Please advise me on telephoto zooms

ianpiper

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Hi everyone,

I'd appreciate some advice on real-world experience with the many different options for telephoto lenses in the M43 range. I am looking for something that would match the quality of my old Fuji 55-200 zoom, which is one of the sharpest lenses I've used. From a pure zoom range I suppose that means a range from around 40mm at the wide end to 175 or so at the tele end. I'm confused by all of the different candidates in the market from Olympus and Panasonic, and would appreciate some guidance. The important factors for me are
  • sharpness at the top end (which seems to be where these lenses suffer)
  • compact length and weight (I like small and light kit)
  • constant size on zoom and focus (nice to have, not a deal breaker)
  • splash-resistance (to be honest I rarely shoot in the rain, but it's an advantage if I can have it)
Can anyone advise me based on experience of the different lenses?

Thanks,


Ian.
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DaveJP

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I use the Panasonic 35-100 f2.8 mk ii zoom on both my Olympus EM1 Mk ii and my Panasonic G9. It's extremely well designed, being only 360g in weight, relatively small in size for its focal length range, yet with a constant 2.8 aperture. It also has both internal focusing and unusually, internal zooming, so it retains it's compact size even when zoomed out. I never test lenses for sharpness, I just use them, but I've never had any complaints about IQ with this lens. However, there are plenty of tests on line to look at and they all give the lens top marks.

On the G9 body the dual stabilisation between lens and camera works brilliantly, although I'm still happy to use the lens with the Olympus body; the Olympus IBIS is just so good. I can't say how the Panasonic 35-100 compares to other micro 4/3rds telephoto zooms, but if you want a small, light and very sharp zoom this lens ticks all the boxes.
 

Stanga

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In that sort of focal length range my money is on the Panasonic 45-175mm. It's sharp. Going forward, the Panasonic 50-200mn f2.8 f4.0 is probably king. But you might have to skip some meals and drinks for a while to afford it.
 

retiredfromlife

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I use the Panasonic 100-300 a lot for my lizard shots in this forum. At the short distances I use it at the sharpness at the long end is OK, and weather sealed.
The 35-100 mentioned above would be sharper though but not as much range.

If you have the funds the Olympus 40-150 pro is very good and has weather sealing that I would trust. I find its sharpness pretty good across its whole range. It is also compatable with the Olympus tele converter extenders 1.4x and 2x. Only down side is no lens stabilisation.

Keep in mind the weather sealing between brands may not be as good as lens/body combinations from the same brand. There are some topics on this forum where people have measured the sealing components of both brands and it is up in the air as to complete compatability.

If you use Olympus bodies especially pro lime EM1 MkII I would go with the Oly 40-150 as it has the best range, and Oly seem to have a good reputation for weather sealing on this forum. I cannot comment on that as I do not use mine in the rain. you lso have the ability to add the tele converters at a later stage as well. You can buy the 40-150 with the 1.4 TC as a kit, but the 2x is only seperate as far as I know and expensive.

Of course if money is no object Oly is bringing out the 150-400 with built is 1.2 TC next year, but it wont be that light or portable by Mu-43 "past" standards I am guessing.
 

wjiang

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A 200mm with 1.5x crop is 300mm FF equivalent. On m4/3 2x crop that would be 150mm. Best zoom in that category would be the Olympus 40-150 f/2.8. The Panasonic Leica 50-200mm f/2.8-4 is also very good, and is even smaller and lighter.

Beyond that you're looking at consumer grade lenses - they are all decently sharp but not quite in the same league as the two above.
 
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  • sharpness at the top end (which seems to be where these lenses suffer)
  • compact length and weight (I like small and light kit)
  • constant size on zoom and focus (nice to have, not a deal breaker)
  • splash-resistance (to be honest I rarely shoot in the rain, but it's an advantage if I can have it)
Pick any two. (You didn't even mention "price." :)) Getting all four of those might be impossible — or at least, expensive.

The 4/3rds 35-100/2 is a completely awesome lens that meets all your requirement except "compact length and weight."

The M.Zuiko 14-150 meets your requirements except "constant size" and a bit of softness in the corners at the top end.
 

davidzvi

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You're looking for something in one of the few areas m4/3 has a hole, mid-grade telephoto. There are two lenses on the Olympus road map that I'm hoping will fill this area.

The Oly 40-150 Pro and PL 50-200 are your best current options. The Oly can be found at reasonable prices used and PL is closer to the size you're looking for. the Oly 12-100 or Pan 35-100 would be options as well, but too short.

All the other 40/45 - 150/175/200 are really just consumer telephotos that are OK, but not as nice as the Fuji 55-200.

Fuji's hole is the over 200mm telephoto, their only real option is the 100-400 which is just too big and heavy. m4/3 has the 100-300 which isn't bad, but 600mm eq takes a bit more care and practice. I'm hoping one of the two on the road map allow me to sell off my 100-300 for a really nice 450mm eq option.
 

zanydroid

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You're looking for something in one of the few areas m4/3 has a hole, mid-grade telephoto. There are two lenses on the Olympus road map that I'm hoping will fill this area.

