Review New Oly 100-400: Impressions and images

Shortsonfire79

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Alright. So I've had the MC-20 for over 24 hours and the boss let us off early today so I was out for ~3 hours with it. Impressions:
800mm reach is amazing. Mind blowingly amazing.
Handheld double (not dual:cautious:) IS is rough. If you think 300 or 400mm is hard, holy moly, good luck here.
Super duper soft on the long end.
Autofocus and continuous tracking AF (EM1ii) is considerably worse, this is exacerbated by the already soft image. Those images aren't even worth sharing. Compared to my owl bird in flight and dog sprint gifs, the MC-20 can't keep up.
Tripod shutter shake seems to be a new feature but I can't quite tell if it has any effect on the image. It's not like mirror slap, but on timer at14x live preview is jittery after the shutter goes. I couldn't find a timed electronic shutter whilst on site.
Weight is no problem. Had it on a Peak Design Capture clip for the full time nbd.

On one hand, the pictures seem wholly way softer, but with the MC-20 and 1:2 crop, they're slightly softer yet far less noisy than the native 400mm 1:1. In the end, I'll keep the 100-400 mounted natively to the EM1ii. After I secure a shot of my subject, then I will add the MC-20 if the subject doesn't run/fly away. I'm interested to try the MC-14 which I've heard nothing but good things with the 40-150PRO and 300PRO. Clouds came in so no Conjunction tonight. :(

I almost did comparisons at equivalent focal length shots but plenty of the pros have done that. References and 1:1 crops are attached. Here are the 1:2's to show direct equivalence. The Native 400mm were edited as I normally would, then the settings copied to the 400mm + MC-20 files.

Edit: bit more info that I hadn't considered before. These are not equivalent images. White tailed kite was handheld with double IS. 355mm, f/6.3, 1/1000s, iso 320. 710mm, f/14, 1/1000s, iso 1250.

Southwest tripod no IS. 400mm, f/6.3, 1/320, iso 200, 12s timer. 800mm, f/13, 1/60, iso 200, 12s timer.

Moon tripod no IS. 400mm, f/6.3, 640, iso 200, 12s timer. 800mm, f/13, 1/160, iso 200, 12s timer.

Merry Christmas all!

https://flic.kr/p/2kkfsCy
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alex g

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Thanks for this info. :thumbsup:

Regarding the handheld shots at 1/1000s, last time I checked, IS on the E-M1 II (and possibly also III) is automatically disabled during the actual exposure at 1/1000s and above, presumably on the basis that the mechanism needs at least 1/1000 sec in which to detect and react to motion, and that in most cases, 1/1000s is 'fast enough' to not need stabilization in the first place, though of course the longer the lens, the less that holds true. Anyway, it might be worth trying shooting something handheld at both 1/1000 and 1/800 to see if there's any difference in the effect of IS. I don't know whether the 1/1000 threshold applies to the non-sync OIS in the 100-400 too.

Of course, on a tripod, both IBIS and OIS are automatically disabled, even if you leave them switched on — the camera recognizes that it's being supported relatively steadily and after a second or so disables the stabilization to prevent the frame centre drifting around. Its a pain in my opinion, because there are plenty of situations when the jitter you get at long focal lengths with all but the heaviest of tripods and heads is more of a problem than the drift is — you can crop the frame a little in post if the composition is a bit out, but you can't remove motion blur! Would be nice to be given the option.
 

RichardC

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Of course, on a tripod, both IBIS and OIS are automatically disabled, even if you leave them switched on — the camera recognizes that it's being supported relatively steadily and after a second or so disables the stabilization to prevent the frame centre drifting around.
I've heard that other systems do this automatically, but not Olympus unless you are in live comp/capture or pro capture hi-res modes.

The recommendation from Olympus is to switch IS off when on a tripod using an adapted lens (p53 manual), but I can't find any other reference to MFT lenses.

I'd like to be corrected on this if someone can find it in black and white - because I'm very good at forgetting to switch my IS on again!

EDITED: Pretty sure it stays on in pro capture - I meant high res mode.
 
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Thanks for this info. :thumbsup:

Regarding the handheld shots at 1/1000s, last time I checked, IS on the E-M1 II (and possibly also III) is automatically disabled during the actual exposure at 1/1000s and above, presumably on the basis that the mechanism needs at least 1/1000 sec in which to detect and react to motion, and that in most cases, 1/1000s is 'fast enough' to not need stabilization in the first place, though of course the longer the lens, the less that holds true. Anyway, it might be worth trying shooting something handheld at both 1/1000 and 1/800 to see if there's any difference in the effect of IS. I don't know whether the 1/1000 threshold applies to the non-sync OIS in the 100-400 too.

