Olympus is kicking off the new year with a couple of product announcements this morning, in the form of a new M.ZUIKO 300mm f4.0 IS PRO super-tele, and the annual upgrade to the mid-level tough camera dubbed the TG-870 this year.
The M.ZUIKO 300mm PRO, a weather-sealed 600mm equivalent lens for the Micro Four Thirds system is the more notable of the two, and certainly the costlier item. Sure, it’s going to run a cool $2,500 when it comes out late next month, but Olympus seems to really think it’s going to be worth your money, not only because it’s a 600mm f4 equivalent that measures in at just 92.5mm diameter by 280mm long 3.6″x11″), and weighing in at just 1,270g (about a third of Canon’s big white 600mm f4’s weight). They’re also claiming that the optical quality of the M.ZUIKO 300mm meets or bests their top-notch 300mm f2.8 from the Four Thirds days, accomplished via a combination of new optical coatings, a rather exotic assortment of elements (3 Super ED, 3 high refractive, and 1 extra high refractive element), and improved polishing methods that result in higher-precision large diameter thin elements. And, like all PRO lenses from Olympus, the M.ZUIKO 300mm is ready for the occasional adversity with a weather-sealing system that gives you dust and splash protection via a system of 17 seals throughout the assembly. Unlike most Olympus lenses, you might notice the ‘IS’ in the name and wonder how that works since Olympus famously believes in using in-body IS instead of in-lens. This new M.ZUIKO 300mm, though, does indeed have its own internal IS system calibrated to work in tandem with the 5 axis system in body on the OM-D line bodies to offer even better performance tailored just to this lens, with up to 6 stops of stabilization on tap.
None too shabby there, Oly. And hey, it only needs a 77mm filter to boot. That’ll save you a little scratch right there. Oh, and the minimum focusing distance of 1.4m (about 1.15m from the front element) combined with the 0.48x equivalent magnification (when used with the pro-grade EC-14 1.4x teleconveter you can push that to .67x equivalent magnification) means not only can it do the usual birding photos:
But it can also be used for some less conventional macro work, too:
All that, as well as some fancy focus settings with presets and a clutch-operated quick toggle, a function button that can be programmed for 27 different functions in the camera, and a tripod foot already set-up for use on Arca Swiss heads to boot. So, if you’re an M4/3 shooter who’s been waiting for your go at a pro-grade super-tele, it’s just about over now and if you can part with the $2,499.99 this ought to be a good spring for you.
The other new item today is the annual mid-level Tough update, getting the expected bump to the TG-870. The colors this year are black, green, and white:
The TG-870 still has the 21mm equivalent 5x zoom of its predecessor, which is still one of the widest in this class of camera. It’s freezeproof to 14ºF, waterproof down to 50 feet, and can survive crushing forces up to 220 pounds per foot. You know, a tough camera. The display is supposedly 2.6x brighter than the previous model with an auto-boost feature, and it’s still running built-in wifi and GPS for functionality, though the GPS is upgraded and now promises a location lock in as little as 10 seconds using a 3 satellite system. The TG-870 is expected late in March for a retail of $279.99, if it sounds like something you want to wait on. If you need a tough camera sooner though, we still have the TG-860 at the time of this writing for only $249.99, and for a bit more the TG-4 is an astounding piece of technology with killer macro and video modes and a monstrous f2 lens.