Exclusive: Panasonic Leica 100-400mm F/4-6.3 telephoto lens hands-on preview!

Recently I had the chance to try the new pre-production Panasonic Leica 100-400mm F/4-6.3 lens. Now it’s officially announced and I can give you a quick hands-on preview. This lens covers 200-800mm range in 35mm equivalent, weighs just under a kilogram and is only 17cm long – good luck finding a lens like this on full frame. This will be a perfect sports, wildlife and birds lens for micro 4/3 users.

Main specifications:

  • Focal length: 100-400mm (200-800mm in 35mm eq.)
  • Elements/groups: 20/13
  • Close focus/magnifications: 1.3m/0.25x
  • Diaphragm blades: 9 (circular)
  • Filter diameter: 72 mm
  • Lens hood: built-in
  • Tripod mount: Built-in/non-removable/rotation possible
  • Weather sealing: Yes
  • Stabilization: Built-in
  • Size and weigth: 83x172mm, 985g
  • Price/availability: $1800, April 2016.

Lens has built-in stabilization and also supports dual image stabilization on latest Panasonic cameras like GX8. That means selected Panasonic cameras can combine both in-lens and on-sensor stabilization to create even stronger effect.

Panasonic 100-400mm lens is weather sealed so no worries when shooting in rain or  in dusty envoirements.

Closest focus is possible at 1,3m and has 0,25x magnification.

Lens hood is built-in. At first I thought it might be too small, but Panasonic claims it is more than adequate because of extremely narrow viewing angle on this lens.

The lens extends a lot when zooming and almost doubles in length.

Overall mechanics and build quality appears to be perfect as expected. The lens has a locking switch to prevent zoom creep and it works at any zoom position.

Tripod mount is built-in and cannot be removed but has special design which allows rotating all the controls on the lens together with the tripod mount. That way, all switches remain in the same easily accessible place even when the lens is in the portrait position.

On the side, three switches are present: optical stabilization, focus mode and focus limiter which can ignore anything under 5m distance.

On this pre-production lens auto focus was very quick, almost instant when mounted on GX8. As for image quality, I can’t comment on that before I get a production unit and try it in real life. 

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