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Safari with EM1.1 (x2) + 12-100mm +100-400mm

Discussion in 'Travel Tips and Discussion' started by Bisonbison, Mar 19, 2019.

  1. Bisonbison

    Bisonbison Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 1, 2019
    I'd like your thoughts on a two camera, two lens combo to take on safari (Zambia). It will be part of a family trip. So I'm trying to keep the weight and bulk to a minimum. I am considering two EM1.1 cameras with an Olympus 12-100mm f4 and the Panasonic 100-400mm lens. This will cover me from 24-800mm EFL. While an EM1.2 is something I'd consider depending on selling off my existing kit, I wanted to ask how these two lenses would perform on the EM1.1 because at least one of these lenses would be on that camera. Any worries about the 100-400mm in general? I've read about mount fit issues as well as service issues.
    Would there be a significant IQ benefit from including the 40-150mm f2.8 in the mix? (Getting that lens will definitely mean two EM1.1s vs one EM1.2).
  2. Holoholo55

    Holoholo55 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2014
    Honolulu, HI
    I'm no expert, but it sounds reasonable to me. Most veterans advise using two bodies and not switching lenses in the field, due to possible dust or moisture exposure. Not sure if the 100-400 is fully sealed on the EM1. I'm sure someone out there will have some experience with this.

    You probably want to take a fast wide prime along to catch indoor and night-time images in the camp. Maybe some starry night photos too.

    There is plenty of advice online.
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  3. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2013
    Sounds like a great combo. I don't think you'll need the 40-150. I recently got the 100-400 and it exceeded my expectations (as did the 12-100).
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  4. Mountain

    Mountain Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Aug 2, 2013
    Seems like a dream combo to me. I regularly carry a combo of O12-40Pro and PL100-400. I wouldn't be concerned about using either of the lenses that you mentioned on either Pany or Oly bodies. Low light is a struggle for the 100-400, I would love to add the 40-150 2.8 to the mix if it was in the budget. I think you could get by without though (no safari experience, just general wildlife snapshots). I often add the O60 Macro to the nature walk about kit, and would consider adding that to your list for small critters (if that's an interest of yours) and double duty as a decent portrait lens.

    Edit: Here are some shots with the 100-400 in an amateur's hands. Good enough IQ for me. Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmar 100-400mm f/4-6.3 ASPH. POWER O.I.S. Lens
  5. Glawsder

    Glawsder Mu-43 Regular Subscribing Member

    Jun 18, 2018
    Gloucester, UK
    Just returned from Zambia (Victoria falls) and Etosha (Namibia) where I used a PL 12-60 on a GX80 and 100-400 on my new Em1 ii. Most of the safari shots were with the 100-400 and for a newbie with limited experience I am really pleased with the results. The 12-100 on a MK1 Em1 should be better than my 12-60 setup and the 100-400 is stunning and should work just as well on the em1 Mk1 as the Mk2. It is a wonderful part of our world, enjoy it and with all the wildlife you will be able to take some great photos.

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  6. Carbonman

    Carbonman Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jul 10, 2014
    Vancouver BC
    I don't have either of the lenses you are considering but do have a 40-150 f2.8, an E-M1i and an E-M1ii. I would recommend 2x E-M1i's because you will then only have to carry and charge one type of battery instead of having to track, sort and charge 2 different batteries. The 40-150 f2.8 is one of the best lenses I've ever used. The 40-150 and 2x TC make an excellent combination.
    OTOH the 100-400mm covers a lot of focal length range and is a lens I'd probably personally choose for a safari except I already have the incredible Olympus 300mm f4.
  7. Glawsder

    Glawsder Mu-43 Regular Subscribing Member

    Jun 18, 2018
    Gloucester, UK
    I forgot to say I missed a lens to take after dark shots at the illuminated waterholes. 2.8 wasn't fast enough, my Oly 25 worked just about but I would have prefered more range; An Oly 75 or Sigma 56 would have been useful.
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  8. barry13

    barry13 Mu-43.com Editor Subscribing Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Have you considered the ZD 50-200mm (original or SWD) plus one it both teleconverters (and MMF-3 adapter)?
    All-in, it'd be about half the price of the 100-400, and would be much faster when you don't need over 280mm.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  9. Powaysteve

