This short article discusses the practical considerations of using the in-lens IS of the M.Zuiko 100-400 IS, and shares some sample images. I appreciate that some folks do ‘testing’ and report their percentage of keepers in articles of this type. The skill set of photographers when shooting with long telephoto zoom lenses can vary significantly. It’s my view that reporting keeper rates is more about the skill of the photographer than the capabilities of a particular camera or lens… so I don’t bother with such ‘statistics’.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
When photographing wildlife the shutter speed that a photographer uses can be more dependent on the potential movement of the subject than the focal length of the lens used. For example, I very seldom use slow shutter speeds for birds. Live subjects interject a high degree of uncertainty, so I photographed still life subject matter with which to assess the practical use of the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5.-6.3 IS lens in terms of shutter speeds.
My first observation is that the claimed IS performance of 3-stops of image stabilization is accurate. Photographers with reasonable handheld skills should be able to use this lens fully extended at shutter speeds in the 1/50 to 1/100 range. Folks who are unable to get good quality images with shutter speed of at least 1/100, will need to examine their technique.
Slower shutter speeds are certainly possible and I found it very comfortable to shoot the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 at 1/40 of a second. This included using the lens for Handheld Hi Res (HHHR) images at this shutter speed.
I often prefer to shoot Handheld Hi Res images using the rear screen of my E-M1X. I found that the 1/40 shutter speed was fine for HHHR composed on the rear screen.
It is important for individual photographers to experiment with their camera gear to determine what shutter speed ranges are appropriate for them to use in various situations.
When using long telephoto zoom lenses we also need to remember to adjust our aperture depending on our distance to subject as this affects depth-of-field. For example, you can see in the above image the details in the hair of the character is in focus while much of the rest of the photograph is not.
I did try some slower speeds and found good success at shutter speeds like 1/15. These types of image captures do take more concentration.
From a practical perspective I found that my handheld slow shutter speed limit when using the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 fully extended to 400 mm (efov 800 mm) is about 1/10 of a second. At this shutter speed I was reasonably assured of getting sharp, usable photographs. Pushing beyond this was not practical for me.
The IS on the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm zoom can take a little bit of time to settle. I found that quickly half-depressing the shutter release one or two times to acquire test focus before framing my composition would help the IS settle quickly.
From a practical perspective, much of the time I found very little difference between using the lens IS, or turning it off and using the IBIS with my E-M1X. With quite slow shutter speeds having the lens IS turned on was a little bit more effective.
Owners of the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS will need to test using the lens with their specific camera to see what works best for them. When out in the field photographing wildlife with my E-M1X, I typically have the lens IS turned off.
I know some folks in chat rooms are making a big deal that the IS on this lens is not Sync-IS. From a practical perspective I couldn’t care less. What something is (or isn’t) doesn’t matter nearly as much as what it does. The M.Zuiko 100-400 mm is what it is. A photographer will either like the lens and its features, or they won’t. The IS in this lens allows me to shoot at 1/10 when fully extended to 400 mm (efov 800 mm) when needed. It delivers solid, reliable results that meet my needs. That’s all I care about.
Photographs were captured hand-held using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process.
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