Olympus 75-300mm II or manual focus 300mm f4

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by JanW, Nov 16, 2015.

  1. JanW

    JanW Mu-43 Regular

    I'm thinking about buying a 300mm lens, at the moment my only long lens is the Panasonic 45-150mm. I have an E-m10 and I think that I will also buy a grip.
    The question is which lens to buy, to be used for wildlife / birds. No aspirations to become an avid BIF photographer so AF tracking is not a 'must have'.
    Most logical option is the 75-300 II, if I buy the Olympus I will buy the latest version (€500,-).
    On the other hand there are lots of Nikon 300mm f4 IF ED available for approx. €400-€500.
    And another option is a Canon FD 300mm f4L for roughly the same price as the Nikon.
    These primes must be better lenses and more than a stop faster than the native lens.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. Speedliner

    Speedliner Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 2, 2015
    Southern NJ, USA
    Rob
    Are your subjects likely to be moving? Are they likely to be in sun or shade?
     
  3. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    Get the Olympus 75-300 and try not to use it above 280mm. I spent 2 years (one with a Fuji XE-1 and one with a Olympus EM-5) using a Canon FD 400mm ƒ4.5 as my main wildlife lens. Now I enjoyed using this lens but it is a lot of work to get good shots with manual focus. You really have to practice a lot because a lot of times you just can't get focus fast enough, especially for this small song birds (damn things never sit still). Using a manual focus lens is a lot of work, but it so rewarding when you get that shot.

    Here is a collection of some manual focus shots: Manual Focus
     
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  4. JanW

    JanW Mu-43 Regular

    Yes, I expect the subjects to be moving just as Phocal says.
    And they can be anywhere, sun, shadow, woods, snowy winterday in the garden etc.

    Is it really that hard to focus manually? I have always kept my Nikon F3 until I switched to digital, never missed AF at all. But that's more than ten years ago and I must say that I always use AF these days. Would focus peaking work as well as the split prism my F3 had?
     
  5. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    Focus peaking and touch-magnify work even better than the split prism in your SLR. By a significant margin, in my opinion (unless the F3's viewfinder is substantially better than either the Minolta XD or Pentax Spotmatic II I'm familiar with). And yes, it really is that hard to focus manually. The main difference is that it's a lot easier to pixel peep the critical focus on your images now than it ever was in the film days.

    I have 2 long manual telephotos (240mm and 300mm) and I haven't touched either since I bought my Panasonic 100-300.

    In absolutely ideal, perfect conditions, stopped down, on a tripod with a static subject, the legacy 300mm will give me better, sharper results than the Panasonic.

    In every single other scenario, I'd rather have the Panasonic. No question about it. AF and image stabilization are miracle workers for long telephotos.
     
  6. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Honestly it is quite a challenge to even frame a static object with a 600mm equivalent prime. Add in movement, tracking and focusing and you are in for a complex scenario. That's not to say people can't do it. It's just not as easy as you'd hope. Be prepared for a steep learning curve.
     
  7. Hendrik

    Hendrik Mu-43 Regular

    104
    Feb 27, 2015
    Wayland
    I have the OM 300 f/4.5 left over from my OM days and it is a fine lens when mounted on a tripod to an OM-D. As long as you can be content to work slowly, it's a joy to handle – the focusing is quite smooth but it is prone to chromatic aberration, a tendency that can sometimes be put to good use as a focusing aid. I take it out for old times' sake and giggles every now and then. I also have the P100-300 and find it to be much the more convenient lens to use (and carry). I chose it over the O75-300 largely for its somewhat more generous aperture.
    Legacy lenses demand a different workflow since none of the niceties such as AF and auto stop-down are available, as well as built in lens correction. It can be fun if you're used to it or it can be frustrating if you're not.
     
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  8. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    One other point that cannot be neglected is how much more difficult it is to find your subject through the lens with a prime rather than a zoom. Especially with birds in a forest, you can pick it out easily enough with your eye, but when you're looking at it through a slightly shaky (even with IBIS) 300mm lens all the details look the same. A zoom lets you take a wider view at 100mm, pinpoint the subject, and quickly rack your zoom to the full 300mm and focus.
     
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  9. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    I grew shooting rifles from the time I was 7. Until reading on this forum I did not realize people had this problem. It's so natural for me that I have never had a problem with this and I am thankful.
     
  10. Ross the fiddler

    Ross the fiddler Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I would suggest getting the Olympus 75-300 lens as it is reliable, light & reasonably good quality with it's results.
    Here's two photos using it at 300mm
    M8265119-adj-s.

    M8265110-s.

    And this was taken at 194mm
    M8265096-adj-s.

    This was taken at 234mm & cropped.
    O4266194-cr-us-s.

    Each photo was taken with the AF Target on the eyes & none were stopped down at all but at 300mm it is f6.7.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2015
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  11. quickeye

    quickeye Mu-43 Rookie

    11
    Dec 16, 2011
    Phoenix, AZ
    Terry
    I use several Nikon MF lens with my EM-1, 200/F4, 300/F4.5 and 400/F5.6. They are a bit of work but the results can be very rewarding. I've had some success using the 200/F4 for BIF, lots of fun. I don't normally use focus peaking. I get the focus pretty close and then half-press the shutter to engage IBIS and fine-tune the focus. I also have the P100-300 with tripod collar, it works pretty well but you have to develop good technique due to its light weight if handholding. I suggest picking up an inexpensive 200/f4 or similar lens and giving manual focus a tryout. All with the 200/F4 and EM-1.
    10005508. 10005571. 10005763. 10005640.

