Review: Fujinon XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR


Fujifilm Fujinon 100-400mm lens review

The Fujinon XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens is a serious telephoto zoom! If you’re looking for a long telephoto lens for your Fujifilm X camera, your options are very limited, and this one might be your best bet; however, it’s bulky, heavy and, with an MSRP of $1,900, very expensive. Is the Fujinon 100-400mm lens worth the cost?

Fujinon is Fujifilm’s brand name for their lenses. The XF in the name means that this is a premium lens (in other words, not budget) for X-mount cameras. The lens has a focal length of 100mm to 400mm, which is equivalent to 150mm to 600mm in full-frame terms. The R indicates that it has an aperture ring on the lens, which it does, but unfortunately it’s unmarked, which seems like a strange choice. LM stands for Linear Motor, which is the auto-focus system that’s inside the lens. OIS means that it has built-in optical image stabilization. The WR stands for Weather Resistant, which is useful if you are attaching it to a weather resistant camera. While the full name of this lens seems excessively long, it does give us a good overview of what we’re looking at.

When my Fujinon 100-400mm lens arrived in the mail, I was shocked at the size and weight of it. I had read all about how big and heavy it was, but it still took me by surprise. The lens weighs more than three pounds, and is just over eight inches long when retracted at 100mm and is nearly 11 inches when extended to 400mm, not including the lens hood, which adds another three inches. It’s massive! You need to know that it’s very big and heavy, probably more than you are expecting.

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Monochrome Reeds – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm lens @148mm

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Dark Lake Shore – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm @124mm

The lens seems to be made with plenty of plastic. Not quite as much as Fujifilm’s budget lenses, but more than I would have thought for an XF lens, and I wonder how it would survive a fall. Hopefully I will never have to find out, but I do know that if it does fall it will fall hard! Beyond that, it seems well-built and well designed. There are three switches on the side: OIS on-and-off, Auto-Aperture on-and-off, and a close-focus inhibitor. The aperture ring works well, but is disappointingly unmarked. The focus ring is nice and smooth for manual focusing. The zoom ring twists the lens in and out for zooming. This lens accepts 77mm filters.

The Fujinon 100-400mm lens is very sharp at 100mm and mediocrely sharp at 400mm. This is a zoom lens and has sharpness similar to other Fujinon zooms, so don’t expect prime lens sharpness. Comparing my Fujinon 90mm f/2 to this lens at 100mm, the 90mm produces crisper results. This shouldn’t surprise anyone because primes usually produce better results than zooms, and the Fujinon 90mm f/2 is one of the very best Fujifilm primes. Even so, sharpness on the 100-400mm lens is pretty darn good for a zoom, at least at 100mm. I found sharpness to be excellent at apertures f/11 and larger from 100mm to about 250mm. From roughly 250mm to 350mm sharpness is still excellent, but not quite as good, and it seems to be best between f/5.6 and f/8. Sharpness gets noticeably worse when the focal length is longer than 350mm, becoming the least crisp at 400mm, including some obvious corner softness when wide open. At 400mm I think the sharpness is comparable to the Fujinon 50-230mm budget zoom, and f/8 seems to be the optimal aperture. I would avoid apertures smaller than f/16 at all focal lengths, as diffraction is noticeable.

I didn’t notice any chromatic aberrations, although the camera might be automatically removing it. I found no distortion, so expect straight lines to be straight. From 100mm to about 300mm there’s little-to-no vignetting, but vignetting becomes noticeable when wide-open and approaching the long end of the lens. At 400mm, even when stopped down, the vignetting doesn’t completely go away. The maximum aperture is f/4.5 at 100mm, f/5 at 200mm, f/5.2 at 300mm, and f/5.6 at 400mm, which is sufficient. I would prefer a larger maximum aperture, but that would only make the lens bulkier, heavier and more expensive than it already is. The minimum aperture at all focal lengths is f/22. Bokeh, which is the quality of the out-of-focus area in an image, is pretty good. The minimum focus distance is almost six feet, which means that you won’t be photographing anything from close up, but achieving a shallow depth-of-field isn’t particularly difficult thanks to the long focal lengths. Fujifilm claims that the image stabilization is good for five stops, but I really don’t think so. It’s definitely helpful, especially at the longer end, but I wouldn’t count on it working any miracles. I found it best to turn the image stabilization off when using a tripod.

