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Telephoto Battle! Panasonic G3 100-300 f4-5.6 OIS vs Nikon D300S 300 f4 AFS

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by Jonathan F/2, Aug 16, 2011.

  1. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, USA
    I decided to do a test between the two cameras and lenses. I really wanted a small telephoto lens with my micro four-thirds setup, to replace hauling my Nikons for non-work related travel, but still have a usable lightweight kit if work related needs arise. I recently acquired the Panasonic 100-300mm OIS.

    So I decided to see how it stacked up to my other small telephoto lens, the Nikon 300mm f4 AFS! Both were shot jpeg, stopped down to f6.3, aperture priority, auto WB and auto ISO. These are my usual settings. While the D300S and 300mm is the superior handling combination, the G3, 100-300mm, 2 pancake primes, GF2 backup body, and spare battery/charger can fit in a smaller space than the D300S and 300mm (or 80-400 VR if you own one) while still being lighter and offering more reach.

    Here's my little test -

    Panasonic G3 & Nikon D300S 300 f4 AFS:

    D300S/300mm @ 300mm (approx. 500mm full frame):

    G3/100-300mm @ 250mm (approx. 500mm full frame):

    D300S Crop:

    G3 Crop:

    D300S Bigger Crop:

    G3 Bigger Crop:

    Overall, the D300S & 300 handles better, but I think the G3 & 100-300 holds up pretty well in good light and despite lacking the faster AF and handling, the weight savings are worth it. Comments welcomed!
    • Like Like x 5
  2. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    The orange cast is a little weird, is that just a WB issue?
  3. Luke

    Luke Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jul 30, 2010
    Milwaukee, WI
    my eyes were telling me that the Nikon was a bit sharper in the first 2 shots, but I'm not pixel peeping. But in the last shot, the Panny is CLEARLY sharper. Is it just because it is at the edge of the frame that the Panny is sharper? I would say from the main shot and the first crop that it's close enough to even for me.
  4. Pelao

    Pelao Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 3, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Neat test. To my eye the M4/3 looks better in the last example.
  5. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, USA
    The G3 tends to shift to the red/yellow tones in AWB, so I think this is what you're seeing.

    I think it's not so much an issue of sharpness but pixel density. The D300S is 12mp vs the G3 16mp sensor.
  6. WT21

    WT21 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    Certainly a color cast in the G3, it seems.

    Can you comment on what you mean by "the D300S & 300 handles better?"

    Do you just mean for a big lens, a proper DSLR is the way to go, or are there other considerations to the handling?
  7. brnmatsumoto

    brnmatsumoto Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 18, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    A very helpful comparison. I own a 300 mm Nikon AF and the Panasonic 100-300 mm. This information is helpful to us legacy lens owners. Before getting the 100-300 mm zoom, I was using the AF 300 mm Nikon F4. It worked extremely well, but as you note, it is a lot easier to carry the Panasonic lens. I never did a direct comparison between the two lenses and your work is appreciated.

  8. WT21

    WT21 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    I wonder about the bokeh between the two, though. I would expect to see better results with the Nikon.
  9. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, USA
    I think a proper DSLR is still superior for handling big telephoto lenses and fast shooting especially for tracking movement. My G3's AFC mode is very spotty and requires a different way of shooting to capture moving subjects. I think using AFS mode and recomposing on the move is a better technique to use on m43.

    As a small lightweight alternative to DSLRs, the G3 I think is a better alternative to the entry DSLRs such as the D3100. In fact, if the G3 still had the 12mp sensor I might have a different opinion, but this 16mp sensor is really well done and I've used everything from a D3, D700, D300 and D3X from Nikon.
  10. harry_s

    harry_s Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 19, 2011
    Wiltshire, UK
    I've owned a 300mm f4 and am just moving to Micro 4/3s, that they are even worth comparing is great news as I expected the 100-300 (which I'm ordering soon) to be significantly inferior. Great stuff.

    I would, however, suspect that with an isolated subject the 300mm f4 would look (subjectively of course) much 'nicer' and more isolated from the background.

    On the handling point, the heavier the better for me, I used a D90 with grip and teleconverted Sigma 120-300 2.8 (well over 3kg) and shot motorsport handheld 6 or 7hrs per day. It allows much smoother panning and is less affected by wind etc (a big consideration on windswept UK circuits if you don't like being restricted by monopods)
  11. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, USA
    Yeah, it's a fixed f/4 prime versus an f4-5.6 zoom. Though I think the 100-300 can pull off some decent bokeh using good technique.

    I have to say the 100-300 OIS work great and is far better than the 45-200 I owned.

    I own 2 Nikon FX bodies and yes, nothing beats full frame bokeh on FX lenses, but I just returned from a one month trip with a D700, 16-35, 85, 70-200 & 1.4 TC, never again will I bring a DSLR when traveling! The weight is too much, especially when you got a laptop and other knick-knacks in your backpack. For any travel it's m4/3 for me. :smile:
    • Like Like x 1
  12. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, USA
    Just for fun, I mounted it on my GF2! It's still pretty sharp but the AF and OIS doesn't work as well as with the G3.


    Taken at 300mm across the length of about 1 LA city block :eek: :

  13. Tom Swaman

    Tom Swaman Mu-43 Veteran

    That Panny combo is pretty impressive when you consider the costs of this versus the BIG "N". Oh yes, you do not need a sherpa with the Panny.

    I owned two D300s and several Nikon lenses. It is comparisons like this one that made me switch to Panny. "Yes," I am very glad I made the switch,

    Best regards,
  14. jcurious

    jcurious Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 14, 2010
    Northern Virginia
    The most frustrating thing about the 100-300 is the slow AF. I use mine to shoot birds occasionally, and sometimes I miss them because of the AF speed. I REALLY wish Panasonic would upgrade the performance to match the 14-140.
  15. xdayv

    xdayv Color Blind

    Aug 26, 2011
    Tacloban City, Philippines
    This is also the reason why i'm here too at m4/3. :biggrin:
  16. ckrueger

    ckrueger Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 16, 2011
    I think the 100-300 will become a much more useful lens for wildlife when we get a body with decent performance for that kind of shooting.

    Right now all M43 bodies perform about as well as a low-end DSLR for wildlife photography... possibly a bit worse if you consider AF tracking. But this will improve quickly if the evolution of M43 from the EP1 and G1 to the EP3 and GH2 are any indication.
  17. harry_s

    harry_s Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 19, 2011
    Wiltshire, UK
    This is by no means a scientific test, but it occurred to me earlier I have photos taken with both lens from the exact same place with the same settings and in roughly the same kind of weather conditions...

    Nikon D50, Nikon 300mm f4 + Nikon 1.4x TC, 1/320, f6.3, 420mm (630mm equivalent)

    Panasonic G3, Panasonic 100-300mm, 1/400, f6.3, 300mm (623mm equivalent)

    I must have cropped the Nikon shot a little tighter as the background looks a bit closer. Whilst I was hardly playing to the strengths of the Nikon 300mm f4, it obviously required the TC to get the same amount of reach as the 100-300 so it's a reasonable comparison in my opinion.
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