300mm f/4 really that poor?

Olyver Mark

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Getting used to Tony’s video contents I started by reading all posts in the thread before looking the video. Surprisingly, I found the content a lot less click bait then some of its recent post. I don’t have trouble to believe that the Nikon 600 F4 is able to resolve most of the 45 MP of the D850 giving a serious edge over the Olympus combo (where you can clearly see pixel shapes). I’m pretty sure we could have the same sensation of “poor sharpness” by comparing a D5 (20 MP) image against the D850 (45MP) with that same lens.

He mentions that is result with the D500 are similar to the D850 because you have the same pixel size (or density => keep the center 20MP of the D850 and you have a D500). Taking the D500 + 200-500mm combo you can compare image with same resolution (20MP sensor) but now it is clear that he is comparing an FF equivalent 750 mm focal with a 600 mm focal. So, the image of the Olympus needs to magnify by 1.25 more to make it appear the same size when doing is side-by-side comparison. To me this is where the feeling of poor sharpness comes from. This is why he also talk about the fact that he should have compare the Oly 300m F4 against a combo like an APS-C (1.5x) with a 100-400mm @ 400 mm (FF 600 mm equivalent). However, is point being that the D500 200-500mm combo is cheaper than Oly solution and the gain in focal length give you a benefit.

Don’t get me wrong I just bought a used 300 F4 about 3 months ago for my EM1.2 and I’m very happy with it. This lens is sharp there is no doubt and this forum contain a lot of great sharp photo to endorse my point. However, I won’t put my head in the sand and negate that they are other combo out there that are better resolving the same image (like if they shoot just beside me).

But really, should I care when my neighbor show me is Ferrari or is pick-up when I just bought a sedan that better fulfill my needs? Do I need V12 engine or more cargo space to enjoy playing drum on my steering wheel when I’m stuck on traffic going to work? Why photograph are so concern to have the best and cheapest cameras bags (tools) to be ready to face any type of situation? It’s like asking for a 4 places gorgeous Ferrari with 8 foot beds that can pull a heavy trailer, it won’t help you out run faster in a school zone.

What I’m confident more than never after few months trying to make great photo with a long telephoto lens is that TIME and EFFORT is the most important ingredients to get the picture I’m looking for. Sharpness of this lens won’t be anytime soon barriers that will slow me down to me reach my goal or lower how I enjoy the process of taking picture.
 

whumber

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Jun 13, 2017
Messages
475
Getting used to Tony’s video contents I started by reading all posts in the thread before looking the video. Surprisingly, I found the content a lot less click bait then some of its recent post. I don’t have trouble to believe that the Nikon 600 F4 is able to resolve most of the 45 MP of the D850 giving a serious edge over the Olympus combo (where you can clearly see pixel shapes). I’m pretty sure we could have the same sensation of “poor sharpness” by comparing a D5 (20 MP) image against the D850 (45MP) with that same lens.

He mentions that is result with the D500 are similar to the D850 because you have the same pixel size (or density => keep the center 20MP of the D850 and you have a D500). Taking the D500 + 200-500mm combo you can compare image with same resolution (20MP sensor) but now it is clear that he is comparing an FF equivalent 750 mm focal with a 600 mm focal. So, the image of the Olympus needs to magnify by 1.25 more to make it appear the same size when doing is side-by-side comparison. To me this is where the feeling of poor sharpness comes from. This is why he also talk about the fact that he should have compare the Oly 300m F4 against a combo like an APS-C (1.5x) with a 100-400mm @ 400 mm (FF 600 mm equivalent). However, is point being that the D500 200-500mm combo is cheaper than Oly solution and the gain in focal length give you a benefit.
I don't think the issue is that the D850 and A6500 are sharper than the E-M1X; I totally expect that result especially when comparing it against the D850 + 600E. It's just that the E-M1X image with the 300 PRO is extremely soft and it's very difficult to believe that it wouldn't be able to resolve the halftone pattern in the book spine at the magnification he's shooting.
 

