(P)REVIEW: OLYMPUS M. ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 100‑400MM F5.0‑6.3 IS

The Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 100‑400 mm F5.0‑6.3 IS is an affordable supertelephoto zoom for the Micro Four Thirds system. The field of view corresponds to that of a 200 to 800 mm on full frame, yet the lens is fairly compact, stabilized and weatherproof.

Click on the lens for specifications, prices and test results.

TEST RESULTS Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 100‑400mm F5.0‑6.3 IS:

PROS

CONS

  • Big range

  • Compact

  • Weather resistant

  • Stabilized

  • Not very bright

  • No Sync-IS

The Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 100-400 mm F5.0-6.3 IS is a super telephoto for photographers who are as keen on their budget as on the image quality of their lenses.

The Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 100‑400 mm F5.0‑6.3 IS is one of the two supertelephoto lenses that Olympus has in its range. The other is the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 150-400mm F4.5 TC1.25x IS PRO. The Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 100-400 mm F5.0-6.3 IS is the smaller and cheaper of the two. Especially the price difference is significant. For the price of the 150-400mm, you could buy five 100-400mm’s and still have money left for a body. That 150-400mm is a PRO lens with the build quality you would expect. It also has a built-in teleconverter. That does not mean that the Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 100-400 mm is a simple lens, for example with a lot of plastic. It certainly is not. The 100-400mm is weather-resistant, and the optical design is quite complex. 

It has to be, because there is an almost equivalent lens for the Panasonic Micro Four Thirds system, the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmar 100-400 mm F 4-6.3. This lens is a bit older, solid and optically very good. The Panasonic is the smaller and the lighter of the two; the Olympus is slightly cheaper. The price difference is not very much. The Panasonic is 145 grams lighter, and that can make a difference for the gram misers. The choice for a 100-400mm will therefore mainly depend on the brand of your camera. The Panasonic 100-400mm works optimally with built-in image stabilization and Panasonic’s DFD autofocus system. The Olympus 100-400mm offers an IP-x1 rating for weather resistance, just like the new Olympus E-M1 Mark III and the E-M1X. It can also be used with the 1.4x and 2x teleconverters from Olympus, which results in a range of up to 1600 mm (equivalent). That sounds more spectacular than it is in practice. The highest brightness with a 2x converter becomes F12.8. On a 20-megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor, diffraction alone causes a loss of sharpness at that brightness. What the Olympus unfortunately lacks, and what would have made it extra attractive, is Sync-IS. The image stabilization of the lens therefore does not work together with the much acclaimed image stabilization of the Olympus cameras. Olympus claims that the image stabilization of the lens is good for a gain of about three stops, and for an 800mm-equivalent lens, that would not be bad.

BUILD

The Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 100‑400 mm F5.0‑6.3 IS is not a lens in the PRO series. Even so, it is solidly built and weather resistant. The optical design consists of 21 elements in 15 groups with 2 HR elements, 2 Super-HR elements and 4 ED elements. The weight is 1120 grams. That is almost one and a half ounces heavier than the more or less similar Panasonic 100-400mm and not really light for a Micro Four Thirds lens. But for an 800mm equivalent lens, it’s not bad, and a little weight also helps to keep the lens still, so you get sharper photos.

The Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 100‑400 mm F5.0‑6.3 IS has a length of just over 20 centimeters. When you zoom in, the lens gets a lot longer. Fortunately, the lens does have a lock to keep it in the shortest position. On the front is the focus ring; slightly more towards the middle is the wide zoom ring. At the back are the lock button for locking the lens and three additional switches for AF/MF, limiting focus range and the on-off switch for image stabilization. The lens comes with a tripod collar with a base that is suitable for tripod heads with an Arca Swiss coupling.

FOCUSING

For focusing, only a few small lens elements are moved in the Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 100‑400 mm F5.0‑6.3 IS. As a result, the focus should be quite fast. In combination with phase detection AF, this may make the Olympus more suitable for following moving subjects in nature or along the sideline than the Panasonic is. The shortest setting distance is 130 centimeters. At 400 mm, this results in a magnification factor of 0.29x. That doesn’t seem like much, but because of the smaller sensor, the magnification factor is 0.59x compared with an image that you would get with a full-frame camera. And that is already considerable macro. 

IMAGE QUALITY

Soon we will receive a copy of the Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 100-400 mm F5.0-6.3 IS in our test lab, and then we will publish a full review. 

 

Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 100‑400mm F5.0‑6.3 IS

 specifications
  
field of view (diag)

12°-3°1’

sensor formatMicro Four Thirds
min. setting distance

130 cm

filter diameter72mm
diaphragm blades9
image stabilizeryes, 3 stops
dimensions (dxl)

86×205 mm

weight1120 gr
mountMFT
particulars

usable with MC-14 and MC-20 teleconverters

importerwww.olympus.nl
list price€ 1299.00
  
resolution
contrast
chromatic aberration
distortion
vignetting
autofocus
flare
finish
  
final score

ConclusiON: REVIEW Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 100‑400mm F5.0‑6.3 IS oN Olympus OM-D E-M5  Mark III

As soon as we have Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 100-400 mm F5.0-6.3 IS in our test lab, a complete review will follow.

The Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 100‑400 mm F5.0‑6.3 IS will be available from mid-January. The list price is €1299.00.