Until I began writing this up, it hadn't really hit me how few telephoto zoom lenses Panasonic offered. Out of the 26 lenses it released since 2012, only 6 extend beyond 100mm and none of them are primes or really could be considered pro-level.
Then I looked at Olympus' options, and they weren't much better. While mounting on a Micro Four Thirds camera essentially doubles the focal length, making that 100mm lens the equivalent of a 200mm lens, the lens offerings for that mount are generally kind of cheap or old.
Going for the birders, Panasonic's kicking it up a notch with its latest, the Leica DG Vario-Elmar 100-400mm f4-6.3, a lens with an effective focal range of 200-800mm. What raises it slightly above the crowd is a 9-blade aperture (for rounded out-of-focus highlights) and a dust-and-splashproof design.
It's a definite improvement on Panasonic's older 100-300mm model, with significantly better optics for sharper photos and modernized hybrid optical image stabilization designed to work with supporting in-body stabilization cameras like the GX8. It's also got a linear motor, necessary for remaining quiet when recording video.
Plus, it's faster than the alternative, Olympus' 75-300mm f4.8-f6.7 II, which lacks image stabilization so isn't great for owners of pre-2015 Panasonic cameras. It focuses closer 1.3m/4.3 feet compared to 1.5m/4.9 feet, but it's longer by about 45mm/1.8 inches and heavier by 465g/1 pound. It takes a bigger filter too, 72mm.
It doesn't come cheap at $1,800, though that's a pretty typical price for this type of lens. You should be able to buy it in April.
Our editors bring you complete CES 2016 coverage and scour the showroom floor for the hottest new tech gadgets around.
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