Review New Oly 100-400: Impressions and images

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I've been giving it a hammering over the last few days, inc using the 1.4tc (requires good light for anything moving..)
Handheld @560mm 1/30s ! it was not a bright day..
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Egregius V

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I love this frog photo - really shows the surface tension and reflective properties of the water.

My own 100-400 just came back from repair again. Maybe I'll take it to one of the local ponds tomorrow after I get done with morning work. Great weather this week, and I noticed last night that the frogs have just returned for spring!

The Olympus Repair Center tells me that this time they calibrated the lens at 100mm, 200mm, 300mm, and 400mm, and verified that it exceeds their standards before sending it back to me. So I performed a number of tests with it yesterday with the aperture wide open. With a flat target (newspaper) on a wall and the lens carefully aimed perpendicular to it, I got much more symmetrical results than before. There are only slight variations in sharpness at the left edge vs. the right edge - and it's not always the same side that's a little bit sharper. The formerly-soft lower right quadrant is now as sharp as the others. Central sharpness is great and edge sharpness declines noticeably at 300-400mm. These are all expected results. I believe from earlier experiences that edge-to-edge sharpness will be even better in real photos having depth. :thumbsup:

Oddly, my photographs of flat ground targets, taken at an angle on a tripod with aperture wide open, are worse than before - not better. Within the plane of focus, left side softness starts to show at 200mm and becomes very severe at 300mm, where a full half of the image is soft and the right edge is much sharper than the center. At 400mm, there is softness on both sides but much more on the left side. Adjusting the way the lens is mounted on the tripod hasn't varied the results at all. The repair center isn't answering my questions about this, since they only test wall targets at 90 degrees. Experience tells me that this can affect real-world photos, but not as much when the target has lots of structure and depth (like tall grass). I'm guessing that this is because the focal plane is just a lot thinner on the left side. I'm going to have to re-evaluate the effectiveness of this test in gauging lens sharpness, focus accuracy, and depth-of-field.

I think this lens is as good as it'll get and am now wary of trying to exchange it. Time to use it heavily and see what the real-world results look like.
 

saladin

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Not remotely scientific , but two shots.

1st with 100-400.


2nd with 100-400 and 1.4TC , camera moved back to approximate same fov.

Shot on 12 second shutter delay. With a crappy little gorillapod. I left in-lens stabilisation turned on. Interestingly, on both shots, the live view wobbled a few seconds in to the countdown. On the first one, i thought perhaps i'd somehow bounced the floor, or a tiny air current. But then the exact same thing happened on the second shot. So, I suspect (strongly) that it is in fact the Ibis "settling" - for want of a better term. It didn't matter for these shots, it was well and truly steady by 12 seconds. But I do wonder what the impact would be on, say, a 2 second shutter delay? Or on a long exposure shot if you didn't have a shutter delay , or tripped the shutter with the app? I suddenly understand the recommendation to turn off IBIS when using tripods.

I doubt i quite nailed identical focus on both shots, but I feel there's a slightly shallower dof with the T/C . Happily, i couldn't say that the T/C is meaningfully less detailed, perhaps just a minute amount. The F/9 aperture is going to be a serious challenge if you need to stop action though.

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Ross the fiddler

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Not remotely scientific , but two shots.

1st with 100-400.


2nd with 100-400 and 1.4TC , camera moved back to approximate same fov.

Shot on 12 second shutter delay. With a crappy little gorillapod. I left in-lens stabilisation turned on. Interestingly, on both shots, the live view wobbled a few seconds in to the countdown. On the first one, i thought perhaps i'd somehow bounced the floor, or a tiny air current. But then the exact same thing happened on the second shot. So, I suspect (strongly) that it is in fact the Ibis "settling" - for want of a better term. It didn't matter for these shots, it was well and truly steady by 12 seconds. But I do wonder what the impact would be on, say, a 2 second shutter delay? Or on a long exposure shot if you didn't have a shutter delay , or tripped the shutter with the app? I suddenly understand the recommendation to turn off IBIS when using tripods.

I doubt i quite nailed identical focus on both shots, but I feel there's a slightly shallower dof with the T/C . Happily, i couldn't say that the T/C is meaningfully less detailed, perhaps just a minute amount. The F/9 aperture is going to be a serious challenge if you need to stop action though.

View attachment 880082


View attachment 880083
I think I have found the IS to be a little delayed in full stability at times too, when half pressing the shutter button.
 

PhotoCal

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For those wondering, I've posted pictures of the Olympus 100-400 and EM1.2 inside a Mindshift Photocross 13 backpack.

It has much more room than the specs led me to believe it would. Room for another lens, even.

With the collar on the lens the bag was too small to fit a 13" laptop (even w/o the laptop's protective sleeve). With the lens collar off a 13" laptop barely fit (w/o the protective sleeve).

If you plan on carrying a 13" laptop and this lens I would not recommend the 13" bag.

I can't comment on how this setup functions in the field nor the bag's other attributes. I have liked other Mindshift backpacks, especially the Ultralight.

