National Parks - Recommended Lenses

Discussion in 'Panasonic Cameras' started by Oz-and-Beyond, Feb 17, 2012.

  1. Oz-and-Beyond

    Oz-and-Beyond New to Mu-43

    8
    Jan 27, 2012
    I've been reading many of your informative posts over the last few weeks and would like your opinions... I will be visiting Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Teton and Grand Canyon this year for vacation/work. Lucky me, right?

    I really like the look and features of the G3 and would like your recommended must-have lens(es). Obvious subjects will be landscapes and critters at long range - if their teeth are large!

    I like the size of the G3 and MFT packages, but I'm still reading the Trey Ratcliff and Ken Rockwell blogs... both recommending Nikon D5100 or more for image quality. (Hope that's not taboo around here.)

    Your recommendations and experience will help me with a shopping list and real world comparison between G3 with lenses and D5100.

    Thanks for the help.
     
  2. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    You can compare cameras here.

    Nikon D5100 Review: 21. Compared to (RAW): Digital Photography Review

    Honestly, when you consider the scale of the images, there is not much in it. You as the photographer are going to be more of the deciding factor in image quality. I would also look at the GH2.

    BTW, I am not really sure why you think Ratcliff and Rockwell are the best source for information about photography.
     
  3. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    No, it's not taboo to ask about comparisons to other camera systems like Nikon.

    However, I will tell you straight up... anybody who recommends a specific camera model like the "Nikon D5100" for better "Image Quality" probably doesn't know what he's talking about. A camera system is made of many parts, and the one which defines your performance the most from shutter speed to image quality, in both in-focus areas (sharpness) and out-of-focus areas (bokeh), are your optics. The body just balances that out, and is the most disposable part of the system (more so than flash, brackets, filters, tripods, or even camera bags - all of which you're likely to keep through many bodies!). Lenses are the least disposable portion, and could last you for decades. I have one lens that gets regular use, made in 1953! Plus, the differences in camera bodies within a system are mostly in build and features, not image quality. Image Quality is something which is simply improved over the years for every body in the system from the cheapest to the best.

    Now if you want a real comparison between the Micro Four-Thirds and Nikon systems... there are a few advantages to the Nikon system for the type of photography you're looking for. The deficiencies of the Micro Four-Thirds system is only due to its young age at only 3 years, and will be alleviated soon. In fact, one of the main deficiencies over DSLRs will be alleviated within a month and a half. This deficiency is with C-AF, aka Contract Detect Autofocus or Tracking Autofocus. The PDAF (Phase Detect Autofocus) system of a DSLR can track a subject on a 3D plane and can tell if it's coming towards or away from you. The CDAF (Contract Detect Autofocus) system of a non-reflex camera has traditionally only been able to detect focus on a 2D plane and used to have problems tracking subjects moving towards or away. However, coming in as early as late March or early April, the OM-D has a new 3D Imager-AF for tracking subjects on a 3D plane. It is tested as the world's fastest AF system, which is a claim Olympus had already with S-AF only but this time it's non-exclusive. However, this advantage won't help everyone yet with just the introduction of a new body, until the AF lenses to back it are in place as I will explain...

    The next problem is lens selection. There are not yet any native fast telephotos (with wide apertures) in the Micro Four-Thirds mount. That doesn't mean that you can't mount fast telephotos, but that you will lose some or all Autofocus capabilities when you do. Learning to use Manual Focus will make things difficult but will also improve your photography skills. Plus it'll allow you to focus silently and carefully with no noise to avoid spooking animals that are close enough to hear you (which doesn't have to be too close, as they have very good hearing!).

    The reason you need a wide-aperture for wildlife is because you need a fast shutter speed to stop action. You can certainly use a slow telephoto (something like the Lumix 100-300mm f/4-5.6 would be more than appropriate) if you shoot in bright conditions or bump up the ISO (which you can do quite a bit on the G3). However, your best photos will be when the sun is hidden (whether by time of day, by cover, or whatever) as direct sunlight will cause harsh shadows on your subject and make your photos look "less professional" for lack of a better term.

    However, you do have options... All Four-Thirds lenses will mount with full compatibility using a Four-Thirds mount adapter, however they will not Autofocus as fast as they were made for PDAF not CDAF. They have the best selection of high-resolving, sharp, fast zooms and primes. One of the best balanced lenses in terms of size, speed, affordability, and sharp image quality, is the Zuiko 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 SWD (I would get the SWD version for its mechanical focus ring, but both versions are good). There are faster, even better resolving Zuiko lenses like the 35-100mm f/2, 150mm f/2, 90-250mm f/2.8, or 300mm f/2.8, but they are very large, heavy, and expensive. Probably not something to start with, particularly with a small body.

    Or you could get legacy primes, which will offer lots of more compact and affordable options, but will lose all Autofocus capabilities. Just get one with an aperture ring so that you retain full control of the lens even off its native mount. I like the OM Zuiko 200mm f/4 a lot for the most compact size, but that's barely faster than your native options. I could also suggest the OM Zuiko 180mm f/2, OM Zuiko 300mm f/4.5, Minolta Rokkor 300mm f/4.5 (the Minolta Foto-Sniper), Vivitar Series 1 200mm f/3, or the Canon FD 300mm f/4L (it also comes in f/5.6 but at that speed you may as well just get the Lumix 100-300mm f/4-5.6). Or there's more expensive, larger, and faster options like the OM Zuiko 250mm f/2 or Canon FD 300mm f/2.8L. I don't know what kind of budget and carrying restraints you're working with.

