Panasonic and Leica Share Technology Behind Lenses

Posted Jul. 4th, 2017 by Daniel J. Cox

Panasonic Leica Shares Technology Behind Lenses

When Panasonic introduced their line of Lumix cameras back in 2001, they began what has turned out to be a very rewarding relationship with the folks at Leica. Cameras have always been as much about lenses as they are about the photographic body those lenses attach to. And teaming up with Leica was a great idea to make sure the photographic industry and most importantly, consumers, knew Lumix was serious about being a major player.

A sample photo shot with the Leica 100-400mm. Panasonic Leica Share The Technology Behind Lenses

White-tailed eagle in flight, Hokkaido, Japan. Lumix GX8 with Leica 100-400mm zoom, ISO 640

Being able to reach out to others and share in success is not always easy for major players. Panasonic is one of the world’s leading electronics companies and Leica is legendary for their spectacular optics. Being humble enough to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses is a sure sign of greatness in my opinion. Together, Panasonic/Lumix and Leica have worked to change the way pictures are being taken. Their combined leadership has revitalized people’s interest in real photography due to less weight and cost of the smaller Lumix cameras.

Video of the Shoot I Did for this Lens

Visit Leica/Lumix Page About the LEICA DG VARIO-ELMAR 100-400mm

For a bit of insight into how it all started, Panasonic/Leica has put together a page describing how the LEICA DG VARIO-ELMAR 100-400mm came to be. An interesting side note to this web page; all the images of birds are pictures I took for the initial release of this lens. Thanks, Panasonic/Leica.

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There are 11 comments on this post…
  1. Robert GonzalesOn Sep. 27th, 2017

    Mr Cox,
    Thanks for your assistance in my effort to resolve the firmware updating and auto-focus performance problems with my Pany 100-400mm lens. Also, your blog and suggestions from yourself and your readers for setup has made the transition from shooting exclusively with Canon 5D III to mft much easier. Simple suggestions like using the FULL setting on the lens auto-focus switch and using the Pany lens OIS instead of the Oly in-body IS saved a lot of time and frustration. While I am not quite ready to go to mft exclusively (especially for very low light wide landscapes), I love the Oly E M-1 Mk II, the Pany 100-400, and Oly PRO lenses for wildlife and concerts. The ease of handling and the sharpness and quality of exposures are superb. The more I use them, the better I get with low light exposures, as with my photos from Africa and the recent Monterey Jazz Festival. I am thinking that I should sell some more Canon L lens and buy the GH5 for my second backup body! Thanks again.

  2. David GaronOn Jul. 12th, 2017

    Dan, It’s really interesting to compare this amazing shot with the eagle in flight against a blue sky you sent me a number of years ago. It’s extraordinary and just a bit more detailed than the other, shot on film (what’s that?), in 1991. Every example I’ve seen by you using the Leica 100-400 is further confirmation of how exceptional this lens is…… and just how exceptional you are!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jul. 12th, 2017

      Thanks for the input Dave. I do agree with your assessment of the 100-400mm’s quality. However, putting me in the same “exceptional” category makes me laugh. At least I have one additional fan other than my beloved mother and father. Always love hearing from you David.

  3. Leif PetersenOn Jul. 7th, 2017

    Excellent video, Daniel. I’d love to get down there sometime. I had the opportunity to try the 100-400mm out on a trip to India last fall and was really impressed. I had it paired up with both the GH4 and the GX8 in various locations. During a trip into the Ranthambore National Park, I was hoping to get some shots of tigers, but no luck. I did, however, get some excellent shots of Sambar deer, one of which was used in a Panasonic Canada ad in Outdoor Photography Canada’s spring issue. All shots were hand held and were tack sharp. The lens is on my short list, but I’m also hedging my bets on a GX8 replacement…..maybe a GX9?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jul. 8th, 2017

      Thanks for you input Leif. I’m hopeful a GX8 replacement will come along and I’m fairly certain it will. Thanks for adding your voice. It’s grat to hear from our neighbors in the north.

  4. David RobinsonOn Jul. 6th, 2017

    Thanks for sharing. While I can’t afford it right now, the 100-400 is on my short list of lenses to use with my Olympus OMD-EM5 II, The reviews on it have been really good and even technical measurements have shown it to be a cut above most similar lenses. Right now my ideal kit for travel photography would be a 7-14 or 8-18 with the Olympus 12-100 and the 100-400. With Panasonic now providing “in body stabilisation”, I would be good with either an Olympus body or a Panasonic body or maybe one of each.. Now if only I could find that winning lottery ticket.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jul. 7th, 2017

      Thaks for you input David. Always love hearing from our readers. Let’s hope that lottery ticket turns up soon?

    • Robert GonzalesOn Sep. 26th, 2017

      I really enjoy the informative articles and responses on Mr. Cox’s blog. I am having a perplexing problem with my Pany 100-400 paired with the Olympus E-M1 Mk II. Auto-focusing seems to be at random. I tested the combo before a recent trip to Botswana. It worked great. When there, it auto-focused ok from 100-300, but no auto-focus above 300. Luckily, I never needed reach over 300 and had a backup Olympus lens anyway. Now it will auto-focus on subjects 6 ft or so away through the 100-400 range. However, at infinity, it will not auto-focus above 100mm! I always keep the auto-focus switch on FULL. I love the photos from this lens, but am getting very frustrated. Have others had this problem? If I send it in to Panasonic for repair, will it solve the problem? Thanks.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Sep. 26th, 2017

      Robert, based on your description it sounds to me as if your lens needs to be looked at. It certainly is not exhibiting normal behavior. I will send you contact info for the repair department at Panasonic by email.

  5. Bob CoatesOn Jul. 6th, 2017

    Agreed Daniel. The 100-400mm is an exquisite lens. I’ve paired it with the Lumix GX85 for an even lighter combo in chasing wildlife. The ability to handhold an 800mm equivalent lens and achieve sharp images was an amazing help in getting images. I’m sure the other photographers glued to their tripods thought ‘Oh, look there goes a rookie that doesn’t know any better!’ when watching me chase the birds handheld. I’m using it for even more than avian wildlife photogrphy. Finding it to be a solid lens for photographing flowers details of which almost feel like I’m using a macro lens making me able to catch the pollinators in action as well.

    For those who don’t know, I am a Lumix Luminary and often receive gear to test and work with. But the demand for this lens was so high one wasn’t coming my way any time shortly. The only way I cold get one was to pay for it and I did. I consider it a wonderful investment! Bob Coates

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jul. 7th, 2017

      Thanks for adding your voice, Bob. It’s great to have another Luminary joining in the conversation here on the Corkboard. Come back often. Always love to have the additional input. For those interested you can see more of Bob’s amazing photography at

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