Fujifilm Fujinon 100-400mm lens review

Fujifilm Fujinon 100-400mm lens review

Auto-focus is extraordinarily quick and quiet considering how many heavy moving parts are inside the lens. It’s not the fastest Fujinon lens, but it’s still fast. The inhibitor switch is helpful if you’re not close focusing. Manual focusing is great when using a tripod, but I found it a tad awkward to do hand-held just because of the size and weight of the lens.

The Fujinon 100-400mm is a difficult lens to use, especially at the longer end. When the lens is attached to your camera, you want to make sure that you hold the lens (not just the camera). You’ll find yourself wanting to use a tripod, or at least a monopod, and you’ll need to mount the lens (not the camera) to it. When not using a tripod, you’ll need to use good techniques to keep it steady, similar to shooting a rifle. Fast shutter speeds will be your friend. I seemed to get better results at the longer end when using the electronic shutter instead of the mechanical. Atmospheric distortion is magnified when zooming in on far away objects. With a good tripod and techniques this lens can be used in low-light situations, but I found that it likes a lot of light and does well in daylight. I got better results when I took my time and was very deliberate and precise. While the lens is particularly challenging, it can also be especially rewarding.

Perhaps the best way to think about the Fujinon 100-400mm is that it’s a fantastic 100-350mm lens, especially from 100mm to about 250mm, which is where it produces the best results. The last 50mm is a bonus—sufficiently good, but disappointing when you consider how much it costs. In other words, 400mm is available when you need it, but consider avoiding it when you can. If you think about the lens in that way you will likely be happy with it, but if you are counting on the long end for top-notch image quality, you’ll be let down. Whether you’re happy or not, the fact is that your options are limited. Fujifilm’s longest prime lens is the 200mm f/2, which retails for more than three times as much as the 100-400mm. The next closest prime is the 90mm f/2, which isn’t especially long. The 50-140mm f/2.8, which isn’t much cheaper than this one, but is optically superior, might not be telephoto enough, depending on your needs. Lastly, there’s the 50-230mm budget zoom, which is nearly five times cheaper, but optically inferior, and also might not be long enough. Those who are deciding between the 100-400mm and the 50-140mm will have to determine if 140mm is telephoto enough for their photography. If so, I’d recommend the shorter lens. If you are deciding between the 100-400mm and the 50-230mm, if you plan to use the lens only occasionally, it might be difficult to justify spending nearly two thousand dollars, so you should probably go with the cheap one; if you’ll be using it often or need the longer reach, the 100-400mm is better, but you’ll have to put up with the heft. For those who need a long telephoto option, you might just have to get this big lens, because there really are no good alternatives. Thankfully, the Fujinon 100-400mm is a pretty good telephoto zoom lens that can produce stunning pictures.

Edit: I overlooked the Fujinon 55-200mm as an alternative. It’s better than the 50-230mm, and much less expensive than the 100-400mm, although with a maximum focal length that’s half as long. If you can’t afford the 100-400mm or need something that’s smaller and lighter, this is one that you should consider.

My affiliate links for the Fujinon XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens are here: B&H  Amazon. If you make a purchase using my links I will be compensated a small amount for it.

Example photographs, captured using the Fujinon 100-400mm lens on a Fujifilm X-T30:

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Liquid Hay – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm @301mm

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Wetland Snow – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm @100mm

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Blue Heron – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm @400mm

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Blue Creek – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm @100mm

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Silver Snow – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm @159mm

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Francis Peak – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm @400mm

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Birds Nests – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm @107mm

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Frary Peak Thru the Reeds – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm @143mm

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Monochrome Cattails – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm @243mm

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Stretch – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm @400mm

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Ugly Duckling – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm @400mm

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Half Circle Reflected – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm @100mm

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Forgotten Concrete – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm @100mm

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White Pillow – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm @252mm

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Shadow Ware – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm @243mm

See also: Fujifilm Gear

Fujifilm X100F Review Blog

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33 comments

  1. Mark Healey · February 19

    Thank you, I think that was a very fair review. I’ve had this lens for 4 months and taken many photographs with it, mainly of birds. I’ve had some great results but you are right it needs plenty of light for the results to be high quality. I have never used the Canon or Nikon big zooms and it would be interesting to know whether they have the same strengths and weaknesses.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ritchie Roesch · February 19

      I wonder that, too. I imagine that they must to some extent, but I really don’t know.

