Anurag Agnihotri Wonders, Leica 100-400mm or Olympus 300mm F/4?

Posted Jun. 3rd, 2017 (3 weeks ago) by Daniel J. Cox

Hi Dan
Lovely blog and great pictures.
I am planning to get into M43 system and there is one question i wanted to ask. Panasonic zoom 100-400 or Olympus 300 F4 ? You have used them both right?
Also want your inputs on the zoom stiffness problem that i see mentioned everywhere on the net. Has it been rectified, or is it not a problem at all to begin with…
Regards and appreciation,
Anurag

Anurag, First of all, please accept my apology for taking so long to answer this great question. I’ve been running behind on answering ” Questions for Dan” due to my travel schedule and a glitch in our Blog software. We have the software glitch figured out so I’m confident I’ll be able to do a better job in the future.

Regarding which lens would I recommend, the Leica 100-400mm or the Olympus 30mm F/4? That’s a great question since both have their pluses and minuses. I’m actually a good one to ask since I bought and regularly use both. I will say that due to the convenience of the 100-400mm’s multiple focal lengths, I most often reach for that lens. However, there are times, typically when the light is less than ideal, I first reach for the faster Olympus. Below is a list of the Pros and Cons to each,

Leica 100-400mm

Pros:

  • Multiple focal lengths from 200-800mm equivalent
  • Relatively lightweight and compact for the magnification is provides
  • Very sharp
  • Dual IS with Lumix GH5 and G85 cameras
  • Very high-quality build
  • Relatively inexpensive compared to Olympus  and any major brand lens in the 600-800mm range

Cons:

  • Slow maximum aperture of F/6.3 at 400mm (800mm equivalent) Not great in poor light.
  • Stiff zoom mechanism
  • Tripod collar that only rotates 45 degrees. Great for verticals one direction but not the other
  • Image stabilization switch is easy to accidentally switch off.  I tape mine. It could use a lock button.

Olympus 300mm F/4

Pros:

  • Equivalent to a 600mm F/4 at a 30mm F/4 size
  • Relatively lightweight and compact for the magnification is provides
  • Extremely sharp!
  • Can use Olympus 1.4X teleconverter that is also very sharp with 30mm F/4. Gives you 840mm equivalent

Cons:

  • $700.00US more expensive than 100-400m
  • No ability to have multiple focal lengths like zoom has.
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There are 2 comments on this post…
  1. Stephanie BrandOn Jun. 11th, 2017 (2 weeks ago)

    Hi Dan,

    Does your answer presume that you are using the Oly 300mm on an Oly body, and the PanLeica 100-400 on a Panasonic body?
    I have the Olympus EM1ii and the EM1i and am planning a trip to Africa. I have the Oly 300 f4, the 40-150 f2.8 and the 1.4 tc. My hubby shoots Panasonic and has the 100-400. Since I’ve been concerned about losing the zoom range that my lenses don’t cover, I’ve been considering selling the 300 and buying a 100-400 but when I put his 100-400 on my camera, I’m less than thrilled with the IQ and find the zoom stiffness hard to deal with (I’m an older, slightly built and none too strong woman), especially with the tripod collar in place. I’d love your thoughts….
    Stephanie

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jun. 12th, 2017 (2 weeks ago)

      Stephanie,

      Yes, I genearlly stick with the Olympus lens on Oly camera and Leica lens on Lumix. However, I know many sho are shooting the 100-400mm on the Olympus and absolutely love it.

      Your concern about not having the concenience of a zoom is certainlyly valid AND I also agree with your concerns regardig the 100-400mm having a less than perfect zoom mechanism. Mine is also much stiffer than I would prefer. I’m wondering when your husband bought his? Mine was from the first batch released and I’ve tried newer versions and find them much smoother than the first version.

      Your last question regarindfg your feeleings the Olympus is a bit sharper than the 100-400mm is proven to be true in the tests I shot for the blog post titled Mirrorless Telephoto Comparison Leica, Fuji, Nikon, Olympus. In these tests you can see the difference in sharpness. However, in the real world, most of the time, I don’t notice a big difference, espeically shooting with the GH5. Not sure why that is but it’s not nearly the issue I thought it might be.

      Finally, I can tell you that on paper the Olympus is a spectacular lens and it comes through in the photos you’ll get. But the convenience of a zoom over a fixed focal lenth lens is impossible to ignore. When I’m shooting wildlife I carry both systems, the 300mm attched to th Olympus and the Leica 100-400mm attached to my GH5. With both options, side by side in my camera pack, 80% of the time I reach for the 100-400mm. Maybe 20% of the time, when the light drops or shooting a small bird, I’ll grab the Olympus with the 300mm and a 1.4X telecponbverter attached. Do I like the fact I’m carrying both systems? Not really. But I can tell you that both camera bodies and their respective lenses are much smaller than what I used to caryy so I’m already ahead of the curve. That said, I’m seriously on the fence about pairing it all down to one system and for me that will be the Lumix.
      Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions and thanks for joining the conversation.

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