The Leica Lumix 100-400mm f4-6.3 — Panasonic’s latest addition to their micro 4/3’s line of lenses — will be the first super telephoto zoom of its kind when it starts shipping in a couple of months.
With release scheduled for March 2016, the Panasonic LUMIX G 100-400mm LEICA DG VARIO-ELMAR will offer the longest focal length native to the MFT system. The 100-400mm translates to a full frame equivalent of a whopping 200-800mm! Coming in at just under a kilo, the lens is relatively small and compact, in line with the micro four-thirds philosophy. As a quick comparison: the Sigma 300-800mm is over 5kg, as well as over 4 times the price!
The high-quality, Leica-designed optics include 20 elements in 13 groups including 1 aspherical, 1 UED, and 2 ED elements. Panasonic promises fast autofocus thanks to the 240 fps AF Drive housed within the metal body, which will feature a retractable lens hood, weather-sealing, and a rotary tripod mount with built-in lens switches. Thanks to this, no matter how you orient the tripod foot, the controls will remain in the same position relative to the camera. The switches include controls for auto/manual focus, as well as autofocus limiting to ensure even faster AF performance. The third switch activates Power Optical Image Stabilisation – quite necessary when shooting at these focal lengths. The IS works in tandem with Lumix bodies with in-body IS, such as the Panasonic GX8, resulting in Panasonic’s Dual Image Stabilization.
The 9 blade diaphragm will be capable of a variable aperture of f4-6.4. As a result, those action-stopping wildlife and sports shots the Lumix Leica 100-400mm is clearly intended for better happen in bright daylight.
Of course, a faster maximum aperture at the tele end would have been nicer, as the smaller sensor size of the MFT system needs all the light it can get. This shortcoming may be especially evident, considering you may be paying a premium for the Leica design. But we need to remember: building a zoom of these characteristics and features while keeping it light and portable is no small feat!
Due to its relatively affordable price and features—and no longer needing to use a third-party lens plus adapter for these focal lengths—this first true super telephoto zoom native to the micro four-thirds system certainly looks like a serious contender in its field. Its practical features and dimensions make it an ideal choice for shooters heavily invested in the micro four-thirds system.
The Leica Lumix 100-400mm is available for pre-order from B&H using the link below.
Wildlife photographer Daniel J. Cox had a chance to use an early version of the Leica Lumix 100-400mm lens on a test shoot recently and shared his thoughts via this video and in an extensive blog post that you can read here.