How to get more reach ??

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by Tsky, May 19, 2017.

  1. Tsky

    Tsky Mu-43 Rookie

    Sep 21, 2015
    I have the EM1.2 with a Pana 100-400 but I'm struggling primarily with reach for wildlife shots, as well as often disliking the background bokeh of vegetation, particularly grasses.

    The 300mm F4 feels really nice on the body but with the teleconverter fitted it's not much faster and has barely any more reach. I haven't had to chance to use one outside of a shop.

    The Sigma 150-600 Sport looks good and would give great reach but I've read somewhere it cannot work on m43 due to it's power requirements. However I have come across several youtube videos with it on Panasonic bodies ?

    The 4/3 300mm 2.8 is interesting as it's both faster than the Olympus f4 and also has the option of a 2x teleconverter. Most of these are way beyond my price range (as are the big Nikon and Canon primes) but I have seen one with light body marks and which is described as having light internal dust not affecting images for the same price as the 300mm F4 (2,700 euros) which I am tempted by. Has anybody got experience of these with the Em1.2, for example how does autofocus work ?

    The other option is to switch to full-frame or Apsc and go with the Sigma for more length (especially as I believe it can work well with a 1.4 teleconverter for about 1200mm reach on say a D500). Not something I particularly care for doing though. Any other ideas out there ?
  2. Hypilein

    Hypilein Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 18, 2015
    If you are not getting enough reach out of an 800mm EQ lens, you are not close enough. I know it sounds useless as a tip, but it is the unfortunate truth of wildlife photography. Getting closer will also help with getting nicer bokeh. Once you reach infinity focus on a lens because your subject is too far away, you will not get good background separation.

    If you want tips for getting closer (using hides/stalking wild animals) ask our resident wildlife expert @Phocal@Phocal. But be careful. He may be even more blunt about such truths than I am. :daz:
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  3. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Yes, totally agree with @Hypilein@Hypilein. Once you're past 800mm equiv then a whole bunch of other issues come into play (atmospheric haze, stability, shutter speed/aperture/ISO). I'm no expert but I would think the real issue is finding the technique to get closer. What are you trying to photograph?
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  4. AussiePhil

    AussiePhil Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 1, 2014
    Canberra, ACT, Aust
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  5. Petrochemist

    Petrochemist Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 21, 2013
    N Essex, UK
    You can go beyond 800mm equivalent by coupling your camera to a telescope, or by using the biggest legacy lenses.
    You'd need quite a big scope & a super sturdy tripod & even then I wouldn't expect to gain anything for the vast majority of subjects. With smaller scopes diffraction will have a noticeable effect & if using an Afocal set-up, the magnification will show flaws in the optics unless you have seriously high grade eyepieces etc..

    I've used a 650mm f/5 Newtonian & got reasonable results at prime focus (1300mm equiv FOV) adding a 9mm eyepiece & a 50mm lens & using an afocal setup the optics theoretically become a 3600mm f/28 (that's 7200mm equivalent with the crop factor). I didn't think my efforts with that matched the image quality of simply cropping the prime focus image. Neither the scope used or the tripod could reasonably be classed as portable. :shakehead:

    Learning to get closer to the subject sounds like the better approach to me!
  6. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    The general advice for wildlife is to start with a 300mm equivalent lens: this should say something. If you do birds you need a little more reach.
    Even with a 1200 equiv. you'll eventually spot something too far away: longer lenses are not the solution (and are darker, more shaking, heavier, pricey, etc.). As said, learn to get closer. A few steps closer will magnify a lot more than any lens can do.

    One more advice: do not throw away money on random adapted lenses just to get 300mm more (the longer the lenses the less you will perceive the focal length difference). Get more comfortable with the whole wildlife thing: it's not about gear. Anyway, adapted 43 lenses on the E-M1 works fine.

    Switching to FF will make your problem worse (as you lose the crop factor) while APS-C won't change about anything.
    Last edited: May 19, 2017
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  7. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014

    As others have already pointed out, there is are a lot of things that can effect the bokeh. But.............the small aperture of the lens at 400mm doesn't do you any favors for bokeh and can make things more difficult.

    While it's not much faster with the TC, the prime will provide better bokeh and better IQ as it has a significantly higher resolution........which should help it stand up to more cropping.

