|For the first few weeks I thought
some of these
issues may have been down to me having to ‘learn’ how to use the
lens. However after much testing, and as I am getting such great
success with all the other long lens setups that I am using (up
to1000mm), I am now confident to report that the above mentioned
issues with the Panasonic 100-400 lens when fitted to the GX8 are
not down to 'user error' and many I suspect seem to be attributable to the
new Dual IS
What is so strange, is that through the
electronic viewfinder the handheld Dual Stabilised image at full
zoom looks rock
solid steady and is very impressive indeed, however the resulting
photographic image taken doesn’t reflect this. Furthermore –
and although I can not confirm this without further testing – I
think I recall that at full zoom with the Dual IS on, the image taken when shooting handheld was not
centred in exactly the same position as the EVF image. Which if
true, suggests some movement - other that what is being displayed -
is actually being captured (further testing needed to confirm).
My tests have proven to me that (at least with my copy) the
Panasonic 100-400 lens has superb optics capable of producing
very sharp images at all focal lengths. But there appears to be some detrimental
interaction regarding the Dual Image Stabilisation when this lens is
fitted to my Panasonic GX8 camera, which is causing a very large
proportion of handheld
photos to be blurred when OIS is switched on. However testing has shown that when this
Panasonic 100-400 lens is fitted to my GX7 the difference between
handheld photos with the IS 'on' or 'off' appears minimal , the GX7
+ 100-400 lens combination works very well and the results are
generally very sharp. Furthermore, when my GX8 is fitted with the non stabilised Olympus 75-300 lens,
the image sharpness using only the GX8 in-camera stabilisation is
also very good.
As far as I can see others have not yet
as of July 2016 reported
concerns like this on the forums, so from the results above I was
possibly had a faulty lens! (continue reading
below to see two updated comments on this article).
For the nay-sayers I have to report that this lens has many
excellent qualities that make me want to keep it. Terrific contrast,
detail and sharpness at all focal lengths (when working correctly),
fast focus, superb for macro work, birding, surfing, aircraft, motor sport,
and many other things beside, plus it has good balance
which is very important for a long days shooting.
For those that think f6.3 isn't fast enough at
400mm full zoom I have got news for you... at a full frame
equivalent of 800mm (which is what this lens is) your depth of focus
is so small at f6.3 that in real world shooting situations I most
often have to stop down to f7.1 or f8 to get the whole subject in
focus. Those that bought this lens will have no doubt already
discovered this. Panasonic made a very wise choice sticking to f6.3.
It has kept the lens at a sensible price and size, and also light enough to be
practical and useable. Now all I need to do is to get this Dual IS
system functioning as it is meant to be!!!
This report will be updated after I have
contacted further tests, also I would be very interested to hear
from other 'power' users who may well have conducted other tests.
Photographing test targets is one thing, but real world shooting is
what photography is all about and it is here that performance
matters. Some scenes just cannot be replicated, in real life we very
rarely have another opportunity or a second chance to get it right.
When competent photographers can not guarantee whether they will get
a shot or not, I feel action needs to be taken by the manufacturers.
A failure scenario for professionals is not
acceptable. If the conclusion is that the Panasonic M4/3 system does
indeed have some major failings in respect of these two items, which
are after all sold as professional tools at premium rates, then I
feel it would be my duty to contact Panasonic with my findings. Of
course whether they will take any notice or not is another matter !
© Adrian Harris 18july2016
UPDATE 1 - 5 February 2017:
New Dual-IS, & Sensor Box alignment...
Well quite a lot has happened
since I first wrote this test report, including Panasonic
introducing new cameras with an 'updated Dual IS system', which does
I admit make me wonder!
However after I contacted
Panasonic it would appear that although my GX8 has worked fabulously
in most situations, a few alarm bells started to ring after testing
a few wide angle Pro lenses. I sent the test results to Panasonic
and after examination they have confirmed that the sensor mount box
needed re-aligning and that this could have been causing some of the
problems I have been having. However having only received it back
today and the weather is currently awful, so have not yet had chance
to test it!
.... so as they say 'Watch this space!'.
UPDATE 2 - 20 November
2019: Olympus Camera & PL100-400
For the last 2 years I
have been using the Panasonic PL 100-400 lens fitted to an Olympus EM1-Mk2 micro 4/3
camera and what a different beast it is now. Unlike the Panasonic
GX8 which forces you to use either Dual or No stabilisation, the
Olympus EM1-Mk2 lets you choose Camera + Lens Stabilisation, or just
one or the other. At first I preferred just in camera
stabilisation and the sharpness improvement - especially at long focal lengths -
was stunning. More recently for the PL100-400 I have been
using only the lens stabilisation and the results are equally as
good. For some reason the PL100-400 does exhibit some strange
behaviour when the Dual IS option is engaged with Panasonic's own
GX8 camera (But is fine on the earlier GX7 with single IS
stabilisation!). When using the GX8 and PL100-400 combination the stabilisation when both are on is
absolutely fantastic, but for some reason when shooting distant subjects at maximum zoom
the image softens a lot when
the GX8's Dual IS is activated. Whether Panasonic have finally sorted this dual
stabilisation issue out with their more recently released G9 camera
I do not know, but let's hope so because the PL100-400 is a stunning
and very versatile lens and worthy of the highest praise.
It is worth
mentioning that in over 5 years of use, the PL100-400 has certainly
become my most treasured lens.