Fujinon XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR
Lab Test Results
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August 1, 2016
by Andrew Alexander
Announced in January 2016 and released a few months later, the Fujinon XF 100-400mm ƒ/4.5-5.6 is an image stabilized telephoto zoom lens designed for Fuji's X-series of camera. Weighing in at a touch over three pounds, it's the heaviest lens Fuji's produced for the svelte X-series. With the APS-C sensor employed by the X-series, the lens produces an effective field of view of 150-600mm, making it an ideal wildlife lens.
The lens uses a variable aperture, in that as you increase the focal length, the maximum aperture size decreases, however the minimum remains the same. The following table reflects the change in maximum aperture with focal length:
The lens takes 77mm filters, and ships with a hood and removable tripod mount. The lens is available now for around $1,900.
The Fuji 100-400mm ƒ/4.5-5.6 provides excellent sharpness at its wider focal lengths; as the lens is zoomed in towards 400mm, however, it is still very good, but not as tack-sharp as many users would probably hope.
When used at the 100mm focal length, images are almost tack-sharp right at ƒ/4.5; stopping down to ƒ/5.6 produces excellent results for sharpness that don't get any better as you stop down further. We see similar results at 200mm, though we don't quite reach tack-sharp levels at ƒ/8.
At 300mm, we see very good levels of sharpness, but things aren't tack-sharp, even when stopped down to ƒ/11; at 400mm, it's just slightly less sharp, with more corner softness notable at the wider apertures.
Fully stopped-down performance at ƒ/22 is, as usual, best avoided as there is a general softness across the entire image: results are especially mediocre at 300mm and 400mm.
Note: It should be noted that the X-E1, our Fuji test camera, does feature in-camera correction of CA, vignetting and distortion.
There's a lot of technology employed in the lens to reduce the effect of chromatic aberration, including ED and Super ED lens elements. In combination with in-camera CA reduction, we see extremely low results for chromatic aberration in our testing.
Similarly, results for corner shading are equally negligible: less than a quarter-stop of corner shading at any focal length / aperture combination.
The Fuji 100-400mm ƒ/4.5-5.6 OIS showed no discernible image distortion in our testing.
The Fujinon XF 100-400 ƒ/4.5-5.6 uses a fast twin linear autofocus motor, allowing the lens to focus from infinity to closest focus in around a second. The design is fly-by-wire, so there is no direct connection between the focusing ring and the autofocus system: autofocus results are very quick, and almost totally silent. Also, attached 77mm filters will not rotate during focusing.
You'd be better served going to more macro-dedicated lenses, rather than this lens, for macro work: the lens provides 0.19x magnification, at a close-focusing distance of just under six feet.
Build Quality and Handling
The Fujinon XF 100-400mm ƒ/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR is a well-built lens, with an all-metal barrel construction and textured in a satin black finish. The lens is not subtle: at the time of writing it's the biggest that Fuji produces. It's almost seven inches long, and weighs just over 3 lbs (1.37kg). Mounted on the smaller X-mount bodies, it does make for a package that's not quite as svelte as you might have envisioned. Adding a battery grip to the X-T1 or X-T2 cameras really helps with grip and balance. The lens features optical image stabilization, which can be activated or deactivated with a dedicated ''OIS'' switch. Weather sealing is provided in 13 areas of the lens, including a gasket on the lens mount.
There are a few control switches for this lens: one to enable and disable automatic aperture selection (this has been attached to the aperture ring in other Fuji designs), a focus distance limiter switch (full, or 5m to infinity), and a switch to enable or disable optical image stabilization (OIS).
There are three rings for this lens: a zoom ring, a focusing ring, as well as an aperture ring, which is something of a rarity in modern digital camera lenses -- though it's been a standard feature on Fuji's X-mount glass. The aperture ring sits closer to the lens body and is around 3/8'' wide.
The zoom ring is a generous two inches wide, with deep rubber ribs running parallel to the length of the lens. The zoom action is very smooth, going from 100mm to 400mm in a eighty degree turn, with only a minor amount of force required to transition between focal lengths. It's not an internal zooming lens, so it does extend as it is zoomed out - it will grow in length by about 2 1/2 inches at it reaches 400mm.