      Like

  2. Mark Healey · February 19

    On a related subject have you experimented with your film set-ups to find a good version for wildlife photography? I have tried and now have one I like but I have been meaning to ask you for a while whether you have one?

    Like

    • Ritchie Roesch · February 19

      I haven’t done a lot of wildlife photography, but for color I think my X-T30 Velvia recipe is my favorite.

      Like

      • Khürt Williams · February 20

        I agree that Velvia would be best for wildlife. I think most people appreciate wildlife in vivid colour.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Healey · February 20

        Yes I do use Velvia but with adjustments because I think both red and green are a little too intense. Is there a way to post photo examples on here?

        Like

      • Ritchie Roesch · February 20

        I think you have to post links to the pictures.

        Like

  3. terrellcwoods · February 19

    Splendid review. I have shot Canon for 8+ years and recently bought a few Fuji kits to see what all the fuss was about. Also to see if they could replace or at least supplement what I had already been doing with the other kits. I find the 50-140 excellent and in my opinion, renders colors better than than the 100-400. I am happy to see in your review that in the long end the 100-400 is soft. I find it extremely soft. I’m shooting sports so that aperture is always set to its maximum aperture and what I get with higher ISO when needed is disappointing. Happily, as you say, the lens is excellent 100-350 and that’s really what I try to remember. As for comparing the Canon zooms (L Glass) there really is no comparison even when shooting on a Canon crop body. Their 100-400 is extremely sharp and very sharp at the long end. I rent the 200-400 f/4 and it’s just crazy sharp all through the range, but that’s a crazy expensive lens. I like the fuji bodies so much that I have learned to use that 100-400 in a way I am not disappointed. I wish Fuji would upgrade that lens or either a prime 300 f/4. That would be a killer. The fuji prime 200 f/2 is sweet but I have only rented and perfect for indoor court sports. As for weight, after shooting all those DSLR kits they are heavy but not the bricks I’m used to carrying. And thank you for all the presets you share. I have used all of them and settled on two to make my life easier.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Healey · February 20

      I find that if you stay below or at iso 800 the photos are much better, not just in terms of noise and sharpness but with colour and dynamic range too. I would really like to try the Canon 100-400 at some point.

      Liked by 2 people

      • terrellcwoods · February 20

        A very good lens. I find it interesting that Canon’s new mid-level zoom will be a 100-500 but f7.1 on the long end. I’m really looking forward to seeing what new lenses Fuji announces with the XT-4

        Like

      • Ritchie Roesch · February 20

        I’m sure they have some in the works to be released in the coming months and years. A zoom that reaches to 500mm would be interesting.

        Like

    • RD Gerdes · February 20

      I’ve just switched to Fuji from Canon, but am having a tough time getting rid of my 100-400 Canon…it is an amazing lens. I’m not sure if I should just part with it, or buy one of those adapters to see how it works on my X-T3. Any thoughts are welcome.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ritchie Roesch · February 20

        If you love the lens, definitely try an adapter and see if it works well for you.

        Liked by 1 person

      • terrellcwoods · February 20

        Totally agree with the comment by Ritchie, If that’s still a focal length you shoot, and, if that lens works well on your Fuji with the adapter you’re good to go. I still use a local camera shop and I’ve found when I can’t sell a particular item they’re usually really good at value if it’s a trade. So maybe you can go that route especially if you don’t beat up lenses as I do! Good luck.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Ritchie Roesch · February 20

      I think a 150-300mm f/4 would be a nice addition to the Fujifilm lineup. The 200mm f/2 is a lens I would buy if I won the lottery or if I needed it for work (so far, neither is the case). A think the 300mm f/4 idea is a good one. Thank you for the input!

