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Wednesday, 06 January 2016


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Well actually people used to care and 4:3 (not micro, but it’s the same sensor size) had some amazing super telephotos from the beginning. Of course, they were even more expensive than comparable SLR lenses and hard to get, which seriously hampered their commercial success. But you’re right, critter photographers have been sorely neglected by mirrorless makers, with the exception of Nikon, whose 1 system offers an excellent 70-300 (200-800 equivalent), but this system has other issues.

I have the Panasonic 100-300mm f4-f5.6 lens currently and enjoy it for bird photography, but am definitely frustrated by its poor performance over 250mm and at f5.6. Unfortunately the new Panasonic is also a slow lens, so even if it is sharp at 300mm f5.6 (or 400 f6.3) under non optimal conditions (i.e. most of the time when I'm shooting birds) ISO is going to be cranked up with that lens. That's why I was excited about the Olympus.

However, I am disappointed in the Olympus in terms of size and weight. It is actually larger and heavier than some full frame 300mm f4 lenses. I know nothing of the handling or performance characteristics of course - I am sure it is a fine lens. But it is also much more expensive than a FF 300mm f4 lens (anywhere between $500-$1200 more expensive depending on what lens you compare it to). People will argue that it has a 600mm focal length equivalence, but so would the FF 300mm lenses if they were mounted on a m43rds camera. I could buy a canon 300mm f4L IS for $1350 and an adapter that maintains AF and electronic aperture control for $300 (ebay).

I will wait a year and see if the prices drop like they have on so many other m43rds lenses. There is a distressing trend in the m43rds camps of milking the early adopters and then dropping prices to get buy in from others.

One thing not mentioned: Olympus makes a 1.4x teleconverter for the 40-150 and 300mm lenses. This effectively turns the Oly 300 into a 420mm f/5.6.

Oi c'mon Mike, almost nobody shoots 135mm teles, almost nobody shoots long teles, if you continue like that, it'll turn out almost nobody shoots almost nothing.

I think the introduction of longer zooms is a natural process following on from improvements in focus speed as the sensor technology matures.

QUOTE: "However, I am disappointed in the Olympus in terms of size and weight. It is actually larger and heavier than some full frame 300mm f4 lenses. I know nothing of the handling or performance characteristics of course - I am sure it is a fine lens. But it is also much more expensive than a FF 300mm f4 lens (anywhere between $500-$1200 more expensive depending on what lens you compare it to). People will argue that it has a 600mm focal length equivalence, but so would the FF 300mm lenses if they were mounted on a m43rds camera. I could buy a canon 300mm f4L IS for $1350 and an adapter that maintains AF and electronic aperture control for $300 (ebay)."

> That's exactly why I steer away from smaller formats.

Lenses for 4/3 and DX format are often more expensive than their 35mm equivalent. This is in particular true if you factor in depth of field and ISO advantages of larger format.

90° angle on FX = 20mm f2.8 = 500 usd
90° angle on DX = 14mm f2.8 = 2000 usd

60° angle on FX = 35mm f1.8 = 600 usd
60° angle on DX = 24mm f1.4 = 1500 usd

45° angle on FX = 50mm f1.8 = 100 usd
45° angle on DX = 35mm f1.4 = 1500 usd

30° angle on FX = 85mm f1.8 = 350 usd
30° angle on DX = 58mm f1.4 = 1500 usd

Smaller formats being "cheap alternatives"?
Not quite.

Interesting; my observations strongly suggested that full-frame had been leaving unfulfilled demand for long lenses. Several companies made custom APS-C "standard" zooms like that lovely Nikon 17-55/2.8, but only one that I noticed made a 70-200 scaled for APS-C, and it was never a big success. Everybody I knew was perfectly happy using their 70-200 on APS-C as-is, because 105-300 was at least as useful, maybe more useful.

I also saw a lot of people really happy with the 70-300 Nikon (though that was partly financial, it was a slower non-pro lens).

It may be worth mentioning that, with the addition of the small MC-14 tele-converter, and for a penalty of one f/stop, the Olympus 300mm extends its reach to 840mm equivalent. Reviews of the MC-14 reported no significant image degradation when used along the also excellent 40-150mm PRO zoom, so this may yield a fantastic combination.