    The Sigma will work with the Metabones adapter, it's the Tamron that requires additional power to work. The Metabones does allow an external power source to be used, so you could technically use the Tamron on it. I have no experience with either lens or the Metabones, this is just information I have come across or gained from those who do have the lenses or adapter.

    The 4/3 lenses work better on the EM1 then they did on the old 4/3 cameras. They are not as fast as native lenses (because they are build with much older technology) but more then sufficient for anything you can throw at them. When it comes to reach at the fastest possible speeds, the 300/2.8 is probably the best option out there. Sure you can adapt via a Metabones something like a Canon 600mm, but you will not have CAF if that is important to you...........but the 300/2.8 is going to be cheaper and will get you 600mm (1200mm effective) at f5.6 which is about the fastest aperture you will see in any system (an APSC with 600mm + 1.4x TC will give you the same but at a much higher price point).

    As someone else mentioned, full frame is not going to give you more reach. Sure you can go with the an APSC and a Sigma 150-600 and get an extra 100mm of reach over the 100-400 at the same slow aperture. You could even add in a 1.4x TC but now you are going to be shooting at an even smaller aperture, which is going to cause you to raise ISO and lose detail and in the end is going to provide worse images (more on this later).


    What are you trying to photograph that you need this extreme reach? Once you get over about 800mm of reach (really even before that) you come into the problems of the atmosphere reducing IQ (especially in hot or hot and humid climates). You really need to work on getting closer to your subjects, as @macro@macro so nicely put it in one of his threads about using old manual focus telephoto lenses.

    "Contrary to what a lot of people think we do with long tele lenses, we use them at close range. The closer to the subject the better and that applies to any tele lenses really. That's where the details are, in being close to the subject. The idea is to let the subject get as close as possible before you push the button. You are better off not taking the shot and wasting time if its too far out to start with. You need to learn what you can get away with using PP and cropping after the shot. Learning that saves a lot of wasted shots."

    I find that I rarely need more then 600mm of reach. I am not the type of photographer that uses hides and sits there and waits, I have used them when I need to but it is not my preferred way of getting close. I prefer to use camo and my stalking skills to get close to wildlife and find it's the best way most of the time because you don't always know where animals are going to be. Learning the habits of your subject and practicing your stalking skills will yield greater images then buying more reach every single time, it's also way cheaper. My most used wildlife lens (actually my only used lens unless I am testing out things) is my Olympus ZD 150mm f2.0 with both TCs. My goal when using that lens is to get close enough to switch out the EC-20 for the EC-14 and then even closer so I can switch to no TC, which not only gives me better images because of no TC but also because by then I am stupid close. Sometimes I will even switch back to the EC-20 when stupid close to get shots of a birds head filling the frame or some other detail shot.

    Wildlife photography is not easy and that's why there are not a lot of people that do it well. It takes dedication and commitment to continually get great shots and those shots are not possible without knowing your subject and getting close. Sure, you can get lucky and get that amazing shot that everyone drools over when they see it..............but repeating that shot is going to be next to impossible. That's where the knowledge of your subject comes in and the commitment to do what is necessary to get the shot, even if it means crawling thru a fire ant mound and laying there getting bitten while shooting your subject. I get people telling me that I was lucky to get this shot or that shot and in some ways I do agree, I was lucky to be there when what ever it was happen. But I create my own "luck" because of my knowledge and dedication and get "lucky" way more then your average person.

    I really do want to know what it is you are trying to photograph and why you feel the need for these stupid amounts of reach.


    Lenses and other options to consider for reach. The options you have talked about (other then the Olympus 300/4 and 300/2.8) are really consumer lenses with average to poor resolution. Lens resolution plays a lot into image quality and something that I have been playing with the last few months since picking up a Sigma 50-500mm in the 4/3's mount. The lower the resolution the closer you have to be to capture detail then with a higher resolution lens. It also leaves less room for cropping because you have not captured enough detail, so with these lower resolution lenses you have to be even closer if you want to crop. Lets look at the options and their resolution.........the numbers are rough guesses based off the charts at LensTip and the 2nd number is the sharp point of the lens.

