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Fujifilm Lenses Reviews

Field Review: A day at the zoo with the Fujinon XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR super telephoto lens

XF1.4X TC WR teleconverter
XF1.4X TC WR teleconverter
Honored as the best CSC telephoto zoom lens at the 2016 Technical Image Press Association (TIPA) awards, the Fujinon XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR is Fujifilm’s first super telephoto lens that makes wildlife and sports photography a viable option using their mirrorless cameras. I had the lens together with the X-Pro2 camera for three weeks and I took the opportunity to shoot it at various places, including the Toronto Zoo. Note that, at the zoo, some of the images are shot through glass or chain link fencing but you can’t tell because I placed the front lens element right against the glass or fence. All images (except for the 100% crops which are unretouched) have been slightly sharpened in post-processing. Click image for larger version.

FUJINON XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 at 400mm (609mm equiv.), f/5.6, 1/300 sec., ISO 800

FUJINON XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 at 400mm (609mm equiv.), f/5.6, 1/300 sec., ISO 800

Mounted on the X-Pro2 which uses an APS-C image sensor, this lens has an equivalent 152-609mm focal length range. It is constructed with 21 elements in 14 groups and includes 5 ED lenses and one Super ED lens to reduce axial chromatic aberration. A 5-stop image stabilization system makes hand-held shooting possible and twin linear motors deliver fast and near-silent AF. It features a rounded 9-blade aperture for pleasing bokeh and is compatible with the XF1.4X TC WR teleconverter, extending the reach to 140-560mm F6.3-8 (213-853mm in 35mm equivalent).

100% unretouched crop

100% unretouched crop

I love the fact that I can capture the fine detail of the fur even shooting at 400mm and ISO 800! At 400mm and f/5.6, sharpness is very good. The sweet spot seems to be around f/8.

In the three images above (not taken at the zoo), I shot using the XF35mm, then switched to the XF100-400 to illustrate the reach of this super tele lens.

What's in a name?
Fujifilm’s first super telephoto lens is named the FUJINON XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR. Though it seems a mouthful and all the abbreviations seem cryptic, this is consistent with Fujifilm’s lens naming convention and it makes complete sense once you understand what all those letters stand for. First of all, FUJINON is the trade mark for all Fujifilm’s lenses. XF means it’s a premium lens. (Fujifilm’s budget lenses are labeled XC) 100-400mm is the minimum to maximum focal lengths (i.e., it is a zoom lens). F4.5-5.6 gives the maximum aperture at the minimum focal length (f/4.5 at 100mm) and at the maximum focal length (f/5.6 at 400mm). The R indicates there is an aperture ring. The LM indicates it uses a Linear Motor for quiet and fast focus. OIS is the abbeviation for Optical Image Stabilization. And WR indicates the lens is water resistant.
FUJINON XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 at 400mm (609mm equiv.), f/14, 1/350 sec., ISO 800

FUJINON XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 at 400mm (609mm equiv.), f/14, 1/350 sec., ISO 800

This lens is water and dust resistant, as well as being able to operate in freezing temperatures down to -10°C (14°F), allowing you to shoot with confidence in tough outdoor environments. It features 13 water and dust resistant seals at 12 strategic points. In addition, the front lens element has a fluorine coating to repel water and dirt, making it less susceptible to smudges and offering further protection in outdoor shooting conditions.

Paired with the weather-resistant Fujifilm X-Pro2, I felt confident to trek and shoot the camera and lens combo in any weather condition. A lens hood comes standard and is deep enough to offer protection from flare — or rain hitting the front lens element. It easily screws in, bayonet style, and a locking button keeps it securely attached to the lens. And if you’ve attached a polarizing filter (77mm diameter), the lens hood also cleverly features a window that slides forward to allow you to easily rotate the polarizing filter. An interesting aside is that on the the XF100-400, the lettering is not stenciled around the front element but is stenciled instead onto the top of the lens barrel. Why? Simply to prevent the letters being reflected in the back of a filter and displayed onto your image.

