Lumix Diaries: Shooting the New Leica Lumix 100-400mm

Posted Jan. 5th, 2016 by Daniel J. Cox

Today, January 5, at 10:00am Vegas time, Panasonic finally announced the ability to order the new Leica Lumix 100-400mm zoom. It’s a professional quality lens I’ve been dreaming about ever since I started getting serious about the Lumix line of cameras nearly six years ago. Today is the day we can go down to our local camera shops, or order online if you don’t have a Lumix dealer near you, to get on the list for first availability. And I do suggest you do it it quickly since this lens is going to be a very hot commodity at a price of $1799.00. I’m guessing Panasonic will sell the first batch out in short order.

Here is a list of preferred Lumix dealers you might want to try if you don’t have a Lumix dealer near you.

Bozeman Camera (800-944-2139)– I spoke to Marshal, the owner, and he told me they have ten 100-400’s pre-ordered and he has five sold already. That means he will have five ready to go. I often find smaller dealers have more product than the larger dealers since everybody knows about B&H Photo but few know about Bozeman Camera. Give these guys a try. You won’t regret it. You do have to call however since they do not take online orders.

Panasonic Direct at shoppanasonic.com. I’ve had very good luck with this online order option. Typically product arrives in 2-3 days and all has gone very well. However, I prefer ordering from Bozeman Camera when I can.

B&H Photo and Video. Everybody knows B&H. They have a stellar reputation but they are my last resort. We need to support our local camera dealers if at all possible but there are few local camera stores anymore. We’re lucky in Bozeman to have both F11 Photo and Bozeman Camera. Support your local dealer whenever possible.

Panasonic Chief Engineer Yabuki san Comes to New Mexico

Ok, so that’s the exciting news that was recently reported. But equally exciting is the fact I’ve been shooting two of these Leica-glassed bad boys for almost a month now, producing promotional materials that will soon be appearing around the world. Quite an honor I have to say and one I appreciate greatly. Shooting this ad campaign was a dream assignment. Panasonic gave me free rein to capture whatever I wanted, as long as it was wild in nature—yes, pun intended 🙂 Go figure. That was certainly fine with me and to get myself in the right place I booked a ticket to New Mexico to visit one of my favorite national wildlife refuges, Bosque del Apache. Ok…so those who know me know it wasn’t me who booked the tickets.

Dan waiting for message from Panasonic engineer coming to New Mexico to drop off lenses.

Dan waiting for a text message from Panasonic engineer coming to New Mexico to drop off lenses. Lumix GX8 with 12-35mm, ISO3200

Yes, Ms. Tanya the Logistics Queen got the whole thing set up and I just had to be on time to catch the flight to Albuquerque. And though that all sounds pretty easy it was actually considerably more complicated. Why? Well it seems the day I got the assignment Panasonic was still a good two months from delivering something I could actually use. There have been many samples/prototypes floating around the tradeshow circuit but none of them were working samples. I was going to be getting the first two working 100-400mm Leica Vario-Elmar lenses in existence.

Panasonic Chief engineer Takanori Yabuki hands Daniel Cox the new 100-400mm zoom lens Panasonic developed for a shoot in Bosque Del Apache, New Mexico.

Panasonic Chief engineer Takanori Yabuki hands Daniel Cox the new 100-400mm zoom lens for a shoot in Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico.

The first plan was for two Panasonic engineers to fly to Bozeman to hand deliver the two lenses. That plan got scratched due to production scheduling. The next plan was about a week later than the original and with a goal of just getting the lenses to me ASAP via FedEx overnight. By this time I had booked my tickets to Albuquerque when round three materialized which included another production issue. Not unusual when you consider these two lenses were built by hand and the first two to roll off the production table.

Dan, Henry Harrison and Panasonic Chief Engineer Takanori Yabuki at Apple Bee's in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Dan, Henry Harrison, and Panasonic Chief Engineer Takanori Yabuki at Applebee’s in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

So the new and final strategy? Send one Chief Engineer directly to Albuquerque, meet me there, hand deliver lenses after arriving at 8:00pm, take engineer to Applebee’s and feed engineer big American steak and one very tall beer, put engineer to bed in Ramada Hotel whereupon the next morning at 8:00am he boards the next flight back to Osaka. Wow… poor Yabuki san! So that’s how the week of December 8th. began.

Henry Harrison Goes Behind the Scenes

When we got the go ahead for this assignment I immediately thought it might be interesting to do a behind the scenes video. I spoke to the folks at Panasonic and they agreed. To get it rolling I contacted friend and fellow storyteller Henry Harrison who I met through my work with Polar Bears International. Tanya booked Henry a ticket and we were on our way.

December 8, 2015

Henry and I get to Albuquerque and make our way south down highway 25 to the little town of Socorro, New Mexico. The Holiday Inn was our base for the next week which was only 15-20 minutes from the edges of Bosque del Apache NWR. Just outside the refuge is a tiny, sleepy town known as San Antonio. Not THE San Antonio in Texas, but the San Antonio of New Mexico variety.

The Buckhorn tavern. San Antonio, New Mexico.

The Buckhorn tavern, San Antonio, New Mexico. Lumix GX8 with Olympus 12mm F/2.0 lens, ISO 200

This San Antonio has one street with a gas station, an auto repair garage, and a very photogenic bar called the Buckhorn.  All of this just a few miles before the boundaries of Bosque del Apache which is an important part of the of the wildlife refuge system throughout the United States.

Me shooting the 100-400mm hand held zoomed all the way out to 400mm.

Me shooting the 100-400mm hand-held zoomed all the way out to 400mm.

The official Bosque del Apache website describes that it was, “Established in 1939 to provide a critical stopover for migrating waterfowl, the refuge is well known for the thousands of sandhill cranes, geese and other waterfowl that winter here each year.

Gray-colored thrush sits atop a NWR sign. Bosque del Apache, NWR. New Mexico.

A Say’s Phoebe sits atop a NWR sign, Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico. Lumix GX8 with 100-400mm Leica Vario-Elmar zoom

Situated between the Chupadera Mountains to the west and the San Pascual Mountains to the east, the 57,331-acre refuge harbors a wild stretch of the Rio Grande, a ribbon of cottonwood and willow trees visible on the landscape from distant mesas.”

In other words, it’s a wildlife oasis in the middle of a very dry and arid region that sits nearly a mile high and surrounded by a landscape full of mesquite trees and some cottonwoods.

A sign explains the dedicated work of John P. Taylor who spent his time at the refuge as a biologist and outspoken supporter of this wonderful ecosystem. John apparently died at an early age and is memorialized throughout the refuge for his dedicated work.

A sign explains the dedicated work of John P. Taylor who spent his time at the refuge as a biologist and outspoken supporter of this wonderful ecosystem. John apparently died at an early age and is memorialized throughout the refuge for his dedicated work. This is a link to John’s memorial and history. Must have been an amazing guy.

There are not many places in the states that you can be pretty much be guaranteed there will be enough subjects for a wildlife assignment, but Bosque didn’t let us down.

Henry and I arrived late the morning of the 8th. picked up our rental car and drove for the refugee. We spent that afternoon and evening photographing and getting to know the area. I had visited Basque in the 90’s but it seemed completely different.

Sandhill cranes in flight against a beautiful sunset at Bosque Del Apache NWR. New Mexico. Lumix GX8 with 12-35mm F/2.8 ISO200

Sandhill cranes in flight against a beautiful sunset at Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico. Lumix GX8 with 12-35mm F/2.8, ISO200

There are lots of lakes and small ponds, corn fields, and tilled farm land. Much of it’s flooded, all of it for the benefit of the migrating geese, cranes, and a multitude of smaller waterfowl. We explored the north and south loop but the hot spots were the two small ponds at the very entrance to the refuge. Here we found not only geese and cranes but several dozen photographers. Lots of big lenses and even bigger tripods.

Snow geese lift off from a small pond at Bosque del Apache NWR. New Mexico. Lumix GX8 with 100-400mm zoom. ISO 320

Snow geese lift off from a small pond at Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico. Lumix GX8 with 100-400mm zoom, ISO 320

Only one or two people over the course of a week made contact with  me. Nobody had any idea nor did anyone care that I was shooting something new. Nobody had any clue, I was just a guy on the sidelines shooting some small little camera, a comparatively small lens, a photographer who obviously wasn’t really serious. How could he be? He’s got such small camera equipment?

Henry Harrison on the job with a group of other photographers at Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico.

Henry Harrison on the job with a group of other photographers at Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico. Lumix GX8 with 12-35mm F/2.8 in Panoramic Mode, image stitched in camera, ISO 100

That’s exactly what I love about these new Lumix cameras and lenses. They draw almost no attention which is extremely helpful when shooting on the streets of Europe during some of our Cultural Photographic Tours. People are not intimidated by such small photography tools. They don’t see you as a professional, they all think you’re a tourist and subjects drop their guard. This is a very underrated benefit of the Micro Four Thirds cameras that Panasonic is making. It also worked to my advantage during my shoot at Bosque since I was not allowed to discuss anything about this lens and thankfully almost nobody approached me.

Snow geese resting mid morning. Bosque del Apache NWR. New Mexico. Lumix GX8 with 100-400mm lens. ISO 200

Snow geese resting mid-morning, Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico. Lumix GX8 with 100-400mm lens, ISO 200

Henry spent the next three days shooting with me, covering everything from our 5:30am sunrises to the 6:00pm sunsets and everything in between.

Henry Harrison filming a painted turtle at the Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. New Mexico,

Henry Harrison filming a painted turtle at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico. Lumix GX8 with 12-35mm F/2.8

Subjects included a painted turtle, songbirds, Canada geese, the obvious snow geese and sandhill cranes as well as mule deer and the collared peccary. There were many different species of ducks including the northern shoveler, pintails, mallards, widgeons, and coots. Subjects galore, especially birds which is great subject matter for a lens that reaches out to 800mm.

This Was Not a Test Report

The week I spent with these two new lenses was a great time to get an idea if Panasonic is on track with this greatly anticipated and soon-to-be highly coveted new lens. I chose not to write a specific report on the details of this new optic since the two I was shooting were basically prototypes, literally built by hand and somewhat different than what we will soon see. I will say that the auto focus was exceptionally fast and accurate and the glass is extremely sharp. It focuses as close as 1.3 meters or 4.2 feet and I shot the image of a goose feather below that was about three inches in length to give you an example.

