Shootout 400mm Shootout - 300/4 w/ MC-14 vs SWD w/ EC-20

Phocal

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So while out taking photos for my 300mm shootout I happened upon a Bullfrog sitting in the water and stopped to photograph him with the 300/4 and MC-14. While photographing him I decided to throw the 50-200 SWD w/ EC-20 on the other EM1 and do a small comparison. I am always talking about how the 50-200 is such a great lens, especially for the money, and every time I compare it against something else it seems to do very well. I have done a few post while using it with the EC-20 but figured since I was out with it a comparison at 400mm could prove useful.

Camera Settings
  • ISO - Auto
  • White Balance - Auto
  • SAF w/ Single Small Auto Focus Point which I moved to a location for a decent composition.
  • Drive - Continuous Low w/ Anti-Shock (set to 6.5fps)
  • IBIS - SIS1
  • Metering - ESP
  • EV - -3/4 Stop
  • Mode - Aperture Priority
  • Photos all taken in RAW and processed via my custom preset in LightRoom (no crop)
  • Shooting position - was sitting on the bank (a steep bank) with my legs bent (knees in the air) and legs spread out. I was holding the camera between my legs and just above the grass while using the rear LCD to frame the subject. So not the most stable of position.
The photos were processed using my wildlife preset in LR, but this time they are cropped. The crop is what I call a very large one with the longest side being around 3400px (for me that is a large crop).

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50-200 SWD with EC-20 by Phocal Art, on Flickr

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300/4 with MC-14 by Phocal Art, on Flickr

Now...……………….

The 300/4 is clearly the better image with more detail and much nicer bokeh, which didn't surprise me. But the SWD image is actually not bad from a detail perspective, I find that it did a good job compared to the much more expensive lens (especially since it was using a 2x TC). It also proves what I have been saying about this lens with the TC's for a long time now, one of the best deals for IQ in any system. Now the bokeh is another story, it just isn't nice and smooth and pretty like the 300/4.

Based on the images I have taken with my 50-200 SWD and several different comparisons I have done of this lens vs more expensive options I can still confidently recommend this lens with both TC's to someone on a budget.

This last round of testing has me seriously thinking about renting the Panny 100-400 to do another 4 lens shootout. It would be interesting to compare the 150/2 w/ EC-20, 300/4, 50-200 w/ EC-14, and the 100-400 all at 300mm as well as the 400mm options from the 3 lenses able to do 400mm. I honestly believe the 50-200 in any combo of TC's will hold up very well against the 100-400 given how well it compares to the 300/4.

One last image to share...…………………..

FYI...………. 1/500 is not fast enough to freeze the jump of a Bullfrog.

While taking my sample images with the SWD the Bullfrog decided to jump away. The image prior to this had him sitting still. I was shooting at 6.5fps with a shutter of 1/500 and this is what was captured in the frame after him sitting still. Really wish I was shooting the 300/4 at the time because it had a shutter of 1/1000 which should have frozen the jump. But I like this photograph for some reason.

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Bullfrog Jump by Phocal Art, on Flickr

Phocal
 

Phocal

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Another great post. I would be very interested in the Panasonic 100-400 comparison.

Luke
Thanks.

I will have to look into renting one this winter. If I could do it on the cheap it would worth it, and it would have to be on the cheap since that comparison would really be done for others and not myself (zero interest in a slow consumer zoom).
 
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Thanks.

I will have to look into renting one this winter. If I could do it on the cheap it would worth it, and it would have to be on the cheap since that comparison would really be done for others and not myself (zero interest in a slow consumer zoom).
If I lived in the US I'd ship mine to you for the test... going across the border is prohibitively expensive.

L
 

Phocal

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If I lived in the US I'd ship mine to you for the test... going across the border is prohibitively expensive.

L
I appreciate that and do agree, it is stupid expensive. I just looked and I can rent it for 7 days for $104. Now I just need to look at my schedule and find a time with a couple of days available in a row...……………………….
 

masayoshi

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Thank you very much. Very informative post, fantastic images, and detailed write-up!

Just to note one thing, when you rent PL100-400, it might be worth while checking small prints of insurance policy.
Since you may use it in the swamp, and may have splash or complete submerge, the weather sealing of PL100-400 on EM1 may not be as good as Oly lenses. You probably know this, but just in case....:2thumbs:
 

Phocal

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Thank you very much. Very informative post, fantastic images, and detailed write-up!

Just to note one thing, when you rent PL100-400, it might be worth while checking small prints of insurance policy.
Since you may use it in the swamp, and may have splash or complete submerge, the weather sealing of PL100-400 on EM1 may not be as good as Oly lenses. You probably know this, but just in case....:2thumbs:
You are welcome and thank you.

