M.Zuiko 100-400 Review

This article shares my M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS hands-on review, and features a wide selection of images captured with this lens. As I’ve mentioned in other articles, this is not a gear review website. I only do reviews of camera equipment that I actually own and use.

So, this M.Zuiko 100-400 review is based on first-hand experiences as an owner of this particular zoom lens. Since receiving it in late November, I’ve been out in the field regularly, capturing thousands of photographs, in a range of conditions.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/4000, ISO-5000, subject distance 5.7 metres, cropped to 4416 on the width

Overview

The M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS zoom lens is an important addition to the M.Zuiko family of lenses. Providing an equivalent field-of-view of 200-800 mm, this lens fills a gap between the M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II zoom (efov 150-600 mm) and the M.Zuiko PRO 300 mm f/4 IS prime (efov 600 mm).

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 and M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 437 mm, efov 874 mm, f/12, 1/2500, ISO-1250, cropped to 3853 pixels on the width, Bird Detection AI

Comparatively lightweight at 1.12 KG (~2.47 lbs.) without the tripod collar, the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm will appeal to a wide range of photographers. With a suggested list price of $2,200 Cdn this is not an inexpensive lens, but does offer photographers excellent value given its capabilities.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 359 mm, efov 718 mm, f/8.7, 1/2500, ISO-2000, Pro Capture H mode, subject distance 6 metres

The M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS zoom is weathersealed to IPX1 standards and is compatible with both the M.Zuiko MC-14 and MC-20 teleconverters. This increases the efov to 280-1120 mm @ f/7-9 and 400-1600 mm at f/10-13 respectively.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/14, 1/2000, ISO-4000, subject distance 40.8 metres, cropped to 2646 pixels on the height, Bird Detection AI

It has a minimum focusing distance of 1.3 metres (~4.27 feet). This minimum focusing distance is consistent throughout the zoom range and is not affected by the use of teleconverters. When coupled with the M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter this zoom lens is capable of achieving equivalent image magnification of 1.15X when fully extended.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.7 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2500, ISO-2000, Pro Capture H mode, subject distance 24.8 metres

I won’t be covering all of the specifications in this M.Zuiko 100-400 review as this technical information is readily available. It should be noted that the M.Zuiko 100-400 features a complex optical design which includes 4 ED lenses, 2 super HR lenses and 2 HR lenses. These are contained in its overall design of 21 elements in 15 groups, and which also includes ZERO Coating. Resulting image quality is excellent.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 571 mm, efov 1142 mm, f/13, 1/1250, ISO-5000, subject distance 37.8 metres, cropped to 4819 pixels on the width

The combination of its comparatively light weight, IPX1 weather-sealing, compatibility with teleconverters, image quality, and short minimum focusing distance make the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS zoom an incredibly versatile photographic tool.

Build Quality

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 261 mm, efov 522 mm, f/6.3, 1/2500, ISO-400, subject distance 33.2 metres, cropped to 3696 pixels on the width, Bird Detection AI

The M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS feels solid in hand. While the zoom ring operates very smoothly, it is noticeably stiffer than those found on M.Zuiko PRO zoom lenses like the 40-150 mm f/2.8.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 391 mm, efov 782 mm, f/8.7, 1/3200, ISO-2000, subject distance 5.6 metres, full frame capture

This isn’t a personal gripe, but simply an observation. The manual focusing ring is silky smooth. The removable and reversible lens hood does its assigned job, and would be reasonably affordable to replace should the need arise.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2000, ISO-2000, full frame capture, subject distance 5.9 metres, Bird Detection AI

All switches operate with self-assured clicks and feel well constructed. Overall the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS feels solid and very well engineered, as I have come to expect of the other M.Zuiko lenses in our kit. Very little appears to separate this lens from ones designated as M.Zuiko PRO offerings, other than having a variable aperture and non-IS-Sync image stabilization.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1600, ISO-2500, subject distance 4.9 metres, cropped to 4762 pixels on the width, Bird Detection AI

Handling & Ergonomics

The M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 handles very well and feels perfectly balanced on my E-M1X body. Owners of other camera bodies may want to use them with an add-on grip.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/14, 1/2000, ISO-4000, subject distance 19.1 metres, cropped to 2490 pixels on the height, Bird Detection AI

There are three switches on the left-hand side of the lens barrel. From top to bottom on the lens barrel they control the 3 position AF Limiter, AF/ MF selector, and In-Lens IS. All are easily accessed with the left thumb of a photographer and are spaced sufficiently apart for easy identification and use.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2000, ISO-2500, subject distance 3.4 metres, full frame capture, Bird Detection AI

