Mirrorless Telephoto Comparison Leica, Fuji, Nikon, Olympus

Posted May. 9th, 2016 by Daniel J. Cox

Mirrorless Telephoto Comparison Leica, Fuji, Nikon, Olympus

Last December I was fortunate to receive the new Leica 100-400m zoom, built for the Panasonic Lumix cameras I’ve been enthusiastically shooting since 2008. A complete transition to Micro Four Thirds has been squelched by the fact we just didn’t have the long professional quality telephoto/zoom lenses needed for wildlife and nature. About the same time the new

The incredible small size and weight of the new Leica 100-400mm makes it easy to get in to tight spots. The Dual IS when combined with the GX8 gives you the ability to hand hold this lens down to shutter speeds of 1/15th. of a second.

The incredible small size and weight of the new Leica 100-400mm makes it easy to get into tight spots. The Dual IS when combined with the GX8 gives you the ability to handhold this lens down to shutter speeds of 1/15th of a second.

Leica 100-400mm was released, we also received new lenses from Olympus in the form of a 3oomm F/4 (600mm equivalent) as well as the new Fuji 100-400mm F/4.5-5.6. (150mm-600mm equivalent), all of them targeted towards the telephoto starved shooters of the new mirrorless frontier.

Marsha Philips of F11 Photographic Supply on safari with Natural Exposures Invitational Photo Tours. Kenya.

Marsha Philips of F11 Photographic Supply on safari with Natural Exposures Invitational Photo Tours. Kenya.

Thankfully, I’m fortunate to have two of the best camera stores in the nation right in my hometown of Bozeman, Montana. Friend and NE Explorer Marsha Phillips, who owns F11 Photographic Supply, was quite generous in allowing me to borrow the

From left to right is the Lumix GX8 with Leica 100-400mm, Lumix GH4 with Olympus 300mm F/4, Fuji XT2 with 100-400mm and Nikon D600 with 80-400mm.

From left to right is the Lumix GX8 with Leica 100-400mm, Lumix GH4 with Olympus 300mm F/4, Fuji XT2 with 100-400mm, and Nikon D600 with 80-400mm.

Fuji and Olympus lenses which I paired against my Leica and Nikon optics of similar range. The plan was to do a side by side comparison between all of them, including my Nikon 80-400mm VRll attached to a Lumix GX8 and GH4 via a Novoflex Nikon to MFT adapter.

With all this gear on hand I was obviously anxious to shoot some tests. This would have all happened a bit sooner, but I wanted a production version of the Leica 100-400mm before we compared them all. That just arrived a couple of weeks ago, so I setup the studio and began to collect controlled photos. Keep in mind, I make no bones about it, my tests are not those you’ll see from a professional lab such as DXOMark or The Imaging Resource. With my tests you’ll notice the size of some images are not “exactly” the same, an exposure or two had to be adjusted. Working with four different lenses created a bit more futzing than I’m typically interested in doing. What I’m saying is this, the images you are about to review are not perfect from an absolute scientific perspective. Because of this, I guarantee, many will pick my unscientific results apart down to the nth degree. But overall the results you’ll see were shot in a real world studio and you can judge for yourself if the results will meet your particular needs.

Test Specifics

Flash For Ultimate Sharpness

To do this test the best way I know how, I decided to use flash. Flash, or what I often refer to as a strobe, effectively eliminates shutter shock issues, camera movement, etc. Flash creates a precision image at a reasonable shutter speed, but more

Working in my very small and humble studio in Bozeman, Montana

Working in my very small and humble studio in Bozeman, Montana

importantly, flash stops all movement due to the intensity of the artificial light firing at thousandths of a second. In other words, there is no vibration from camera operator or the shutter movement of the camera tripod which was a Gitzo with Manfrotto 504HD fluid video head.

Aperture Wide Open

The images I’m offering for download were all shot at the widest opening of each particular lens. Wide open is where you’ll typically see any issues if a lens is not sharp. Additionally, wide open is where most of us will be using these lenses since all telephotos generally need as much light as we can give them, allowing faster shutter speeds, stopping camera movement, animal movement, etc. when not using flash.

Test Target

The test target used was created by Steven Westin at Cornell Universtiy that has lines and numbers with detailed resolution. I generally use a newspaper for this kind of test but this looked more official, so I used it. On the test paper I

taped a piece of my business letterhead, allowing a place to write to keep track of the specific lens being used. Not an important factor since the cameras EXIF data contains all details but having something written down made it easier to review lots of frames and keep them organized.

This is the link to Download all four images if you want to review them. These are full size TIFFs.
Gallery Password: lenscomparisons 

Screenshot Comparison Images

All test shots were loaded into Apple’s Aperture so I could review them at 100%, side by side. Though I’m not using Aperture any more, it was definitely the best program to compare the results since you can do a comparison view of more than two images at one time. It’s very helpful to see all four test images at the same time at the same size of 100%. With all four images showing side by side, I grabbed a screenshot. Once again, viewing a screenshot may not be the most scientific way of showing a comparison, but it clearly shows the differences between all four lenses. You can drag each screenshot off the web page and over to your computer to see the image in its full resolution.

Center Sharpness

This first group of four images shows the center sharpness of all the lenses. Without a doubt, when you view these images my placement of the tripod could have been more precise. Having different focal ranges such as the 100-400mm on the Fuji body

Screen shot of all four lenses which included Olympus 300mm, Nikkor 80-400mm, Leica 100-400mm and Fuji 100-400mm. Viewed in Apple's Aperture with no sharpening added.

Screenshot of all four lenses which included Olympus 300mm, Nikkor 80-400mm, Leica 100-400mm, and Fuji 100-400mm. Viewed in Apple’s Aperture. No sharpening added to any of the photos. You can drag this image to your desktop for a larger preview.

that has a 1.5X crop factor made being extremely precise a bit problematic. To make up for any issues I made sure to have at least some of the numbers and some of the bars showing in all the images to make it easier to compare. That said, this is where I might get criticism for not being “completely” scientific. Even so, you can see the results for yourself.

Edge Sharpness

One of the critical issues less expensive lenses will often exhibit is poor sharpness at the edges of the frame. To check the edge sharpness of all four lenses I once again turned to Aperture to enlarge the edges to 100%.  Like before, a change in focal lengths created less than perfect matches on the test target from one lens to the next . To compensate, I moved the 100% enlarged portion to the edge of each frame that held more details for a good comparison.

Edge of the frame sharpness samples. Olympus 300mm, Nikkor 80-400mm, Leica 100-400mm and Fuji 100-400mm. You can drag this image to your desktop for a larger preview.

Edge of the frame sharpness samples. Olympus 300mm, Nikkor 80-400mm, Leica 100-400mm, and Fuji 100-400mm. Viewed in Apple’s Aperture. No sharpening added to any of the images. You can drag this image to your desktop for a larger preview.

One of the critical issues less expensive lenses will often exhibit is lack of sharpness at the edges of the frame. To check the edge sharpness of all four lenses I once again turned to Aperture to enlarge the edges to 100%. Like before, a change in focal lengths created less than perfect matches on the test target from one lens to the next. To compensate, I moved the 100% enlarged portion, to the edge of each frame to exhibit more details for a good comparison.

Thoughts About Each Lens

For this section I’m going to give a basic rundown of how I feel about each lens as far as the fit and finish size and other details. Most details will be with the lenses I’ve used extensively – the Leica, the Olympus, and the Nikon. I’m going to tell you right up front I will not be making any comments regarding each lenses sharpness and quality or lack thereof. I want my readers to decide for themselves without my potential biased view.

Leica 100-400mm F/4-6.3

I’ve held off from writing any real information about this lens even though I’ve been shooting one since the first week of December 2015. That first lens was a prototype and had some definite issues I was hoping would not be part of the final production lens. I’m happy to say I won’t even mention those early concerns since Panasoinc did as promised and eliminated all issues I had at one time. Keep in mind, this lens is listed as a 100-400mm, but in reality it’s similar to looking through a lens on a full frame camera with a range of 200-800mm. That is an astonishing range.

The new 100-400mm zoom action is very smooth. Maybe not as smooth as other lenses such as the Olympus 40-150mm or even the Fuji 100-400mm, but it’s smooth enough and possibly is better off not being too smooth for such a long zoom range. The somewhat stiffer zoom action stops the lens barrel from creeping out as it’s hung from your shoulder. For even more security, Panasonic added a Zoom Lock that allows you to set the zoom at whatever focal length you choose and lock it there. It’s a nice idea that goes a step further than some zoom locks I’ve seen where it simply locks the zoom in the retracted position, stopping the lens from extending while being carried. With the Leica zoom lock you can actually lock the lens at specific lens settings. Let say you don’t want to shoot at anything longer than 600mm eqivelant. You just set the lens to 300mm and lock it down and you now have a 600mm lens.

There’s also a tripod collar that is easily removed. It’s solid and well built with a very rough knurled texture to the main knob used to loosen and tighten. Interestingly, the tripod collar rotates 90 degrees to the left only. I must admit, left only rotation was something I didn’t necessarily like at first. I don’t typically rotate in a vertical format by going to the right, but once in awhile that’s not a bad option depending on how long you have to hold the vertical position. I believe one of the reasons they went with this different concept was to keep the lens switches from rotating out of a fixed position when the lens is rotated. Actually, it’s quite a nice idea. In other words, when you rotate the lens, the AF On/Off, Image Stabilization and Focus Limiter switches all stay in the same place they’re normally at in the horizontal format. I actually like that and have found having only one direction for vertical shooting is worth the trade off for keeping the switches in a consistent place.

The manual focus ring is silky smooth and easy to use but I haven’t focused manually for a very, very long time in a real shooting situation. I did do some manual focusing during these tests but found the AF focus was perfectly accurate so once again, I’m back to using AF almost exclusively.

The Leica 100-400mm has an extremely small built-in and almost useless lens hood. But it also ships with a much more effective additional hood that is slipped onto the built-in hood and tightened in place via a small screw. The two combined actually do offer some relief from bright light coming in at an angle.

Unlike most the other Leica lenses built for the Lumix cameras, the 100-400mm does not have its own separate manually operated aperture ring. All aperture changes are done via the control dials on the camera, either the front or rear dial, depending on how you may have them set up.

The size and weight of the Leica is one of it’s most appealing features. To have a lens that gives me an effective focal length of 800mm in a size that fits nicely in the palm of my hand is sheer joy. One downside to that small form factor is the maximum aperture of F/6.3 when extended fully to the 400mm position. Would I have rather had an F/4-F/5.6 zoom? Maybe. I’m not sure  how much additional weight and cost that 1/3 of a stop would have added to this beautiful lens. Case in point is the Fuji 100-400mm which is an F/4.5-5.6 that I detail shortly. It’s a beast compared to the Leica and the Leica is a bit brighter at F/4 compared to F/4.5 when at the 400mm position.

