Looking for Assistance with XF 100-400 Lens

Started 4 months ago | Discussions thread
jhorse Veteran Member • Posts: 5,062
Re: Looking for Assistance with XF 100-400 Lens

Giantcappuccino wrote:

Hello all!

I received this lens about a month ago, and am struggling to love it.

The issue I have is that almost everything is soft and this lens very often misses focus.

I am using it on my X-T2, and typically shoot from 1/500 to 1/2000 hand held. I am using this for nature photography (mostly birds) so I do not want to use a tripod / monopod.

I have tried with image stabilization on and off, but usually leave it off because of the fast shutter speed.

I was about to mail it to Fuji, but I figured I would ask here just in case there is something else I can try first.

(For reference, I was using the 50-230mm lens before this and was having better success)



Hi, hope I can help. I bought my 100-400 (plus the x1.4 convertor) last September for nature images. It’s a sharp lens. Hitherto, my longest lens in my Fuji kit was the 55-200, so 400 was a big increase in focal length.

I would suggest there are three areas to focus on (pun intended!). First Camera Set Up. I shall assume static subjects and can add more if the subject is moving should you wish. I set Focus Mode to Single, AF-S, Drive to S and the focus box one size up from the smallest box available (hope that makes sense). I use mechanical shutter. I focus on the part of the subject I want sharp, placing the green box of it, and then half press the shutter button to lock exposure and focus. On the lens I set OIS to On and focus limiter to 5m – Infinity. It is critical that the placement of the green box is exactly over the place on the subject you wish to be sharp, such as the eye of an animal. Your high shutter speeds are fine, I use similar ones, and ensure that the aperture allows a reasonable depth of field, at least when getting started if light permits – although I find f5.6 at 400mm is fine.

Second, standing, holding, breathing, squeezing. Beyond accurate focusing and a reasonable shutter speed this is the area that most influences sharpness. I use the same techniques as I did as a rifle marksman, for which I was trained. Standing, place the left foot slightly forward and stand upright with about two thirds of your weight in the left foot. The right foot balances you. Holding, support the weight of the lens in the left hand/arm with the left upper arm against the body, the right hand holding and directing the camera/lens and the upper right arm tucked in against the body. Hold the XT2 against your eye and forehead to add a third point of stability. Breathing, when you breath in and out your body expands and moves. At the full exhale and full inhale of breath the body is momentarily stable. Some people squeeze the trigger (aka shutter button) at the bottom of the exhale, some at the top of the inhale. I believe the latter is more stable and use this technique. Never squeeze the trigger while in or exhaling – the body is moving and so too will the lens. Squeezing, use a technique of gently rolling your finger over the shutter button, never jab it. All this takes practice (I spent hours/days/months on ranges!).

Third, Practice. This is where one brings the first two areas together. Training and practice. We all have to just get out there and bring the techniques together through practice.

Here was one of my first 100-400 images - standing in a park. Hope you don’t feel I have laboured the second area too much, but it really does influence sharpness if one gets it right. Hope this helps.

f5.6, 1/280, ISO400, 400mm.

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