I can see the new D500 and the 200-500 being possibly a better setup than MFT and the 100-400 for reach. You get half stop more light with the lens, about the same field of view, probably better high ISO performance from the sensor and all at about the same cost for the package (depending on which MFT camera you buy).

Living near a wildlife sanctuary - written this way it sounds like there are lions and antelopes, but actually it's more like herons and cormorants! - and having a recent interest in photography, it was only natural that I felt the need for long telephotos.
In those days I had an Olympus E-P1, so I bought the awful 40-150 f/4-5.6 zoom. It wasn't my silliest purchase, though: some months later I got myself a Vivitar 75-300 f/4.5-5.6 OM-mount zoom lens, which I mounted on the camera via an adapter. The Vivitar made the front panel of the E-P1 wobble! Worse than that, it was the opposite of 'sharp'. (As for the 40-150, it's the worst lens I've ever bought. Bar none.)
These lenses taught me a) I'm a prime kind of guy, and b) I couldn't care less about shooting herons and cormorants. Lessons learned - fortunately at only a moderate monetary price.
I don't need the reach. Few people really need it: wildlife and sports photographers do. Most of us don't, but buy long lenses because we think we need them. Beginner's mistakes will happen.
As for the two micro 4/3 lenses, the Panasonic sounds too expensive for such a slow lens. Those are kit lens specs; I don't see anything in it to justify the high price. The Olympus makes more sense and will certainly be a boon for photographers with a keen interest in ornithology. (As for me, "Ornithology" is a Charlie Parker Jazz tune.)

Common wisdom among wildlife photographers is that reach is essentially a function of pixel density. You can always crop a large sensor down, but large sensors tend to have lower pixel densities, so if you shoot any given telephoto lens on a small sensor and then shoot on a large sensor and crop, you get more detail from the small sensor (the one with higher density). Right now, you can put a cheaper Nikon or Canon 300/4 on an APS-C and crop and not be far from Olympus' 16MP (though for $2500 and their marketing claims, one would expect more detail from the Oly setup). I think this 300/4 gets more attractive to wildlife/bird photographers when there's a higher res sensor to put in front of it.
Right now, Nikon 1 is enjoying a small cult following with birders with its (expensive) 70-300 which gives an 800mm equivalent FOV from a crop sensor that records 18MP. You can't get that kind of resoluction cropping from 300 from a larger sensor right now.

I understand your protestations.
But it's partly based on "a lens is a lens is a lens", which is not so. This is one of the pro and one of the most high-image-quality lenses in the world.
And it has record breaking I.S, something you won't get with any other lens. (More than one are already showing successful handheld pictures taken *indoors* with this 600mm-equivalent!)

(Oh, and like the other PRO lenses from Oly, it is Beautiful. I have the normal and the long zoom, and they are a delight simply to hold.)

"There is a distressing trend in the m43rds camps of milking the early adopters and then dropping prices to get buy in from others."

Hmmm, yeah... Try mentioning a couple of industries where this does not happen.

The PanaLeica 100-400mm looks nice. But it kind of defeats micro four thirds as it applies to me, which means smaller, lighter and moderate-to-low prices. I'll stick with my Panasonic 100-300mm f/4.0-5.6, which I bought brand-new for less than $500. The OIS works great and I have no problems with image quality - even at 250-300mm and at f/5.6.

"So when digital came along with its smaller sensors, I thought, wow, the gang is going to love this. You can get a 4/3 camera and double the reach of your teles!"

A few of us weirdos did. One of the things I liked most about moving from 5D to 60D was that my Sigma 600/8 became 960 mm eq.

When I was a teenager, my father sold the Topcon Super-D I had been borrowing for my photography and bought a Nikon Ftn. Soon after came the 55 mm Micro-Nikkor, then the 200/4*. I have been smitten since then with seeing and capturing small extracts from the broad visual field, high magnification, one might say, with macro and super tele lenses.

You've led me to some calculations for my sojourn with µ4/3:

200-299 mm = 7%
300 mm = 23%

Macro settings, 12-50 @ 43 mm and 60 mm macro lens = 13%

So, something north of 40% total.