The Oly 40-150 Pro and PL 50-200 are your best current options. The Oly can be found at reasonable prices used and PL is closer to the size you're looking for. the Oly 12-100 or Pan 35-100 would be options as well, but too short.
Was cross-shopping Fuji recently due to a bout of gas, and I have to agree with this. The Fuji 55-200 is a pretty sweet lens for even the new price. The 35-100 is pretty sharp, but way less reach than what OP has (and you can't really crop M43 that much). I've been interested in the PL 50-200 for a while, but it doesn't provide enough value vs how much I can use that focal length & aperture combination.

What are the lenses on the Oly roadmap you're referring to?

I have mixed feelings about the Pana 100-300 -- it's a really nice lens for that FL equivalent, and I've taken some really nice bird videos with it. However, it's not as sharp as I would like for stills, so I never ended up buying one for myself.
 

davidzvi

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Was cross-shopping Fuji recently due to a bout of gas, and I have to agree with this. The Fuji 55-200 is a pretty sweet lens for even the new price. The 35-100 is pretty sharp, but way less reach than what OP has (and you can't really crop M43 that much). I've been interested in the PL 50-200 for a while, but it doesn't provide enough value vs how much I can use that focal length & aperture combination.

What are the lenses on the Oly roadmap you're referring to?

I have mixed feelings about the Pana 100-300 -- it's a really nice lens for that FL equivalent, and I've taken some really nice bird videos with it. However, it's not as sharp as I would like for stills, so I never ended up buying one for myself.
Here's a link to the thread about the latest roadmap, buy these two are the ones I referenced.
https://www.mu-43.com/threads/new-olympus-lens-roadmap.102314/

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zanydroid

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davidzvi

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Ah, thanks; I remember seeing that but glazed over due to the lack of details. I take it details aren’t available yet?

I assume that new ~50-200 will be bigger and faster/more expensive than the PL version, per usual for Oly Pro vs PL.
No real information yet, which is one reason I have the 100-300 II. All depends, I'm hoping one is a companion to the 12-100 f/4. If it is, it could be less than the PL 50-200.
 

zanydroid

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No real information yet, which is one reason I have the 100-300 II. All depends, I'm hoping one is a companion to the 12-100 f/4. If it is, it could be less than the PL 50-200.
Hmm, i bet someone on that megathread has already pointed out the obvious, like a one stop smaller version of the 4/3 50-200, 90-250...

I just got the 12-100 and am also considering adding a longer focal length zoom. The 40-150 is available now, with its 1.4 and 2.0 TCs. Seems like you feel it is not a good complement to the 12-100? I think with a 1.4 TC it would have a similar aperture, sharpness, and not too much FL overlap at 55-210 F/4.

Also, having the option of 40mm gives a lot more flexible to work with for human subjects than >50mm
 
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Aperture Don

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Ian,

You didn't mention which camera you have. Although I own both Olympus and Panasonic lenses, I now have the Olympus E-M1.2 and am making it a point to buy Olympus lenses. It shouldn't make too much of a difference, but it might.

I have two kits, one for travel which is super light, and another for general use at home. If you're looking for light in Olympus, the 40-150 f/4-5.6 is under $100 and does a nice job. Olympus also makes a 40-150 f/2.8 Pro which also uses their 1.4 TC and their new 2.0 TC. The price new is around $1,400 and worth every penny, but it's a lot larger and heavier.

I don't have any knowledge about the Panasonic lenses in these price ranges, although I do own the Panasonic-Leica 100-400 which is a nice lens, but not what you're looking for.

Don
 

davidzvi

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Hmm, i bet someone on that megathread has already pointed out the obvious, like a one stop smaller version of the 4/3 50-200, 90-250...

I just got the 12-100 and am also considering adding a longer focal length zoom. The 40-150 is available now, with its 1.4 and 2.0 TCs. Seems like you feel it is not a good complement to the 12-100? I think with a 1.4 TC it would have a similar aperture, sharpness, and not too much FL overlap at 55-210 F/4.
Two reason it's not a good complement FOR ME.

First I hope the new lens will be smaller. And second, I don't want to require a TC to get the range I want. The second reason is one of the reason I decided not to get the PL50-200. I really want 400-500mm eq, which I could get with the PL50-200 + 1.4 TC. But I've only seen the TC available on eBay and the lens + TC would cost about $2k. There's a Zuiko 90-250mm f/2.8 ED on eBay for about that much and I could get a Zuiko 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 SWD for a LOT less.
 

ianpiper

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What does this mean? Are you talking about aperture or something else?
I mean that the length of the lens remains the same when focusing or zooming. Most lenses expand on zoom at least, sometimes to nearly twice the minimum length. The Panasonic 45-175, for example, is constant length, while the Panasonic 45-200 lengthens substantially on zoom (giving rise, at least in England, to no end of amusing double-entendre jokes, by the way).
 

ianpiper

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A 200mm with 1.5x crop is 300mm FF equivalent. On m4/3 2x crop that would be 150mm. Best zoom in that category would be the Olympus 40-150 f/2.8. The Panasonic Leica 50-200mm f/2.8-4 is also very good, and is even smaller and lighter.

Beyond that you're looking at consumer grade lenses - they are all decently sharp but not quite in the same league as the two above.
That's what I feared. I'll wait and think further. Thanks,


Ian.
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