The focusing ring is about 3/4'' wide, with a deeply-grooved rubbery coating that offers excellent tactile feel. The lens uses a fly-by-wire system in its lens focusing operation, so the focusing ring is not actually directly connected to the lens elements in a mechanical way. Rather, turning the focusing ring moves the elements electronically. In practice this means the focusing ring will turn forever in either direction, and you'll have to rely on the on-screen readouts to know if you have reached minimum or maximum focus.
There are no distance scales or depth-of-field information on the lens, but the X-E1 test camera we use offers a distance scale on its LCD or viewfinder readout.
Fuji claims five stops of hand-held improvement with its Optical Image Stabilization, at 400mm: Our testing showed about 4 stops of improvement. Be sure to check our IS Test tab for more detailed information.
The lens comes standard with a beefy tripod mount. The mount's foot can be removed from the lens but the collar is integrated: the foot has a single 1/4-20 mounting point. The round-shaped lens hood is made of plastic and attaches via standard bayonet mount. The hood is 3 3/4'' long and features a sliding window that allows the user to rotate an attached 77mm filter.
There aren't a large number of alternatives to choose from in this category, as third-party manufacturers haven't created many lenses for Fuji's X mount.
Fujinon XF 50-140mm ƒ/2.8 R LM OIS WR ~$1,600
It doesn't hold a candle to the 100-400mm in terms of bringing the faraway close, but it does offer a fast ƒ/2.8 aperture, as well as optical image stabilization. Optically, the 50-140mm provides sharper images, but then, it doesn't let you get as close to the subject.
Fujinon XC 50-230mm ƒ/4.5-6.7 OIS ~$500
We haven't tested this lens, and it's not clear whether you can even buy one any more (Fuji doesn't list it as discontinued, but no major online retailers have it in stock). It's an economic way to get into telephoto shooting (it'll have an effective field of view of 75-345mm) but at the price I can't imagine it compares to the 100-400mm in terms of optical quality.
Fujinon XF 55-200mm ƒ/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS ~$700
It's not quite in the same category and doesn't reach near as far as the 100-400mm, but the 55-200mm is a capable telephoto lens, especially given its price point. At the same focal lengths, the 100-400mm fares slightly better for sharpness.
As the only lens in Fuji's lineup that reaches as long as it does, this is a case of if you need a lens to do this, you really don't have any other brand-name choices. Fortunately, it's a capable performer, and I have no doubt Fuji will sell a lot of these lenses. We loved the subject-to-background isolation potential provided by the XF 100-400mm WR. To Fuji's credit, they've gone the extra length to keep the maximum aperture of ƒ/5.6 at 400mm (Panasonic's comparable lens hits ƒ/6.3, for instance). And while not perfect at 400mm and ƒ/5.6, it's still quite good considering the extreme focal length. Yet another fantastic offering from Fujifilm.
Lab Sample Photos
The VFA target should give you a good idea of sharpness in the center and corners, as well as some idea of the extent of barrel or pincushion distortion and chromatic aberration, while the Still Life subject may help in judging contrast and color. We shoot both images using the default JPEG settings and manual white balance of our test bodies, so the images should be quite consistent from lens to lens.
As appropriate, we shoot these with both full-frame and sub-frame bodies, at a range of focal lengths, and at both maximum aperture and ƒ/8. For the ''VFA'' target (the viewfinder accuracy target from Imaging Resource), we also provide sample crops from the center and upper-left corner of each shot, so you can quickly get a sense of relative sharpness, without having to download and inspect the full-res images. To avoid space limitations with the layout of our review pages, indexes to the test shots launch in separate windows.
