Leica DG 100-400mm f4-6.3 review - Quality

Quality

On this page I’d like to share a selection of images taken under a variety of conditions with areas cropped and presented at 100% for closer examination. All the photos were taken with the Panasonic Lumix GX80 / GX85 and are JPEGs straight out of camera; all the original images are available to download on my Leica 100-400mm sample images page.

In terms of optical quality, I was impressed with the Leica 100-400mm and found it consistently delivered crisper results over the older Lumix 100-300mm. In some situations the cheaper lens came surprisingly close in performance, but the Leica invariably enjoyed an edge, be it improved sharpness across the frame or higher contrast with greater bite – this particularly applied at longer focal lengths where many zooms lose contrast and become quite flat.

While shooting with the Leica 100-400mm, I was also surprised how easy it was to operate at the long-end of the lens. Very effective stabilisation and quick autofocus meant I shot more at an equivalent of 800mm than I expected, but there can be issues at this degree of magnification. First is a very shallow depth-of-field and second are atmospheric disturbances with visible heat rising and distant subjects shimmering. Both can reduce the quality of shots taken at long focal lengths and while this applies to any super-telephoto lens, it did impact many of my shots and make comparisons with the 100-300mm at long distances very difficult. Indeed when examining the images below and on my samples page, a lot of what you’ll be reviewing are the actual shooting conditions, particularly for those taken at longer distances.

 

leica100-400mm_gallery1_3000

Above: 1/125, f6.3, 800 ISO, Leica 100-400mm at 100mm (200mm equivalent). Below: 100% crops

leica100-400mm_gallery1_crop1_945 leica100-400mm_gallery1_crop2_945

 

leica100-400mm_gallery2_3000

Above: 1/160, f6.3, 800 ISO, Leica 100-400mm at 400mm (800mm equivalent). Below: 100% crops

leica100-400mm_gallery2_crop1_945 leica100-400mm_gallery2_crop2_945

 

leica100-400mm_gallery3_3000

Above: 1/16000, f11, 200 ISO, Leica 100-400mm at 400mm (800mm equivalent). Below: 100% crop

leica100-400mm_gallery3_crop1_945

 

leica100-400mm_gallery4_3000

Above: 1/6400, f4, 200 ISO, Leica 100-400mm at 100mm (200mm equivalent). Below: 100% crops

leica100-400mm_gallery4_crop1_945 leica100-400mm_gallery4_crop2_945

 

leica100-400mm_gallery5_3000

Above: 1/125, f6.3, 400 ISO, Leica 100-400mm at 250mm (500mm equivalent). Below: 100% crops

leica100-400mm_gallery5_crop1_945 leica100-400mm_gallery5_crop2_945

 

leica100-400mm_gallery6_3000

Above: 1/640, f6.3, 200 ISO, Leica 100-400mm at 400mm (800mm equivalent), Below: 100% crop

leica100-400mm_gallery6_crop1_945

 

leica100-400mm_gallery7_3000

Above: 1/2000, f6.3, 200 ISO, Leica 100-400mm at 400mm (800mm equivalent). Below: 100% crop

leica100-400mm_gallery7_crop1_945

 

leica100-400mm_gallery8_3000

Above: 1/500, f9, 200 ISO, Leica 100-400mm at 141mm (242mm equivalent). Below: 100% crops

leica100-400mm_gallery8_crop1_945 leica100-400mm_gallery8_crop2_945

 

leica100-400mm_gallery9_3000

Above: 1/2000, f6.3, 400 ISO, Leica 100-400mm at 400mm (800mm equivalent). Below: 100% crop

leica100-400mm_gallery9_crop1_945

 

leica100-400mm_gallery10_3000

Above: 1/2500, f5.3, 200 ISO, Leica 100-400mm at 236mm (472mm equivalent). Below: 100% crop

leica100-400mm_gallery10_crop1_945
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