Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmar 100-400mm f/4-6.3 Asph. Power O.I.S. review

This relatively small super-telephoto zoom delivers a huge maximum ‘effective’ focal length of 800mm

Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmar 100-400mm f/4-6.3 Asph. Power O.I.S.
(Image: © Future)

Digital Camera World Verdict

This lens makes the most of the 2x focal length multiplier of Micro Four Thirds cameras do deliver a monster effective zoom range of 200-800mm. It’s a little short on features compared with some of the latest super-telephoto zooms, like the Sigma 150-600mm Contemporary and Sports lenses for DSLRs, but it’s refreshingly compact and lightweight, enabling a good balance on mirrorless cameras. The size and weight also make for comfortable handheld shooting. The lens earns its Leica credentials, delivering impressive image quality.


  • +

    Compact and lightweight, yet tough

  • +

    Quick, smooth autofocus

  • +

    Impressive image quality


  • -

    Lacks switchable IS modes

  • -

    Sharpness not great past 200mm

  • -

    Narrow max aperture at 400mm

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Think super-telephoto zoom and you’re probably thinking of big, heavy lenses that are a chore to carry around and a pain to shoot with for any length of time. This Panasonic lens bucks the trend, with a relatively compact and lightweight construction, taking full advantage of the Micro Four Thirds crop factor to deliver an effective zoom range of 200-800mm, in full-frame terms. That makes it ideal for sports, action and wildlife photography, when you can’t get as physically close as you might like.


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Matthew Richards

Matthew Richards is a photographer and journalist who has spent years using and reviewing all manner of photo gear. He is Digital Camera World's principal lens reviewer – and has tested more primes and zooms than most people have had hot dinners! 

His expertise with equipment doesn’t end there, though. He is also an encyclopedia  when it comes to all manner of cameras, camera holsters and bags, flashguns, tripods and heads, printers, papers and inks, and just about anything imaging-related. 

In an earlier life he was a broadcast engineer at the BBC, as well as a former editor of PC Guide.