Lumix Promises 100-400mm Super Zoom

Posted Jul. 23rd, 2015 by Daniel J. Cox

LUMIX PROMISES 100-400mm SUPER ZOOM

I’m writing this at the airport having  just landed in the town of Longyearbyen, Norway.  I’ve been on a ship, much of the time spent in the pack ice north of the archipelago of Spitsbergen searching for polar bears and other arctic wildlife. While I was away from the Internet, Panasonic announced the wonderful new lens they shared with me when Panasonic executives came to visit my office earlier this month. Finally, serious MFT lens for the Lumix cameras that will help me produce wildlife and ensure images like the ones in this blog post.

This Northern fulmar was shot with the Lumix GH4 and the Olympus 40-150mm F/2.8 and the 1.4x teleconverter. This was the first time I've had a chance to shoot flying birds with this camera  and lens combination and it preformed beautifully.  Svalbard, Norway.

This northern fulmar was shot with the Lumix GH4 and the Olympus 40-150mm F/2.8 with the 1.4x teleconverter. This was the first time I’ve had a chance to shoot flying birds with this camera and lens combination and it preformed beautifully. Svalbard, Norway

So now I can spill the beans in case you haven’t already heard. We’re finally getting a super telephoto in the range of 100-400mm that should have spectacular lens characteristics based on the fact it’s branded with the Leica logo. If it’s half the lens my other favorite Leica/Lumix lens, the 43.5mm F/1.2, it will be a knockout.

This polar bear was shot with the Lumix GH4 and the Olympus 40-150mm F/2.8 with the Olympus 1.4 teleconverter.

This polar bear was shot with the Lumix GH4 and the Olympus 40-150mm F/2.8 with the Olympus 1.4 teleconverter. This lens and camera combination were super portable and allowed me to move from one part of the ship to another with ease.

Remember, all Micro Four Thirds lenses need to be multiplied by two, so this lens will be a comparable 200-800mm F/4-6.3. 800mm at f/6.3, that’s only 1/3 of a stop less than 5.6 for goodness sakes.

The new 100-400mm F/4-6.3 super zoom. Keeping in mind that all Micro Four Thirds lenses need to be multiplied X2, this will be a full frame equivalent of 200-800mm zoom. Wow, if this is as sharp as I predict, this will be a game changer.

The new 100-400mm F/4-6.3 super zoom. Keeping in mind that all Micro Four Thirds lenses need to be multiplied by two, this will be a full frame equivalent of 200-800mm zoom. Wow, if this is as sharp as I predict, this will be a game changer.

This should finally be the lens I’ve been wishing and hoping for that will allow me to capture wildlife and nature as I’ve done with my Nikon system for so many years. Only now at 1/3 the cost and 1/3 the size and weight. Here’s some text from the Panasonic Lumix Press Release.

Panasonic is developing the first LEICA DG 100-400mm / F4.0-6.3 telephoto zoom lens (35mm camera equivalent: 200-800mm) for the Micro Four Thirds system standard to expand the lineup of DSLM (Digital Single Lens Mirrorless) digital interchangeable lenses. 

The LEICA DG lenses are designed and developed under the stringent quality standard certified by Leica that boast excellent optical performance. Four single focal length LEICA DG lenses have already introduced to the market and have been highly acclaimed by users worldwide2.

The new telephoto zoom achieves exceptional imaging performance over the entire zoom range. It also features high speed digital signal exchange at 240 fps to comply with the high-speed, high-precision AF (Auto Focus) with DFD (Depth From Defocus) technology on LUMIX G cameras. Together with the POWER O.I.S.(Optical Image Stabilizer), it lets users to focus on the target quickly to capture crisp, clear images. In addition, the new lens is both light and small and is splash/dust-proof to withstand heavy field use.  As the new telephoto zoom lens excels in size and weight, it enables handheld 800mm (35mm camera equivalent) telephoto shooting without using a tripod.

The new Panasonic Lumix GX8 which will have a new 20.3 megapixel sensor.

The new Panasonic Lumix GX8 which will have a new 20.3 megapixel sensor.

Along with the large zoom Lumix also announced another new lens, a 25mm F/1.7 as well as the highly anticipated Lumix GX8 camera. The GX8 seems to finally nail down a great form factor with MFT quality. It will feature a new 20.3 megapixel sensor and a form factor more like the LX100. It won’t be quite as small as the LX100 but it will be much more capable. Looks like a great new small form factor camera.

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There are 28 comments on this post…
  1. Don SmithOn Nov. 24th, 2015

    I have a passion for bird photography. I currently shoot with the Olympus m-zuiko digital-ed-75-300mm-f4.8-6.7. I am always disappointed that my best shots are not as great as those in magazines.

