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Suggestions for a cheap but good 300mm zoom?

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by Tadgh78, Aug 14, 2013.

  1. Tadgh78

    Tadgh78 Mu-43 Regular

    72
    Feb 25, 2013
    Ireland
    Hello, I'm currently in the market for a 300mm zoom that won't break the bank.

    Edit; after the suggestions that have been made here I now intend to get either a 300mm legacy "prime lens" or the Panasonic 100-300mm zoom and not a legacy zoom.

    I have a Panasonic G3 camera (which I bought off a member of this forum back in February) and among other lenses, I have a panasonic 45-175mm zoom which I'm using for wildlife

    The problem is, I'm finding 175mm is really too short for birds and animals so I'm looking to dip my toe in the water of longer lenses.

    The Panasonic 100-300mm looks good, but is a bit expensive for a lens that I know will be on my camera at most about 10% of the time.

    Therefore I am looking into legacy glass.

    The lens I'm looking for has to be 1)cheap because if it was anywhere near the price of a used panasonic 100-300 I'd just buy the pany instead and get the benefit of autofocus and image stabilisation.

    And 2) capable of reasonably good output. By reasonably good I mean I should, after a bit of practice, be able to out-perform my existing Panasonic 45-175mm for critters that are at least 50m away (which is about as close as they'll let me get).

    I'd also like if the lens wasn't too heavy because the lighter it is the more likely I am to use it, which is part of the reason I got into m43 in the first place...

    Some lenses I'm considering are;

    Canon FD 100-300 F/5.6. The "non-L" is very cheap, about 50 euro, but a bit heavy at 880g. The "L" is out of the question as it's nearly as expensive as a used Pany 100-300.

    The rest are all less than 150 euro (175 dollars);

    Tokina 60-300mm f/4-5.6 SZ-X (730g)

    Sigma DG APO Macro 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 (545g)

    TAMRON AF 70-300mm f4-5.6 Di LD (435g!)

    I don't actually know much about these lenses or even if they would be satisfactory for my needs, so If anyone has used any of these lenses and can comment on them or has any other suggestions for a "cheap, light, reasonable quality, 300mm zoom" I'd certainly appreciate it.

    If you've read this far thank you very much. :)
     
  2. madogvelkor

    madogvelkor Mu-43 Top Veteran

    937
    Feb 22, 2013
    Connecticut
    I usually just Google the particular legacy glass I'm looking at -- over the years there are a lot of things written about most of them. In general any of the "brand name" glass is good.

    The only thing you'll want to be sure of is that they have a manual aperture ring. Starting in the 90s a lot of lenses dropped those and aperture was controlled directly from the body. It rules out most of the Canon EF lenses, for example.
     
  3. dougjgreen

    dougjgreen Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 5, 2013
    San Diego
    Doug Green
    Try finding a manual focus Tokina AT-X 100-300mm f4 in any mount. It's the best manual focus lens you'll find in that range. They don't come up that often on ebay, but when they do, they sell for under $200. The last one was a mint condition one in Canon mount that sold for the ridiculous price of $68.99 plus shipping plus 14.95 - someone stole that one.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/TOKINA-mode...D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557

    I paid about $125 for mine a few years ago - that's more typical.

    Another choice, if you want to go even longer, and don't mind a slower lens is the Vivitar Series 1 100-500mm f5.6~8 lens. There's one on ebay now that you can get for $150 including shipping.

    I own both of these, and the Tokina is better up to 300, and of course, 1-2 stops faster, but the Vivitar reach is nice.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vivitar-Ser...52424916?pt=Camera_Lenses&hash=item2ec9b2a9d4

    I should reiterate, the Tokina is better. But may be hard to find.
     
  4. dougjgreen

    dougjgreen Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 5, 2013
    San Diego
    Doug Green
    The other thing I should add is, that since you already have the 45-175, you might want to get a 300mm prime instead. You should have no problem finding a good 300mm f4 or f4.5 prime for under $200. The Canon 300mm f4 FD is as good as any, and easily found for under $200

    Canon FD 300mm F 4 SLR Camera Lens SN 33087 | eBay
     
  5. juangrande

    juangrande Mu-43 Top Veteran

    805
    Dec 2, 2012
    COLORADO
    I have the olympus 300mm f 4.5 which does a nice job. I paid $150 for one w/case in excellent shape. It would be much easier to use with the IBIS of the OMD, tho. Tripod or monopod will be a must have most of the time with the G3.
     
  6. Tadgh78

    Tadgh78 Mu-43 Regular

    72
    Feb 25, 2013
    Ireland
    Thanks guys! Atm I'm leaning towards The Canon 300mm f4 FD as its a half stop faster than the Olympus 300mm f 4.5.

