Four Thirds Manual Focus Type

L0n3Gr3yW0lf

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So I've been banging my head on the keyboard for the past 3 hours trying to find information on the old Four-Thirds lenses. Mainly: which lens has a mechanical manual focus and not fly-by-wire. Reason (you may ask)? This morning I had a thought: What if the AF motor fails/dies?

All (as far as I know) Micro Four Thirds are electronically controlled in all of their aspects, except for zooming (with the obvious exception of the Olympus 12-50mm and Panasonic 14-42mm and 45-175mm power zooms). So if the autofocus motor fails and it cannot be replaced (for whatever reason) you end up with, basically, a rollable paperweight.

The reasoning of this was spurred when I thought that I want a long lasting set of lenses is that the focusing motor will inevitably die and at some point, it cannot be replaced. And by that, I mean a very distant future, 10 to 30 years from now. I am sure that by that point cameras might be totally different from what they are now (form, capability, role, etc), companies will inevitably die (Kodak wasn't planning its own funeral, Minolta wasn't thinking it might end up as a Sony startup photography tool dominance, Samsung, Yashica, AGFA. Every brand has dead mounts in it's past as well (Canon FD, Pentax M42, Sony A Mount, Olympus OM, or the most obvious Four-Thirds mount), so who knows how long all the lenses we have will be useful in the future. DSLR mounts will die off at one point as Mirrorless is the present but one day Mirrorless design will be the past and will die too to something (who knows what) better.

But one advantage DSLR lenses have and will have is being able to manually focus without power (and with use of dumb adapters), even when the autofocus motor dies (depending on lens design of course).

So I was looking for Four-Thirds lenses that have mechanical coupling to the focus group so you can still focus manually without power or communication between the camera and lens ... and it's really hard to find enough or even accurate list of the Olympus lenses that can.

So far all I found was that SWD lenses have mechanical coupling but that leaves just 3 lens options:

Olympus 12-60mm f 2.8-4 SWD
Olympus 14-35mm f 2 SWD
Olympus 50-200mm f 2.8-3.5 II SWD

And while I have managed to find a few that they most definitely work only with fly-by-wire manual focus:

Olympus 11-22mm f 2.8-3.5
Olympus 14-42mm f 3.5-5.6
Olympus 14-54mm f 2.8-3.5 Mark I
Olympus 14-54mm f 2.8-3.5 Mark II
Olympus 40-150mm f 4-5.6
Olympus 50-200mm f 2.8-3.5 Mark I
Olympus 70-300mm f 4-5.6
Olympus 25mm f 2.8
Olympus 35mm f 3.5 Macro 1:1
Panasonic Leica D Vario-Elmarit 14-50mm f 2.8-3.5 ASPH M. OIS
Panasonic Leica D Vario-Elmar 14-50mm f 3.8-5.6 ASPH M. OIS
Panasonic Leica D Vario-Elmar 14-150mm f 3.5-5.6 ASPH M. OIS
Panasonic Leica D Summilux 25mm f 1.4 ASPH

There are still these lenses that I can't seem to find any confirmation that they are either mechanical or electronic focus control (even if one could speculate on which it is based on the age/release date):

Olympus 7-14mm f 4
Olympus 9-18mm f 4-5.6
Olympus 14-45mm f 3.5-5.6
Olympus 18-180mm f 3.5-6.3
Olympus 35-100mm f 2
Olympus 40-150mm f 3.5-4.5
Olympus 90-250mm f 2.8
Olympus 8mm f 3.5 Fisheye
Olympus 50mm f 2 Macro 1:2
Olympus 150mm f 2
Olympus 300mm f 2.8

And there is also a list of Sigma Four-Thirds lenses that might be mechanically focusers:

Sigma 10-20mm f 4-5.6 EX DC HSM
Sigma 18-50mm f 2.8 EX DC Macro
Sigma 18-50mm f 3.5-5.6 DC
Sigma 18-125mm f 3.5-5.6 DC
Sigma 50-500mm f 4-6.3 EX DG APO HSM
Sigma 55-200mm f 4-5.6 DC
Sigma 70-200mm f 2.8 II EX DG Macro APO HSM
Sigma 135-400mm f 4.5-5.6 DG APO
Sigma 24mm f 1.8 EX DG Aspherical Macro
Sigma 30mm f 1.4 EX DC HSM
Sigma 50mm f 1.4 EX DG HSM
Sigma 105mm f 2.8 EX DG Macro
Sigma 150mm f 2.8 EX DG Macro APO HSM


Any information on the lenses capabilities to be used "off grid" just in case of a "Full Frame Zombie Camerapocalypse" ?
 