    Powaysteve Mu-43 Regular Subscribing Member

    Jun 23, 2017
    Poway, California
    I have used the 12-100mm and 100-400mm on my last three trips although they were on the EM1.2 not the EM1.1. We went to Borneo, Kenya & Tanzania and India. That lens combo performed brilliantly in all circumstances on all three trips. I think you have made a perfect choice. I have had the 100-400 for about 2 years now and have absolutely no issues with it. It has performed perfectly in all weather conditions. Just remember that the lens IS will not couple with the EM1 IBIS so turn off the lens IS when you use it.
  10. DynaSport

    DynaSport Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jan 5, 2013
    I would test the 100-400 E-M1 combo OIS vs ibis before deciding which to turn off. I thought the OIS in my 100-300 was better than the ibis in my e-m1 when I shot that combo. But I think others disagree. I recommend trying for yourself.
  11. alex g

    alex g Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Mar 30, 2016
    New York / Bath
    I think your E-M1.1 x 2 + 12-100 and 100-400 is a pretty sound strategy for a family safari trip where convenience and simplicity is a factor. A few thoughts:

    The f/4 maximum aperture will be fine for daytime shooting, especially if you're on the open plains and/or visiting during the dry season when there's little cloud cover. Once you start diving into forests, however, the light levels drop significantly. The golden hour is very short near the equator — more llike a golden thirty minutes — so although much of the visual magic does occur at dawn and dusk, the one stop advantage of an f/2.8 lens, purely from a light-gathering point of view, will in practice only win you an extra ten minutes at either end of the day.

    Also, although I agree with @Carbonman@Carbonman about the excellence of the 40-150/2.8, I have found that conditions on a bright, dry season safari are typically such as can emphasize one of that lens's few weaknesses, that of its nervous bokeh. The latter is never a problem with distant backgrounds, but the animals you see on safari will frequently be close to vegetation, in order to either eat it or hide in it or both, and dry, thorny vegetation close behind the subject is one of the worst culprits for causing nervous bokeh. I have captured excellent, crisp, contrasty images with the 40-150/2.8 on safari, and it's a beautiful lens to handle and use, but I've also spent more time than I'd like to softening some of the backgrounds a little in post.

    By contrast, I find the 12-100 bokeh more forgiving, without so much of a tendency to nervousness. In fact I think the 12-100 is a superb lens all round, it's a real marvel. It feels a bit less robust than the 40-150, because of its extending design, and you have to be a bit watchful when shooting against the sun to avoid loss of contrast that it exhibits at certain angles, but those are my only minor reservations.

    I would, however, strongly recommend taking at least one fast lens of some kind, so that you can keep shooting in lower light, especially if you go for the 2x E-M1.1 option, since the latter's sensor starts getting noisy at slightly lower ISO values than its younger cousins, at least in my experience. The colours at dawn and dusk can be just stunning in that part of the world, and I think you might kick yourself for not having anything faster than f/4 with you. In the past I've taken the Olympus 75/1.8 (taking pains to avoid exposing it to too much dust) but it needn't necessarily be a telephoto — any focal length will do, so long as it's f/2 or faster. For example, you could jam a Panasonic 20/1.7 in a pocket of your bag and not even notice the difference in weight, yet it would let you shoot landscapes and contextural portraits from your camp before you set out on a drive, or at sunset when you get back, which you wouldn't be able to do with either of the other two lenses, and under such conditions, lens changes are less hazardous.
  12. StefanKruse

    StefanKruse Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 28, 2015
    Sounds like an excellent combo to me. I did a safari a few years ago with an EPL5 and the 12-40 pro and my EM10 mark 1 with a pana 100-300mm mark 1. I was quite please with my setup and the pictures I got.

    My lesson from the trip was that practice was definitely to the biggest game changer in terms of quality pictures. I did some practice before going with the pana to improve my handholding at 300mm but would have benefitted from even more practice. I found that when I focus on trying to manage these tricky shots, then I pay less attention to composition and that could have improved my pictures I think.