The 3-position AF Limiter switch has 1.3 to 6 metre, 1.3 metre to infinity, and 6 metre to infinity options. I strongly recommend using the AF Limiter switch as appropriate. It makes a noticeable difference in how quickly the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm zoom acquires focus, and avoids focus hunting.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 200 mm, efov 400 mm, f/5.9, 1/2500, ISO-320, subject distance 9.2 metres, cropped to 4476 pixels on the width, Bird Detection AI

Other than doing some simple tests, I haven’t had the need to switch from Auto Focus (AF) into Manual Focus (MF). The M.Zuiko 100-400 mm acquires focus fast and reliably in a range of lighting conditions.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1600, ISO-2500, cropped to 4923 pixels on the width, subject distance 6 metres, Bird Detection AI

While a long telephoto lens weighing in at 1.12 KG (~2.47 lbs.) may seem heavy, it is 0.7 to 1.2 KG lighter (~1.5 to 2.6 lbs.) than full frame lenses of a similar nature.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, f/6.3, 1/800, ISO-1250, cropped to 3797 pixels on the width, subject distance 4.7 metres, Bird Detection AI

When I used to shoot with full frame camera gear my birding kit weighed about 2.95 KG (~6.5 lbs.). I could shoot handheld continuously for about 3 hours before arm fatigue would be noticeable.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1000, ISO-2500, subject distance 6.1 metres, Bird Detection AI

By comparison my E-M1X with the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm weighs about 2.1 KG (~4.6 lbs.) without the tripod collar, and 2.3 KG (~5 lbs.) with it attached. This weight reduction is significant and has allowed me to shoot continuously with my E-M1X and M.Zuiko 100-400 mm combination for 6-7 hours without any signs of fatigue.

Using the tripod collar without a tripod.

The lens mount on my M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS has a little bit of rotational movement when the focal length is adjusted. Olympus Technical Support officially advised me that this slight movement is normal and will not affect the operation of the lens. 

I originally removed the tripod collar from my lens as I always shoot handheld and had no apparent reason to leave the tripod collar attached to the barrel of the lens.

Two fingers hooked onto tripod foot to stabilize the lens, with the other two fingers are free to move the zoom ring. This reduces/eliminates torque on lens mount.

After receiving the information from Olympus Technical Support I decided to attach the tripod collar to see if I could use it to reduce or eliminate the rotational torque on the lens mount. In the long term I feel this is probably better to help reduce potential wear and tear on the camera mount.

In the photograph above you can see how I now hold my M.Zuiko 100-400 mm lens with two fingers hooked onto the tripod foot. This stabilizes the lens quite well and allows the zoom ring, or manual focusing ring to be used without causing rotational torque at the lens mount. I loosen my grip on my E-M1X body slightly when adjusting the focal length. This allows the rotational torque to be absorbed by the tripod collar and the lens barrel.

Thumb placed high on zoom ring, ready for downward movement to extend the focal length of the lens.

While using this approach I discovered another advantage in using the tripod collar in this manner. Rather than having to use two partial wrist twists to move the focal length of the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm lens from 100 mm to 400 mm, I can now use one, downward pull of my thumb against the zoom adjustment ring to fully extend the lens. A single thumb push upwards shortens the focal length. These moves are possible because the tripod foot is anchoring the lens in the palm of my hand. The low profile of the tripod foot makes the thumb adjustments possible.

Thumb in final position on zoom ring after the lens has been fully extended with one downward thumb movement. This eliminates the need for two smaller wrist-twists on the lens and increases the speed of focal length adjustment.

This increases the speed at which I can adjust the focal length of the lens, and allows me to frame my compositions much quicker. Using this technique is especially helpful when using teleconverters with the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm. It allows a photographer to start with the zoom lens in a collapsed, or partially collapsed, position. This makes it much easier to find an incoming bird-in-flight in the viewfinder, then very quickly zoom in on the subject bird with a single downward thumb movement.

I have large hands so folks with a smaller finger spread may not be able to get a full extension/retraction with the same type of thumb movement that I’m using.

