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Birders… may I ask for your native m4/3 lens recommendations?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by DHart, Dec 14, 2013.

  1. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Don
    I'm finding a lot of birding opportunities out behind my house here in the Sonoran desert of Arizona. I'm amazed at how many birds there are here, lots of hawks, owls, doves, quail, roadrunners, woodpeckers, bats, and a wide variety of smaller birds that I don't know enough to identify.

    This guy, in the distant mesquite tree, caught my eye today:
    P1000463.

    I grabbed some images of this young hawk (I think it's a juvenile Coopers hawk). My longest lens is the 14-140, which I used here at 140mm, hand held, with the GX7... but these images required very extreme cropping. I can see using 300mm easily.

    Hawk.

    P1000456.

    P1000429.

    P1000421.

    I need a good birding lens if I'm to capture these beautiful animals (including the reptiles and such) more appropriately. I was able to work hand held with the 14-140 @ 140 fairly well, but I think that with longer focal lengths, I will need to resort to a tripod.

    My bodies are GX7, EP5, EM5, EPL5. I will likely use a tripod for shooting with very long focal lengths.

    Please advise on a native m4/3 good lens for this. I think > 200mm (> 400mm equivalent) is what I need. Perhaps the 100-300? Thanks, in advance, for your recommendations.
     
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  2. Serhan

    Serhan Mu-43 Top Veteran

    533
    May 7, 2011
    NYC
    I shot birds time to time, no bifs. Lightest and smallest option is 75-300mm. However that sometimes feels short esp with smaller birds. So I added Bigma (Sigma 50-500mm). However that is bigger, heavier and slow af so I use it w/ more mf w/ focus peaking.
     
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  3. humzai

    humzai Mu-43 Veteran

    410
    Apr 17, 2012
    The 100-300mm has slow af speed, it works but not that well.

    You might be better served by the small tuna and the 2x teleconvertor. I am kind of stuck in the same boat as you. What sucks is that 300mm seems too short at times.

    With the last em1 update the the cf tr is actually quite improved and my preferred mode of use for bif. I think the 40-150mm 2.8 might work well even though it's kind of short as the 100-300 isn't that great of a lens and a better lens cropped might be sharper then it.
     
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  4. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Don
    What's "the small tuna"?

    Seems this system is really crying out for quality native long glass, like 250mm or 300mm prime (and a great rectilinear 7mm or 8mm prime.) I love the lunatic fringe.
     
  5. Superstriker#8

    Superstriker#8 Mu-43 Regular

    194
    Jun 24, 2013
    I use a 45-150, the birds here aren't especially skittish.
     
  6. humzai

    humzai Mu-43 Veteran

    410
    Apr 17, 2012
    The olympus 4/3 150mm 2.0, which apparently works quite well with the em1.
     
  7. rklepper

    rklepper Mu-43 Top Veteran

    733
    Dec 19, 2012
    Iowa, USA
    Robert
    I hate to admit what I would be willing to pay for a sharp 300 or 400, probably would be f/4, but that is okay.

     
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  8. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    7668142342_c9f49d84a6_b.

    Panasonic 100-300mm @ 300mm on an OMD E-M5. I've certainly had better quality lenses (Canon EOS system) but it does just fine if you understand the limits of a such a lens and how to work them properly. No doubt one would have to pay several times the cost of the 100-300mm in order to get an equivalent 600mm focal length on a full frame Canon EOS system.
     
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  9. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Judging from the first photo versus the crop... a 300mm wouldn't be enough. Sadly this is often the case.

    Think of it this way..... are you in it as a wildlife photographer or a bird watcher looking to record your discoveries?

    If you are bird watcher looking to record your discoveries, you may want to consider one of the numerous superzoom bridge cameras that have become popular among bird enthusiasts. This will get the focal length you need at a fraction of the price AND do it in a even more compact package. You can start by looking at the FZ series from Panasonic. The FZ200 for example gets you out to 600mm @ f/2.8 while the FZ70 will get you to 1200mm @ f/5.9. Canon also makes the Powershot SX50 HS that gets you out to 1200mm.

    If you are approaching this from a photographer point of view with a focus on pure image quality, be prepared for some serious cash to get the quality glass at those required focal lengths. I hear Sigma is known to produce some well priced third party lenses. Their "Bigma" 50-500mm for example has been pretty popular at $1500 USD and their 500mm f/4.5 at the higher end at $5000 USD. As well as a couple primes at 800mm at even higher.
     
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  10. Serhan

    Serhan Mu-43 Top Veteran

    533
    May 7, 2011
    NYC
    • Like Like x 2
  11. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

  12. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Don
    Some great info here… thanks.

    usayit… those super zoom bridge cameras weren't even on my radar. I've got no interest in doing professional wildlife photography… just interested in getting some nice images of birds I see behind my house. Sounds like I should consider the 100-300 and also the super zoom bridge cameras.
     
  13. pake

    pake Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 14, 2010
    Finland
    Teemu
    Well... I've used E-M5 and the Pana 100-300mm for a year now and I've never even tried that combo with a tripod since the E-M5 IBIS is good enough. I'm still waiting for a faster long tele though and I'm willing to pay quite a lot for it... The 100-300mm just isn't fast enough. Or long enough either but that's a different story. :biggrin:

    EDIT: My recommendation for you is that you try to find a used 100-300mm somewhere. I'm pretty sure you'd be happy (happier at least) with it.
     
