Tim Boyer Field Review Olympus 100-400

saladin

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Pretty much as expected. Slow aperture is problematic in lower light and the 2x converter knocks the edge off sharpness (although I think in real world use the 1600mm effective FOV and demands on good technique is probably the trickiest factor).

I'm still interested.
 

RichardC

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I think he does a good job of highlighting the pitfalls of a super-telephoto lens. I.e., a perpetual fight with atmospheric conditions, tiny depth of field and camera shake.

People underestimate the care and skill required to get a sharp image at 400mm. It won't be long before they start popping up on the secondhand market :)
 

RAH

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The narrower the FoV/FL, the worse the problem becomes.
I agree, but at least the 75-300 and 100-400 are zoom lenses. Hopefully users know (or quickly learn) the technique of zooming out to locate your subject in the view, then zooming in to take the shot. I usually only do this after searching frantically in the fully zoomed-in view and being unable to find the damn bird, but that can happen frequently with a fast-moving subject and a zoom like 400. This is a significant (IMHO) advantage of a tele-zoom over a prime. (Just FYI, I fixed your typo in the quote. Is this allowed? Or maybe you actually meant "tge"? ;) )
 

Holoholo55

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I agree, but at least the 75-300 and 100-400 are zoom lenses. Hopefully users know (or quickly learn) the technique of zooming out to locate your subject in the view, then zooming in to take the shot. I usually only do this after searching frantically in the fully zoomed-in view and being unable to find the damn bird, but that can happen frequently with a fast-moving subject and a zoom like 400. This is a significant (IMHO) advantage of a tele-zoom over a prime. (Just FYI, I fixed your typo in the quote. Is this allowed? Or maybe you actually meant "tge"? ;) )
I sometimes find the best way to track the bird (or other moving subject) with a long telephoto is to use a red-dot sight. One has to calibrate the sight to match your aim with the telephoto, but it helps to get the view onto the subject. I keep the rear display on to verify the aim and rely on the AF to do its job. I'd prefer to use the EVF only, but sometimes one has to try different approaches.
 

Phocal

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tiny depth of field
Actually that is not true for most people. When close to your subject the DOF can be very small. But most people tend to be much farther away and the DoF is much larger.

400mm @ f6.3 with subject at 100 feet gives DoF of 3.58 feet. Even moving to 50 feet still gives almost a foot, more than enough for most subjects.
 

RichardC

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Anyway - I would use it to shoot planes. Could I get far enough away from an airliner for DOF to be unimportant?

(Genuine question - I can't tell if some of my shots are fuzzy because I've missed focus or if I've focused somewhere I shouldn't, or if it's motion blur).

EDIT -

Just answered my own question. According to https://www.photopills.com/calculators/dof - I've got 326m DOF at 500 metre distance with 400mm at f6.3

Phocal is of course quite correct.

Mind you - the birders have got 11cm to play with at 10m distance. That's not very much.
 
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RAH

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(Genuine question - I can't tell if some of my shots are fuzzy because I've missed focus or if I've focused somewhere I shouldn't, or if it's motion blur).
I agree. In the past I have sometimes blamed shallow DOF if the head or eye of a bird seems more out of focus than his body, where the feathers of his wing or chest might look sharper. But, especially with birds, it can be VERY hard to tell when feathers are sharp, but an eye is going to tell you pretty clearly. So sometimes you are just slightly OOF on the entire bird (not just the head) and not realize it. This is interesting info on the not-so-shallow DOF at these focal lengths and distances.

400mm @ f6.3 with subject at 100 feet gives DoF of 3.58 feet. Even moving to 50 feet still gives almost a foot, more than enough for most subjects.
Actually, whenever I move closer, the bird flies away, so DOF isn't a concern... ;)
 

Phocal

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Hopefully users know (or quickly learn) the technique of zooming out to locate your subject in the view, then zooming in to take the shot.
That is more a crutch than technique. With practice it is pretty easy to get things into view with a telephoto lens and will save you from missing action shots that happen during all that zooming.

This is a significant (IMHO) advantage of a tele-zoom over a prime.
No, it is a crutch that people use who don't want to put in the practice of using a telephoto lens.
 

PhotoCal

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While some have had success with the red dot site, I've found them to be more trouble than they're worth. I like to travel light and concentrate on the light, not tweaking my gear.
They may be helpful to build up your confidence when starting out, but they can also get in the way. They're not for everyone.

I thought Boyer's video was a fair assessment.
I'm still awaiting the nexus of time off/good weather/good air quality to use this lens for more than photographing mailboxes.
 

PhotoCal

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That is more a crutch than technique. With practice it is pretty easy to get things into view with a telephoto lens and will save you from missing action shots that happen during all that zooming.