    Or, you can't discount the native lenses just yet like the Lumix 100-300mm f/4-5.6. That is sufficiently fast for most people, and if you don't mind a slight degradation in image quality you can bump up the ISO to compensate for the slower lens speed. It's unfortunate we don't have more native lens options yet, but not unexpected for a system only 3 years old! However, we will get there soon, and with the addition of 3D Imager-AF will soon have all the capabilities in a completely native system as any DSLR system out there.
     
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  4. Mellow

    Mellow Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 27, 2010
    Florida or Idaho
    Tom
    I'd agree with most of what Ned said, but not all.

    For one, I'd pass on the legacy telephotos. In my experience they are heavy, often optically compromised (especially with CA), and damn near impossible to focus on moving subjects. For landscapes on a tripod, sure, but if you're trying to catch a wolf jogging across the field in Lamar Valley you'll have a hell of a time trying to MF. Ned's suggestion of the Panasonic 100-300mm is a good one. If on a budget, I'd also consider the Olympus 40-150mm, but you'd certainly have to do some severe cropping afterwards. Fortunately, the G3 can handle a bit of that.

    One other thing I'd add is that a wide-angle lens will prove very useful, especially in the Grand Canyon. Last summer in my National Park travels (which included GC, YS, GT, Arches, Bryce, Canyonlands, and Mesa Verde) I ended up taking about 50% of my photos with the Oly 9-18mm. Great lens, super compact. Most of the rest were taken with the Panny 14-45mm kit lens, which is also a great lens that can be had pretty cheaply. Only a few were taken at longer focal lengths, but that could be just me--I was more interested in the scenery than the critters!

    If you don't mind my asking, what kind of work will you be doing?
     
  5. krugorg

    krugorg Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 18, 2011
    Minnesota USA
    Welcome to the forum!

    I posted this link around here recently, but thought it may be helpful. Some great landscapes with multiple m4/3 lenses, though, I thought the 7-14mm shots were especially interesting.

    Panasonic 7-14 F/4 | StarvingPhotographer.com Blog

    Also, recommend you check out the wider angle image threads (native lenses subforum, sample archives) here for some great landscapes.

    Anyways, just thought I would throw these out, since many people still argue that a larger sensor is needed for landscapes, but it seems like people are getting good stuff out of the m4/3 sensor.
     
  6. Oz-and-Beyond

    Oz-and-Beyond New to Mu-43

    8
    Jan 27, 2012
    Mellow... I will be doing software consulting. The schedule usually allows me to spend a day or so around the business work and late afternoons/evenings.

    I've been to Yosemite and Yellowstone before. Taken some decent pics with the old P&S but it's time to upgrade. I will be taking a tripod for lower light landscapes but wifey wants wolf pics. :rolleyes: (Camera budget increasing.)

    I know the comparison to D5100 and 'image quality' may be a touchy subject. I merely looked at the Snapsort page Nikon D5100 vs Panasonic DMC-G3

    There are no Panasonic dealers near me, so I can't see the G3 in person. I know its not 'all the camera' making the photo. I also read Dave In Wales post regarding selling his D7000 after getting his G3. (D7000 and D5100 claim the same sensor/processor?) I'm just trying to make an educated purchase.
    Thanks
     
  7. moccaman

    moccaman Mu-43 Veteran

    283
    Jan 4, 2012
    Australia
    I looked at the G3 locally and while its a nice package it was not all that comfortable to hold, I dont have huge hands, just average. I liked the built in viewfinder, but did not like the bulkiness of the body due to it.

    I picked up a GF1 body locally s/h and then bought new lenses for it, Adorama supplied the 20mm prime and the 14-45 zoom. I have used the camera over the last 2 weeks in national parks around nz and I did use the 14-45 much of the time. The images I have taken range from average to great (in my opinion LOL) and end of the day its us who make the gear perform, I doubt I would have gotten any better images if I had bought the GX1 body I was planning on, except maybe for the night sky shots.

    However I really missed the big zooms of my old film gear, and was going to purchase a 14-140 until I read this thread, now I am not so sure as I was planning on a new body later this year and the new 3D focus technology would be worth having if its not too costly. Of course the 14-140 might become rather affordable once the new gear is released...
     
  8. Oz-and-Beyond

    Oz-and-Beyond New to Mu-43

    8
    Jan 27, 2012
    Moccaman,
    My point-and-shoot is a Panasonic FZ5. (I tend to keep what I buy for a long time.) The G3 will be just a bit bigger. I had no problems with the size of the FZ5, so I'm hoping the G3 will be OK with 14-42, 7-14, or 100-300.
    The 4/3 format is attractive due to its size/weight savings since you only take pictures with the camera you brought. It's also nice to bring one that takes nice, low noise pictures!
     
  9. Sammyboy

    Sammyboy m43 Pro

    Oct 26, 2010
    Steeler Country