• • •
Initial impressions of Fuji's first super-telephoto zoom
By Dave Pardue | Posted: 05/13/2016
The desire for more zoom range in a package light enough to be comfortable to hold for extended shooting periods is one most of us share. Add to the mix good enough image stabilization for handheld shooting in most situations, and a large enough sensor to be able to handle a hearty jolt of ISO gain when needed without excessive noise, and you're really upping the ante. The designing of lenses offering these qualities and abilities is a definite trend we're seeing across most of the top manufacturers these days, and the Fuji 100-400mm WR is the latest in the line to touch down in our lab. Having been eagerly awaiting this first X-mount super-telephoto lens for some time now, I couldn't wait to check it out of the lab for a long weekend of real-world shooting.
1/2000s / f/5 / ISO 800 / 412mm eq.
(Images have been cropped and resized to fit this page, as well as edited in post-production software primarily to balance shadows and highlights. Clicking any image will take you to the original, unedited image as produced by the Fuji X-T1 and provide you with access to the full resolution file and associated EXIF data.)
We're fortunate enough to have a long-term loan sample of the Fuji X-T1 on hand, and while I'm quite sure that you could successfully shoot this lens on a variety of Fuji bodies, the X-T1 is for my tastes the body of choice to pair up with the XF 100-400mm WR. (Of course, the rumor mill is abuzz with talks of a forthcoming follow-up to the X-T1, so stay tuned as we'll share all we can once we get an official word on that.)
I've divided this initial impressions gallery piece up into separate sections according to shot type, so if you'd like to jump straight to a certain section please use the links below. And for everyone else... read on!
Fuji XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6
Wildlife • Domesticated Life • Portrait Work • The Natural World
When this lens finally arrived at our lab, several of our most senior lens specialists unboxed it and sat there wowing at the feel in the hands. From the buttery smooth rotation of the tripod collar to the professional-grade zoom rotation, reassuringly stiff yet very smooth as well, it was clear before we'd even attached the lens to a body that we were holding something well-built. The rotating tripod collar works similarly to the one found on the Fuji XF 50-140mm lens we reviewed for you last year, and it comes in quite handy for times you'd like to rotate from landscape to portrait orientation on the fly when using a tripod.
The Fujinon 100-400mm WR appears at first glance like it will weigh more than it actually does. It's not light of course, but nor is it as heavy as I'd expected. At just over 3 lbs or about 1.4 kg, it's roughly double the weight of the Fuji X-T1 with the battery grip attached, so that's a grand total of 4.5 lbs or 2 kg for the whole rig. This is a weight that I grew accustomed to fairly quickly, and given the 609mm equivalent reach I often appreciated it for the stability that it provided during handheld shooting. And speaking of the battery grip, you will for sure want to have one attached while shooting with this lens! The added weight and stability, combined with the portrait-shooting ease and the extra battery, superbly round out this overall package.
The Fujinon XF 100-400mm WR OIS shown at 100mm without lens hood
The Fujinon XF 100-400mm WR OIS shown at 400mm with lens hood
The actual 35mm equivalent zoom range for this lens is 152mm-609mm when mounted on the X-T1, with a maximum available aperture spanning from f/4.5 at wide angle to f/5.6 at full telephoto range. (Note: EXIF data reports the range as 150mm-600mm.) Fuji claims 5 stops of compensation is provided by the optical image stabilization (OIS) system, so I decided to shoot this entire initial gallery handheld and across a variety of shutter speeds and subjects in order to give you a good idea of what to expect from your own handheld shooting experiences. With a current street price at the full MSRP of US$1,899, this is certainly not an inexpensive lens, but nor is this an ordinary lens by any stretch of the imagination.
In addition to OIS, the Fuji 100-400mm WR is also fully weather-sealed, so the combination described above including the battery grip is ready to move into and among the elements, giving you a lot of freedom when venturing to harsh climates (or your own backyard in the rain, for that matter). And while there's currently no real standard on what "weather-sealed" means, our experience has been that Fuji comes out on or near the top regarding such claims and takes it very seriously indeed. Even the optional 1.4x teleconverter is weather-sealed, so your entire rig is safe and ready for battle.
Now let's head out into the real world...
