Olympus has launched the M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm F4 IS Pro, which it claims it the sharpest lens in its lineup. The 600mm equivalent prime lens features built-in IS that also works in conjunction with the OM-D E-M1 and E-M5 II bodies to offer 6 stops of stabilization, measured to CIPA standards - the best we've yet encountered. Olympus says it expects the lens to be used for bird photography, landscape and sports. The lens is now available for around $2500.

The 300mm F4 IS Pro includes the pull-back manual focus clutch system used on recent high-end Olympus lenses to give a traditional manual focusing experience. It also includes a retractable hood like the one found on the M.Zuiko Digital 40-150 F2.8 PRO. There's also a rotating tripod collar but, since Olympus believes the stabilization and relative light weight of the lens allows it, it also comes bundled with a cosmetic ring that replaces the tripod mount for handheld use.

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Press Release:

A NEW WORLD OF HANDHELD NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY: THE OLYMPUS M.ZUIKO® DIGITAL™ ED 300MM F4.0 IS PRO ARRIVES

CENTER VALLEY, Pa., January 5, 2016 —Olympus is pleased to announce the Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 300mm f4.0 IS PRO, a compact supertelephoto lens that expands the capability of the M.ZUIKO PRO series of professional, splashproof and dustproof lenses that deliver outstanding image quality under any circumstance. The M.ZUIKODigital ED 300mm f4.0 IS PRO is the first Olympus interchangeable lens with a built-in image stabilization mechanism, and when paired with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 (firmware version 4.0) or E-M5 Mark II (firmware version 2.0), in-body and in-lens image stabilization work in perfect harmony, resulting in the new 5-Axis Sync IS technology to produce the world's most powerful image stabilization performance of up to six shutter speed steps of compensation*. The lens can also be used effectively with other camera bodies, as the in-lens stabilization mechanism alone provides four shutter speed steps of compensation.

With a length of 8.9 inches (227mm) and weight of a mere 2.8 pounds (1,270g), at one third of the size and weight of most DSLR 600mm equivalents, the M.ZUIKO Digital ED 300mm f4.0 IS PRO is designed to slip into an airplane carry-on bag or backpack and go anywhere to help users easily capture handheld images in once-challenging photo destinations. Despite its compact size, the lens is hermetically sealed in 17 places and features freezeproof performance down to 14⁰F (-10°C). Together with the same splashproof, dustproof and freezeproof performance as the OM-D E-M1 and E-M5 Mark II, this ensures you can capture high-quality images in the harshest environments.

The M.ZUIKO Digital ED 300mm f4.0 IS PRO debuts Olympus's highest-ever resolution by combining three Super ED lenses, one Extra-High Refractive index lens and three High Refractive index lenses to reduce the color bleeding and chromatic aberrations that tend to occur on typical super telephoto lenses. In addition to Olympus's renowned ZERO Coating (ZUIKO Extra-low Reflective Optical Coating), a brand-new lens coating technology called ZERO Coating Nano suppresses reflected light to minimize ghosts and flares for extremely sharp details of images, including car headlights. A layer of nanosized particles and a layer of air from the center to the surface of the lens achieves a refractive index similar to air and significantly reduces surface reflection.

The M.ZUIKO Digital ED 300mm f4.0 IS PRO also gets up close to explore the beautiful, minute world of telemacro photography with maximum image magnification of 0.48x (35mm equivalent), with a minimum focusing distance of 46 inches (1.15m) from the end of the lens. When combined with the M.ZUIKO Digital 1.4x Teleconverter MC-14, the user can capture all of nature's beauty in high resolution at 840mm (35mm equivalent) and an increased image magnification of 0.67x (35mm equivalent) in a handheld compact body while maintaining the same minimum focus distance.

The OM-D's silent mode combines with the lens' Movie & Still Compatible mechanism for silent AF and shooting, giving the user the ability to blend into the background of any situation, whether that be the refinement of a symphony performance or the dusty plains of a lion's hunting grounds.

The lens also features a Manual Focus Clutch mechanism that makes switching to manual focus possible by pulling the focusing ring toward you. The side of the lens barrelfeatures a Focus Limit switch (4m to infinity, all range, 1.4 to 4m), an IS switch (On/Off), and an L-Fn button, which can all be operated without ever taking your eye off the viewfinder. The built-in sliding lens hood can be locked into place when extended, and the tripod base plate with a quick shoecompatible rail is removable.

U.S. Pricing and Availability

The M.ZUIKO Digital ED 300mm f4.0 IS PRO lens is available now for an estimated street price of $2,499.99 (U.S.) and $3,199.99 (Canada).

To find out more about the Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 300mm f4.0 IS and for a complete list of specifications, visit the Olympus website at http://www.getolympus.com/us/en/lenses/pen-omd/fixed-focal-lengths/m-zuiko-ed-300mm-f4-0-is-pro.html.

*As of December 2015. CIPA guideline compliant, when correction is carried out on two axes (yaw and pitch) and when halfway release image stabilization is off.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm F4 IS PRO specifications

Principal specifications
Lens typePrime lens
Max Format sizeFourThirds
Focal length300 mm
Image stabilizationYes (4 stops (6 stops with E-M1 and E-M5 II))
Lens mountMicro Four Thirds
Aperture
Maximum apertureF4
Minimum apertureF22
Aperture ringNo
Number of diaphragm blades9
Optics
Elements17
Groups10
Special elements / coatingsThree super ED, one extra-high refractive, three high refractive elements + ZERO nano coating
Focus
Minimum focus1.40 m (55.12)
Maximum magnification0.24×
AutofocusYes
Motor typeMicro-type ultrasonic
Full time manualYes
Focus methodInternal
Distance scaleNo
DoF scaleNo
Focus distance limiterYes
Physical
Weight1270 g (2.80 lb)
Diameter93 mm (3.64)
Length227 mm (8.94)
SealingYes
ColourBlack
Zoom methodRotary (extending)
Power zoomNo
Filter thread77.0 mm
Hood suppliedYes
Tripod collarYes