JanW

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Maybe you should look for the strictly manual focus lenses: Voightlander, Samyang/Rokinon, Kowa, Laowa.
If you have no electrical contacts you also have no aperture control which means that the aperture is always fully open.
Most reliable options are the full manual lenses. You could even think about adapting SLR lenses so you can also use all sensor sizes in the future (as long as they are 35mm format or smaller).
Jan
 

L0n3Gr3yW0lf

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True, there are a few lenses that I find interesting for the Micro Four Thirds nature (like Samyang/Rokinon 135mm f 2 aka 270mm f 2 for wildlife).

Though I still think Four Thirds with SWD would make great manual lenses even with aperture stuck wide open, these lenses work great wide open and have the advantage of AF with Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds cameras now and medium probable future :)
 

Phocal

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True, there are a few lenses that I find interesting for the Micro Four Thirds nature (like Samyang/Rokinon 135mm f 2 aka 270mm f 2 for wildlife).

Though I still think Four Thirds with SWD would make great manual lenses even with aperture stuck wide open, these lenses work great wide open and have the advantage of AF with Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds cameras now and medium probable future :)

Honestly the SWD lenses don't focus all that great manually, not even close to true manual focus lens.

Oh, there are a few m4/3 lenses that have mechanically linked focus. I think most of the pro lenses (I know the 300/4 does, it's the only one I have) and I believe there are a few other Olympus lenses with the manual focus clutch that are not pro lenses.
 

L0n3Gr3yW0lf

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Very soon (next month) I will be able to focus on getting 2 very good zooms to replace my, dead, Olympus 50-200mm and, still functioning well, 14-54mm both Mark Is.

One option set I was thinking was Olympus 12-40mm f 2.8 (one hell of a lens) and the 40-150mm f 2.8 but that's to short for wild bunnies and small birds. And used I could get them around 1000 pounds which is a good budget limit for me.

Second option set was Panasonic 12-60mm f 2.8-4 and 50-200mm f 2.8-4 but at almost 2000 pounds makes me change my trousers (just in case). I am sure they are worth it without a doubt, it just makes me feel dizzy and sweaty thinking about it. And I'm just a hobbyist with a metric ton of passion for photography.

The third option that keeps bouncing back is Four-Thirds: Olympus 12-60mm f 2.8-4 (or continue to use the 14-54mm f 2.8-3.5) and 50-200mm f 2.8-3.5 SWD, I can get them as low as 700 pounds (or 450 just the 50-200mm).

I have tried Panasonic 45-200mm as well as Olympus 40-150mm f 4-5.6 and Olympus 14-150mm Mark II and they seem like fine lenses but I never really the overall look to their output. A sample size of 3 is not enough for a definite conclusion but lower end Micro Four Third zooms left a sour taste in the back of the throat. (Except for Panasonic 14-42mm Mark II, that one was very good for me).


1.5 KGs for Panasonic 12-60+50-200 and E-M1 Mark I sounds a lot better for me then 2 KGs for Olympus 12-60+50-200 and E-M1 Mark I, though not sure I can swallow that extra grand cost.
 

TheMenWhoDrawSheeps

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i would worry much more about aperture control. if electronic dies, or in case of changing system mount you won´t be able to use your lenses either.
live is too short to worry about your camera system in 10+ years.
 

JanW

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I think the Oly pro zooms tick all your boxes (cost, weight and mechanical focusing) but the 150 mm is a bit short.
Would adding the 1.4 converter be the solution?
You only lose half a stop compared to the ZD50-200 and it would be the same brightness and a little extra length compared to the Leica zoom.
 

wjiang

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I think in 10+ years time the body probably won't work properly... You're also stuck with the E-M1 series with 4/3 lenses due to the PDAF requirement.