Fuji 100-400mm Review > Wildlife
When most of us think of a weather-sealed, image stabilized, long-zooming lens, wildlife is one of the first subjects that comes to mind. The majority of wildlife doesn't want to come too close to humans, for one thing, so we need that zoom reach to reel them into our sensor's field of capture. There's a gorgeous heron living on our local lake who I've yet to successfully capture after several years of missed attempts due to his or her simply not wanting me to come too close, and I'm always on the lookout for a lens that might finally get me that shot.
Similarly, I've found our local blue jay population to be quite skittish when it comes to allowing me into their protective sphere, even when I'm shamelessly luring them with sunflower seeds. The same can be said for our local chipmunk population, who scurry quickly away when they detect my presence. For this reason I chose to use the X-T1's electronic shutter for the two shots below, sneaking up quietly and firing off several shots before I was detected. All other shots in this initial gallery were taken with the mechanical shutter.
1/1000s / f/6.4 / ISO 640 / 609mm eq. / electronic shutter
1/250s / f/5.6 / ISO 1600 / 609mm eq. / electronic shutter
1/500s / f/5.6 / ISO 800 / 609mm eq
1/500s / f/5 / ISO 800 / 370mm eq
Fuji 100-400mm Review > Domesticated Life
OK, so capturing domestic and farm animals is not as tricky as the average wildlife out there, that's for sure, but a super telephoto lens is still a great friend in this regard. After all, some domesticated animals are easier to approach than others, and I included our friendly local squirrel here who after years of sunflower bribery often allows me to get quite close depending on his mood that day. Moving beings are the most popular subjects for this type of lens, so here's a taste of the gentler and more approachable side of the animal kingdom, as well as the bokeh characteristics you can expect from a variety of background (and foreground) subject matter.
1/1000s / f/5.2 / ISO 100 / 442mm eq
1/180s / f/5.6 / ISO 640 / 333mm eq
1/800s / f/4.5 / ISO 640 / 152mm eq
1/500s / f/5.6 / ISO 800 / 357mm eq
What do all those switches do, anyway?
I found the Fuji 100-400mm's autofocus in conjunction with the X-T1 to be both speedy and reliable. Through several hundred images shot I only experienced the lens needing to "hunt" on a few occasions, which is typical for most long zooms I've shot with. There is a handy limiter switch for times when you're shooting distant subjects, which will constrain the lens to only attempt to focus from 5 meters to infinity, thereby substantially reducing any hunting that might arise without the setting enabled. Just remember to disable it for anything closer than 5 meters!
Fuji 100-400mm > The controls at a glance
There's also a switch for changing the aperture selection to auto, or to manual and then adjusting aperture using either the dedicated ring on the camera or with the dial on the camera body. The third available switch is for toggling the OIS on or off (panning is automatically detected), and there's also a switch to lock the zoom in place at your desired focal length. All of these are handy and conveniently located. Even the lens hood comes equipped with a lock, preventing it from accidentally becoming dislodged if bumped or jarred, and a convenient sliding window for easier access to rotating filters. Also shown in the image above is a closer look at the handy rotating tripod collar.
Fuji 100-400mm Review > Portrait Work
Classic portrait focal lengths have traditionally been between the range of 50mm and 200mm in 35mm equivalent terms, and that's a good rule of thumb for the majority of portrait shooting. But using longer focal lengths can sometimes yield dramatic effects and can be fun to experiment with.
1/2000s / f/5.6 / ISO 640 / 609mm eq
1/800s / f/5 / ISO 1000 / 321mm eq
1/250s / f/5 / ISO 1250 / 289mm eq
[1:1 crop from above image]
Fuji 100-400mm Review > The Natural World
And lastly to the fourth class from my shooting with this lens: lakes, foliage and fauna. This is not what one would consider a "landscape" lens as those are traditionally wide to extreme wide angle in order to capture the breadth of the surroundings. Telephoto lenses are more suited for capturing a subject from within that vastness and drawing attention to it, while usually leaving the background elements nicely blurred and isolated.