Fuji 100-400mm F/4.5-5.6

This lens is a silky smooth beast, extremely polished in all regards. It’s a superb optic that was sharper than any of the zooms and beats other lenses in fit and finish that cost five times the price. Unfortunately, Fuji employs a somewhat strange aperture ring that I had one of heck of a time figuring out how to operate. The Fuji XT2 has a front side dial and a rear dial, similar to my Lumix and Nikons, but the front dial did not operate the aperture as I expected. I wasn’t impressed with either the front dial or the rear dial, both extremely thin and extremely easy to turn – too easy to turn. Once I figured out the lens aperture ring I was able to proceed, but I did not find the Fuji lens or XT2 very intuitive. The camera does have very nice, dedicated dials for ISO, exposure compensation, and shutter speed, but after that it wasn’t very obvious to find other options which includes the menu. Not here to review the camera but I did have to figure it out to a point to do these tests and I was surprised and a bit dissaponted with the less than positive feelings about the camera body. Admittedly, it might just be what I’m used to. But I’ve said it many times before, I feel the Lumix system has the best laid out controls of any camera made, including my Nikons.

Olympus 300mm F/4

This lens is another home run by Olympus. Wow, they are building some stellar optics. I actually own this lens along with my Leica 100-400mm. Having the extra stop of light can be very handy, and I love the equivalent 600mm focal range that matches what I shot with my Nikons. An additional HUGE bonus is the new in-lens Image Stabilization Olympus added to this lens. It’s become rather well known that in-camera image stabilization is not as effective as in-lens IS with super telephotos lenses. I’ve found the new in-lens IS to be exceptional when used with my Lumix GH4, and I’ve heard extremely positive reports of Olympus’ Sync IS, working exceptionally well with this lens and Olympus cameras.

Like the 40-150mm F/2.8 that came before it, the 300mm F/4 is extremely well built. The focus ring is silky smooth and all switches are well positioned and easy to operate. One downside while using this lens with my Lumix cameras is the IS stays active continuously. Meaning it doesn’t shut off, even when the camera has gone to sleep. This is a huge drag on battery consumption. I’m hopeful I may be missing a setting in my menu that stops this battery drain but I’m guessing Lumix has nothing offered to help. I plan to try the lens with an OM-D E-1 to see if the same issue exists.

The 300mm comes with a beefy tripod collar and has the ability to add the wonderful Olympus 1.4X teleconverter. When I say wonderful I’m referring to its superb optical quality. I point this out since the 1.4X teleconverter has not been so wonderful in holding up to the basic rigors of serious photography. I’ve had two of them lose their screws that hold the front mount the lens attaches to. I know three other photographers who have experienced the same problem. I solved my issue by taking it down to my local camera shop, Bozeman Camera, to have them add glue to keep the screws locked in place.

Nikon 80-400mm F/4.5-5.6

What is there to say about the new Nikkor 80-400mm lens? I loved this lens when I was shooting my Nikons. It’s extremely sharp, but after running these tests, not as sharp as I had thought. Once again, you can review the results for yourself to decide which lenses perform better. That said, I found the images I shot with this lens to be extremely salable and never had any issues getting images published that I captured with this lens. The zoom mechanism is very smooth and rotates with ease. The switches are well placed and it has a tripod collar that you can remove. I won’t belabor the details of the lens itself since this test is mostly about the quality of the optics.

Final Thoughts

So there you go. The above is my take on the current line of super telephotos we’ve all been dreaming of. Some might say this test should not have included the Olympus 300mm F/4, but I feel it was fair game since it fits the super tele category and many will be comparing the Leica 100-400mm to the Olympus for their Micro Four Thirds cameras. Both are superb lenses but one comes out on top in a big way.

Even so, one thing to keep in mind is this. Clear back in 1985, I bought the first professional zoom Nikon offered, the 80-200mm F/2.8. I had more than one serious photographer look sideways at me, thinking I was out of my mind. How could anybody think they were going to produce professional results with a zoom lens was their thought. But I said it in 1981 and I’ll say it again; a quality zoom will produce many more fractionally, less sharp images, in such volume, that those additional pictures will far outweigh the perfectly razor sharp photos a prime lens will produce. A good photograph is as much about composition and creativity as it is about pinpoint details. Not having to run forward and reverse with the added benefit of composing at will is a huge advantage with zoom lenses.  Zooms have even greater advantage when used for wildlife and nature. Sitting in a wildlife hide/blind, taking pictures from a Tundra Buggy, or working from your truck or car, a zoom is much more capable  allowing you to compose properly.

Throughout my career I’ve used mostly zoom lenses, and I’ve been very fortunate to have earned a decent living marketing the pictures captured with those variable optics. There will always be times where a fixed lens might be the choice to make and it’s the reason I’ve bought both the Leica 100-400mm and the Olympus 300mm. But the best part about having both is realizing MFT shooters now have so many choices. Now if we can jut get a sensor with 1-2 more stops of high ISO capabilities we’ll really have it made.

Now that's a lens. In this photo I'm working with the amazing nikkor 600mm F/4 on a river in the Pantanal of Brazil. That lens in my hands is just over ten pounds and cost almost $12,000.00US when I bought it.

Now that’s a lens. In this photo I’m working with the amazing Nikkor 600mm F/4 on a river in the Pantanal of Brazil. That lens in my hands is just over ten pounds and cost almost $12,000.00US when I bought it.

One last thing. A friend brought to my attention I didn’t cover and that is the amazing price and size differences of all these lenses when compared to what I used to shoot with traditional DSLR’s. I have to say that I’ve seen several reviews about the Leica 100-400mm and the Olympus 300mm suggesting that both are very heavy and exceptionally expensive. My response to that is, “are you out of your mind?” The only reason these reviewers would even suggest such nonsense has to be they’ve never even seen, much less actually used a Nikkor or Canon 600mm F/4 that weighs 10-12 pounds and costs $12,000.00US. Nor have they seen or used a Nikkor or Canon 800mm F/5.6 that runs close to $18,000.00US. Those are the lenses both the Leica 100-400mm and the Olympus 300mm are competing with. Maybe not in all situations but many for sure. Any reviewer making similar statements just have no idea what reality is and that’s not hard to understand when the big Nikon and Canon lenses are so difficult to get your hands on. I shot a Nikkor 600mm F/4 in some form or another for 4 decades. I know what they cost, I know how difficult they are to man handle and anybody that says otherwise is not dealing with reality.

 

 

 

Add Your Voice!
There are 121 comments on this post…
  1. KateOn Mar. 4th, 2017 (3 months ago)

    Hi Daniel – really interesting article which I found while researching the best mirrorless lenses for wildlife. I’m on the verge of switching from entry level Canon DSLR to a Lumix G85 and in a bit of a quandary as to the best lenses for safaris. My next trip is to Uganda and Rwanda to hopefully see the mountain gorillas so I am keen to take a fast zoom. The dilemma is I want something wide and fast, and long and fast! I’ve pretty much decided that I’ll need two lenses that will also be perfect for my Serengeti/Mara/India safaris – are you able to make any suggestions? Thanks!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 4th, 2017 (3 months ago)

      Kate, glad you found us. I appreciate you joining the conversation. As far as long and fast, at the present time, I would recommend the Olympus 40-150mm F/2.8 due to its speed and relatively long reach. It’s also one of the sharpest lenses I’ve ever used. The one downside is that it doesn’t have image stabilization built into the lens. However, the G85 does have in camera IS but you should now that at the longer end of a telephoto, none of the In Camera Image Stabilization systems don’t do as well as in lens IS. At the 150mm setting (300mm equivalent) you will get about 1 stop of helpful IS. You may know the common rule of thumb that states, shutter speed should be equal to or greater than the length of lens for sharp images, off of tripod. So if you were shooting hand held at 150mm (300mm equivalent) you should be able to shoot as low as 1/160th or even 1/125th of a second. With in camera IS AND in lens IS that goes down another 1-5 stops.

      Later this year we will have the recently announced Leica 50-200mm F/4-F/2.8 which is what I would suggest if it was available. This new lens will work with both In Camera IS and have In Lens IS giving us the recent Dual IS system that Lumix announced in the G85.

      Finally, you may want to consider the newly announced Lumix 35-100mm F/2.8 for your next trip. I’ve shot mountain gorillas in both Rwanda and Uganda and you are generally very, very close. You really shouldn’t need anything longer than the 200mm equivalent the 35-100 will give you. This lens is also much lighter than the Olympus and gives you the Dual IS 2 technology that the Lumix cameras have. If it were me I would bring the 35-100mm F/2.8 and the 12-35mm F/2.8 to be used with the G85. If you do decide n these two lenses, make sure you get the ones that were announced this last January. These are updates to the old ones and have the benefit of the newest Dual IS 2 that is above the older Dual IS 1 that original lenses came with.

      I just checked B&H to see if they listed the newest versions of these two lenses and I could not tell for sure. If you want to be certain you get the correct ones give my friends at Bozeman Camera a call and ask for either Marshal or Tanner at (406) 586-8300

  2. Tim BradburyOn Feb. 26th, 2017 (3 months ago)

    Daniel
    Thanks so much for your sane and reasoned voice in the world of MFT. I am an enthusiast photographer who owns an Olympus EM 1 and love it. I get so tired of full frame shooters insisting they wouldn’t consider anything else. Walking around the streets of Venice or the hills of Ireland with two pounds of equipment in my camera bag is a good thing. Thanks for the tip on the DxO Optics program. I’m saving my pennies to get the Panasonic 100-400, but have to start with the Olympus 12-100 for my travel kit. Keep up the good reviews and advise.

    Tim Bradbury

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Feb. 26th, 2017 (3 months ago)

      Happy to help Tim. I’m grateful for your appreciation.

  3. ArchaeopteryxOn Feb. 19th, 2017 (3 months ago)

    Helpful writeup, thanks Dan.

    I recognize much of the discussion’s long done but it’s probably still worth mentioning my copy of the Fuji 100-400 is decidedly worse than the sample here. MTF on the Fuji 100-400 is down quite a bit with their 1.4x teleconverter (which I also own) too; at 380 x 1.5 x 1.4 = 800mm equivalent I can’t get anything close to the Pano/Leica 100-400 results here. Seems to me some of the other comments overlook the need for the TC to get the Fuji to 800, its effects on sharpness and AF, and loss of a stop. Also, Neil’s remark from a year ago about Fuji inconsistencies is well taken. In particular, they result in seriously awkward ergonomics for changing aperture on the Fuji 100-400 when handheld. Not a question of familiarity, just poor design on Fuji’s part.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Feb. 20th, 2017 (3 months ago)

      No comment is too late. I appreciate your input. I did find changing the Aperture a bit strange but the lens was very sharp. Would be interesting to hear from others who have shot this lens if they too have found inconsistencies.

    • ArchaeopteryxOn Feb. 21st, 2017 (3 months ago)

      One resource new in the past year which might be of interest is Lens Rental’s look at lens to lens variation across the frame at quality levels similar to those considered here. Their results indicate copy to copy variation in zooms is, within a given price point and generation, larger than differences other testing normally associates with different manufacturers’ designs. This suggests what one ends up with in a zoom may be more a function of luck or willingness to test and return than the specific model of lens purchased. Primes not as much.