Snow goose feather lies in the grass. Bosque del Apache NWR. New Mexico

Snow goose feather lies in the grass. Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico. Photographed at 400mm at closest focus setting of 4.2 feet with GX8 and 100-400mm lens

The 100-400mm is not light but it’s not heavy. It’s a reasonable weight for the quality build and number of elements a lens of this range requires. I’ll be writing more about the details once I get a final version to shoot and test. Until then, please enjoy the gallery of images below that were all shot with the new Leica Lumix 100-400mm zoom. This is the lens I’ve been hoping for and it’s an amazing time to be enjoying photography. The days of 12-pound telephotos is nearing an end!

Specifications of the New Lens

LEICA DG VARIO-ELMAR 100-400mm / F4.0-6.3 ASPH. / POWER O.I.S.

 

Lens Construction

20 elements in 13 groups  (1 aspherical ED lens, 1 UED lens, 2 ED lenses)

Nano Surface Coating

Mount

Micro Four Thirds mount

Optical Image Stabilizer

Yes (POWER O.I.S.)

Focal Length

f=100-400mm (35mm camera equivalent 200-800mm)

Aperture Type

9 diaphragm blades / Circular aperture diaphragm

Maximum Aperture

F4.0(Wide) – F6.3(Tele)

Minimum Aperture

F22

Closest Focusing Distance

FULL:1.3m/4.27ft, LIMIT:5.0m/16.4ft

Maximum Magnification

Approx. 0.25x / 0.5x (35mm camera equivalent)

Diagonal Angle of View

12°(Wide) to 3.1°(TELE)

Filter Size

φ72mm / 2.8in

Max. Diameter

φ83mm / 3.3in

Overall Length

Approx. 171.5mm / 6.75in (from the tip of the lens to the base side of the lens mount)

Weight

Approx. 985g / 34.74oz (excluding lens cap, lens rear cap, lens hood and external tripod mount)

Standard Accessories

Lens cap, Lens rear cap, Lens storage bag, External tripod mount, Lens hood

Below is a photo gallery slide show of the ad campaign selects I shot during the assignment. All were shot with the Lumix GX8 and the new 100-400mm lens.

You can also see the same images in a more relaxing manner by clicking on this link Lumix 100-400mm Ad Campaign Selects. You may have to signup for a PhotoShelter account for this presentation.

Add Your Voice!
There are 144 comments on this post…
  1. Jacob DOn Jul. 4th, 2017 (3 months ago)

    Dear Daniel,
    I was reading a review that there was a problem with the zoom ring that is not working smoothly.
    Is that correct?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jul. 5th, 2017 (3 months ago)

      Jacob,

      Unfortunately, I have to agree that the critique of the 100-400mm’s zoom ring is accurate. However, it depends on when the lens was built as to how much of a problem it really is. My first 100-400mm was/is very stiff and not silky smooth through the entire range. I’ve since bought a second one which was built at least a year later than the first, and this new one is much, much improved. Is it as smooth as the zoom mechanism on the Vario 35-100mm? Not even close. But it is acceptable and much better than the first one. It’s very strange and somewhat disappointing that the engineers at Lumix haven’t been able to fix this issue, though they have improved it. I do know a silky smooth zoom mechanism is possible on a lens of this range since the Fuji 100-400mm I tested was as smooth and consistent as any zoom I’ve ever used. My guess is this issue will eventually be sorted out since the one thing that Panasonic is relentless on is improving their products.

      I wished I could tell you that what you heard is not accurate, but I’m never one to gloss things over if the shoe fits. Even if it’s someone or something I truly believe in. That said, I’ve been using the 100-400mm ever since it was released and it’s provided tens of thousands of quality images for me. I have no interest in going back to what I used to shoot, the Nikon system, that does offer a bit smoother zoom. Nor do I have any interest in switching to the Fuji system for the virtually perfect feel of their 100-400mm. Why? Becuase Panasonic’s Lumix system is overall considerably smaller than both of these other systems. The Lumix system costs considerably less than what I would have to pay for a similar 200-800mm equivalent lens with Nikon. AND the autofocus in the Leica 100-400mm is as good as anything I shot with Nikon and a huge advantage over my experience with the Fuji cameras.

      So in short, the Leica 100-400mm could be smoother, and there is room for additional improvement, but even with this flaw, it is a spectacular lens that I wouldn’t trade for anything else I’ve seen to date.

  2. Ken MonahanOn Mar. 5th, 2017 (7 months ago)

    Hi Daniel,
    Great work on this site! I have picked up some excellent tips for BIF. A quick “product defect” question: have you (or any followers) noticed that taking on and off the bigger hood causes the paint to wear off the top edge of the built in hood?
    Thanks!
    Ken

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 5th, 2017 (7 months ago)

      I’ve not experienced that issue, Ken. Maybe we will hear from others if they have. Keep in mind, that if you’re missing a little paint it just makes people think you’re a professional. And, I tell my students all the time, if your gear looks brand new, you’re not having enough fun

    • John PedersenOn Jul. 15th, 2017 (2 months ago)

      There seems to be a silicone band behind the screw on the large hood. That would probably prevent any marking of the lens’s mini hood I would think.

  3. John creedyOn Nov. 22nd, 2016 (10 months ago)

    Hi Dan. I currently use 100-300 Pan zoom on gx7 for bird flight and Astro subjects as favourites. With astrotrac I can get reasonable images of andromeda galaxy and Orion Nebula even with single exposures…no stacking. I want to stretch the magnification and find 300 lens setting delivers about x18 compared with my x20 optical zoom snap lumix the 400 should give around x24 in real terms. Question is…the image sharpness at 300mm with my lens is not brilliant. Will the Leica at 400mm be sharper? And secondly…is the 400mm lens sharpest at lower focal length than at 400mm maximum zoom? This may just be the start of a detailed discussion…I am an enthusiastic image photographer and interested in the tech details as they relate to delivering better images, not as an interest in themselves. I also use a Swarovski 95 birding scope with my gx7 for astrophotographery which delivers x30 to x70 magnification and is more like a small telescope. The gx7 extended zoom function is really useful with small image settings as this effectively doubles the image size (dimensions not just area) so the 400mm lens would then equal around 1600mm vs a full frame camera…and it will be image stabilised too!!! Wish I could afford one! The only limitation with my luminous gx7 is the maximum 2 minutes exposure time, but I still get andromeda beautifully at just 60 seconds or so with the astrotrac. Hope you can comment on image sharpness questions. Thanks.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Nov. 22nd, 2016 (10 months ago)

      John, without a doubt you’ll find the 100-400mm a big step up from the 100-300mm. I’ve not found a big difference between the shorter focal lengths and 400mm. The biggest culprit to soft images at 400mm is making sure you’re using good technique and even though the lens is well stabilized, if the subject is moving at 400mm (800mm equivalent), you’ll have soft images. As far as using this lens for astro photography I’m completely useless on that subject since I’ve never done astro work but you piqued my interest and I just googled the Astrotrak you mentioned. Looks interesting. Let me know if you ahave any other questions and thanks for your input.

  4. Alain WongOn Aug. 2nd, 2016

    Hi Daniel,

    I just wanted to stop and say amazing work. It’s a pleasure reading your articles!

    I’m an owner of two GH4s and an avid m43 fan— I agree with you that we live in a special time where the tools for photography (and video) are getting more and more enjoyable to use because they are shrinking in size. This particular lens is breaking new grounds.

    Keep up the good work, and I look forward to embarking on one of your photo tours in the future.

    Best,
    Alain

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Aug. 2nd, 2016

      Thanks for the nice comments Alain. Always appreciate hearing from our readers. Hope to meet you sometime and please stop by often.

  5. Stephanie BrandOn Jul. 4th, 2016

    Hi Dan,
    As a EM-1 owner, trying to figure out whether the Olym 300mm or the Leica-Lumix 100-400mm is better for my needs, I’m very interested in whether or not you got to do any serious shooting with the 100-400 on an EM-1 body. If so, your thoughts and images would be most welcome.
    Stephanie

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jul. 9th, 2016

      Stephanie, I have both lenses and I’m very happy with each. I have not done a great deal of shooting with either on the Olympus EM-1 but the several hundred frames I have used these lenses on the Olympus, both are excellent. It really comes down to whether you need the added light gathering ability of the Olympus.

      Brown bear, cubs playing, Katmai National Park, Alaska.

      Brown bear, cubs playing, Alaska. Lumix GH4 with limps 300mm F/4

      Atlantic puffin shot with the Lumix GX8 and 100-400mm lens

      Atlantic puffin shot with the Lumix GX8 and 100-400mm lens

  6. MichaelOn Jul. 1st, 2016

    Have been roaming about shooting the 100-400mm Panasonic for two weeks with my OMD EM1, closeup, 10-100 ft, shots are crisp, but shooting wild life, city and country side, at 150 ft and beyond are soft even using a tripod, 500/sec. W/manual focus is not crisp?
    Is there a suggested protocol to set up the EM1 for this lens?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jul. 9th, 2016

      As far as I know there should be nothing you have to “set up”. Will try and test my lens in this situation with the Om-D Em-1. When on tripod are you turning the IS off? Panasonic recommends turning off IS when on tripod.

  7. Stuart BrontmanOn May. 25th, 2016

    I too am experiencing the so-called back focus with my P/L 100-400mm. I have not quantified which situations seem to be most problematic, but clearly I get shots where the focus is behind my intended target. I’ve seen it with relatively close shots (10 feet) and as far as 50-60 feet. This is not to say all my shots are experiencing this, but enough do that it’s a bit disconcerting. I’m planning on spending a lot of time over Memorial Day weekend trying to figure out workarounds. I’ve had it for about two weeks and overall like it. I’ve had my best success with my new GX85 and moderate success with my GH4. The GX8 has been my least successful test unit – I have no idea why.

    Will I keep this lens? I’ll decide by the end of the weekend. The good shots are REALLY good, so I’m hoping I can figure this out. I’ve seen some of my shots on this lens astound me with clarity and contrast, so I’d hate to give that up. There are not many alternatives other than going with a heavier lens and a Metabones adapter. That kind of defeats the purpose and pleasure of the m43 system.

    Dan, your review and dialogue about this lens helped convince me to get it. I’ll keep watching this space for updates.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 26th, 2016

      Stewart, please keep me up to speed with what you find. I’ve been having no issues with the production version of my 100-400mm. There have been a few reports of people having back focus problems but so far it’s not common. I do want to keep track of this however and I hope that anyone experiencing this problem reports it here on the Blog. Thanks for your input.

  8. Alain TownerOn May. 19th, 2016

    Hello there Daniel

    You made this lens look very attractive with your report and magnificient photos.
    I own a Sony A6000 , I don’t suppose this lens is compatible right ?

    Keep up the good work =D

    Alain

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 19th, 2016

      Alain, unfortunately no, it is not compatible with the Sony system. Sony, Nikon and Canon are all forcing photographers to choose one system, on manufacturer. The fact that Micro Four Thirds has two major players and others coming onboard makes this a very interesting system choice. We now have so many incredible lenses and the system is relatively new.

