Review New Oly 100-400: Impressions and images

saladin

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One observation / slight criticism : it's a shame this lens isn't compatible with in-camera-focus-stacking. That'd be fun . I did run a focus stack sequence last night on the 5iii - 10 shots with focus interval set to "7". I'll have to see how they go in software at some point.
 

RAH

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I used the 100-400 for the first time today. I used it with my E-M5.3, mounted on a tripod (so all IS turned off, camera and lens). Here is a pretty nice shot of a Bluebird. I was close enough that I only used 236mm for this shot (which is cropped to 2800 x 2775). Later I was using about 300mm for the same bird, so they need less cropping, but this image came out the best.

bluebird2_042621.jpg
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The image is the LSF jpg, not modified except for the crop and a big Affinity Photo Inpainting Brush fix because of a hyper-distracting large object hanging about 3 inches away from the end of the bird's beak that just had to be removed - see the small image (the bokeh to the right of the bird is in the original image). The lens was stopped down to f8, ISO 1600.
bluebird_needs-fix.jpg
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Here is a 100% crop of the head. It is shows that the bird feathers are pretty nicely sharp, I think. Overall I am pretty impressed with the lens.
bluebird2_head-100crop.jpg
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saladin

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Welcome to the owners club, RAH .

I'm finding it a very useful and fun lens to use.

Landscape shots at 1 and a half kilometers? No problem 👍👍


OI000238-01.jpeg
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doxa750

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I used the 100-400 for the first time today. I used it with my E-M5.3, mounted on a tripod (so all IS turned off, camera and lens). Here is a pretty nice shot of a Bluebird. I was close enough that I only used 236mm for this shot (which is cropped to 2800 x 2775). Later I was using about 300mm for the same bird, so they need less cropping, but this image came out the best.

View attachment 885440

The image is the SLF jpg, not modified except for the crop and a big Affinity Photo Healing Brush fix because of a hyper-distracting large object hanging about 3 inches away from the end of the bird's beak that just had to be removed - see the small image (the bokeh to the right of the bird is in the original image). The lens was stopped down to f8, ISO 1600.
View attachment 885441

Here is a 100% crop of the head. It is shows that the bird feathers are pretty nicely sharp, I think. Overall I am pretty impressed with the lens.
View attachment 885442
Fantastic results, this looks like a keeper lens to me :). Congratulations with your new gear...
 

RichardC

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Anyone wishing to borrow my 100-400 will need to get past security first.

Be warned, he takes his job very seriously.





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I received the lens on Tuesday but I was working for 12.5 hours so I couldn't do anything, the next day I did work 8 hours and I did try it for an hour or so but the weather was bad and I was pretty exhausted so I didn't put too much effort or time because I wouldn't get the best of it. Yesterday I was quite busy but today, I woke up at 5 AM and left the house before 6 AM to do a local wildlife search. I didn't get much luck at first but things improved a bit later on. As it was my first proper outing with it I don't feel comfortable saying negative things with certainty as it should be my fault for any inadequacies. I would feel more confident talking about the lens after 1 to 3 months of use.
So, first very early preliminary undetermined at a glance impression:
*Weight ... I did not expect this but it felt heavier than Olympus ZD ED 50-200mm f 2.8-3.5 Mark I with Olympus MMF-3. The weight is more on the Olympus M.ZD ED 100-400mm f 5-6.3 with and without the tripod but it is longer and the weight distribution is different ... more front heavy. I was getting pain in my right shoulder trying to handhold while shooting and carrying in my hand ... but I would blame this on my health state and I am sure that after some continuous usage over the next few months it would be more comfortable to hold. I used the lens without the tripod foot as I don't have use for it (I don't own a tripod) and I don't carry it by the foot either. (Interestingly enough my old Panny Leica 50-200mm f 2.8-4 felt more balanced zoomed out to 200mm as the weight was more distributed, while zoomed to 50mm the weight felt more concentrated and front heavy with the camera).
*I love the compactness of the lens hood, it does not make the lens unnecessarily huge and it's reversible ... I just wish it had the locking button of the Olympus M.ZD 12-100mm f 4 Pro.
*Image stabilization is decent but not mind-blowing, I am noticing the lens having to put in the effort to stabilize the image. While I would blame this mostly on user error as I am still getting used to IBIS + OIS ... I had OIS on the lens with Lens Priority On and S-IS set to Auto and FPS Priority.
*The physical AF limiter switch is awesome, very quick, and easy to improve AF speed and accuracy at a finger time ... just need to remember what setting it is on ... please Olympus put the AF Limit information as permanent info in the EVF and UI.
*The range is just pure awesomeness, while I used mostly the 400mm mark, it was mind-blowing being able to have such reach. Not only does it make it a lot easier to get the shot because you get the same magnification of the subject but from farther away giving you more chances to get the shot before the subject sees and flees but also being able to enlarge even the smallest subjects IF and WHEN you have a good approaching technique to wildlife (I am rustier then Biden's joints at this point from lack of practice).
*Aperture range, at f 6.3 the amount of light that gets on the sensor is not a lot BUT in direct sunlight AND after 10-11 AM it's not a major issue as I might have thought. I only worry when ISO 6.400 range hit's the limit and the shutter speed drops OR the histogram runs to the left faster than a Nascar tournament. Seeing with my own eyes and experiencing the limits of light on the subject with this lens is so much more helpful than pictures online and others' (still greatly appreciated) advice. I did go in heavy foliage and tree area to see how the lens handles it and with about 4 stops of light difference between direct sunrise sunlight and the shadows cast by trees and vegetation the lens does reach the limit of Micro Four Thirds current sensor. As many others have said, this lens shines best between late morning and early evenings ... for low light situations an f 4 or, even better, f 2.8 lenses could/would/should make a difference. Makes me think of the Olympus ZD 150mm f 2 as a companion for this lens for large subjects (large mammals) or using hides/covers to be very close to the subject.
*Subject tracking is not exactly easy with 400mm at your fingertips. I had moments where shooting Pro Capture Low at 18 FPS would give me only 3 to 5 pictures with the subject in the frame before (usually) flying away. It can be quite difficult to track subjects under 20 meters because they will be out of the frame almost as fast as your shutter speed ... farther away it's easier but only at the lower drive speeds, Pro Capture Low and High shows you only the last frame and not live view, made it very easy to lose the subject. Olympus REALLY NEEDS to bring out more RAW power to bring us No Blackouts Burst at max speed, especially Pro Capture, to compete with Sony A1 and upcoming Canon and Nikon sports alternatives ... even Fujifilm can do No Blackouts and is the only other company the offers Pre-Capture capability outside of Micro Four Thirds.