No, it is a crutch that people use who don't want to put in the practice of using a telephoto lens.
While I've not shot that way (it does seem very slow) aren't there a lot of crutches that photographers use? Pro Capture, Auto ISO, autorocus, burst mode to name a few. I don't use Pro Capture because I think it's a crutch. But it doesn't bother me if people use a crutch vs improving their technique.

Whatever makes the photographer/audience hapyy is fine by me.
 

RAH

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While I've not shot that way (it does seem very slow) aren't there a lot of crutches that photographers use? Pro Capture, Auto ISO, autorocus, burst mode to name a few. I don't use Pro Capture because I think it's a crutch. But it doesn't bother me if people use a crutch vs improving their technique.

Whatever makes the photographer/audience hapyy is fine by me.
Gee, let me just add that I don't use the technique of briefly zooming out to get my bearings in the view ALL the time, but only occasionally. Generally it's when I've been away from photography for a while (yes, this is actually possible), say a month or so. I do find it hard at first to use a telephoto lens after being away from it, and it can be a help to use the technique, so I just mentioned it in (what I thought was) passing. So it's good to know about it if you need it, IMHO.

On the issue of "crutches," my first Pentax camera, back in the film days, didn't have a built-in light meter. You had to use a separate meter, or just get to know what settings to use under certain conditions. So, is the built-in light meter in just about all modern cameras a crutch? Where do you draw that line? I guess using Aperture or Shutter priority absolutely screams "crutch," to some folks ("real photographers use Manual").

This is not to say it isn't good to learn how to do things better and improve. Of course it is. So I agree with you @PhotoCal that crutches can be useful for some people. I think you should use what you need to use to get the job done at any given point. For example, I use Manual mode when I need to, but there's no way I'm going to use it while on vacation in Utah taking photos in constantly changing lighting conditions. Life's too short!

So, if you repeatedly miss getting a good shot of that prairie dog sticking its head out of the hole, you might consider using Pro Capture just for now and practice later on something easier.
 

PhotoCal

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Gee, let me just add that I don't use the technique of briefly zooming out to get my bearings in the view ALL the time, but only occasionally. Generally it's when I've been away from photography for a while (yes, this is actually possible), say a month or so. I do find it hard at first to use a telephoto lens after being away from it, and it can be a help to use the technique, so I just mentioned it in (what I thought was) passing. So it's good to know about it if you need it, IMHO.

On the issue of "crutches," my first Pentax camera, back in the film days, didn't have a built-in light meter. You had to use a separate meter, or just get to know what settings to use under certain conditions. So, is the built-in light meter in just about all modern cameras a crutch? Where do you draw that line? I guess using Aperture or Shutter priority absolutely screams "crutch," to some folks ("real photographers use Manual").

This is not to say it isn't good to learn how to do things better and improve. Of course it is. So I agree with you @PhotoCal that crutches can be useful for some people. I think you should use what you need to use to get the job done at any given point. For example, I use Manual mode when I need to, but there's no way I'm going to use it while on vacation in Utah taking photos in constantly changing lighting conditions. Life's too short!

So, if you repeatedly miss getting a good shot of that prairie dog sticking its head out of the hole, you might consider using Pro Capture just for now and practice later on something easier.

I already have some good prairie dog shots taken with my (fully manual, built-in light meter) Minolta SRT.

A part of photography often overlooked is the fieldcraft. If you know your subject you can anticipate its behavior.
It's helped me in sports and nature photography. Joining Audubon groups can help with BIF. In fact, Boyer did a video about this.

Think about it: an antisocial person would likely not do well as a portrait photographer.
 

Lcrunyon

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Considering how fast some wildlife actions can occur without warning, pro capture is much more than a “crutch.” I’ll take it any day. And AF, and zoom lenses, and camera metering... etc...
 

PhotoCal

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Considering how fast some wildlife actions can occur without warning, pro capture is much more than a “crutch.” I’ll take it any day. And AF, and zoom lenses, and camera metering... etc...
I'm not judging people for using crutches.
But wildlife can be predictable They have a smaller hierarchy of needs than people.
There are ways to get outstanding photographs without the technological advances, if one chooses.


The reason I'm not a fan of those crutches is that I think they remove the joy of photography and turn it into "spray and pray", or using a piece of gear that doesn't require thought.

As for Pro Capture, I've not used it. Might as well shoot video. But if it's what you need to do, then go for it!

Learning about the subject is fun (for me) and enhances both my photography and my shooting experience. Photography got me in to bird watching and, sometimes, I go birdwatching without planning any photography.

There's been a lot written about shooting deliberately, which is what I've done (as hobbyist) for decades.
 
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