Panasonic 100-300mm not long enough, now what?

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by Tadgh78, Oct 19, 2014.

  1. Tadgh78

    Tadgh78 Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 25, 2013
    Hello all. I'm still quite new to photography.About 6 months ago I picked up a panasonic 100-300 for wildlife. The problem is I still find it quite short most of the time for things like herons and squirrels which won't let me get too close. There are no longer native lenses on m43 and I don't want to give up auto focus.

    Therefor I'm thinking of trying one of the screw thread tele-converters like the Olympus C-180 or Raynox DCR-2025 2.2x and there are others. Does anyone have any experience of using any of these conversion lenses on the 100-300? And was it a success?

    Thank you,

  2. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    Get closer

    Seriously anything longer than effective 600mm will need to be stratospheric quality optics AND require attention to detail on your end for camera shake issues. Think excellent tripod and mirror lockup .

    I just compared a 600mm mirror lens with my 300mm f4 and found that crop then upscale of the 300 worked better.

    Then there is the problem of atmosphere ... it erodes telephoto image quality the more of it you look through.

    All these are done with a manual focus no OIS 300mm[email protected]&q=300

    The issue is your technique. Which is good because that can be improved for free :)
    • Like Like x 3
  3. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    Well, you can work on technique now, and then buy the 300/4.0 and 1.4 teleconverter when it comes out.

    Or if you're rich, an e-m1 will play nice with the 43 300/2.8 and 2.0x TC...
    • Like Like x 1
  4. phigmov

    phigmov Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Apr 4, 2010
    • Like Like x 1
  5. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    If 300mm is not long enough, you may have to consider additional techniques such as hides, camouflage and patience.
    • Like Like x 2
  6. Tadgh78

    Tadgh78 Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 25, 2013
    Is an electronic shutter on m43 to equivalent of mirror lockup on mirrored DSLR?

    According to Dxomark most every prime lens has higher resolution than a zoom of whatever focal length, maybe double in some cases. For instance the panasonic 100-300 scores only 5 "perceptual megapixels" on DxoMark when tested on a 16mp body. Canon EF 500mm F4L scores 8 p-mpix when tested on a similar (15mp) body and a sharp lens like the Panasonic 75mm scores 11 p-mpix on a 16 mp body. So perhaps I need to get myself a tele-prime?

    I think the only way to get much closer to some of these animals would be inside a hide. Is that really necessary?

    Some of these are very good but I can't help but wonder what your keeper rate is like or, more to the point, what my keeper rate would be like if I were using a manual lens. I sometimes switch to manual on my G3 when I'm trying to pick a bird out that is between branches but in that case the autofocus has already done most of the work.

    Well while I can't deny that my technique could stand to improve I'm fairly sure that I have gotten as close to these animals as they will allow me to approach and my images still lack detail. The only option seems to be either a lens with more magnification, a sharper lens or else a portable hide.

    Is there anything I'm missing?
  7. Tadgh78

    Tadgh78 Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 25, 2013
    Patience? You had to pick the commodity that's in shortest supply of all! :D
  8. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa

    it is ... pardon me, I was just used to thinking those two together.

    your point? You asked about a longer lens than 300mm ... at least that's what I assumed you meant when you said "not enough"

    did you miss my point about exotic optics?Have you priced that lens? How much do you want to spend on photographing squirrels?

    ...and is that data on a APS (didn't look it up) or on a full frame ... I'm guessing APS given the numbers. The thing about P-Mpix is that full frame will give higher results than smaller formats.

    This blog post of mine may help with explaining what I mean

    indeed ... do you know any in the current lineup?

    How much are you expecting them to be? (have you looked at the prices of the Olympus 300mm prime tele?

