M.Zuiko Digital ED 100-400mm F5-6.3 IS

In summer Olympus introduced the M.Zuiko Digital ED 100-400mm F5-6.3 IS and I had the opportunity to use it. After I made the first images, I have been very impressed by the image quality. Even though it is “only” a standard lens and not out of the Pro category image quality is on a very high level. Autofocus speed and accuracy is superb. Technical Details you can find on many websites, therefore I would like to skip them here. I intend to share the experiences I made with the lens.


With a starting F value of 5-6.3, the lens is not the fastest. In case of bad light, you have to increase sensitivity in the camera. Together with the E-M1 Mark III results are satisfying up to ISO 6400. In case you don’t have to shoot fast-moving objects in bad light conditions the lens is more than usable. Compared to faster lenses, which are more expensive and heavier, you will have only disadvantages in case of bad light conditions.

Blue Tit in tree taken with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 100-400mm F5-6.3 IS
Blue Tit chick taken with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 100-400 F5-6.3 IS

Focal length range

With a focal length range of 100-400mm, it is ideal for wildlife photography and especially bird photography. The angle of view is equivalent to a 200-800mm lens for the 35mm format. Also, the MC-14 and MC-20 teleconverter are compatible. In case you combine it with the MC-20 the equivalent field of view is up to 1600mm. That supports you in shooting images from long distances, which is especially helpful when you are shooting shy animals. Sharpness and resolution in conjunction with the MC-20 and MC-14 are very high. The only disadvantage is that you lose 1 (in case of MC-14) or 2 (in case of MC-20) f-stops light sensitivity. Therefore even more light is needed or you have to increase sensitivity in-camera even more than without converters.


Macro capabilities of the M.Zuiko Digital ED 100-400mm F5-6.3 IS

Besides the outstanding tele lens performance, the lens has also a very short minimum focus distance. Due to that function, the lens can be used also for macro photography. As the shallow depth of field depends also on focus distance this enables you also to separate your objects from the background with nice bokeh. Here some images I made with a short focusing distance.

Close-up of a flower showing the creamy bokeh of the M.Zuiko Digital ED 100-400mm F5-6.3 IS
Frog macro taken with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 100-400 F5-6.3 IS
Snail macro taken with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 100-400 F5-6.3 IS
branch taken with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 100-400 F5-6.3 IS

Image stabilisation of the M.Zuiko Digital ED 100-400mm F5-6.3 IS

The lens has. a built-in image stabilization, but it doesn’t support Sync-IS. Therefore the stabilization effect is not that big. However, In case you are using the lens in conjunction with an Olympus camera you get a better image quality when you are using lens and camera stabilization. Then the lens compensates for yaw and pitch movements and the camera is taking care of rotation.


In case you are looking for a long focal length for a fair price the M.Zuiko Digital ED 100-400mm F5-6.3 IS is a perfect fit. The additional macro capabilities and compatibility with the teleconverters the lens offers additional benefit and makes the lens very universal. The only drop of bitterness is the speed of the lens, which makes it difficult to use the lens in bad light conditions. On the other hand, a fast lens is much more expensive.

M.Zuiko 150-400mm F4.5 lens, my first experiences

With the M.Zuiko 150-400mm F4.5 Olympus released a unique lens, which is not available from other manufacturers. Its focal length area covers the equivalent field of view of a 35mm lens with 300-800mm. It weights only a bit more than 1800g. Therefore the lens is very mobile and you can shoot handheld without a tripod. With 35mm lenses is this for sure not possible, as those are much bigger and heavier. As you don’t need a tripod you save also the weight of this in case you are on location.
In addition, the lens has the best image stabilization on the market. The stabilization works in conjunction with the image stabilization of the camera. This ensures that you can shoot also with a long focal length with our blurring the image.

Flying white egret. Taken with the  M.Zuiko 150-400mm F4.5 lens

I’m lucky and had already the opportunity to test the lens and would like to share my experience with you. My very first impression at the moment I touched the lens the first time was, wow that lens is light. Sure it is heavier than lenses with shorter focal length. It is the biggest lens in the Micro Four Thirds family. In case you take it into your hands the first time, you will be surprised how light the lens is. To achieve this Olympus decided to use Aluminum Alloy only on the parts, which are responsible for stability. All other areas are made out of carbon reinforces polycarbonate. Anyhow the lens feels very solid. In addition, the lens hood is also made out of carbon. It ensures a very good balance between lens and camera body, also when the lens hood is used.

Handling of the M.Zuiko 150-400mm F4.5 lens

As already written above is the balance between lens and camera body excellent. Regarding the handling, there is a lot more. The lens offers a bunch of switches to adjust the focusing area, image stabilization, focus method, and the behaviour of the L-Fn buttons. Those switches are very good to reach and you find them also when you are looking through the viewfinder.
The switch to activate the built-in 1.25x teleconverter is placed in the perfect location and can be easily reached in portrait as well as landscape shooting. Focusing and zooming are easy and very precise and without big efforts usable. Very useful are the L-Fn buttons which can be used to focus to a predefined distance or you can activate a predefined function. The predefined focusing distance can be set with a small button close to the switch for the built-in teleconverter. This is a very helpful function, in case you would like to come back to a certain focusing distance when disturbing objects are between you and the subject you would like to focus on. An example would be in case you would like to shot animals behind tries and the branches are in the way.
In opposite to 35mm lenses Micro Four Third lenses do have a very short closest focusing distance. In the case of the M.Zuiko Digital ED 150-400mm F4.5 TC1.25x IS PRO it is 1.3m, also when you are using the built-in or external teleconverter. This makes the lens also a mark lens, which is very useful to shoot butterflies or dragonflies. The long focal length enables you not only to keep the needed distance to shy animals but also gives you a nice unsharp background.

Detail from the M.Zuiko 150-400mm F4.5 lens.

Image quality

As you expect from such kind of lens the lens is in each area top. Sharpness full-fills all professional needs. Even when the built-in teleconverter is used there are no complaints, which also is the case when using MC-14 or MC-20. In case you are using the MC-20 the lens reaches an unbelievable focal length of 1000mm, which is equivalent to 2000mm in 35mm cameras. As the image stabilization is so good also in this configuration shooting handheld is not an issue at all. The tripod you can leave at home. This makes not only your travel luggage lighter but you could also shoot more agile as you can react to changes much faster.
Autofocus is working in all configuration fast and precise, which is also very helpful when you are shooting fast-moving objects. Issues like distortion, vignetting, or chromatic aberration are not present.

Squirrel in Backlite M.Zuiko 150-400mm F4.5 lens.

Comparison with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 100-400mm F5-6.3 IS

I know this comparison is unfair as the 100-400mm is far less expensive than the 150-400mm lens. The 150-400mm lens is bigger, but delivers also much more speed and is in all-optical areas at least one class better. Also, usage is more flexible as it has a built-in 1.25x teleconverter, which can be switch on / off without releasing the lens. Therefore you can react much faster in case you need a bit more focal length, which is a real benefit especially when you are shooting wildlife or sports. Besides, the AF speed is much faster and more precise. Don’t misunderstand me, the 100-400mm lens is, having the price in mind, a brilliant lens, but the 150-400mm in comparison is much better.


Enough written. It is better to show you images taken with this lens. In case you have questions write a comment I’m more than happy to answer.

Links to other experiences

Andy Rouseused the lens in UK and shares his thoughts here.
Petr Bambousekshot with the lens in Costa Rica and share experience here.
Scott Bourneshows his first experiences with the lens and nice images here.
Imaging Resourcenice background information about the technical details of the lens here.