Review M.Zuiko 300mm f/4 Pro - My impressions

Mat - MirrorLessons

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Hi everyone and happy new year to all of you.

I had the chance to use the new 300mm during the christmas holidays and I'm summarising my thoughts here. Feel free to ask me any questions.

What impressed me the most is sharpness and the optical stabilisation. The former is excellent from f/4 already (I used this aperture a lot) while the IS is excellent also on Panasonic cameras. I managed to get sharp shots down to 1/6s and 1/10s with the GX8. With the E-M1 and the Sync IS mode, I reached 0.4s (only once but still impressive). Granted those are extreme tests but it shows how good the optical IS really is. Bear in mind that shutter shock can be severe at critical shutter speeds.

The autofocus motor is very fast and silent on both Olympus and Panasonic cameras. The build quality is amazing, it feels like the best Pro lens Olympus ever build. It is also the largest and heavier M4/3 lens. On small cameras like the E-M10 or E-M10 II it can be uncomfortable to use. On the E-M1 and GX8 it's ok. I used the lens hand held for 90 minutes at a soccer game and only felt a little bit tired at the end. So yes it is a big lens for a m4/3 camera but you still get some of the advantages you expect from a smaller system.

If I have to mention a negative aspect, it would concerns the bokeh. In some situations like a bird on a tree, the out of focus branches in the foreground and background have hard edges and doubles images so the bokeh becomes nervous and unpleasant. In other situations with subject at a longer distance it is fine.

It is a large, heavy lens and the price is quite high. But if we consider that the lens gives the same angle of view as a 600mm on a full frame DSLR, there is some advantage there (but I know that some people might have different opinions about this kind of comparison :).

Below are a few images and a video shot in 4K with the lens on the GX8. You can check more images in my full review on MirrorLessons.

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b_rubenstein

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I also follow your site and have a question regarding shutter shock with the GX8: How common is it and with which lenses? Olympus finally fixed it with V4 FW on the E-M1, without having to resort to electronic shutter. There are a number things I like about the GX8, but would not like to go back to having to think about SS. Thanks.
 

Mat - MirrorLessons

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I also follow your site and have a question regarding shutter shock with the GX8: How common is it and with which lenses? Olympus finally fixed it with V4 FW on the E-M1, without having to resort to electronic shutter. There are a number things I like about the GX8, but would not like to go back to having to think about SS. Thanks.
I find it more severe than the E-M1. I would say it's more common with telephoto lenses. We experienced it especially when using the 14-140mm at the longest focal lengths but it can also be annoying with the 35-100mm. It's critical between 1/60 and 1/320.
 

Mat - MirrorLessons

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I took this shot this afternoon with the E-M1, 300mm Pro and MC-14 at 1/50s hand held (no crop). Sharpness looks great even with the teleconverter.

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GRID

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Thx for the info, i´m going to get this lens as quick as possible, to bad it will be released after WRC RallySweden in mid Feb :p
 

b_rubenstein

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I find it more severe than the E-M1. I would say it's more common with telephoto lenses. We experienced it especially when using the 14-140mm at the longest focal lengths but it can also be annoying with the 35-100mm. It's critical between 1/60 and 1/320.
Thank you. I find the DFD focusing of my LX100 surprising good and was anxious to try the GX8 specifically with my 35-100/2.8. Oh, well. I'll hang on to my E-M1 and sketchy rear dial for a while longer. (I will send the camera in to get the dial fixed. Would have been nice to have a camera from a manufacturer that know how to make reliable control dials.)
 

kevinparis

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Good review. Of course, Olympus wants us to compare the size and cost to 600mm lenses because the comparison to other very sharp and far more affordable 300mm f4 lenses is not good for sales.

For example...taken with a 20 year old Sigm 300mm f4...

View attachment 110937
nice shot...but Olympus are in the business of selling cameras and lenses.. they don't give a damn about what you can cobble together from lenses they make no money on.

I bought my 50-200 at new street price 7 years ago, as I did my e-510, 12-60, 9-18, 25. My E-p1 was bought on ebay as was my panasonic 20.. Since then the E-m5, E-m1, E-PL6 , 75, 17 FLR 660 x2 all bought new from dealers along with some panasonic stuff like a GH2, 25, 14, 50-200

I invest directly in the platform because it fits with my needs and I want to see the platform continue

your 20 year old sigma I will guess doesn't autofocus, isn't weather sealed, doesn't have coordinated image stabilisation, maybe is heavier?

