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E-M1 and 40-150mm 2.8 as a wildlife/sport kit

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by mrcultureshock, Mar 30, 2015.

  1. mrcultureshock

    mrcultureshock Mu-43 Rookie

    Hi all,

    I'm thinking about getting the E-M1 and the 40-150mm 2.8 to do some wildlife and sport photography. I actually used to own a E-M1 but sold it for the GH4. I love the GH4 but the lack of IBIS and fast long lenses are pushing me towards Olympus again.

    How does this combination compare to a 7D2 and a telephoto lens? What are the limitations of a M4/3 wildlife setup? (I use the 7D2 as an example because it's considered the best camera for action and wildlife. However, I really want to keep my gear small and light so Canon is out).


  2. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    I would think the 7dii with a decent tele lens would wipe the floor with the E-M1 where it comes to AF. At the current state of the art with CDAF in mirrorless, I wouldn't even consider them for anything that moves. I'm not saying that great images aren't possible, just that you'll get a much better success rate with a DSLR like the 7dii.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  3. GRID

    GRID Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 22, 2011
    These was driving at about 100km/h (just above on the straights and just below in the corners)
    And my E-M1 with firmware 3.0 worked great with CAF + tr at 9fps
    Most of the time I had focus on all images in a burst, and a few missed one image but the next was in focus again.

    For wildlife i still use my Canon 300mm F2.8 while i´m waiting for the Oly 300mm F4.
    I personaly think that 300mm is the minimum for the kind of wildlift i get to shoot here in sweden.
    • Like Like x 6
  4. JeffB

    JeffB New to Mu-43

    Mar 21, 2015
    Jeff Butterworth
    I'll be interested to hear responses as well. I've bought an EM1 recently and I am trying to work out whether it suits my needs, which includes some action photos. I don't have a long tele zoom so it hasn't had a fair test yet. I thought with the shots I'd been attempting I wasn't getting great IQ but I think I am pixel peeping too much. Footy season is just starting on so last weekend I shot with my Canon 650D with 70-300L for the first time in a while and when getting into the pixel peeping wasn't finding it particularly any better but the images themselves were still pretty good.

    Any use I have had with CAF on the EM1, I found the shutter blackout a bit of an issue trying to track the subject. I did find tracking easier with the OVF. But I am intrigued by the red dot sight Olympus is releasing (http://petapixel.com/2015/02/05/oly...ht-hotshoe-attachment-aiming-speedy-subjects/). I found even with an EVF you are sort of out of the action a bit. When a ball is kicked down the field you still have to somehow follow it. The OVF is just a little square of light surrounded by black. The red dot would mean you are looking up above the camera and possibly have a much better awareness of what is going on. My initial thought was it would be a bit of a gimmick and simply trying to address a limitation of the EVF but I think it could be quite cool.
  5. Lcrunyon

    Lcrunyon Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jun 4, 2014
    I use both for wildlife. I am assuming you mean birds in flight, because in most other wildlife situations there is no difference. For BIF, if you were comparing the EM-1 to most other cameras other than the 7d II, I'd say the results would be much closer. The 7d II does have significantly better C-AF and a better selection of long telephotos. The 40-150 even with the teleconverter isn't really long enough for many wildlife situations, especially BIF.

    Other m4/3 options: The 75-300 isn't a bad lens at all, but isn't in the same league in terms of sharpness or focusing speed, and I understand the p100-300 is pretty much the same. That leaves 4/3 lenses, which some people on this forum have had good success with. I can't say if the 4/3 C-AF is comparable to that of the pro lenses (much less a 7d II and a good lens), as my experience with them is limited to a front-focusing (non-corrected) copy of the 300mm f/2.8. But even if it they aren't, they still seem to work well enough in the hands of some of these guys.

    That said, when the 40-150 pro is long enough, it is very very good. It's focusing speed is fantastic (better than most give it credit for), it is super sharp, and combined with the firmware updates to the EM-1's C-AF, I am extremely hopeful that the 300mm pro will make the EM-1 a truly strong wildlife option. The C-AF will still not be on par with the 7d II (which is uncannily good), but it doesn't have to be to still work well. Also, the EM-1 has other advantages over the 7d Mk II - portability, and arguably a more versatile set of features. In terms of IQ, there isn't a whole lot of difference - maybe 1 stop better in noise performance for the 7d II.

