Olympus 100-400mm Field Test: A portable & powerful super-telephoto for the wildlife & nature enthusiast


posted Tuesday, August 4, 2020 at 10:27 AM EST

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Olympus 100-400mm f/5-6.3 IS Field Test


Earlier today, Olympus unveiled its latest lens creation, a compact and lightweight super-telephoto zoom: the M.Zuiko 100-400mm f/5-6.3 IS. Offering a versatile 200-800mm-equivalent zoom range in an easy-to-carry design, the new Olympus 100-400mm is designed for wildlife and nature enthusiasts looking for powerful telephoto reach without the usual bulk, weight and hefty price tag.

Though it doesn't sport the "Zuiko Pro" branding like previous high-end telephoto Olympus lenses, such as the 300mm f/4 IS Pro or 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro, the new 100-400mm nevertheless offers many similarities in its optical design, image quality performance and physical construction. And as the name suggests, it's one of the few Olympus Zuiko lenses to include lens-based image stabilization. Like its "Pro" brethren, the 100-400mm lens features a fully weather-resistant construction with 1PX1-rated sealing and overall robust build quality as well as utilizing several high-performance optical elements in its design. 


I was fortunate to have an advanced look at this latest Olympus lens and have been shooting with it paired up with the E-M1X and E-M1 Mark III over the past couple of weeks. As I've experienced with other Olympus lenses, even long telephoto optics, the lightweight yet rugged design of this 100-400mm lens really makes it a pleasure to carry around and use. It's compact for a long telephoto zoom, making it an excellent hiking companion, while at the same time the durable construction and weather-sealing provide some peace-of-mind should the weather turn on me unexpectedly.

E-M1 III: 328mm, f/6.3, 1/1600s, ISO 400

The overall image quality is excellent as is the focusing performance. Admittedly, the fairly dim variable-aperture design of the 100-400mm makes it challenging to use in low-light situations, but the image stabilization of the lens and corresponding Olympus bodies can help keep the ISO levels in-check in many situations.

E-M1X: 400mm, f/6.3, 1/80s, ISO 3200

For more of my thoughts and findings from the field, head over to the in-depth Olympus 100-400mm Field Test. Also, for full-resolution images, see the 100-400mm Gallery Page.

E-M1X: 335mm, f/6.3, 1/320s, ISO 400, -0.3EV
(Even though it's a super-telephoto zoom, the 100-400mm can focus quite close up!)

Olympus 100-400mm Field TestImage Gallery