    I have an exciting trip to Africa planned for May 2016. If you could only take one lens, would you take the upcoming Panosonic 100-400 zoom or the Olympus 300 pro? Also, do you think the pricing will be under $3,000 usd?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Nov. 24th, 2015

      Don, for wildlife there is no equal to a quality zoom lens (Leica/Lumix 100-400mm) over a fixed focal length (Olympus 300mm telephoto). I will choose a QUALITY zoom every time if I have the choice. The key word here is QUALITY and with the new 100-400mm being supervised and designed by Leica I believe that is what we will get.

  2. Andrew OkeyOn Nov. 20th, 2015

    Thank you for all the info on the 100-400. I’m a OMD E-M1 user that has been saving up for the 40-150 2.8 with he 1.4TC. So my excitement about the 100-400 is maybe folks will unload their 40-150 when they buy the 100-400. Thanks AJO

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Nov. 20th, 2015

      Andrew, thats alway possible but having the F/2.8 aperture is a real bonus that we won’t have with the 100-400mm I now I will be keeping mine but I’m sure there will be some coming to the used market.

  3. Paul ROn Oct. 31st, 2015

    Since I do a lot of wildlife photography, I would hope the new 100-400 Panasonic lens is optimized for the long end. I seldom use a zoom setting less than maximum except to occasionally better frame the subject. If this is a lens for serious photography, I would hope Panasonic understands how it will be used. I currently use a 100-300 Panasonic that clearly is optimized for the short end. Its an OK lens, but my Olympus 50-200 +TC1.4 (for the 43 system with converter to M43) mounted on a Oly EM1 is much superior at the long end. But, its also a very heavy package to carry on hikes or on a bike when I ride along the shore .

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Nov. 2nd, 2015

      Paul, I’m confident we’ll be happy with the long range of the coming 100-400mm zoom. I say this due to my experience with other Leica/Lumix branded lenses. If I didn’t have that experience I might be skeptical myself but what I’ve seen from my Leica/Lumix 42.5mm F/1.2 and the Leica/Lumix 15mm F/1.7 I think the build and glass quality of the new 100-400mm will be exceptional. Of course we will have to test it throughly to be certain but rest assured I will be doing that as soon as possible. Thanks for your input.

  4. Harold HouseOn Oct. 21st, 2015

    Hello, Dan. I enjoyed your photos. Is there any chance that the Olympus 1.4x teleconverter might work with my current Panny 100-300 or the coming 100-400? 1120mm sure would come in handy here in Wisconsin and my local state park. 🙂
    Also, is the 400mm lens internal focusing?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Oct. 21st, 2015

      Harold, Unfortunately the Olympus teleconverter won’t work with the Lumix 100-300mm. They just parent made to work together and actually that’s a good thing. The 100-300mm just does not have the quality of glass of the Olympus 40-150mm and that along with additional glass added via the teleconverter would make for very poor quality photos. Regarding your other question about the 100-400mm being internal focus or not, I have to say I’m not sure. It’s very possible that it may be internal focusing but not zooming. It will most likely be similar to the 80-400mm Nikon or 100-400mm Canon. Both of these lenses extend out when zooming. Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any further questions.

  5. yvesTOn Sep. 2nd, 2015

    We need a target date for this lens !
    Seriously GASsing about it right now …
    Hope it will be at least first half of 2016 …

  6. Mark KaprielianOn Aug. 25th, 2015

    Hello Daniel

    Ever since the “announcement” I’ve decided to hold out for the 100 – 400 mm SuperZoom lens as the way to get my MFT long reach needs fulfilled. Any clue when we might be likely to hear more about this lens?

    Are there any typical announcement cycles for Panasonic? Photo events? Having a list of when Panasonic news typically comes out could help with decisions about holding out the beautiful promise versus the utility of getting something you can work with now.

    Mark

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Aug. 25th, 2015

      Mark, I’ve not heard any details when the new lens will be available but I would think it will be sometime next year. I
      m hopeful sooner rather than later. Wished I could be more help but I’m confident it will be with it. I also think we will see the GH5 at sometime next year and it’s possible they may come at the same time. With the upgrades I predict in the GH5 I think this lens and GH5 will be a serious tool for truly professional results. Lets hope it’s coming soon.

  7. BG DavisOn Aug. 12th, 2015

    Great post and images, thanks!
    Two questions:

    1. “at 1/3 the cost and 1/3 the size and weight” [compared to Nikon]
    It would be wonderful if we knew this to be true, but at this point aren’t questions of cost and weight pure speculation?

    2. You mention shooting with a GH4 and an Olympus 40-150mm + TCON. Wouldn’t the Panasonic 45-175mm + TCON, or the Panny 100-300mm have worked just as well, with the additional benefit of in-lens stabilization? Or is the Oly lens that much better?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Aug. 18th, 2015

      BG, yes, we currently have no absolute ideas as to weight and size compared to Nikon but based on all the other MFT lenses, I’m sticking with my prediction. As far as using the current Lumix 45-175mm or the Lumix 100-300mm, neither of these lenses are even close in sharpness and AF speed to the Olympus 40-150mm F/2.8 even when this lens has the 1.4X teleconverter attached. Yes, the Olympus 40-150mm is that much better!