  9. Mike FOn May. 18th, 2016

    Hi Dan .. Everyone ..
    Nice blogs well informed ..
    Just a piece of info for the Olympus shooters which I’ve used (pain in the a** that it is !!)
    Forgot to mention I’ve shot both Panasonic and Olympus.

    Oly has a feature where you can fine tune your lenses to the camera .. Yes it’s V time consuming but the benefits for the effort are the reward themselves.

    I’ve currently the Olympus 40-150 with the 1.4 and had problems with its out of the box focus, however taking the time and effort I managed to tune it to my camera and the images are v sharp .. Like individual animal fur – pin sharp definition.

    I’ve even used the lens focus tune for Panasonic lenses and had good results.
    So hopefully when the lottery comes in ill be getting the Panasonic.

    Happy snapping
    Mike (UK)

  10. Lorraine CousinsOn May. 14th, 2016

    I purchased a Panasonic 100-400 a couple of weeks ago from Getmany to put on my Olympus EM1. Since I live on a riverbank I have plenty of opportunity to photograph birds and other wildlife. I was really excited to get this lens as I feel Olympus has missed a trick here – it’s what wildlife photographers are crying out for. I shot a batch of photos and the lens seemed to focus quickly and all looked sharp in the viewfinder. However when viewed in LR they were out of focus. I tried switching the IS off on the lens first and then on the Olympus body but the results were the same. The other thing I had problems with was the stiffness in the zoom ring which made jerky zooming. As much as I really wanted to live this lens I had to return it. I just hope Olympus will bring out this zoom lens one day. I love my 40-150 with 1.4 extender but need a bigger reach. I think a zoom is essential for birds and wildlife so the new Okympus 300 won’t cut it for me.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 14th, 2016

      Lorraine, Sorry to hear of your troubles. I will be shooting the 100-400mm this next month with the Olympus OM-D EM-1 and will report on my findings.

    • MichaelOn Jul. 1st, 2016

      Lorraine, your critique echoes my experience exactly, as you said the Zuiko 40-150mm is a gem but not long enough, the Pansonic 100-400mm is a rough contender, stiff zoom, fuzzy focus!

    • DeanOn Aug. 1st, 2016

      I just returned my second PL 100-400mm. I took it with me to Svalbard as a “back up” to my Olympus 40-150mm and 300mm Pro lenses. I used an E-M1 and E-M5 II with them. I found the zoom ring so stiff that it was almost unusable. This was particularly obvious compared with the “butter smooth” zooming on the 40-150mm. And, image quality was by approximate estimation, 20% less sharp than both of the Olympus Pro lenses. I really, really wanted to like the PL 100-400. However, this second copy (I had a very early copy in January) I am convinced that PL has a problem! (Chris Niccolis of The Camera Store has also been highly critical of the lens for its poor zooming.) Olympus has applied for a patent for a 300-500mm f2.8-4.0 Pro lens. With the new 12-100mm f4.0 Pro lens, it looks like we will have a great range of lenses in the not-too-distant future.

      Dan — If you have their ear at Panasonic, please let them know that there are some serious issues with the PL 100-400. It is a great concept poorly executed and certainly not up to the standard set by their 42.5mm f1.2 (which is one of the best lenses I’ve ever owned).

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Aug. 1st, 2016

      Dean,

      Sorry you’ve had difficulties getting a 100-400mm to meet your needs. I can’t argue that the zoom ring is much more stiff than I would like, by now it’s a well known issue. Has it stopped me form getting great images from this lens? Not in the least. The stiffness definitely doesn’t make zooming a problem. It’s mostly a perception issue, where our perception of what we expect is different than what we have. As far as limiting the quality of the lens, it’s not been a problem for my work at all. Do I wish it were smoother? I most certainly do and I will admit to being less than totally happy with it myself, mainly because I know Panasonic can do better. The zoom mechanism in their 35-100 and 12-35 is as good as any I’ve ever used.

      Bare-faced Curassow, Pantanal, Brazil

      Bare-faced Curassow, Pantanal, Brazil

      You’re perceived observation that it’s 20% less sharp than the Olympus lenses is a bit questionable. Not sure how you came up with that percentage. I do know that my studio tests show it’s definitely not as sharp as the Olympus 300mm F/4 but I’ve not seen it to be a problem in actual field use. I do have all three, the Olympus 40-150mm F/2.8, 300mm F/4 and the new Leica 100-400mm. The Olympus 300mm is exceptional but having the 100-400mm as well, with it’s ability to zoom, has added many exceptional images to my collection over the past several months since I’ve been shooting it. I use the Olympus lenses when the light fades, but when the light is good the Leica is my go to lens. I personally think you’re splitting hairs but that’ your purgative. I feel the 100-400mm is a great first attempt and it’s proving to Panasonic there are a lot of shooters who want such as lens. I also agree with your decision to send the lens back if it’s not what you expect. That will also prove there are very finicky people who demand more and I believe that’s good for the long term. All of that said, I feel we’re lucky to have both options, even if one does feel like it could use a shot of WD40:)

  11. RobertOn Apr. 28th, 2016

    I’m just now catching wind of some of the focus/back focusing issues some are having.
    So far I’ve only had issues close focusing, e.g. 10-20 feet, after long focusing. True close focusing at ‘macro’ level has not been a problem.
    Yet the Leica 100-400mm is my everywhere everyday carry and I’m blessed in that I have a choice of several systems and many lenses to choose from. The Leica 100-400mm is not perfect. I accept that handily, in fact I was shooting yesterday with an EOS 500mm IS II and was quickly reminded why I absolutely love this small but powerful Leica.
    I’m fully confident that Panasonic will solve the problem that some are having.

    Bombus on apple
  12. AlanOn Apr. 19th, 2016

    Daniel,

    I’m really enjoying birding with my new 100-400 on a Panasonic G7, but it’s naked (no UV/Haze filter). Do you shoot your lenses naked or with protection? I’m an addicted pixel peeper trying to eek out every bit of sharpness possible, so I am fearful of adding a layer that Panasonic/Leica didn’t design into the lens.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Apr. 19th, 2016

      Alan, typically I put a protective UV filter on all my lenses. But with this lens I’m waiting for my production version to see if I feel comfortable adding more glass. I’ve run some tests, that will show the sharpness of this lens compared to my Nikon 80-400mm a Fuji 80-400mm, and the Olympus 300mm F/4. I plan to post these results soon. Without spilling the beans, seeing the results makes me concerned about placing any more glass between the camera and the subject. Stay tuned.

  13. Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

    Daniel J. CoxOn Apr. 15th, 2016

    I’ve added a comment from one of our Explorer’s, Ray Hirsch, below. Ray sent me this info via email and I thought it would be helpful for our readers.

    Hi Dan,
    Finally received my Lumix 100-400mm lens and had a chance to compare with Oly 40-150+1.4x.
    From my tests comparing the same scene @ 420mm using the both lenses on GX8, the two compare very favorably. The Oly might be a tad sharper in the corners, but no big deal. When zoomed all the way out to 400mm the sharpness of the Lumix definitely falls off perceptively, but I can’t say I find that surprising. My guess is that the new Oly 300mm w/wo 1.4x will be notably better, but I don’t have one to make that compare. I had hoped that the Lumix would be the “miracle” lens all the way out, but I suspect there may be a place in the World for the Oly 300mm. Will be waiting to hear what you are getting out of the Oly 300mm. In the mean time the Lumix has definitely found it’s place in the bag for the 200mm – 500mm range which is the great bulk of the tele shooting I do.

    All the best,

    Ray

  14. Ann BaldwinOn Apr. 14th, 2016

    I started shooting with my Panasonic 100-400mm lens today! However, I am struggling with the stiffness of the zoom. i’m shooting wildlife and simply can’t move in and out fast enough. Is it just my lens, or are they all like this, do you think?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Apr. 15th, 2016

      Ann, thanks for sharing your experience with our readers. Unfortunately, I don’t have a production version of this lens yet. I still only have a preproduction model. In the preproduction model, I felt the same issue you’re experiencing and I reported this to my Panasonic engineering team. I do think that over time the stiffness will subside. The one think you may want to check is to make sure the lens tightening lock is not set in the on position. That’s the narrow ring just beyond the zoom ring towards the front of the lens. This can be adjusted and can sometimes get set to On or almost on which restricts the movement of the zoom. Check this and stop back to let me know if this was the issue.

  15. Julius KovatchOn Apr. 13th, 2016

    Hi Daniel,
    I have to agree with the previously mentioned observations since my 100-400mm lens also have a back focus issue.
    On my Olympus E-M1 the images are definitely soft at 300-400mm. However since the E-M1 fortunately has a Lens AF adjustment feature with a -10 unit adjustment my images are excellent at 300-400mm, actually slightly sharper than with my GX8 which seems to be a hit and miss, some pictures are sharp at 400mm, while some of them are soft.
    I am fortunate enough to have the new Olympus 300mm 1:4 IS Pro lens also which is definitely a notch above this one and absolutely no focus issues with it on any of my cameras, E-M1 E-M5 II, GX8, GH4
    I hope Panasonic will hear about this since it does not seem to be a coincident and fix it with firmware update.
    I am getting a bit disappointed to get it too soon before all the initial issues are worked out of this lens.

  16. Stefan SchmidtOn Apr. 11th, 2016

    Hi Daniel!
    I love this blog and I was really impressed with the video on Panasonic 100-400 lens. So much so that I went to my favourite camerashop last week tio try it out. Since I own an Olympus EM-1 I asked the seller to put the lens om that body and then I went out on the street for some testshooting. (Yes I know, it really is a fantastic service! I have shopped there for several years but I am still Amazed that they let me borrow a camera and lens during my lunchhour.) The sky was blue and the light was almost harsh and very contrasty. As I walked down the avenue I stopped here and there to shoot some birds, some workers who cut up the street, some people and so on. I had set the focuspoint to the middle and used Single-AF only to be sure every image was in focus before the shot. When I got back to the store the seller and I looked at the shots and to our surprise, what looked tack sharp in the viewfinder often was quite soft at 400 mm. At the same time, we found some shots here and there that was perfectly sharp at 400 m and the same setting. This baffled us until I noticed a picture of a group of workers that was “soft”. A close inspection revealed that it was tack sharp – behind the person I focused on. We had not seen it before because some pictures of the birds had just blue sky in the background. The wierd thing was that the focuspoint was smaller than the face i focused on so there was no way that I accidentally had focused on the bacground. After discovering this we found that around 20 % of the shots indeed was “backfocused” and I was so surprised. Until now I would have said that would be impossible since the focus i set on the sensor itself. Something was sharp, not just what I was focusing at.
    This made me not buy the lens right there and now I am looking for a solution for this. I might also add that I got to borrow a GX8 with the lens to see if it would perform better but to no avail. the seller was truly baffled! The only explination I can muster is that the lens I got to try might have been a sample lens. I suspect this because the store had not got a shipment yet and only had that demolens. Since I have been waiting for this lens for quite a while I wonder if you know about this behaviour? Is it something that will be working with a new firmware?