Olyver Mark

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I don't think the issue is that the D850 and A6500 are sharper than the E-M1X; I totally expect that result especially when comparing it against the D850 + 600E. It's just that the E-M1X image with the 300 PRO is extremely soft and it's very difficult to believe that it wouldn't be able to resolve the halftone pattern in the book spine at the magnification he's shooting.
He still could have shoot in poor light (over ISO 1600) using the JPG files straight out the camera. Again showing that you need less denoising processing when you bring a big bazouka like the 600mm F4 that gather more light. We don't know exactly what he did. And if somebody really care about how big is the difference he should rent the equipement and make his own comparison. But I won't because even if there sharper telephoto lens combo that the one I own is not enough for me to change it. Sharpeness is only one of many aspect of what makes a good photo.
 

whumber

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I hadn't considered NR... If he hates noise and is used to NR levels used in FF then m4/3 in limited light will just look like mush.
He shot everything at base ISO so I doubt there's too much NR going on.
 

@Michael

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For the record, I've definitely had mixed results from my copy of the 300/4, as has @Harvey Melvin Richards with his. Mine can produce very crisp images sometimes, and distinctly fuzzy ones at others. I've spent a fair amount of time trying to isolate the cause, and I'm fairly confident that it isn't lack of technique, at least not all the time. There is definitely some kind of intermittent issue with the focus mechanism on my copy which I haven't yet had the courage to send in for repair, and sometimes I wonder if there may be a problem with the gyros too, but that's just guesswork. Either way, I have definitely captured better images with the Panasonic 100-300mm than I have with the 300/4 on one of its bad days.

So on the basis of my personal experience, I would say that TN's findings could well be perfectly genuine. That's not to say that such results are typical of the 300/4 however, as ample evidence on this forum proves, and that's where he is being misleading, either intentionally or unintentionally.
I did send my 300 in to Olympus Repair and while they supposedly adjusted something I did not see any real improvement. I have never focus tuned the lens and camera either. Mine also seems to be like Alex implies, it has good days and it has bad days.
Bad copies are possible, and a good copy can go bad. My 300/4 was very good, then over time started giving consistently poor/fuzzy results even in static test conditions. I sent it back and they replaced some internal parts. It's very good since then.
 
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So he tested a 2,400 Euro lens vs a 12,000 Euro lens and found the more expensive one better. No kidding...

The real question is; why doesn't he get proper results with the Oly while others have proven it's capabilities?
And is the difference in money, size and weight worth the little gain in IQ?
 

pake

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So he tested a 2,400 Euro lens vs a 12,000 Euro lens and found the more expensive one better. No kidding...

The real question is; why doesn't he get proper results with the Oly while others have proven it's capabilities?
And is the difference in money, size and weight worth the little gain in IQ?
He does everything for the clicks. Once a clickw##re, always a clickwh##e. :)
 
Joined
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I lost respect for Tony and no longer watch his videos. I used to watch some of his videos, and he does have some informative videos, but I got tired of him constantly stirring up controversy (usually by bashing mu43). I don't believe anything he says any more - in this case, I'm inclined to think that the 300mm f4 is tack sharp. Both Panasonic and Olympus have been releasing superb lenses over the last few years - I can't recall any duds being released.
 

Carbonman

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My 300mm sample is really sharp, even with the MC-14 attached. Tony can do all the clickbait comments he wants - I know how good this lens is and have been shooting for a lot longer than he has. It's the best long lens I've ever used, especially hand held!
 

AussiePhil

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Give me a Nikon 600 on an 850 and i'm sure i can take a few bad photo's and prove the lens/camera combo is not that great....

It's far better to look at sample image threads or other photo's shared

I got to borrow a 300mmF4 for about 15 minutes from Olympus during an event and use on the EM1X ..... it was night time and ISO6400 was dialed in and yet i still got this image of a moving boat.
I can comfortable read the website name and considering the 1/30sec shutter speed i'd say it's not too bad for 600mm EFL

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
Vivid Sydney 2019 by aussiephil1960, on Flickr
 

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