I have my gear insured and that insurance also covers anything I rent, put appreciate the heads up.
 
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In case there is any doubt out there among the population, fear not, the PL100-400 can do frogs in the wild, too. No direct comparison, I'm afraid. The 300/4 is a seriously sharp lens, but the 100-400 still gets it done (C&C welcome, as always). I think that the big take away is that all of these options are good ones, and we are spoiled with good tele lenses:

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Holoholo55

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Great comparison again, @Phocal. One can clearly see how much nicer the bokeh is on the 300 f4/MC-14, but the detail on the 50-200 SWD/EC-20 isn't bad. From what I've seen before, the EC-20 is not the happiest of matches with the 50-200, hence I've stuck with the EC-14 for it. Still, not bad for that lens. Not to mention old zoom vs new prime.
 

ijm5012

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Great stuff as usual Ronnie. I must say though, the first thing I noticed was the very odd bokeh that the 50-200 + 2.0TC produced. I can honestly say I’ve never seen anything like that before.
 

Phocal

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Great comparison again, @Phocal. One can clearly see how much nicer the bokeh is on the 300 f4/MC-14, but the detail on the 50-200 SWD/EC-20 isn't bad. From what I've seen before, the EC-20 is not the happiest of matches with the 50-200, hence I've stuck with the EC-14 for it. Still, not bad for that lens. Not to mention old zoom vs new prime.
Thanks. I actually find the lens usable with the EC-20. Does it capture as much detail as the 300/4? No. But for someone on a budget there is not a better option with as good of IQ, especially if you consider the IQ without a TC or even with the EC-14.

My Flickr album of images taken with that combo - Olympus ZD 50-200mm SWD ƒ2.8-3.5 + EC-20

A few of the images taken with this combo

Handheld from my kayak. This image is larger than what it should be because he filled the frame and I had to add canvas to get a good composition.
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GBH 009 by Phocal Art, on Flickr

I have this image printed ~19x12 on metallic canvas and it looks amazing. When I order more of the canvas I plan to print it 16" by what ever the length works out to. My printer will do borderless at 17" but I prefer to not do borderless due to the issues it can cause.
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Life Reflected by Phocal Art, on Flickr

This is from a zoo test trip I did and is from the first time I used the EC-20 on the SWD. I was amazed at the fine detail in the feather tips that it captured.
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Fleas by Phocal Art, on Flickr

Great stuff as usual Ronnie. I must say though, the first thing I noticed was the very odd bokeh that the 50-200 + 2.0TC produced. I can honestly say I’ve never seen anything like that before.
Thanks Ian.

For both...……………….

The strange bokeh is a result of the duck weed covering the water in the swamp and the small aperture. I have looked at this before and found that if I stop the 300/4 or 150/2 down to the same aperture it looks very similar. The 75-300 will also produce similar bokeh when used in the same situations because of it's small aperture. It's one of the things that makes photographing Bullfrogs in the swamp so difficult, have to find that perfect angle that doesn't produce such strange bokeh.
 

Holoholo55

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Thanks. I actually find the lens usable with the EC-20. Does it capture as much detail as the 300/4? No. But for someone on a budget there is not a better option with as good of IQ, especially if you consider the IQ without a TC or even with the EC-14.

My Flickr album of images taken with that combo - Olympus ZD 50-200mm SWD ƒ2.8-3.5 + EC-20

A few of the images taken with this combo

Handheld from my kayak. This image is larger than what it should be because he filled the frame and I had to add canvas to get a good composition.
View attachment 684988
GBH 009 by Phocal Art, on Flickr

I have this image printed ~19x12 on metallic canvas and it looks amazing. When I order more of the canvas I plan to print it 16" by what ever the length works out to. My printer will do borderless at 17" but I prefer to not do borderless due to the issues it can cause.
View attachment 684989
Life Reflected by Phocal Art, on Flickr

This is from a zoo test trip I did and is from the first time I used the EC-20 on the SWD. I was amazed at the fine detail in the feather tips that it captured.
View attachment 684990
Fleas by Phocal Art, on Flickr



Thanks Ian.

For both...……………….

The strange bokeh is a result of the duck weed covering the water in the swamp and the small aperture. I have looked at this before and found that if I stop the 300/4 or 150/2 down to the same aperture it looks very similar. The 75-300 will also produce similar bokeh when used in the same situations because of it's small aperture. It's one of the things that makes photographing Bullfrogs in the swamp so difficult, have to find that perfect angle that doesn't produce such strange bokeh.
Thanks. That was helpful. The EC-20 looks better in these shots.
 

DynaSport

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I may have to pull out my EC-20 and give it another try. The EC-14 lives on my 50-200, but I wasn’t all that happy with the results with the EC-20. Maybe I should give it another look.
 
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