In this blog we review the new M.Zuiko Digital ED 100-400mm f/5.0-6.3 IS super telephoto zoom lens for micro four thirds camera users. We also investigate some of the new lens features, along with posting a number of sample images and lens specs. Visitors can also watch our own Gareth Evans hands on video review of the Olympus 100-400mm lens here. We’ll also take a look at the new OM-D E-M10 Mark IV micro four thirds camera features to highlight some of the excellent upgrades which have been delivered with this model release and who it might appeal to.
The first thing to notice about the new 100-400mm lens is just how compact it is. The entire premise of micro four thirds is the compact size of the system and this lens from Olympus capitalises on size perfectly. The lens measures just 205mm long which is incredible considering the epic reach it provides. A micro 4/3 sensor is half the size of 35mm, which means lens focal ranges are doubled when compared to full-frame. This translates the 100-400mm to actually providing the same reach as a 200-800mm lens on a full-frame body. Yet it’s only around 20cm long and weighs just over 1.1kg. Simply outstanding and it demonstrates the appeal which this system has for wildlife photographers, bird photographers or anyone who shoots at longer ranges.
Clearly this lens is aimed at photographers or videographers who shoot subjects which are some way off, although it does have a versatile trick up its’ sleeve. This lens can close focus down to 1.2m which is incredibly close for a super telephoto. With around 1:2 magnification this allows photographers to also work in close-up, capturing macro images as well as long distance subjects. Here’s a list of genres which will fall into the remit of this lens admirably, demonstrating a good degree of versatility:
At first glance the aperture may seem to be on the higher side, however when the actual focal range in 35mm terms is considered, we see that the new Olympus 100-400mm lens is delivering really competent numbers. F/5 at 200mm equivalent at the short end and f/6.3 at 800mm is actually really quite impressive. This will allow photographers to capture plenty of light during any lower light situations, which are fairly typical for the subjects the lens is intended for.
Olympus also added optical stabilisation to provide users with up to 3EV stops of compensation. Bearing in mind the highly compact nature of the lens and this is more than adequate to hand hold at any of the focal lengths it offers. At around 1.1kg it feels solid and comfortable to hand-hold. In fact the weight is ideal for providing a stable grip to hold when firing off multiple frames. A number of users will of course employ a tripod or monopod depending on the subject they are working with.
Olympus has employed 21 elements in the lens design which includes no less than 10 special elements. These are high refractive, super HD, ED and Super HR elements. Together these really do deliver sharpness throughout the frame. Chromatic aberration is well controlled, as is flare and ghosting thanks to ZERO coating (with Zuiko Extra-low Reflection Optical) which can crop up when shooting into sunlight. We think users will be enthralled with the detail this optic draws out of a sensor such as found in the OM-D E-M1X or OM-D E-M1 MK III for example. Contrast is nice and high and colours are natural as we can see from all of these sample images provided by David Tipling. Watch the video review below to hear Gareth’s thoughts on this lens.
The new 100-400mm has a number of advanced features which will appeal to photographers who shoot various subjects at different focal lengths. For example a focus limiter can be switched on from 6m to infinity for quicker acquisition and the focus clutch allows manual tweaking which is ideal when AF is just off. Impressive weather sealing includes dust, water and freezing, enabling photographers to work in a range of poorer conditions outdoors. Fast, high-precision AF performance is provided by the rear focus system which the M.Zuiko Digital ED 100-400mm employs and it is noticeably quick to lock onto subjects as one might expect.
The new super telephoto lens can be extended even further with either the 1.4x or 2x teleconverters. This provides an incredible equivalent 35mm reach of up to 1600mm. This puts virtually any subject within achievable ranges for the Olympus 100-400mm and the lens remains lightweight as the TC’s only add 104g or 150g. respectively. This is where astro photography suddenly becomes a reality, together with extremely distant wildlife subjects. As with all teleconverters there is a one EV stop or two EV stops of penalty, which still provides a lens with a competitive aperture.
Customers can buy either of these converters here:
For budding photographers and content creators considering moving to an interchangeable lens camera who want a very lightweight, compact model, the OM-D E-M10 Mark IV presents a highly compelling option. Micro four thirds is the smallest and lightest digital format with interchangeable lenses, which means newcomers will enjoy the very lightest system available, whilst still able to capture high resolution photographs and stunning 4K videos.
This fourth iteration of the popular OM-D E-M10 has been refined with a number of upgrades delivering far more than a beginner or enthusiast camera might otherwise provide.
Here are some of the highlight features:
With the kind of specs found in this update, we would normally expect a higher price point but Olympus has pulled out all of the stops with the mark IV. The aim is to entice new users across to the micro four thirds system as well as provide plenty of reasons for existing users upgrading from previous models.
The camera does provide advanced features such as the high speed shooting rates, however it also has a number of really simple to use automatic options, which enables even a completely new beginner to capture beautiful images and videos. These include pre-sets for different scene types, accurate EYE and FACE autofocus as well as AP (Advanced Photo) mode for mastering difficult shooting techniques. Newcomers will quickly gain a portfolio of images which will impress their friends and relatives.
A number of art filters can be applied and then fine tuned to images in-camera which provides extra levels of creativity. The free phone app can remote control the camera as well as apply these edits and allows users to easily share their creations, thanks to WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity which are built-in.
We would have to agree that this is an excellent choice for photographers or video makers to join an interchangeable system which is extremely compact, lightweight and offers a huge degree of flexibility for capturing any subjects.
The updated camera and lens are available with a kit lens here today:
customers can also browse the extensive range of lenses of micro four thirds lenses here.
By Nick Dautlich on 04/08/2020
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