Est. 2020

Fujifilm 70-300 vs Fujifilm 100-400

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Quick Facts about the Fujifilm XF 70-300mm F4-5.6 R LM OIS WR Lens

  • Weight: 1.3 lb/588 Grams
  • Weather Sealed: Yes
  • Filter Size: 67mm 
  • Angle of View: 22.9 to 5.4 Degrees
  • Focusing Distance: 2.7’/.8 Meters
  • Max Aperture: F4-F5.6
  • Minimum Aperture: F22
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Mount System: Fuji X
  • Price: $799
  • Zoom: Extension
  • Accepts Teleconverters*

Quick Facts about the Fujifilm XF 100-400 F4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR Lens 

  • Weight: 3.03 lbs/1375 Grams
  • Weather Sealed: Yes
  • Filter Size: 77mm
  • Angle of View: 16.2 to 4.1 Degrees 
  • Focusing Distance: 5.74’/1.75m
  • Max Aperture: F4.5-F5.6
  • Minimum Aperture: F22
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Mount System: Fuji X
  • Price: $1,899
  • Zoom: Extension 
  • Accepts Teleconverters*
Fujifilm 70-300 vs 100-400 compared

Why compare the Fujifilm 70-300 vs the 100-400?

Two lens ranges that have been a staple for both Canon EF and Nikon line-ups, I thought this might be an interesting comparison. (For the new camera mounts, we have the Canon RF 100-500 and Nikon Z 100-400.)

After all, the 100-400 (APS-C) has a full-frame equivalent of 152-609mm. And the 70-300mm (APS-C) has a full-frame equivalence of 107-457mm. 

All of this to say, the 100-400 is valuable for numerous styles of photography. Off the top-of-my-head, I can think of portraits at 135mm, animals at 250mm, and birds at 400mm. Plus, if you know how to use compression, you could use these lenses for the occasional landscape image. 

Now, despite this, there is one big question for these lenses, and that’s in regards to price. Retailing at $1,900, the 100-400 is $1,100 more expensive than the 70-300 at regular MSRP. 

For the price of a new 100-400, I could purchase a used 70-300 ($750), used 90mm F2.0 ($600), and a used XF 35mm F2.0. ($300) And I would still have $150 left-over. 

That kit covers almost every style of photography for me, for the price of the one lens. So, is that extra 100mm on the longer-end worth it?



What other telephoto lenses exist within the Fuji-X lineup?

As much as I want to, I cannot cover each lens in-depth here. That’s why the links below link to other reviews. So, here’s the skinny on each of these zoom lenses. 

Zooms

The 55-200 is the standard kit lens that can be found for sub-$500. However, don’t expect to use it past 170mm. 

The 50-140 is the best lens in regards to sharpness and low-light. However, the $1,600 price tag is too expensive. 

The XC 50-230 is going to struggle. However, when purchased new, it retails for only $400. 

The 50-140 is the best in regards to sharpness and low-light. However, it just feels a bit expensive. 

The XC 50-230 is not the best. However, you can buy a new lens for $400.  

The XF 150-600 is, in my unprofessional opinion, the only super-telephoto lens you should purchase if you need something beyond 300mm for the X-Mount. 

Primes

  • Fujifilm XF 90mm F2.0
  • Fujifilm XF 200mmm F2

The Fujifilm XF 90mm F2 is supposedly a great portrait lens. However, I have not tested it out yet

The Fujifilm XF 200mm F2 is the best telephoto lens by Fujifilm, period. Sharp and heavy (5 Pounds/2.2 kg), it belongs in the red-badge category.  

 

Build Quality Comparison

If I had to summarize, the 70-300 is light-years ahead of the 100-400 in regards to build quality. Both are made out of plastic; however, the 70-300 has a premium feel. 

Meanwhile, the 100-400 is not deserving of its proclaimed level or price-point. 

I probably am complaining too much, as the plastic is used to minimize the weight. (Could you imagine if the 100-400 was made entirely out of metal?) However, this lens already weighs three pounds, and it has the build quality of the 55-200. 

For both lenses, I believe in their weather-resistance. (A staple, I believe, for all XF lenses.) However, when I think about the build quality to price ratio (not an entirely reliable measurement… like most of these reviews.), I think the 70-300 wins, hands-down.

If you doubt this, I really recommend going to your local camera shop and holding the lenses. 

Side Rant: I want to focus on the tension when using zooming. (If I used the wrong terminology for that, I’m not sorry.) The 100-400 just felt “loose” compared to the 70-300. Plus, the 100-400, when the zoom-lock was not engaged, suffered from serious lens creep.

