Handling and Features
Fujifilm has been a niche player for many years, producing professional quality cameras and lenses, many with unique designs such as the ranges of medium format film rangefinder cameras. Now it seems they are on a bit of a roll with their digital range, with a steadily increasing arsenal of fine cameras and lenses. This new 100-400mm extends that range to wildlife, sports and other long range applications, so let's see how it performs and handles in practice.
Fujifilm XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR Handling and Features
The new Fujinon lens is reasonably compact for its focal length range, equivalent to 152-609mm in 35mm-format terms. This is an amazing range on APS-C format and gives us a very powerful telephoto zoom, that nonetheless balances very well using the Fujifilm X-Pro2 body supplied for this review.
From the front of the lens moving back to the camera body, we first have the very substantial bayonet fit lens hood, very deep and highly effective. It clicks into place easily and firmly and has a catch that has to be depressed to remove it. There is also a window provided to allow access to rotating filters such as polarisers. This is better than a removable cover, as found on some other marques, as there is no piece of plastic to lose. The filter thread is 77mm.
We then encounter a generous manual focusing ring, followed by an even more generous zoom ring, complete with a lock that is hardly necessary as there is no evidence of zoom creep. Behind the zoom ring is a small ring used to control the aperture, although this clearly works electronically. We can choose whether the lens or the camera adjusts the aperture and that control is on the lens, more of which in a moment.
Next up is the collar for tripod mounting. There is a substantial tripod foot which is removable. The collar has a knurled knob that allows the camera and lens to be rotated for portrait format shots as required. This is all sturdy and stable and is very useful indeed when using a tripod. Finally, the lens controls are nearest the mount. OIS (Optical Image Stabilisation) on/off, a switch to choose between lens or camera control of aperture and a focus limiter to engage 5m to infinity or full AF ranges. The strong metal mount completes the picture and the lens is definitely heavy enough at 1375g to warrant always picking the kit up by the lens rather than the camera body.
The lens is Weather Resistant, a most welcome feature, having 13 seals to prevent the ingress of water and dust. It also has a fluorine coated front element, which repels moisture and grease. Twin linear motors provide the AF function, silently and efficiently. It is also cold resistant down to -10C.
Lens construction is 21 elements in 14 groups, with five ED (extra low dispersion) and one Super ED element. The nine bladed diaphragm promises smoother bokeh. Focusing down to 1.75m, 0.19x magnification, allows a good degree of close focus and makes the lens much more versatile. There is an XF 1.4x TC WR converter that matches the lens, although this was not provided at the time of review.
Fujifilm XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR Performance
The resolution tests reveal that sharpness overall is rather impressive. Images have punch and the fine detail is there if we examine images more closely. There is also a very pleasing pictorial quality to the images, something that is more elusive to define but we know it when we see it.
At 100mm, from f/4.5 through to f/8 the sharpness is excellent, bordering on outstanding. Excellent sharpness is maintained at f/11 and f/16 and remaining very good at f/22. The edges are excellent from f/4.5 right through to f/16, peaking at f/8, which is also the best overall aperture. Sharpness is still very good at f/22.
At 200mm, central sharpness is excellent from f/5 to f/11, peaking at f/8 where it approaches outstanding. F/16 yields very good sharpness, remaining good even at f/22. The edges are slightly behind the central performance, being very good at f/5 and f/5.6, excellent at f/8 and f/11 and then tailing off to very good at f/16 and still good at f/22.
At 300mm, central sharpness is very good from f/5.2 to f/11, peaking at f/5.6 where it is excellent. The edges are very good from f/5.2 to f/11. Centrally results remain good at f/16 and f/22, the edges are good at f/16 but only fair at f/22.
At 400mm, sharpness is lower but still very good centrally at f/5.6 and f/8. It is excellent at f/11, falling to good levels at f/16 and f/22. The edges lag a bit, being only fair at f/5.6, good from f/8 to f/16 and fair at f/22. This is not unexpected as the longer focal lengths in zoom lenses are usually the weakest. However, often these lengths are used for solitary subjects against out of focus backgrounds, and in this context the lens will still produce bright, sharp images.
How to read our charts
The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges.
The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution as LW/PH and is described in detail above. The taller the column, the better the lens performance.
For this review, the lens was tested on a Fujifilm X-Pro2
CA (Chromatic Aberration) is also virtually eliminated. It is only at the smallest apertures and longer focal lengths that any edge CA becomes an issue, and it is arguable that few people will be shooting with a 400mm lens at f/22. In normal photography, CA may be regarded as almost zero, especially at the centre of the field.
How to read our charts
Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.
Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.
For this review, the lens was tested on a Fujifilm X-Pro2
Bokeh is smooth as silk, and this is little surprise with a long lens having nine diaphragm blades giving an almost circular aperture.
The OIS (Optical Image Stabilisation) works beautifully. There is no doubt that five stops advantage is achievable and it is this sort of technology that makes an ultra-telephoto zoom viable in hand held situations. Obviously moving subjects still need high shutter speeds to arrest movement, but the advantages of OIS are very clear. Advice is to switch the OIS off if using a tripod, and this may be generally true, but the lens is long enough to make even tripod mounted shots prone to vibration. The 10 second timer can be used to good effect, but it can clearly be seen that almost the full 10 seconds is needed for the camera/lens combination to stabilise.
Distortion is insignificant, measuring as a small amount of barrelling. This is -0.0462% at 100mm, -0.0411% at 200mm, -0.0341% at 300mm and -0.007% at 400mm.
With such an impressively huge lens hood, I did not expect to see much flare, and there is none in evidence. Shooting into the light does not even lower contrast significantly, so this is a very strong performance.
Fujifilm XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR Sample Photos
Value For Money
The Fujinon XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens is priced at £1499, always a large amount of money, but unique in the Fuji XF range and basically the only option that does the job if we want to shoot birds, wildlife, sports, etc. This makes VFM a moot point in some ways, but we can look at what other marques offer their users to see how values compare.
Pentax users have the HD Pentax-D FA 150-450mm (£1699), Nikon offers the AF-S Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6 E ED VR (£1179), Canon the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM (£1849) and Panasonic the DG Vario-Elmar 100-400mm f/4-6.3 Aspherical (£1349). The Fujinon lens falls within this range of prices and seems to be priced at a competitive level.
Fujifilm XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR Verdict
This is a very well made lens with lovely bokeh and a high level of sharpness. Flare, CA and distortion are all but abolished. Images look clean and crisp and sharpen well in Photoshop. The lens is easy to use, the OIS system enables hand held shooting with confidence and the close focus extends the possibilities of subject matter. It is an excellent all round choice for an ultra-telephoto for Fujinon cameras and maintains the reputation of Fuji for high quality lenses.
The XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR is a lovely high quality ultra-telephoto zoom lens for Fujifilm cameras.
Fujifilm XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR Specifications
|Focal Length||100mm - 400mm|
|Angle of View||4.1° - 16.2°|
|Max Aperture||f/4.5 - f/5.6|
|35mm equivalent||152mm - 609mm|
|Internal focusing||No Data|
|Box Contents||No Data|
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