My PL100-400 does not like shutter shock

Started Aug 8, 2016 | Discussions thread
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CrisPhoto Senior Member • Posts: 1,716
My PL100-400 does not like shutter shock

I want to share my latest experience with Panasonic 100-400mm tele regarding shutter shock. Looks like long and sharp lenses with 300 or 400mm need much more attention than their shorter siblings…

One short warning first: Please don’t continue reading if you don’t believe that shutter shock is real or if you don’t like technical details or if you are not interested in tele lenses. In this case, the text is either boring or not good for your inner peace, please stop reading right here!


All others, let's start here.

For me, the first sign that the new tele lenses behave different was the Olympus 300mm/f4 test from Imaging-Resource

The test was very enthusiastic but a little side note made me scratch my head. They said that the 300/f4 shows signs of shutter shock and even worse, that Anti-Shock=0s would not help much when using the EM1 camera. Using electronic shutter was their method to get really sharp images. resolution test with different shutter modes

I had a differnt experience with my 40-150 PRO, but having this test in my mind, I was carefully using electronic shutter most of the time when I bought the Panasonic 100-400mm lens.

Second indication that something strange is going on was the LensTip 100-400mm test some weeks later. What made me wonder was the really soft sample shot at the end of page four. Much worse than everything I got with my lens. I decided to do some tests with my own lens and my own cameras ...

1. Trying to reproduce LensTip’s soft resolution chart

I took my resolution chart and took some photos at 1/320s and 400mm focal length. Similar to LensTip, I did not use flash, instead I took a strong tungsten light and 1/320s exposure time.

I did not expect very bad results because 1/320s seems to be just outside the normal shutter shock range and because the M1 is much “better” than the EPL1 and because the heavy lens should not behave worse than the light 40-150/4-5.6 I tested last year.

100% crop of a resolution chart

You see, my first guess was very wrong, similar to lensTip I got bad results with my own 100-400/EM1 combo.

Even worse: enabling AntiShock=0s did not help at all. A clear indication that this lens behaves different than all it’s smaller siblings.

2. Detailed MTF resolution tests

Last year, I tested the MTF values of my 75/1.8 lens at different shutter speeds. Maybe you like to read the old test first

Short summary for the 75/1.8 lens: Enabling AntiShock=0 cured the shutter issues very well. Remember, 0,5 cycles per pixel is the best any lens can achieve. The 75/1.8 and AntiShock perform quite well here ...

MTF values for the 75mm/f1.8 lens: mechanical and AntiShock=0s

Now, I did a similar series of test shots with the 100-400mm lens.

MTF values for the PL 100-400mm lens; mechanical, AntiShock=0s and electronic shutter

I see three important differences:

  1. MTF value is not as good as with 75/1.8
  2. Enabling AntiShock does not help very much
  3. Shutter shock affects resolution 1/500s too; I thought that this speed is always safe.

3. Shooting a moving bright dot

Similar to my old measurements, I took shots of a moving bright dot. Again, reading the old test first might help as I won’t repeat the test description here.

100% crops of a moving bright dot (20ms/cm) at 1/25s

These new crops show some interesting issues:

  • While the 40-150 PRO shows a slow vibration (2,5 cycles/40ms=60hz) which is well damped, the 100-400mm lens has a higher frequency (6cycles/40ms=175Hz) and it is not damped well enough.
  • The 100-400 does not get (much) better with the AntiShock=0 setting. The EM1 AntiShock setting has a limitation: it does not prevent shutter movement, but it inserts a 10-20ms pause between shutter opening and exposure start. Obviously, the 100-400mm lens needs much more time to stop vibrating.
  • The EM5 II AntiShock mode is much better, the shutter curtains don’t move at all before exposure and therefore the lens is able to deliver tack sharp photos with AntiShock as well as with electronic shutter

4. Short Summary

Actually, I have bought a grip for my EM5 II and I am using the big tele with this camera now. Because their AntiShock mode has no big disadvantage while avoiding shutter shock completely, using the EM5 II or PEN-F seems to be a good option for moving targets. But the missing grip is a problem. I hope the EM1 II will combine improved shutter modes with good handling.

Another option can be a camera like GX80 or GX8 which offer nearly silent shutters.

And in case you have no moving subject, the electronic shutter offered by most current cameras is good enough to avoid shutter blur.

Thats all for today, this was a very long text, I know. But I hope those who are interested found some good information.



P.S.: Last not least, to give you some impression of the real world impact of my findings, here is a bigger crop of those curved lines. You can see my test setup, and that the shutter shock (and the IBIS failing at 300mm and 1/25s) will give really blurry shot …

Bigger crop to show the difference between electronic shutter+ OIS versus mechanical shutter + IBIS

 CrisPhoto's gear list:CrisPhoto's gear list
Olympus E-M5 II Olympus E-M1 II Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm 1:2.8 Macro Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm F1.8 Rokinon 7.5mm F3.5 UMC Fisheye CS +9 more
Olympus E-M1 Olympus PEN E-PL1 Olympus PEN-F Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85
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