On another topic, I didn't have pictures of metal shavings in the body of an EM1.2 (created when mounting a Panasonic 100-400). These two mounting attempts were done at different stores, with different lenses and bodies. This ruled out my body being the problem. I let the salesclerks mount and remove the lenses. I don't believe I took pictures because that, to me, would have been a bit bizarre. If I did I wouldn't have kept them for five years or so.

I did not force any of the lenses I owned on my body. I know when too much force is being applied, based on my decades of mounting and dismounting lenses on various bodies.

Nor did I force the 7th lens I ordered and tried in a store. It was a bad fit on my body so I refused delivery and got my money back.

If you got a good copy of this lens and/or don't mind/didn't experience the problems I did, that's fantastic. Of course, if you're trying to sell your used copy then you'd rightfully want to quash these reports because it could lower the price you get.


When customers downplay gear problems (resulting from appropriate) use then companies have no reason to improve their quality control. It makes me question the motives of those people. Are they trying to diacourage these reports so they can make more money off of our fellow photographers?

The advice I've suggested regarding that lens is what I'd suggest for anyone considering any gear: do your research and make sure you're comfortable with the return policies in case the gear doesn't work out for you.

Meanwhile, I'm very pleased with the Olympus 100-400.

We should all be glad that we have choices because that empowers us consumers and results in lower prices.
 

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saladin

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G9 Jpeg. At a guess, roughly 10 meters distance. Cropped. Detail retention is pretty damn good imo.

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doady

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My need right now is ultra-wide and macro, but lately I've been thinking of maybe trying super-telephoto one day too. Maybe it's seeing the photos in this forum. People in the park see me and my camera and assume I'm photographing birds too.

100-400mm F5.0-6.3 would complement 12-100mm F4.0 well, even take the same 72mm filters. Too bad it doesn't have Sync IS like 12-100mm F4.0; my hands already have enough trouble with 12-100mm at 100mm and F4, let alone 400mm and F6.3. But full IS might make the lens even bigger and of course even more expensive.

It's unlikely but maybe after 8-25mm F4.0 and 100mm macro, I could try out 100-400mm F5.0-6.3. I'm also intrigued by the upcoming Pro telephoto lenses on the roadmap: a ~50-200mm (F2.8?) and a ~50-230mm (F4.0? F4.5?). If they have Sync IS with E-M1 II, maybe they would be a better options for me.
 

saladin

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I need to do some confirmation, but I'm getting the impression that on the G9, the AF is fine lens-only , but quite buggy and unreliable with the 1.4 TC . I've not had a problem with the TC on the 40-150 Pro.

But more work needed to check this.
 
Joined
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Messages
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I love this frog photo - really shows the surface tension and reflective properties of the water.

My own 100-400 just came back from repair again. Maybe I'll take it to one of the local ponds tomorrow after I get done with morning work. Great weather this week, and I noticed last night that the frogs have just returned for spring!

The Olympus Repair Center tells me that this time they calibrated the lens at 100mm, 200mm, 300mm, and 400mm, and verified that it exceeds their standards before sending it back to me. So I performed a number of tests with it yesterday with the aperture wide open. With a flat target (newspaper) on a wall and the lens carefully aimed perpendicular to it, I got much more symmetrical results than before. There are only slight variations in sharpness at the left edge vs. the right edge - and it's not always the same side that's a little bit sharper. The formerly-soft lower right quadrant is now as sharp as the others. Central sharpness is great and edge sharpness declines noticeably at 300-400mm. These are all expected results. I believe from earlier experiences that edge-to-edge sharpness will be even better in real photos having depth. :thumbsup:

Oddly, my photographs of flat ground targets, taken at an angle on a tripod with aperture wide open, are worse than before - not better. Within the plane of focus, left side softness starts to show at 200mm and becomes very severe at 300mm, where a full half of the image is soft and the right edge is much sharper than the center. At 400mm, there is softness on both sides but much more on the left side. Adjusting the way the lens is mounted on the tripod hasn't varied the results at all. The repair center isn't answering my questions about this, since they only test wall targets at 90 degrees. Experience tells me that this can affect real-world photos, but not as much when the target has lots of structure and depth (like tall grass). I'm guessing that this is because the focal plane is just a lot thinner on the left side. I'm going to have to re-evaluate the effectiveness of this test in gauging lens sharpness, focus accuracy, and depth-of-field.

I think this lens is as good as it'll get and am now wary of trying to exchange it. Time to use it heavily and see what the real-world results look like.
I have
For those wondering, I've posted pictures of the Olympus 100-400 and EM1.2 inside a Mindshift Photocross 13 backpack.

It has much more room than the specs led me to believe it would. Room for another lens, even.

With the collar on the lens the bag was too small to fit a 13" laptop (even w/o the laptop's protective sleeve). With the lens collar off a 13" laptop barely fit (w/o the protective sleeve).

If you plan on carrying a 13" laptop and this lens I would not recommend the 13" bag.

I can't comment on how this setup functions in the field nor the bag's other attributes. I have liked other Mindshift backpacks, especially the Ultralight.