At this point a 4/3 lens is probably more likely to fail on you in the short term, especially SWD which anecdotally fails more easily...
 

junkyardsparkle

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Oh, there are a few m4/3 lenses that have mechanically linked focus. I think most of the pro lenses (I know the 300/4 does, it's the only one I have) and I believe there are a few other Olympus lenses with the manual focus clutch that are not pro lenses.
Do the Pro lenses actually have real mechanical manual focus? The two lenses I have with the focus clutch (12/2 and 17/1.8) still focus-by-wire even with the "clutch" activated... it really just switches between two manual by-wire modes.
 

Phocal

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Do the Pro lenses actually have real mechanical manual focus? The two lenses I have with the focus clutch (12/2 and 17/1.8) still focus-by-wire even with the "clutch" activated... it really just switches between two manual by-wire modes.

The 300/4 does, it’s the only one I have. So can’t speak to the other lenses
 

L0n3Gr3yW0lf

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I understand that most people would be sceptical or even consider pointless to think about using a particular set of camera and lenses more than 5 to 10 years. Income and replacement of material stuff these days have become commonplace, be it for replacing something that may stop working or that you can get better stuff then what was available 10 or 20 years ago (possibly cheaper as well?!?).

It does come with a heavy heart thinking that what you have now could just be forgotten, lost or thrown away when it becomes "redundant". Being able to see the transition from DSLR form to Mirrorless, old technology being superseded by the new gives a thought to ponder on. Autofocus adapters for Canon RF, Nikon Z, Sony A, Olympus/Panasonic Four Thirds work considerably well ... all things considering (some better than others obviously) and gives life to the old, get more value per (local currency) per time. And some lenses are worth the consideration when you think about image quality or (some) features, like Canon L lenses or the very unique Olympus lenses that you can't find anywhere else (f 2 zooms or 150mm f 2 for example).

Now will be able to say the same about Micro Four Thirds in the future? I don't think it's unreasonable to want to use your camera and lenses very long term. I have a 2004 Sigma SD10 (that still makes incredible images today) and it works just fine (all things considering) and do not see why it should give up (within reasonable usage, except heavy professional) making images. For such prolong usage the expectation of failure would be the moving parts: the shutter mechanism (though Mirrorless design has an electronic shutter so that could go indefinitely) and the batteries (which will be harder and harder to find and replace as time passes). My first Panasonic G1 still works today, gave it to my best friend so she can learn and enjoy photography 3 years ago and it still works after 11 years (still makes better images than any Samsung Galaxy S10 or iPhone X).

I would expect some people to think I am disillusioned by all of this. Cameras are not what they used to be when electronics were 90% what a camera was made of. Pentax K1000s, Olympus OM1s, Nikon FMs, Canon AE1s and so many others still work to this day through the weak link in that is being able to manufacture/find and develop film for them (as time passes). The cameras and lenses we have today would be more prone to failure of electronic parts that will be harder to replace/fix.

(An interesting way to think is what if there was a Dooms Day scenario, zombie apocalypse or nuclear global war or something else, what camera would you chose to keep with you as you try to survive as well [a true photographer never stops being a photographer :p ]. For me, AA battery powered camera would be a must as it's the only easy and very widely spread power that is also portable energy in the world. That would leave mostly Pentax Ks cameras ... and this is what I do when there's no electricity and can't sleep at night :p )


I can't seem to find any confirmation from a reviewer or other sources about the Olympus 300mm f 4 Pro to confirm if its just a really well-done fly-by-wire or truly manual focus lens. The Panasonic 200mm f 2.8 is fly-by-wire and at that price point, it would be hard to believe Olympus isn't as well.

If SWD motors fail you can still focus manually when that does happen, so at least it's not completely useless, just focus speed handicapped. My first version Olympus 50-200mm f 2.8-3.5 is focus-by-wire and right now it's a 920 grams paperweight (as I can't seem to find a place to get it repaired). Though when I bought it the seller was advertising it as SWD version and when I received it I was that it was not, got a discount price because of that.

