INTRODUCTION: OK … he either came a little late or really early! So, before I gush like a teenager, and sadly I’m going to, let’s go over the physical information on the new Fuji XF 100-400 f 4.5 – 5.6 R LM OIS WR . Above is the lens mounted on a tripod with the X-T1 Graphite body. The first great news is that the new lens takes 77mm filters, far smaller than we had guessed it would, most rumor sites were thinking around 82mm! This means polarizers and close up diopters, (like the Canon 500D work great!), more on that later! Below is the 100-400 with the lens hood attached, which bayonets on very positively and has a cut out for adjusting a polarizer, with a handy sliding door, much better than the removable, and easy to misplace, one for the 50-140!
The lens is not much larger than the 50-140 and when it extends out to 400mm it only grows 2.5 inches! It is solidly made and feels good in the hands, and trust me, with the great OIS you will shoot it hand held, sometimes!!!
THE SIDE CONTROLS; Top to bottom, the focus limiting switch that allow you to choose full range or 5 meters to infinity. The Program or Aperture Priority switch and finally the OIS (Optical Image Stabilization on and off switch). Between the zoom ring and the aperture ring is the Lock switch for keeping the lens locked in the 100mm position.
PHYSICAL IMPRESSIONS: The lens is solid, and wonderfully finished. The zoom is butter smooth but with the perfect amount of resistance, it does not feel like it will get loosey, goosey! The tripod collar is a near mirror image of the one on the 50-140 f 2.8. which is good, because it is well finished and solid. The two thumb screws that hold the bracket to the lens could use a very small (very, very small) dab of blue Loctite, beats constant re-tightening.
DOES IT PERFORM IT’S INTENDED PURPOSE? For me a long lens is my tight landscape lens, my wildlife and bird lens, my shooting things I want to shoot close up and tight but want working distance from, (like poisonous snakes!), my compression lens for tightening the scene, and my sports lens, even though I do little sports anymore. I took the lens down to St. Augustine, Florida this December and captured some tight wildlife images, I’ll let you be the judge. All shots at the long end 400mm (600mm equiv.) All of these images, except the wood duck and the monochrome alligator, were shot from a tripod. Those two were handheld. With wildlife you either can’t get as close as you would like, or you don’t want to be any closer!!
OPTICAL PERFORMANCE: The lens is tack sharp wide open and at every focal length. At maximum aperture the edges are a tad less sharp, but they sharpen up nicely as you stop down a couple of stops! The lens is remarkably sharp across the board! Below are a couple of images of a historic billboard on old US 25 shot at 100mm and at 400mm.
HOW DOES IT DO WITH THE 1.4 CONVERTER? The image below was shot by my dear friend and killer shooter Jack Graham, it is the 100-400 with the new Fuji 1.4 Converter, he is posting a vertical of this same shot on his blog post today that shows, even more clearly, how sharp this lens is with the converter! Below there are a few other examples of the 100-400 with the Fuji 1.4 converter.
The following three images are images of one of my favorite places to test lens for sharpness and old wooden door with peeling paint and a door handle with great detail. The shots below are; first, the 100-400 at 100, second is the 100-400 at 400 and the final image is the 100-400 at 400 plus the new Fuji 1.4 converter making it an equiv. 840 mm lens!!!!
AUTO FOCUS TRACKING SPEED: I shot some cars on a local street going around 45 mph at 10 fps and got sequences of 15 and more images all tack sharp. Here are a few from each end of the sequence and the middle shot. Admittedly this isn’t NASCAR, but for the kind of action shooting most X-Shooters do, this is great performance. I shot some interstate traffic at almost twice that speed and they were tack sharp as well.
CLOSE UP PERFORMANCE: Below are examples of a penny taped to my small Route 66 mini license plate. The first shot is the lens at 200mm at the close focus distance, the next at 400mm at the closes focus distance with the Canon 500D diopter. The distance from the front of the lens to the penny for this shot is an amazing 16 inches. By-the-way, both were hand held!!!!!
HOW ABOUT THE OPTICAL IMAGE STABILIZATION? I would never consider hand holding a lens of this focal length, however in the interest of giving the OIS a fair chance, I shot the penny above at near 1:1 (life size). Ready for this…. at 1/67th of a second. Think about that, this lens at 400mm is actually the equivalent of a 600mm lens, and the penny images above is shot at high magnification, and it’s tack sharp. A remarkable performance, it also works very well with the Fuji automatic extension tubes. The image below is of a CD case on my office desk shot with the 100-400 at 400 at the closest focus distance at 1/400th of a second wide open f 8 with OIS turned on.
O.K. SO WHERE DOES THIS LENS FIT INTO MY SYSTEM? One of the best things about the X-System is the incredible selection and quality of the lens line. The only big hole in the system just got filled with the 100-400. I can now have coverage from 15mm to 600mm and beyond thanks to the 1.4 converter. Would I like a 400mm f 2.8? Not really, don’t want to carry it, pay for it and actually don’t need it. The 100 to 400 is a 5.6 at 400, or (600mm equiv.) and the overall performance is just stunning. Now, what is most exciting to me is we have now seen Fuji come out with twenty one lenses and there is yet another on the Road Map for this year. I own the vast majority of them, and I can say without any reservation that I’ve found each and every one to be spectacular! When I bought my first three, (18-55, 35 1.4 and the 60mm Macro f 2.4) I never thought that I was going to see the parade of great glass we have been treated to! What I appreciate most is that Fuji has taken my advice and that of many other dedicated X-shooters, don’t compromise your high standards for their optics! I hate to admit that for a while I held my breath with each new release. It didn’t take long for me to realize they were keeping their promise. They certainly have with the 100-400!