Panasonic 100-400mm vs Oly 75-300/Pana 100-300 for my Pen-F

RAH

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There is also 100-300 Mk II released in 2016-17 which is more expensive than Mk I, is weather-sealed and able to handle fast burst shooting better BUT that is also f4-5.6.
Yes, I didn't explain it well. I was thinking that maybe the OP has some ancient P100-300 f2.8 so I went back as far as I could to try to find it. As others have said, such an animal would be pretty large, not lightweight as described by the OP. So the mystery continues. ;-)
 

RAH

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Yup, mine is f4-5.6. So it gets the credit for the leopard in the tree. I'm sure I have had it for five years, maybe longer. It is an excellent M43 general-purpose tool with a good compromise between focal length, size and weight. I served my time lugging heavy Nikons and Nikkor lenses around & am done with that. As I said, the 100-400 is a brute; a special purpose tool.
One wonders if the promised Olympus 100-400 will ever see the light of day. This virus has thrown a monkey-wrench into its production, I'm guessing. Also, Olympus itself may be struggling. I'm hoping that the lens is already in the production pipeline and I can snag one when it becomes available. I'm hoping it is a good alternative to the P100-400. We shall see...
 
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I have had the 75 300 for years. Last year for a safari trip, Etosha Namibia, I bought the 100 400. So much better than the 75 300 and with extra range. But as others say here big and heavy. I only use it when I know I am shooting wildlife and can carry it in a vehicle.

Both holidays to Sweden and Madeira since then with lots of walking, I took the 75 300 and left the 100 400 at home. So don't get rid of your 100 300, but do get a 100 400 for the safari pictures.
I'm lucky I can afford to keep both, but if not hire one or buy just for the trip and sell after.
In the meantime the Panasonic 50 200 keeps presses my gas button as a replacement for my aging 75 300.

Also if you do get the 100 400 get some practice in before you go.
 

pcr1040

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For those who shoot wild life, I have to add my 2 cents to this discussion. Several suggested that the 100-400 Pana lens is a "Brute" and I need to take issue with that claim. I live in an area where we have trails through the local woods and I carry this lens when ever I go walking these trails. I use a shoulder mount (BushHawk) for the lens and strap attached to the tripod lug and typically walk the trails for about 2 to 4 miles per outing, carrying the lens mounted on my G9 camera. I try to get out, weather permitting, 2 to 3 time a week. I should also note I am no youngster and have been doing photography as a hobby since the early 1950s so guess my age. And I am not especially big, strong, or athletic. My main exercise is walking. Having said all of that, I can assure you that the Pana 100-400mm lens in NO BRUTE. It carries very well, up and down hills and through fields without either a tripod or monopod. I typically shoot birds, fox, deer and what every else strikes me as worthy of some electrons. I have to say, having had the 100-300 Panasonic earlier, the 100-400 now, it (100-400) is a far superior lens in every way to the 100-300 Panasonic or similar size Olympus lens. Is it "perfect" no, I find the lens resolution drops off at 400 and I try to keep it under that for most shots. But seriously, weight, size, image quality, and general portability are just not an issue with this lens. One special nice feature is that as I walk, the lens will not telescope out by itself. The lens has just the right amount of resistance so it remains at the set point I put it on, usually 100mm. I also shoot a FF camera mainly for landscape images. Some of my images can be seen at: https://pixels.com/profiles/paulc-ross?tab=artwork&page=1
 

AllanG

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Have to agree with Pcr1040. I have the PL100-400 and love it. I'm not a large person or fitness fanatic and have no problem using it both here in Australia or overseas on long bird or animal treks.
Would not taken any other lens in except for the P14-140mm for closer imaging
 
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One special nice feature is that as I walk, the lens will not telescope out by itself. The lens has just the right amount of resistance so it remains at the set point I put it on, usually 100mm
I have to agree. Tight zoom is a popular complaint against this lens but it can be useful. I remember my Nikon 200-500 had a much smoother zoom but that also caused it to sag while walking. And it was huge with flimsy hood that would fall off once lens zoomed to 500mm and started bouncing against the body. Carrying 100-400 is a breeze.
 