I do like the Olympus 40-150mm Pro in some ways but Panasonic 50-200mm at 200mm is sharper than the Olympus with 1.4x TC and you can add a 1.4x TC to the Panasonic and get even more range with not much IQ drop at f 5.6. I found that even on my Olympus 50-200mm at 200mm sometimes wild bunnies would still be very small in the frame, or very shy small birds. (If it wasn't for the fact that I work only night shifts and that I encounter these beautiful animals when I go to work at sunset and go home at sunrise I would have loved the Panasonic 100-400mm if not for the f 6.3 in low light being very difficult to use. I walk to the edge of the town so I get to see a lot of wildlife most of the time and in very beautiful light conditions often).
 

alex g

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The 300/4 does, it’s the only one I have. So can’t speak to the other lenses

It may try to give the impression of being mechanically linked, but in fact, like all the Olympus µ43 lenses with clutched focus rings, it is only a simulation. The focus elements are still moved electronically. The difference is that the lens aims to correlate the position of the focus elements with a pre-determined curve, so that it acts like a mechanical linkage. You can see this by zooming in with the live view and slowly rotating the focus ring. Focus will change in series of increments, not a smooth, continuous curve. Also, if you pull focus very quickly, you can sometimes see/hear the focus motor(s) struggling to keep up with the interpretation of your input.

As you said before, the only mechanically linked Olympus 43 or µ43 lenses are the SWD series. They have a smooth, continuous manual focus, albeit with a friction clutch at either end of the scale, meaning that the ring will continue to rotate if you turn it hard enough. There are no hard end stops, but at least the response is linear, instant and continuous.

The 14-35 in particular has a really nice response.

Of the non-SWD 4/3 lenses, the 90-250 in my experience has the best focus-by-wire manual focus response — the throw is around 300 degrees and the increments are relatively finely-grained. The 35-100 has a really long throw angle, almost TOO long, so it can take a while to wind from one end to the other. The 300/2.8 and the 150/2 have pretty coarse increments and relatively short throw angles. You can easily see focus jumping from one point to the next if you try a slow focus pull with either of those lenses.

I can't speak for the other non SWD lenses since I don't have any experience of using them.
 

tkbslc

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(An interesting way to think is what if there was a Dooms Day scenario, zombie apocalypse or nuclear global war or something else, what camera would you chose to keep with you as you try to survive as well [a true photographer never stops being a photographer :p ]. For me, AA battery powered camera would be a must as it's the only easy and very widely spread power that is also portable energy in the world. That would leave mostly Pentax Ks cameras ... and this is what I do when there's no electricity and can't sleep at night :p )

Are you going to power your computer by hand crank in order to download and edit those photos? Whip up an internet via cans and string to share the pictures? :)

If you want your art to survive the apocalypse, I think I would learn to sketch with charcoal and paint with homemade paints.

Seriously, though, in terms of lens longevity, You'd probably want something like Nikon F or Pentax K mount with older lenses that still have aperture rings (and focus rings). Those also adapt to pretty much anything, even some other SLR systems. If you want to use them on m4/3, then focal reducer adapters would work. There are lots of m4/3 native manual primes, too.
 
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So I've been banging my head on the keyboard for the past 3 hours trying to find information on the old Four-Thirds lenses. Mainly: which lens has a mechanical manual focus and not fly-by-wire. Reason (you may ask)? This morning I had a thought: What if the AF motor fails/dies?

All (as far as I know) Micro Four Thirds are electronically controlled in all of their aspects, except for zooming (with the obvious exception of the Olympus 12-50mm and Panasonic 14-42mm and 45-175mm power zooms). So if the autofocus motor fails and it cannot be replaced (for whatever reason) you end up with, basically, a rollable paperweight.

The reasoning of this was spurred when I thought that I want a long lasting set of lenses is that the focusing motor will inevitably die and at some point, it cannot be replaced. And by that, I mean a very distant future, 10 to 30 years from now. I am sure that by that point cameras might be totally different from what they are now (form, capability, role, etc), companies will inevitably die (Kodak wasn't planning its own funeral, Minolta wasn't thinking it might end up as a Sony startup photography tool dominance, Samsung, Yashica, AGFA. Every brand has dead mounts in it's past as well (Canon FD, Pentax M42, Sony A Mount, Olympus OM, or the most obvious Four-Thirds mount), so who knows how long all the lenses we have will be useful in the future. DSLR mounts will die off at one point as Mirrorless is the present but one day Mirrorless design will be the past and will die too to something (who knows what) better.

