The FUJINON XF100-400mm – Hands On

I don’t do many reviews. I am much more of a shooter than a gear head, however there are times when I feel like sharing thoughts on a product I thoroughly enjoy. The FUJINON XF100-400mm F4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR is one such product. I purchased the lens a little over a month ago, and have used it every day since, either as my main lens, or as a supplement. I bought the lens for a specific need for a project I am working on in rural Thailand. I am documenting family rice farmers, and two important times to capture are the planting and harvest seasons when most of the hard labor takes place. I have a plethora of wide and short telephoto shots of people working the land and wanted to produce some up close and personal shots of individuals as they worked in the fields. My problem is that I cannot get close to my subjects to get the good angles as they are working in the field. I cannot step on the rice plants, and don’t want to get bogged down in the knee deep mud with expensive camera equipment. The solution is to shoot with a long telephoto as close as I can get which is usually from about 20 to 75 feet away, from the dry pathways between the rice paddies.

The image below was shot at 1/1000 f5.6, ISO 800 at 400mm (600mm 35mm film equivalent) I spot metered on the face. It was one of the first shots with the lens. The sharpness is outstanding, crisp and contrasty. The bokeh is smooth and creamy, caused by the long distance of the trees in the background.

A Thai farmer, Sunthon Saphirat, transplants rice at the start of the Thai growing season in Nakhon Nayok, ‪Thailand‬ Aug 03, 2016. PHOTO BY LEE CRAKER (Lee Craker, Lee Craker/Lee Craker)

A Thai farmer, Sunthon Saphirat, transplants rice at the start of the Thai growing season in Nakhon Nayok, ‪Thailand‬ Aug 03, 2016. PHOTO BY LEE CRAKER

In the shot below I was after the drama of the water droplets as excess moisture is shaken from the rice plants to get them ready for transplanting. I shot at 1/1000 f5.6, ISO 640 at 400mm (600mm 35mm film equivalent). I spot metered on the face. The depth of field suprised me a little as I was not used to shooting this long of a lens and I expected more DOF. at 5.6, but it is relatively shallow. As I got used to shooting the lens I realized that focus needs to be dead on at f5.6. I actually enjoy shooting with a narrow DOF so this is plus for me.

Lut, a Thai woman worker, removes excess moisture from young rice plants so they can be transplanted. Nakhon Nayok, ‪Thailand‬ Aug 12, 2016. (Lee Craker, Lee Craker/Lee Craker)

Lut, a Thai woman worker, removes excess moisture from young rice plants so they can be transplanted. Nakhon Nayok, ‪Thailand‬ Aug 12, 2016. PHOTO BY LEE CRAKER

The shot below is another one of the drama caused by water droplets. I shot at 1/1000 f4.7, ISO 640 at 133mm (200mm 35mm film equivalent). I used full matrix or “pattern” metering.

Siri, a 65 year old Thai woman farmer, works in her leased fields preparing rice plants to be transplanted into a larger field, in Nakhon Nayok ‪Thailand‬ Aug 14, 2016. PHOTO BY LEE CRAKER (Lee Craker, Lee Craker/Lee Craker)

Siri, a 65 year old Thai woman farmer, works in her leased fields preparing rice plants to be transplanted into a larger field, in Nakhon Nayok ‪Thailand‬ Aug 14, 2016. PHOTO BY LEE CRAKER

In this image I wanted a detail shot of planting the rice. I shot at 1/250 f4.7, ISO 200 at 372mm (559mm 35mm film equivalent). I used full matrix or “pattern” metering.

Planting Rice in Nakhon Nayok, Thailand PHOTO BY LEE CRAKER (Lee Craker, Lee Craker/Lee Craker)

Planting Rice in Nakhon Nayok, Thailand PHOTO BY LEE CRAKER

This image I found interesting because of the color contrast, and the “Che” T-Shirt. I shot at 1/1000 f5.6, ISO 1600 at 400mm (600mm 35mm film equivalent). I used manual exposure control.

The Rice Fields in Nakhon Nayok, Thailand PHOTO BY LEE CRAKER (Lee Craker)

The Rice Fields in Nakhon Nayok, Thailand PHOTO BY LEE CRAKER

As stated above I do very few reviews, and I’m not interested in, or qualified, to get into the technical details of equipment. There are many other sites on the web dedicated to technical discussions. What I am interested in is capturing decisive moments, and my interest in equipment is only how well it will allow me to do that. The XF100-400mm is a very capable lens and allows me to do what I need to do.

Handling – I don’t use a tripod and the lens is heavy on the small X-T1, but I don’t have any problems using it all day long. I do shoot fast with this lens. Several of the above images were shot at 1/1000, this is to eliminate camera shake with such a long focal length, and to eliminate subject movement. Also the brightness of the day coupled with my love for shooting wide open many times requires a fast shutter speed.

Focus – I mostly use single point focus. With this camera lens combination (Fuji X-T1) the speed is good enough, not blazingly fast like you find on high end pro gear, but relatively fast and no problems at all doing what I need to do. It acquires focus accurately with my choice of single point.

Focus Tracking – Nota. Fuji has never been in line with top end pro cameras for numerous reasons. If you need to shoot sports like a pro, go with a top of the line DSLR. Will this change with new cameras? Maybe so, we will have to wait and see, but for now I don’t waste my time. Single point is fast enough to do what I need.

IQ – The proof is in the pudding, as they say. Outstanding Image quality, amazing bokeh. For some, the bokeh may be a little too smooth, but I love it.

What else can I say or needs to be said about shooting this lens? It’s good, it does what I need it to do and I’m pleased.

My entire gallery of Planting Season 2016 can be seen on the web here. Many of these images were shot with the The FUJINON XF100-400mm.

2 thoughts on “The FUJINON XF100-400mm – Hands On

  1. Pingback: The FUJINON XF100-400mm – Hands On | Lee Craker

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