      Like

      • terrellcwoods · February 20

        I’m liking your lens idea better! Mine would be great but limiting. Yours would knock it out of the park. Now I need a little lotto money just to be prepared.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. David Person · February 19

    I was considering this lens for bird photography with my X-T2, but it is just too big and heavy, not to mention pricey. Instead I bought a Sony RX10 IV with a 35mm equalivant zoom range of 24mm to 600mm (f/2.4 – 4) utilizing a 1″ sensor. At $1,599, quite a bit less cost than the XF 100-400 with a better zoom range and f number, in a smaller package, weighing 2.4 lbs. It produces excellent results in daylight shooting situations. Obviously, low light results will be impacted by the smaller sensor. The IV is improved over the RX10 III by the addition of phase detection autofocus. It packs a Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens. For 90% of shooters who want good zoom reach, this is a better option than the XF 100-400.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Khürt Williams · February 20

      Comparing oranges and apples is not a good thing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • David Person · February 20

        But having the option of apples and oranges is.

        Like

    • Ritchie Roesch · February 20

      I used to own a Sony RX100, and, while it was good for what it was, I felt that the 1” sensor didn’t produce good results above ISO1600, that dynamic range was a tad limited, and the RAW files (I didn’t shoot JPEGs back then) seemed to always need significantly more work than those from my Nikon (which I used back then, before moving to Fujifilm). I ended up selling it out of frustration. But, you make a good point that there are alternatives like the RX10 that might work much better for some people. Thank you for sharing!

      Like

  5. Khürt Williams · February 20

    I didn’t find it bulky or heavy at all. At least, not when compared to the Nikon or Canon equivalent. I used the Fujinon XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR on my Fujifilm X-T2 for hours in the field for bird photography numerous times and never once felt the weight of the lens.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ritchie Roesch · February 20

      This comment made me think of a joke I like to tell. I have a daily workout regiment: I do one sit-up each day, half in the morning, and the other half at night. Actually, I recently doubled my workout: I started taking naps!
      I went out the other day with the 100-400mm and walked for 40 minutes. By the end I was happy to be done because of the weight, but that might speak more to my own conditioning (or lack there of) than the lens itself.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. James · February 20

    A timely review, good to know the softness wide open at the long end is not just my copy. I just leave it at f8 since that seems to be the sweet spot across the range. Capture One’s deconvolution algorithm works pretty well for diffraction correction. By the way, the aperture ring has to be unmarked as it’s a variable aperture lens, just like the 18-55 and the 55-200 both of which also have unmarked rings.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ritchie Roesch · February 20

      I figured that was the reason. I have to admit that it took me a few minutes to figure out how to even change the aperture. What I don’t like about it being unmarked is that it forces me to view the screen to know what the aperture is, which isn’t a big deal, but I do wish that I could just look at the lens to know the aperture.

      Like

      • James · February 20

        The lens pairs beautifully with the X-H1 and the little top screen displays the current aperture which is really nice. I used to use the 100-400 with my X-E2, it was comical to see the little camera hanging off the back of the lens! Then I got the X-H1 recently on mega deal discount with the 90mm f2 and I’m really enjoying the sturdier handling of the combination. I still love the X-E2 and use it with smaller lenses now for a more compact setup. I’m really impressed with the consistency of color between the different sensors, it’s possible to mix and match cameras on the same subject and hard to tell at first glance which image is from which camera.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ritchie Roesch · February 20

        I imagine that the lens would be better mounted to an X-H1 or X-T3.

        Like

  7. James Symmonds · February 21

    Having shot Nikon’s older longer offerings, getting the equivalent of 500mm+ of reach for $2k and only 11 inches long and a few pounds sounds good to me. I used to have the 80-200 2.8 which was a beast. You could use it as protection. Then I added the 300 f4 which was also fairly large in size. This sounds reasonable to me but so far I barely even carry my 55-200 outside of road trips. Might just try renting this lens to see if I’d even use it. Although the best season to use it around here is coming to an end as the prime birds of prey will start heading north now.

    Liked by 1 person

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  12. jazz110 · August 3

    I’ve been pondering buying this lens for some time. I already have the 50-140 with a 1.4 and 2.0 teleconverter. It would seem that the 400mm end of the 100-400mm does suffer image quality wise. I’m wondering, besides, the extra reach, how the image quality of my 50-140 w/2.0X teleconverter would compare image quality wise?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ritchie Roesch · August 5

      That would be an interesting comparison. My guess, and it’s just a guess, is that the 100-400mm would be better than the 50-140mm with the x2 converter because the lens is good from 100-350-ish mm, and with the x2 you’re only going to 280mm max. But, if 280mm is plenty long enough for your photography, that’s a steep price to pay for a little extra reach, so it would only make sense if you think you’d need it.

      Like

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