    With my best regards

    Stefan Schmidt

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Apr. 11th, 2016

      Stefan, I HAVE seen this behavior and was hoping it was just my lens which is a preproduction sample. I too never expected to see back focus on a system that is focusing on the sensor. The camera I’ve sen this issue with is the Lumix GX8, not sure about other bodies. I’ve mentioned this to the folks at Panasonic and I’m hopeful they are working on a fix. I appreciate you sharing this detailed example of what you shot.

    • Julius KovatchOn Apr. 13th, 2016

      Hi Stefan,
      As you can see it from my comments above, I purchased the lens and having the same kind of problems as you did when you tried it. In my Olympus E-M1 the -10 AF adjustment fixed this problem and pretty consistently getting good (enough) results. I will never reach the same level of sharpness what I have with my E-M1 with the 300mm 1:4 IS Pro+1.4x wide open at f/5.6.
      On my GX8 just like you found it is a “hit and miss” situation, getting good enough results but then a couple of real soft ones. The AF is very inconsistent with this lens on my GX8 camera.

  17. Julius KovatchOn Mar. 16th, 2016

    Daniel,
    Thank you for your kind response, GREAT info, since I was using release priority in my Nikons as well.
    Sorry, but I forgot one more question, did you use Medium burst speed (4 frames/sec) or High (6 frames/sec)?
    I really appreciate that you sharing with us these important info.
    Thanks again,
    Julius

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 16th, 2016

      All the way up to 6 FPS or whatever the highest frame rate the GX8 shoots in AF-C. My pleasure, happy to help. It’s all about having fun with your photography and I can’t think of anything more fun than photographing flying birds:)

  18. Julius KovatchOn Mar. 14th, 2016

    Daniel,
    On the flying birds I assume you used CF=Continuous AF, did you use group of focusing points is single area and also did you have the CF in Release Priority or Focus Priority.
    Would appreciate the info.
    Thank you,
    Julius

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 14th, 2016

      Julius, All good questions. I plan to write up a full post on the settings I used but for now here are the answers to your questions.

      1). Yes, C-AF for continues auto focus

      2). I did use group AF

      3). C-AF was set to Focus Priority. In my nikons I used to use Release Priority but have found the Lumix to be best in Focus Priority.

      Thats for the questions and I’ll be getting a full post out in the next few days on all the details and settings of the GX8 was set to for the flying birds I host in Japan.

  19. RobertOn Mar. 12th, 2016

    Daniel,
    Just saw your test vid out of Hokkaido with the Leica 100-400mm !!! You cannot get any more real world testing than those snow scenes !!!
    The BIFs you nailed of the Stellar’s and White-tailed looked awesome. The vids looked fantastic. Weather sealing proven. The reviewers with all the charts/graphs in the world cannot compete with that review.
    I’m sure you saw on one of the talking head forums some posturing that some of the shots were soft ???? I think out of all the shots ~and as a future owner I’m most curious so I studied them over really hard~ maybe tw0 of the Macaques were a touch soft but I have a theory on that–your opinion please=
    The monkeys are sitting in a heated pool, temps in their immediate environ probably 85-90F, you the photographer are 10-20 feet away in a temp envelope of what 20F ? I’ve seen it time and time again failing while trying to shoot through a steep temperature gradient from the passengers side of a heated car shooting out the drivers window into super cold air.
    OK, just a theory….curious if you see merit in it.

    Regardless the ship date is now just around the corner. The better half has been enjoying the Oly 300/4 for 10 days now…no doubt it is impressive but this past week on a shoot in Florida not once or twice she was too long in focal length and no way to move back unless she wanted to swim with gators!

    Now a request. Can you think of a way to order an extra foot for the 100-400???? I just hate having to put a tripod plate on this beauty. If I can find an extra I plan on having the local machine shop ‘arca-swiss’ one.
    Thanks again for a truly compelling and compelling review.
    Robert

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 12th, 2016

      Hi Robert,

      Glad you liked the video on my recent shoot in Japan. Your understanding of what might have caused less than stellar sharp images of the Japanese macaques, while they were “hot tubbing”, is spot on. You’re a credit to some of the deeper thinkers out there:) There were many times, while shooting the macaques in the thermal pool, I had to wait for the steam to clear to even see them.

      Regarding your comment about comments suggesting some of the images were soft; no I haven’t seen those comments. Would love to respond if you can direct me to the proper channels.

      Thanks for writing in and adding your voice. I’m grateful that for whatever reason, the Corkboard/Blog here at Natural Exposures, seems to attract those with the ability to process information better than some readers of other forums. We’re grateful for well thought out, critical thinking. Stop by anytime. I love hearing from our readers.

  20. tmjOn Mar. 11th, 2016

    I have a question regarding the GX8. I’ve been shooting 4K shots and extracted the image (on camera) but my images seems to be always 2,3 meg jpg file. I keep hearing that the 4K shot images are 8meg. What am I missing ? Thanks in advance!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 11th, 2016

      Tmj, I think you are confusing the actual physical size of the overall jpeg file with pixel dimensions of the image itself. When you extract a frame from the 4K Photo Mode video you are getting a file that is equivalent to an 8 megapixel sensor. That file is output as a jpeg that is listed in megabytes not megapixels. A bit confusing in terms being used but one is the size of the file and one is the number of pixels that produced the file. Your file sizes are in the right ball park for a sensor that produced an 8 megapixel image.

  21. DanOn Mar. 10th, 2016

    Do you recommend use of electronic shutter with GX8 on wildlife photos?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 10th, 2016

      Only when I need total silence. It’s a great tool we never had with film and tradition DSLR’s. My Nikons had a so called Quite Mode but it’s like dropping a brick compared to the Silent Mode in the Lumix system. But in general, no, I don’t find a use for it very often.

  22. LynOn Mar. 10th, 2016

    Can you tell me which camera is best for this lens, the GX8 or GH4? Or wait till the GH5 comes out? I’m going to use it for birding and other wildlife.

    Thanks

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 10th, 2016

      Lyn, I’m a huge fan of the GH4 due to what I feel are it’s superior ergonomics. That said, the GX8 definitely has the newest technology and is almost two years newer than the GH4, therefore I think the GX8 has an advantage. As far as the so called “GH5” which we have no idea will be named as such, I really think that camera is at least 6-12 months off in to the future. The great thing about this MFT system is the equipment is so inexpensive compared to my days with Nikon. The GX8 now sells for just over $800.00US. It was the inexpensive prices of MFT that got me to start trying it. If you decide you don’t like the GX8 you are out very little cash and even less if you get half on eBay or other online sales site. I would say give the GX8 a try and start building from there. I’m confident you won’t be disappointed.

  23. DanOn Mar. 9th, 2016

    Those who are interested in review of GX8 from dpreview
    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/panasonic-lumix-dmc-gx8-review?utm_campaign=internal-link&utm_source=features-default&utm_medium=homepage-block&ref=features-default

  24. Jesper JønssonOn Mar. 4th, 2016

    Hi – and thanks for sharing on your great Blog here 🙂

    You mention back in Jan, that you were planning to try out this 100-400 beauty on a E-M1 body, and for me – haveing the E-M1 w. 40-150 Pro (+1,4 ext) and needing more reach – I would be very interested in hearing how this went? – and how about IS? – did you have both in body IS and in Lens OIS enablet?

    Thanks in advance

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 5th, 2016

      Jesper, I have had a chance to use the new 100-400mm on the Olympus OM-D EM-1. I plan to write more a bit later but in short it does work though the Olympus body definitely searches more than the Lumix GH4 and the GX8 bodies. Not sure why that would be be but there is something less than perfect when using on the Olympus camera. With the OM-D EM-1, which does have in body IS, I was unable to determine if both the lens and the camera IS were working together. I need to do more test. Sorry for the delay on these tests Iv’e been traveling in Japan.

  25. Mikael SpetzOn Mar. 1st, 2016

    Hi Daniel

    Thanks for a great review and images. I own a GH4 and wonder if you have shoot any images with the 100-400 Leica lens and the GH4? Didn’t see anything in the comments or the review. I’m concerned about if the OIS on the 100-400 lens is enough since the GH4 doesn’t have in body OIS. I can of course use a tripod. I prefer to shoot handheld if possible.

    Cheers,

    Mikael

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 2nd, 2016

      Michael,

      Great question. I need to run some tests. I do have the GH4 and will get back to you.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 2nd, 2016

      Michael, I just uploaded my new test photos shot with the Lumix GH4 and the new 100-400mm Leica lens. Amazingly I was able to get razor sharp images, hand holding at shutter speeds as slow as 1/15th. of a second. Thanks for the question and the inspiration to try this with my favorite camera of all the Lumix bodies.

  26. DanOn Feb. 29th, 2016

    This link gives technical evaluation of the lens
    https://www.ephotozine.com/article/panasonic-leica-dg-vario-elmar-100-400mm-f-4-0-6-3-asph-review-28971

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Feb. 29th, 2016

      Thanks for this link Dan. Had not seen this yet. There evaluation on all the ranges from 100-400mm pretty much match what I’ve found. I’m still shooting the prototype and have been promised a finished lens in a few weeks. I’m hopeful Panasonic might improve the sharpness at 400mm in the final version. Even so, it’s still much better than any other of the telephoto lenses I’ve tried in the Lumix line although not as sharp as the Olympus 40-150mm zoom. The Olympus is one of the sharpest lenses I’ve ever shot. Thankfully we can use the Olympus lenses on our Lumix cameras. I’m a huge fan of the Lumix cameras over the Olympus but Olympus is doing some mighty fine lenses.

  27. Julius KovatchOn Feb. 15th, 2016

    Hi Daniel,
    Thank you for the great information and excellent sample images from your trips.
    I have the Olympus E-M1 camera and just purchased the GX8 since it has 20MP and I have several Panasonic Lumix lenses which work on this camera with the dual IS (12-35 f/2.8, 35-100 f/2.8, Leica Nocticron f/1.2) and I have this new 100-400 on Preorder since January 6.
    My question is when you were shooting the Sandhill Cranes in Flight did you have the IS on or did you turn it off?
    Thank you in advance for your answer.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Feb. 15th, 2016

      Definitely used both IS in body of GX8 and in the 100-400mm lens. All the flight shots we taken hand held so the IS was very helpful. Thanks for stopping by to join the conversation.

