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Something I've learned living with the PL100-400 for 3 years (or so)

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by D7k1, Nov 7, 2018.

  1. D7k1

    D7k1 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Nov 18, 2013
    I am no longer a 3 times a week Birder which was the reason for getting the PL100-400 (it replaced my Nikon 300mm f4 /TC 1.4 & 1.7 when I changed systems).

    I will admit that solely for wildlife/birds the Oly 300mm is perhaps a better choice for some.

    However as an all rounder from close focus (Macro with the Canon 500D) to landscapes, I find this lens an amazing tool. Here in the west such a versatility often means getting the image or not (Kept my 75-300II because it is a small but a good tool also).

    Yes it is an expensive lens, but I think as the native lens postings show it performs very well under a wide set of subjects and conditions. I would buy it again, especially now that it is lower priced, but IMHO it was worth the introductory price to use it for 3 years and taking thousands of birding images.

    And every time I pick it up, I just think about the EQ field of view of the Sigma 800mm zoom and the size and weight difference. For me now the 75-300 or the Pany 100-300 II would work fine but this is the only lens I've insured and will keep it around for a long time based on its performance.

    What about it as a birding lens, well here is one of a wild kestrel handheld - I think it works:
    0bfef636280373.571656d54f7fb.jpg
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    It takes a while to get a camera and technique dialed in with this lenses, but I'd find this lens a hard one to give up.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2018
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  2. Fully agree Jeff. I'm loathe to part with my 75-300 also, even though I have the Panny. Both are very good tools IMHO.Although my panny hasn't yet had a good workout, initial shots are promising and my 75-300 has proved itself to be competent.

    I love how the Panny resolved the water drops on the grass top right

    45282534332_fa23f57c08_o.jpg
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    Intermediate Egret - Breeding Plumage (4) by Kevin Dickinson, on Flickr

    And the Olly? Supposedly soft above 250? I think not.

    30611658468_db1c913731_o.jpg
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    Rainbow Lorikeet (1) by Kevin Dickinson, on Flickr
     
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  3. flamingfish

    flamingfish Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Nov 16, 2012
    Emily
    Speaking as someone who's still reeling (a little) from investing in the 100-400, thanks for the validation that it was a good choice!
     
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  4. Similar here. It really was a huge chunk of cash for me to part with and I was going to sell the Olly first to part fund it if I ever decided to take the plunge. I landed lucky and saw a panny for A$1300 used, but unused IYKWIM (it had never left his house except to be tested in his garden). This was before I put the olly up for sale and as the panny was such a good price, I never did part with the olly.

    So why have I decided to keep the olly? Perhaps my thought process may help others justify having both? Weight and size. Weight is very important to me at my age and state of health. It's a great lens for portability and even though you may opt for the longer reach and light gathering of the Panny, there are occasions when you really may not need that reach or speed so no need to carry it's weight. If I am looking for birds in dry woodland, the trees are sparser and therefore there is more light, and the birds are often not as shy so I can get closer............therefore the olly. Also, at home, it's always the olly to hand as my garden is small but attracts a lot of birds which don't require a long reach. Wetland forest or rainforest?............. the forest is darker and the birds more shy, therefore the Panny will come into it's own hopefully. I haven't attempted BIF yet with either due to having bursitis (frozen shoulder) but as soon as that comes good, I'll try both. Managed to pin a leaping roo, and they move fast, so that also is looking promising for BIF Shot over wetland hence the atmospheric softness

    28423614058_0e3dcfb7d7_o.jpg
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    Eastern Grey Kangaroo (1) by Kevin Dickinson, on Flickr
     
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  5. Bushboy

    Bushboy Mu-43 Veteran

    270
    Apr 22, 2018
    NZ
    Charlie
    Shot on the egret Kev.
    $2500 NZ, be nice to have, but, gonna have to pass on the big lens. I’m a married man!
     
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  6. Get a divorce Charlie. Ya gotta get yer priorities right! :laugh:
     
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  7. D7k1

    D7k1 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Nov 18, 2013
    I carry the Oly 75-300 on my yearly trips to the American SW (kind of like Bidkev's outback) and believe me every pound you save when it's between 110 & 20 at ground level means a tremendous amount. Water's first priority. I too have one that I would consider very good at 300mm ( I like to keep my shutter speed > 1/600 when using this lens in bright light).
     
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  8. Yes, I agree fully re water. That's the priority here also. One of the reasons that I love the m43 system is that I can carry more now.
     
  9. retiredfromlife

    retiredfromlife Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2016
    Sydney, Australia
    How stiff is the zoom after three years of use?
    I went on a Panasonic Bird work last weekend and they provided a G9 with the 100-400. By the wear marks it looked fairly well used, but the zoom turning was quiet stiff and uneven, resulting in it being sort of "jerky" to zoom if that makes sense.
     
