Shiv Verma: Putting the 70–300mm Lens to the Test
Photographer, educator, technologist, and author Shiv Verma has been photographing for more than 50 years, with a special eye for wildlife and nature. We were thrilled that he could turn his vast experience and discerning eye to our LUMIX S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 MACRO O.I.S. lens. In Shiv’s own words: "One of the nice things about being a LUMIX Ambassador is that you get to try out products before they are released, so I had the pleasure of putting it through the works!”
While the pandemic has hindered Shiv’s ability to travel—instead of going into the field somewhere in Africa or Asia, he had to stay in his home state of Massachusetts—he still took to this task wholeheartedly. Right off the bat, he was impressed: "One of the nicest things is the fact that it is so balanced. It's such a light lens . . . the way you hold it, it's probably about half the weight of the LUMIX S PRO 70-200mm F2.8 O.I.S. So yeah, from a feel and a balance point of view, it’s incredible.
As far as performance is concerned, this new lens did not disappoint him either: "man does it produce gorgeous images!” Shiv’s experience in the field was critical here. “One of the key things that we as nature and wildlife photographers are looking for is to reduce the amount of kit that we carry, and the one thing that most nature wildlife photographers also tend to do is to do macro photography. I think an important feature that this lens has is that at 70 as well as the 300 millimeters, the close focusing distance is fabulous.”
In exploring the capabilities of this lens, Shiv spared no detail. Regarding one outdoor scene, he particularly wanted to evaluate how the lens performs in extreme cold conditions: “It was close to about minus 22 degrees. I shot this at F 5.6, ISO 100 . . . there is a one-stop exposure compensation for the snow, but the lens stayed outside in the cold for about 8 hours before this image was taken, and the focusing mechanism and everything performed flawlessly.”
Turning to a cozier indoor scene, the results were equally satisfying. “The idea here is, I used long exposures; can I get good bokeh out of this lens? The wine bottle and the glass, the book, and the spectacles are our foreground segments in front of a Christmas tree. The Christmas lights of the tree are perfectly, or close to perfectly, round. The rendition of the book is beautiful and the transition from bright to dark does not have any onion skinning. That's the key to a good lens.”
Experimenting with architectural shots, Shiv tested the lens for other specific performance issues. “The purpose here is to see if I am going to end up with any purple or green fringing, or any other kind of chromatic aberration?” Not only did the lens pass with flying colors, but the test ended up revealing Shiv’s favorite settings. “This lens has two really sweet spots: f/5.6 and f/9. I mean they're just absolutely exceptional.” The image stabilization worked beautifully, too, used with a stabilized camera handheld at 1/60 second.
Of course, Shiv’s testing of this S Series lens would not be complete without shooting wildlife and testing his own unique demands. Shiv reminds us, “now when we get to wildlife, we want to shoot at a higher shutter speed because wildlife doesn't sit still!” Capturing the image of a gorgeous bird moving through water, Shiv was able to get great detail in white feathers: “If we were to expand this image, you will see that they are all individual and completely sharp and in focus.”
The rigorous attention to detail that Shiv was able to give to this lens, under these and so many other conditions, is a testimony to not just his professionalism, but his love of the craft. We're satisfied knowing that the LUMIX S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 MACRO O.I.S. lens met his very high standards, and it reinforces our commitment to quality without compromise. We're delighted to hear him declare that this lens is “great in every way.”
Shiv Verma, APSA, MNEC is a published author, photographer, educator and technologist. He is a member of the LUMIX Ambassadors Program, an X-Rite Coloratti and a Master at the Arcanum. He has been photographing for over 50 years and has evolved his photography to express his intense devotion to wildlife and nature. Over the years he has earned numerous awards and recognition both nationally and internationally. Shiv devotes a great deal of his time to formally reviewing photography-related products and to education in digital photography, and is both a featured speaker and competition judge. He conducts photo tours and workshops worldwide and typically has one tour a month. Shiv’s book Time-Lapse Imagery was published in February 2014. He writes for one of the world's largest photography education sites, “Digital Photography School,” which has about 1.5 million subscribers. He is also a co-host on TWiP (This Week in Photography), a weekly photography podcast that is the 7th largest in the world. He belongs to multiple photography clubs and associations and serves as vice president of the Digital Circuit NECCC (New England Camera Club Council), is a member of the Professional Photographers Association of America, and is immediate past general chairman of PSA International (Photographic Society of America), past chairman of the Nature Division, PSA; director of instructional and essay sets, PSA; and a past member of the board of CIPNE. Shiv is a past president of the Stony Brook Camera Club and the Gateway Camera Club, a member of the Greater Lynn Photographic Association and the Massachusetts Camera Naturalists, all in Massachusetts. Shiv was elected as an associate of the Photographic Society of America in 2013 and as a Master Member of the New England Camera Club Council in 2008.