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

Posted Jun. 3rd, 2017 by Daniel J. Cox

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

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

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

Leica 100-400mm


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


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

Olympus 300mm F/4


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


  • $700.00US more expensive than 100-400m
  • No ability to have multiple focal lengths like zoom has.
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There are 8 comments on this post…
  1. Michael KareshOn Jan. 23rd, 2019

    Am I missing something? With the TC attached, isn’t the Olympus only 1/3 stop brighter than the Panasonic?

    I’m very interested in a 400mm comparison: 100-400, 200 w/2.0 TC, 300 w/1.4 TC.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 26th, 2019

      Michael, you are correct. The Olympus with 1.4X teleconverter attached has a maximum aperture of F/5.6. The Leica 100-400mm at 400mm is F/6.3 which is just 1/3 of a stop slower than F/5.6. Not many people figure this out so congratulations. I’ll keep your request for a comparison of the numerous lens configurations at 400mm. Thanks for stopping by to join the conversation.

  2. GillesOn Oct. 26th, 2018

    Hi all,
    Thanks for this review and all the comments.
    I own a Nikon D7200 & D750 & the Sigma 150-600 sport and I’m looking for a more lightweight combo.
    I tried the Oly M1 + 300 f/4 of a friend on side to side shoots with my combo.
    What I can say is that the Oly 300 is a little bit sharper than my Sigma (without the Oly TC). But to be sharp, my Sigma need to be closed to f/8 ! and I spent hours fine tuning it with the USB console.
    Have a look if you want :
    So this Leica is appealing !

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Oct. 26th, 2018

      Thanks Gilles for adding your voice. I’ve been very pleased with the new lenses.

  3. RichOn Sep. 6th, 2018

    Hi Dan,
    I own the Olympus mk2 and have had great success with all their pro zooms. 7-14, 12-40, and my favorite 40-150, which is razor sharp and used about 80% of the time. I recently purchased the Pany 100-400 over the Oly 300mm mainly due to price and flexibility of the zoom. So far I have not been impressed with the IQ unfortunately and considering returning. Certainly would love to kerl it, but I’m not thrilled with the contrast or softness of the images I’ve taken even on a tripod. I find I have to do a lot more image sharpening and noise reduction in post than I ever did with my 40-150 with the 1.4x converter. The barrel stiffness is no longer an issue, at least with my copy. I am considering replacing with the Olympus 300, but sadly would sacrifice zoom and cost. Your thoughts? Regards Rich

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Sep. 11th, 2018

      Rich, I’ve heard mixed reports on the 100-400mm lens. Some folks are very happy, others not so much. I’ve actually been mostly pleased but I can tell you, the 300mm Olympus is definitely sharper. I’m working on a review of discussion the pros and cons of fixed and zoom. The 100-400mm will be a part of the mix as well as the new Leica 200mm and the Oly 300mm.

  4. Stephanie BrandOn Jun. 11th, 2017

    Hi Dan,

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

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jun. 12th, 2017


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

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

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

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

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