But one advantage DSLR lenses have and will have is being able to manually focus without power (and with use of dumb adapters), even when the autofocus motor dies (depending on lens design of course).

So I was looking for Four-Thirds lenses that have mechanical coupling to the focus group so you can still focus manually without power or communication between the camera and lens ... and it's really hard to find enough or even accurate list of the Olympus lenses that can.

So far all I found was that SWD lenses have mechanical coupling but that leaves just 3 lens options:

Olympus 12-60mm f 2.8-4 SWD
Olympus 14-35mm f 2 SWD
Olympus 50-200mm f 2.8-3.5 II SWD

And while I have managed to find a few that they most definitely work only with fly-by-wire manual focus:

Olympus 11-22mm f 2.8-3.5
Olympus 14-42mm f 3.5-5.6
Olympus 14-54mm f 2.8-3.5 Mark I
Olympus 14-54mm f 2.8-3.5 Mark II
Olympus 40-150mm f 4-5.6
Olympus 50-200mm f 2.8-3.5 Mark I
Olympus 70-300mm f 4-5.6
Olympus 25mm f 2.8
Olympus 35mm f 3.5 Macro 1:1
Panasonic Leica D Vario-Elmarit 14-50mm f 2.8-3.5 ASPH M. OIS
Panasonic Leica D Vario-Elmar 14-50mm f 3.8-5.6 ASPH M. OIS
Panasonic Leica D Vario-Elmar 14-150mm f 3.5-5.6 ASPH M. OIS
Panasonic Leica D Summilux 25mm f 1.4 ASPH

There are still these lenses that I can't seem to find any confirmation that they are either mechanical or electronic focus control (even if one could speculate on which it is based on the age/release date):

Olympus 7-14mm f 4
Olympus 9-18mm f 4-5.6
Olympus 14-45mm f 3.5-5.6
Olympus 18-180mm f 3.5-6.3
Olympus 35-100mm f 2
Olympus 40-150mm f 3.5-4.5
Olympus 90-250mm f 2.8
Olympus 8mm f 3.5 Fisheye
Olympus 50mm f 2 Macro 1:2
Olympus 150mm f 2
Olympus 300mm f 2.8

And there is also a list of Sigma Four-Thirds lenses that might be mechanically focusers:

Sigma 10-20mm f 4-5.6 EX DC HSM
Sigma 18-50mm f 2.8 EX DC Macro
Sigma 18-50mm f 3.5-5.6 DC
Sigma 18-125mm f 3.5-5.6 DC
Sigma 50-500mm f 4-6.3 EX DG APO HSM
Sigma 55-200mm f 4-5.6 DC
Sigma 70-200mm f 2.8 II EX DG Macro APO HSM
Sigma 135-400mm f 4.5-5.6 DG APO
Sigma 24mm f 1.8 EX DG Aspherical Macro
Sigma 30mm f 1.4 EX DC HSM
Sigma 50mm f 1.4 EX DG HSM
Sigma 105mm f 2.8 EX DG Macro
Sigma 150mm f 2.8 EX DG Macro APO HSM


Any information on the lenses capabilities to be used "off grid" just in case of a "Full Frame Zombie Camerapocalypse" ?

I'll vouch that the Sigma 105 macro focuses completely manually if the manual focus switch is used and the focus clutch disengaged on the lens. It focuses manually exceedingly well, in fact.
 
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Olympus 35-100mm f 2
Definitely focus-by-wire, but worth it!

But really, with your set of goals, I'd pick a film system, and start investing in those lenses, together with a Metabones Speedbooster Ultra. I just bought an Olympus OM 350mm ƒ/2.8. It has the silkiest, smoothest, effortless manual focus I've ever used! It stays put where you put it, but the lightest touch of a single finger can fine-tune the focus.

This is one of perhaps a dozen OM lenses that I use regularly, which makes the expense of the Metabones amortize down to under $30 per lens.

I expect my Olympus OM lenses will continue to function on whatever thing might come up in the future, unlike just about anything with electronics in it. I even have a Spirotone Teletach, which means that in a true civilization melt-down, I can turn my 350/2.8 into a telescope, so I can spot the zombies coming… no batteries required!
 