[1:1 crop from above image]
1/4000s / f/4.5 / ISO 640 / 152mm eq
1/250s / f/5 / ISO 800 / 384mm eq
A special note about Film Simulation Modes
It's virtually impossible for me to review a Fuji product without talking about one of my favorite features they offer: Film Simulation Modes. I could discuss them for days on end, but will just make a brief mention of them here for anyone not yet familiar with them. On most Fuji camera bodies these days you can choose Film Simulation presets designed to emulate a number of Fuji's classic films. I have found these to be eminently useful, time-saving, not at all gimmicky and a whole lot of fun to use. And the best part is you can still retain the RAW file (if you choose to shoot RAW+JPEG) should you decide to process along a different line down the road.
The Fuji X-T1 also allows for Film Simulation Bracketing, and this is a feature I used for some of the shots here. This allows you to choose three different film simulation modes and the camera will capture one image but store it as three separate files. The only drawback is that you can't capture a RAW file while using this feature, so for other times I captured a RAW file with one Film Sim mode, and then on a few occasions used the RAW conversion feature in-camera to choose another Film Simulation after the fact. I enjoy both paths for different occasions, and it's nice to have the options. In the shooting for this write-up I used eight of the available film simulations, each with a unique character and feel.
1/1000s / f/5.6 / ISO 1000 / 547mm eq
Based on my initial experience with the Fuji XF 100-400mm WR, I can say for certain that this is yet another fantastic offering from Fujifilm. Not only did they fill a much-needed gap for X-series shooters with a super-telephoto lens, but they did so with aplomb. We'll be bringing you our full lab report complete with all the technical testing and analysis you're accustomed to shortly, but based on my experience this should be another home run for yet another Fuji lens.
While certainly not lightweight, this lens in combination with the Fuji X-T1 and battery grip make a nice, comfortable balance for extended shooting. And with a maximum aperture of f/4.5-5.6 it's not such a fast lens, but the trade-off is it's relatively affordable and not too bulky. The onboard image stabilization allows for handheld shooting in most outdoor situations until the light gets dim, and the weather-sealing offers yet another measure of assurance for your investment. This lens feels professional to hold and to use, the autofocus works quickly and superbly in most real-world instances I encountered, and the images produced turned out mostly sharp even shooting handheld at 1/180s.
For many more images shot with this combination, as well as access to RAW files and to EXIF data, please visit our Fuji X-T1 gallery page (images denoted with "100-400" in the filename), and stay tuned for our full technical review still to come!
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Fujinon XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR
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Fujinon XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR User Reviews
9 out of 10 points and recommended by scharfsj (1 reviews)Excellent image quality and very fast AF on an X-T2. Excellent reach for sports including motorsports. This lens is MUCH better in every respect, most notably image quality. than the original Canon 100-400 L IS.The only con I can list is it would be nice to be able to lock the zoom at any focal length so the lens barrel does not rack out to full length when I walk from corner to corner ar the racetrack.
I shot my last professional motorsports event of the year with this lens on an X-T2 with Vertical Power Booster Grip, and it and the camera body exceeded my expectations. At "working apertures" f/5.6 to f/14, and up to 350 mm, this lens is VERY sharp. Also very fast AF. The reach this lens provides is impressive and I shot almost all of my racing images that weekend with it. Those are images are available for review here: http://imageevent.com/puma_cat/indycarsonomaraceway2016;jsessionid=m345h8us04.cow_sreviewed November 18th, 2016
BTW, guys at Imaging Resource, I think it's time to upgrade your reference Fuji X-camera. And X-E1??? Seriously? Time to get on the program...
10 out of 10 points and recommended by rdonson (6 reviews)Tack sharp imaging quality. Good AF on X-T1. Amazing IS.
I have an older Canon 100-400 and it doesn't hold a candle to this lens. This is sharp, excellent contrast and focuses well on my X-T1. The IS is simply amazing.reviewed July 11th, 2016 (purchased for $1,899)
Details that I truly appreciate:
- the lens hood has a sliding door for use with Polarizing Filters
- the limiting switch that stops extension of the lens
- the easy to use collar (foot)
- well balanced when the foot is on the tripod