  4. SomaOn Feb. 10th, 2017 (3 months ago)

    Thanks for your review. I have one question, would you recommend GH85 with 5 Axis stabilisation (16 mp) compared to G8 to go with PL 100-400 mm.

    Thanks

    Soma

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Feb. 10th, 2017 (3 months ago)

      Soma I much prefer the traditional DSLR styled G85 over the GX8 when using long, telephoto lenses. There is a benefit to having the lens directly inline with the EVF when shooting long lenses. Also, I’m of the opinion the G85’s Dual IS is more up to date and therefor more effective. I wouldn’t worry about the smaller sensor. I find it to be plenty large enough for virtually all my work.

  5. Portrait of Jay Murthy

    JayOn Nov. 12th, 2016 (6 months ago)

    Dan, love this comparison and thank you for doing these tests. I am very happy with leica 100-400 … extremely sharp to my eyes.
    Jay

  6. John P A SonicOn Nov. 4th, 2016 (7 months ago)

    Shooting the Nikon lens on the MFT camera/sensor was a bit odd. Nikon lenses are not optimized for that.
    But the portability of the 100-400 is amazing.

  7. KSOn Oct. 3rd, 2016 (8 months ago)

    Wow what a amazing review, just gold for my gearhead 🙂 I try to find decent reviews on youtube reviews, but this is just on a hole another level.
    Ill be follow this site and youre youtube channel.

    Im a non pro Canon for 20 years, and user with 7D, 5DMK3, and great lenses like 70-200 f2.8L IS MK II and Sigma Art primes. Just amazing, heavy and very expensive lenses and gear, for a non pro.

    I was at Photokina this year, this is my second time. It was really hard to leave the stand, trying the Fuji XT2 and the Olympus EM1 and different lenses. I was just speechless to try the Olympus 300 ED for the first time! It just represent what is possible and very interesting future. For me great lenses is a investment, with almost no loss in value. Body is almost the opposite.

    I sold my several years old 5DMK3, oddly with almost no loss in value in a heartbeat, and think it is time to go smaller like MFT or Fuji, and sell all my Canon lenses.
    That gives me 5-10K in USD if I spend it all.

    Its either Fuji, Oly or sigh maybe Pan body, im not sure. System switch pain LOL.

    My major worry, is that I do alot of video and photo of indoor team sports of my kids. It is worst case scenario in terms of light and fast moving kids.

    What is youre advice on this and replacing my Canon gear, with what?

    Thx

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Oct. 4th, 2016 (8 months ago)

      KS,

      Unfortunately I’ve not had a great deal of experience with Fuji cameras. I do know that earlier models have been criticized for lack of accurate and fast Predictive auto focus. I believe the newest bodies are doing much better with AF from some of the reviews I’ve seen.

      I have shot the Olympus bodies some and the Panasonic bodies almost exclusively for the past five years. Without a doubt, I much prefer the Panasonic cameras due to their easy to use interface, nearly equal AF capabilities to my Nikons and their relatively simple and straight forward Menu system.

      That said, Olympus recently announced a major upgrade to their current EM-1 now called the EM-1-ll that if it lives up to the hype, will add improved technology that could surpass my Lumix cameras. However, one of the huge downsides to the EM-1 has always been the fact it has an extremely difficult menu system. Along with that it’s too small for my hands and it comes with no dedicated buttons to easily access WB, ISO and +/- Exposure Compensation. One of the EM-1’s claim to fame is the ability to customize it anyway you want. The problem with that is, with no dedicated buttons, it’s often very difficult to recall which button does what, not to mention a special lever that when in the up position the unmarked buttons do one thing, in the down position they do another. In my humble opinion it’s a nightmare to use, especially in fast moving situation where you need to change ISO or other things quickly.

      OK, so Panasonic isn’t going to let Olympus run away unchallenged in world of MFT. To that end they recently announced the very capable G85. This new camera has fabulous video capabilities including 4K Video as well as 4K Photo Mode. 4K Photo Mode allows you to extract 8 megapixel stills from the 4K video. It’s weather sealed and has many new an improved features over their current flagship camera the GH4. Finally, the GH5 has been announced but we most likely won’t see anything until mod part of 2016. Rest assured it will equal or better what Olympus recently announced with the added benefit that Panasonic is known for their video prowess and the announcement already details much better video capabilities that what Olympus has in the new EM-1-ll.

      If it were me I would buy the new G85 for the time being. It’s very affordable at under $900.00US for the body alone. You may want to try the Olympus as well but that will be considerably more expensive. Either way I think any of these cameras will do a fine job for your needs. The one thing I can’t stress enough is making sure you buy the absolute best optics. Those include the Lumix 12-35mm F/2.8, Lumix 35-100mm F/2.8, 42.5mm F/1.2, Olympus 40-150mm F/2.8, Leica 100-400mm and the Olympus 300mm F/4 and Leica 12mm F/1.4 To get the best low light capabilities from all MFT cameras you need fast lenses. The one downside to MFT is noise issues at higher ISO’s when compared to full frame cameras. MFT compares very well to a Canon 7D however. Hope this helps and let me know how it goes.

  8. DesignoOn Sep. 29th, 2016 (8 months ago)

    Thank you for this nice comparison. I’m really imressed by the sharpness off the Fuji 100-400mm it’s as sharp as the Oly 300mm which is a fixed focal lens. The thing with Fuji cameras is that you have to get use to the other control layout, however once you get used to it it’s a real pleassure to use. There is a lot of personilisation available too, for example the My Menu and all Bottons can be set to whatever you want.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Oct. 2nd, 2016 (8 months ago)

      Thanks for adding your voice Designo.

  9. JamesOn Sep. 1st, 2016 (9 months ago)

    HI Daniel. Thanks the best response I ever received from making a comment on a blog or review. Thanks for taking the time and giving me a comprehensive and honest reply. I have only looked at Olympus and Fuji but given your experience with Panasonic especially the Camera’s and controls. You nail the issues on the head regarding external buttons and location.

    Which Camera bodies would you recommend from the Panasonic MFT

    Thanks again

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Sep. 1st, 2016 (9 months ago)

      Glad to have helped James. My absolute favorite camera in the Lumix series is the GH4 by a long margin. I love the traditional DSLR layout of the EVF over the lens and the major controls I use constantly are so extremely well placed. NO Nikon, Canon, Sony or any other camera company know of does a better job than what Panasonic has designed in the GH4. Second favorite camera is the GX8 but I only use this for my travel photography. It’s rangefinder style EVF makes using long lenses less accurate as far as finding your subject quickly, due to parallax. For lenses of 150mm or less the GX8 is a fabulous, compact and superb camera for travel.

    • Glenn AsakawaOn Sep. 13th, 2016 (8 months ago)

      Hi Dan–Thank you so much for this comparison between superzooms and your insights into the ergonomics of GX8 vs. GH4. I originally purchased the Olympus 40-150 f2.8 zoom and 1.4X teleconverter for use on my Lumix cameras. As much as I reveled in the high quality, sharpness and design of the Oly lens, I didn’t like the reverse zoom from Lumix lenses (and Nikon–which I was also a pro user for decades.) I also discovered a weird issue on continuous AF and medium burst using this lens where the EVF would go completely out of focus while following a subject. It was maddening and frustrating but I was relieved to see that the actual images turned out all sharp. On a Panasonic Facebook forum, a trusted source suggested that not all lenses support continuous autofocus mode. Perhaps that was the case with the Oly lens. In any case, I’ve learned my lesson twice and decided to return the Oly and purchased the Panasonic/Leica 100-400. (First time I had the Oly 9-18mm Very happy with my decision. I love the ergonomics of this lens, even though I’m not a big fan of the extending zoom casing (which I realize is necessary for price, size and weight consideration.) On a related note, I see that you mentioned something about parallax on the GX8 EVF design making it harder to follow subjects using longer zooms. I don’t own the GH4, but do have the G7. Will the DSLR-like design of the G7 counter that issue you wrote about using the GX8 with long lenses? I’ve never heard of that issue so I was hoping you could elaborate. I remember parallax being a problem with rangefinder film cameras that had the double-image focusing method to counter the distance of the optical viewfinder (which was not showing the in-lens view) from where the lens sat. Since the EVF on the GX8 shows exactly what the lens is seeing, I don’t understand where the parallax would come from. Thanks in advance for your reply and thanks also for your valuable insights.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Sep. 13th, 2016 (8 months ago)

      Glenn, there are definite issues with Olympus lenses, both the 300mm F/4 and the 40-150mm F/2.8 when it comes to AF-C on Lumix bodies. In short the Oly lenses won’t shoot as fast as the dedicated Lumix/Leica lenses. I’m told it’s due to Panasoinc updating their lenses to 240 FPS AF capabilities and not sharing this technology with Olympus. This info was given to me by a very senior Lumix engineer at Panasonic. Whatever the reason, there is most definitely slower FPS happening in AF-C with Olympus lenses than what I get with dedicated Lumix lenses. The Leica 100-400mm is considerably faster than my Olympus lenses when attached to a GH4 or GX8 and used in AF-C.

      As far as the G7 is concerned, the G7’s EVF being directly over the lens, like the GH4, eliminates any issues with Parallax. Even though you are looking through the lens, having the EVF off to one side by even one inch, when shooting a powerful telephoto, makes lining up your subject more difficult. That’s where the Parallax comes in. Yes, you are looking through the lens but you are not able to easily point the lens at the subject since the EVF is off to one side. One inch to one side is not much until you start looking through what is equivalent to an 800mm lens. At 800mm’s one inch becomes several feel making it hard to locate you subject due to parallax. At least this is what I’ve experienced. You mention that in the film days parallax was countered by a “double-image focusing method”? I’m not aware of that. A rangefinder focusing system was simply a way to manually focus. As far as I know it had nothing to do with correcting for parallax. I could be wrong and I’m open to be educated on this however.