    So no matter what you take remember to practice :) 
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  13. turbodieselvw

    turbodieselvw Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 29, 2010
    the lens combo will work with either the EM1 or the MkII. I did Kenya (twice), Tanzania, India, Galapagos (twice) and Namibia with those lenses and they worked fine. They just didn't do well with bif. I did travel with two bodies; first couple of trips with two EM1s the with two MkIIs after I replaced the EM1s with the MkIIs. I'll be heading to Namibia again this May but will be dragging my Nikon D500 and D7500 this time.
  14. Bisonbison

    Bisonbison Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 1, 2019
    Thanks Mountain for the feedback and the Flickr link with your pics. I may add a Macro lens as you suggest. But it will have to be after the majority of the kit is assembled.

    Wow Glawsder those pics look great. I'd be really happy to come back with pics like that. What are your thoughts on using a panasonic and olympus body together? Would a G85 make more sense for the 100-400mm, in place of a second EM1.1?

    Carbonman, the 2x like bodies makes sense. Since that may allow me to get the additional lens. Something to think about. But I may get a bright portrait lens for nights as Glawsder suggests.
  15. Bisonbison

    Bisonbison Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 1, 2019
    barry13 I thought about the 50-200mm, but I think I'd want the max range.

    Powaysteve - that gives me a lot of confidence in the selection and the 100-400mm in particular. Thanks!

    DynaSport - I'll make sure to try the combo carefully and find what works best. Thanks!
  16. Bisonbison

    Bisonbison Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 1, 2019
    Thanks for your inputs and comments about the 40-150mm/2.8. I see your point about needing a faster lens as light levels go down. What ISO would you be comfortable using in the low light?Since you also mention the post processing needed to soften nervous backgrounds, I wanted to ask what software you use for processing your images? For the past couple of years, I have gotten by with very little post processing of any kind. So don't have any software of choice. Will take a fast lens along with me for the lower light situations.
  17. Bisonbison

    Bisonbison Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 1, 2019
    I have been in that situation before and agree that I need to practice a lot so that I am paying more attention to the composition. In the past, the excitement at seeing something incredible has made me completely forget about shot discipline and composition :) 
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  18. Bisonbison

    Bisonbison Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 1, 2019
    I have thought longest and hardest about your response. The reason I was considering this kit is for its lower weight, convenience, IBIS and extended range. However.... I would really like your feedback on your plans to 'drag' your D500 and D7500 along on your upcoming Namibia trip. What did you miss with the OMD kit that prompted you to take the heavier, larger nikon kit? I appreciate mft for all its benefits, but your experience will help me in my current predicament.
    I currently have a Fujifilm X-T3 body and 100-400mm lens. It gets me to 600mm EFL, but I find that I need to stop down to f8 to get best results. I feel lens options are limited with Fuji - nothing longer to be had, if I want faster, the option is a 50-140mm/2.8, which is almost as heavy and bulky as the 100-400mm. With just those two lenses, two bodies and a small wide zoom, I am already at almost 4kg. If there are benefits to be had by just buckling down and carrying that extra weight, it becomes much easier to just maintain status quo. I will buy the 50-140mm and sell it after I return from the trip. I really can't see myself using it much later (although it is by all accounts an excellent lens). Fuji has also allowed me to get away with minimum post processing.
  19. Keeth101

    Keeth101 Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 5, 2018
    If you do go for the Panny 100-400 then make sure you buy it in plenty of time. There are still some issues with the 100-400 on Olympus cameras, as has been talked about on another forum, with metal flakes coming off the Panny lens because of poor fit.

    Many people seem to have no problems but some still are so be careful to test it on your camera thoroughly first. If it's a tight fit be Very careful.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  20. barry13

    barry13 Mu-43.com Editor Subscribing Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    With the EC-14, it goes to 280mm, and with the EC-20, it goes to 400mm.
    It doesn't loose much detail with the TC's; see my 2 pics at Showcase - Olympus 50-200mm f2.8-3.5 ZD 4/3 SWD

    Advantages over the 100-400:
    good weather sealing on Olympus bodies
    manual focus correction instantly available on the SWD
    significantly brighter max aperture below 280mm (good for early morning, late afternoon, or anywhere shady):
    f/2.8-3.5 from 50-200mm
    f/4-5 with the EC-14 from 70-280mm
    f/5.6-7.1 with the EC-20 from 100-400mm

    The image quality is excellent; the 100-400mm probably doesn't offer much advantage there, if any.
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