XF100-400 + slow shutter speeds + tripod

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M4cr0s
M4cr0s Senior Member • Posts: 1,203
XF100-400 + slow shutter speeds + tripod

I need advice.

I've owned the 100-400 for years and have mostly shot it handheld, using ISO and OIS to get reasonably sharp shots with half-decent shutter speeds (rarely under 1/100th). Mostly at rather close distances (a little birding and wildlife) and nature/landscape. Up until now I've been very happy with the optical quality and results.

However, these days I'm experimenting a lot with using a longer lens for landscape panoramas. Obviously using a tripod for this, at base ISO and whatever shutter speed required for the wanted exposure. Which mostly means longer exposures than 1/30th. OIS off, self-timer, electronic first curtain shutter and all that.

But, I'm having serious troubles getting sharp shots, especially at the long end from 250ish mm and out when the barrel starts to extent a fair bit. Shots looks soft and and a bit low contrast, even stopped down to F/8-11 but are not obviously out of focus. There isn't obvious camera shake type blur either.

At first I thought it was a tripod issue, but even with a really rugged high-end full-size tripod/ballhead that is overkill for this camera/lens weight, the issue persist. So I fitted longer arca-plate to the tripod foot of the lens to better balance the camera on the ball-head. No go. I added a little more weight to the camera for additional balance improvements, still no dice. Of course the tripod foot is bolted down to the lens collar as good as possible given its somewhat poor design.

2 or 10-second self timer makes no difference. OIS makes things consistently worse. It can't be atmospheric conditions as I've conducted numerous tests on distances of say 100m/300ft early in the morning on clear, calm days with the same symptoms.

It would be very strange if AF Is consistently out of wack only on a tripod at the long end, but fine otherwise (I can't do manual focus, sight issues). It would also be hard to believe that the lens is disastrously soft from around 300mm and out, and very decent otherwise. I have no issues with my shorter tele-zooms, the 55-200 and 50-140, but of course 200 vs say 350mm is a considerable difference.

So, I am basically nearing my wits end here. I need ideas/input.

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