Dials, Knobs, Switches, and Feet

Both Lenses Have the Following: 

Switches/Buttons

  • Focus Range Selector (Focus Range Limiter)

For a conversation about missed shots, and why I always select the “Full Length” setting on this lens, please see the 100-400 review. (Spoiler alert: It’s just in case something flies closer than 5 meters to you. 5 Meters equals 16.4 feet)

If you want to use a focus range limiter, the 10-24mm review contains instructions and definitions. 

  • Aperture Mode Switch 

For a lens with this aperture range, you are not going to want to leave the aperture or the shutter speed on automatic, ever. (Especially the Shutter Speed) When in doubt, leave the ISO on auto despite the risk of more grain within the photo. 

What Are We Missing on the 100-400?

Nothing. Every switch found on the 100-400 can be found on the 70-300. 

What buttons, switches, extras, and dials are we missing on the 70-300?

  • Tripod Foot

For the 70-300, the tripod foot is not necessary. Tripod foots are used to change the center-of-gravity and keep the camera/lens combo balanced.  

  • OIS-ON/OFF Switch

To turn off the OIS on the 70-300, (which I don’t recommend) enter the camera body and change the settings. 

What are both lenses missing?

  • Marked Aperture Ring

The horror. Neither lens has a marked aperture ring despite having aperture rings on the lens bodies. Fujifilm users need to revolt. 

How far is the FOV? 

The 70-300 has an Angle of View: 22.9 to 5.4 Degrees

The 100-400 has an Angle of View of 16.2 to 4.1 Degrees. 

As seen in the pictures below, there is an iPhone picture. This is because I wanted to show what a “normal-human-eye” FOV looks like. 

As I examined these photos and this FOV, I reminded of the challenges I faced regarding street and travel photography. As someone who takes photos in cities often, both lenses are often too long. (Despite their awesome focal range.) 

So, if you are doing any sort of street, landscape, etc, you are going to need a second lens. (Maybe the 33mm F1.4 or 10-24?)

Fujfilm 70-300 vs 100-400 Sharpness Test

The sharpness test photos are organized in 3 parts, the 70-300, the 100-400, and then the 70-300 compared to the 100-400 as throughout the focal range. 

Then, my takeaways regarding the image sharpness is below. 

70-300

100-400

70-300 & 100-400

Takeaways from each lens’s sharpness test

Note: If we had teleconverters, it would take away from this un-scientific process that requires minutes of set-up. However, we can reasonably expect that teleconverters would reduce the image quality. 

About the 70-300

  • The corners appeared to be a bit soft at 70mm @F4.
  • The corners at 70mm @F8 and 300mm @F8 look similar in regards to image quality/sharpness
  • This lens is very sharp throughout the entire focal range, and I was never disappointed. 

 

About the 100-400

  • Performs its best between 150-300mm. (Typical of zoom lenses)
  • However, there is a fall-off in image sharpness. If I had to guess, the fall-off became very apparent around 370 millimeters. However, it actually started around 350mm. 

 

Comparing the Sharpness of these Lenses

  • Unlike the 100-400, the 70-300 did not suffer from any decrease in sharpness. 
    • (Side note: If we cannot rely on the image quality past 300mm, what’s the point of spending the extra money???)
  • The lenses suffer at their beginning focal lengths; however, they start to approach their best resolution/sharpness/etc around 100mm for the 70-300, and around 150mm for the 100-400. (I would go as far as saying they are the same.)
  • Both lenses perform alright, but I was more pleased with the 70-300 than the 100-400.

Bokeh Test

Fujifilm 70-300 113.7mm @F5
Fujifilm 70-300 113.7mm @F5

Bokeh tests, like most camera lens tests, are entirely subjective. You might hear bokeh called “harsh” or “pleasant,” and it’s the bokeh balls that have technical terms like cat’s eye, onion rings, etc. And regarding these lenses, you probably should not rely on either of them for bokeh. 

I think the 70-300’s bokeh is pleasant, with a good rendering from subject to background. And the 100-400’s is just “okay.” I’m not impressed, but I am not disappointed, either. (I know the photo on the right is out-of-focus. I am about 65% sure I was trying some Manual Focus photography as there were some birds flying around.)

Which lens has more bokeh?

With these subjective bokeh tests in mind, you should know that you will have a shallower depth-of-field at 400mm @F5.6 than 300mm @F5.6. However, with the 70-300’s closer focusing distance, you will be able to get more bokeh at 100mm with that 70-300 than the 100-400. Bokeh is a combination of both the aperture AND how close your subject is. 