  28. John PackardOn Feb. 12th, 2016

    Hi Dan-

    I’m so glad I found your site by searching for a review of the 100-400 PL lens! Great review. I’ve got your bookmark up on my Firefox browser dashboard for my most visited sites. I’ve got my 100-300 on eBay right now. I thought the sooner the better as I’m sure there will be many more going up for sale now. I’ve got to save up for this guy, but no problem, like everyone else, I’ve been anticipating this for long time. Really can’t wait to get it.

    One thing I want to mention after reading all the comments on this string is that it sounds like you are expecting the successor to the GH4 to have the features of the GX8. Since no one has addressed this, thought I’d just mention that the GH5 (I would sure expect they’d call it that) probably won’t have the in-body IS of the GX8. The reason being that this would interfere with the heat dissipation on the sensor for video and put a 30-minute limit on video length like the mirror does on a DSLR. The GH4 does not have a time limit on video length. Even though the GH4 is an amazing stills camera, it seems to me its video capabilities are more of primary concern to Panasonic than the stills capability, unlike the GX8 which is the reverse. So I can see them possibly releasing two versions of the GH5, one with the emphasis on video and the other on stills. This is just speculation on my part. What do you think?

    Also, I’m wondering why the Panasonic 7-14 isn’t weather sealed? I love that lens but it’s the only one that isn’t sealed, going from 7mm all the way up to 400mm now.

    I too am looking forward to seeing your Kenya photos! I’ll be using mine in South Africa later this year with my GH3s. I love that these cameras are true hybrids to let me do both high quality video and stills with such a discreet, light-weight package. I started with the GH2 and have been amazed with each new camera introduced by Panasonic.

    John

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Feb. 13th, 2016

      John, glad you’ve joined our Natural Exposures Blog conversation. With all due respect, I have to say, I don’t agree with you regarding the update to the GH4 (possibly called the GH5) not having 4K video with in body stabilization. I’m confident Panasonic will figure this problem out. I may be wrong, but Panasonic has a plethora of the worlds finest electronic engineers and they will solve this problem, if not with the GH5, it will happen at some point.

      I also don’t agree that Panasonic is only thinking about video. Their current cameras, the GX8, GH4, G7 are superb still photography machines that are equally impressive for their amazing video. The problem is not with the Panasonic Lumix technology, rather it’s with the lack of knowledge, from the general photographic community, that favor names they’re familiar with. Photographers are notorious for sticking with with something, ANYTHING, that has worked, often overlooking the newest technology that could actually be better. I know photographers who are still using manual exposure, all because it was manual exposure they were using, when they finally figured photography out. And by God that’s what they’re going to use today.

      I’m betting on Panasoinc Lumix cameras because they are a major electronics company and whether we like it or not, cameras today are all electronics. Once again, thanks for joining our conversation and I appreciate you adding your voice.

    • John PackardOn Feb. 15th, 2016

      Hi Dan- Yes, I agree that Panasonic is definitely NOT just thinking about video. I replaced all 5 of our Nikon cameras to GH3’s at the aerospace materials lab where I worked for 36 years before retiring. (I started with 4X5 format until our first digital camera- the Kodak DCS200) We were doing fracture analysis from failed airplane parts. I made several macro work stations with them with nice 32-inch monitors pivoting on the wall. The heat dissipation technology on the GH3 enabled us to have that super nice crisp live view all day long without overheating while composing macros with an engineer collaborating and able to see exactly what we’re capturing as the lighting is changed, so we could bring out just the right subtle details. Many other labs in the company duplicated my setup. If I hadn’t retired, I would be upgrading them to GH4’s or GH5’s! The trouble is, like you say, many people cannot think outside the box and limit themselves to what they’ve always known. The M4/3 world has really made both photography and videography fun and exciting for me! My wife says Panasonic should give me a commission with all the folks I’ve steered to their cameras:)
      To say that the GH4 has an emphasis on video takes nothing away from its photographic capability. It ranks toward the top in both worlds in my opinion. But, it does mean that they probably won’t be able to use the in-body IS unless they want to make stills the priority over video as they did on the GX7 and GX8. This is all spelled out by Lumix National Product Trainer Matt Frazer in a B&H panel discussion I saw just after the GH4 was introduced. You will find it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6mKJyhtCO0 You can hear him talk about this if you go in one hour, 3 minutes and 30 seconds. He finishes by saying “If we put an image stabilization in that camera (GH4) it will only be at the point when we have a better way to manage the heat”. Since metal transfers heat 10,000 times faster than air, I can’t see them finding a way around this. They have to couple the sensor to metal to channel the heat away. But hey, like you say, the Panasonic engineers have done some amazing things with these electronic marvels. So you never know…

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Oct. 2nd, 2016 (12 months ago)

      John, really sorry for the delay of posting your great input. I found seven comments in the Trash folder and yours was one of them. Great info and thanks for sharing.

  29. Dan OhOn Feb. 6th, 2016

    Dear Dan,

    Look’n forward to getting 100-400mm and use it with GX8 to take advantage of Dual IS. Mean while I own 100-300mm that Panasonic decided not to support Dual IS. Do I turn off 100-300mm Lens IS or leave it in on position? I called Panasonic and Tech support said to turn it off. When I turn off lens IS I can see a real noticeable shake through EVF.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Feb. 7th, 2016

      Dan, still checking on this. Will get back to you with an answer.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Feb. 8th, 2016

      Dan,

      From what I’m seeing myself and hearing from some of my Lumix colleague’s is to definitely keep the lens IS on. I’m sorry tech support is telling you to turn it of but that does not jive with what I’m seeing. The lens IS actually helps a great deal even without the in camera IS.

    • Dan OhOn Feb. 8th, 2016

      I can see it .. lens IS really helps to dampen hand motion at 600mm

  30. RobertOn Feb. 3rd, 2016

    Amazon says ‘This item will be released on March 25, 2016. ‘ Hoping this is true!
    An EOS 500mm arrived today but honestly I’m as much or more excited about the Leica 100-400mm.
    Only nags I can glean from the internet are-
    1. Lack of Arca-Swiss compatible foot
    2. The silly looking lens hood.
    With such a small market I doubt RRS or Kirk will generate a replacement foot 🙁
    Someone??? Mentioned a possible add-on hood but I cannot find any thing about that in stone.
    Daniel thanks for all the pre-production pics=enticing!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Feb. 3rd, 2016

      Robert, I’ve been told there is an additional lens hood that will be part of the lens package. As far as the foot is concerned, someone will most likely build it. I think this this lens is going to be very popular. Thanks for stopping by to add your voice.

  31. Izzy5On Jan. 18th, 2016

    In the past, I have had compatibility issues using Panasonic lenses on Olympus bodies, specifically on the E-M1 and E-M5. For example, I sold a Panasonic 25 mm because, intermittently, the frame rate would go way down. Sometimes, if I set the camera to a lower frame rate, the rate would actually be faster.

    I would welcome all comments and thoughts on how this lens will or is working on the Olympus bodies

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 18th, 2016

      Izzy, interesting you mention the frame rate issue. I’ve actually had similar issues with my Lumix lenses on my Lumix cameras. I’ve not been able to figure the frame rate thing out myself. Interesting to hear it happens with your Olympus gear as well. I haven’t had a chance to use the new 100-400mm on any Olympus bodies at this point but I’m hoping to in the next month or so. Stay tuned to the Blog for updates. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Lars ThoreliusOn Jan. 21st, 2016

      Hi! Just a thought: I don’t know if the frame rate issue is specific to Panasonic lenses on the Olympus E-M1, but in early 2014 Olympus came with a firmware upgrade that fixed slow and irratic framerates when Image Stabilization was turned on. Before that I experienced very slow and hap-hazard framerates when using the Panasonic 14-140 on my E-M1 together with in-body Image Stabilization. Could your problem be similar? Maybe it’s worth testing high frame rates with and without in-body IS?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 21st, 2016

      Lars, that’s an interesting thought but I actually have had this issue mainly with my GH4’s which don’t have in body IS. Actually with my GX8 I’ve not noticed it at all. I’ll be watching for this on my GX8. Thanks for this idea. I would love to know if others have experienced this issue.

  32. William BunnOn Jan. 17th, 2016

    Dan, I enjoy reading your blog and refer to it often. I have a GX8 and have just pre-ordered the 100-400 Leica Lumix. One problem I have with the GX8 is that the heal of my right hand keeps hitting buttons on the camera. Especially the WB. Is there a way to get around this? Has this happened to you?

    Thanks and keep up the good work!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 17th, 2016

      William, I’ve had the same issue myself. It’s one of the main reason’s I love the ergonomics of the GH4. Lumix does have an option to help keep from hitting the buttons accidentally. It’s called the Cursor Button Lock and it’s activated by pushing the Fn5 button. Keep in mind this option has it’s own issues. Lumix thought this button was a good idea until so many people started sending their cameras in for repair. Seems people were not realizing they had hit the factory default, Cursor Lock Fn5, and many mistakenly thought their cameras were no longer working properly since they had no way to move change WB, ISO etc. Once again, this is why I love the design of the GH4 and can’t wait for Panasonic to get us the updated version of this camera, whatever it may be called. Hope this helps.

  33. Dean SwartzOn Jan. 16th, 2016

    Back again with another question. Should Gitzo, Really Right Stuff, and Manfrotto be worried? Based on your extensive experience shooting thousands of images with this new telephoto zoom do you think it will now be unnecessary to use a tripod? Panasonic/Lumix/Leica and Olympus (EM-1 and EM-5 II) now have married IS in the lens and camera body with amazing results. I realize that you haven’t done a head-to-head comparison, but based on what you’ve seen so far, are the images shot with the newest lenses and bodies as sharp as you came to expect from your D4/600 f4.0? I have both the PL 100-400 and Oly 300 f4.0 Pro on order an look forward to comparing them. From all I’ve learned (including from your amazing comments and video) it looks like there will be quite a few tripods and gimbal heads hitting eBay!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 16th, 2016

      Dean, only time will tell. I’m holding off making any specific comments about the 100-400mm until I get a final production model. I’ve been very happy with the results I’m already getting but I’m hearing from others getting newer samples that there are ongoing improvements. I think it’s great that Olympus is getting some terrific press with what seems like production models of the 300mm F/4. That will encourage Panasonic to raise the bar even further as they fine tune the coming 100-400mm. It does seem that the tripod makers are in for tough times though there will always be a need for tripods for video. I know there is a video out there shot with the Olympus 300mm but it’s not pro quality and video needs a tripod. Will provide further answers hopefully in a month or two. Thanks for writing in.

