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Fuji 70-300mm, losing sharpness at 300mm; bad lens sample?


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Hey everyone! I'm struggling with something and I was wondering if I could get some input.

 

It seems like I'm loosing sharpness at the 300mm end of my XF 70-300mm lens. I've gone out with it a few times since I bought it (last spring), and I've been pretty so-so on the results; I feel like my previous XC 50-230 was producing better results at the long end (unfortunately I didn't keep the lens to test it against).

 

I've been trying to take a lot of test photos, but here are two that demonstrate what I'm talking about. Both photos were taken at the same settings (ISO 3200, 1/13, f5.6), but the first one was taken at 70mm and the second was taken at 300mm. Both photos were taken on a tripod multiple times, and I picked the sharpest/clearest from each. I made sure the subject was roughly the same size in each shot (using the focus square as a guide). I'm using an X-H1.

 

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It seems to me like the second photo is noticeably sharper; I guess I'm just trying to find out if I have a bad lens or do I just need to temper my expectations a bit? I really don't have a HUGE amount of experience shooting with long lenses; I just want to make sure it's working properly (I bought it last spring and I think its still under warranty if it needs to be fixed). Has this been anyone else's experience with this or the other Fuji zoom lenses? Also, has anyone had experience sending a lens in to get fixed (like a bad sample)?

 

Thanks!

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Although you've said that you used a tripod, a shutter speed of 1/13 second is VERY slow to ascertain sharpness IMO. Even just pressing the shutter button at that speed can introduce movement. It would be better to use brighter conditions (outdoors?) and up the shutter speed to at least 1/200 second. Then do your comparison again and see whether you can see a difference. 

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Generally these longer zoom lenses tend to loose some sharpness towards the long end. Esp. off-center and certainly when you focus on nearby objects. For a 300mm, let's say within 6-7m. That is why you shouldn't put your faith in reviews that only look at 2D test charts positioned within a few meters.

With a lens like the 70-300 go outside on a calm day (not windy), find a view with trees/foliage at least 15m away or further, setup the tripod and aim for a shutter speed of at least 1/200th, use the self-timer set to 2s and press the shutter release button. The image now should show sharp leaves and branches. A little loss of sharpness and contrast (softness) towards the corners is acceptable for a lens like this. You might want to take two shots: one with IBIS/OIS on and one where this is set to off. The IBIS of the X-H1 was Fuji's first and has been improved in later cameras to work better with tripod settings.

The German magazine Fototest tested the lens recently and their overall verdict was that it was very good considering the price, They did see however, visible loss of detail towards the 300mm end.

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4 hours ago, Herco said:

Generally these longer zoom lenses tend to loose some sharpness towards the long end. Esp. off-center and certainly when you focus on nearby objects. For a 300mm, let's say within 6-7m. That is why you shouldn't put your faith in reviews that only look at 2D test charts positioned within a few meters.

With a lens like the 70-300 go outside on a calm day (not windy), find a view with trees/foliage at least 15m away or further, setup the tripod and aim for a shutter speed of at least 1/200th, use the self-timer set to 2s and press the shutter release button. The image now should show sharp leaves and branches. A little loss of sharpness and contrast (softness) towards the corners is acceptable for a lens like this. You might want to take two shots: one with IBIS/OIS on and one where this is set to off. The IBIS of the X-H1 was Fuji's first and has been improved in later cameras to work better with tripod settings.

The German magazine Fototest tested the lens recently and their overall verdict was that it was very good considering the price, They did see however, visible loss of detail towards the 300mm end.

This is exactly the information I was looking for! Thanks! I just wanted to make sure I didn’t have a bad lens sample (I’ve read about that and wasn’t sure how seriously to take it).

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  • 4 weeks later...

I find that this lens performs remarkably well over the whole range. I haven't noticed a significant reduction of sharpness at the long end. There is some, mainly in the corners when wide open, but it is very minimal and acceptable. Based on the images you sent, it is difficult to make a quantitative comparison, but recently Christopher Frost has brought out an excellent and detailed review on this lens with findings that surely will be useful for making comparisons. His positive results are in line with my positive experience, but in addition he points out that the lens loses contrast when used for (wide open long end) close focus shots (5:38), which seems to be the use case in your examples.

 

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