    I don't mind using a Monopod. Which is just as well as there's no way I'm going to be able to "stump-up" for an OMD any time soon. I was thinking of picking up an E-pm1 as a second body. It has IBIS, but I guess the lack of a viewfinder means that E-PM1 + legacy telephoto won't out perform the G3 + legacy Telephoto in practice?

    Anyway I'm excited about the prospect of a fairly cheap reasonably fast 300mm telephoto. I thought telephoto primes were more expensive than zooms. Shows how much I know!

    Would I be right in thinking that an f4 300mm prime should be sharper than the Panasonic 100-300mm f4-5.6 is at 300mm, and therefore lend itself better to cropping down shots of distant critters? And how much is IS worth anyway, 1 stop, 2 stops? Might an f4 lens without image stabilisation almost match an f5.6 that has it?
     
  7. SpecFoto

    SpecFoto Mu-43 Veteran

    310
    Aug 28, 2012
    So Cal
    Jim
    The only thing you did not mention, but need to consider, it image stabilization. The G3 and all of the legacy lenses mentioned do not have it. You will most likely require a tripod for a lot of the longer lens photos, especially if taking wildlife shots early or late in the day.

    The Panasonic 100-300mm has built in OIS and believe me, it works. I am able to get very sharp handheld shots. See the thread link below for some examples.

    Jim

    https://www.mu-43.com/f38/p100-300-o75-300-ii-43439/#post421173
     
  8. SpecFoto

    SpecFoto Mu-43 Veteran

    310
    Aug 28, 2012
    So Cal
    Jim

    Seems we cross posted. I think the OIS is worth at least 2 stops, maybe more.

    A high quality prime lens will be sharper than almost any zoom at the same focal length. Don't know about the Canon 300 f/4, but my Nikon 300 f/4 version is just about the sharpest lens I have, except for the 200 f/4 Micro Nikkor.

    Jim
     
  9. Tadgh78

    Tadgh78 Mu-43 Regular

    72
    Feb 25, 2013
    Ireland
    So, (correct me if I'm wrong) what you're saying is that generally speaking, the best lens for wildlife is a "long" prime lens with IS (either IS on lens or on body). Next best is a zoom with IS and third best is a prime without IS (and lastly a zoom without IS). Would that be correct?

    Hmm, I don't see myself using a tripod; too cumbersome, and I would like to shoot at dusk and dawn if possible because that's when the animals are most active, though I'll mostly be around lakes where there is a good bit of reflected light anyway.

    So, leaving price aside and assuming I'm using a mono-pod would the pany 100-300 still have an advantage over an f4 prime without IS, and given that some people recommend the use of a tripod/monopod with the Panasonic 100-300 anyway?


    EDIT; If there's a moderator around I'd like the title of this thread altered to say "Suggestions for a cheap but good 300mm Prime?

    I'm decided on either a legacy prime or the Panasonic 100-300mm.

    Thank you.
     
  10. kinlau

    kinlau Mu-43 Top Veteran

    836
    Feb 29, 2012
    You can shoot without a tripod, but until you've perfected your long lens technique and handholding skills, you'll get far better shots on a tripod.

    Most people aren't as good as they think they are handholding.
     
  11. verbatimium

    verbatimium Mu-43 Veteran

    204
    Jul 17, 2013
    Toronto, Ontario
    Martin
    After some thought, I just picked up a mint Konica AR 300mm f4.5 with carrying case + original box for under 150$, its being shipped out as we speak.

    The reason I chose this is that it is relatively small and lightweight compared to other similar lenses. It also comes with a removable tripod collar, but after seeing my friends pictures that he got with this lens + OMD handheld at the zoo, I was pretty amazed. Even wide open it looked to be decently sharp, but shines when stopped down. Plus, I already had an adapter for Konica AR lenses.

    I wouldn't worry too much f4 vs f4.5 as most older telephoto lenses do need to be stopped down for optimal sharpness. Length of it is only around 16cm (compared to 20cm+ for the Canon), so it seems much easier to handle.

    Can't wait to test it out myself.

    DSC05334.
     
  12. juangrande

    juangrande Mu-43 Top Veteran

    805
    Dec 2, 2012
    COLORADO
    The difference between f4 and f4.5 is negligible ( 1/3 stop). Besides the Canon "L" and the Nikon "ED", most of these 300's will have very similar IQ. Get the one that is most easily acquired. Also, on the G3, you have to set the camera to " no lens " I believe and use the exp. compensation dial for magnified view ( push it).
     
  13. Tadgh78

    Tadgh78 Mu-43 Regular

    72
    Feb 25, 2013
    Ireland
    OK. I have a Vanguard VT-154 tripod. Worth about $18 off ebay. It'll probably be about as much use as three sticks tied together... but I'll take it out this evening anyway with my G3 and 40-175mm lens and see what I get.
     