    I'm expecting something like US$6000

    I paid less than $200 for my FD300f4. Its a beautiful lens to work with, great tripod mount and the Inner Focus system makes for smooth and precise focus.

    no, but I suspect you're not a bush person and are a city person. Thus you probably have the wrong approach. I managed to get close enough to photograph these with just a 300mm FD legacy lens (god only knows what DxO thinks of its P-Mpix)

    Thanks. Keep in mind that its digital, not film ... delete the duds, look at the results and try to learn from it ... I think I took about ten shots to get the black headed tit and about 4 for the blue crested tit. But I have been doing this for like 30 years.

    to be honest AF gets in my way massively when shooting a bird in a bush. The AF will latch onto the branch infront of the bird. Practice is not expensive.

    well I have been no more than 3 meters from this fella (and it was effing cold and took some tenacity to stand out there in -20 to get a shot.

    but I just stood there ... no hide needed. Just being still and not talking or moving

    patience and diligence and a creative approach. Some shots from India while I was on a tour. This was an old 100-300 USM lens on a 10D (which isn't even in the running for sharpness compared to your G3). All straight out of the camera ... not cropped





    let me ask you a question: do you enjoy the animals you photograph? Could you spend hours watching them or is it just a quest?

    I've spend 3 hours waiting for a platypus to come down stream ... some annoying yank tourist turned up blabbering and scared it away when it was 50M from me.

    • Like Like x 4
  9. bassman

    bassman Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Apr 22, 2013
    New Jersey
    The Bassman
  10. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    Oh, and about the zoom vs prime being double, its not a rule.

    The 200f2.8 is almost the same as the 70-200 rating

    None the less it is refreshing to discuss this with someone who is engaging with the answers.

    Also, I am not sure, but perhaps this blog post may make it clear more about perceptual megapixels.

    Often its not just the pmpix that makes an image good, contrast and other low frequency information makes a difference.

  11. dougjgreen

    dougjgreen Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 5, 2013
    San Diego
    Doug Green
    I would try the following add-on front-mounted teleconverters: Either the Olympus IS/L B-300 or the identical TCON-17. They can be picked up on ebay for $100 or less (I paid $50 for my TCON-17. Both of these screw onto 55mm threads, so you'll need a step-down ring. You'll end up losing about 1 f-stop at the longest end. While I've not used the TCON-17 on that Panasonic lens, it works well on my Tamron 70-300mm lens, using a 62-55mm step down ring, and I would think it's performance would be similar on the Panasonic 100-300. To me, it makes sense to try this before resorting to anything that would require HUGE expenditure.

    The Olympus C-210 (1.9x) and A-200 (1.5x) are also good front-mount teleconverters, but they are going to be too physically small for use on the 100-300 without significant light loss - but they work well on the Panasonic 45-175, which has only 46mm front threads and a front element that's only 32mm across.

    There are a few other 1.7x front mounted converters from other manufacturers that would likely also work, including the Panasonic DMW-LT55, which is similar to the Olympus TCON-17, and can be bought new for around $170, and also sometimes shows up used for $50-100.

    In general, there is a pre-conceived bias against front-mounted teleconverters, but I have found that these high quality Olympus TCs work well. I was actually shocked at how good the A-200 was on my Panasonic 45-175, which persuaded me to get the TCON-17 for my bigger Tamron lens, and it does work.

    Also, lenses with optical stabilization automatically compensate for a front-mount TC when it's mounted. I don't know if IBIS will do that.

    Again, given the physical size of the front of the Panasonic 100-300, you want one with as big a front and rear element as possible, and the best bets are the Oly B-300, the Oly TCON-19 and the Panasonic DMW LT55. The two Olympus converters are identical to each other, and the Panasonic converter is very similar to these. For all of these, you'll need a step-down ring to 55mm from the 67 front threads of your Panasonic 100-300mm lens.
    • Like Like x 1
  12. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    If you are a true wildlife person 300mm (600mm in full frame) is plenty long enough. You are trying to photograph wild animals that typically are afraid of humans. The key is patience and then even more patience. If you truly love wildlife photography and the animals you photograph then your lens should be more than enough. If you are just trying to get photos of wild animals to act like a real wildlife photographer then no lens will ever be long enough.

