Shootout Olympus 75-300 vs 50-200 SWD w/ EC-14 vs 300/4 Shoot Out

retiredfromlife

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Thanks for the very good comparison. Even though the 300 was the best lens it shows that for cash strapped photographers to 75-300 is a viable low cost option if that is all you can afford, or if you want a disposable lens for possible hazardous trip.
 

barry13

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Hi Ronnie, thank you very much for doing this test.

A couple comments:
1. (On my tablet) I believe see a significant difference in contrast for the 75-300 vs the other two lenses. Thoughts?

2. I cannot discern a difference in sharpness between the 50-200 and 300/4.
I don't have a Flickr account (I deliberately killed my Yahoo account), so I can't view the full-size images.
Would you mind posting a small crop of 2-3 images side by side in a single image file, no bigger than 1600px so the forum doesn't scale it down?

Thanks again
 

Phocal

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Thanks for efforts. I have SWD and have always loved the sharpness,though it is a bit clunky. I have the 300mm f4 and have almost always used it on the Panny G-9 lately. I don't see that I give up anything. I did use it on the EM-10 iii and had some disappointments,though the Jpegs were good. I don't think the AF is good on this camera. I did update the firmware today.
You are welcome. The 50-200 is really an amazing little lens that is often overlooked, I personally love the lens. The only thing you really give up using the 300/4 on a Panny body is the dual IS. While not needed I have come to really push that dual IS by getting into strange shooting positions to get some unique perspective. I think having the dual IS has enabled me to some shots that would have otherwise been more difficult due to lower in focus shots due to my movement.
 

Phocal

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Thanks for the very good comparison. Even though the 300 was the best lens it shows that for cash strapped photographers to 75-300 is a viable low cost option if that is all you can afford, or if you want a disposable lens for possible hazardous trip.
You are welcome. The 75-300 is a good little lens, its just unfortunate that it is also the one that requires the best technique to get sharp shots from. That lens could really benefit from a redo with dual IS like the new Panny version. It also sharpens up noticeably if you stay under 280mm, I really should have tested that during this test but didn't think about it until I was culling images.
 

Phocal

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A couple comments:
1. (On my tablet) I believe see a significant difference in contrast for the 75-300 vs the other two lenses. Thoughts?
It's hard to say, maybe more than the 50-200. Could also be just the difference in how it renders images. In a lot of ways I prefer it over the 50-200, but the I really do love the images from the 300/4.

2. I cannot discern a difference in sharpness between the 50-200 and 300/4.
I don't have a Flickr account (I deliberately killed my Yahoo account), so I can't view the full-size images.
Would you mind posting a small crop of 2-3 images side by side in a single image file, no bigger than 1600px so the forum doesn't scale it down?
There is a difference but it would be hard to see on the forum, at 100% it is noticeable. I have uploaded full resolution images to my Amazon Prime so everyone can download them and take a look. I will put the link here, in a post all alone as well as in my conclusion post.

If you like I can still do a crop from each photo and include it in the post.

Full resolution images - Amazon Photos
 

adammaniam

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Ron, thank you for taking the time to do this thorough review. It is appreciated.

I have the 75-300 and my findings are consistent with yours. First, it needs proper technique to get good results. On this, I'm glad that I had the chance during my national service days in Singapore to learn how to properly shoot a long rifle. Many of the things (controlling breathing etc) apply to using this lens.

I also find that it is noticeably better stopped down, and also when under 280mm. 246mm seems to be the sweet spot for mine for sharpness, reach.

At the end of the day, it is a great bang for the buck lens, if you use it with due regard to its focal length (and not based on its weight and size).

Most importantly, as a number of others have said in this thread, the results for all 3 lenses are excellent and show that while good gear is important, the fella behind the viewfinder is much more so.

Thanks.
 

barry13

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For your viewing pleasure I provide full resolution images for download - Amazon Photos
Hi Ronnie, I hope you don't mind... I took 100% crops of 3 images at 1600x533px and put them in a single 1600x1600 PNG with no resizing or sharpening:
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

(click image for full-size)

I changed the order of the images; guesses welcome.