All of these arguments are stupid.. Olympus have a flagship lens for their system, that offers the actual real life capability to fill your view finder in a way that would cost way more in dollars and pounds on other system

thats the story..

K
 

dornblaser

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Thanks, Mat. I just posted in another thread about dual IS and I will interested in your thoughts about the P100-400 and O300 being used cross-platform (Panasonic/Olympus) without dual IS being an option.

I enjoy your website and your, and Heather's, balanced reviews.

- David
 

Turbofrog

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I took that shot handeld, at 1/160, ISO 200. The Sigma is rubber coated and weather sealed. It is very sharp at f4, it weighs 200 grams less than the Olympus, and it only cost $200.

Go ahead and spend $2500 to go with the consumer flow and support Olympus so you can shoot autofocus at 1/50 in the rain and cold of your backyard.
If you have the Sigma 300mm f4 APO, it is not weather sealed...

I can't afford the Olympus and wouldn't be a customer regardless due to the size and weight, but I must say that I enjoy photography too much to force myself to use manual focus superteles as I've done in the past. My 100-300mm isn't up to the image quality of a modern 300mm prime, but my goodness is it so much more enjoyable to use...

Alas, this is all a digression. The Oly 300 is a stunning lens, there is no denying it. If price were no object, it's hard to imagine many of us who enjoy that kind of photography turning it down.
 
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I took that shot handeld, at 1/160, ISO 200. The Sigma is rubber coated and weather sealed. It is very sharp at f4, it weighs 200 grams less than the Olympus, and it only cost $200.

Go ahead and spend $2500 to go with the consumer flow and support Olympus so you can shoot autofocus at 1/50 in the rain and cold of your backyard.
$200?... that sounded so good to my ears since for that price I would be VERY interested in a Sigma (I find their glass very good).
Unfortunately all I could find on eBay was a fair bit more: C013-181**Excellent+++**SIGMA 300mm F2.8 APO DG For Nikon from Japan
And that is for used, manual focus glass.
However, if you can direct me to a more reasonable price I would be interested.
Thank you
 

Dragos101

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$200?... that sounded so good to my ears since for that price I would be VERY interested in a Sigma (I find their glass very good).
Unfortunately all I could find on eBay was a fair bit more: C013-181**Excellent+++**SIGMA 300mm F2.8 APO DG For Nikon from Japan
And that is for used, manual focus glass.
However, if you can direct me to a more reasonable price I would be interested.
Thank you
The one in your link is a 300mm/2.8, not the F4 version that's been discussed.
 

barry13

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@gnarlydog australia, there was a Canon version on eBay a few days ago, from Japan, under $300 shipped, Buy it Now priced.
@gnarlydog australia, it's been re-listed for the same Buy It Now price ($247USD): SIGMA AF APO TELE MACRO 300mm F4 Lens for Canon w/ Case - Excellent+ Shipping to AU is offered.

I'm tempted to buy it myself, but it's not really a good time for me right now.

FYIs, The Sigma 300mm (Canon) has apparently not been tested by Metabones yet: Metabones... It'd still work in MF with a regular adapter or focal reducer though.

Barry
 
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Mat - MirrorLessons

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Good review. Of course, Olympus wants us to compare the size and cost to 600mm lenses because the comparison to other very sharp and far more affordable 300mm f4 lenses is not good for sales.

For example...taken with a 20 year old Sigm 300mm f4...

View attachment 110937
I saw some of your pictures in another thread (they are really excellent by the way). Adapting a 300mm lens on m4/3 is definitely an interesting alternative if you can live without some automatisms.

The comparison with a 600mm on a full frame camera is fair if we talk about the same angle of view with two different systems. Of course from there we can discuss many things and obviously Olympus will insist on the size difference as part of its marketing strategy.

But this lens is the first of its kind designed for m4/3 and it is another step forward to have a more complete system.
 

Speedliner

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@gnarlydog australia, there was a Canon version on eBay a few days ago, from Japan, under $300 shipped, Buy it Now priced.

The Canon one might AF with the new Meta Bones adapter.

I wonder if the MC-14 would work with the Meta Bones.

Barry
I think it was David Thorpes that said the mc-14 works with adapted lenses because the adapter provides the space the mc-14 needs. Not sure the metabones retains the space, or if AF would still work though.
 
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