Safari

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by Antonio, Oct 1, 2011.

  1. Antonio

    Antonio Mu-43 Regular

    98
    Jun 27, 2011
    Sao Paulo, Brazil
    I am planning an African safari and would like to hear from you what would be the best lenses to take with my E-PL2. I have today the 14-42mm and the 40-150mm Zuiko lenses, but I guess that I will need something longer. In addition the lenses I have are not very fast and many photos in a safari are taken either at very early morning or late afternoon.

    From what I saw the Olympus longer lenses are very slow. Are there other alternatives?
     
  2. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    No, longer Olympus lenses are not slow... in fact, Olympus have literally the fastest telephoto zooms in the world.

    What you mean to say is that long MICRO FOUR-THIRDS lenses are very slow. As of yet, there are no fast telephoto lens, neither zoom nor prime, in the Micro Four-Thirds mount (from Olympus, Panasonic, or anybody else).

    If you need to retain Autofocus capability, then look at the fast telephotos in the Zuiko and Sigma lineups for Four-Thirds mount (not Micro Four-Thirds). The Autofocus will not be as fast as Micro Four-Thirds lenses, but it will be present. More importantly though, these lenses are digital spec and are killer sharp wide open. You won't find legacy lenses, or even modern lenses in many other makes, which are as sharp as these at widest aperture. There are lots of great lenses depending on your budget, such as the Zuiko 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 SWD for a moderate budget, or the Zuiko 300mm f/2.8 and Zuiko 90-250mm f/2.8 in a high-end budget. For super-long range there is a Sigma 300-800mm f/5.6, but it is super expensive and massively huge. There is also a Sigma 50-500mm but it is very slow and probably wouldn't meet your requirements for dusk/dawn shooting. It's also very large, but all of these lenses listed are quite large.

    All the Zuiko Four-Thirds fast telephotos (high grade or super high-grade) are also dust and splash proof, which will help protect them on your safari from getting dust and sand in the rings or front element. Unfortunately though, with your Micro Four-Thirds body and Four-Thirds mount adapter, there will be no seal to the body. The Olympus weather-sealing system was made to work with an Olympus pro-grade E-System DSLR like the E-1, E-3, or E-5.

    Considering the small size of your body, I would suggest the best fast zoom to be the Zuiko 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 SWD. I suggest the SWD version because it will focus faster and has a mechanical coupling to the focus ring for better feel for manual focusing should the AF become too slow or unnecessary for you. Pretty much all the other lenses I listed would be uncomfortably large on your small body, but the 50-200mm I find to balance quite well and doesn't require a tripod (just make sure you leave the tripod collar on if you are hand-holding the lens, as it will rest on your hand to let you focus and zoom).

    zuiko_50-200mm_swd_web.

    Most of the options I just mentioned are pretty expensive, but if you are looking for a fast telephoto I assume you would be expecting that? However, you can get a lot cheaper if you go with legacy lenses. You could also get significantly smaller by using legacy telephoto primes. Some of these lenses are spec'ed very fast, but in actual usage they are not likely to be as fast as the Zuiko Digital glass because they need to be stopped down for more optimum sharpness. There are still lots of options though which should be fast enough for your usage! Just remember though, that all these lenses are manual focus. I would suggest getting a VF-2 viewfinder to allow really quick "snap-to" focus.
     
  3. nickthetasmaniac

    nickthetasmaniac Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 11, 2011
    +1 for the 50-200 - it is an amazing and unique lens. Ned, are you sure the SWD version will focus faster on Micro Four Thirds? The non-SWD version can be had awfully cheap and is basically identical optically.

    I've read a fair bit about people successfully using the Lumix G 100-300 for wildlife and safari type shooting. It's not the fastest, but it gives amazing reach and pretty good image quality.

    If you don't mind Manual Focus and Aperture Priority there's some fast medium/long legacy telephotos that can be picked up for a reasonable price. Two that spring to mind are the Nikkor 180/f2.8 ED AI-s and SMC Pentax 200/f2.5.

    I'd recommend having a look at this article on Luminous Landscape, which has some interesting tips regarding both gear and technique... On Safari
     
  4. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Nope, I'm not sure about that Nick. I just noticed that the SWD lenses in general seem to have decent focus speed even on Micro Four-Thirds (where slower focus is quite noticeable!). I have not however tested the difference between the two versions of 50-200mm, as I only own the SWD version.

    Because Four-Thirds lenses do AF slower on Micro Four-Thirds bodies, I feel that good manual focus is also important and the SWD lenses are great for that... but probably not enough to tell a real difference! I agree... if a non-SWD version can be found for significantly cheaper, then it would be a good one to jump on!

    I almost bought a non-SWD version instead of my current SWD version for about $400 cheaper (and I was already getting a special deal) but they ran out of stock (this was brand-new retail). It's certainly a great deal for an excellent piece of glass...
     
  5. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    • Like Like x 1
  6. turbodieselvw

    turbodieselvw Mu-43 Veteran

    321
    Jun 29, 2010
    Ottawa
    You beat me to it! I was going to post the link to Terry's thread.

     
  7. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Gordon
    It's been a long while since I have been "on safari". In fact I did it with film and a Canon 35-350L. Generally speaking 5.6 is quite adequate at ISO 200 for most of the day and ISO 400 in the morning and evening drives with a 5.6 lens. I'd suggest the Panasonic 100-300. I think from a vehicle it's nearly the ideal range. And at 5.6 it's only a stop slower than the full frame boys and their 600 f4's.

    You'll need a beanbag if you're shooting from a van (east Africa) and a monopod if your shooting from a soft top land Cruiser (southern Africa). Also a rubber pad under the foot of the mono pod to cut vibrations. Most of your subjects will be stationary or slow moving, unless you're lucky enough to witness a kill, so mostly you only need a 125th to get sharp shots. Take spare batteries and LOTS of memory. If you have two bodies then you'll also avoid having to change lenses. It gets very, very dusty.

    Gordon
     
  8. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    apologies... apparently it was the pana 100-300 terry used....and she had a spare one to sell...but it looks like she may have just sold it


    K
     
  9. Antonio

    Antonio Mu-43 Regular

    98
    Jun 27, 2011
    Sao Paulo, Brazil
    I just came back from Northern Tanzania. Used a e-pl2 with the Panny 100-300mm. I could not be much happier with the results.

    P2201928.

    P2171659.
     
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