  14. Narnian

    Narnian Nobody in particular ...

    Aug 6, 2010
    Midlothian, VA
    Richard Elliott
    You may want to look in the Nature forum in the Share Birds thread and see what people are using there.
     
  15. Tadgh78

    Tadgh78 Mu-43 Regular

    72
    Feb 25, 2013
    Ireland
    Thanks. I'll probably get the Canon f4 that suggested as It's on ebay right now and it's within my price range just about.

    I still have to get a tripod collar for it though. Will a tripod mount for one of the later canon EF lenses work ok for it do you think?
     
  16. dougjgreen

    dougjgreen Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 5, 2013
    San Diego
    Doug Green
    Probably - but wait until you get the lens, because the tripod collars are different sizes, and you'll want to measure the diameter of the lens in the place where the collar is going to go, and get the collar with the closest matching inner diameter.

    I got one for the 2X TC that I use with my 200mm f3.0, and I had to modify the collar because the smallest collar on ebay is still a couple of milimeters more in diameter than the 2x TC I am using it with. I put a strip of felt-side velcro on the inside and that makes up the difference.

    I wouldn't sweat the difference between f4 and f4.5, because you'll probably want to use whichever lens you get at f5.6 anyways for max sharpness, and the f4.5 lenses might be smaller and lighter. And of course, one with a built-in tripod collar is advantageous.

    I linked that Canon lens because it is a known good one that was inside your price range, but any of the major brands should be fine - certainly Konica, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax, and Minolta would all be OK.
    Just one point though about Nikons - the later ED lens is much better than the earlier ones.
     
  17. juangrande

    juangrande Mu-43 Top Veteran

    805
    Dec 2, 2012
    COLORADO
    If it doesn't have the tripod mount, don't buy it. They are often difficult to find and expensive. When using the 45-175 on a tripod, turn off the OIS.
     
  18. dougjgreen

    dougjgreen Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 5, 2013
    San Diego
    Doug Green
    Actually, the $7-10 ones on ebay are fine, if they fit the lens - as I said, I was able to adapt one of those mounts to a Kiron 2X TC that has an outer diameter 2mm smaller than the Tripod mount, by adding a strip of adhesive backed felt-side velcro to the mount.

    In general, I would agree that getting a lens with the tripod mount is better, but there are solutions otherwise.
     
  19. SpecFoto

    SpecFoto Mu-43 Veteran

    310
    Aug 28, 2012
    So Cal
    Jim
    Best type lens? well any high quality prime telephoto, IS or not, will produce the best IQ over (almost) any comparable zoom, IS or not. To achieve top sharpness, generally the same is true.

    For sharpness though it is more than just how sharp the glass renders details; camera movement, especially with longer focal length lenses, has a big influence. IS can help, but a tripod will most likely be required for those times when the subject is in shadows, or near sunrise, sunset, i.e. when the sun is 4 or 5 stops down from mid day sun. The lens IS can make up 2 of those 4 or 5 stops, so you can get away some times without the tripod. A monopod can help too, but the old hand held rule of the shutter speed should equal your lens mm length is a good rule. 300mm lens? use 1/250 (1/320 if your camera allows for 1/3 stop adjustments) for the minimum shutter speed handheld. Personally I add 50% to that for my longer Nikkor lenses, if ss falls below that, I use a tripod or braced monopod.

    With camera ISO at 200, a 300 mm f/4 lens set wide open, and a subject 4 stops down (open shade) from mid day sun, you will be at f/4 and 1/250, right at the hand held rule limit. 5 stops (sunsets), you are 1/125 ss. Unless you are braced or rock steady, you will not be happy with the sharpness with most handheld shots here. Now with the Panasonic 100-300mm with a f/5.6 aperture at 300mm, you are one stop worse off becasue of the f/5.6, but the IS can bring back 2 stops and you are above the handheld limit again. It is simple math, the faster lens give you 1 stop back vs. the 2 stop advantage of the IS lens. So in this example, the IS lens's 1 stop advantage (overall), might allow for sharper photos. But be prepared for a lower keeper rate.

    Or an easy solution is to double the ISO and this allows you to raise the ss one stop. In the example above, crank up the ISO to 400, or maybe even 800, and your ss would go from 1/250 to 1/500 or 1/1,000. But I would not go higher than this, as there will be noise. Personally I try not to shoot wildlife above ISO 400, but that is just me.

    A used 300 prime lens would be a great 1st choice. If you find that in low light situations your photos are not as sharp as you like, well, join the club. There is no easy answer, except practice and a steady tripod.

    Jim