    Someone talked about using adapted lenses which is a great idea. Reason I went with Olympus over Panasonic is the IBIS, you will not have IS on your camera using adapted lenses like I do on my E-M1. I have and regularly use a Canon FD 400mm ƒ4.5, which is manual focus and works great. Other than birds in flight or fast moving animals there really is no downside to using manual focus. My keeper rate (which you seem so concerned about) is actually better than 90% when using manual focus lenses. It's all about patience and technique. Here is my old Flickr gallery using my manual focus lenses

    Here are a few photos taken with a 105mm manual focus lens. In each case I had to sneak, crawl, hide behind trees/bushes to get the shot. Things you have to be willing to do if you are serious about wildlife photography. There is a reason not everyone is a wildlife photographer, it takes a special love of the outdoors and the willingness to be down right miserable at times all in the name of that special photograph.

    View attachment 390639
    Foggy Morning
    by Bohicat, on Flickr

    View attachment 390640
    by Bohicat, on Flickr
    • Like Like x 8
  13. Dave Lively

    Dave Lively Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 16, 2014
    I have never used a screw on TC for my 100-300 but when I was using a NEX I had a TCON-17 I used with the 55-210 f6.3 and it worked much better than I expected. There was a slight loss of contrast, more CA (purple color fringes) but the results were much better than cropping the same amount. I never tried it on my 100-300 because I would have had to stop that lens down too much to use the TC, it had a lot more reach to start with and a conversion lens that can really handle the large front element of the 100-300 would probably weigh as much as the lens. The Sony 55-210 only has half the telephoto reach of the 100-300 and is inferior optically but at the time was the longest option available for that system so high quality TCs, particularly the Sony 1758 were fairly popular. If you want to search for one on Ebay look at the ones listed at . OIS and autofocus will both still work and the lens will not get any slower.

    I once tried one of the less expensive 2 element TCs and the results were horrible. The loss of contrast, resolution and increased CA were so bad I was obviously much better off cropping. If you do decide to try one make sure you get one of the 5 element models with the widest filter thread possible. These sort of TCs act like binoculars so the image quality can never be better than the TC or the lens itself. Since the 100-300 is a better lens than I was using with my TCON-17 the flaws in the TC might be more noticeable. The more common TCs that go between the lens and the camera act as magnifiers that enlarge the image coming from the lens but also magnify any flaws in the lens and make it slower so you really need a extremely good and fast lens to get good results with a after the lens TC. Since the TC instead of the lens is usually the limiting factor with the in front of the lens TC a good TC and mediocre lens like the Sony 55-210 work much better than people familiar with the other type of TC would expect.

    In short, it is worth a try. Buy a good TC and if it does not work you should be able to sell it on Ebay for about what you paid for it.

    If you want a real lens and TC you will have to wait for the Olympus 300mm F4 and use the new 1.4TC. The results will be much better but I expect the pair to cost over $2000.

    I also have a manual focus Canon 300f2.8 with the 1.4 and 2.0 after the lens TCs. I get good results with this lens but it is so heavy I need to use a tripod with it and never take it anywhere that requires flying. I have a lot of pictures of birds and squirrels in my backyard but little else. I enjoy that enough to spend a lot of time watching the wildlife in my backyard but in all honesty it is more a matter of looking for something to do with my lens than buying a lens to to take pictures of the critters. Both squirrels and herons sound like something you are not traveling to see so if you miss some shots due to poor focus you can always take more pictures. Try going to DPReview and search for photos by a guy named nzmacro. He has some amazing shots he has taken with manual focus lenses. His technique with subjects like shorebirds is to take a burst while slowly focusing and pull out the in focus shots when he gets home. Manual focus might not be as hard as you think.

    When I went to Glacier National park last month ( ) I took my 100-300 and wished I had something longer. Leaving the big 300 f2.8 behind was the right choice though. Something like the upcoming 300mm f4 with TC would have been ideal. All but one of the wildlife pictures were taken at 300mm and most were heavily cropped. I had a few problems with atmospherics and fought motion blur but more reach would have really helped. If I lived near an area like that I would find out where some of the animals typically were and tried to position myself to get closer. But when you have to fly out to a location like that for a week or less getting closer is not really possible. In the case of some animals like moose and particularly grizzly bears getting closer would be dangerous. Trying to sneak up up on a 500+ pound bear is a really bad idea.
    • Like Like x 1
  14. Dave Lively

    Dave Lively Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 16, 2014
    Wildlife photography is not black and white, there are countless shades of grey. And for many of us a longer is lens is a far more practical and enjoyable choice than stalking animals enough to get close. Telling everyone wanting a longer lens to get closer is like telling someone asking what would be a nice but easy hike in a nearby forest that they should start running 5 miles everyday and go on a real hike.