... And nobody cared. As I say, big surprise. It turned out that most hobbyists liked long teles for the bragging rights—they were big, they were expensive, they were impressive. Status symbols. For every ten Photo Dawgs who owned or coveted big long glass, only one or two actually needed or used it."

I would propose a distinction here, between useful long glass and big, long and expensive glass. The former for folks like me, who just want the reach; the later for the status obsessed (and those few who actually use/need both long and fast). \;~)>

Remember, long and fast means very shallow DoF, shallower than I want for my subjects and style. I wouldn't want less DoF than f11 gave me in this shot of sun on wet rock and spray falling from an ephemeral falls on top of El Capitan.

Nor for Half Dome from eight miles @ f8 away.

These two may seem extreme, but tele landscapes are one of my photographic loves. Not only for the way they look, but for the opportunity to capture different views of places so hackneyed from endless bazillions of the same shot.

Of these two new lenses, the Oly is of no interest to me. So it's faster than my 75-300 @ 300; that 1.5 stops costs way too much in size and weight, let alone $ - and I couldn't use it most of the time, anyway.

The PanaLeica, OTOH, adds real reach, at a far more modest price in size and weight.

"I have the Panasonic 100-300mm f4-f5.6 lens currently and enjoy it for bird photography, but am definitely frustrated by its poor performance over 250mm and at f5.6"

I don't know that lens, and you don't say with what camera bodies. I do know that I was disappointed with many of my first shots with the Oly 75-300 on an E-M5. From not quite sharp to actual double images.

The trouble was shutter shock. Fortunately, Oly has had a work around since the first first µ4/3 camera. Buried in the menu is a settings for Anti-Shock. Set to 1/8 sec., it almost entirely eliminates the problem, at a cost of slight shutter response delay.

Unfortunately, Panny had, according to some tests, a worse problem than Oly, and offered no solution until Electronic First Curtain on the GX7, 8 and at least one video oriented model.

The GX7 was a huge step forward, although EFC wasn't possible without Electronic Second Curtain, as well, and the occasional distortion of fast moving objects.

With the E-M1, M5 II and M10s, Oly has completely corrected the problem with a combination of redesigned shutter and EFC.

In addition, the E-M5 II has significantly improved the IBIS, especially for long FLs.

Both makers claim synchronized operation of in lens IS (new with this lens for Oly) and IBIS, for even better combined IS. Whether the Oly lens will play that way with a Panny body with the GX7 or the Panny lens with the later OM-D bodies, I don't know.

You see, long teles used to be hot ticket—highly prized and heavily coveted by photo hobbyists. Mine was bigger than yours; you have a 400mm? Yeah, well I have a 600mm.

It's not just photo hobbyists who like their lenses long: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAI74w8kmjM

I like to take photographs at air shows. In the days of film I would take a Nikon FE and a 300mm Nikkor. I was happy with my slides.

The last two air shows I went to I took a Sony NEX-7 and an Olympus EM-5 with the telephoto zooms to see how they would work out.

I was shocked to see the airplane propellers stoboscopically stopped and many of my images were not properly framed (too late). I realized that the image that I was viewing was essentially a TV image and that it was delayed 1/30th of second or more and there may have been an additional delay after I pressed the shutter. I believe that small delay could account for the off-framing of many of the photos. And, as a senior citizen, I also realize that my reaction times are longer than when I was younger.

I need to understand better what is going on (is it the EVF, me or both?). Optically, these lenses are excellent, but are not ideal if the mirrorless cameras are introducing a delay that shifts the composition of fast moving images.

Yes, and the start of long lenses in m4/3 is another reason the new D500 may be just a bit late---at least for me. If I did get the D500, it would be mostly for waterfowl and some wildlife photography (yes, both are possible in or nearby Tokyo).

Although the Panasonic with its variable aperture is a bit slow, the Olympus looks nice with its 600mm equivalent reach. However, I am doubt that the tracking focus of even the newest m4/3s are up to those of the Nikons. If it were, then a new m4/3 telephoto would be a strong temptation.

The Panasonic/Leica DG Vario-Elmar 100–400mm ƒ/4–6.3 ASPH. Power O.I.S. ($1,798) (here it is on Amazon ) has a 35mm focal-length equivalency of 200mm to 800mm. Shazam, Batman. This is going to be the lens to have if you shoot critters.

