- Very well-built lens with good control haptics
- Very light and compact for the angle of view
- Fast and generally accurate autofocus
- Very high sharpness throughout the focal range, with just a slight drop at 400mm
- Outstanding control of chromatic aberration
- Very low distortion
- Optical stabilizer is quite effective
- Extremely versatile
- Hood design is annoying
- Can flare badly in the right circumstances
- Some minor focus errors on distant subjects
The Panasonic Leica 100-400mm f/4-6.3 DG Vario-Elmar is a unique lens. The extreme 200-800mm full-frame equivalent angle of view that it represents on Micro 4/3 puts it in a class of its own with regards to supertelephoto zoom lenses. The lens is large compared to many other Micro 4/3 lenses, but given the reach it provides, the 100-400mm is downright tiny, and is even small compared to other 100-400mm lenses for larger formats. It’s a well built lens that keeps the weight down by smartly mixing aluminum and plastics. The versatility of the focal range for wildlife is outstanding.
It’s also optically very good, though it’s not quite as good as most supertelephoto prime lenses. Images are quite sharp throughout the focal range, with a small dip in sharpness at 400mm. The lens also produces nice color and contrast and fairly good bokeh, while keeping chromatic aberrations and distortion to a minimum. The 100-400mm also focuses very quickly, though I did notice a few focus errors from time to time on distant subjects. In all, though, the complaints are fairly minor and the upside to the lens is outstanding. The compact size, outstanding reach and good optical stabilizer combine to make this truly a handholdable supertelephoto option, something that is rare in the photography world. If you like to shoot birds, wildlife or sports from a distance, this lens should definitely be on your short list.
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