    • Glenn AsakawaOn Sep. 13th, 2016 (8 months ago)

      Daniel–thank you for explaining the issues with continuous autofocus with Oly lenses on Panny bodies. Good to know. I own one Oly lens now–the 75mm 1.8 prime. No more Oly zooms for me. And I totally understand your parallax issue and I’ll have to do my own tests if having my eye away from the center where the lens is really does make a difference. Regarding the parallax focusing on old film rangefinders–I had an old Canonet QL17 rangefinder. It had manual focus through an optical viewfinder on the left side of the camera. There was a focus intake above the lens and it would somehow correlate with the viewfinder to create accurate focus and framing. If the subject was not focussed correctly, it would appear like a double-image (or like you’ve had too much to drink!). Here’s a link to the camera that I had: https://www.casualphotophile.com/2014/06/24/canon-canonet-ql17-the-ultimate-street-shooter/ Thanks again for this amazing resource. I feel like I’m walking in your professional footsteps in making the full transition to Lumix from being a lifelong Nikon user. I’m a breakout speaker at a University and College Design Association conference at the end of this month in San Antonio and one topic I’ll be speaking on is mirrorless cameras. The blurb for my talk sounds like something you would have:

      “Mirrorless Cameras: Ride the Digital Imaging Wave of the Future

      DSLR photo and video system costs causing sticker shock? Feeling your back strain under the weight of those bulky full-frame cameras and lenses? Open your eyes and mind to mirrorless cameras that are incorporating micro 4/3 and 1-inch sensors that result in competitive image, resolution and reproduction quality at a fraction of the cost and weight. The cameras emerging from this rapidly-improving technology are perfectly suited for higher education on various fronts: much lower cost, much smaller size, flexibility, high-quality built-in video, discreet shooting configurations (including silent shutter) and many other points to consider. Glenn will show you the equipment he uses and numerous examples of the images he has taken on this relatively new and rapidly improving format. This isn’t your grandpa’s point and shoot anymore! As a 30-year Nikon pro user, Glenn is making the move to mirrorless and he thinks you should consider it too.”

      Cheers!

      Glenn

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Sep. 14th, 2016 (8 months ago)

      Thanks for the additional information Glenn. Your program sounds inspiring! Be sure people really understand that just because it’s mirrorless does not mean the system is smaller. Many of my students are confused with the differences between the Sony mirrorless and Lumix mirrorless. They don’t get the fact that the MFT cameras are much smaller when the overall system is taken into account. They hear about the new Sony cameras being mirrorless but don’t understand that the Sony Full Frame mirrorless cameras require Full Frame sized lenses. Show them a side by side comparison image of the new Sony 24-70mm F/2.8 G series lens next to the Lumix 12-35mm F/2.8 and you can really send a message. Good luck and let me know how it goes.

    • Glenn AsakawaOn Sep. 14th, 2016 (8 months ago)

      Good points on the size issue I left any specific brand out of the pitch for the session so will definitely be sure to touch on that. Of course, the only cameras I’ll show in person are Nikon and Lumix! My old boss, Larry Price, was supposed to put me in touch with a local Olympus rep to provide one of their bodies to be more brand agnostic, but I never heard from her.

      BTW, you were absolutely right about the focus with the new 100-400. It’s much faster and accurate than the Olympus 40-150. Especially with Continuous auto focus and medium burst mode. Like night and day. Thanks again for your great information!

  10. JamesOn Aug. 29th, 2016 (9 months ago)

    I found this review/test and the comments most interesting. I have been using Nikon for many years since 1972 and now still use the 300 f2.8 vr2 and the 80-400 G. I tested the Fuji system with the new 100-400 and the XT1. The lens is fantastic and with the new XT2 improved focus system becomes a serious option to replace my nikon equipment. Unfortunately I have not had the opportunity to test the Olympus or Panasonic systems. I find it interesting that you prefer the Lumix bodies over the Olympus? If I may ask why? In my view the biggest consideration to change would be the Camera and not so much the lenses as from all reviews the lenses you tested are all very good quality. My issue with Fuji XT1 is focus system is not close to what I am used to with Nikon. ISO performance is another issue and having to rely on Image Stabilisation systems to compensate leaves me a bit nervous. Especially the M34 bodies. Just one observation. I think the Nikon 80-400 results were compromised with the connector. I tested the 80-400 against the Fuji 100-400 on a Nikon Df and the results are much better then your results. Another interesting observation is that the Nikon 80-400 on a Nikon Df body is almost the same size and weight as the Fuji system. I know the Df is not the fastest camera but in comparison to the XT1 there is a great deal of similarities. DX vs Fx the biggest difference. I have shot many thousands of images with this combination. I use my 300 f2.8 on a D810 with a TC 1.4 or 2.0. So going forward I want to go lighter especially the 300 f2.8 and the Nikon D4 adds a lot of weight for travelling as well as shooting. Thanks for your informative blog.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Aug. 29th, 2016 (9 months ago)

      James, glad to have you as part of the discussion here on the NE Blog/Corkboard. You’re time using Nikon cameras beats me by several years. I started shooting Nikon in 1978 and used them exclusively my entire professional career up until about five years ago. Then Panasoinc came on the scene. I can’t argue the point that the Nikkor 80-400mm was at a disadvantage due to needing to connect it to the GH4 via the Novolflex, Nikon to MFT adapter. It’s possible that could create an issue but not sure why that would be. It’s a very simple adapter but it’s possible.

      My preference for the Lumix system is due to several things.

      1). Ergonomics. The placement of controls such as the WB, ISO and +/- EV buttons are superior to any camera I’ve ever used. No camera manufacturer places them in a more obvious and easy to access position than Lumix. On the Nikon D4, the ISO and WB buttons are all the way down at the bottom of the camera, both buttons right next to the Quality button. I can’t tell you how many times I accidentally changed Quality from RAW to Jpeg of some sort, due to my desire to quickly change ISO or WB. Additionally, there is no way to make these changes with the camera to your eye in shooting position. You have to pull the camera down to see the buttons and make the changes.

      Gh4 buttons and layout.

      Gh4 buttons and layout.

      Comparing these same options on the Lumix to the Olympus cameras you will find that Olympus prides its OM-D EM-1 for it’s ability to customize it an almost unlimited number of ways. However, there are no buttons on the OM-D EM-1 that are specifically desiccated to ISO and WB, two tools I change constantly while shooting. Yes, Olympus allows you to set any number of Fn buttons to handle WB or ISO but remembering which dials or buttons you’ve setup in this manner can be problematic. Especially if you’re not shooting on a daly basis. OK, maybe if you shoot every single day, you’ll easily remember which dial, which lever, which button, all of them unmarked, you selected for a particular option but I found it impossible to recall quickly in fast moving situations where I needed to change ISO.

      2). Easy Auto Focus selection by way of rear LCD. The ability to quickly move the Lumix cameras AF sensor, while shooting, is equaled by no other system. The Touch Screen Rear LCD is revolutionary for quick AF placement. Olympus now has an option for doing something similar, in their newest bodies, but none of them allow you to change the AF placement, via the touch screen, while the camera is to your eye. There is simply no other system that is faster and easier to use. Nikon and Canon’s AF selection system are both prehistoric in comparison.

      3). MFT equals extremely small lenses. The Fuji system uses a 1.5X smaller sensor therefore giving us some potential for smaller lenses than the full frame Nikon and Canon cameras. However, the Fuji 100-400mm is every bit as big and heavy as the Nikkor 80-400mm. Fuji’s smaller sensor basically gives us the equivalent of a 600mm lens which makes the 100-400mm relatively small in comparison to the actual size of a 600mm on a full frame camera. The Lumix system (MFT) I feel is the sweet spot for combining image quality and the ability to design very small lenses. I would not want to go any smaller than a MFT sensor but using the smaller sensor is the reason for the incredibly small, compact lenses.

      As far as auto focus speed is concerned, with the new Leica 100-400mm and the Olympus 300mm F/4, I’m now getting AF results very close to my very best Nikons, including the D4. Is it as good as the D4? No quite, but it’s very close and I predict that whatever the new replacement for the Lumix GH4 is, it will equal the Nikon and Canons and may even surpass them in AF capabilities.

      Regarding high ISO capabilities of the MFT system. Without a doubt MFT’s sensors are at a disadvantage when compared to full frame Nikons, Sony or Canon cameras. But it’s not as big of disadvantage as many people think.

      Here's a recent test I shot at 25,600ISO straight out of the camera. No processing of any kind and it looks horrible.

      Here’s a recent test I shot at 25,600ISO straight out of the camera. No processing of any kind and it looks horrible.

      You have to ask yourself, what do you do with your images? How often do you shoot in situations before the sun rises or sets. Once you shoot your images, do they live on your computer for the rest of time?

      Here's a 100% crop from the image above. Pretty nasty at 25,600ISO

      Here’s a 100% crop from the image above. Pretty nasty at 25,600ISO

      Do you publish to Facebook or other social media outlets? Do you produce large format books? Do you print wall decor and if so at what size? These are all questions you have to ask yourself when deciding if the slightly less quality of the MFT cameras is big deal. In 90%+ of most situations you will never see the lower quality issues. But low light is one area you will see some differences. To reduce low light noise problems I highly recommend DXO Optics Pro 11.

      This is a sample of an image shot at 25,600ISO. The RAW file was processed with DXO Optics Pro 11.

      This is a sample of the same image processed with DXO Optics Pro 11. 

      For me James, it’s all come down to my desire to go lighter and smaller, spend less money on my equipment and in short, put the fun back in to my photography. I got tired of carrying all that heavy, expensive, full frame Nikon gear.

      Same 100% enlargement after processed with DXO Optics Pro 11. Not perfect but I'm impressed with the quality of the text shown on the blackboard against the wall.

      Same 100% enlargement after processed with DXO Optics Pro 11. Not perfect but I’m impressed with the quality of the text shown on the blackboard against the wall.

      Additionally, the way I earned my living for 35+ years, shooting stock photography of wildlife, nature and travel, is DEAD! Today people are selling images for one, two and three dollars for unlimited rights when in the 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s I was paid an average of $250.00US for a single use for a particular image. There is just no financial incentive or reason for me to continue shooting $3000.00-$6000.00 Nikons and Canons I used to shoot. How can anyone justify shooting a $6000.00 camera when clients are paying a single US dollar for the image that camera helped me produce. From a business perspective it’s completely absurd.

      So there you have it. Those are just a few of my main reasons why I’m absolutely in love with the Panasonic Lumix system. Panasonic is not a household name in the world of still photography but they are changing that fast. And if you give them a try you’ll understand why they’re making serious progress.

  11. MichelleOn Aug. 5th, 2016 (10 months ago)

    What do you think about the imagine stabilization in the body and 100-400 lens on the gx8. Where you happy with that?

    I do a lot of zoom mountain (sillier te style) shots from a distance: so I’m just curious to know witch camera & lens I should go for LUMIX 100-400 with gx8 or the xt2 with the Fuji.

    Not carrying a tripod all the time (if that’s even possible for the lumix would be a great selling point)

    Thanks ! I’ve really been picking my brains lately on this one…

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      Daniel J. CoxOn Aug. 5th, 2016 (10 months ago)

      Michelle, the Dual IS of the 100-400mm and the GX8 are superb. I’m regular shooting this camera at 800mm down to as slow as 125th of a second. That said I try to keep it in the 250th. of a second range and practice god technique such as making sure my elbow are pressed against my side while the camera is to my eye AND making sure I hold the lens all the way out to the end of the barrel when it’s in the 800mm position. I’ll add a photo to this later today to show you what I mean.

    • MichelleOn Aug. 5th, 2016 (10 months ago)

      Thanks Daniel for such a quick reply.
      I think I understand the way you are holding the camera in order to get the most steady shot :-). The gx8 has so many strongpoints. even though the xt2 is such a fun camera to use !

