Photography News 81 WEB

First test

PRICE: £1099.99

OLYMPUS.CO.UK

Olympus’s much-anticipated long telezoom comes in a compact package and hugely appeals to nature and sports photographers alike OlympusM.Zuiko ED 100-400mm f/5-6.3 IS

SPECS ›  Price £1099.99 ›  In the box Lens with front and back caps, lens hood LH-76D ›  Format Micro Four Thirds. 200- 800mm 35mm format equivalent ›  Construction 21 elements in 15 groups ›  Special lens elements Four ED, two HR, two Super HR elements ›  Filter size 72mm ›  Magnification 0.09x (wide), 0.29x (tele) ›  Aperture range F/5 to f/6.3-f/22 ›  Autofocus High-Speed Imager AF ›  Minimum focus 1.3m ›  Focus limiter 1.3-5m, 1.3m to infinity, 5m to infinity ›  Image stabiliser Up to 3EV. Not compatible with Sync IS ›  Diaphragm Nine blades ›  Weather sealed Yes ›  Dimensions (dxl) 86.4x205.7mm ›  Weight 1120g Contact olympus.co.uk the small apertures are rarely needed. Sharpness at f/16 and f/22 was noticeably softer compared with the wider settings. At 100mm at f/5, sharpness was good across the frame, with f/8 being the best setting and that was the same at 200mm, where the lens performed very well – the mid focal length region was the best. Image quality at the longest setting is probably the weakest overall, but it was still very respectable and f/8 gave a sound edge-to-edge performance. With sound camera technique, you can get high-quality shots out of this lens throughout its focal length range and it’s particularly good around the 150-300mm region at f/8. WC

A big attraction of the Micro Four Thirds format is its 2x crop factor, and Olympus’s ED 100-400mm f/5-6.3 IS makes the most of that opportunity. A lens covering 200- 800mm in the 35mm format of the same aperture would likely be a monster, and an expensive one at that. Here, though, Olympus has a very usable lens that photographers who need pulling power can enjoy at a price that’s compelling. The whole focal length range is covered in one quarter twist of the zoom barrel, with over nearly two thirds of that travel covering 100-200mm, so the longer focal lengths are covered very quickly, and the lens extends by 6cm as it zooms out. A lock is fitted to keep the lens at 100mm and it’s fitted with a rotating tripod collar that usefully has a Arca-Swiss foot. The

250mm and 400mmwith shutter speeds down to 1/15sec with IS on. Impressively, I got pin-sharp shots at 100mm and 1/20sec, at 250mm 1/30sec and 1/60sec at 400mm, but it is worth saying that this is with a static subject and in ideal conditions. In practice, when the wind got up and I’d walked a mile or so, such speeds weren’t feasible and 1/250sec or 1/500sec at 400mm is more realistic. Of course, many variables come into play here, including your own physiology, and I couldn’t use this lens handheld for long. Indeed, on my trips out looking for rabbits, I alternated between a monopod, tripod or tripod/ball head/gimbal set-up. Optically, the lens delivered a sound performance at the wider apertures, which is key with long lenses, where

manual focus ring has a smooth action and is sensitive and fine in use. In terms of controls, there’s IS on/off, AF/MF and a focus limiter switch with three ranges: 1.3 to 5m, 5m to infinity and 1.3m to infinity. When the contrast or light drops, autofocus can rack back and forth, so the limiter is worth having. I tested the 100-400mm f/5-6.3 IS on an OM-D E-M5 Mark III without a battery grip. The combination is well balanced and weighs a little over 1500g, so it’s handholdable for sharp shots, but this comes with a health warning, especially when you venture towards the longer settings, and the lens’s 3EV benefit IS feature is a great help. I took sets of handheld shots outdoors using the normal shutter on a calm day at 100mm,

ONTEST

using an eight-second shutter delay. Focusing was done manually using the focus magnifier, and the Raws were processed in Lightroom.

lengths, and the camera/lens fixed to a Gitzo Systematic tripod and Arca-Swiss ball head. The camera’s silent shutter was used and released

For this review, shots were taken indoors, with the test chart photographed at 100mm, 150mm, 200mm, 300mm and 400mm focal

100mm

200mm

400mm

ABOVE The Olympus lens is surprisingly compact for a telezoom, and extends by 6cm as you zoom out

400mm

100mm

f/5

f/5

f/6

f/6

f/6.3

f/6.3

f/8

f/8

f/8

f/8

f/8

f/8

ABOVE Same scene, shot at the two ends of Olympus’s 100-400mm zoom that shows the pulling power of the long end – 800mm equivalent in the 35mm format

f/11

f/11

f/11

f/11

f/11

f/11

PROS Range, performance, price, IS, Arca-Swiss fit tripod collar CONS Nothing at this price photography within reach of a wider audience. I loved the lens’s pulling power and, while there are technique challenges shooting at the longer settings, the effort was rewarded with good-quality results. Verdict This is a lot of lens for the money and brings super telephoto

f/16

f/16

f/16

f/16

f/16

f/16

f/22

f/22

f/22

f/22

f/22

f/22

Issue 81 | Photography News 25

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