On another topic, I didn't have pictures of metal shavings in the body of an EM1.2 (created when mounting a Panasonic 100-400). These two mounting attempts were done at different stores, with different lenses and bodies. This ruled out my body being the problem. I let the salesclerks mount and remove the lenses. I don't believe I took pictures because that, to me, would have been a bit bizarre. If I did I wouldn't have kept them for five years or so.

I did not force any of the lenses I owned on my body. I know when too much force is being applied, based on my decades of mounting and dismounting lenses on various bodies.

Nor did I force the 7th lens I ordered and tried in a store. It was a bad fit on my body so I refused delivery and got my money back.

If you got a good copy of this lens and/or don't mind/didn't experience the problems I did, that's fantastic. Of course, if you're trying to sell your used copy then you'd rightfully want to quash these reports because it could lower the price you get.


When customers downplay gear problems (resulting from appropriate) use then companies have no reason to improve their quality control. It makes me question the motives of those people. Are they trying to diacourage these reports so they can make more money off of our fellow photographers?

The advice I've suggested regarding that lens is what I'd suggest for anyone considering any gear: do your research and make sure you're comfortable with the return policies in case the gear doesn't work out for you.

Meanwhile, I'm very pleased with the Olympus 100-400.

We should all be glad that we have choices because that empowers us consumers and results in lower prices.
FYI, I have a Mindshift Photocross 10 and can fit the em1.2 + 1.4tc+ 100-400 attached in it, as well as a 12-40. It is a tight squeeze though! oh and here's a water vole with that combo
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Egregius V

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My over-analytical experiments with the Oly. 100-400 continue (slowly due to bad weather) - with interesting results:
(E-M1 II and E-M1 III, electronic shutter, IBIS on for hand-held tests)

- Flat targets do seem to be symmetrically in focus.
- My previous depth-of-field tests do reflect real-world results.
- Targets with depth are reliably soft on the left at 200-400mm (worst at 300mm) at full aperture. (Tripod or hand-held, with or without stabilization.)
- The center stays sharp at 300mm, but the right edge is even sharper than the center.
- At 300mm, it's noticeable that the depth-of-field gets thinner across the frame from right to left.
- Some sample images I've seen online appear to show this as well. Unfortunately, there are very few samples to go by.
- Stopping down improves the sharpness at the left edge, but the right side remains sharpest.
- I've noticed today that if I take a slow and careful sequence of photos in good light with IBIS on (hand-held), the second shot *is* sharp on the left side and equal on the right. 🤯
- I'm seeing the same soft-left-side problem in portrait orientation today. It comes and goes. My earlier tests didn't show such variation.
- For me, IBIS helps a lot while OIS doesn't help much at all. I see much the same as what David Thorpe's video review shows.
- The longer I keep the stabilization engaged with a half-shutter press, the more stable the image gets.
- The minimum focus distance isn't the cause of the softness issues.
- My own tests confirm what some reviewers have already noted: it's possible to focus quite a lot closer than the specified MFD! (I wonder if the same is true of the 150-400 which is also said to have a MFD of 1.3m? :))

Playing with the lens like this has helped me a lot. So far, I haven't had a chance to photograph fauna. But the more I use the lens, the more I like it. And if I can avoid stopping down for a good image, that's even better. I'm still baffled by the rather severe and now-variable decentering at 300mm, whatever its cause - but am really happy to confirm that the problem really does go away under the right conditions.
 
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RAH

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PhotoCal

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I have

FYI, I have a Mindshift Photocross 10 and can fit the em1.2 + 1.4tc+ 100-400 attached in it, as well as a 12-40. It is a tight squeeze though! oh and here's a water vole with that combo
View attachment 880744
I have

FYI, I have a Mindshift Photocross 10 and can fit the em1.2 + 1.4tc+ 100-400 attached in it, as well as a 12-40. It is a tight squeeze though! oh and here's a water vole with that combo
View attachment 880744

I would never use a sling nor recommend one. I have friends who have undergone/need to undergo surgery due to carrying weight one on shoulder.

Yea, they figured the load was manageable, too. It doesn't cause any problems until you wake up and can't move your neck.

I always go for q backpack, evenly distributed (tripod centered on the back, not the side).

A waistpack is also good, if it can hold your gear. You can also wear a waistpack with a backpack!

Knowing what you plan to shoot and how to use your gear helps you to travel light. I can't remember the last time I carried more than two lenses. I also use OEM batteries exclusively because they are consistent. Fewer batteries means less weight.
 

saladin

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It's a very interesting lens. I bought it largely for sport - to see if it , and the system - can handle large field outdoor sports like football. Jury is still out on that. Even if it's not, it IS proving to be quite a handy and versatile general purpose walk about lens! Even if I end up delving back into DSLR territory for action, I think the 100-400 is a permanent part of my mft kit now. Despite not being true Sync IS , the stabilisation opens up a heck of a lot of potential uses.

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Incidentally, have any other users seen a hint of "swirly bokeh" in some of their shots? I have a couple where i've wondered if i'm imagining it, or if its actually a property of the physical background rather than lens aberations.
 

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