    Panasonic 100-400.....................f6.3 = 38, f8.0 = 44
    Olympus 300mm f4.0.................f4.0 = 64, f5.8 = 68
    Olympus 300mm f4.0 w/ MC-14...f5.6 = 46, f8.0 = 50
    Sigma 50-500............................f6.3 = 30, f8.0 = 38
    Sigma 150-600 C.......................f6.3 = 31, f8.0 = 35
    Sigma 150-600 S.......................f6.3 = 36, f8.0 = 38

    Unfortunately LensTip never tested the 300/2.8. It is probably lower then the 300/4 because Olympus is more into sharpness with their Pro lenses then other qualities because it is something the review sites can measure. Personally I find this the wrong approach because I feel the older SHG lenses produce more pleasing images then the new Pro lenses and once you hit a MTF of 60ish + you are getting into the you can't really tell any difference between them. There is an article somewhere that someone linked about how Olympus acknowledges this and are going to start a new approach to lens design with upcoming Pro lenses.

    Going by the above data, you are going to lose resolution switching to an APSC camera and using either of the Sigma lenses. Yes you will gain 100mm of reach, but that can be made up by taking three paces forward and even if you can't cropping to same field of view probably give you the same basic images with the same amount of detail captured. You could adapt the Sigma Sport to your EM1 and gain 400mm of reach, but now you will be shooting from a greater distance most likely and that extra reach is going to lose IQ from the atmosphere. How much? depends on the current conditions and if it is worth it really can't be determined without a lot of real world samples to look at (which would be almost impossible as you would need them shot at the same time from the same location to really make a determination).

    I have the Sigma 50-500 and when stopped down to f8 has the same resolution as the Panny 10-400 wide open (which honestly is how most people shoot it) and have found that anything over 50 feet or so doesn't capture enough detail. For that reason I don't use it unless I am close to my subject because for my purposes the images are just not usable except for maybe web posting to show something I saw and even then I am hesitant to show the images. This is going to apply to any lens with an MTF in the high 30's to 40's, there is just no getting around physics and the properties of lenses without spending a lot more money for a better lenses. I can look at images taken with my 50-500 and see the differences from images taken with my 150/2, there is just no comparison in the amount of detail captured or in the amount that you can crop and preserve detail in the image.

    I am not one who uses MTF charts as the basis for what is a good lens and what is not. The 300/2.8 probably has less resolution then the 300/4, but it's images have something special that the 300/4 doesn't. I prefer the images from the 50-200 SWD over the 40-150 Pro (which is significantly sharper) because of the way the lens was designed to render images. But I do use them as a basis to see how the resolution of a lens compares to something I have to get an idea of what I can expect as far as sharpness. I am not saying any of the above zooms can't create great sharp images, they just have more restrictions placed on them then much higher resolution lenses. From my experience with the 50-500 I know that lenses in the high 30's to 40's are very capable, I just have to be closer then if I was using a much higher resolution lens. I will use two sets of images to show the difference in a resolution of 30 compared to 38. In each set the images were taken within a minute of each other and from the same location of the same subject.

    Burrowing Owl 10 - Wide Open
    by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr

    Stopped down 2/3 stop to f8.0
    Burrowing Owl 09 - Stopped Down
    by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr

    GBH Wide-Open
    by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr

    Stopped down 2/3 stop to f8.0
    GBH Stopped Down
    by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr

    I can tell a difference in sharpness between the shots. It's not a lot but it is there and from these photographs I have determined that I personally need a lens with an MTF of at least high 30's to produce images that I am happy with. From my shooting of the 50-500 I have also learned that even with an MTF in the high 30's, I need to be closer to my subjects then with other lenses.

    You mentioned using the Sigma with a 1.4x TC and I really question that. You are going to push the aperture to f9.0 and as I have found shooting the Bigma, ISO is going to become a real problem. Especially since you really need to stop down when using a TC most of the time to keep from losing too much IQ (stopping down one stop with at 1.4x TC seems to be the standard that all camera companies recommend and that I found to be mostly true shooting my 150/2 with both TC's). Stopping down gets you into the f11 region and now you will really need to increase ISO which is going to lose detail due to the noise. From my few experiments with the 50-500, I am more or less better off going without a TC and just cropping. Here are few examples from those test.

