Lumix Diaries Leica 100-400mm Samples
I’ve decided to share some images from the new Leica 100-400mm lens in this Blog post. There has been a lot of interest and requests from my readers to see full-sized, high resolution images ever since the assignment I was given to produce ad materials for then new Leica 100-400mm zoom.
Sharing full-sized, downloadable images is not something I typically do, but I feel it’s important for readers to see the quality I’m currently getting with the new lens. Keep in mind this was literally the first of two lenses Panasonic gave me to shoot the ad campaign. I’m told there are already several updates that show even better results. Not having a finished production model was another reason I had been putting this off but the quality of the prototype lens speaks for itself.
To protect my work I’ve included a very large watermark across the entire frame of each photograph. Though it is large, it does not affect the ability for a viewer to see the image details. To download these images you will need to go to this page: Lumix Diaries Leica 100-400mm Samples, and type in the password leicazoom to gain access. Once you type in the password, you will be able to download all ten images in a batch or individually. Looking forward to hearing what you all think. Stop back to the Blog to join the conversation. If you have an interest in joining us in Kenya in 2017 check out our Invitational Photography Tours.
Since I released the images for review I’ve taken some well deserved criticism for lousy post-processing of the sample images. After I checked my Export settings in Lightroom I realized I had the “Sharpen for Screen” setting turned on. That along with some sharpening applied in the main development process created lots of noise on a few of the images shot at higher ISO’s. I want to thank several readers over on the DPReview Micro Four Thirds Talk forum for helping me understand I needed to re-process these images. I specifically want to say thanks to Horst and Big Ga who both offered to process several of the images for me to show what could be accomplished. It was a great learning experience and with encouragement from the others, I took another stab at reprocessing the files.
This time I decided to use DXO Optics Pro 10, and as usual I did very little to any of the files. However, I did use a small amount of noise removal for a couple of the pictures and also applied a small amount of sharpening. Overall I’m much happier with the results than what I achieved from my first attempt in Lightroom. Admittedly I may have been able to achieve something very similar in Lightroom had I not accepted some of the default settings Lightroom automatically applied on Export. Not Lightroom’s fault, that was my error. I’ve replaced the first images that were poorly processed in the gallery titled Lumix Diaries Leica 100-400mm Samples.
This Blog post rapidly became very popular and many readers were quickly comparing my images shot with the 100-400mm Leica to the recently released images by Robin Wong who recently shared images from the new Olympus 300mm F/4. There is no question, the new Olympus lens is producing spectacular results, but to compare the two lenses I feel is a bit premature. Why? Because the Leica 100-400mm I’m currently shooting is basically a prototype, one of only two that was hand delivered, having been custom constructed on Panasonic’s Osaka headquarters optical bench. Based on what I’ve seen, regarding the new Olympus 300mm F/4, that lens is considerably further ahead in the development process and actually seems to be in full blown production. I’m confident that any issues we may see when comparing the two lenses, will most likely all be worked out in the final production of the new 100-400mm Leica.
Final Update 2/1/2016
As I mentioned in the last update this post had become very popular and I received a lot of suggestions about better processing techniques for the images I was showing as samples. Being the opened-minded guy that I am I agreed that I could use some help. So I reached out to one of the folks I was chatting with over on DPReiew, Horst Heppel. I invited Horst to process all the images as he would for his own work. He was gracious to take this project on and I’ve uploaded his samples which you can also download and use for your own personal review. I also asked Horst to provide a shot bio and description of how he processed this images. That information is below.
My name is Horst Heppel. I’m a retired Computer-engineer from Germany. I photograph since I was 12 years old. Started out with a Kodak-Box. With the beginning of my retirement, I switched from one of the big boys to MFT completely. Currently I use a GH4 and an E-M1 together with several lenses (primes and zooms) from both companies. Most shot subjects are: Sports and wildlife. I shoot raw only. With Photoshop and Lightroom I work since the beginning of the digital age.
Images processed by Horst Heppel.
Daniel explained already what the trouble with his 2015 pictures had been, too high, internal sharpening.
Sharpening in Lightroom is twofold. Internally a relative sophisticated raw-sharpen panel exists, with amount, radius, detail, masking, similar to the well known unsharp mask. But only similar. This is in practice more a first sharpening instance for the converted raw files.
A second sharpening instance is the output-sharpening during export of the converted images. It sharpens the complete image with three possible strengths (light, standard, strong) for screen and print. It works as intended, provided a good, not too strong raw-sharpening has been applied before. Many Lightroom users get confused about this feature in the Export window.
But no problem, one can leave that out and use instead a third-party tool or one of the lightroom plug-ins which exists for output-sharpening.
In my run with Daniels Raws, I applied a fairly light raw-sharpening with a mask and a light output-(export)-sharpening only. On a few sample TIFFs I did the output sharpening with a third-party tool, which gives more micro-contrast and is for many, more pleasant.
This will be my last update to this post. I don’t think we can do any more speculating in regards of which lens is sharper, the Panasonic Leica 100-400mm or the soon-to-be released Olympus 300m F/4. I plan on purchasing the new Olympus lens, so when I get one I’ll be running head to head tests. Thanks everybody for your interest in these two amazing new lenses. And a social thanks goes out to Robin Wong who graciously allowed me to use his images to makes some unscientific comparisons. You can see more of Robin’s terrific work with the Olympus system on his website.