Leica 100-400mm Vario-Elmar-SL f/5-6.3 review

If you're looking for a lightweight super zoom the Leica 100-400mm Vario-Elmar-SL f/5-6.3 fits the bills perfectly

5 Star Rating
 Leica 100-400mm Vario-Elmarit-SL f/5-6.3
(Image: © Future)

Digital Camera World Verdict

Super telephoto zooms are all the range due to being relatively lightweight and extremely versatile, and the Leica 100-400mm Vario-Elmar-SL f/5-6.3 is no exception with this lens you get an extreme amount of coverage in a well-balanced package that's perfect for wildlife, birding or sports. While its maximum aperture is f/5 at 100mm and goes down to f/6.3 aperture at 400mm this lens is able to produce some beautiful images shot wide-open, and stopped down to f/8 - I would say between f5.6 and f/8 is the sweet spot for great images and while it is a bit fiddly to zoom, once you get the hang of it the lens performs extremely well.


  • +

    Compact at 100mm

  • +

    Perfect balance

  • +

    Built-in optical image stabilizer


  • -

    External zoom design

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While I have to say my use of super telephoto lenses really is more akin to prime lenses of the 400mm, 600mm, and 800mm varieties, having a super-telephoto zoom really is a fun lens to have in your camera's bag!

Leica 100-400mm Vario-Elmar-SL f/5-6.3 Specs

Mount: Leica L-mount
Lens design:  22 Elements in 16 Groups
Maximum aperture: f/5
Minimum aperture: f/22
Angle of view: 23.8° to 6.4°
Minimum focusing distance: 3.6' / 1.1 m
Filter size: 82mm
Dimensions: 0.3 x 0.6' / 88 x 198 mm
3.37 lb / 1.53 kg

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Sebastian Oakley
Ecommerce Editor

For nearly two decades Sebastian's work has been published internationally. Originally specializing in Equestrianism, his visuals have been used by the leading names in the equestrian industry such as The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), The Jockey Club, Horse & Hound, and many more for various advertising campaigns, books, and pre/post-event highlights.

He is a Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts, holds a Foundation Degree in Equitation Science, and is a Master of Arts in Publishing.  He is a member of Nikon NPS and has been a Nikon user since the film days using a Nikon F5 and saw the digital transition with Nikon's D series cameras and is still to this day the youngest member to be elected into BEWA, The British Equestrian Writers' Association. 

He is familiar with and shows great interest in street, medium, and large format photography with products by Leica, Phase One, Hasselblad, Alpa, and Sinar. Sebastian has also used many cinema cameras from the likes of Sony, RED, ARRI, and everything in between. He now spends his spare time using his trusted Leica M-E or Leica M2 shooting Street photography or general life as he sees it, usually in Black and White.