North of 49 Photography

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Lumix 100-400 vs Lumix 200mm 2.8

Lumix 100-400 vs Lumix 200mm 2.8

Let's start with the 100-400 lens first, current cost 2399.99 Canadian or 1599.99 USD

The 100-400 lens has been out for a little while now and many people have had a chance to put it in their hands. Personally I have had this lens in many different weather types and it has never had an issue. From steady all day rains in the west coast, to the brutal harsh -30c winds and snow in Ontario. This lens is weather sealed and ready to provide any user exceptional images. 

Let's talk a little bit about the makeup of this lens. The range as we know it is 100-400mm, but on a 4/3 sensor you will be shooting 200-800mm 35mm equivalent. That my friends is a huge range for such a light lens compared to what weight you would be carrying around in a Nikon or a Canon. The lens is made up of 20 elements in 13 groups (1 aspherical ED lens, 1 UED lens, 2 ED lenses). The aperture of this lens is F4 at 100mm and F6.3 at 400mm. For how sharp this lens is you would be surprised that its only 2.2 pounds total weight. One of the key features of this lens is being able to shoot in low light situations with the optical image stabilization on. Not only for low light but it has really come in hand when I was out shooting on boats in very choppy water. 

Over the period of this release there have been a few complaints on this lens. Some have said that it won't follow focus properly? I'm really not to sure about this issue as I have not come across it myself? What I can say is every camera has many different focus features to set up. Not only that but every shooting situation requires different settings. I'm not say this is a Lumix only thing, this is across the board with every type of camera. You will notice in the newer Lumix cameras they have now included different settings for sensitivity, how fast or lazy the lens reacts. These are all scenarios you should be using when photographing subjects with long lenses if they are equipped on your camera. Another issue people have talked about is the zoom being stiff. This is something that I have come across with this lens but it does get smoother over time. I can say that I have zero issues with smoothness in the zoom of my lens now due to regular use. 

My honest opinion of this lens is its super sharp, specially when your subject is close to you. Like any long lens the further the subject the softer the lens will be. That being said I have had some great tack sharp images shooting at 400mm. Just remember, you are shooting at 800mm so if you have a shutter speed of less then 1/800th of a second don't expect great results all the time. 

Take a look at some of the images I was able to take with this lens over the past few years. 

So now the 200mm f2.8

This lens by far feels like the sturdiest build Lumix has made for their line up. For people who have downgraded from a pro body DSLR this lens may just feel like you are back home again. For the people who have downgraded because the weight of a DSLR is to much than you may find this lens to be a little more than you can handle. 

The build of this lens consist of 15 elements in 13 groups (2 UED lenses) creating a super sharp lens at the weight of 2.8 pounds. For Lumix this is a heavy lens and I do expect people to complain about it. But remember this lens in actuality is a 400mm f2.8 so if you compared it to the Nikon 400 f2.8 at 8.4 pounds and Canon's 400 f2.8 at 8.5 pounds this lens would still be considered super light in its category of lenses. 

A few notes on this lens is the large lens hood they added to stop light from hitting the front element. Some may think it's to big but personally I think its a great length for the job it provides. Also added on this lens is the standard image stabilization. As discussed with the 100-400mm when using this set up you should have a minimum shutter speed of 1/500th of a second. If you do shoot lower you should make sure the OIS is turned on. 

My personal reflection on this lens would conclude that I sure didn't have it long enough to get the images I wanted to see out of it. The months time I was using it with the G9 was nothing but grey and the wildlife was hunkered down from all the snow we were getting. The images I did take however was the best optical quality I have found in the whole lens line up. Of course this comes with a price tag to match but what would you expect from a monster like this. The current retail on this item is 3899.99 Canadian or 2999.00 American. This also includes a 1.4tc making it a 560 f4 lens. 

I don't have many images to show you but here are some of the shots I took over the month.  

As a wrap up it would be tough to tell you what lens is better. Just like any lens there is always a place and a time. The pro's of the 200mm is its a prime, the depth of field seems to be much better compared to the 100-400. I can honestly say its the first time I really saw that creamy bokeh in a Lumix image. The first time I used the lens I decided to shoot at f2.8, I took about 200 images of my dog running on the beach. The light was a little harsh so I could not see the back screen properly. Once in the car I did a quick preview and I though almost all of my images were out of focus? It was not until I loaded them up in bridge that I realize the depth of field was way to shallow. The focus was picking off the dogs nose and from the eyes back were soft from the a narrow depth of field. 

The 100-400 has always been a lens I was happy to have in my bag. Its hard to complain about a zoom that reaches 800mm. The optical quality is still great and like I said close up the images are super sharp. Both lenses have Leica glass and to anybody that knows anything about photography they know that means sharp images. Weight for both of these lenses are super light compared to what you would hold in a DSLR lens with the same focal distance. But like mentioned if you switched to Lumix for the weight factor these might be a little heavy for you. 

I would like to spend more time with the 200mm, this lens gave me some exceptional images in challenging light. Paired with the G9 I have also never had such a high keeper ratio of moving subjects and locking in on a moving subject once they are in motion. If these two new items are the future of Lumix then look out DSLR market, you now have a run for your money.

Thanks for taking the time to read todays blog, I wish I had some more images to show you with the 200 but I will be posting more over the month to come. If you have any questions about either lens please feel free to ask me. Both of these lenses are available at some camera rental locations across Canada and USA so if you are looking for a change in your gear give them a try first before buying them to build your own opinion.