Olympus announces new compact, lightweight super-telephoto zoom lens: M.Zuiko 100-400mm f/5-6.3 IS


posted Tuesday, August 4, 2020 at 2:00 AM EDT


While many serious enthusiasts and professional sports and wildlife photographers using Olympus cameras are likely eagerly awaiting the previously-teased Olympus 150-400mm f/4.5 TC1.25x IS PRO super-telephoto lens, Olympus has today announced an option for us mere mortals who want a high-performance, long-reaching super-tele lens but with an easy-to-carry form-factor and a reasonable price point.

Say hello to the M.Zuiko Digital ED 100-400mm f/5.0-6.3 IS! To be fair, we don't yet know the price of the 150-400mm PRO lens, but considering the fact that it's poised to be the flagship super-tele Zuiko Pro zoom lens, it's probably a safe bet to assume the price tag is heftier than what you'll find here.


Meanwhile, the all-new Olympus 100-400mm f/5-6.3 IS lens is squarely aimed at enthusiast wildlife, birding and nature photographers who want a lightweight, weather-sealed and versatile zoom. Weighing in at just 1120g (2.5 lbs) and with a length of just 205.6mm (8.1 inches) at 100mm without the lens hood, the 100-400mm is an impressively compact and travel-friendly super-zoom lens. For those familiar with the Olympus 300mm f/4 Pro lens, the 100-400mm is very similar in size, though the lens does extend outwards as you zoom.

E-M1 III: 328mm, f/6.3, 1/500s, ISO 640, -0.3EV

Sporting a powerful 200-800mm-equivalent zoom range, the lens on its own is a serious performer when it comes to telephoto reach and versatility. But if you need even more reach, the 100-400mm lens is fully compatible with Olympus' existing 1.4x MC-14 and 2.0x MC-20 teleconverters. Mounting the 2x TC onto the 100-400mm gives you up to a 1600mm-eq. focal length, all in a compact, hand-holdable package! Combine that with excellent close-focusing performance down to just 1.3 meters across the entire focal range, and you have a powerful lens for far-away and close-up subjects alike.

100-400mm + 2x TC Handheld! This image is uncropped.
E-M1 III: 800mm, f/13, 1/320s, ISO 640, -0.3EV

Despite not carrying the "Zuiko Pro" moniker, the new 100-400mm lens is still built to similar specifications, including a fully 1PX1-rated weather-sealed construction and incorporating a complex optical layout with numerous exotic lens elements. Utilizing a total of 21 elements situated into 15 groups, the lens includes four ED elements to suppress color bleeding and fringing and maintain edge-to-edge sharpness. The lens also uses two Super HR lens and two HR lenses to help combat chromatic aberration. The 100-400mm uses a 9-bladed circular aperture diaphragm for smooth bokeh performance. 


The AF system features Olympus' MSC ("Movie & Still Compatible") focusing system, for full-time AF in both stills and video that's also quiet so as not to introduce focusing noises during video recording. The 100-400mm is also designed so that the focusing group is placed towards the rear of the optical layout and utilizes just two small, lightweight elements for fast and precise focusing performance.

E-M1 III: 186mm, f/5.9, 1/400s, ISO 400, -0.3EV

As you'll notice in the model name, the new 100-400mm is one of the few Olympus lenses to include optical image stabilization. However, unlike the 300mm f/4 IS Pro and 12-100mm f/4 IS Pro, the 100-400mm lens is not compatible with Olympus' 5-axis Sync IS technology. The lens IS and in-body IS of Olympus camera bodies are independent; IS systems on the lens or body can be enabled or disabled separately. However, when both are enabled, they do work together, with the lens providing standard pitch and yaw stabilization while the IBIS performs roll stabilization. According to Olympus, the 100-400mm's IS system on its own is CIPA-rated for 3-stops of IS correction. A rating for IS performance when combined with a compatible Olympus body was not provided.

E-M1 III: 210mm, f/6, 1/1600s, ISO 400

In-depth Field Test to come...

I've been shooting with the 100-400mm lens for the past couple of weeks, and my in-depth Field Test for this new lightweight super-zoom lens will be published later today. Be on the lookout here or on the IR homepage for more on the 100-400mm lens!

Update: 11:27am ET:
Olympus 100-400mm f/5-6.3 IS Field Test has been published.

E-M1X: 342mm, f/6.3, 1/1250s, ISO 1250

Pricing & Availability

The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 100-400 f/5.0-6.3 IS lens will be available for $1,499.99 (U.S.) / $2,199.99 (CAD). Shipping will begin on September 8, 2020.