    I guess the bottom line is that the quality of the cameras is at this point more about how easily getting birds in flight can be done. The EM-1 is good enough to get a certain percentage of shots (more with the 40-150 and firmware upgrade), but the 7d II makes it effortless.
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2015
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  6. Lcrunyon

    Lcrunyon Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jun 4, 2014
    I have the dot sight on order, so I'll let you know how it goes when it gets here. I think they are saying May, now...
    • Like Like x 2
  7. Holoholo55

    Holoholo55 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2014
    Honolulu, HI
    I've been using the EM1 and the slower 40-150 f4-5.6 for shooting my son's soccer games and it's worked quite well on C-AF after the firmware update. The Pro would be even better. I sometimes need more reach, but our choices in the 150-300 range are a bit limited. The 300 f4 Pro would be great, but I need a zoom because I'm shooting from the sideline and need to get shots near me and across the field. I'm considering the Oly 75-300 or the Pana 100-300.
  8. pake

    pake Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Oct 14, 2010
    I love my 100-300mm. Too bad the shooting conditions here in Finland are too often too dark and the aperture on that lens isn't good enough. In bright conditions it does produce great IQ.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  9. Lcrunyon

    Lcrunyon Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jun 4, 2014

    The 75-300 is even slower than the 100-300, but the IQ is also good in sunny conditions. Maybe try a 4/3 option? A lot of people have been reporting having good success with them and the EM-1. The 40-150 with the teleconverter might give you enough reach (210mm), as well.
  10. rpringle

    rpringle Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 9, 2014
    I own the 75-300 mkii and use it most of the time for wildlife because I enjoy the reach and the light weight. To get the same for my D7000 I'd have to get the new Tamron 150-600 f5-6.3 however it's about $500 more expensive and something like 5 times the weight and size. If I need blazing fast AF tracking I take the D7000 with my Nikon 70-300 VR, I've used this for capturing downhill skiers, F15's breaking the sound barrier, and tiny fast birds jumping and flying around. The only thing I don't care for is that the IQ suffers at 300mm, it's a dark lens, and doesn't have that 600mm reach I've become spoiled with. To be fair the 75-300 mkii has softer IQ at it's longest range as well.

    I have paired my E-P5 with a grip and the 75-300ii which worked well for me all last summer taking pictures of herons, orials, wood peckers, insects, deer, and sea planes landing and taking off about 60 yards in front of my canoe. It kept up well as far as AF speed and hit the mark probably 70% of the time. What I do is decrease the AF point size as much as possible, set it to single point AF with MF override (to make quick manual adjustments on the fly), shutter priority 1/1250+ ,and high or low burst. The further away the target is usually the more DOF you have to work with making AF misses less frequent. You can make it work certainly, is it "better" than a DSLR AF? No but it's a small compromise when it's not feesible to have your DSLR with you or if you don't own one.

    The 300 f4 is exciting but I like having the zoom for my telephoto lenses so I can make framing adjustments when needed. Especialy in a boat where a bird might only stay in one spot for a few seconds and it might be too close to get proper framing at 300mm, rack it back to 200mm or 75mm to get perfect framing.
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  11. Holoholo55

    Holoholo55 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2014
    Honolulu, HI
    Yes, I'd given the 40-150 Pro w/1.4 TC some thought, as well as the Zuiko 50-200 with or without the TC + MMF adaptor. I had also been using a Pana 45-200 but wasn't terribly happy with its performance at 200 with wider apertures. Still mulling it over, then started considering the M.Z 75-300 II and the P 100-300. My friend has a P 100-300 that he'll let me borrow for testing. I saw that the Z 70-300 was available quite inexpensively on the refurbed Oly site, but the optical performance apparently wasn't that good. Still mulling... :) 
  12. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    I was going to get the 40-150 Pro to replace the 75-300 as my wildlife lens, but realized that 210mm w/ the TC was just not enough for my wildlife needs. I also use a Canon FD 400mm when I need really long reach and bought the 75-300 to help with the smaller birds that I really wanted autofocus for because they never sit still long. I ended up getting the ZD 50-200 SWD and the 1.4x TC (want to get the 2.0x TC) and that has replaced my 75-300 because I never used it past 280 (really liked to stay 250 and below if possible) because of the lower IQ. I am so happy with the SWD and glad I went with it over the 40-150 Pro. I will get the 40-150 Pro sometime next year after the 300 Pro comes out (which I will get on pre-order) and when I can pick up a refurb at a good price. Another option (and it is my next lens) is to get the ZD 150mm ƒ2.0 combined with the EC-14 and the EC-20.