  10. Bushboy

    Bushboy Mu-43 Veteran

    270
    Apr 22, 2018
    NZ
    Charlie
    I played with someone else’s 100 400 in the weekend too. It had a terribly unsmooth jerky zoom action. I was unimpressed really, considering the cost of this lens. Kind of kit like really...
    Reminded me of my 100-300, gulp!
     
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  11. Bushboy

    Bushboy Mu-43 Veteran

    270
    Apr 22, 2018
    NZ
    Charlie
    But I still want one... :) 
     
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  12. I think most of the complaints about the zoom are because the lock ring isn't backed off properly and I think that if that was the case, over a period of time the zoom would become iffy. Mine's fine.
     
  13. D7k1

    D7k1 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Nov 18, 2013
    Mine was a little stiff at first but after a couple of hundred images it was firm but smooth.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2018
  14. retiredfromlife

    retiredfromlife Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2016
    Sydney, Australia
    I checked the locking ring on the sample I used. The person from Panasonic actually checked them all when the cameras were given to us.
     
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  15. retiredfromlife

    retiredfromlife Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2016
    Sydney, Australia
    I can see why people want them as it is the only option for the size and focal lengths.
     
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  16. Lindsay D

    Lindsay D Mu-43 Veteran

    395
    Jan 2, 2013
    West Sussex, England
    Lindsay
    My PL 100-400 is an extraordinary piece of equipment. I still marvel at the relatively small size and weight, and the amazing sharpness and image quality.

    Incidentally the people I've met who say they can't get sharp enough images with their PL 100-400 can't get sharp images with mine either.

    One of my 'best ever' purchases.
     
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  17. D7k1

    D7k1 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Nov 18, 2013
    Pilot error in most cases, yet real pilots that error never get to blame the plane:) 
     
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  18. Lindsay D

    Lindsay D Mu-43 Veteran

    395
    Jan 2, 2013
    West Sussex, England
    Lindsay
    One of the biggest complaints my wildlife students have is that they can't get crisp and clear images. There are so many factors wound up in that as we all know, but as you say technique is often the cornerstone. That can be focusing technique, handholding technique, or a poor understanding of which shutter speed is needed in which situation. Or ruthless cropping of a very small and distant subject.

    Time and time again I have trainees who will insist there is something wrong with either their camera or their lens, and with very few cases I can think of, there never is.

    That's not to say you don't occasionally get duff or poor lenses, almost always the consumer grade superzooms or long tele zooms. But I've seen quite a few copies of the PL 100-400 and I can only think of one which may have been faulty (and that isn't one I personally had a chance to try).
     
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  19. At a risk of repeating myself as I have said this before, many photographers stepping into the world of birding, assume that because a bird is in a perceived static position, that all will be fine when focus locks on. Birds are seen nearly always at a distance and viewfinders are relatively small so to see small movement such as the bird actually moving, or the branch swaying slightly in the wind, is very difficult at the moment that shutter button is pressed. Even when the subject is absolutely still, the slightest wind ruffling feathers ever so slightly, can give an impression of softness in the shot. Atmospheric conditions can also play havoc with long zooms even though you may not see them with your naked eye. Becoming too trusting of IBIS or OIS can also be a problem as you come to rely on slower shutter speeds and although even a student knows that it doesn't freeze movement, that reliance can lead to complacency where a grabbed shot isn't thought through fast enough to up shutter speed.

    One of the advantages of m43 is that it is forgiving with regards to DOF but it isn't a failsafe. As much attention should be paid to this as it is to shutter speed when birding. That small subject covered even by a small single focus point, isn't a guarantee that the point is locked onto the bird's eye, or even head, as the focus point may be bigger than the subject, actually spill over the subject, and lock onto something else that it is covering so increasing DOF can mitigate this. Recomposing is another area that m43 DOF can mitigate. I always use small square and recompose, not because it is better per se, but because I am clumsy, have hand shake, and I can't always move the focus point fast enough so I have it locked centre. It's not ideal but it suits me and that extra DOF that m43 provides more or less covers the discrepancies

    Before judging a lens as "soft" or front/back focusing, it always pays to first judge your own technique as applied to the picture at the time and ask yourself the above questions as to whether it is yourself who might have got it wrong. In my 55 years buying gear, I only ever got two duff lenses and they were recent..........the same lens the samyang 8mm which I guess came from the same batch. When reading reviews, it amazes me just how many folk I see, who have returned their lenses because they had "bad copies." Retailers must tear their hair out at times.
     
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  20. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    Larry
    So while I have not had a lot of opportunity to use this lens for birds I have shot a bunch of sports, and while it is not quite as good as the 150f2+TC, the versatility is hard to beat - SOOC JPEG -

    The look
    P8261813.jpg
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