    • Paul ShoopmanOn Jan. 18th, 2016

      So you can leave the stabilization on in the camera and also have it on in the lens? I always heard this would cause your images to not be as sharp and the “rule” was to turn one of them off due to vibrations. Is that not true now?
      I shoot Sony and I just bought a Tamron 150-600mm lens and the IS was removed from the Sony version but it’s there in the Canon/Nikon versions. I had always thought the reason for this was because you shouldn’t use both lens stabilization and camera body stabilization together.
      Daniel, What are your thoughts on this?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 18th, 2016

      Paul, with the new camera equipment coming on the market, the GX8 and lenses and now the new Olympus OmD-EM-1 and the Olympus 300mm lens, Dual IS is providing the absolute best image stabilization. No need to turn things off anymore on any of the systems that I’ve worked with. Currently, only Lumix, Olympus and Sony offer the in camera IS capabilities. Nikon and Canon only have IS in the lenses. But they too are very capable of leaving the IS on even when on tripod. I never shut my Nikon lenses of when on tripod. When Nikon and Canon first introduced in less IS they recommended it be turned off when on tripod. Not the case any longer with lenses from the last ten years. Hope this helps.

  34. Richard JonesOn Jan. 14th, 2016

    Hello Dan,

    I enjoyed your selection of photographs!

    At 800mm, what is the minimum shutter speed you could use at base ISO?

    Did you use higher ISOs (1600 and above), and if so, was feather detail acceptable to you?

    thanks.

    Richard Jones

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 14th, 2016

      Hi Richard, Great to hear from you. Regarding your question about base ISO and shutter speed. Are you wanting to know how slow of shutter speed I can use while 800mm’s? If so I have to say I’m still figuring that out. The lens I have is a very early prototype and I’m not planning to share actual figures until I get a production sample. I’ve heard from Panasonic that there are even newer samples now floating around. I received the first two lenses that came off the production bench, built by hand. Panasonic wanted to get this lens to me for capturing photos that could be released for the announcement at CES.. Im looking for ward to getting my hands on the actual production model. That said, I’m currently writing this from Kenya and have just finished a two week shot capturing over 10,000 images with the new lens. It’s a dream lens to use when shooting from a Land Cruiser.

      Regarding shooting at 1600 ISO and above. I do regularly shoot at 1600 with the GX8 and will sometimes got to as high as 2000iso. However, I typically don’t like to go that high with the MFT cameras. With the new Dual IS I’ve found it’s not as necessary. Without a doubt, MFT cameras are currently at a slight disadvantage when it comes to ISO settings above 2000. However, I’m confident that will improve in the next year or so. Just one more sensor development period and that issue will most likely be gone or considerably reduced.

      There are a few downsides to a lens with a maximum aperture of F/6.3 at the 400mm (800mm equivalent) setting. However, there are so many upsides that I’m working around the times I could use more aperture speed. This lens is going to change the world of nature photography for the advanced amateur and professionals alike.

      I didn’t have any birds shot at 1600 ISO so I chose a cheetah image shot at that setting. I did add sharpening and a slight amount of Noise Reduction via Lightroom. Sample below.
      cheetah

    • Oliver StörOn Jan. 21st, 2016

      Hello Daniel,

      Thanks for your impressions about the new Panaleica lens. Is there a chance we get to see some of your shots from Kenya somewhere?

  35. RobertOn Jan. 14th, 2016

    Rare I beg to differ in opinion from you Daniel, or maybe I’m making lemonade from lemons but I think finding the target at an effective 800mm is because it’s 800mm. The problem/challenge in target acquisition occurs with Canon or Nikon 800mm too.
    That’s yet another beauty of the 100-400 zoom=find the target at 400 then zoom to frame.
    The off center viewfinder is the lemon you’re equating to parallax. I won’t/can’t argue that point but there is a distinct advantage with the viewfinder on the side-it allows one eye to be glued to the viewfinder and the other eye to continually scan the area for the target to enter the field.
    It takes practice but in time the physical bounds of the camera/viewfinder will disappear in your mental view. Centered viewfinders can’t allow this, so in my mind the rangefinder style can have an advantage if we’re willing to take advantage of it.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 14th, 2016

      No problem Robert on our differing opinion. That said, I just finished a shoot in Kenya with almost 14,000 images shot with the GX8 and the 100-400mm zoom. After this shoot I’m even more convinced of the issue of parallax with a rangefinder type camera. I love the GX8 but can’t wait for an updated GH4.

    • Boston COn Jan. 14th, 2016

      Hi Dan, Admire the photos and enjoy the story behind the scene of the testing this lens. It may be helpful to take a look at the setup of this well known Japanese reviewer’s write up,
      http://dc.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/review/date_lens/20160113_738552.html
      on testing the Olympus 300mm F4 w EM1. The setup obviously does not have the issue of parallax. Still he finds it necessary to use the Olympus EE-1 to spot the target, and mounts it on the side!
      Keep up the great work and look fwd to your next blog on this lens!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 14th, 2016

      Thanks for this link Boston. Very interesting. I do think the added site could be helpful but I shot for years with my Nikon 600mm F/4 and a 1.4X teleconverter with no issues. So I’m excited to get my hands on the updated GH4 that should have all the newest technology the GX8 has and more. Thanks for stopping by to add your voice.

  36. Dan OhOn Jan. 10th, 2016

    Dear Dan,

    Did you use some sort of UV filter with this lens? Do you use any lens filter while shooting wildlife photos? Did you ever damage lens glass from. OT using filter?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 10th, 2016

      I did not use a filter on this lens yet. Typically I do use UV filters on all my lenses, mainly for protection. I’m planning to add a Hoya HD3 UV filter to this lens when I return from Kenya.

  37. Chris MooreOn Jan. 8th, 2016

    Dan,

    I have been following your reports on the Panasonic gear for a while now thinking about lightening the load for those long hikes. Your report on the 100-400 has tipped the balance and I have given myself an early birthday present. I pre-ordered the 100-400 (number one on the list here in Denver), and picked up a GX-8, 12-35, and the 35-100. It has been a blast playing with something so light. I am amazed at the focus speed of these two lenses and I am salivating over an 800mm equivalent at ONLY 2.2 pounds. It is 10.6 pounds lighter than my Sigma 300-800! Thanks for all your hard work on testing this equipment in the real world of nature photography. FYI, Panasonic changed the estimated ship date from April to mid-March. Cheers!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 8th, 2016

      Chris, Great to hear from you!Glad I’ve been able to help. I’m very excited about the amazing results here in Kenya with the new 100-400mm. I told my wife Tanya, just last night, that my photography is almost getting too easy. I shot an African Scops owl yesterday, hand held at 800mm, perched thirty feet above and in the dark shade. Really quite amazing.

  38. Dan HorneOn Jan. 7th, 2016

    I’m curious to know how this lens would work with the GH4, since that’s the Panasonic with the fastest shutter speed and I’m looking for a decent sports lens (I also have a GX8, but the frames per second are slower). I hate, hate, hate the 100-300. There’s no tripod collar and it’s too front heavy. The image quality is rubbish, and it’s too slow to focus. The sad thing is that I’ll need to save for a while to afford this new Leica lens

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 8th, 2016

      Dan, I agree with your assessment of the 100-300mm zoom. But keep in mind it’s a measly $499.00 and it was one of the first lenses Panasonic released with the Lumix camera system. And, I do have many students who just don’t shoot action that absolutely love that lens, especially since it is so affordable. However, the new 100-400mm was built specifically for those of us who need more, and MORE it is delivering. I can’t say for sure if the GH4 would be a better option since I’ve not shot the new lens on that camera. With the extreme power of the 100-400mm (200-800 full frame equivalent) I really want to have the Dual IS the GX8 gives me, thus it’s been on the GX8 since I received it. I’ve also not had a chance to run my “Speeding Pooch Test” with this lens and the GX8 or GH4. I hope to do that test in the not too distant future.

      I will tell you that shooting the GX8 and the 100-400 on action is not the ideal combination due to the GX8’s rangefinder design. I’m very excited to see the update to the GH4, that incorporates all the new tools of the GX8, but in a more traditional DSLR form factor. The reason is due to parallax problems when shooting a rangefinder style camera with very long telephotos. I find that the GX8 creates some difficulty finding the subject due to the parallax you experience from having the EVF off center from the lens. Don’t get me wrong, the GX8 is one of my favorite cameras but it’s not built for wildlife and nature, or sports. It was built for street photography, travel, people and cultural photography. For those things it is superb and I carry it with me nearly everywhere I go.

  39. Paul RossOn Jan. 7th, 2016

    What are your thoughts about using this lens (Pana 100-400) on a GX 7 body? Or on a Olympus Em 1. I currently own both bodies and have been holding off on getting the GX8 for two reasons, size, and the absence of a built in flash. I use the GX 7 asa travel camera with the 140140 Mh2 Lens and a 17mm Pana Mk2 lens. So having a built in flash is desirable. The Olympus is used for bird photography with a 50-200 SWD and TC1.4 giving me both reach and excellent sharpness. If I buy the new Pana 100-400 lens, I would like to use it on theGX7 until I have a chance to see what the coming GH5 will be like. In which case I will, if I like it, I will sell the Oly EM1 and lens, get the gh5 and keep the gx7 as a travel camera.

    • Ivey JacksonOn Jan. 8th, 2016

      I think I read where GX7 lens do not fit the GX8. Can one use use this new 100-400 lens with the GX7…I cannot rationalize the cost of the lens and a new GX8. Thank you.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 8th, 2016

      Ivey, absolutely not true. All Lumix cameras that have interchangeable lenses use all the same lenses. This lens will work with the GX7 with no issues.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 9th, 2016

      Paul, I would think the new 100-400mm will be a fabulous addition to any Olympus body. I too dislike the GX8 does not have a flash but it’s other positive attributes have helped me accept that downside. Replacing the older 50-200mm with an attached teleconverter would seem like a great move based on how well the new 100-400mm is performing. I wouldn’t hesitate a second on that idea. For more info on this related subject please see my answer to Mark Pemberton’s question. Thanks for writing in.