    With the SWD I have shot:

    View attachment 414754

    Dog Dogs
    View attachment 414755

    View attachment 414756

    View attachment 414757

    I can honestly say you would not be unhappy with the SWD.

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  13. Lcrunyon

    Lcrunyon Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jun 4, 2014
    I love the 40-150 pro, but agree that it isn't long enough for many wildlife situations. My wife and I were out shooting songbirds this afternoon, and even my Canon (896mm equivalent at max range) couldn't get close enough usually, and my wife with the Oly was shooting at less than half that focal length. That's why I don't mind that the 300 pro will be a prime, even though I am normally a zoom shooter. I'll almost never need to zoom out, cause even at 840mm equivalent I'll still oftentimes not be close enough.

    I feel the same about UWA lenses (probably my next purchase), because I am buying both to push the extreme ends of the focal range.
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  14. Holoholo55

    Holoholo55 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2014
    Honolulu, HI
    Hi Ronnie,

    How is the AF performance of the ZD 50-200 SWD on the EM1? Is it fast and does C-AF work on it? I probably wouldn't use it for wildlife much, but would use it for sports photography, which is just as challenging. I had a lot of problems shooting with the EM1 and the Pana 45-200 at a Blue Angels show last year under somewhat overcast conditions. That was before the 3.0 update, and the camera had such difficulty focusing I ended switching to manual focus. It wasn't easy. I think the cloudy conditions really messed up the AF.
  15. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    I have the older non -SWD version of the 50-200 and it works very well on the E-M1. Focus is quick (given the limitations of the focus motor in the pre-SWD version) and accurate. The V3 firmware was a significant step up in AF performance.

    It's super sharp too - this is a heavy crop from a wide-open shot (f3.5) at 200mm:

    Nibbles the Easter Bunny by -Paul Kaye-
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  16. Ccasey

    Ccasey Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 29, 2011
    Austin, TX
    I tried an SWD out in September of last year for a weekend of daytime youth soccer shooting with my E-M1, and in my mind, the C-AF performance was frustrating and not up to the task of tracking objects moving towards the camera. This was with the 2.0 (or 2.1?) firmware release that was supposed to have had a big impact on 4/3 lens focusing speed. I remember feeling that I could make it work if I had to, but I wouldn't enjoy it. My feelings might have changed if I had given it more time, and things might be better with the latest firmware update, but I sent it back after that first weekend.

    Image quality was great - in my mind it was not different enough to what I'm getting out of the 40-150/2.8 to warrant a switch. I A/B'd against my 5D3 and 70-300L and couldn't tell the difference when cropped to 2:3. And of course the range was nice to have.

    I'd love to say that the new lens + E-M1 combo is perfect for sports shooting, but it's not. The changes to C-AF in the new E-M1 firmware make shooting a lot more responsive, but I do end up with a big number of misses. I'm hopeful that the PDAF algorithms will be able to be dialed in a bit more. Failing that I'll continue with what I have, which was good enough -for me- to justify selling the Canon kit and going full m4/3 for all my shooting, and look forward to the E-M1 II.

    As an aside: I have read that the 40-150 works well with the GH4, and you won't have much need for IS for sports shooting. Maybe give that a try?
  17. Glenn S

    Glenn S Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 1, 2010
    I have the 50-200 SWD and on the EM-1 after V3.0 it is a sterling performer. I don't do much wildlife, aviation is my subject of choice but the lens produces excellent results in the fast moving airport environment, as well as on furry and insect subjects. I'm so pleased with it I've turned the GAS off wrt the 40-150




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  18. Holoholo55

    Holoholo55 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2014
    Honolulu, HI
    Yup, definitely leaning toward the 50-200 SWD now. I found Phocal's earlier posts using the EM1/50-200 SWD combo at an air show, and was very impressed with the results. Obviously, the jets are moving quickly and the focus looked spot on. I'm starting to believe! (Pardon me, Neo)

    Dennis Mook and Robin Wong also posted reviews of this combination and were very favorable.
  19. DL Photo

    DL Photo Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 15, 2012
    Richmond, BC, Canada
    Great results from the 50-200. The ONLY thing that kept me from purchasing that lens is that it extends when zooming....and becomes pretty long. Otherwise, it may have been in my bag by now.
  20. bassman

    bassman Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Apr 22, 2013
    New Jersey
    The Bassman
    Just curious ... I see lots of people mentioning that a lens extends while zooming, and they don't like it. Why? Is it because you need to unzoom it to put it in your bag? I have the 50-200 (and others) and I never thought about this issue.
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