Of course, on a tripod, both IBIS and OIS are automatically disabled, even if you leave them switched on — the camera recognizes that it's being supported relatively steadily and after a second or so disables the stabilization to prevent the frame centre drifting around. Its a pain in my opinion, because there are plenty of situations when the jitter you get at long focal lengths with all but the heaviest of tripods and heads is more of a problem than the drift is — you can crop the frame a little in post if the composition is a bit out, but you can't remove motion blur! Would be nice to be given the option.
Olympus IBIS doesn't auto disable save in Live Comp and Pro Capture. If used on a tripod, IBIS needs to be manually disabled using Olympus bodies.

IBIS is a non-factor when shutter speeds exceed 1/1000s as the shutter response is faster than the axial movements. Same for OIS. That's why most brands "pro" lenses control OIS from the lens with a dedicated switch.

IBIS, of course, is required for EVF stabilization.
 
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RAH

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Of course, on a tripod, both IBIS and OIS are automatically disabled, even if you leave them switched on — the camera recognizes that it's being supported relatively steadily and after a second or so disables the stabilization to prevent the frame centre drifting around. Its a pain in my opinion, because there are plenty of situations when the jitter you get at long focal lengths with all but the heaviest of tripods and heads is more of a problem than the drift is — you can crop the frame a little in post if the composition is a bit out, but you can't remove motion blur! Would be nice to be given the option.
Interesting that you should mention this. I say this because I noticed when I was first trying the 100-400 in my house, doing some silly test shots, that I was having A LOT of trouble getting the image into the center of the viewfinder. I'd tighten the head down and then a few seconds later, the image would float off-center like something I've never seen before (I mention this above, I think). It might be because of the head, but it was so odd that I noticed it, and then later noticed that I had left the lens stabilization ON (I had remembered to turn it off on the camera).

So, I'm not so sure that these things are automatically turned off. In fact, I have never thought that this is automatic with Olympus, just like @RichardC says (unlike Canon where I have never had a problem). Now with this drifting effect with the new lens, it makes me doubt even more that it is automatic. I forget to turn things on/off myself all the time.

Edit: I was typing this while @Aristophanes was entering his post. We agree, it seems. :)
 

RAH

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I should have mentioned - the drifting I was seeing with the 100-400 on a tripod but leaving lens stabilization ON was LATERAL drift - the image in the EVF would drift left or right. This is why it seemed so odd. I mean, when I tripod head is having trouble supporting something, usually the drift will be up and down, because that is where a long lens inbalance will be a problem. You seldom, if ever, have side-to-side trouble tightening a head.
 

Shortsonfire79

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I say this because I noticed when I was first trying the 100-400 in my house, doing some silly test shots, that I was having A LOT of trouble getting the image into the center of the viewfinder. I'd tighten the head down and then a few seconds later, the image would float off-center like something I've never seen before (I mention this above, I think). It might be because of the head, but it was so odd that I noticed it, and then later noticed that I had left the lens stabilization ON (I had remembered to turn it off on the camera).

So, I'm not so sure that these things are automatically turned off. In fact, I have never thought that this is automatic with Olympus, just like @RichardC says (unlike Canon where I have never had a problem). Now with this drifting effect with the new lens, it makes me doubt even more that it is automatic. I forget to turn things on/off myself all the time.
I experience this too, in the past couple of nights shooting the conjunction and moon. I manually turned off all IS because even if Oly automatically does it, I would find the IS drifting about as I was composing on the ball head.

So all IS manually off, I'd compose, tighten ball heads, and let go of the camera and the moon would sag to be partially out of frame. Pretty sure my cf tripod could handle it; I don't have issues with my medium format camera. I also experienced this trying to video the white tailed kite eating a mouse last week. The ball head kept sagging but I thought it was because I was mounting the camera in portrait at 90* without an L bracket.

Re IS off at 1/1000s, it could be so! That would make sense. But my most used function of IS is when I'm holding focus, half pressing shutter button. I need IS to even catch the subject in frame. At MC20 800mm you can tell IS is working but it's not nearly as good as native 400mm.

Edit. It occurs to em that you might have been talking about the shutter shock thing. Just woke up, still in bed, need coffee. :drinks:
 
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RAH

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So all IS manually off, I'd compose, tighten ball heads, and let go of the camera and the moon would sag to be partially out of frame. Pretty sure my cf tripod could handle it; I don't have issues with my medium format camera. I also experienced this trying to video the white tailed kite eating a mouse last week. The ball head kept sagging but I thought it was because I was mounting the camera in portrait at 90* without an L bracket.
If you mean you were having a sagging problem when IS is off on both IBIS and lens, then pretty obviously it isn't being caused by IS. This sagging is very common with long lenses, no matter how beefy your head is (well, maybe not if you have a huge gimbal or something). Very annoying but common. Anyway, as I said later, I was getting side-to-side shifting when I had left lens IS on, which is VERY uncommon, so it probably is because of the IS.
 