TheMenWhoDrawSheeps

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I understand that most people would be sceptical or even consider pointless to think about using a particular set of camera and lenses more than 5 to 10 years. Income and replacement of material stuff these days have become commonplace, be it for replacing something that may stop working or that you can get better stuff then what was available 10 or 20 years ago (possibly cheaper as well?!?).

It does come with a heavy heart thinking that what you have now could just be forgotten, lost or thrown away when it becomes "redundant". Being able to see the transition from DSLR form to Mirrorless, old technology being superseded by the new gives a thought to ponder on. Autofocus adapters for Canon RF, Nikon Z, Sony A, Olympus/Panasonic Four Thirds work considerably well ... all things considering (some better than others obviously) and gives life to the old, get more value per (local currency) per time. And some lenses are worth the consideration when you think about image quality or (some) features, like Canon L lenses or the very unique Olympus lenses that you can't find anywhere else (f 2 zooms or 150mm f 2 for example).

Now will be able to say the same about Micro Four Thirds in the future? I don't think it's unreasonable to want to use your camera and lenses very long term. I have a 2004 Sigma SD10 (that still makes incredible images today) and it works just fine (all things considering) and do not see why it should give up (within reasonable usage, except heavy professional) making images. For such prolong usage the expectation of failure would be the moving parts: the shutter mechanism (though Mirrorless design has an electronic shutter so that could go indefinitely) and the batteries (which will be harder and harder to find and replace as time passes). My first Panasonic G1 still works today, gave it to my best friend so she can learn and enjoy photography 3 years ago and it still works after 11 years (still makes better images than any Samsung Galaxy S10 or iPhone X).

I would expect some people to think I am disillusioned by all of this. Cameras are not what they used to be when electronics were 90% what a camera was made of. Pentax K1000s, Olympus OM1s, Nikon FMs, Canon AE1s and so many others still work to this day through the weak link in that is being able to manufacture/find and develop film for them (as time passes). The cameras and lenses we have today would be more prone to failure of electronic parts that will be harder to replace/fix.

(An interesting way to think is what if there was a Dooms Day scenario, zombie apocalypse or nuclear global war or something else, what camera would you chose to keep with you as you try to survive as well [a true photographer never stops being a photographer :p ]. For me, AA battery powered camera would be a must as it's the only easy and very widely spread power that is also portable energy in the world. That would leave mostly Pentax Ks cameras ... and this is what I do when there's no electricity and can't sleep at night :p )


I can't seem to find any confirmation from a reviewer or other sources about the Olympus 300mm f 4 Pro to confirm if its just a really well-done fly-by-wire or truly manual focus lens. The Panasonic 200mm f 2.8 is fly-by-wire and at that price point, it would be hard to believe Olympus isn't as well.

If SWD motors fail you can still focus manually when that does happen, so at least it's not completely useless, just focus speed handicapped. My first version Olympus 50-200mm f 2.8-3.5 is focus-by-wire and right now it's a 920 grams paperweight (as I can't seem to find a place to get it repaired). Though when I bought it the seller was advertising it as SWD version and when I received it I was that it was not, got a discount price because of that.

I do like the Olympus 40-150mm Pro in some ways but Panasonic 50-200mm at 200mm is sharper than the Olympus with 1.4x TC and you can add a 1.4x TC to the Panasonic and get even more range with not much IQ drop at f 5.6. I found that even on my Olympus 50-200mm at 200mm sometimes wild bunnies would still be very small in the frame, or very shy small birds. (If it wasn't for the fact that I work only night shifts and that I encounter these beautiful animals when I go to work at sunset and go home at sunrise I would have loved the Panasonic 100-400mm if not for the f 6.3 in low light being very difficult to use. I walk to the edge of the town so I get to see a lot of wildlife most of the time and in very beautiful light conditions often).

definitely phase one, or hassi, mounted on heavy duty tripod, so i can swing it as a sledgehammer. also, zombies are quite slow, so you don´t need all the fps on current bodies. maybe two more dslr on monopods as maces. so it definitely won´t be some mirrorless, because they aren´t that bulky.

i think you´ve found yourself a new thread to make%)
 

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