    Wildlife photography can mean anything from taking pictures of animals at a zoo to backpacking miles into the wilderness with 25 pounds of camera gear in sub freezing temperatures to setup a blind and waiting days hoping to get a good picture depending on who is saying it. Drawing an arbitrary line somewhere in that spectrum and declaring that "real wildlife photographers" are on one side and amateur posers are on the other is condescending. Getting close to animals takes more than patience, it takes time and that is a precious resource many people do not have due to family, work and other obligations. Those of us that post on internet photography forums obviously have plenty of spare time but often have other interests too.

    I fall more on the low effort side of wildlife photography myself with a lot of pictures of small backyard creatures on a regular basis and larger animals photographed while on vacations in national forests or parks once or twice a year. In both cases something longer than 300mm is useful. I have a manual focus lens what works well for the first case but would really like something longer than my 100-300 for the second case. When I fly out somewhere for a week that is really not enough time to locate the best locations for wildlife, position myself and wait for something to walk by. I would rather spend my time hiking and exploring the area and hoping to get some decent shots of animals I see than spending the week sitting in a blind. There is not one true way way, it is a matter of how you enjoy spending your time. With good IBIS or OIS something longer than 300mm would be usable without a tripod and would be quite useful and should not be dismissed as something beneath a real photographers.

    I also suspect that the reason 600mm FF lenses are so popular with pro wildlife photographers is because that is the longest lens available and they would go longer if they could. I think Canon has made a 800mm lens for a while and Nikon just introduced one but they are probably so large, heavy and expensive that few photographers want to take one into the field.
    • Like Like x 2
  15. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    There is currently nothing longer available in a native format, so telling someone to get closer is perfectly viable. Adapted lenses are available with more reach but that option was rejected, once again........getting closer is the only viable option. Your comparison of hiking to running is ridiculous, two completely different activities. You should have said running a 5k to a marathon or a day hike to hiking the Appalachian Trail.

    First off, Zoo photos are not wildlife photos.......missing the key component "Wild", plus they are pretty damn easy to get to......locked up in cages and all (yes I take lots of photos at Zoo's and I am not saying anything bad about it....just that it is not "Wildlife Photography"). Getting close does take patience and matter how long a lens you have, you still have to get close enough to use it. You can not expect to just walk up and take a photo of a wild animal without investing some time and patience. Never said wildlife photographers can not be amateurs, by definition I am an amateur and not a pro. But, I am a wildlife photographer and take pride in my ability to capture animals. It is not easy (no type of photography is easy) and takes skill, just like photographing people takes a different skill (one that I have not mastered, maybe there is lens that will let me do it without having to dedicate TIME and PATIENCE to accomplish).

    Uh? Never said anything about something longer then 300mm being beneath real photographers. As a matter of fact, I mentioned I used a manual focus 400mm lens on a regular basis (because I wanted something longer and don't mind manual focus). If there was something longer for m4/3 I would own it. Actually, I started using my 400mm on my Fuji with no IBIS and would handhold it often. IBIS is not needed but is very helpful and is why I switched from Fuji to Olympus.

    Actually, they both still make 800mm and have at one time produced longer lenses in very limited numbers for special reasons. The reason 400mm - 600mm is so popular is price/weight (although Canon's 600mm is only a little cheaper and a little lighter than the 800mm, but is ƒ4 over ƒ5.6. previous post was in response to the OP's rejection of all advice given. Every type of photography requires time, patience, and practice. You can not expect to get photographs like pros or advanced amateurs with out putting in the time/patience/practice. There is no lens that will enable you to achieve it without doing those three. I never got into weight or tripod use because that is a completely different argument and the OP never mentioned it as a priority, even tho it is something to consider when you start talking about long lenses.