  12. Anders EichenOn Jul. 28th, 2016 (10 months ago)

    Hi Daniel.
    It would be interesting to hear your compere the pan 100-400 whit the oly 300 on a olympus body, to see if the dual IS is so good that you can skip the tripod. This would mean more convenience to me than the zoom ability.

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      Daniel J. CoxOn Jul. 28th, 2016 (10 months ago)

      Anders,

      I’ve not tried the new Olympus 300mm F/4 with the OM-D cameras very much. I do have an OM-D EM-1 but I’ve not used it with the 300mm a great deal since I’m actually producing and using the lens for my professional work and I much prefer the Lumix bodies. Thankfully, the in lens IS works extremely well with the Lumix cameras though yes, I would love to have DUAL IS with the Olympus lenses. Unfortunately, until I get a break from my assignment work, where I’m more confident in the Lumix cameras and I don’t have to be absolutely certain I’m getting the images I’m seeing, I will give the OM-D EM-1 some more use and see how much better the Dual IS is when it’s possible to have both in lens and in camera IS. Thanks for stopping by and adding your voice.

  13. Joe SOn Jul. 12th, 2016 (10 months ago)

    Daniel,

    Do you no longer use the Nikkor 600mm? I was considering selling mine to and getting the Fuji 100-400. The nice thing about the Nikon is the shallow depth of field at ƒ/4. How does the Fuji compare in your opinion?

    Joe

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jul. 13th, 2016 (10 months ago)

      Joe,

      I still have my Nikkor 600mm but haven’t shot it for over two years. Just haven’t decided to get rid of it since I would hate to have to rebuy if a really unique assignment came along I had to use the larger cameras for. I haven’t shot the Fuji other than in the test this blog post highlighted but it was exceptionally sharp and has a fabulous feel of superb quality. I don’t think you can go wrong with this lens. I loved it for the short time I had it.

  14. MichaelOn Jul. 4th, 2016 (11 months ago)

    Daniel have you had much time using the existing oly 75-300mm? I take it the leica 100-400mm is leaps and bounds ahead in terms of IQ and focus speed/accuracy? I am planning a long safari in 2017 and am trying to work out if I should upgrade for the extra reach the leica offers. I weighing towards yes, but still any opinion of someone who has handled both lens would be appreciated.

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      Daniel J. CoxOn Jul. 9th, 2016 (11 months ago)

      Michael, I have not tested the 75-300mm but based on what I’ve heard and read the Leica is head and shoulders above in image quality and speed of AF. I can’t say enough goo d things about the new Leica 100-400mm. Part of my late response is due to being in Alaska for a month shooting mainly the new Leica zoom and I’m even more happy with it than I was before the trip. It really is a stellar wildlife and nature lens.

  15. Mac SilverOn Jun. 22nd, 2016 (11 months ago)

    I have been a Olympus camera user for over 40 years. While I wait eagerly, frustratingly, for the 300f4 Oly to rise from the apparent ashes of a Earthquake in Southern Japan, I have visited countless reviews and blogs trying to determine what to do: I have a Oly OM-D Em1 and after spending months getting all the gadgets straight, I still feel it was a great purchase. For Bird Photography, however, reach and sharpness IS everything, and even if you might might be not the best photographer you can still produce a great image that will wow them on the internet. I am, actually, a very good photographer but have loved Olympus too long to leave it. I tried Canon, and it felt like one, liked my old film Nikons but didn’t like the new ones, and in the end, I bought the fourth Olympus I will own. After reading your wonderful discussion you have answered a lot of questions. Yet the marketing and tests, as well as the slant of certain words and what is emphasized leads me to the conclusion that if I want super sharpness and great reach, I should buy the fixed 300f4, with a TC 1-4 . If I want a better quality lens than the fabulous (at 240-260mm) Panasonic, I might feel my goals to enter the Vallalah of Sharpness will make me feel disappointed that I didn’t wait (wait, and then wait, like at a dentist office purgatory) for a lens that might not be here for many months. The 100-400 has yet to win me over. Am I right? Is the trade of Super Sharp versus Zoom Flexibility? On the name issue; A car designed by Toyota and built in America is still a Toyota. If Leica designed the lens, and then Panasonic built it, it should have both names on it.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jun. 22nd, 2016 (11 months ago)

      Mac,

      Great insight. But I can tell you that I’ve been traveling with both the 100-400mm and the Oly 300mm for the past 6 weeks. During that time I’ve shot several thousand images with the Leica 100-400mm and a few hundred with the Oly 300mm. What I’m finding, as I suspected is, I love the slightly better sharpness of the Oly lens but the convenience of the 100-400mm draws my hand to that lens each time I go to the camera bag to make a decision. I’m actually astonished how my subconscious rules virtually overtime. On a recent shoot in Scotland, where we spent a morning shooting puffins, I took both lenses and I have to say that when I looked at the results, from both lenses, I could not see a difference. However, we know there is a difference on the studio tests I shot and shared in this original post, but in actual field use, not so much. The ease of use, slightly smaller, lighter package, makes the Leica 100-400mm incredibly tempting. I’m writing this on my way to Alaska for a brown bear shoot and I’ve brought both lenses again. I plan to really shoot both and make a decision on whether I plan to keep the Olympus 300mm F/4. Stay tuned.

  16. Helmut BachlOn Jun. 14th, 2016 (11 months ago)

    Dan!

    Thanks for your efforts to test these lens! Last weekend I’ve done a test too. I’ve tested the Oly 300mm/f4 att. to the Olympus EM-1, the Panasonic 100 – 400mm att. to the EM-1, the Canon 100 – 400mm att. to a Canon EOS 7 D Mark 2, the Canon 400mm/f2.8 and 600mm/f4 each att. to the 7D M2 and the Canon 5D Mark 3. Every lens with max. wide open aperture and then in steps of 4,5.6,8,11. All combinations are mounted on a tripod and with delayed action shutter release. I got some hundred images and I haven’t compared all images by now. But my first impression is nearly the same as yours. The Panasonic and the Olympus lens performed very good. The Olympus lens better than the Panasonic, but not a lot.

    Interesting was the result of the Canon 100 – 400mm on the 7D M2. These combi performs not very good, especially in the edges, compared to the Panasonic, at almost all apertures. Even on the very good lens Canon 400/f2.8, the 7D Mark 2 got images which are about the same level as the Olympus 300mm/f4, but not better than one could expect. Only the Canon 600mm/f4 on the Canon 5D Mark 3 is a level higher than the Micro43 camera with the Pana and Oly lens. But as mentioned before, not so much of difference as expected too.

    Clearly, that a pro photographer would need sometimes more resolution to crop the images a bit, but the advantages of the M43 system in a lightweight gear to a fraction of costs and a good image quality, are undoubted. If these lens would have been available two years ago, on my safari to Africa, I would have made my decision for the M43 system. I am not a pro photographer, but I like the quality of images, which was the reason to buy the very expensive Canon lens. From that point of view, the Oly and Panasonic lens are cost effective. As a result of the test I bought both lenses. I am looking forward to my next travel with less of weight on my back and in the plane. Kind regards from Hannover, Germany.

  17. Robert HowieOn Jun. 9th, 2016 (12 months ago)

    Thanks Dan for your reviews on the 100-400,
    From reading this I take it that the Olympus 300 F 4 is sharper at 300mm than the Panasonic 100-400 at 400mm but not as flexible in the field since it’s a prime. If the Olympus 300 and MC 1.4 perform like the Oly 40-150 and MC 1.4 then at 420mm performance will drop slightly wide open at 5.6 and bounce back at F8. I think that while it seems on the photos the Olympus is stellar (which it is) and the Panny is less so the difference when both are shooting at approx 400mm and F6.3 will be less obvious.
    I plan to buy either the Olympus 300 or Panny 100-400 but as a hobbyist I tend to favour the Panny on cost and zoom flexibility. (As an aside from my experience the sharpest lenses in the Olympus M43 system are, except for the 75 1.8 and now the 300 4, their Pro zooms!)
    Have you compared your 300 with the MC 1.4 fitted against the Panny at 400mm?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jun. 10th, 2016 (12 months ago)

      Robert,

      I have not compared the Olympus 300mm with the Oly 1.4X teleconverter attached. I will say that so far, even though the Olympus 300mm is a bit sharper, in my studio tests, I find I almost never reach for the Olympus 300mm due to the zoom capabilities of the Leica 100-400mm. Additionally, when I review the images from the Leica, they look incredibly sharp and had I not done the studio tests I would have virtually no idea the Leica is technically a little less sharp than the 300mm Olympus. In short, I’ve been extremely happy with the production version of the 100-400mm Leica I’ve finally got my hands on and am now shooting extensively.

  18. Joe MorrisonOn May. 25th, 2016 (12 months ago)

    Still looking for those manual aperture rings on my Lumix lenses. They must be the exception, not the rule.

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      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 25th, 2016 (12 months ago)

      Joe, yes, the manual aperture ring is an exception. A couple of the Leica versions do have the manual aperture rings. Those include the 15mm F/1.7, the 42.5mm F/1.2. More coming I’m sure however.

  19. Stefan SchmidtOn May. 20th, 2016

    Hi again Daniel!

    Thank you for this post and your answers! It struck me that since so much happens in the software of the lenses as well as in the camerabodies one might actually need to be able to update the firmware when Panasonic release fixes. Do you have to own a Panasonic camera body in order to be able to update a Panasonic lens? I guess there´s not a usb-port on the lens. Or does Panasonic or the reseller offer an update service?

    With regards
    Stefan

    • Christian BernfeldOn May. 20th, 2016

      Hi Stefan,

      may I answer your question, as I had the same question for myself and found all necessary information here:
      http://cs.olympus-imaging.jp/en/support/imsg/digicamera/download/software/firm/e1/index.cfm#pana_ml
      and here:
      http://av.jpn.support.panasonic.com/support/global/cs/dsc/download/fts/
      In short: Olympus and Panasonic have a Joint update service. The same way you can even get new firmware for Sigma and Tamron mFT lenses. Some people meant the Olympus way of firmware update to be much easier, but I didn’t try a Panasonic update for myself, as there is no new firmware for any of my Panasonic lenses or the GX-7.

      Christian

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      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 21st, 2016

      Christian, though the Olympus firmware seems better at first, I’ve heard from many who use Olympus that the Olympus system requires you be attached to the internet for downloading the updates. Many have had issues with the internet connection dropping out in the middle of the download process and completely wrecking their cameras, to the point of needing to send them in for repair. Panasonic on the other hand does it like Nikon where you download the file, copy it to your SD card and update from the card. This eliminates the potential of harming the camera due to a dropped internet connection. The one thing Panasoinc could do better, is update the web pages that show how to make the firmware update. I’ve written a blog post to help Lumix users navigate the difficult process as laid out on the Panasonic web page. Here is link to that Blog http://naturalexposures.com/update-firmware-panasonic-lumix/

    • Christian BernfeldOn May. 23rd, 2016 (12 months ago)

      Thank you for your advice, Daniel!
      In fact I didn’t know that point and maybe was simply very lucky when I did an important firmware update with several new functions on the Lofoten Islands without a damage to my E-M1. I had a rather inconsistent internet connection there! Uff…
      The file download of the file needed much more time than usual, but it seemed that the upgrade process started only after the download was really complete. Perhaps they check now a checksum to ensure the file isn’t corrupt?
      However, next time I will be more careful!