Auto-Focusing Performance

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 502 mm, efov 1004 mm, f/9, 1/2500, ISO-2500, subject distance 2.8 metres, cropped to 4620 pixels on the width

The auto-focusing of the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS is very fast and accurate, even under lower light conditions. Using teleconverters doesn’t seem to have any significant effect on auto focusing performance. I was able to capture the image above with the subject bird only 2.8 metres away, and using an efov of 1004 mm.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with MC-14 @ 308 mm, efov 616 mm, f/8.5, 1/1600, ISO-6400, Bird Detection AI

The recent firmware upgrade with my E-M1X has added Bird Detection AI to my auto-focusing arsenal. I absolutely love this new technology and it is my default setting for perched birds and those on the ground, or in the water.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, f/6.3, 1/800, ISO-1250, cropped to 4236 pixels on the width, subject distance 5.3 metres, Bird Detection AI

I have also been experimenting with it for birds-in-flight and have had some good, initial results using it. I published an earlier article illustrating how it performed with a gull flying directly at my E-M1X. Here is one image and a 100% crop from that article.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 200 mm, efov 400 mm, f/5.9, 1/2500, ISO-320, Bird Detection AI
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 200 mm, efov 400 mm, f/5.9, 1/2500, ISO-320, Bird Detection AI, 100% crop

Learning any new technology takes some time, but I am very encouraged by the early results that I’ve been able to achieve. I have been using my E-M1X’s Bird Detection AI as my default setting for birds-in-flight, and anticipate that I will become more proficient with it as I gain more experience.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1600, ISO-1600, subject distance 3.6 metres, cropped to 4767 pixels on the width, Bird Detection AI

I’ve also been doing some experiments that would fall under the category of “I wonder if this will work?” The image of the moon below is one such recent experiment. Completely on a whim I went out one night with my E-M1X fitted with the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5.-6.3 IS along with the M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/13, 1/800, ISO-6400, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res Mode

I don’t have any practical experience photographing the moon, but thought I’d give it a whirl. But, not just any photo of the moon. I decided to try capturing a Handheld Hi Res image. Atmospheric conditions were not the best as there was a faint haze present. My E-M1X was able to process a Handheld Hi Res image. I’ll have to do some research about proper handheld technique for moon photography! And then try some additional images on a crystal clear night.

Image Quality

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/13, 1/400, ISO-2500, subject distance 7.3 metres

I’ve found that the image quality of the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5.-6.3 to be excellent and more than sufficient for my specific needs. I regularly shoot this lens wide open when fully extended, even when using M.Zuiko teleconverters. Here are a few sample images at various lens settings…

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 195 mm, efov 390 mm, f/8, 1/2000, ISO-5000, subject distance 4.5 metres, full frame capture
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1000, ISO-5000, subject distance 4.6 metres, Bird Detection AI
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2000, ISO-2500, subject distance 3.4 metres, cropped to 4539 pixels on the width, Bird Detection AI
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1600, ISO-2000, subject distance 5.8 metres, cropped to 4652 pixels on the width, Bird Detection AI
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with MC-14 teleconverter @ 391 mm, efov 782 mm, f/9, 1/2000, ISO-3200, subject distance 8.7 metres, cropped to 4426 pixels on the height, Bird Detection AI used
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, f/6.3, 1/800, ISO-1250, full frame capture, subject distance 4.6 metres, Bird Detection AI

In-Lens Image Stabilization

Some folks in photography chat rooms seem to make a big deal that the In-Lens IS is not Sync-IS with the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS. I suppose some people will always find something about which to whine. I view this In-Lens IS subject as a non-issue. It simply is what it is. The only thing that is important to me if whether I can use the lens at slow enough shutter speeds to meet my needs. I don’t really care how the lens is able to do that for me.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, f/6.3, 1/10, ISO-2000, subject distance 1.6 metres

The photograph above was captured handheld at 1/10th of a second at a focal length of 400 mm (800 mm efov). My auto-focus point was placed on the tip of the berry. I’ve found that shooting handheld at 1/10th of a second with the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 fully extended is the slowest shutter speed that I am comfortable using. Beyond that my likelihood of getting an in-focus image drops off quickly.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, f/6.3, -0.3 EV, 1/40, ISO-3200, subject distance 2.1 metres

The 3 stops of In-Lens IS claimed in corporate advertising is a realistic expectation based on my use of the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm. Assuming good technique most folks should be able to use this lens fully extended at 1/125th of a second, and perhaps a bit slower. Personally, I’m quite comfortable using the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm fully extended at 1/30th to 1/40th of a second.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, f/6.3, -0.3 EV, 1/40, ISO-6400, Handheld Hi Res mode, subject distance 1.3 metres