PhotoCal

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Think about the source:
Where have you read that IBIS automatically turns off when mounted on a tripod? I've only read about it on internet forums.

I would think if Olympus gear did this then Olympus would promote it as feature, like all of its other features.

I just scanned the EM1.2 (firmware version 3) manual using search terms "tripod" and "stabilization". I found no reference to IBIS turning off when mounted on a tripod.

If you ran a business with a helpful product feature wouldn't you mention it in your manuals and promotional material?
 

joerg218

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I think about getting the MC-14 and/or the MC-20 for the 100-400.
I'm not sure the MC-20 would be good to handle with 800mm at MFT and an "DARK" F13.
Does anyone have both teleconverters for this lens and what are the pros and cons for both?
And do I really need both?
 

Ross the fiddler

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I think about getting the MC-14 and/or the MC-20 for the 100-400.
I'm not sure the MC-20 would be good to handle with 800mm at MFT and an "DARK" F13.
Does anyone have both teleconverters for this lens and what are the pros and cons for both?
And do I really need both?
I have both those TCs, but not for that lens (although I may experiment occasionally with them), but for the 40-150 Pro lens.
 

RAH

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I think about getting the MC-14 and/or the MC-20 for the 100-400.
I'm not sure the MC-20 would be good to handle with 800mm at MFT and an "DARK" F13.
Does anyone have both teleconverters for this lens and what are the pros and cons for both?
And do I really need both?
I have the 100-400 lens and the MC 1.4 TC. I haven't tried the TC yet, but I can tell you one big pro for it - it is VERY small and light-weight. This might seem to be unimportant, but until now my main high-tele setup was a Canon 80D (APS-C DSLR) and a Canon 400mm f5.6 lens. The O 100-400 weighs only somewhat less than the Canon 400, so I was a little disappointed there. However, the Canon 1.4 TC is MUCH larger and heavier than the MC 1.4; surprisingly so. So m43 comes thru size-wise again, at least in that respect (and of course, my E-M5.3 is much smaller than the 80D; hmmm, good thing I don't have a G9!).

I will be trying the MC1.4 soon and will be reporting back on this forum.

As far as the MC 2.0, myself I don't think I'd ever bother even trying a 2.0 TC. In almost all cases I think you lose too much IQ. I'm sure some folks will disagree, but I just kind of draw my personal line at 1.4, and even there I kind of feel like I'm pushing my luck. Just MHO.
 

Ross the fiddler

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I have the 100-400 lens and the MC 1.4 TC. I haven't tried the TC yet, but I can tell you one big pro for it - it is VERY small and light-weight. This might seem to be unimportant, but until now my main high-tele setup was a Canon 80D (APS-C DSLR) and a Canon 400mm f5.6 lens. The O 100-400 weighs only somewhat less than the Canon 400, so I was a little disappointed there. However, the Canon 1.4 TC is MUCH larger and heavier than the MC 1.4; surprisingly so. So m43 comes thru size-wise again, at least in that respect (and of course, my E-M5.3 is much smaller than the 80D; hmmm, good thing I don't have a G9!).

I will be trying the MC1.4 soon and will be reporting back on this forum.

As far as the MC 2.0, myself I don't think I'd ever bother even trying a 2.0 TC. In almost all cases I think you lose too much IQ. I'm sure some folks will disagree, but I just kind of draw my personal line at 1.4, and even there I kind of feel like I'm pushing my luck. Just MHO.
Since the Olympus is also 400mm, then it would be similar to the Canon, especially when the Oly is actually the Sigma DSLR design (with added length to fill in the space for a flappy mirror).
Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM
M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 100-400mm F5.0-6.3 IS
 

RAH

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Since the Olympus is also 400mm, then it would be similar to the Canon, especially when the Oly is actually the Sigma DSLR design (with added length to fill in the space for a flappy mirror).
Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM
M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 100-400mm F5.0-6.3 IS
Ross, I agree about the size considering the Sigma design. But generally speaking, similar focal length lenses in m43 are somewhat smaller than even APS-C-only Canon lenses. I mean, for example, the O 75-300 is VERY similar in size to the Canon APS-C-only 55-250 lens. A Canon lens with 300 would be larger. And, of course, if you are talking about a FF-ready Canon lens (like the 400 5.6 lens that I have), this would usually be significantly larger.

