XF70-300mmF4-5.6 R LM OIS WR, ideal for train photography
Telephoto zoom lenses are frequently used in train photography, and I had been secretly waiting for the arrival of this lens. When shooting train, we compose image utilizing sign or subjects on the railway and compress to show dynamic scenes of moving train. Then, we often face the situation which really needs “more focal length”. The XF70-300mm is a 35mm film format equivalent of 107-457mm, and after using it, I felt that the focal length at the telephoto end was sufficient. The XF70-300mm is between my XF50-140mm and XF100-400mm lenses in the zoom range, but its main appeal is its lightweight and compactness.
Fallen leaves flying in the wind as a train passes by. I used a 1.4x teleconverter to capture this moment that reminded me of the season. The camera was able to capture each and every fallen leaf with a clear and sharp image.
1. Lightweight and compact design with a wide zoom range
In the season when the air is clear, the sun in the morning and evening creates dramatic scenes. I photographed the scenery with trains, paying attention to the colors of the sun itself at sunrise and sunset, and the changing sky around sunrise and sunset.
A train crossed the Seto Bridge before dawn. This is a wide angle shot of the scenery with the bridge. The gradation of the sky is wonderfully reproduced. Although the aperture was wide open, the delicate cables that make up the bridge were perfectly rendered.
The sun had just risen. A train was coming along the shining tracks. I used the 300mm telephoto lens to capture a large portion of the sun. It was completely backlit, but there was no ghosting, and the dark tones were well rendered.
A bird’s eye view of a scene crossing a railway bridge at dusk. The 300mm lens was able to compress the hazy evening air and smoothly depict the scene with emotion.
The lens has a zoom range of just over 4x, but when I actually held it in my hand, its light weight and compactness gave me the impression of being light-hearted. It weighs only 580 grams. If you compare it to other lenses with similar zoom range and brightness, you will be amazed at how light and compact it is.
2. Using a teleconverter to capture powerful scenes
Even in railroad photography, where you are not allowed to enter the track, most of the time, especially when photographing the Shinkansen (bullet train in Japan), you have to shoot from outside the track, passing through the columns of overhead wires. In this situation, I went to a place that is well known among railroad fans. In addition to the Shinkansen, I also photographed a steam locomotive, which is a popular subject, along the railway line to capture a powerful scene.
The Shinkansen (bullet train) moves in 300km/h and it has 16 cars and total length of 400m. I used a 2x teleconverter to capture the train in a vertical position. The curving lines of the roof are impressive. The aperture was wide open, but the image was so well rendered that the use of the teleconverter was not noticeable.
In the scene of the steam locomotive running through a series of uphill curves, I used a 1.4X teleconverter. Instead of shooting the entire train body, I used a frontal angle to frame out the locomotive to capture its power. I was able to clearly capture the body of the steam locomotive, the texture of the smoke coming out of the chimney, and even the cinder (coal husk) flying in the air.
The back of a steam locomotive leaving behind a trail of smoke gives me a sense of melancholy. I used a 2x teleconverter to compress the atmosphere and capture the train running away in the slanting light, and felt grateful to be able to easily use a super-telephoto (900mm in 35mm format) handheld.
3. Image stabilization firmly supports camera shake
The longer the focal length, the more susceptible the camera becomes to camera shake, but the XF70-300mm offers approximately 5.5 stops of image stabilization. The XF70-300mm provides 5-axis image stabilization when used with the X-T4, which is equipped with in-body image stabilization, but even when used with the X-Pro3, which is not equipped with in-body image stabilization, the XF70-300mm was able to firmly suppress camera shake.
The autumn leaves are gone and the mountains are sleeping. Instead of stopping the train, I used a slow shutter speed of 1/15th of a second to capture the movement of the train. 1/15th of a second would have been blurry without a tripod, but thanks to the image stabilizer, hand-held shooting was safe (ND filter was used).
4. Tele-macro shooting is possible
There are many cases where you need to photograph not only a running train, but also parts of a train car. This lens has a minimum focus distance of 83cm at all zoom ranges. I used it like a tele-macro lens to take pictures of the interior of my favorite old train car.
Before the advent of canned beverages, bottles were the main container for beverages. A bottle opener was installed under the window of a Japanese National Railways car at that time, and a car from that era is still in service on the Hitachinaka Seaside Railway in Ibaraki Prefecture. Taken at the telephoto end with the minimum focus distance. It is impressive to be able to take pictures like this without changing the lens to a macro lens.