At a shutter speed of 1/40th of a second with the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS fully extended, I’ve been able to get good results when using Handheld Hi Res mode.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, f/6.3, -1.0 EV, 1/40, ISO-2500, Handheld Hi Res mode, subject distance 1.3 metres

I’m looking forward to the upcoming spring and summer seasons so I can try using the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm to photograph butterflies, various insects, and flowers

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, f/6.3, – 0.3 EV, 1/15, ISO-1000, subject distance 2.1 metres

I find it interesting that there isn’t very much noticeable difference in image stabilization performance when using my E-M1X with the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm. Unless I am shooting at quite slow shutter speeds, the E-M1X’s IBIS handles things just as well as the In-Lens IS. When shooting at a typical shutter speed of 1/50 or faster, I usually have the In-Lens IS turned off. I do use the In-Lens IS at slower shutter speeds. The In-Lens IS can be a bit jittery at first. I’ve found that one or two rapid half-taps on the shutter release settles it down quickly.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, f/6.3, 1/100, ISO-6400, subject distance 1.4 metres

I suggest that people experiment with their camera to determine whether they should use the IBIS in their camera on the In-Lens IS. This could vary by shutter speed, and with the use of teleconverters.

Use with Teleconverters

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with MC-14 @ 210 mm, efov 420 mm, f/8.1, 1/1600, ISO-800, subject distance 6 metres, cropped to 3132 on the height, Bird Detection AI

One of the biggest advantages of the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 is that it is compatible with the M.Zuiko MC-14 and MC-20 teleconverters. I have been using these teleconverters on a very regular basis. If I have enough light, you can bet that one of them will be attached to my M.Zuiko 100-400 mm.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/14, -0.3 EV, 1/2500, ISO-3200, subject distance 59.6 metres, cropped to 2386 pixels on the height, Bird Detection AI

I’ve been experimenting photographing birds-in-flight using both the MC-14 and MC-20 and have been pleased with the results I’ve been able to achieve thus far. It takes quite a bit of practice to get even modestly proficient in terms of eye/hand coordination.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/14, -0.3 EV, 1/2500, ISO-2500, subject distance 36.2 metres, cropped to 4389 pixels on the width, Bird Detection AI

I love the challenge of using teleconverters with M.Zuiko 100-400 mm as they significantly expand what is possible with bird photography.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with MC-14 @ 235 mm, efov 470 mm, f/7.7, 1/1600, ISO-1250, subject distance 5.6 metres, cropped to 3138 on the height, Bird Detection AI

Getting in tight with subject birds has always been my preferred approach. The MC-14 is much easier to use and this is the teleconverter that is most often affixed to my M.Zuiko 100-400 mm. Here are a few additional sample images…

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/14, -0.3 EV, 1/2500, ISO-3200, subject distance 38.3 metres, cropped to 4017 pixels on the width, Bird Detection AI
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1600, ISO-1000, subject distance 7 metres, cropped to 4357 pixels on the height, Bird Detection AI
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1600, ISO-3200, subject distance 26.6 metres, cropped to 4594 pixels on the width, Bird Detection AI
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 and M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 437 mm, efov 874 mm, f/12, 1/2500, ISO-1250, cropped to 3291 pixels on the width, Bird Detection AI
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/14, 1/2000, ISO-4000, subject distance 52.2 metres, cropped to 4426 pixels on the width, Bird Detection AI
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/14, -0.3 EV, 1/2500, ISO-4000, subject distance 35.6 metres, cropped to 3867 pixels on the width, Bird Detection AI
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/14, 1/2500, ISO-6400, subject distance 34.2 metres, full frame capture, Bird Detection AI

Use with Flash

I was intrigued to find out if I could use my Olympus FL-700WR flash with the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm zoom. Often telephoto zoom lenses are too long physically to be used effectively with flash units. Shadows from the end of the lens can appear in flash images rendering them useless.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/250, ISO-1600, subject distance 4.9 metres, Olympus FL-700WR flash

I decided to do some simple tests in my backyard. After removing the lens hood, and attaching my MC-14 teleconverter I captured some simple test images just to see what would happen. As you can see from my test images, even shooting at subjects that were only 3.5 to 4.9 metres (11.5 to 16 feet) away were not an issue at all.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/250, ISO-1000, subject distance 3.5 metres, Olympus FL-700WR flash