FUJINON XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 at 400mm (609mm equiv.), f/9, 1/420 sec., ISO 800

FUJINON XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 at 400mm (609mm equiv.), f/9, 1/420 sec., ISO 800

Hand Grip MHG-XPRO2

Hand Grip MHG-XPRO2

The X-Pro2 weighs about 495 g and the XF100-400mm about 1,375 g, for a total weight of 1870 g (under 2 kg or approx. 4 lbs). In hand, I did not find the camera/lens combo too heavy but then I shot for only a couple of hours at the zoo. A whole day of handheld shooting would no doubt be tiring.
Grip Belt GB-001

Grip Belt GB-001

I did find the handgrip of the X-Pro2 on the small side with this super tele lens attached and wished I had the extra support that the Hand Grip MHG-XPRO2 or the Grip Belt GB-001 would have provided. Fortunately, the 5-stop optical image stabilization built into the lens is simply amazing and allows hand holding the camera/lens combo, delivering sharp images. You can turn the IS off with the flick of a switch on the lens barrel when mounting the lens onto a tripod. All the shots at the zoo were hand-held. I am ashamed to say that I couldn’t help showing off a little bit to another photographer lugging her huge DSLR/super tele/tripod combo. (Though I bet her shots probably came out sharper than mine.)

MLP-75XF lens plate

MLP-75XF lens plate

In case, you do want to shoot using a tripod, note that the XF100-400 does not have a tripod mount at the bottom for direct mounting; instead, a removable brass mount is included and attaches to a collar around the lens barrel via two thumbscrews. The collar is held in place with a non-removable knurled knob, allowing you to switch from landscape to portrait orientation with a couple of flicks of your thumb while the camera is on a tripod. The XF100-400 is also compatible with optional lens plate MLP-75XF which is compatible with ARCA SWISS tripods.

FUJINON XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 at 400mm (609mm equiv.), f/9, 1/400 sec., ISO 400

FUJINON XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 at 400mm (609mm equiv.), f/9, 1/400 sec., ISO 400

100% unretouched crop

100% unretouched crop

The amount of fine detail is here apparent in the plumage of the duck (shot at the Mill Pond Park).

The X-Pro2/XF100-400 combo looks really professional and turned heads wherever I showed up. In fact, a security guard even stopped me at a museum to inquire whether I was shooting commercially. I carried the combo with the strap around my neck or shoulder, one hand cradling the lens. Fujifilm provided a Lock button to lock the lens at its 100mm setting when you are carrying the lens around, especially when it is pointing downward, so that it does not slide to its tele setting. However, I have not experienced any zoom creep and therefore not found it necessary to use this lock during the review period. But it’s good to know it’s there and available. At its wide-angle setting, the XF100-400 extends about 210.5 mm (approx. 8.3 in.) from the camera body; it extends a further 59.5 mm (approx. 2.3 in.) for a total length of about 270 mm (approx. 10.6 in.) at full tele setting. The build is excellent. The focus ring is generously sized and the zoom ring even more so; both rings rotate smoothly with just the right amount of resistance.

FUJINON XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 at 400mm (609mm equiv.), f/13, 1/320 sec., ISO 800

FUJINON XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 at 400mm (609mm equiv.), f/13, 1/320 sec., ISO 800

In use, this lens is superb. Autofocus is quiet and lightning fast in good light, locking the AF with speed and accuracy. In the dim evening light, it will hunt a bit at the max. tele setting but still locks precisely. But this is more a functionality of the X-Pro2 which seems to have been programmed to favor using its CAF (Contrast-detect Auto Focus) points in low light for precision rather than using its PDAF (Phase Detection Auto Focus) points for speed. For night shooting, the use of a tripod and manual focusing would be your best option.