archaeopteryx

Gambian sidling bush
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[The 100-400] is a far superior lens in every way to the 100-300 Panasonic or similar size Olympus lens.
Hmm. I found this thought provoking.
  • With regards to pricing, superior usually means lower cost. At least in my market, the 100-400 is about three times the price of the 100-300, both new and used. Some of us are fortunate to be wealthy enough the difference is insignificant, others simply can't afford the 100-400.
  • In an m43 context, superior sizes and superior weights are usually smaller and lighter. The 100-400 is larger (putting an exact number on this is kind of tricky, but about 65% retracted) and 440g (85%) heavier. Whilst some of us enjoy good enough health 440g is unimportant for day walking, it's clearly problematic for others.
  • Superior in long telephotos usually means capable longer focal length. Is the 33% increase of 100-400 enough to be far superior? Seems like a personal judgement depending on how one interprets far, whether the aperture difference happens to be seen as important, whether one needs all 12, 16, or 20 MP or is OK with cropping, and how one feels about all the other factors.
  • Optically superior means higher MTF. Some measurements have the 100-400 lower than the 100-300. While these are controversial and hotly disputed by 100-400 owners, other measurements have the two lenses about the same. Since the data is all single copy measurements, this suggests the MTF distributions of the lenses substantially overlap. I would be inclined to define far superior as disjoint distributions in the 100-400's favour.
  • Optically superior also means lower CA, lower distortion, and lower vignetting. I'm not seeing good comparative data for uncorrected and corrected distortion and CA. Neither lens has much distortion (<0.25% or so) and, at most, the lenses differ by about a pixel on CA. Uncorrected vignetting is about the same. The 100-400 does trigger greater SOOC corrections for distortion and vignetting.
  • Optically superior usually also means capable of faster aperture and smoother bokeh. Apertures are about the same and I haven't noticed much bokeh difference in showcase or other images. I'm not aware of any telezoom that's known for great bokeh and, whilst the 100-300 gets swirly at its long end, the 100-400 can be edgier. This one seems hard to call.
  • Both lenses are consistently reported as worse at their long ends. Whilst one way of looking at this is the 100-400 is likely better than the 100-300 from 250-300, it seems also reasonable to interpret far superior as as a lack of substantial degradation from 300-400. One could have a definition debate about this, I suppose.
  • Superior means faster autofocus. The 100-300 II improves on the 100-300 I and, from what I can tell, the 100-400 is faster than the I but a little behind the II. This doesn't seem to support the 100-400 being far superior, particularly from a cost perspective if one's considering an update from the 100-300 I.
  • Superior means more stops of stabilization, both OIS only and with dual IS. I'm not aware of any data on this and haven't ever seen anecdotal comments about differences. So there doesn't appear to be any evidence to reject the null hypothesis that the two lenses are about the same.
  • It makes sense for the 100-400 to have a tripod collar. The 100-300 doesn't and is kind of borderline. But it's closer to lenses which don't need a collar than those that do and Roesch collar is available as an add on, albeit a kind of expensive one. For specific use cases one or the other might be preferable but it's unclear to me one's better or worse overall.
  • I haven't seen any complaints about creep on the 100-300 whilst, as already mentioned, there are numerous complaints about stiffness with the 100-400 even when unlocked. There are recurring complaints about both the 100-300 I and II having a thin focus ring that's prone to flexing and binding whereas I haven't seen mention of any such problems with the 100-400. The tight mount and weather sealing issues reported with the 100-400 don't seem to exist with the 100-300. Which lens is more annoying probably depends on one's personal use patterns.
  • Superior implies lower repair costs. Since Panasonic replaces, rather than repairs lenses, this is not in the 100-400's favour. There's been quite a few posts here from people who will not buy Panasonic-Leica lenses, either on principle or because they cannot afford to replace them if something goes wrong.
What did I miss? They're both black, so if one's wanting a sparkly pretty lens with unicorns you're out of luck either way.
 

wjiang

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Christchurch, New Zealand
I've shot extensively with the 100-300 II and 100-400 in similar situations - zoo, plus wild birds (including in flight). Only one copy of each, so take it for what it's worth. In no particular order:

Sharpness: At short focal lengths, indistinguishable. At 300mm wide open, the 100-400 is slightly but noticeably sharper. At 400mm wide open, the sharpness is similar to the 100-300 at 300mm wide open, so the increase in range gives it a bit of an edge. The 100-400 also improves upon stopping down to f/8 more so than the 100-300.

C/A: The 100-300 has a tendency to exhibit noticeable purple fringing on high contrast edges that are slightly OOF. This tends to show up when focus is on a birds eyes, but the rest of a bird's black and white plumage exhibits it noticeably since they are not on the focus plane. The 100-400 has C/A controlled very well in comparison - I've never had a C/A problem with it.

Vignetting: Both have noticeable vignetting wide open at their longest end, most obvious with a plain blue sky background. This characteristic seems to be a thing with Panasonic telephotos - the 45-175, 35-100 f/2.8 II, 100-300 II, 100-400 were all like this.

Bokeh: With birds and wildlife, chances are you'll have branches, or long grass OOF in the frame. There's no question about it, the 100-300 has smoother bokeh than the 100-400 for these situations. The extra corrections of the 100-400 for other optical qualities have hurt it in this regard.

AF: Note that I have the 100-300 II, which focuses faster than the first version. I'd say in absolute terms, it's a tie, but in practice the 100-400 has the edge since it has a focus limiter. The 100-300 II has a tendency to rack over the whole range by mistake. Cameras like the E-M1 II with the digital focus limiter largely negate this issue.

Carry: Both are easy to carry for me, I have no problem walking for hours with either. I cannot hold the 100-400 up for an extended period of time, however, whereas I could with the 100-300. This means that if I'm poised for minutes, waiting for a bird to do something interesting, my arms can tire out before I can get the shot. The 100-300 fits in coat pockets with ease, whereas the 100-400 likely needs to go in a bag.

Handling: 100-300 II does indeed have the flexing and binding AF ring, but I never MF so it didn't concern me. I do not find the zoom ring on the 100-400 too tight - if anything I found the 100-300 one too loose. The 100-300 was so light that when zoomed out with the hood on, it had a tendency to get blown about in windy conditions. The 100-400's extra mass helps dampen things down a lot.

IS: Actual IS performance seems similar, but again the extra mass of the 100-400 helps dampen motion down. It's all good until arms get tired though - then the wobbling starts, and the 100-400 will cause you to tire out faster.

WR - I haven't really tested either, but the 100-300 seems more of a dust pump - mine certainly developed dust. The rear element telescopes, unlike the 100-400 which has a fixed rear element.
 
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