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  14. rklepper

    rklepper Mu-43 Top Veteran

    733
    Dec 19, 2012
    Iowa, USA
    Robert
    Yes the 100-300, although not the best, is about all we have for now. Luckily it is cheap. Just make sure you get the tripod ring as it makes a world of difference.
     
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  15. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Right now we have the O75-300 and P100-300. The regular (non-Micro) 4/3 Olympus lineup has some amazing options, but they are very pricy and not native.

    If you are willing to go the adapted route, the Canon FD 300mm f/4L is a very sharp lens that sells for reasonable prices ($500-ish).
     
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  16. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    I've used the Oly 40-150 and 75-300 zooms and the PL 25 and Oly 45 and 75mm primes.

    If you can get close enough, or if the birds are prepared to come close enough to you which isn't quite the same thing, then the primes win hand down. I've used the 25 to shoot parakeets on my arm as they mobbed me for my cake on a restaurant's outdoor terrace (what I mean when I said if they're prepared to come close enough to you). Provided you can get close enough so that the bird takes up a reasonable amount of the frame, cropping images taken with the 45 and 75 can work well.

    And I think my best quality images have come from the primes. Fast lenses = lower ISO settings and faster shutter speeds and those are big helps in my view. They can make up for a loss of reach.

    On the zoom front I've had my best results with the 40-150. The 75-300 is slower at the long end and since I do a lot of my bird shots in late afternoon and the birds are often in cover or in shaded areas, that loss of speed becomes a big obstacle. You end up being limited by what you're capable of pulling from high ISO shots, often 6400 ISO or higher, and problems with sharpness due to focussing issues or slower shutter speeds than would be ideal. Being able to get F/2.8 or even F/4 at 150mm would make a big difference for me but as yet we don't have such an option and I might not be able to afford it when we get it which I think we will.

    Apart from making those general observations I don't want to go further. The territory you're shooting in is very different to my urban surroundings and looks more open, and I don't know at what times and at what directions in relation to the sun and where you find your birds that you're shooting in. Shadowed areas are common and a problem for me but they may not be for you. I can find situations in which the 75 can work for me but you may not. A lot depends on the habits, and size, of your birds as well as the distance you're shooting from. What works works and what doesn't doesn't, and that can change depending on circumstances. If I had to give a general rule I'd say use as short a lens as possible because our shorter lenses are faster and lens speed is probably my biggest lens problem but you may find reach and focal length to be your biggest. I think the heart of the issue is juggling those 2 variables.
     
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  17. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    Texas
    I'm not a birder but I have used my 75-300 Mk II for bird shots (as seen below). I'd say you're fine with this or either the Lumix 100-300 :cool:

    8754875291_08f7cee442_b.
    Cattle Egret by RedTail_Panther, on Flickr
     
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  18. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Dara
    If light is good, I'd go for the Olympus 75-300 II. You're still going to find yourself wanting more reach from time to time, but unless you're prepared to go MF-only, there're no good options for m4/3 beyond 300mm.

    A 300/4 would be a nice addition to the system, although at $1500+ it would be a fairly small niche. A 400/4 is rather unlikely - that's a $5k+ lens, and m4/3 simple doesn't have the right sales mix for that. Maybe a 400/5.6. But honestly at that point, a Canon 60D and 400/5.6L is a better fit and likely wouldn't cost much more.
     
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  19. Sammyboy

    Sammyboy m43 Pro

    Oct 26, 2010
    Steeler Country
    And if you're really serious about birding, from the 4/3 lens group there is the Olympus 300mm / 2.8 and the EC-14 and EC-20 teleconverters. You will need deep pockets for these.
     
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  20. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Man you guys are kinda missing the point here....

    Are we talking about what WE all would like and spend? Or are we making realistic/practical suggestions to DHart?

    Are you honestly thinking that one should invest thousands on thousands of dollars just to shoot some photos in the backyard? I'd bet buyers regret would soon set in.... and suck the enjoyment out of the whole experience.

    DHart... glad I can make a suggestion that you had not thought of before.

    Honestly... I'd browse some birding forums and decide yourself. The priorities are different from a photography forum. They look at decent photos and talk about their experience and the birds themselves. The good stuff. Photographers on these forums will generally ignore the content of the photo and pixel peep then proceed to discuss noise, DOF, CA etc... the boring stuff. The FZ200 is under $500 and the FZ70 is under $400. Relatively about the same price as the 100-300mm and 75-300mm... cropping is certainly an option. I'm sure you'll find other cameras and options that birders use as well.

    Prior to replacing it recently, the camera that logged the most frames wasn't my MFT cameras, nor my Canon 1 series digitals, nor my Leica M9. It was my modest Panasonic TZ5 P&S... for similar reasons. Practical, easy to use, practically everywhere camera. It was later replaced with the Sony WX300 with its 25-500mm in the smallest compact yet.... It goes with me everywhere that my other cameras don't.

    My lowly TZ5 P&S Auto everything pocket camera at full zoom:
    5495465805_3b1da62741_b.

    This fellows were everywhere around us while we enjoyed our lunch in Maine a few years ago. E-PL1 w/ 100-300. Not sure how far zoomed.
    7505394996_a7b06ab2e2_c.
     
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