Not everyone would agree with that! I'm thinking of Danny Young, birder from New Zealand, posts as nzmacro on the DPR Forums. He uses Canon legacy glass (500mm, 800mm) on m4/3 (=1000mm, 1600mm). His latest post:

BIF's and birds with the E-M10 and the 500mm

- Richard

And then there is the poor man's almost pocket sized tele-wonder, the Canon GX3. It has a 1" 20 meg. sensor and max f 5.6 at 600mm (35mm equiv.)


I agree with bencr. Not sure why a 300mm f4 for a 1/2 crop sensor is as large as it is or as costly. If it was a 2.8 that would be another thing. The 40mm-150mm 2.8 is a very nice lens, and cheaper than the FF equivalent.

I've been waiting and waiting for the Oly 300 f/4. I think for what it is, it's priced right. And if one attaches the 1.4X converter to it, footprints on the moon will show up in the frame.

Alas, the Oly is well beyond my price range. The Panasonic is tempting. Meanwhile, I'll sit tight and keep an eye out for reviews.

I have an EosM3 (probably the only one here) and I often use it with my FF 70-300L zoom. What I have noticed is that I have to hold the lens and not the camera,otherwise it feels as if it will tear off the mount, as opposed to my 6D with same lens attached where its much easier and solid feeling to pick up the whole combo via the camera body only...I wonder how solidly these new 4/3 zooms 'fit' and how strong the mount is and if one can hold them by via the camera body only?

There are a couple of other drawbacks. That 300mm f4 has the same depth of field as a 35mm 600mm f8 lens. Not uncommonly with wildlife photograpy you want very shallow dof to isolate the main subject or emphasize parts (I have picture of a wildcat emphasizing its nose and whiskers). Also, the focus system has to work with that dof , and one reason for having wide-aperture long teles is to be able focus precisely even when using stopped down one or two stops. Here size (basically the diameter of the front element) is what determines focus sensitivity.

That said, I am intending to buy the Fuji 100-400 f4.5-5.6, which at the rumoured 1375g is only slightly larger and heavier than the 40-150 f2.8.

I have two 70-200mm lenses. Both of them now do duty as paper weights for printing and mounting. All my shooting is with short lenses.

@Matt above, ref. the FX vs. DX issue: for DX, one can use the FX f1.8 lenses at much lower cost than FX f1.4 lenses.

As for the new lenses, yes, they were obvious gaps, but to be honest, the market will be small. The micro 4/3 systems are hardly mainstream.

The contrast and sharpness seem to be outstanding, which for a 600mm equivalent is definitely attractive. Pity about the price and weight, but hey: no one is perfect!
I can see one of these in my horizon for the EM5.2, without a doubt. I'm a sucker for long teles in landscape photography, they are ideal for expansive view shots like the ones I get in the mountains of East Timor. Salivating already! :)

I can tell you exactly why this lens is so costly. It has very high build quality, it has exciting new technology (for Olympus), and it is at the pinnacle of a high-end lens system. Finally, it's made for a smaller format with a smallish customer base, a subset of whom have the higher end cameras (EM5II and EM1) that will work with the new dual IS system.

Back when there was only the standard 4/3 system people really wanted a 300 f4 that sold for less than the excellent $7000 300mm 2.8 that Olympus makes. Here it is, and it looks pretty good.

Micro Four Thirds is the future, and this 100-400 lens is part of it. Well done Panasonic and Leica.

Compare it to the Canon 100-400 II for price, size and weight, and you will begin to realise *why* it is the future.

OTOH, the future will remain a foreign concept in any country that still has the F150 as its biggest selling new, ahem, 'car'.

I like a little reach sometimes, and it's part of why I carry my MFT gear with me along with the Nikon FF bag. The FF does not include anything longer than the Nikkor 85mm prime, which is not too heavy -- though I also carry it's near equivalent in MFT, the Oly 45, which is a feather. In the MFT bag I carry the 40-150 f2.8 zoom and also the 1.4 teleconverter for it. I don't put it on the camera every day, but when I want some reach, it's there.