    • Stefan SchmidtOn May. 23rd, 2016 (12 months ago)

      Great! Thank you both for answering!

      I have access to a Lumix GX7 if I borrow my daughters camera, she preffered that one before the EM-1. It is nice to know ones options before comitting to a rather large purchase from a hobbyists perspective. I realize that both the 100-400 Leica lens and the 300 mm Olympus lens are really not that expensive compared to equivalent lenses from Nikon or Canon. Still it´s a lot of money in itself.

      Thank you for your time!

      Stefan

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 25th, 2016 (12 months ago)

      Stefan, I agree with the fact that $1799.00US IS a great deal of money. I don’t mean to minimize that but it’s important to understand that comparatively the Leica 100-400mm is very inexpensive compared to what has come before it. It’s necessary for photographers who have never used the incredibly expensive Canon or Nikon lenses, of similar focal range, to understand this. If one photographer is talking with another and they discuss the price of this lens without comparing it to what we used to have to pay for something similar, then it sounds expensive. But the conversation includes information that a similar focal length lens from Nikon or Canon will cost $12,000-18,000US then it becomes obvious that $1799.00US is quite reasonable. It’s just completely unfair to suggest this lens is expensive when compared to other option is is extremely inexpensive.

  20. AndrewOn May. 18th, 2016

    “It’s a beast compared to the Leica and the Leica is a bit brighter at F/4 compared to F/4.5 when at the 400mm position.”
    I think you meant 100mm 🙂

  21. Stefan SchmidtOn May. 18th, 2016

    Hi!
    Nice article! I am very interested in the Leica 100 – 400 but when I got hold of an early sample in my favourite camerashop and got to try it out it had some strange backfocus problems. I borrowed a GX8 and an Olympus EM-5II and the problem ocurred with both of cameras. In the viewfinder it all looked fantasic, sharp and contrasty. The salesperson was as baffled as I was. Up until that moment I did not think a mirrorless camera could miss focus due to the fact that the sensor is used to check the focus. I was acually going to buy the lens and had planned to sell off my Olympus 40 – 150 for the extra reach but I didn´t. Reading that you had som issues with your early sample as well I have to ask if that also was focus related? And if that issue is fixed in the production sample you now own? Maybe I need to give the lens another chance?

    With regards
    Stefan Schmidt
    Sweden

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 19th, 2016

      Stefan, I did have some focus issues myself in the preproduction lens. I was never really able to put my finger on it but there were some definite back focus issues. However, I happy to say that so far I’ve not seen any of those issues with my final production model. I’m hopeful and relatively confident Panasonic has figured out any problems that may have been happening.

  22. John WhalenOn May. 18th, 2016

    Excellent real world perspective Dan. Would you have any concerns using the Leica 100-400 on an Olympus body? Ie potentially missing out on some in-camera image correction that you might get if using a lumix body?

    • Stefan SchmidtOn May. 18th, 2016

      Good question!

      I own an Olympus EM-1 and I am also interested in this lens.

      /Stefan Schmidt

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 19th, 2016

      John, I’ve been using the new Leica with the Olympus OM-D EM-1 and it’s working very well with no issues I can see. The fact the Olympus in body IS does not Sync with the Leica in less IS has not been an issue. The in lens IS is superb and it’s well known that in camera IS does not do as well with the mega telephotos. So it’s all been good.

  23. ReggieOn May. 18th, 2016

    Regarding the last paragraph, as you know a 600mm F/4 comparison is just unrealistic. Would love to see you throw in an APS-C camera and a 300PF. Smaller and lighter than the Olympus lens – but lower image quality, and puts the same number of pixels on a subject (cropping to a 600mm FoV from a 24MP APS-C gives you a 16MP image, or the same that a m4/3 gives you). That would offer a much more fair comparison (and its own unique set of tradeoffs).

    • JohnOn Jan. 30th, 2017 (4 months ago)

      Helmut Bachl
      On Jun. 14th, 2016 (8 months ago)

      Dan!

      Thanks for your efforts to test these lens! Last weekend I’ve done a test too. I’ve tested the Oly 300mm/f4 att. to the Olympus EM-1, the Panasonic 100 – 400mm att. to the EM-1, the Canon 100 – 400mm att. to a Canon EOS 7 D Mark 2, the Canon 400mm/f2.8 and 600mm/f4 each att. to the 7D M2 and the Canon 5D Mark 3. Every lens with max. wide open aperture and then in steps of 4,5.6,8,11. All combinations are mounted on a tripod and with delayed action shutter release. I got some hundred images and I haven’t compared all images by now. But my first impression is nearly the same as yours. The Panasonic and the Olympus lens performed very good. The Olympus lens better than the Panasonic, but not a lot.

      Interesting was the result of the Canon 100 – 400mm on the 7D M2. These combi performs not very good, especially in the edges, compared to the Panasonic, at almost all apertures. Even on the very good lens Canon 400/f2.8, the 7D Mark 2 got images which are about the same level as the Olympus 300mm/f4, but not better than one could expect. Only the Canon 600mm/f4 on the Canon 5D Mark 3 is a level higher than the Micro43 camera with the Pana and Oly lens. But as mentioned before, not so much of difference as expected too.

      Clearly, that a pro photographer would need sometimes more resolution to crop the images a bit, but the advantages of the M43 system in a lightweight gear to a fraction of costs and a good image quality, are undoubted. If these lens would have been available two years ago, on my safari to Africa, I would have made my decision for the M43 system. I am not a pro photographer, but I like the quality of images, which was the reason to buy the very expensive Canon lens. From that point of view, the Oly and Panasonic lens are cost effective. As a result of the test I bought both lenses. I am looking forward to my next travel with less of weight on my back and in the plane. Kind regards from Hannover, Germany.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Feb. 3rd, 2017 (4 months ago)

      John, great info. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and findings on all these interesting and useful combinations.

  24. Christian BernfeldOn May. 18th, 2016

    Hi Daniel,
    thank you for your review! Very interesting indeed!
    Fuji lenses are known to be excellent in sharpness and contrast, but how much of this image quality is made possible by camera and/or lens electronics? Your test image looks like.
    I use an Olympus E-M1 and a Panasonic GX-7 and for the long end I decided to buy the Panasonic 100-300mm simply for size and weight reasons, not to mention some price difference compared to the 100-400mm. Some people say this lens should be used until around 280mm only and stopped down a tiny bit to shine. Well – it does, but there is not much difference using the full length…
    Christian (Austria)

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 19th, 2016

      Christian, great to now the 100-300mm is working well for you. I found that lens to be great in many situations but where it absolutely can not compete with the new 100-400mm is in AF speed. The new Leica is a rocket when it comes to auto focus.

    • Mac SilverOn Jun. 22nd, 2016 (11 months ago)

      Just ran some tests on a very cooperative House Sparrow. Whether flowers or birds, the lenses sharpness on the Panasonic 300 zoom is crystal at around 240-260. At 300 it softened a bit. I would love to own the 300f4 (currently out of stock everywhere) yet I am hesitant to pick up the 100-400, as the extra reach while desirable may not beat the chest thumping clarity that Olympus says is the sharpest lens ever… so I may wait to make any decision. As I don’t have a single high quality TC to choose from for the current lens, I will have to wait.

  25. MarkusOn May. 16th, 2016

    The reason most photography “reviewers” criticize these long ranged micro-four thirds lenses for being “big” or “expensive” is because they have never seen or used the DSLR or Full frame alternatives. I estimate that 90% of “photography reviews” are written by “gadget reviewers” who will spend 1-2 hours max using a new lens or camera, and then moving on to the next free “review product” product which has been sent to them.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 16th, 2016

      Markus, you nailed that with a ten pound hammer. You are EXACTLY right.

  26. Nobuyuki SakamotoOn May. 15th, 2016

    The comments are almost as interesting as the comparison.

    I looked for the FujiFilm lens’ aperture ring and I didn’t see it. I could swear when I was selling equipment in the 1970s, the aperture ring was in a fairly typical place across the various lens makers’ products. My current Leica/Panasonic and Panasonic/Leica lenses have it in the typical position.

    Was the Panasonic GH4 and Olympus 300mm f/4.0 lens ever a problem for hand held operation? I find it better with my Olympus Four-Thirds lenses than the Olympus E-M1. In fact, it makes for an easier transition from the Olympus E-5 than the E-M1 does.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 15th, 2016

      Nobuyuki san, Yes the GH4 and Olympus 300mm F/4 work wonderfully together being hand held. I especially like using the GH4 with the additional battery pack when using the larger lenses such as the Olympus 40-150mm, Olympus 300mm and the mew Leica 100-400mm. I feel Panasonic has come to understand a MFT camera does need to be a reasonable size to make it easy to operate and handle. The Panasonic bodies have been getting a bit larger over time but the ongoing advantage are the lenses. For me it’s the lack of size and weight in lenses the makes the MFT system so appealing.

  27. DAN OHOn May. 13th, 2016

    Dear Dan, I have seen Blog on dpreview about the stiffness of Pana / Leica zoom control on the lens. I agree with stiffness and help to prevent zoom creeping, but it is not intolerable and hope it does loosen up bit though not too much. Having said that I learned little trick in zooming in and out. After I extend the built in hood I grab hold of the area where lens hood was and pull or push the lens toward the camera body. The zooming very smooth. Take it what this is worth 🙂

  28. Dean SwartzOn May. 13th, 2016

    Dan, I’ve always suspected that you have a few loose screws! Now, you’ve provided the proof! [Sorry, just couldn’t pass that up.]

    Once again, you have provided your followers invaluable information. I have had absolutely no issue with the screws on my Olympus MC-14. (Serial No. AC6205376) However, after watching your video, I checked them and they were all extremely tight. Based on your experience, it is probably wise for everyone to check the security of his or her screws. A simple solution if you find any that have a tendency to become loose is to use “thread locker fluid” available from Really Right Stuff (Item Code: HGTb0.070L). This is great stuff; unlike conventional “glue” it is not permanent and will still allow removal of the screws later if needed.

    One tip: I routinely check the screws on all my lenses and camera bodies. Happy to report that I’ve never found a loose screw. But, I certainly don’t want to have one come loose when out in the field.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 13th, 2016

      Dean, thanks for the tip on the Really right Stuff screw lock. I’ll need to get some for those times I loose my screw:)

    • Robert NOn May. 19th, 2016

      No need to order from RRS. You can find thread locker at your local hardware store. What you want is Loctite Threadlocker Blue, No. 242. This is the version that retains the screws but allows them to be removed with hand tools. Don’t get the version where the screws can only be removed with the addition of heat.

