As soon as Fuji announced the Fujinon XF 100-400mm F4.5- 5.6 R LM OIS WR I was on fire to get my hands on this beast of a lens. I mounted it on my Fuji X-Pro 2 and lifted it triumphantly over my head into the sky. Just like He-Man did with his sword.
Most people love big and heavy things just because they look impressive or give their owner a mighty feeling. Just be honest, if you have the choice between a Smart and let’s say a Ford Raptor? Would you rather go for the powder tin or the manlike monster?
This is, why I bought it
Although I am a convinced prime lens user, this lens was immediately on my buying list. Since I like to photograph details I often have to get closer to the object, which most of the time is simply not possible. Small details on buildings for example are hard to get without losing the flat viewing angle. In this case you have three options: Come with a drone, get a mast tripod, or try to get as far away as possible and work with a telephoto lens. The first two options will get you into trouble soon, as long as you don’t care about getting the necessary permits. With an extreme telephoto lens you gain much more possibilities and keep flexible, at least that’s how I argued my expense to my wife – with questionable success of course.
Why I fell in love with the XF 100-400mm
Keep in mind, the Fuji XF 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 LM OIS WR is really big, and it looks even bigger on the Fuji X-Pro 2. You will not be able to shoot in the streets without getting attention. Neither will you be able to hide the expensive investment from your wife. The lens itself is well made, although some parts of it are made from plastic. Overall build quality is very good and I personally can’t find a spot to complain about when it comes to look and feel.
You will not be able to shoot in the streets without getting attention. Neither will you be able to hide the expensive investment from your wife.
The tripod mounting ring is a welcome addition and common for lenses of this size, although the mounting foot could be a bit larger. At least this was my first impression when I took out the lens of it’s packaging. Later I learned that the smaller lens foot helps to save noticeable space in my bag. Against my expectations I did not experience any stability issues in everyday use with it. Well done Fuji.
Expanding the possibilities
I am still not sure, why Rambo is able to run through the jungle the whole day. Using his M60 machine gun one-handed all the time and keeping a straight face. Err, without breaking a sweat.
After my first day of architecture and street photography with the X-Pro 2 & XF 100-400mm, I had a nasty muscle hangover in my arm. This was a truly eye opening experience, especially as I had to deal with a shivering arm that evening. If you are regularly photographing with tiny and lightweight prime lenses, the XF 100-400mm will help to get your biceps into shape again! Tell this your wife too when arguing for your new toy.
The autofocus and zoom rings are turning smoothly, but the broad rubber rings are collecting dirt very fast. This lens has an aperture ring too, although it feels a bit “grainy” compared to other XF lenses. The lens extends quite a bit when zooming in. But the inner lens tube does not whobble like it’s often the case with other lenses.
The lens hood is huge, but Fuji built a small sliding door into it to operate a polarizer filter. A smart idea! The lens features a focus limiter to reduce focus hunt from 5m-∞ and it also has a transportation lock at 100mm. This is handy feature, especially when you are pulling your lens vertically out of your bag.
Surprisingly good image quality
The XF 100-400mm thrills with a massive zoom range and an impressive image quality. I had a lot of different zoom lenses in the past, and every zoom lens had bigger drawbacks of some kind. But that changed with this lens.
The Fuji rewards you with excellent center performance from 100-200 mm and very good corner sharpness. From 300mm on sharpness is slightly decreasing, but even at 400mm center quality is still good. Corners are visibly soft at 400mm, but given the focal range of this lens, they are not bad at all.
Autofocus is completely silent and fast enough to track moving objects. Therefore I still regret that I did not buy this lens for the Airpower 2016.
Vignetting is very moderate and you will not have a problem with light fall-off in the corners. Even when shooting wide open at any focal length. Chromatic abberrations are neither an issue for this piece of glass, nor is distortion using the auto-correction settings.
What really impressed me is the bokeh characteristic of this lens. The XF100-400mm is quite a slow lens. You will have to use a short focus distance to get a significant blur in your pictures. But you will be rewarded with a very nice edge transition, which is in my opinion better looking than on most other super tele zooms. Out of focus highlights are nicely rendered, although they show a tiny bit of outlining the more you are stopping down. The highlight discs remain circular throughout the aperture range, but they transform mildly to cat eyes towards the corners. This is not unusual for this type of zoom lens.
This lens impressed me so much! I am shooting solely with prime lenses and using this super tele zoom was quite strange in the first weeks. But I really accustomed to using it. I even started to use it as a portrait lens for larger distances from time to time, which I never thought of before I bought it. It’s perfectly usable for long range street photography. With the image stabilizer I could even get some gorgeous night shots in the city. The optical quality is better than I expected, and I therefore catch myself shooting with it more often than I thought I would.
Sometimes it seems, size actually DOES matter!
Please don’t steal my images – just kindly ask, if you want to use one of them. All rights reserved.