But anyway, I'm not complaining much. The 100-400 is what I've been waiting for and I think they did a good job with it. :)
 

RAH

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Well, I finally did some comparison tests with the 100-400, at 2 different focal lengths (349mm and 400mm), 2 different apertures (wide open 6.3 and f8); and also adding the MC1.4 TC (500mm and 560), 2 different apertures (wide open f9 and f11).

Edit: in this post, I use "F-stop" sometimes. I really usually mean "step" not "stop". In other words, when I say "close down 1 stop" I really mean one step - one turn of the aperture wheel. This is configurable on your camera as "EV step". The default is .3 stops, I believe. This is actually good news because when I say you should stop down 2 stops, I'm actually talking about only 2/3 of one stop.

I was as far away as I could get in my house, from the back of the kitchen to the living room window (maybe about 40 feet). My test subject was one of those enamel tin posters you can buy in stores and the internet. They are very detailed and sharp. This is of the Titanic (matching the size of the 100-400 lens!). I used a tripod and a wired remote shutter release, ISO 200. The poster itself:

full_titanic_poster_small.jpg
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Below are the results, in 100% crop size.
349mm, f6.3
pc270272_349mm_f63-crop.jpg
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349mm, f8:
pc270273_349mm_f8_crop.jpg
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400mm, f6.3:

pc270274_400mm_f63_crop.jpg
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400mm, f8:
pc270275_400mm_f8_crop.jpg
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500mm (with TC), at f9:
pc270276_500mm_f9_crop.jpg
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500mm, f11:
pc270277_500mm_f11_crop.jpg
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560mm, f9:
pc270278_560mm_f9_crop.jpg
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560mm, f11:
pc270280_560mm_f11_crop.jpg
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My initial impressions:

1) at ALL focal lengths, it helps to stop down 2 stops from wide open (it probably also helps to stop down one stop, but I didn't try that).

2) there is not much difference in sharpness between 349 and 400, using f8. So not much point in backing off on the zoom. Also, the worst results I got was at 349mm and f6.3, so backing off on the zoom doesn't help when you are wide open either.

3) the TC doesn't hurt much, although it seems that backing off on the zoom some can help. I think that 500mm at f9 or f11 is essentially as sharp as 400 (without TC) at f8. But even here, 560 isn't bad at all, I think. The TC results are confusing in that sometimes the wide open results at f9 look better than the f11 results. I was pretty careful taking these shots, so I do not think there is any camera shake.

Anyway, I think I will be stopping down some (especially when not using the TC) and that also I won't be reticent about using the TC; it's pretty fine, indeed!

Hope this helps. Your results may vary! ;)
 
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Shortsonfire79

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As far as the MC 2.0, myself I don't think I'd ever bother even trying a 2.0 TC. In almost all cases I think you lose too much IQ. I'm sure some folks will disagree, but I just kind of draw my personal line at 1.4, and even there I kind of feel like I'm pushing my luck. Just MHO.
I agree. Having never used a tc before I figured I'd shoot for the moon, which I actually did!

I think about getting the MC-14 and/or the MC-20 for the 100-400.
I'm not sure the MC-20 would be good to handle with 800mm at MFT and an "DARK" F13.
I'm super duper impressed by the reach of the 100-400mm + MC-20 but wholly unimpressed by every other feature. It was <$80 for 14 days so almost a no brainer to test. Maybe I'd rent it for a Yellowstone trip but I think I'm happier hand holding the O100400 and cropping deep than having to break out the tripod for the MC-20; hand held is ok but not great.

Tried shooting the Conjunction again last night from a colder region with far less light pollution. MC-20 yielded far softer results to the point of non-useability. Native O100400 results if you missed it.
 

RAH

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I just wanted to add a few thoughts about using this large lens with a small camera like the E-M5.3. If you just put the 100-400 lens on a table, balanced on its mounting foot, it falls forward onto its end, even zoomed in to 100mm. So, in other words, it is front heavy. But if you mount the E-M5.3 to it, it doesn't do this; it just sits up straight and acts nice, like a well-balanced setup should.

So, the point here is that if you going to use the lens with a tripod (as I am going to do, probably all the time), a small camera like the E_M5.3 or E-M10 (any variety) should work fine. Unless you are shooting at a drastic angle up (warblers!!), you will not have much trouble with any moderately secure tripod head; there isn't a lot of unbalanced weight going on, so it should be easy to control. I haven't tried it in the field yet, of course, but it is pretty stable shooting any Titanic posters that might saunter across your path.

I did try hand-holding the lens by the foot. Again, it is very well balanced like this, so you could presumably use it this way, or removing the foot would probably not alter it much.

The MC 1.4 teleconverter is so small and lightweight that it doesn't alter any of this.
 
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