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Gear Rumors

300mm f/4 PRO Delayed While Olympus Adds Image Stabilization?

By Anthony Thurston on June 22nd 2015

We have known an Olympus 300mm F/4 was on the way for quite some time now. I mean heck, the lens is already announced and has its own B&H product page. Many have wondered why there has been such a delay on the availability of the lens, and today a new theory has emerged.


According to a new rumor report, it is now thought that Olympus may have delayed the initial non-IS version of the 300mm F/4 in order to develop and add image stabilization to the lens. The report gives two reasons for this:

  1. This is partly because IBIS (In Body Image Stabilization) is not as effective as lens-based stabilization at longer focal lengths like 300mm.
  2. Image stabilization would make the lens more attractive to Panasonic shooters who don’t have IBIS like Olympus shooters do.

While it may be irritating for those waiting for the 300mm F/4, I can’t say that this is not a good move from Olympus. Image Stabilization is practically a must have for telephoto shooting these days. Add to that the fact that this will make the lens more appealing to a wider market, and it’s really a no-brainer for Olympus.

The question is, how much longer will it take them to implement it? I believe this would be Olympus’s first lens with image stabilization, so they would have to develop their system from the ground up – which takes time. This could also explain the hold up on the lens.

It will also be interesting to see how Olympus does with their first lens-based IS implementation. Stay tuned and we will keep you updated on any further developments.

[via 4/3 Rumors]

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Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Dave Haynie

    I doubt that will replace the 300mm reflex lens (Tameron f/5.6) for doing the “whole system in a tiny bag” thing. But on the other hand, I do love my 40-150mm f/2.8, which just edges out my Canon f/4-5.6 70-300mm as the physically longest lens in my collection.

    It’s absolutely true that IBIS is less effective a longer focal lengths. But possibly more importantly, any serious lens (eg, not the cheap Tameron reflex) at a FF 600mm focal length these days does need to support image stabilization. There are a few m43 lenses that zoom to 300mm at f/5.6, but nothing quite in this league. So it’s quite possible Olympus is looking beyond the OM-D to make this more acceptable to other m43 buyers. Particularly as more companies enter the market with new bodies.

    I also wonder, assuming this is real, if they’re entering into some kind of licensing or cross licensing with another company. There are so many patents on OIS, unless they’ve been expiring, it’s kind of a minefield out there. With traditional OIS companies like Sony now moving over to IBIS with very public success, it’s quite possible some of the OIS folks out there would like to get into that as well. And at least lately, Olympus has been doing it at least as well as anyone.

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  2. John Mai

    I see this argument often, and I think it’s not quite a valid one. When you really look at the 35mm equivalents for these larger m43 lenses, there are still some weight/size savings. I can’t think anyone makes an equivelent 35mm 600mm F8 lens, with the closest thing being a 600mm f5.6 which is absolutely huge, or a 600mm reflex mirror lens which is maybe not as long, but arguably much bulkier with compromised image quality.

    Another example would be something like the Olympus 40-150. The 35mm equivalent would be an 80-300mm constant F5.6, which doesn’t exist in 35mm lenses. The closest comparison would be a 70-200mm F4, which is still a bit longer than the Oly (althought I admit, weight/size differences may be insignificant).

    Add to that the much more compact m43 bodies and you end up with an overall more compact, lighter, sometimes sharper system that has the *ability* to go super compact by slapping on a pancake lens.

    You do miss out on more depth of field control with 35mm, and sometimes you don’t even save any money with some of these expensive huge m43 lenses, but these are all tradeoffs that you have to consider.

    Disclaimer – I shoot Nikon FX with an Olympus E-M10 as a casual camera. :D

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  3. adam sanford

    A system *built around being tiny* offering a 600mm equivalent is tantamount to an Ewok training to become a basketball player (sure, it’s possible, but I don’t think there’s much money in it).

    Who would this lens be for? A budget birder? A spy on recon detail?

    I personally Olympus should play to its strengths (small lenses, lenses that best benefit from IBIS, etc.), but who knows — I’m sure there is someone out there that really wants this…

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    • Austin Swenson

      I have a theory about this, and it might be for the photographer who travels a lot and needs the smaller size to fit into a carry on suitcase, I mean neck the airlines have officially made them smaller, some might not have the room for a full frame dslr and a 600mm full size beast…

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    • Andrew Leinonen

      I think it’s literally the opposite of what you say.

      A system “built around being tiny” emphasizes how tiny it is by offering 600mm equivalent optics at 300mm real-world size.

      It only takes in half the light of a FF 600mm f4, yes, but you can bet it’s not going to cost anywhere near $10,000, weigh anywhere near 5kg, nor be 6.5″ in diameter. A lens like that is difficult for even the most avid photographer to justify owning, let alone take with them on a trip. A $2000 lens that weighs 1 kg and can fit in a normal camera bag? A lot more palatable.

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    • Dustin Baugh

      Why put a big lens on a small camera. Same reason people put small pancake lenes on a big DSLR, even if not everybody needs it, it’s good to have the option.

      Q: Why should Olympus have a 600mm(eq) lens?
      A: So they have a diverse lens ecosystem.

      How many brands are criticized for not having enough lens choices? Olympus doesn’t want that criticism to be holding them back.

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    • Birgit Rhoads

      Yes, me. Birding with a D4 or D7100 with long lenses has become too much weight for me. I love my 4/3 Olympus EM1. I am getting 10fps and shots good enough to crop in. 4/3 is the future for me.

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