Panasonic Lumix 100-400mm F4-6.3 Leica Review

By | 25/10/2022

Digital Camera World Verdict

This lens makes the virtually of the 2x focal length multiplier of Micro Four Thirds cameras do deliver a monster effective zoom range of 200-800mm. Information technology’s a fiddling brusk on features compared with some of the latest super-telephoto zooms, like the Sigma 150-600mm Contemporary and Sports lenses for DSLRs, only it’s refreshingly compact and lightweight, enabling a proficient balance on mirrorless cameras. The size and weight also make for comfortable handheld shooting. The lens earns its Leica credentials, delivering impressive prototype quality.

Pros

  • +

    Compact and lightweight, nonetheless tough

  • +

    Quick, smooth autofocus

  • +

    Impressive prototype quality

Cons

  • Lacks switchable IS modes

  • Sharpness not slap-up by 200mm

  • Narrow max aperture at 400mm


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Think super-telephoto zoom and you’re probably thinking of large, heavy lenses that are a task to carry around and a pain to shoot with for any length of fourth dimension. This Panasonic lens bucks the trend, with a relatively compact and lightweight construction, taking full reward of the Micro Iv Thirds crop cistron to evangelize an effective zoom range of 200-800mm, in full-frame terms. That makes it platonic for sports, action and wildlife photography, when you can’t become equally physically shut as you might like.

Specifications

Mount:
Micro Four Thirds
Full
frame: No
Image
stabilization: Yes
Autofocus: Yes
Lens structure:
20 elements in 13 groups
Angle of view:
12-iii degrees
Diaphragm blades:
nine
Minimum aperture:
f/22
Minimum focusing altitude:
1.3m
Maximum magnification ratio:
0.25x
Filter size:
72mm
Dimensions:
83x172mm
Weight:
985g

Fundamental features

(Image credit: Future)


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Designed in partnership with Leica, the Panasonic boasts an impressive optical layout, which includes an Ultra extra-Low Dispersion element, 2 regular extra-low dispersion elements, plus a complex aspherical extra-low dispersion element. There are 20 elements in full, packed into a casing that measures just 83x172mm and weighs in at 985g. Although pocket-size and lightweight by blueprint, one factor in the downsizing is that the lens has a fairly narrow maximum aperture of f/half-dozen.3 at its longest focal length, but that’s quite mutual for super-telephoto zooms.

The autofocus organisation is rated at 240fps, so it’s fast as well as beingness near-silent in operation, and enables shine focus transitions when shooting video. The electronically coupled focus ring enables smoothen and precise transmission adjustments.

Another headline feature is the ‘Power O.I.S.’ optical stabilizer. Information technology’s highly useful in its own right, given the lens’due south huge effective telephoto reach, but a further bonus is that information technology works in tandem with the sensor-shift organisation of photographic camera bodies that characteristic in-torso stabilization. Unlike many modernistic super-tele zooms, however, the Panasonic lacks switchable static and panning modes for its optical stabilizer, allow lonely a third way that applies stabilization only during bodily exposures. The reward of the missing 3rd mode is that it makes it easier to track erratically moving objects.

Even though it weighs less than a kilogram, the lens is supplied complete with a tripod mounting band, which enables like shooting fish in a barrel switching between mural and portrait shooting orientations, while maintaining optimum rest. As usual for super-telephoto zooms, the Panasonic grows in concrete length every bit you become from the shortest zoom setting to the longest, with an extending inner barrel. What’s more uncommon is that the lens features a zoom lock ring which can lock the zoom setting at any desired focal length.

Build and handling

Build quality is pretty loftier-spec, based on a ‘gapless’ structure that offers good dust- and moisture-resistance. The lens feels well built, although the zoom ring of our review sample was a little strong and lacking in smoothness.

Handling is refined in general. Also equally the AF/MF and Power O.I.Southward. on/off switches, there’south an autofocus range limiter switch, only it can merely lock out the short department of the focus range, rather than either terminate. The minimum focus distance is impressively short at only ane.3m, enabling a maximum magnification factor of 0.25x, which translates to 0.5x in total-frame terms, in one case you lot take into account the Micro Four Thirds ingather factor.

Up front, there’s a neat integral lens hood which retracts for stowage. More ideal for long-zoom shooting, an additional lens hood is also supplied that mounts over the shorter one.

Performance

The autofocus system lives up to its billing, delivering rapid all the same accurate performance for tracking moving objects. We tested the lens with a Panasonic Lumix DC-G90 and found that the dual optical/in-body stabilization delivered an effectiveness of around four-five f/stops. Combined with the easily manageable size and weight of the lens, this makes it ideal for handheld shooting at ultra-long effective focal lengths.