      And Dan, thank you for this very informative test.

  29. Portrait of Edward Nahin

    Ed NahinOn May. 12th, 2016

    THANK YOU DAN for your help in assisting your friends and fans in this honest appraisal of these great tools.
    I am still using the Canon 5D MK111 with their more recent 100-400. But I do remember you wonderful work with
    the Lumix and I am getting closer to downsizing equipment weight and bulk in the very near future.
    Hello to Tanya. We miss you both. THANKS AGAIN.

    Ed Nahin

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 12th, 2016

      It’s my pleasure Ed. Hope you and Pat are doing well.

  30. ArnoldOn May. 12th, 2016

    Hi Dan,

    Thanks for the great review.

    I own the Fuji 100-400 with 1.4x converter and all I can say is: amazing !!
    Even with the 1.4x the images are tack sharp, yes even wide open, the 5 stops OIS works very well and there seems to be no loss in AF speed with the 1.4x between the 100-400 and the X-T1. Just hands down for the Fuji engineers.

    If you’re used to a particular camera system, all the others seem to be unintuitive, but using the Fuji mirrorless system for over two years now, I got so used to the dials and the aperture ring, that I never want another system anymore. You don’t need any manual to understand the camera, other than Olympus where you have to dig yourself into the menus. The Fuji interface is very understandable, even for less experienced photographers.

    Just give yourself some time to get used to the Fuji systeem (which in fact is not very different from a vintage 35mm camera, regarding dials and a aperture ring) and you have yourself an amazing system with one of the best optical lenses availlable these day’s. All the Fujinon lenses I own (or have owned) are outstanding as well, even the cheap platsic XC series has amazing optical quality. Fuji just doesn’t produce bad glass.

    Cheers,
    Arnold (Netherlands)

    • jeffOn May. 12th, 2016

      I agree with this – have an x pro 2 with the 50-140mm lens and it is just so darn sharp….all of my lenses are. Sort of an open secret I suppose that their lenses are staggeringly good.

      Nice review. I think you agree based on your words – fantastic lenses. Not sure if you meant xt2 or not…lots of fuji types want that camera. 🙂 If it has the same sensor I have in my xpro2, it is simply an amazing piece that I am not sure I’ll ever live up to to be honest.

      🙂

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 12th, 2016

      Yes, I agree. The Fuji 100-400mm is stunning! And yes, I did make a mistake on the camera model. It should have been X-PRO2.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 12th, 2016

      I agree that getting used to a particular camera brand is subjective. But I will say that the Fuji dials, both front an back were just to “dainty”. They were very smooth and fluid, too much so. This was my biggest complaint other than the menu system. Using the X-Pro2 with gloves on would be very, very difficult with such easily moved front and back dials.

  31. Jim HullyOn May. 11th, 2016

    Hi Dan,

    I appreciate this comparison. I’m still on the fence regarding “super” telephotos and m43 not because of the lenses but because of the cameras (poor C-AF & image blackout). My passion is bird photography and m43 has a way to go at the moment. There are so many advantages to the smaller format that I’m itching to unload my DSLR gear.
    Looking at the results I’m struggling with the exposure information for the 4 set-ups. The m43 combos are comparable but the Nikon seems an outlier. If the ISO is 100 and the aperture 5.6 (400mm I assume) then how can it have the same shutter speed/brightness as the Olympus for example (ISO 200 & f/4)? The Fuji is a little in between. That aside, is it possible to match the ISO across the different bodies? Also how does the Olympus 300+1.4 (with screws) compare to the others at 400mm? I really like the flexibility offered by the Panny lens coupled with the better handling (IMHO) of the Panny bodies.

    Thanks

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 11th, 2016

      Jim,

      C-AF and image black our hasn’t been a problem since the GH4. I use it all the time for flying birds. Here’s a link to a recent bog post on the subject. http://naturalexposures.com/birds-in-flight-settings-for-panasonic-lumix-cameras/ The changes in ISO and what it is on the Nikon compared to the Fuji etc. is all more math than I care to do and one of the reasons this is a layman’s test of sorts. Not super scientific but I think the pictures speak for themselves. Its easy to get a relatively good idea what is what even though there are a few anomalies. I haven’t shot any in studio tests with the 300mm Olympus and the 1.4X converter. May try that a bit later down the road. Thats for stopping by and adding your voice.

  32. christian lencludOn May. 11th, 2016

    Hi Dan,
    For me the OLY 300 and the Leica 100400 tif are extremely noisy and more on the left side . Do you agree ? Do you have an explanation ? an effect of the flash ?

  33. GeorgeOn May. 10th, 2016

    Thanks for the time and efforts of doing the comparison! Like a few people said, I would like a comparison of Leica @300mm@f5.6 vs Oly@f5.6.
    Best Regards.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 10th, 2016

      I do have those tests George. Will try to get them put together in another Blog post.

  34. Yvonne ButlerOn May. 10th, 2016

    Dan-
    I have had the Panasonic 100-400 mm lens for several days now. Used with the Gx8 there is a lot to like about it. Handheld is amazing- what can I say- easy to hand hold, fast AF, great color and bokeh. Surprisingly I thought the hand held shots were sharper than those on tripod. I turned off the OIS on the lens but presumably the camera IS was still functional. Any hints for tripod use? Is a remote shutter release absolutely necessary when on the tripod? Thanks so much for all the time and effort you put into your blog.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 10th, 2016

      Yvonne, Some things to consider if shooting on a tripod and you have a static subject. If the head is locked down tightly make sure you shut the lens IS off. Also, a cable release would not be a bad idea and I would even try the Electronic Shutter for less possible movement due to the shutter release. Something know as Shutter Shock. Thanks for appreciating the Blog. Wasn’t sure I even wanted to release these tests due to lots of people who have the ability to pick stuff like this completely apart but I think most people see the value and appreciate it. Thanks for your nice comments.

  35. Tim LOn May. 10th, 2016

    Interesting read, Dan. It seems odd that you would find the concept of the Fuji aperture ring so confusing. In fact, with analog controls for aperture, shutter speed, and ISO I cannot imagine a more straightforward way to control the most basic operations of a camera body. That’s not to say the entire system is as intuitive. You do have to read the manual. There is even an acronym for that… 🙂

  36. Doug BrayOn May. 10th, 2016

    Hi Dan,

    Thank you for your efforts to provide real life comparisons of mirrorless systems.

    As you know, Debra and I have our feet in both the Nikon and Olympus camps. We have had the Oly 300mm since late February. With the OMD-E1’s IBS combined with the in lens IS, we have been able to get great hand held images at the 600 mm and 840 mm equivalent at several stops below the general rule. I wish I could do that with the full frame Nikon gear.

    Doug

  37. Steve McEnroeOn May. 10th, 2016

    Just saying, a guy your age should be somewhat familiar with a traditional aperture ring on a lens – but maybe not. I grew up with Pentax and Nikon cameras with aperture rings on the lenses. The Fuji system is like going back home again.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 10th, 2016

      Steve, without doubt I’m certainly familiar with the old style aperture rings. Fuji’s is not that. It does have a ring but it had a unique way of using it that is somewhat hidden, until you find it. For a truly old world experience in aperture rings look no further than the Pany/Leica 42.5 and the 15mm. which are both right on the lens barrel, upfront and easy to see/find, no gimmicks, easy to use. Additionally, the Lumix front ring dial operates the aperture with no need for changes in the menu, just need to make sure the aperture ing is set to the Auto position. I tried using the XT-1’s front dial for aperture and it did nothing. Wasn’t until I finally fond the manual ring on the lens that I was able to proceed. Thats for your comment. Always appreciate hearing form our readers.

  38. Ian SwarbrickOn May. 10th, 2016

    Thanks for your work on this Dan. You owe us nothing at all of course, though if you did (ie I was paying you!) I`d request a direct comparison of the Oly and Leica at 300mm rather than have the latter at 400mm which is known to be less good anyway. Just my 2 cents. Thanks

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 10th, 2016

      Ian, I did do that test and will add that to the mix shortly. I decided to not include it at this time to keep the confusion down but it’s a good idea and thanss for asking.

  39. whitewolfownerOn May. 10th, 2016

    Dan, your tests are flawed because you shot them at different ISO’s, f-stops, focal ranges and they are framed differently. For a test to compare them, you have to find the common grounds so the the only change is the lens itself. They have to be shot with the same camera and all data has to be mentioned.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 10th, 2016

      Whitewolfowner, you must have missed the part in my blog that readily admits that these tests are not be perfect due to me having less than a scientific studio and my lack of desire to become a “Super Nerd”. The point is; these tests are fine for getting a good comparison of what all these lenses can do and how a real world, unscientific image looks, side by side to all the others, to the average Joe. I also mentioned, that if you’re mired in the most infinite details, like you obviously are, then you may want to wait for DXO to do the tests. For the photographer that gets out and actually shoots, these tests are not flawed and I would suggest are much more real to the average man or woman.

  40. BarryOn May. 10th, 2016

    Hi Dan, Don’t Necessarily disagree on the Fuji XT-1 controls issue, shoot Fuji myself now, but this was supposed to be a telephoto zoom lens comparison, correct ? Most of the Fuji section is lamenting the XT1 controls and not near as much info on the lens and how it performs/handles. Whereas the Leica and Olympus sections discuss more of the lens itself. Make sense ??
    Thanks for taking the time.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 10th, 2016

      You are correct Barry. Should have kept comments to just the lens but that’s the benefit of being my own editor, I can add additional comments if I choose.

  41. Portrait of Ray Hirsch

    Ray HirschOn May. 10th, 2016

    Hi Dan,
    Thanks for going to all of this work to give us this side by side comparison. I was very impressed with the Oly, but it had two advantages, prime and shot @300mm. From my experience with the Lumix 100-400mm, I would suggest that the Lumix would compare much more favorably against the Oly if used at 300mm. The lens is very sharp in the 100-300mm range, but falls off notably in the 300 to 400mm range, at least that is what I am seeing with my copy. Also, the Fuji lens using the X-T1 has the advantage of the Fuji sensor having no anti-alaising filter like the Nikon D810 or Sony A7Rii. It would be hard to separate how much of edge acuity visible here is due to the lens vs the lack of this filter. The old tests between the D800 and D800e gives some idea, but those were full frame sensors and the difference was also notable. Smaller sensors may be subject to an even greater degradation, but I am not sure about this point. My final take is that I am very happy with the Lumix/Leica 100-400mm. It is plenty sharp in the 100-300mm range for such a small and light lens. The fact that acuity falls off at the extreme end is not surprising to me and any loss of sharpness at 800mm will most likely be lost in the “atmospheric” degradation that normally occurs at long distances.

    All the best, see You and Tanya in Scotland,

    Ray

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 10th, 2016

      Ray, I agree with your assessment that the 100-400mm would most likely perform better at the 300mm range but I’m of the mind, if they give me 400mm, that’s what I’m going to want to use. The fact the Fuji XT-1 does not have an anti-aliasing filter is a good point. Maybe the new GX85 will give us even better results with the Leica 100-400mm. I’m glad to hear you are happy with your Leica 100-400mm and I too am very happy with mine. Could I be even happier? I could but then as a professional that shoots for a living I’m always striving for the most I can get out of my gear.