    Terry
     
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  12. siftu

    siftu Mu-43 Top Veteran

    641
    Mar 26, 2015
    Bay Area, CA
    siftu
    These are great shots but it seems you are heavy on sharpening or something. How are you post processing these?
     
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  13. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Lorenzo
    I tried a few combos of manual focus tele lenses, including different types of TC and even focal reducers. My current experiment is here: Showcase - Pentax 200mm f/4 Super-Takumar M42
    I also have the 75-300 II on the E-M10 with external grip.

    I usually find manual focus quite easy but with an adapted tele lens there are several problems. These lenses are heavy, depending on the lens the focus ring can be too far or too large to be used comfortably while supporting the lens. It's not the weight in itself but the fact that you use three fingers to hold the lens and two to turn the focus ring and the balance can be bad (at least with Nikon mount where you have a long adapter).
    When I focus I use magnify and you easily loose sight of the whole composition. Never tried with peaking very much. At 300 f4 the DoF is small.
    In practice the focus issue is so demanding that you forget all the rest. No doubt a ton of practice help.

    Autofocus is great, so much easier, so relaxing. This means getting more shots. And even if the 300mm accounts for most of my shots with this lens, I have a few at 200 and even 75.

    I'm sure that at 300mm the IQ of a good prime is better, but I'm mostly interested in keeping ISO low. There is no much IQ difference anyway if you have to shoot at ISO 3200. So two stops can make a lot of difference.
    On the other hand an adapted 300/4 wide open could be not much different from the Oly at 300 f8 and if you stop down the first one to 5.6 you already loose part of the speed advantage. A good tripod can solve this dilemma.

    At 300 handheld you really need a fast shutter speed, IBIS help is limited at these focal lengths (no way I can shoot at 300mm, 1/75s).
    During the day the 75-300 is plenty fast (easy to go f8, iso 200, 1/1000 in summer) and IQ at f8 is good enough for me. Late afternoon or winter it starts to be a problem. Even with a slow swimming mallard, you need a fast shutter speed to avoid vibrations while focusing following it.

    Most of the adapted lenses I tried also have poor contrast and you have to do a good processing of the shots. And some colour fringing is common too.

    So it depends: I have both and still cannot decide. If I should go on a travel no doubt I'll pick up the Oly. Most animals I can find around do not stay there for long. If I'd go for an afternoon in a wildlife reserve I could pick up the tripod and also the manual focus lenses.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2015
  14. JanW

    JanW Mu-43 Regular

    Thank you all for your answers and for sharing your experience. Most of the comments confirm my feeling that I should buy a 75-300mm.
    Main reasons are AF speed/accuracy and portability. I take my camera with me on walks and that is one of the reasons for choosing m4/3 in the first place.
    Lugging a large lens and tripod with me is not wat I want.

    I also looked for images taken with the 75-300 on Flickr and was not disappointed, even found a lot of nice looking images wide open (don't know if I can call f6.7 'wide'.....) at 300mm.

    On the other hand the Nikon 300mm f4 should be very good at max. aperture and have no chromatic abberation problems like older legacy lenses.
    If I keep considering this the best option is perhaps Terry's suggestion to buy a cheap nikon mount 200mm/f4 and adaptor to try how MF lenses work for me.
    But for now I'm leaning towards the 75-300.

    Thanks again!
     
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  15. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    I find it easier shooting rifles, but I've mostly shot with iron sights.

    They actually look like they were shot on fast film and then scanned. I might be wrong.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2015
  16. Speedliner

    Speedliner Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 2, 2015
    Southern NJ, USA
    Rob
    Something inherently easier had more natural about bringing a rifle up and getting it on target. Cameras and binoculars don't have that natural point, or stability.
     
  17. quickeye

    quickeye Mu-43 Rookie

    11
    Dec 16, 2011
    Phoenix, AZ
    Terry
    I noticed that they look pretty lousy when I uploaded them. These are fairly small JPG's, I'll have to look at the raw files and see what I did.
     
  18. siftu

    siftu Mu-43 Top Veteran

    641
    Mar 26, 2015
    Bay Area, CA
    siftu
    OK I was just interested. I think they could shine a lot more
     
  19. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Lorenzo
    I think that both the Canon and the Nikon are very good wide open (the Super Takumar 200/4, old versions, is). The problem is that when you stop them down you say "hey, this is better!". And then you have a f4 lens that you would really like to use at 5.6 or 8. So you resort to wider apertures only when you have too. After all you are using this lenses to get the best IQ.

    This is an article I liked about wildlife shooting, things that matter more then gear I think: 10 Tips On How To Photograph Foxes
     
  20. JanW

    JanW Mu-43 Regular

    In response to the last post (can't get a quote here at the moment):
    Beeing Dutch myself, like Roeselien, I suspect her foxes might not be wat we call 'wildlife' in the way we are used to it.
    I have not found any proof so I hope someone can correct me if I'm wrong.

    In the Netherlands we have a park called "Amsterdamse waterleidingduinen".
    There are lots of foxes there and they are not shy at all. I would most definitely not need a 300mm when going there to photograph foxes:
    vossen waterleidingduinen - Google zoeken

    But I must say that there is nothing wrong with what she writes. I'm very much convinced that things that make a beautiful image have very little to do with gear.