When I got my first Fujifilm X Series camera, an X-A1 I received as a birthday gift, a lot of my photography friends wondered why I wanted a Fujifilm camera. Why not a DSLR or a micro four thirds camera they asked. Surely the lens selection for those choices were far more extensive. At the time they were right, but there was something about the look of the all black X-A1 that made me ignore their advice and dive into a relatively new system. Looks are probably a shallow reason to buy a camera (hello Leica shooters!) but the X-A1 was more than just a retro toy, it produced stunning images.
Fast forward a couple of years and the Fujifilm X Series has grown to be a formidable player in the world of photography. The lens lineup is outstanding and the recently released X-Pro 2 (review coming soon) and the upcoming X-T2 and X-A3 have pushed the apsc sensor mirrorless X Series to a whole new level. The biggest hole in the lens lineup was a super telephoto for sports and wildlife photography. The XF100-400mm F/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR (that’s a long name) has addressed this need and Fujifilm Canada was kind enough to lend me one to take on a recent Alberta road trip.
I paired it up with the X-Pro 2, also loaned to me by Fujifilm, and my trusty X-T10. I took it to some great destinations including Mount Robson, Drumheller, Dinosaur Provincial Park, Banff National Park, and Lake Louise. The full frame equivalent focal length works out to 152-609mm on the apsc sensor. It’s the longest lens in Fuji’s arsenal, the next closest being the XC50-230mm F/4.5-6.7 OIS II. The optical image stabilization (OIS) is said to provide 5 stops of stabilization meaning you can shoot handheld at longer shutter speeds. It works great, even at 400mm.
Paired with the X-Pro 2 it’s a bit of an awkward match up. The hybrid viewfinder is pointless past 50mm but the electronic viewfinder is fantastic. It’s ultra fast refresh rate and high resolution make shooting with this super zoom a breeze. The X-T10 is a better match for this lens with its SLR style centre EVF. The upcoming X-T2 with its battery grip will be the best thing to pair with this lens. The OIS tends to eat up batteries and the X-T2’s extended battery life would make a day out in the woods a little more bearable.
Speaking of bears, I only saw one on my trip and it was running away from me. I suppose that’s not a bad thing. I managed to find a moose, magpies, ravens, chipmunks, mountain sheep, and lots of mosquitoes. Shooting wildlife with this lens is a delight. Autofocus is quick and accurate, colour and sharpness are great, and mechanically everything feels solid and well built.
You can set focus from 5 meters to infinity to help with auto focus speed for far away subjects or set it for the the full range if need be. There’s a manual aperture ring and a switch on the lens to switch to auto aperture. The focus and zoom rings offer nice resistance and are covered in ridged rubber for extra grip. There’s a removable tripod mount which can be positioned at any angle and locked into place with a set screw.
The WR stands for Weather Resistant so you can shoot in the rain or snow as long as you’re paired up with a WR body (X-Pro2, X-T1, X-T2)
Tracking autofocus is decent when used with the X-Pro2 or the X-T10. I would’ve liked to try some sports photography with this lens but I simply ran out of time. I was able to get some action shots of a few Bald Eagles soaring above Two Jack Lake though.
There is one weird quirk I noticed during post processing. At 400mm the JPEG images come out a bit sharper/better than the raw files. Fujifilm is known for excellent JPEG files but I still would’ve expected the raw results to be the better of the 2, even if only marginally. In all honesty the majority of my workflow is still JPEG with Fujifilm, they’re that good.
Fujifilm has become a real option for professionals looking to move away from bulky DSLR gear and the ever growing lens lineup can only help that trend.
This is a lens I will be adding to my camera bag in the very near future. It is a bit large and heavy for a mirrorless system but compared to an equivalent Canon or Nikon lens it’s quite compact.
Watch for my upcoming review of the X-Pro2, possibly the sexiest camera I’ve ever used.