This further increases the functionality of the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS zoom. Often when photographing small birds in forested areas light can be a challenge. Being able to use fill-in flash helps to compensate for the aperture range of this lens in some situations.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/250, ISO-1600, subject distance 8.7 metres, Olympus FL-700WR flash
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/250, ISO-1600, subject distance 7.8 metres, Olympus FL-700WR flash

Summary

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 359 mm, efov 718 mm, f/8.7, 1/1600, ISO-400, subject distance 18.6 metres, cropped to 4519 on the width

The M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS zoom lens is a superb piece of photographic equipment. It provides great functionality in a relatively small, lightweight and reasonably affordable package. The M.Zuiko 100-400 mm offers a unique combination of size, weight, equivalent field-of-view, IPX1 weathersealing, a short minimum focusing distance, compatibility with teleconverters, and flash use.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, f/6.3, 1/800, ISO-2000, full frame capture, subject distance 4.8 metres, Bird Detection AI

For owners of M4/3 cameras, especially OM-D models, it is an enticing zoom lens. When I first bought into the Olympus camera system my telephoto lens interest was focused on the M.Zuiko PRO 150-400 f/4.5 zoom. What I discovered was that the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm was a much better fit for my needs.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1000, ISO-3200, subject distance 6.2 metres, Bird Detection AI

If there is such a thing as ‘birding heaven’ for my specific needs… I think I have found it. The combination of the E-M1X, M.Zuiko 100-400 mm, MC-14 and MC-20 teleconverters, and incredible technology like Pro Capture and Bird Detection AI… just does the job in spades for me! There’s not much else to say…

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/14, 1/2000, ISO-5000, subject distance 24.9 metres, cropped to 3189 pixels on the width, Bird Detection AI

Technical Note

Photographs were captured hand-held using camera gear and technology as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process. Crops are noted where appropriate.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 359 mm, efov 718 mm, f/8.7, 1/2000, ISO-5000, full frame capture, subject distance 3.9 metres, Bird Detection AI

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8 thoughts on “M.Zuiko 100-400 Review”

  1. Thanks for the review. Very nice job. I confess that my success with this lens is not as good as yours. I’ve gotten used to the rotational play, which is very slight in any case. I use a decoration ring from the 40-150 instead of the tripod collar. I’m also finding the lens IS to be a bit jerky and I am starting to leave it turned off. The internal IS is just fine. My problem is that focus acquisition for BIF seems a bit slow and photos are often slightly out of focus. The success in focusing seems unpredictable to me, sometimes the photo is sharp other times not so much. I also have not had as much success as you with low shutter speeds. Clearly I need to work still more on my technique and gain further experience in learning how to use this lens.

    1. Hi Joan,

      Thanks for adding to the discussion and sharing your experiences with this lens!

      Are you using an E-M1X with this lens or a different camera body? Before Bird Detection AI was available I was having good results using Cluster Area C-AF with my E-M1X. For slow shutter speeds I find that using the In-Lens IS works a bit better than the IBIS only with my E-M1X. It can still be a bit jerky as you point out… but one of two quick taps on the shutter release seems to settle it down quickly.

      Tom

  2. Hi Tom,
    really convincing photos and comments, that almost make me weak to replace my Nikon 1 equippment with your Olympus tools. The sharpness and details are really tremendous. With the Nikon 1, many a hit is just a stroke of luck and the waste is huge. You are truely a busy blogger and I enjoy reading all your posts. What is keeping me from switching to Olympus so far, is the size and weight compared to the Nikon 1.
    I wish you a successful 2021 with a lot of blogs.
    Best regards
    Klaus

    1. Hi Klaus,

      Thanks for adding to the discussion!

      I can appreciate your comment about the size and weight of Nikon 1 equipment. It really is a unique system in terms of size/weight/performance and really shines as a travel system. The 1 Nikkor 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 with a V-Series body is still a great, lightweight nature/birding kit.

      At some point if you decide to make the switch to OM-D cameras the E-M5 Mark III or the E-M1 Mark III wouldn’t be that much larger and heavier than a V3 with EVF and grip. My wife really enjoys the E-M1 Mark III and the M.Zuiko 14-150 mm f/4-5.6 is a great everyday lens that has the added benefit of being weatherproof.

      Tom

      1. Hi Tom,
        I will take these alternatives into consideration. Do those have also the superb bird focusing software on board?
        Klaus

  3. Thanks for sharing this review! Your images are amazing and inspiring. Your style of writing is what I look for in a review as I want to know about a lens based on experience rather than tech talk that is beyond my expertise.
    But, your images….simply stunning!

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