Once In A While You Wonder…

dscf8285Once in a while you wonder whether they put sake in the water coolers in Japan. I mean in the design offices of the camera companies. It would explain a number of decisions that have been taken in the past.

This week’s head-scratcher is on the side of the Olympus 300mm f:4 IS Pro lens. It fits onto the micro 4/3 camera systems and when it is in operation gives the same field of view as 600mm lenses did for the old 35mm film cameras. In other words it is a long lens.

It is also a very well-built lens, and I imagine it would perform superbly. I can’t affirm this as I use a different system and could not fit it onto my camera body, but the construction and finish are world-class. I have no reason to think that the optical performance would be any less.

It’s a lens that a sports or wildlife photographer would buy. The car racing or airplane shooter would also benefit greatly. Even theatre workers could use it for shots from the gods in the course of a stage production and get good results.

But the facer is on the manual focusing ring. You access that by pulling back on the auto focus ring – it disengages the clutch and you then rotate the hand grip to do your own focusing. Smooth and precise…but it goes down to 1.4 metres.

dscf8287a1.4 metres on a 300mm telephoto lens is insanely close, let alone on a 600mm…I am still trying to imagine what sort of subject coverage one would use that capability for.

Perhaps the reason it was designed that way – disregarding long lunches in the Shinjuku Monolith with karaoke afterwards – was because someone discovered that they actually could and no-one wanted to make trouble by actually asking why. Sorta like taking the IJNS IKAGI out for a sail in November’41 and not mentioning where you were going to. Eventually they’ll find out…


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