Olympus M.Zuiko 100-400 Decision

With my Olympus M.Zuiko 100-400 decision made, and my lens on order, I’m now like many other folks anticipating the arrival of my new lens. This article shares a selection of new photographs of an osprey fishing, and discusses my M.Zuiko 100-400 decision.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with MC-20 @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-250

When I first bought my Olympus gear a little over a year ago I decided to use the M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with the MC-20 teleconverter for my bird photography. This combination has served me quite well, helping me capture a good range of bird images. The reach was a bit short for my liking, but workable much of the time. There are regular occasions where I simply watch a bird fly by and make no attempt to photograph it as it is too distant.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with MC-20 @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-250

While it is an excellent lens, the M.Zuiko PRO IS 300 mm f/4 was not of any interest to me. I’ve never liked using prime lenses. I much prefer the flexibility of zoom lenses. Plus, the PRO 300 mm f/4 has no practical application for me when doing client videos, whereas the PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 is a great lens for video work.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with MC-20 @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-500

Initially I thought that I would wait for the upcoming M.Zuiko PRO 150-400 mm f/4.5 with built-in 1.25X teleconverter. I have no doubt that this lens will be superb, just like all of my other M.Zuiko PRO lenses. A recent knee injury brought a dose of reality to my thinking. I realized that this lens would be too large and heavy for me to use it for extended periods of time. So, when the M.Zuiko 100-400 f/5-6.3 was announced it attracted my attention.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with MC-20 @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-320

I did some research on the Olympus M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 zoom, with reviews by Petr Bambousek and Frank Smith being of special interest. On a personal basis I don’t pay too much attention to typical camera gear reviews done by other photography sites. The experiences and work of professional photographers are much more meaningful to me.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with MC-20 @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-1250

The fact that the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 accepts teleconverters was a key consideration for me. I’m more than happy to give up a stop or two of light to get additional reach. I already own the MC-20 teleconverter and I’ll no doubt use it frequently on my new lens. I anticipate there will be many opportunities where there will be sufficient light to shoot at f/13 with an efov of 1600 mm.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with MC-20 @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-1000

However, from a practical viewpoint only using the MC-20 would be limiting from the perspective of having sufficient available light. So, I ordered the MC-14 teleconverter. This will allow me to shoot at f/9 with an efov of 1120 mm. I’m anticipating that the MC-14 will be mounted om my M.Zuiko 100-400 most of the time. Compatibility with Olympus teleconverters made my M.Zuiko 100-400 decision quite easy.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with MC-20 @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-800

At this point the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 is on back order with Olympus Americas so I’m not sure when I’ll be receiving my copy. Rest assured that once it does arrive I’ll be putting it through its paces and sharing my experiences and photographs with you. I think this lens, and the upcoming M.Zuiko PRO IS 150-400 f/4.5, have the potential to attract a lot of interest in the nature and birding segments of the market.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with MC-20 @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-1000

Technical Note

Photographs were captured hand-held using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process. Images were cropped to taste, then resized for web use.

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8 thoughts on “Olympus M.Zuiko 100-400 Decision”

  1. Tom–Would you anticipate any substantial decrease in your use of the 40-150 Pro with the 100-400? Would the 40-150 Pro, for your uses, be redundant?

    1. Hi Bill,

      When we first bought into the Olympus system we did so knowing that at some point we would be using a different lens for birding and nature. So, the M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 f/2.8 with the MC-20 for birding was always considered a temporary, additional use of that lens. Once we have the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 I won’t be using the PRO 40-150 for birding any longer.

      However, the PRO 40-150 f/2.8 will remain as a key lens for our indoor/studio/low light/video kit where it is matched up with the 7-14 PRO f/2.8, PRO 12-40 f/2.8, and PRO 45 f/1.2. I will also continue to use the PRO 40-150 f/2.8 as my main lens for flower photography as I love the shallow depth-of-field that I can create with that lens. So, it will get less use overall but be focused on its core strengths… rather than be made to ‘stretch’ as a birding lens.

      Our hiking/birding kit will consist of two primary lenses… the 100-400 f/5-6.3 and the 12-100 f/4. I’ll add the 7-14 f/2.8 when I want to create a ‘complete’ travel kit. For light travel I’ll be using the 12-100 f/4. This is another lens that we have ordered but have not yet received.

      Tom

        1. Hi Bill,

          When I was participating in the Olympus Pro Loaner program, the PRO 12-100 f/4 was one of the lenses that I selected as part of my loaner kit. When I had to decide on our initial Olympus system purchase I was really torn between the PRO 12-100 f/4 and the PRO 12-40 f/2.8. I ended up buying the PRO 12-40 f/2.8 to get the one extra stop of low light performance for our video work. This proved to be a very good decision and the PRO 12-40 f/2.8 has performed wonderfully.

          I always very much liked the PRO 12-100 f/4 but couldn’t justify it because of the duplication of focal length with our other PRO f/2.8 zooms. But… the PRO 12-100 f/4 is a perfect fit with the 100-400 f/5-6.3. So, we bit the bullet and ordered both.

          Tom

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