    • Paul RossOn Jan. 9th, 2016

      Dan, will you be trying the the Pana 100-400mm lens on the Oly EM1? I wonder about focus speed with the Oly sensor. Any thoughts about this combination and its use especially for birds would be welcome. Also any comments about the weight of the lens as compared to the Oly EM1 with the Oly 50-200 SWD + TC14? Weight and size are primary reasons for going to the m43 for wildlife and birds, especially when I am riding my bicycle along the shore. BTW, following your review, I placed my order for this lens and hope it arrives before the middle of April when I am headed south on a trip along the Atlantic shore.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 9th, 2016

      Paul, unfortunately I’m not sure when I’ll get a chance to test the Olympus with the new Leica lens. I don’t see why it wouldn’t be at least as good as what the Olympus cameras can do with Olympus lenses. I’m sure it’s going to work beautifully. As far as comparing it to the Olympus 50-200mm with a TC-14? I can’t make any comments pro or con since I’ve never even seen this lens much less ever used one. On top of that I believe this lens and teleconverter were originally built for the Four Thirds Olympus cameras and if that’s the case, I can’t see the new Leica lens taking a back seat to any lens built nearly 15 years ago. I’m a firm believer that none of the camera manufacturers are building lenses that show less quality than earlier versions. Figuring out the weight and size advantage should be simple with the specs that are part of this Blog post. In short, I do not think you will be disappointed. It really is a huge step forward for those of us who want quality, telephoto optics for the MFT line of cameras.

  40. Portrait of Dorothy Detlor

    Dorothy DetlorOn Jan. 7th, 2016

    Dan – on a related note, I have a GH4 Camera and have ordered the new 100-400 lens. I notice you are using the GX8. Is it significantly better than the GH4? If so, why? I understand also that a replacement is coming out this year for the GH4. Is the best strategy to wait and see?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 9th, 2016

      Dorothy, please see my comment to Mark Pemberton for answers to your questions. Seems everybody has been pretty surprised I was using the GX8. Don’t let it surprise you, it is a great camera.

  41. Portrait of Mark And Cathy Pemberton

    Mark PembertonOn Jan. 7th, 2016

    Dan,
    Congratulations on this great post. As you know, Cathy and I have been waiting for quite awhile to upgrade our LUMIX gear. This new lens is what we’ve been waiting for. However, I was wondering why you chose to shoot the assignment using the GX8 instead of the GH4? We still need to replace our GH3 and don’t want to buy a GH4 at this point in its development life cycle and who knows when the GH5 will come out. Is the GX8 a logical choice?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 9th, 2016

      Great to hear from you Mark. There were two reasons I used the GX8. Number one is Panasonic asked me to:) Number two is the huge benefit of the Dual IS when this lens is attached to the GX8. The question of whether the GX8 is a logical update is considerably more complicated. I’ve been shooting the GX8 now for nearly six months, mainly because it has the in camera IS that is beneficial for the Olympus 40-150mm I’ve been using since last January. As you know the Olympus does not have built in IS. Overall I really, really like the GX8. It’s a superb camera with much upgraded AF, 20 megapixel sensor, the Dual IS and built like a tank. It’s been a very, very productive camera. That said, I still much prefer the traditional DSLR form factor and controls on the GH4. The rangefinder styling of the GX8 is less than positive when shooting super telephoto lenses such as the new 100-400mm zoom. The fact the EVF is off center from the lens, sometimes makes it difficult to quickly find your subject when the lens is brought to your eye. I have never had this problem with any telephoto lens when shooting the traditional styled DSLR cameras, including the GH4. It is something I’ve adapted to to a certain degree but I’m really anxious for an updated GH4, whatever that may be called. As you said, who knows when that may happen but I’m hopeful it will be sooner rather than later. Knowing how much you and Cathy love wildlife, I would suggest you hold off and continue to shoot your GH3’s for the time being.

      The other thought would be to rent either a GX8 or GH4 and see if they work for you. You know, one of the best selling features of all the new Lumix gear is how inexpensive it is. Even when the cameras are brand new. I realize that $800.00 to $1300.00 dollars is still a lot of money but when you compare it to what we used to spend on Nikon gear, it seems incredibly reasonable and much more acceptable to just go out and give one of the newer bodies a try.

  42. Michael AndersonOn Jan. 6th, 2016

    The wife and I were in Kenya (Samburu, Nakuru, north Mara and Mara triangle) during November. We would have killed for either the 100-400 or the 300 Pro. We had the 100-300 as our longest lens. When we go back and the wife saw her images on a big monitor….she was not a happy camper about how soft the 100-300 is at 300. I told her it could be worse, we could have had the 750-300. The good news is I am now under orders from She Who Must Be Obeyed to get us proper telephoto glass before we head to Alaska to shoot bears later this year. That is the good news. The bad news is that I have to pay for two of these new lenses. Oh well, I have my orders! 🙂

    Have fun in Kenya!

  43. SteveOn Jan. 6th, 2016

    Further to the lens hood, I noticed that dpreview mentioned that an optional lens hood would be available for the lens.

    “The zoom lock is built into the lens barrel, as is a small pull-out lens hood (a full-sized hood is available as an optional accessory)”

    I have not seen any part# but you can see it in this picture from Adorama. This looks like a necessary add-on that hopefully won’t be too expensive.

    http://www.adorama.com/images/XLarge/ipcv100400g.jpg

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 7th, 2016

      I hope there is something beyond what I had for the lenses I was shooting. They both had a lens hood but it was so short it really made no difference. An add on would be a great option.

  44. Alain BoissonnaultOn Jan. 6th, 2016

    Daniel, great shots and very informative post! From where I’m sitting in Montréal, I’m guessing I’m seeing more snow than you are…

    Seeing those very impressively crisp shots, I was wondering which ones were hand-held and what was the proportion of keepers – on technical merits, not artistic – vs blurred or out of focus shots? Also, did you find yourself employing a focal/aperture combo more than others (i.e. 400mm at full F6.3 aperture, for example)?

    Looking forward for these Kenya pictures!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 7th, 2016

      Alain, I’ve not made an assessment regarding percentages. There were so many variables. I do plan to do some further tests in a more controlled situation that will give me better information. I was all over the lens as far as zoom was concerned and shot mostly wide open so that’s F/6.3 when I was at 400mm. Overall I was very impressed with number of in focus images at numerous different lens ranges. Was it as good as my Nikons? Jury is still out on that as far as AF goes but hope to know more in a month or so.

  45. CameronOn Jan. 6th, 2016

    Here’s the big question: How sharp is it at maximum aperture throughout its zoom range? The 100-300 is suitably sharp, but it has to be stopped down to 7.1 or 8.0 to get to that sharpness (which can be rough when shooting without great light). If this can be shot wide open consistently, then it’s going to be a pretty compelling lens.

  46. GeorgeOn Jan. 6th, 2016

    Hi Daniel ,
    Where does the aperture change from f4 to f5.6? At 200mm? You only mentioned that the aperture changes to 6.3 after 300mm
    Thanks
    George

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 6th, 2016

      Dean, at 300mm the lens is giving me F/5.6. Beyond 300mm it goes to F/6.3

    • GeorgeOn Jan. 6th, 2016

      When does it switch from f4 to f5.6 then?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 6th, 2016

      George, when the lens reaches the 300mm mark on the zoom, the aperture reads F/5.6. I will make an effort today to see if F/5.6 starts before the 300mm mark.

  47. William BunnOn Jan. 6th, 2016

    Hello from Canada! I am also a big Panasonic fan. I presently have a GX 8 and like the others am waiting for the 100-400mm. I am so glad I chose Lumix over Oly. I just saw the price of their 300mm F4. Add the price of a teleconverter and I would be in the poor house. A canon 300L mm F4 is half as expensive.
    I am not a professional. I consider myself an enthusiast. I am happy with my 100-300 mm Lumix but would like a bit more reach and I cannot get the detail my Canon buddies do. If this Leica lens is sharper that the 100-300mm I will be a happy guy!
    Thanks for your web site and thanks to Panasonic!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 6th, 2016

      William. the new lens is much, much sharper than the 100-300mm. Actually there is not comparison.

  48. Glen A. FoxOn Jan. 6th, 2016

    Hi Dan,
    Thank you for this informative post. I know you have been using the Olympus 40-150 Pro + 1.4x while waiting for this lens. How does the Leica’s construction compare with the Oly Pro line? Will the Oly 1.4x fir the Leica 100-400? Does the tripod foot (detachable component) on the 100-400 have area-swiss compatible grooves, or do you still need a lens plate to mount it on a tripod.

    Thanks again.
    Glen Fox, Ottawa, Canada

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 6th, 2016

      Glen,

      Unfortunately the 100-400mm will not take the Olympus 1.4X teleconverter. That doesn’t bother me since any time you add more glass to an already glass intensive lens, the results are less than professional. So for me it’s not a big deal. The lens I’ve been shooting is impressive but I will say that I’m not commenting on final build quality since the one I had was not an actual production model. The tripod collar is smooth as silk as well as the manual focus. The zoom is a bit stiff and I’m hopeful this well be ironed out in the final production model. As far as the tripod foot I’m totally in the dark since the lenses I had in New Mexico did not come with a tripod collar foot. I believe it was not finished by the time they had to get me this lens but I’m sure it will be just fine.

  49. Dan OhOn Jan. 6th, 2016

    I have GX8 with 100-300mm. I love GX8, but felt that AFC, or continuous focus focusing and frame / sec. fps rate is slow. Also, I would like 100-300 to be more sharper so I have been waiting for this 100-400 since its first leak. I saw below Q&A about the focus speed. Glad to hear it is fast. Can you comment about GX8 AFC mode and your use of it? Also, I like to keep track of more experience with 100-400. Please post more! Thanks. Your YouTube was excellent presentation with enough intro info. (previous post had grammatical error).

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 6th, 2016

      Dan, any camera with the 100-300mm attached seems very slow. That’s not the case with the new 100-400mm. I’ve used the 100-300mm and it is a very slow focusing when compared to ANY other Lumix lens. The slo focus also slows the frame rate down that the camera can shoot at. The AF-C mode on the GX8 with this lens is excellent. That said, I have not had a chicane to do my “Speeding Pooch Test” yet and that will be the ultimate test. Stay tuned for that Blog post.

  50. Joe DotsonOn Jan. 5th, 2016

    Dan, let me echo my congrats on your selection to test the lens and report. Little did I know when I called you so excited about purchasing my GX8 that you were on a stealth assignment. Nice job holding your water about such an exciting subject. Heck, I did not know the lens was announced until I checked an email from B&H this evening and the lens was announced with your picture in th advert.

    I will order my lens tomorrow when the shops open.

    The shots in the blog are great. I am impressed with the range from close up to “distant”. Bokeh nice on the duck shots.

    Keep up the good work and travel safe

    Joe

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 6th, 2016

      Thanks Joe. It was a fun project.

  51. Portrait of Jane Scott Norris

    JaneOn Jan. 5th, 2016

    Congratulations Dan on getting the first of these lenses. Great article. This is so exciting. I have pre-ordered too.

  52. Portrait of Fred Kurtz

    Fred KurtzOn Jan. 5th, 2016

    And I just saw where Nikon announced the D5. You and I both agreed a couple of years ago that the D5 would be mirrorless. Guess we were way wrong on that mark. So D5 – who cares unless you are a sports pro. What is Nikon thinking? Do they even know that mirrorless is taking away their market share. Do they even discuss this in the board room? So strange. You and I know what happens to companies that rest on there laurels.

