame. The onion ring effect is only visible in brighter bokeh.
Exposure: 1/25sec at f/5 (ISO 2000). P

When shooting macro subjects, it was able to reproduce sharp details with a pleasing shallow depth of field. I switched to MF to see whether I would be able to move in much closer to the subject than the AF mode. However, that is not possible.

The lens can produce pleasing, soft bokeh. However, at f/4, across the zoom range, you will notice sagittal (cat-eye shape) bokeh towards the edges of the frame and the onion ring effect. If you stop down to f/8, the shape appears circular but the patterns in the bokeh persist. The lens shows incredible control over flare, lateral chromatic aberrations, ghosting, and pincushion distortion. The IS performance of the lens is incredible too. At 300mm, I was able to capture images at 1/8 sec.

Conclusion
The Fujifilm XF 70–300mm f/4-5.6 R LM OIS WR is a well designed, sturdy lens that also performs exceptionally well in various situations. I quite liked the self-disabling zoom lock. At an MRP of Rs. 73,999, the lens is a good choice for those who shoot a range of subjects, from wildlife to sports, events, portraits, and macros.

As of now, the lens does not face competition from any third-party manufacturers. However, it does compete with Fujifilm’s 100–400mm, a much larger, heavier lens, measuring 94.8mm x 210.5mm and weighing 1375g. On the other hand, the 70–300mm offers IS, quick AF, is compact and has great overall image quality.

This article originally appeared in the July 2021 issue of Better Photography.

FINAL RATINGS
Features
f/4, IS, zoom lock, focus range switch, aperture ring switch
18/20
Performance
Good sharpness, quick AF even in low light, onion ring effect in bokeh
32/35
Build Quality
Sturdy and lightweight, weathersealed
22/25
Ergonomics
Longer when zooms out, good placement of buttons and switches
14/15
Warranty & Support
Two year warranty, good service
4/5
MRP Rs. 73,999
OVERALL 90%
VALUE FOR MONEY 4/5
Who should buy it? Wildlife, event, sports photographers and portraitists.
Why?  Well-designed, with good ergonomics, lightweight, this lens has fast AF, and performances excellently.
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