Lens review

Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 70-300 mm f/4.0-5.6

17 March 2010
Arkadiusz Olech

3. Build quality

Against our expectations the Olympus doesn’t surprise us by being small and/or physically light. It looks very much like full frame 70-300 mm class lenses with image stabilization from Canon, Nikon, Sigma or Tamron stables. When we compare it to a Sigma 70-300 mm APO which, like the Olympus, doesn’t feature any stabilization, we’ll find out that even in the case of some telephoto zooms small dimensions and low weight of the 4/3 system devices are nothing more than a myth. I encourage you to have a look at the chart below and compare the parameters of individual lenses. It’s worth considering a fact that the Nikkor and the Canon, although weighing a bit more than the Olympus, both feature image stabilization and ultrasonic autofocus motors. When we consult the second chart, showing a comparison between lenses without stabilization and ultrasonic motors, it turns out that the Olympus is both bigger and heavier than its full frame equivalents.

Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 70-300 mm f/4.0-5.6 - Build quality

On the other hand you can’t call the Olympus a flimsy construction. It sticks out among all the lenses, shown in the chart linked above, as the most massive and solid of all. If I had to bet which of them would survive, say, a two-meter fall, I would place my bet on the Olympus. Whether it would really emerge unscathed from such a fall I don’t know, I haven’t tried it yet.

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Looking from the metal bayonet mount firstly we see a huge zoom ring on the lens’s barrel, which makes the front element extend with the focal length increase. The ring moves with a resistance a bit bigger than average but nevertheless it allows a comfortable work.

Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 70-300 mm f/4.0-5.6 - Build quality

Above the zoom ring there is a thing not so common in ZD lenses, namely an AF/MF switch. On account of different working ranges they decided to use it here. In the AF mode the mechanism can work from 1.2 meters to infinity; in the MF mode – from 0.96 meter to infinity. In this category the Olympus performs better than the Canon and the Nikkor although it is still worse than the Sigma which gives us the 0.95 m minimum distance also in the AF mode. Inside the Olympus we’ll find 14 elements in 10 groups – the amount is exactly the same as in the case of the Sigma and slightly less than in the Canon and in the Nikkor but it doesn’t surprise me much. Image stabilization usually demands more complex systems. The ED letters on the Olympus lens mean the lens sports low-dispersion elements – there are as many as three of them.

Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 70-300 mm f/4.0-5.6 - Build quality

The buyer gets both caps and a lens hood included in box.

Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 70-300 mm f/4.0-5.6 - Build quality