I didn't own the lens for the following shot, but I gave it to my wife for Christmas one year and she let me use it while she chatted with a friend in Nepali. We were on his rooftop in Bauddha, Nepal, at dawn. The lens was the relatively honkin' Nikkor 70 to 300 DX, and this shot was at 129mm FF equivalent. Sorta close to 135mm.


On an impulse, I bought the 500mm for my RB67. Other than a few test shots, It has never been out of the case. I really should sell that sucker to the next guy ...

@Eolake Canon and Nikon generally don't dramatically drop prices on their lenses a year after release.

As for a lens being a lens... There are some very fine 300mm f4 optics and they are all much cheaper than the Olympus. The Olympus may have great IS (combined with one of two cameras that got firmware support for Sync IS), but there is a HUGE premium for that. As I said, I haven't held it, I haven't shot with it, and I don't know what its image quality is. I am very happy they made the lens, I hope people buy it, and I hope Olympus is in business for a long time. But I am skeptical that for ME it will be worth $500+ over the next best available option - I will wait and see if prices fall or I can get a good price on a used one in a year or more. Everyone is free to make their own determination.

@Moose I have the original EM-5 and yes I use the anti-shock (and generally stick to high shutter speeds). The lens is simply not as sharp past 250mm. Stopping down to f7.1 or f8 helps but requires a lot of light and reduces subject isolation. Don't get me wrong, having a $550 200mm-600mm focal length equivalent lens that I can hand hold and weighs ~500g is awesome! That's why I own it.

"For every ten Photo Dawgs who owned or coveted big long glass, only one or two actually needed or used it." That sounds like the macho men who buy huge crossovers/SUVs with all wheel drive, wide alloy wheels, and 400+ horsepower for their rugged adventures. Likely less than 10% (1% ?) actually need it or use it.

Haha ARG, so true F150 cars!

I had an older Canon FD 800mm f5.6 that I adapted to my E-M5 for awhile. I managed a few nice images with it, although it was rather unwieldy and required a rather large and expensive video head to work well - https://collinorthner.wordpress.com/2012/05/01/recurvirostra-americana/

I now use a Tamron 500mm f8 Mirror lens. It is also somewhat tough to operate, but yields some decent results - https://collinorthner.wordpress.com/2012/05/07/not-black-necked-stilts/

I'm looking forward to playing with these new lenses once spring arrives again!

I looked at the picture of the camera+lens, and I misread the camera model as OMG. Which was what I was thinking, literally.

I wouldn't be so quick to knock the F-150, much less their owners. Living in very rural Minnesota (after 64 years in California, from very urban L.A. to northern Napa county), there's a lot to be said for such a truck. Not least, these days, being able to go with one vehicle, instead of two or more.

Ford seems to be doing something right; they'd sold 33M of their F-series trucks by 2013, and not just in the U.S.

Regarding Robert's comments, "Until the Micro 4/3 bodies have continuous AF that really competes with Nikon..."

I posted something similar in the D5/D500 thread that I thought peak action sports were the last domain where a DSLR was still necessary; about 5 minutes later I read photographer Michael Connell's blog about using the X-T1 and 50-140 f/2.8 zoom to shoot pro hockey, and very successfully, too. Looks like we might be "there". I'd encourage folks to read this and look at the images, they are truly impressive.


Recently, I have been inching my way towards the 4/3rds (Olympus) system. Love the equipment. I have two bodies and 6 lenses, but the 4/3rds cams do not track worth a dam. I was hoping that improvements with firmware would address this with the long lenses coming soon. Doesn't appear to be so. SO - - - I've purchased a Canon 7D mark 2 that works very well. I think I'll be keeping my Canon gear.

I think this is an important point. The E-M5D Mark II, with it's silent shutter, coupled with the excellent Olympus long lenses, becomes the killer still camera for golf. It will be so much easier to cover professional golf (where you have to walk) with the tiny Olympus bodies and the reasonably sized 40-150mm (equals an 80-300) and 300mm (equals 600). Throw the 12-40 into a fanny pack along with some extra bodies are your kit weighs about 1/5 of what of a similar kit for someone using a Canon 1DX or Nikon 4D/5D. Plus, with the silent shutter you can photograph the backswing.

I know professional golf photography is kind of a niche market, but the silent Oly shutter and long lenses have other, sort of niche markets, like concerts, churches and courts.

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