    • Portrait of Ray Hirsch

      Ray HirschOn May. 11th, 2016

      Hi Dan,

      I do understand the urge to take advantage of the “leading edge” of technology. Technology was my specialty in the investment management business, but we used to call it the “bleeding edge” of technology because of the the huge amount of money spent, and often wasted, trying to “surf” the leading edge of the wave. You’re tempting me to order a new Fuji X-T2 and 100-400mm XF lens, but then I realized that since the X-T2 is a APC sensor I would still be shooting at 600mm equivalent!!!, and I am very happy with my Lumix at 600mm. This is truly an amazing time to be a photographer, because things are changing so fast that we are experiencing more change in the past 15 years than took place in the 150+ years of the film era. We can shoot in the dark, take stills and video at the same time, see the “processed” results instantly, and do things in Aperture/LR and that were not even dreamed about in the “darkroom” days (a good name for it). So, again, thank You for pioneering this whole new world of light, portable equipment that fulfills the promise of the phrase “that the best camera is the one you have with you.”

      All the best,

      Ray

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 11th, 2016

      That’s me Ray, “Bleeding Edge” I love the Fuji lens as well but definitely not willing to give up the superior ergonomics, touch screen technology, 4K Photo Mode, 4K Video and all the other fabulous tools the Lumix cameras include that nobody else is doing. Not to mention the much larger size and weight of the Fuji 100-400mm. I’m feeling just fine with our Leica 100-400 and the Olympus 300mm F/4 for my Lumix cameras.

  42. Portrait of Judith Leclerc

    Judy LeclercOn May. 10th, 2016

    Really nice comparison Dan. Thank you. I am still very happy with my Olympus setup. Just FYI, I have now gone through 3 hoods for the 40-150 f2.8 Olympus. They need a new design! The hood for the 300 is quite nice if it holds up! See you soon!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 10th, 2016

      Good to hear Judy. Looking forward to seeing you.

  43. henkOn May. 10th, 2016

    Regarding the screws of the 1.4 converter. ……. i’ve used it intensively in Botswana , and Namibja twice.
    I’ve just checked it again no issue’s found .
    You had the luck of the draw ?

    Kind regards

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 10th, 2016

      Henk, possibly bad luck but I’ve had two and I know there others that have had the same. Maybe they all came from the same batch. I hope they have it figured out. Maybe the person who places lock tight on the screws fell asleep that day:)

  44. HankOn May. 9th, 2016

    Daniel the Fuji 100-400 is a great lens and will only perform that much better on the Fuji XT2.

  45. DougOn May. 9th, 2016

    Dan: Thanks for the helpful review. Since I own a Fuji X-T1, I can attest that it does take some getting used to, but the results have been worth it. The GH4 is a dream camera, ergonomically speaking, that’s for sure. Anyway, I own the Fuji 100-400mm and simply can’t believe how great a lens it is, despite its size. It’s remarkably sharp and contrasty, has beautiful bokeh and great vibration reduction. I’ve shot handheld successfully at 600mm equivalent at 1/15 of a second. Adding the 1.4 teleconverter provides remarkably similar results at 800mm+, albeit at f/8. Isn’t it great that we have so many really good options in mirrorless today?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 9th, 2016

      Thats for the input Doug. You really have to be loving that lens. It is so sharp!

  46. Dean SwartzOn May. 9th, 2016

    Dan, the Man! You’ve done it again! You are in fact, “DXO.” DaneXtraOrdinary! Your comparison (and you are not the first person to find the FUJI body less than ‘intuitive’ to operate) is spot on. I have owned both the Olympus 300mm f4 Pro, Panasonic Leica DG 100-400mm [“PL”], and Nikon 80-400mm (both versions) and concur in your findings that the Olympus 300mm is fantastic! This is not to take away from the PL 100-400mm. They are two different tools. A huge advantage of the PL is that you can locate your subject far more easily at 200mm and then zoom in to 800mm thereby saving the frustration of hunting for that critter with the fixed focal length lens.

    Another important point must be made. There are many reviews of these new mirrorless camera system super telephotos lenses on the Internet being done by those with little to no experience shooting with professional “big glass.” Their “test” images are far less than adequate and give a false impression of image quality. Few of the reviewers possess, unlike you, Dan, possess the expertise and skill to get the most out of these amazing lenses.

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us. Panasonic should pay close attention to what you have written and, with tweaks, hopefully it get the IQ of it’s flagship lens up to the level that Olympus has achieved with its Pro line of MFT lenses. Panasonic has proven with the truly fantastic DG 42.5 mm f1.2 Noctricon that it has the ability to produce a class-leading lens. Unfortunately, the 100-400mm is not quite there.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 9th, 2016

      Thanks as always Dean for adding your thoughts. I do agree that though the Leica 100-400mm is very good, the Leica 42.5 is absolutely exceptional. That said, we are talking about a zoom compared to a shorter fixed lens. But… I also believe Fuji has proved just because it’s a zoom doesn’t mean it has to take a back seat to even a fixed lens. The Fuji 100-400mm is astonishingly sharp and they should be given high praise for building such an incredible lens. This lens proves a zoom can be as sharp as a fixed focal length lens like the Olympus 300mm. I was floored by the Fuji.

  47. John O'ConnellOn May. 9th, 2016

    Thanks for the review Daniel.
    I rented a Panasonic Leica,loved it.Bought one,it was awful,zoom ring too stiff to turn,when looking through viewfinder,also quite unsharp at the long end.Its on its way back for a refund.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 9th, 2016

      Dissapointing to hear John. Sorry to hear about the issues you’ve had with your 100-400mm. I appreciate you adding your voice so Panasonic can get this straightened out.

  48. Portrait of Fred Kurtz

    Fred KurtzOn May. 9th, 2016

    I find it interesting that the people who criticize you have only a first name. Well in my book you have always been objective and spot on with your analysis of cameras and lenses. I am extremely happy with the LUMIX lineup of cameras and lenses and of the Olympus lenses. And to be fair, you have talked about button placemeant and errogonimics on Olympus cameras, Fuji cameras AND Panasonic cameras so you have no bias and just report the facts. Thanks for your tireless efforts Dan.

  49. SteveOn May. 9th, 2016

    Daniel,

    At what distance did you shoot these tests?

    Steve

  50. DaveOn May. 9th, 2016

    With all due respect…you should completely remove your comments regarding the Fuji camera and lens. Obviously you did not know how to operate the camera and lens.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 9th, 2016

      With all due respect right back at you, I’ve shot dozens of different kinds of cameras over my forty years as a professional photographer. I stand by my comments that the Fuji cameras could use some help with ergonomics. Sorry, but that’s the way I see it.

    • NeilOn May. 10th, 2016

      I shot Fuji for about 2 years (X-E1, E2, T1). May even shoot it again. But I agree with the review, the ergonomics need some help. The most frustrating things with Fuji are inconsistencies: some lenses have push/pull manual and some don’t, some have aperture rings and 1 doesn’t, some are marked rings with stops, some are unmarked with no stops, the locking ISO on X-T1, the mushy buttons, the lack of a good method to move AF points (although solved on X-Pro2 and presumably the X-T2)…

      That said, I do like Fuji and I like the direction they’re going. They need more polish and refinement, though. Same for the others. I could point out some things Nikon does stupidly: moving menu locations, each model has buttons in different areas even in pro cameras, weird AF-ON placement on some models, etc.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 10th, 2016

      Could not agree more on all you said. Nikon’s button placement is a nightmare in my opinion. Button placement and ergonomics is one of the main reason I really like what Panasonic is doing. The Lumix GH4 has the most intuitive and easy layout of any camera made and I hope it doesn’t change with whatever camera comes after it.

  51. Portrait of Fred Kurtz

    Fred KurtzOn May. 9th, 2016

    Thanks for the very detailed analysis Dan. The Leica 100-400 is sure a winner and it was worth waiting for. I cannot wait to put it through it paces this summer with you. I still do not have the Olympus 300 yet from F11. I am supposed to get the next one they get. I decided to keep it on order. M43 is very exciting and will do nothing but get better and better.

  52. Mike DavisOn May. 9th, 2016

    Dorry to be nit-picky – but I think the PL lens rotates 90deg not 45 for change of AR. Otherwise thanks for the excellent review (as well as the earlier ones!)
    Mike

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 9th, 2016

      Mike, you are correct. My mistake. Will change that to the proper 90 degrees.

  53. paul stuartOn May. 9th, 2016

    Yes Daniel I concur with your thoughts on the iso department the lens is great for static subjects and with dual is etc the 6.3 aperture is not so much an issue but when looking for faster s/s the iso limit is the limiting factor at times in less than ideal light I am sure it will improve with the next flagships (which are due this year)and i still enjoy the lens that gives an unprecedented range for its compact size .

    and cheaper than the others mentioned .

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 9th, 2016

      Agreed Paul, I feel were just one camera model away from almost having it all.

  54. JAmesOn May. 9th, 2016

    Its not a leica: its a PANASONIC. Are you ashamed of the Panasonic name on it?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 9th, 2016

      Yea, I think that’s it James. I’m very ashamed. Wait, maybe not. Just looked at the lens, it does say Leica on it. Imagine that. Guess I’m not ashamed after all. Get a life dude.

  55. Ian EnrightOn May. 9th, 2016

    Dan,

    Thanks for all the effort and write up!!! Couple of years ago we spoke about the progression of mirrorless as I was still undecided. Well… I’ve decided! I am going to buy a mirrorless camera to augment my larger stuff. I still love my D800 for so many circumstances (i.e. whale watching with my daughter lately). However, as I want to do more street photography I feel the big gripped pro size camera body with large glass is too intrusive… I feel like I’m hunting Cecil the Lion as I try to inconspicuously move about attempting to capture a moment and story. Plus, who wants to lug around all that glass all day of touring!

    My challenge will be which system. I will be carefully researching over the next few months before deciding what is right for me. Which brings me to a question. Can you clear up a bit of confusion? Did you shoot a Fuji XT-2 in your test as per your written component? Did you get an advanced camera as I thought the XT-2 is still a rumour and the XT-1 is what is currently available? Your video states you had the Fuji X-Pro2. Can you clarify which camera body you were using? Fuji is actually a leading candidate in my research so far but I’m waiting to see the XT-2 before I decide (thus my question).

    Thanks again for the great article!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 9th, 2016

      Hi Ian, I goofed, it was actually a fuji XT-1. Sorry for the confusion. Was concentrating on the lenses. Hope you are out of harms way in the fire zone out there in Canadia Land. One thing to be sure to check when deciding what camera to choose is the Menu system and how it works. Makes such a difference when making changes. Thats for adding you voice. If I had time I would come up to photograph the fires. Pretty amazing scene.

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