    Bigma w/ EC-20 no crop
    Osprey w/ EC-20 No Crop
    by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr

    Bigma w/ EC-14, cropped to same FoV as EC-20 and upsized to original size
    Osprey w/ EC-14 at EC-20 Crop and Upsized
    by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr

    Bigma with no TC, cropped to same FoV as EC-20 and upsized to original size
    Osprey w/ Bare Lens at EC-20 Crop and Upsized
    by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr

    Bigma w/ EC-20 no crop
    Baby Gator w/ EC-20 No Crop
    by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr

    Bigma w/ EC-14, cropped to same FoV as EC-20 and upsized to original size
    Baby Gator w/ EC-14 at EC-20 Crop and Upsized
    by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr

    Bigma with no TC, cropped to same FoV as EC-20 and upsized to original size
    Baby Gator w/ Bare Lens at EC-20 Crop and Upsized
    by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr

    I should say that all photographs are taken stopped down 2/3 stop to the sharp point of the lens. The increased diffraction due to the smaller apertures and the higher ISO more or less equal out to just using the bare lens and cropping then upsizing back to original size. I have similar shots comparing no TC and EC-14 that are located here:

    I also have a thread documenting my use of the Bigma here:

    I haven't even gotten into the need for a very secure tripod when shooting these super long focal lengths. I can and do shoot the Sigma handheld, but it is much easier to get sharp photos when using a tripod. Once I start adding the TC's to the lens, it gets almost impossible to shoot handheld without having stupid high shutter speeds which means stupid high ISO's.........which is going to kill the detail you capture. With the EC-20 for an effective reach of 2000mm, just touching the camera on my tripod causes a significant amount of shake in the viewfinder.

    All of that said, I am curious to find out what you are shooting and why you need more the 800mm of effective reach.
    Last edited: May 19, 2017
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  8. Tsky

    Tsky Mu-43 Rookie

    Sep 21, 2015
    Wow, fantastic replies, particularly yours Phocal, amazing and much appreciated ! There are creatures I'm able to sneak up on and get decent pics of after having learned their locations and patterns over the years. I have a portable hide I use and also have access to several fixed hides on nature preserves. I have a good tripod with both ballhead and gimbal I use.

    There is one particular reserve where the issue lies. This has a few fixed hides and I have spent a huge amount of time in these, but these are generally a good distance from where the actual critters I'm trying to shoot here hang out. Some species are very rare and it is not permitted to leave the pathway hence I cannot try to physically get closer.

    So for the most part I'm looking at little specs of movement in the distance by eye, anything from 60-200 meters away. I can observe hares, geese, partridge etc quite well using the digital zoom or binos and a spotting scope but it's hopeless trying to get a photograph with any sort of decent detail at 800mm equivalent.
  9. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    One option is a small sensor super-zoom camera. Yes, it is a serious advice, those 60x, 83x things (i.e. 1400-2000mm). I've seen beautiful shots with those when the light is good and used properly. Maybe you can rent one and try.
    Another one is a spotting scope. But these are optimized for human vision (not flat digital sensors), so you'll have a whole different class of problems. And good ones are not cheap.
    But none of these will help with atmospheric haze, vibrations, finding/framing the subject, focusing, etc.

    The only real option, if you are serious about this, is to ask for a special permission, join the reserve association, maybe as a volunteer?, and I'm sure they regularly patrol the park and go outside the public paths for research and maintenance. I think you just cannot go after shy/rare birds staying "outside". Show them good pictures and they will ask you to go for the rare species. If they say no, look for another reserve.

    Or just give up on these rare stuff right now: even if you manage to get a couple of shots they will probably be bad for all the reasons above: super cropped, bad light, haze, micro blur, strong TC, shot wide open, etc. Maybe these are shots for more experienced shooters that, as far as I know, rarely go above 600mm equiv.
    To be honest, it sounds like a little obsession to me, that you want to solve right here, right now with a "brute force" approach, the destination over the journey kind of thing. I hope this does not sound offensive, I've been there myself many times.
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  10. narkotix

    narkotix Mu-43 Regular

    May 31, 2015
    just to add to Phocal's post - my 50-500 bigma 2 (EF Mount using a Kipon AF adaptor) suffers from softitis past 50ft as well. I will say however that I am finding the OS built into the lens better in some instances than the IBIS in the camera.

    These big lenses need a lot of light to be effective which is why they are cheap compared to a 500mm F4 lens from canikon. There is a reason why one is $1300 and the other is $9K (hint its not the white paint).
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