Victoria crowned pigeon- shot with the X-T1 w/ XF100-400mm lens @ 400mm, f/8, 1/100s, ISO 2000
Even on a cold, overcast Seattle morning there are still plenty of photographic opportunities at Woodland Park Zoo. With Fuji’s new XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 OIR WR telephoto lens in hand I wanted to give myself a challenge while testing their newest entry to the X-Series lineup.
I confess that I don’t photograph at these focal lengths very often so some of the shortcomings I came across were my own and no fault of the lens. When the zebra that one moment is staring straight at you for a nice closeup suddenly decides to gallop about, it was easy for me to forget to increase my shutter speed and capture the action.
Zebra- shot with the X-T1 w/ XF100-400mm lens & XF1.4X @ 140mm, f/6.4, 1/180s, ISO 640
Telephoto lenses are great to have at a zoo. The compression of the scene helps fences and nets fade away as though there is nothing between you and the animal. With a f/5.6 widest aperture at the telephoto end, this lens very effectively drops the background into a pleasing blur of color, isolating the subject from their environment.
Great blue heron- shot with the X-T1 w/ XF100-400mm lens @ 400mm, f/8, 1/250s, ISO 400
The claimed 5-stop Optical Image Stabilization might be a little stretch as I was able to get a good percentage of sharp images with shutter speeds as long as 1/30th second. Even so, 1/30th second at effective focal lengths of 600mm handheld is quite remarkable.
This lens is sharp. There’s even no appreciable drop in sharpness that I could tell when adding Fuji’s XF 1.4X Teleconverter (zebra closeup). Counting eyelashes on a zebra from about 35 feet is now possible with Fuji, should the situation arise.
Zebra- shot with the X-T1 w/ XF100-400mm lens & XF1.4X @ 522mm, f/7.8, 1/180s, ISO 400
Making it into both my pros and cons list is the focusing capabilities. A long focus throw (having to rotate the focus ring a lot to make an adjustment) is great to have on a portrait or macro lens. Here you want to have as much control over minute adjustments as you can. On the XF 100-400, the long throw means you have a huge range to travel, especially at the close focus end, and this can be quite frustrating if you need to quickly transition from a near subject to a distant one. That said, the tracking capabilities seemed to at least match that of my X-T1. It is extremely difficult, though, to track a darting animal at the full 400mm without much practice.
Gray wolf- shot with the X-T1 w/ XF100-400mm lens @ 400mm, f/5.6, 1/100s, ISO 640 (+.7 exp. comp)
Let me state the obvious. This is a large lens. With Fuji seemingly making it clear that they do not intend to make a full 35mm sensor camera, this lens being slightly larger than the new Canon 100-400mm is perplexing. It is 12% lighter than the Canon, however, which helps maintain a decent balance with the X-T1 mounted so long as you properly support the lens. I had a monopod in use for most of the day.
Roosevelt elk Roosevelt Elk- shot with the X-T1 w/ XF100-400mm lens @ 400mm, f/5.6, 1/180s, ISO 2000 (-.3 exp. comp)
This leads to another disappointing aspect; the tripod foot. This lens comes with a tripod foot smaller than the one supplied with the XF 50-140mm and with curved edges. This made fitting an anti-twist quick release plate a challenge. I’d love to see these feet come with a standard Arca Swiss compatible foot, especially on a $1,900 lens. Fuji did include a lock to the zoom extension to prevent zoom creep when the lens is hanging upside down, though I never experienced this.
Peacock- shot with the X-T1 w/ XF100-400mm lens @ 386mm, f/5.6, 1/180s, ISO 640
Overall, I had fun with the lens and came home with several portraits of these animals I would not have otherwise been able to capture. This lens wouldn’t be in my everyday bag, but I’ll certainly miss it the next time I visit the zoo without it.
Excellent sharpness with or without 1.4X Teleconverter
Strong Image Stabilization can produce sharp images of stationary subjects down to 1/30 sec handheld
Long focus throw for precise manual focus adjustments
Good close focus distance
Great slide door in hood for polarizer/variable ND adjustment
Size – slightly larger than full-frame 100-400mm lenses
Long focus throw can cause very slow autofocus when transitioning from a near to distant subject
Poor tripod foot design (too small and too round)
Nicobar pigeon Nicobar Pigeon- shot with the X-T1 w/ XF100-400mm lens @ 400mm, f/5.6, 1/100s, ISO 640 (-.7 exp. comp)
All Images edited to taste from RAW.