Bokeh Balls Test

For the 70-300, I think the lens’s bokeh balls performed amicably. There were no onion rings at any apertures. However, starting at F4, we will not have round bokeh balls in the corners or side of the frame. As we stop-down, we do have round bokeh balls by F6.4.

Now, the 100-400 is a different story….

For the 100-400… when I was first testing the 100-400’s bokeh balls, I was impressed. I didn’t see any cat’s eye or onion-ring effects. “Great, I thought to myself. This lens isn’t known for being used in low-light, but it’s possibly a sleeper.” 

Then, I started checking the photos in Capture One, and I noticed something. The bokeh balls aren’t round past F4.5, and even when you stop down, they never round out. They are hexagonal. 

Autofocus Comparison Test

  • Any Eye
  • Tracking Sensitivity +2
  • Autofocus Speed +3

Both lenses have linear motors for their autofocus system. This means both are quiet and quick. However, there are two takeaways I have. 

From my review, I think the 100-400 felt a bit slower. And this might be because of the amount of glass. It might not be noticeable in the videos, but it was something I noticed as I walked around and tried to take photos of birds. 

Now, when it came to tracking, both videos used the same settings. 

  • Any Eye
  • Tracking Sensitivity +2
  • Autofocus Speed +3

However, the 70-300 tracked the subject a bit better across the entire frame. 

I will let you draw your own conclusions…

Focusing Distance and Macro Performance 

For the 70-300, the focusing distance is 2.7 feet/.8 meters. The maximum magnification ratio is .33x. 

For the 100-400, the focusing distance is 5.74 feet/1.75 meters. The maximum magnification ratio is .19x. 

Many people consider the 70-300 to be a sneaky telephoto lens. (Although I don’t know what classifies as sneaky…?)

However, the 70-300 has a focusing distance that is about ½ the focusing distance of the 100-400. This means more bokeh, which translates to better macro shots. 

If you are focusing on small bird photography, this is also handy in case a bird lands close to you, on a rock but the 100-400 has a 6 foot focusing distance so you cannot get the photo.

OIS Test

The 70-300 is rated for up to 5.5 stops, and the 100-400 is rated for up to 5 stops. However, when I examined the videos, I think it was safe to say the 70-300 far exceeded the 100-400’s OIS. 

Please note: With lenses this long, you are going to need the OIS. Plus, as you reach further down in the zoom range, no amount of OIS is going to help you get tack sharp photos at 1/120s.

Starburst/Sunburst 

Just another category in which the 70-300 wins, hands-down. 

Why should I pick the 100-400 over the 70-300?

I think there should be only two reasons why you would select the 100-400 over the XF 70-300. 

  • If you need the extra reach.

Look, I’m not going to say that everyone doesn’t need the extra reach between 300 & 400mm. However, if you already own something like the 55-200, go ahead and purchase the 150-600. It performs better, and despite struggling in low-light, it’s only about one stop slower. Plus, it’s not that much bigger. 

  • Extra bokeh at 300mm with an aperture of F5.6 

Yeah, this is a really weak argument. 

 

Why should I pick the 70-300 over the 100-400?

  • Cheaper AND Built Better
  • Better Sunstars and Focusing Distance
  • Sharper at most focal lengths

My Takeaway

In good faith, I cannot recommend purchasing the Fujifilm XF 100-400 over the 70-300. Sorry, Fujifilm. But I think you created one of your lenses obsolete. (The 100-400)

So, let’s get to the final ratings. 

 Final Ratings 

Fujifilm XF 70-300mm F4-5.6 R LM OIS WR

Price: 5/5
The Fujifilm 70-300 F4-F5.6 has a reasonable price of only $800; however, the only issue is being able to find it. In a few years, this lens will be a steal in the second-hand market. 
 

Reliability: 5/5

This lens is very reliable, well-built, and all around an excellent travel lens. I would happily take it on an around-the-world adventure. 

Functionality: 4/5

Sometimes, it did feel just a bit too long. But pair it with another lens for night photography and you will be good. 

Style: 4.5/5

These are always bonus points. But the 70-300 looks classy. 

Total: 18.5/20 or 92.5%

Fujifilm XF 100-400 F4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR

Price: 2/5

It’s too expensive, hands down. The 150-600 is built out of plastic as well, and feels more deserving of the red badge name. 
  

Reliability: 3.5/5

It’s mostly reliable as long as you don’t need to take photos of brick walls at 400mm AND birds don’t fly within 6 feet (1.8 meters) of you. 

Functionality: 3.5/5

Yeah, it wins back some points here. The 100-400 is a good focal length. 

Style: 4/5

-1 point for always showing fingerprints. 

Total: 13/20 or 65%.

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