Comments:
I definitely see a difference in sharpness between each lens now, but this really is pixel-peeping and I'm wondering how much it'd matter with a closer subject or in print.
Also, this is pretty remarkable (to me) that a 10+ year old lens with a teleconverter approaches one of the sharpest telephoto lenses in the world.

The difference in contrast I though I saw earlier on my tablet is less apparent here, although the color difference is now more obvious.
 
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Based on my experience with the 75-300 it would be even closer with the 75-300 shot below 250mm and then cropped.
That's interesting. I don't shoot long very often, so it's a good lens for occasional use, the 300 is obviously better. I have to ask myself questions if I'm considering buying pro level photographic stuff, after getting carried away for a few years and spending a fortune on equipment I rarely or never used, because it seemed like a good idea at the time. Can I afford it? The answer is invariably yes (luckily). Will it make me a better photographer? Well I'm honest to myself, I know I'm not much good and unlikely to improve at my age, so the answer is no. Do I really need it? Again no. Do I just love the tactile feel of high end bodies and lenses? You bet I do. :)
 
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That was my guess too, but I was too chicken to try. And honestly it was based more on the little bit of background I could see more than the sharpness of the bird.
I had to result to how much the white feathers under the beak were blown and how much sharp detail was in the black soft feather above the eye, I'm not much of a pixel peeper :)
 
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I changed the order of the images; guesses welcome.
1. 300/4 PRO
2. 50-200 SWD
3. 70-300 II

Comments:
I definitely see a difference in sharpness between each lens now, but this really is pixel-peeping and I'm wondering how much it'd matter with a closer subject or in print.
Good point Barry. For large prints at normal viewing distances, the difference is likely not noticeable. It raises the age old question of "How good is good enough?".

Also, this is pretty remarkable (to me) that a 10+ year old lens with a teleconverter approaches one of the sharpest telephoto lenses in the world.
Agreed. The SWD is absolutely fantastic. The only thing that drove me to sell mine was the slower AF speed when shooting in C-AF with subjects (i.e. sprinters) running straight at the camera (and the lower burst rate due to the aperture control mechanism). From an optical standpoint though, it's fantastic even to this day.
 

kbouk

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Μany thanks for your effort and the tough test you going through Ronnie, I’m looking forward to see another one with 150/2 in the feature even inside from your kayak (I have 150/2,50-200SWD with both TC and Pany 100-300II).
My general observation about the color is that many 4/3 lenses (even the SHG series as 14-35/2, 35-100/2, 150/2) are less contrasty than the newer m43 (even some kit lenses) but they have much more microcontrast. There exceptions of course in m43 pro line as 300/4 which has both of them (contrast and microcontrast / detail).
I think also that the differences on your test would be a lot bigger if the distance to the target was more than 42 feeet.
 

Phocal

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Hi Ronnie, I hope you don't mind... I took 100% crops of 3 images at 1600x533px and put them in a single 1600x1600 PNG with no resizing or sharpening:
Not at all and appreciate that you did it. My only concern was that all photos were from the same distance as well as the same state (wide-open or stopped down) and it seems that is the case.

Comments:
I definitely see a difference in sharpness between each lens now, but this really is pixel-peeping and I'm wondering how much it'd matter with a closer subject or in print.
Also, this is pretty remarkable (to me) that a 10+ year old lens with a teleconverter approaches one of the sharpest telephoto lenses in the world.

The difference in contrast I though I saw earlier on my tablet is less apparent here, although the color difference is now more obvious.
To me the sharpness difference is obvious, but I also have access to the full resolution RAW files (but everyone now has access to the full resolution JPGs).

As for a closer subject...…………………….

First, I would have to argue that 90% of the people on this forum who would use any of these lenses would be shooting from a farther distance. While I have no data to back it up (just years of looking at photos on photography forum sites) I would argue that at least 90% of the people who use a telephoto lens in general (any system) would be shooting from a farther distance.