There is a Focus Limiter switch on the lens barrel to set the focusing range from 5m to infinity for even faster focus lock acquisition. The optics of this lens is impressive, capturing fine detail at all focal lengths and apertures. Though super telephoto lenses are suceptible to chromatic aberrations, I have not found any using this lens, probably thanks to the use of ED and Super ED lens elements. The maximum magnification is 0.19x, enabling users to shoot telephoto macro images (closest distance is 1.75 m for the entire zoom range).

Can you shoot sports and action with this lens? I did not try, but I’ve seen some beautiful action images from pros using this lens. The maximum f/5.6 aperture may be a limiting factor for pros used to shooting sports at f/2.8, but then this is a zoom lens not a prime lens, and therefore not directly comparable.

FUJINON XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 at 400mm (609mm equiv.), f/10, 1/400 sec., ISO 800

FUJINON XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 at 400mm (609mm equiv.), f/10, 1/400 sec., ISO 800

100% unretouched crop

100% unretouched crop

At 400mm and f/10, the detail is excellent. Here, you can see the water droplets as well as each strand of the whiskers.

FUJINON XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 at 158.8mm (238mm equiv.), f/4.8, 1/100 sec., ISO 6400

FUJINON XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 at 158.8mm (238mm equiv.), f/4.8, 1/100 sec., ISO 6400

I shot mostly in Programmed AUTO (i.e., both the Shutter Speed dial and Aperture Ring were set to the “A” position), with the ISO also set to Auto 12800. The Aperture Ring is unmarked but clicks nicely at every 1/3 step. I noticed that almost all the images I shot outdoors clocked at ISO 800, while the ones shot indoors were at ISO 6400 or higher. I did not want to worry about anything, except composition and trying to catch the animals doing something even faintly interesting besides sleeping all the time. (Zoos need to be redesigned to allow visitors to walk among the animals like they do in aquariums and watch them in their dens via remote cams.)

FUJINON XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 at 400mm (609mm equiv.), f/6.4, 1/400 sec., ISO 200

FUJINON XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 at 400mm (609mm equiv.), f/6.4, 1/400 sec., ISO 200

Bird photographers now have the reach to shoot handheld and capture great bird shots, like this Northern Cardinal (shot at the Mill Pond Park). If you need even more reach, you can add the optional XF1.4X TC WR teleconverter, extending the reach to 140-560mm F6.3-8 (213-853mm in 35mm equivalent).

XF1.4X TC WR teleconverter

XF1.4X TC WR teleconverter

When the XF1.4X TC WR teleconverter is attached, the focal lengths are extended to 140-560mm F6.3-8 (213-853mm equivalent). This is impressive reach but bear in mind that the maximum apertures have now each lost about one stop. Phase Detection AF shooting remains possible, even at F8. The XF1.4X TC WR teleconverter is also weather resistant.

FUJINON XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 at 323.2mm (485mm equiv.), f/8, 1/450 sec., ISO 800

FUJINON XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 at 323.2mm (485mm equiv.), f/8, 1/450 sec., ISO 800

Conclusion: All in all, I really enjoyed shooting with the superb Fujinon XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR Super Telephoto Lens and was quite pleased with the results I obtained. It is extremely well built, smooth in use, and captures very good to excellent images with fine detail at all the focal lengths and apertures. Being weather resistant makes it an ideal pairing with the weather-resistant X-Pro2 and means you can shoot in almost all weather conditions. It is not too heavy and the 5-stop image stabilization works really well, allowing handheld shooting, even at full 400mm (609mm equiv.) telephoto. Fujifilm mirrorless camera owners can now at last head out to safaris, sports events — or to their local zoo, like I did — and capture great super tele hand-held shots. If you can afford the US $1,899 / CAD $2,300 price, you should go for it. Highly Recommended.

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Fujifilm XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR Lens
Fujifilm XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR Lens with 1.4x Teleconverter Kit

 


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