    By the way, squirrels and herons are some of the easiest wild animals to get close to..........All the ones I see can walk up to and get great photos with a 300mm lens...........using something shorter is a different story tho (by 300mm I mean 300mm on m4/3).


  16. dougjgreen

    dougjgreen Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 5, 2013
    San Diego
    Doug Green
    Actually, no, a front teleconverter like the TCON-17 was and remains a perfectly viable option
  17. Rasmus

    Rasmus Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Nov 16, 2013
    Stockholm, Sweden.
    SO true. To me, it's about what's possible while at the same time having a full time job and often not getting enough sleep during the weekdays so I sleep a lot during the weekends. It means going to nearby places where I know there tends to be a lot of wildlife and practise a lot so I'm ready if some more exotic species should come by. It means that if there's not one bird in sight I take a picture of the street lights on the road on the other side of the lake, just to practise using my equipment.

    Also, just like Tadgh78, I have the 100-300 and I find it a very frustrating lens to use. I have learned how to get very sharp photos with it, even hand held, but it is hard to use. The lens is slow and needs to be stopped down for best sharpness, which means shutter speeds will often be very low or ISO very high. To me, the biggest benefit of getting a faster lens is that getting good shots becomes so much easier. Why not try to get something like an old 500 or 400 mm lens? Some can be reasonably cheap, and with a few speed boosters and teleconverters can be rather versatile. My Nikon 500 F/4, with 2x converter and speed booster can become a 350/2.8, a 700/5.6 (converter + speed booster) or a 1000/8, depending on what I need. 1000 mm tends to be less useful, though, for various reasons.

    Then, of course, my ZD 300/2.8 is a fantastic lens that totally blows the Nikon out of the water. With the EC-20 it becomes a 600/5.7, which is useful but not easy to use at all.
    • Like Like x 1
  18. mcasan

    mcasan Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 26, 2014
    We have the Oly Pro 40-150 and 1.4 TC on order. We will get the Pro 300mm when it ships next year.

    So for wildlife:

    40-150 which has a 35mm equivalent FOV of 80-300
    40--150 with 1.4 TC which has a 35mm equivalent FOV of 112-420
    300 prime which has a 35mm equivalent FOV of 600
    300 prime with 1.4 TC which has a 35mm equivalent FOV of 840

    With those two lenses and the TC, you should be able to capture most wildlife. BTW, the Oly Pro lenses are weather sealed, our Panny 100-300 is not. We will sell off the 100-300 units when we get the Oly 300 primes.
  19. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa

    and what do you think a 600mm would be like? I pick 600mm because at those focal lengths picking a 400mm is only going to add a small percentage to the image.

    This canon (link)
    is probably the "ideal" lens for your hobby work, but as far as I know you won't get AF, IS or Aperture operation on m43, but hey, if you can pop the bucks for that lens you can probably afford a EOS body to do with it....

    Curiously on this forum you can find many excellent images done with that lens hand held ... an old saying is "a bad workman blames his tools" ... if noone was getting good shots from that lens I'd be inclined to agree more on that topic.

    My Canon USM 100-300 was never rated as "5h1t hot" but I've managed some good shots with it by knowing my tools.

    I also have a full time job and get sleep on the weekends.

    so it is also "challenging to use" too? ... I note that its also no longer than 300mm ... is it somehow long enough?

    also on the note of blows nikon out of the water ... "****** alert" is all I can think of here ... which Nikon does it blow out of the water (sidebar: I do not own anything Nikon but repect what I've seen done with it)

    for interests sake (from my recent comparison with a 600mm mirror lens)



    300mm cropped to same view as 600mm
    all on micro 4/3

    since the subject was static, the issue of f8 not being fast enough was sidelined. In this case it was just a straight issue of optical comparison. FWIW I am now satisfied that mirror lenses are not adequate.
  20. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    would you be interested in posting some images and perhaps we can discuss what may be going wrong? For instance it could be camera shake degrading the image making a crop and upscale untenable
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