So, shooting from a closer distance would honestly show the same difference. I have photos with the head of a GBH (as well as smaller Herons/Egrets) filling the frame from the 300/4, 300/4 with MC-14, the 150/2, 150/2 w/ EC-14, and 150/2 w/ EC-20 as well as the 50-200 (in all TC combos) and I can easily tell the difference in the amount of detail captured. I have done a comparison of the bare 150/2 vs the bare 300/4 and those two lenses are almost identical and very hard to tell the which was used (I have to look at the bokeh to figure it out). But once I start adding TC's there is a noticeable difference and I think if I was able to do this test from a closer distance the difference would be similar. Yes the 75-300 would provide a better photograph than it does now, but so would the 300/4 and the SWD.

Shooting from a farther distance (which most are going to do) will only widen this difference in sharpness because the other lenses don't have nearly the resolution of the 300/4. I had briefly considered shooting from a farther distance but I always test/compare lenses how I shoot them and not how others shoot them, so I stayed true to my testing.

As for printing? Really depends on how big you are going to print. Based on my printing of images over the last 5 years while using m4/3 I would say if printing small to medium sized there wouldn't be much difference (especially if printing on a textured paper like canvas). I honestly don't think I would find the image of a Tri-Colored Heron I printed 40x30 to meet my requirements if I had taken it with the 75-300. The lens just doesn't have the resolution to capture enough detail when printing that large and wanting to really see the feather detail in a bird. Honestly I am not sure I would have been satisfied if it was taken with the SWD either. The 300/4 is really that amazing of a lens.

As for how a 10 year old lens compared to a new one I am really not that surprised. When Olympus was making the 4/3 lenses they sacrificed nothing for IQ with the SHG lenses, it's why I am so in love with the 150/2. For the HG lenses (which the SWD is) they made them as good as the current Pro lenses in my opinion. To keep size down they have started to use more software correction than they did with the SHG lenses (except maybe the new 1.2 primes, which are stellar in my opinion). I have said for a number of years now that the new Pro lenses are about the same as the old HG lenses and I still believe that. I may just have to shoot the bare SWD against the 300/4 by matching framing and see how it compares, just like I did with the 150/2.
 

Phocal

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Based on my experience with the 75-300 it would be even closer with the 75-300 shot below 250mm and then cropped.
I have multiple problems with this reply.

First, almost all zooms tend to get softer as you get closer to the ends. I could have backed off on the 75-300 and the 50-200 and the results between them would have most likely remained the same. Although I suspect the differences between focal lengths is less drastic with the SWD than the 75-300, really wish LensTip would test one of the xx-300 m4/3 lenses. Even with a bit more resolution the 75-300 still wouldn't have gotten much better compared to the other 2 lenses, it just doesn't have the resolving power of the better lenses.

Second, I don't crop...…...or I should say I crop very little and it's mostly just to tighten up composition. But even if I did shoot the 75-300 at 250mm and cropped I would have a photo with less resolution that I couldn't print as large as one that was at full resolution. The solution for the 75-300 isn't to shoot at 250mm and crop, it's shoot at 250mm and get closer so you don't have to crop.
 

Phocal

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That's interesting. I don't shoot long very often, so it's a good lens for occasional use, the 300 is obviously better. I have to ask myself questions if I'm considering buying pro level photographic stuff, after getting carried away for a few years and spending a fortune on equipment I rarely or never used, because it seemed like a good idea at the time. Can I afford it? The answer is invariably yes (luckily). Will it make me a better photographer? Well I'm honest to myself, I know I'm not much good and unlikely to improve at my age, so the answer is no. Do I really need it? Again no. Do I just love the tactile feel of high end bodies and lenses? You bet I do. :)
as I mentioned above, all zooms are better away from the ends of the range.

I do agree about the feel of Pro lens/body, so nice to hold and use.
 

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