Nosotros found that sharpness was by and large all-time when shooting wide-open, which is a skillful thing considering the lens’s modest discontinuity range of f/iv-6.3. Eye-sharpness is outstanding at 100mm but tails off a bit as you progress through the zoom range, every bit well as dropping off to merely good levels towards the edges and corners of the frame. Chromatic aberrations and distortions are essentially non-problems.

Sample photos

This shot taken at 100mm and the shot below taken at 400mm (effective 200mm and 800mm) demonstrate the overall zoom range of the lens. Exif: Panasonic Lumix DC-G90 + Panasonic Leica 100-400mm (100mm, 1/yard sec, f/5, ISO 200)

(Image credit: Future)


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Exif: Panasonic Lumix DC-G90 + Panasonic Leica 100-400mm (400mm, 1/thou sec, f/half dozen.3, ISO 200)

(Image credit: Time to come)


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Exif: Panasonic Lumix DC-G90 + Panasonic Leica 100-400mm (400mm, 1/1000 sec, f/ix, ISO 800)

(Epitome credit: Future)


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Exif: Panasonic Lumix DC-G90 + Panasonic Leica 100-400mm (400mm, 1/thousand sec, f/10, ISO 800)

(Image credit: Future)


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Exif: Panasonic Lumix DC-G90 + Panasonic Leica 100-400mm (400mm, 1/grand sec, f/6.iii, ISO 200)

(Image credit: Hereafter)


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Exif: Panasonic Lumix DC-G90 + Panasonic Leica 100-400mm (300mm, 1/thou sec, f/5.seven, ISO 200)

(Epitome credit: Future)


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Exif: Panasonic Lumix DC-G90 + Panasonic Leica 100-400mm (300mm, ane/grand sec, f/5.vii, ISO 200)

(Epitome credit: Future)


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Exif: Panasonic Lumix DC-G90 + Panasonic Leica 100-400mm (400mm, 1/m sec, f/six.3, ISO 200)

(Paradigm credit: Future)


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Exif: Panasonic Lumix DC-G90 + Panasonic Leica 100-400mm (250mm, 1/m sec, f/7.1, ISO 800)

(Image credit: Futurity)


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Lab information

We run a range of lab tests under controlled conditions, using the Imatest Principal testing suite. Photos of test charts are taken across the range of apertures and zooms (where available), so analyzed for sharpness, distortion and chromatic aberrations.

We utilise Imatest SFR (spatial frequency response) charts and analysis software to plot lens resolution at the middle of the image frame, corners and mid-point distances, across the range of aperture settings and, with zoom lenses, at iv different focal lengths. The tests also measure baloney and color fringing (chromatic abnormality).

Sharpness:

(Epitome credit: Hereafter)


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(Image credit: Future)


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Sharpness is at its best in the central region of the frame, and at the curt end of the zoom range. Operation drops off a little as you progress through the zoom range, and towards the edges and corners of the epitome frame, but usefully remains very proficient at the widest bachelor apertures.

Fringing:

(Image credit: Futurity)


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Lateral chromatic aberration is very negligible at most zoom and aperture combinations, even in the extreme corners of the paradigm frame. Technically, it’s a little worse at medium to narrow apertures, and at the long end of the zoom range, but even here it’s by and large unnoticeable.

Distortion

(Image credit: Future)


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Shorter bars betoken less baloney, so information technology appears from this chart that the lens produces almost no distortion throughout its zoom range. However, in-camera distortion correction cannot exist disabled in current Panasonic MFT cameras, and then these scores do not show the ‘true’ nature of this lens’ optical distortion and should non be directly compared with distortion figures from other lenses we’ve tested which aren’t flattered by in-photographic camera distortion correction.

Verdict

A slap-up lens for sports and wildlife photography with Micro Four Thirds cameras
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, the Panasonic 100-400mm punches well above its atomic size and weight. The Ability O.I.S. system makes it ideal for handheld shooting, and its autofocus system does well to continue pace with fast-moving the action. It lacks the switchable dual or even triple-way stabilizers of some competing super-telephoto zooms, and has no AF-on/lock buttons but overall performance is impressive and image quality is fantabulous.

Read more:

The best Micro 4 Thirds cameras

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The best Micro 4 Thirds lenses

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The best telephoto lenses

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The best lenses for bird photography and wildlife

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The all-time 150-600mm lenses

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The all-time tripods



The best monopods

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Matthew Richards is a photographer and journalist who has spent years using and reviewing all manner of photo gear. He is Digital Photographic camera World’s master lens reviewer – and has tested more primes and zooms than most people have had hot dinners!

His expertise with equipment doesn’t end there, though. He is also an encyclopedia  when it comes to all style of cameras, camera holsters and bags, flashguns, tripods and heads, printers, papers and inks, and but about anything imaging-related.

In an earlier life he was a broadcast engineer at the BBC, as well every bit a former editor of PC Guide.

Source: https://www.digitalcameraworld.com/reviews/panasonic-leica-dg-vario-elmar-100-400mm-f4-63-asph-power-ois-review