    • TonyOn Jan. 6th, 2016

      The Nikon D500 matched with the Nikon 200-500mm zoom will beat any mirrorless combo on the market for sports or wildlife action. AF for moving subjects on mirrorless cameras still lags behind DSLR’s.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 6th, 2016

      Tony, there is no doubt Nikon is a superb system for fast moving action, I shot them all from 1977 through 2015 and still have a D4, D600 and D700 that I use occasionally. However, your assumption that Lumix or any other mirrorless cameras can’t keep up suggests you haven’t shot either the Lumix GX8 or the most updated Olympus Om-D E-M1. I in turn must assume that you have been an early tester of the D500 since as far as I know the camera is so new only a very few folks have most likely had a chance to test it in the manner you are suggesting. Either way, the new Lumix 100-400mm lens and Lumix bodies offer many things photographers have been wanting, smaller, lighter bodies at a more reasonable price point that shoot professional results. Panasonic is delivering that in a big way.

    • David GlatzOn Jan. 17th, 2016

      Huh? I don’t plan to upgrade to Nikon D5 but seems to me that serious wildlife photographers shooting in low light, especially moving subjects in twilight/dusk, would like the high ISO capability. Also people shooting wildlife action in any light. The D500 looks like an intriguing design at a lower price point (like the original D300) and I think it will sell very well. To each his own – it depends on what you like to shoot and what you want to do with the images.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 18th, 2016

      Right on target Dave. However, “serious wildlife photographers” is the key phrase here. I used to be one. But as you and I have discussed more than once, those days are gone due to a lack of market that’s willing to pay for the costs of serious wildlife photography. There are a few commercial shooters that may be able and have a reason to justify a $6500.00US camera but the days of serious wildlife photographers, as a viable business entity, are behind us.

      One other industry that could use the power of a D5 are sports shooters. But guys and gals getting paid enough money to earn a living shooting sports are also disappearing. Last year Sports Illustrated eliminated their entire staff of photographers, apparently deciding to depend on freelancers. I know a guy who has earned his entire living in a business that has nothing to do with photography and he has done very well in life. So well in fact he took up photography, became competent enough to be selected as an NFL teams “official photographer”. In doing so he gave the team unlimited use of any of his team photos. All away games require his presence but he has to get there on his own dime. We’re talking about flying from coast to coast. All of this and they pay him a paltry $300.00 per game.

      It will be interesting to see how Nikon does with the D5 and the D500 and I wish them well but interestingly the photography industry made the bed they are sleeping in. One where the pros they used to sell their gear to are few and far between. Thankfully, for the camera industry, there are many more serious enthusiasts, buying cameras, than the professional ranks could have ever supplied. Consumers are fortunate that non traditional DSLR camera companies, like Panasonic Lumix, Olympus and others are producing incredible technology at break neck speed that is cheaper and very close to the same quality as the traditional DSLR’s I once used. This won’t bring the market back, for serious wildlife photographers to make a living in, but it does make photography less costly, less burdensome by reducing weight and bulk of equipment, and for me, much more enjoyable.

      But as you inferred in your original comment, to each their own. Today, in my world, photography is all about having fun, sharing that fun with others, producing a creative product and using that product to make a difference. Thanks for your input, always enjoy hearing from you.

    • Dave GlatzOn Jan. 18th, 2016

      Hey Dan thanks for your comprehensive comment. I think you are right on about the whole industry. My reply was to the original comment. I wasn’t sure what it had to do with the new Panasonic lens, but you have tied the thoughts together. BTW I don’t think Panasonic could have chosen a better person to preview the new lens! Seems to be EXACTLY what you’ve been pushing for. Looking forward to catching up in Katmai.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 18th, 2016

      Thanks Dave. I know you and Shiela do really large prints so the bigger gear is still your best bet. Always love having you jump in her on the Bog. Looking forward to seeing you in Yellowstone in a couple of weeks. We should’ve plenty of snow this year.

  53. SteveOn Jan. 5th, 2016

    Dan,

    From the pictures the hood looks very shallow. How did you find the coverage from sun?

    Steve

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 5th, 2016

      Steve, you are 100% correct. This lens hood is extremely shallow and to be completely honest I see no value in it. Not sure what Panasonic was thinking with this design. Thankfully much more thought was given to the lens itself.

  54. Ezra koperOn Jan. 5th, 2016

    How does this lens performs on Olympus EM1 and EM5 mark2 body

    Also is it good for sport (fast focus)

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 5th, 2016

      Ezra, the Af on tis lens is extremely fast. I’ve not had a chance to test it with subjects running straight at the camera but in actual use with flying birds it did extremely well. As far as how it works with the Olympus bodies I’m unsure of that as well since I don’t own an Olympus. I may get a chance to test it at some point however and will let you know..

  55. GeorgeOn Jan. 5th, 2016

    Hi Daniel,
    Very nice to see Panasonic release this lens finally. A question:
    At what point does the max aperture change from f4 ,xxx, f5.6, f6.3 when you zoom out? I hope it is till f/4 until 300mm
    Thanks
    -George

  56. JamesOn Jan. 5th, 2016

    Hi Daniel, Thank you for your report. Can you tell me if the tripod collar is detachable and also what focal length 5.6 end and 6.3 starts. Thank you. James (very much looking forward to having this lens. I’ve been using the G5 and 100-300 with reasonable results for birding, sometimes very good. Now I have the GX8 and will pair it with the 100-400mm.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 5th, 2016

      Tripod collar is not removable however it is very well integrated in to the lens design and virtually unnoticeable. It’s so well designed that it’s not an issue that it’s not removable. You don’t even know it’s there once you remove the tripod foot. F/6.3 comes in to play once you zoom past the 300mm setting so at 600mm it’s effectively an F/5.6 lens.

  57. yt75On Jan. 5th, 2016

    The availability in the press release is beginning April, are you saying that some will be available before ?
    Eargerly waiting for this one ! 🙂

  58. DonaldOn Jan. 5th, 2016

    Thank you Dan, just ordered one from Bozeman Camera…

  59. Dean SwartzOn Jan. 5th, 2016

    Congrats on the (well-deserved) honor of being selected to showcase the new Pany/Leica game-changing lens. Panasonic could not have selected a better photographer/explorer to introduce the lens to the world! If you are at liberty to say, is the aperture at 600mm f4.0 as we all hoped for?

    Best wishes,

    Dean

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 5th, 2016

      Thanks Dean for the kinds words. As far as the F/stop at 300mm (600mm equivalent) it’s F/5.6. Unfortunately I think it was me who inspired the initial  idea it may be F/4 at 600mm but alas it’s F/5.6.

    • Dean SwartzOn Jan. 6th, 2016

      Too bad that Panasonic didn’t get the lens to f4.0 at 300mm (600mm). As you know by now, Olympus is releasing it’s big glass that employs dual IS (when used with the E-M1 and E-M5 II). Since, when compared to Canon and Nikon monster glass, these two new lenses are dirt cheap, I am buying both. I imagine I’ll be using the Pany/Leica for birds-in-flight (still trying to master that skill) and when I’m hiking so I can lighten my load. The Oly 300/4.0 will be used for other wildlife and when I am “vehicle” based. The Oly, with the 1.4 teleconverter will yield an 840mm f5.6; another bonus. (Can you believe someone has finally put an Arca-Swiss compatible foot on a big lens like Oly has done? RRS must be disappointed!)

      I have to make one comment about your selection by Panasonic to show off the lens. The early reviews of the Oly and Pany/Leica have been less than impressive from the standpoint of image quality; the photos taken by the reviewers, to put it bluntly, stink. I think that’s because the early reviewers are not truly great photographers. This is a reminder that the pics are only as good as the photographer; good equipment in the hands of a person using inferior technique yield garbage. However, in your capable hands, we have learned of the amazing potential of this new Panasonic lens (I only wish Olympus had sent you an E-M1 with an M.Zuiko 300mm Pro to put to a test so they can be compared by someone who really knows how to take great pics).

      As we have written to each other before, this is a great and exciting time to be into photography. For many, these two new lenses will be merely interesting because they are relatively heavy and expensive compared to other MFT lenses; however, to those of us who have carried 50 lbs. of gear into the field, they are a blessing. Goodbye to Nikon/Canon 800mm/600mm/500mm/400mm/ 200-400mm monsters attached to three pound D4s/1Dx camera bodies and five pound tripod/head combos. We won’t miss you at all!

      It is indeed a Happy New Year!

      Best wishes to you and Tanya! Enjoy your new tools/toys!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 6th, 2016

      Dean,

      What can I say? You are always so complimentary. I’ve not seen the reviews of either of the new lenses but I’m currently in Kenya and don’t have great internet. It has been and exciting week for all of us who love the new MFT category of cameras. I also plan to buy both lenses. AS you sad, “it’s a great an exciting time to be in to photography”. Thanks as always for your kind comments and your eloquent additions to the blog.

  60. Portrait of Fred Kurtz

    Fred KurtzOn Jan. 5th, 2016

    So I pre-ordered mine months ago from Bozeman Camera and put $50 down to secure it. Upon seeing this blog post and the fact they already sold 5 of 10 I called them to see if they really had one on order and Brian said I was actually number one. I told him I have never been number one at anything so that was nice. He also said they have now sold six. This will be a super hot lens. Way to go Panasonic. And way to go Dan for putting the pressure on them to produce this lens.

    By the way, I just sold my Nikon 200-400 VR II lens this week to Roberts Camera in Indianapols. I only got $3,000 for it but B&H was down to $2,200 so I thought it was high time to get rid of it as I will not use it again.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 5th, 2016

      Way to go Freddy for being the first. Looking forward to seeing your results. It’s proving to be a great tool here in Kenya right now.

  61. Portrait of Ray Hirsch

    Ray HirschOn Jan. 5th, 2016

    Hi Dan,

    What a well deserved honor to be the first to shoot with this lens and provide the first sample images for the ad campaign!
    It is fitting that they selected you since you have been championing this lens since I have known you and probably well before that. The sample images you have provided looked great and now I cannot wait for mine to arrive. I ordered mine about an hour ago even before I found your posting. I am assuming you are in Africa now, so we should see some out on safari shots fairly soon. I noticed you using it on the GX8, which has become my go to camera for most things. Just love it.

    Wishing you and Tanya all our best,

    Ray & Margie

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 5th, 2016

      Thanks for he kinds words Ray. I’ve become a big fan of the GX8 as well. That said, I can’t wait to see what comes out with whatever replaces the GH4.

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