All in all, I would recommend this lens IF the user has some experience with+150mm Focal Lenght experience to work with such narrow-angle of view, to be used to the weight and size and with finding the subject within the frame as well as tracking. Coming from Panny Leica 50-200mm f 2.8-4 it helped me frame and track subjects at narrow angles and the 1.4x TC helped me even more being able to visualize and react to the subject's movements ... even in anticipation.
I am importing and looking through the pictures I made today so I would hold off on any comments about IQ and performance until I have more data to truly understand this lens ... but I am quite excited about trying it more ... now I need to look into camouflage options to blend into the environment and not just get closer but get more natural behavior from the wildlife ... I prefer more documentary style picture then "pretty bird staring at the photographer".
 

RAH

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Nice review, Ovidiu.

I have replaced my Canon 400mm f5.6L lens (on a Canon 80D) with the Oly 100-400 (on E-M5.3). The Canon lens is a bad-ass looking grey metal Canon thing that has a pretty large-looking tripod mounting ring. Since it is a prime, it is considerably longer than the Oly when the Oly is fully collapsed. But it turns out that the Canon tripod mount only weighs about 5 ounces, whereas the Oly tripod mount weighs 10 ounces (!). The weight of the lenses is almost exactly the same when you have the tripod mounts attached, which came as a big surprise to me.

So removing that tripod mount from the Oly saves you 10 ounces. I would definitely do that if I were going to handhold (even though I agree that is a good place to hold it). Oddly enough, the 1.4x Oly teleconverter is TINY compared with the all-metal Canon TC. Wish the tripod mount was similar.

As far as the balance, as I mentioned elsewhere, if you have it mounted on even a lightweight camera body like the E-M5.3, it balances very nicely. You can see this if you place it on a table sitting on the foot of the tripod mount. Without the camera, the lens will tilt forward and rest on the end of the lens, whereas with the camera attached it sits straight.

I suppose that zooming will throw this off some, but I noticed that when I have it mounted on a tripod, there is very little resistance against the tilt of the pan/tilt head, even a pretty inexpensive 3-way pan/tilt. Kind of like a poor-man's gimbal, I guess. Even tilting the lens up at a radical angle (like to shoot a warbler), it doesn't take a lot of effort and you don't have to tighten the head down very hard to hold it there.

So I really like the balance.
 
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To be honest I do not see the benefit of keeping the tripod foot if tripod or monopod usage is not in "your" typical usage. I carried the lens (today) by the barrel which is pretty much the same thing as holding it by the tripod foot as well as on my shoulder "bazooka style". I also have a clip system that is always mounted on my backpack but I choose my Quick Escape 800 instead as it's more low profile, less noisy, and just curious to see how it would handle it for short trips (literally 30 minutes from where I live). Even if the tripod foot was lighter (which I am still confused why it couldn't have been) I would still not have it with me (I actually do not own a tripod anymore, the only one I had I broke the foot).

Not sure if the balance would be too good, or even functional, with a body with a smaller grip than the E-M1 series. One could put most of the weight on the left hand as it's being held but it can tire one hand quicker than the other in such a situation. I am thinking of trying the E-M1 grip to see if it helps with the balance ... kind of reminds me how the E-M5 Mark II balance was not very well with Oly ZD 50-200mm f 2.8-3.5 Mark I and MMF-3 until I got the 3rd party metal grip, it helped a bit but cramped the knuckles between the grip and the lens being extra thick (compared to native lenses).
The balance of the lens had me push one foot (in the bum) towards the E-M1 X but I need to wait for the price to go even more down to a more affordable (for me) 999 £ ... maybe after they release the E-M1 X Mark II ... unless they add some awesome features that would make me feel I couldn't live without (oooooh my here we go again :p ).

The thickness of the Oly MC-14 could be because the diameter of the lens requires fewer lenses to magnify the image onto the sensor ... and Micro Four Thirds are designed telecentric so the light is more incidental on the sensor, require fewer elements to correct for magnification ... at least that's how it goes in my head, I don't have any optical engineer to be qualified for my statement ... so in fewer words: I'm pulling all of this out my ass on the basis of pure conjecture of deduction reasoning?
 
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