  8. RobertOn Aug. 5th, 2015

    Speaking of rumors/hints/clues…..
    The internet mill mentions that Olympus is adding I.S. to the 300mm F4.
    Have you heard anything to support this?
    If choosing today between the two hands down the Leica 100-400mm G but in the
    end it will who actually gets a product to market.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Aug. 5th, 2015

      I have not heard anything other than what you refer to, “internet rumors”. But it does make sense and if so it will be a fabulous development for all MFT enthusiasts. Though the race to be first will certainly sway some buyers, the flexibility of a zoom and the quality glass of a Leica developed lens will certainly be reasons to wait, or buy both like I may do. If the new 100-400mm is even close to the quality of the Leica developed 42.5mm F/1.2, this lens will be a tool that all serious outdoor enthusiasts will most certainly want. Can’ wait to get my hands on one. Thanks for stopping by to add your voice.

  9. Fred KurtzOn Jul. 30th, 2015

    Great news Dan. Now the question is, do we still need the Olympus fixed 300mm we have on pre-order? Fred

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jul. 30th, 2015

      It’s not looking like it Freddy. Haven’t cancelled mine yet but guessing I may do that. Still waiting for the time being.

  10. GeorgeOn Jul. 29th, 2015

    Hi Daniel,
    Thanks for sharing the info. Would you please check with Panasonic where the aperture changes as it zooms
    100-300mm f4 (you mentioned)
    300-350mm f5.6
    350-400mm f6.3
    ?
    thanks. I hope Panasonic produce the product this time, unlike the case for the 150mm f2.8

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jul. 29th, 2015

      Will see if I can find out more. Not sure they will give me this info at this time but I’ll try.

  11. SteveOn Jul. 29th, 2015

    Daniel,

    Were you able to find out any additional information on the 100-400mm lens?

    Thanks

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jul. 29th, 2015

      Unfortunately no further info so far other than they are planning to build this lens. Still trying to find out more. Will let you knows soon as I hear ANYTHING.

  12. Portrait of Christine Crosby

    Christine CrosbyOn Jul. 27th, 2015

    Thanks for this Dan! Super excited for this new lens! I am wondering if you could give a brief (or not) explanation of the different Panasonic bodies and differences/applications for them . . . Namely the GH4, new GX8 and the G7? What body do you see this lens as most compatible with? Thanks so much!

    Thanks also for an AMAZING arctic experience! Just incredible!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jul. 27th, 2015

      Christine, thanks for the feedback. I’m on my way to a Panasonic Lumix meeting in florida tomorrow and will find out more about he new lens and the new GX8 camera. Will fill everyone in when I get back.

  13. Doug BrayOn Jul. 24th, 2015

    Hi Dan,

    I am assuming that this lens does not have the same ability to use both PDAF and CDAF on the Olympus EM-1 as does the Olympus 40-150 2.8 lens. Since PDAF calculates the focus more quickly, good for moving subjects, than CDAF, for Olympus users the up coming Olympus 300 f4, assuming it also uses both focus types, may be a better alternative for wildlife, especially birds. Also, using the 1.4 teleconverter with the 300 f4 would give the equivalent of 840 at 5.6 which would be a slight low light advantage.

    As I mentioned in a previous post, we have had the Olympus 14-24 2.8 for about a month, and it looks like a great alternative to carrying the D810 and 14-24 2.8 Nikkor, at least for most travel photography.

    Doug

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jul. 24th, 2015

      Doug, No this new lens will not use the old standard PDAF (Phase Detection Auto Focus) and I’m confident that will not be a disadvantage. Panasonic developed their DFD (Depth From Defocus) technology with the GH4 and with Panasonic lenses it works as effectively as my Nikon’s old technology PDAF. In fact, I believe it is as fast and in many situations considerably faster than any of my Nikon lenses. There is no doubt, in my mind, that CDAF (Contrast Detection Auto Focus) is the future based on the fact the focus is adjusted ON the sensor itself. Do you recall the days when automated flash was controlled by a sensor ON the flash? Nikon and others eventually replaced on flash auto with TTL which is measured directly off the film/digital sensor directly. It was much more accurate. I’m confident the same is true for CDAF technology. Up until Panasonic’s DFD method, all mirrorless cameras AF was slow. That is no longer the case with Panasonic Lumix CDAF. Panasonic sees CDAF as the future, others such as Olympus have chosen to stay with the old technology of PDAF. This is just one more area where Panasonic’s massive budget for research and development, as Japan’s largest electronic company, will eventually take the lead.

  14. BillHOn Jul. 24th, 2015

    Thanks for sharing that information about max. aperture at 300mm for the new 100-400 zoom. Information on size, weight and price would also be appreciated.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jul. 24th, 2015

      Bill, unfortunately there is no info on size and weight specifics, or price. All still a bit vague but I’m confident it will be relatively small. As far as price I hesitate to guess but with Leica glass involved it will be worth every penny. Stay tuned.

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