Time to reassess the 200/2.8 as a birding lens?

Phocal

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What is your carrying system for these lenses when you have both with you?
Normally I have one in hand and the other in my backpack. Which one I have out depends on where I am and what I am looking to photograph. Once I find a subject I will usually break out both of them once I get into position or sooner if the terrain allows. If I am crawling towards something I will have one on my skimmer pod and the other in my hand, that way I can just push the camera/skimmer combo forward as I crawl while carrying the other in hand.

I hate and don't use camera straps unless I need two cameras out at the same time, typically if I am shooting sports. When I do use a strap I have the Blackrapid dual sling strap that I will use if not wearing a backpack. If I have a backpack I will use the one they have designed to attach to a backpack. I have two of them that are already attached to my backpack and just run down my backpack straps, that way they are instantly available if needed. About the only time shooting wildlife that I will use the one/s on my backpack is if I am having to climb or balance and need both hands, like when moving along logs above the water in the swamp.
 
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Of course if anyone really wanted a kick ass setup, assuming cost and size isn't an issue, the EM1 with the old 4/3rds Oly 300/2.8 where the image is corrected in the optics rather than in firmware. And actually the price is pretty good considering what the equivalent costs in other systems,
And if you're wiling to give up auto-focus, and shop carefully, the amazing Olympus OM-System Zuiko 350mm ƒ/2.8 can be a real bargain. I got one from KEH for $1,662. It was in "UGly" condition, but I think that is because the supports in the case had come loose — the lens itself is more like eBay "MINT+++++" condition.

If you get this guy, be sure to get the OM 1.4X-A teleconverter, which appears to be invisible on the 350/2.8, giving you the option for 500/4. Then, with a reasonable focal reducer, you also have 250/2. I call it my "wait a minute" zoom!
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zanydroid

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And if you're wiling to give up auto-focus, and shop carefully, the amazing Olympus OM-System Zuiko 350mm ƒ/2.8 can be a real bargain. I got one from KEH for $1,662. It was in "UGly" condition, but I think that is because the supports in the case had come loose — the lens itself is more like eBay "MINT+++++" condition.

If you get this guy, be sure to get the OM 1.4X-A teleconverter, which appears to be invisible on the 350/2.8, giving you the option for 500/4. Then, with a reasonable focal reducer, you also have 250/2. I call it my "wait a minute" zoom!View attachment 794734
How do the optics/coatings compare with lenses like 300/2.8 FD L and EF L (version 1)? Looks pretty good to me in your sample shot.
 

The Grumpy Snapper

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And if you're wiling to give up auto-focus, and shop carefully, the amazing Olympus OM-System Zuiko 350mm ƒ/2.8 can be a real bargain. I got one from KEH for $1,662. It was in "UGly" condition, but I think that is because the supports in the case had come loose — the lens itself is more like eBay "MINT+++++" condition.

If you get this guy, be sure to get the OM 1.4X-A teleconverter, which appears to be invisible on the 350/2.8, giving you the option for 500/4. Then, with a reasonable focal reducer, you also have 250/2. I call it my "wait a minute" zoom!View attachment 794734
I ended up with two samples of the OM 1.4x-A plus the EC14 (the 4/3 1.4 T.C.). I haven't bothered testing to see which is best but don't have any issues using any of them behind the 350mm. I just use whichever is the most convenient/quicker depending on the adapters/camera body in use.

I used the OM teleconverters much more in the film era. With digital I'm often using the 350mm without a teleconverter.
 
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How do the optics/coatings compare with lenses like 300/2.8 FD L and EF L (version 1)?
I haven't used those lenses, and so can't compare.

However, it appears to be tied for the fourth-best OM-System lens that Olympus ever made, according to Gary Reese's extensive lens tests.

I know it is certainly one of the very best lenses I've ever used, right up there with the ZD 150/2 and the OM 100/2. I have not had a chance to look through the two top-tested OM lenses, the 250/2 and the 180/2.

I did have a Tamron 300/2.8. It was quite noticeably inferior to the 350/2.8 in every way — fit and finish, build quality, plastic bits, inadequate case, and "feel," as well as image quality — and so I sold it. (And a look around the house shows that I don't part with lenses easily… :))
 
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I ended up with two samples of the OM 1.4x-A plus the EC14 (the 4/3 1.4 T.C.). I haven't bothered testing to see which is best but don't have any issues using any of them behind the 350mm.
My irrational belief is that the best combination is the one the manufacturer designed for. So far, I have only used OM lenses with the OM-System 1.4X-A, and have only used the EC-14 with Zuiko Digital 4/3rds lenses.

Injecting a bit of rationality, I would think a teleconverter designed for a 50mm image circle would be better on a lens with a 50mm image circle than a teleconverter designed for a 25mm image circle would do on the same lens. But if half the image gets thrown away in either case, what's the difference?

I did do some comparison shots with the 350/2.8 and all three of the OM 1.4X-A, 4/3rds EC-14, and the µ4/3rds MC-14. In the EVF, they all looked pretty good, but I have not had time to pixel-peep them yet.
 

The Grumpy Snapper

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My irrational belief is that the best combination is the one the manufacturer designed for. So far, I have only used OM lenses with the OM-System 1.4X-A, and have only used the EC-14 with Zuiko Digital 4/3rds lenses.

Injecting a bit of rationality, I would think a teleconverter designed for a 50mm image circle would be better on a lens with a 50mm image circle than a teleconverter designed for a 25mm image circle would do on the same lens. But if half the image gets thrown away in either case, what's the difference?

I did do some comparison shots with the 350/2.8 and all three of the OM 1.4X-A, 4/3rds EC-14, and the µ4/3rds MC-14. In the EVF, they all looked pretty good, but I have not had time to pixel-peep them yet.
My theory is that the EC-14 is acting as a baffle stopping the excess light getting through to the sensor "box" but I can't say that I ever noticed any difference between the 1.4x-A and the EC-14.

But I have to admit that I have never pixel peeped. My method of lens testing in the film era was to shoot the new lens/teleconverter alongside my existing kit and if I was happy submitting the results to editors/clients the new gear stayed in the bag. I evaluate digital capture the same way.
 

JensM

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Makes one wonder how the fellows of yesteryears made do with a 300 or 400mm on tripod with a 35mm film camera, and yet here we are, discussing if a 400/560mm equivalent is good enough, or if one needs the 600 plus TC or 800mm for it whilst shooting handheld...:whistling: :biggrin:
 

Phocal

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Makes one wonder how the fellows of yesteryears made do with a 300 or 400mm on tripod with a 35mm film camera, and yet here we are, discussing if a 400/560mm equivalent is good enough, or if one needs the 600 plus TC or 800mm for it whilst shooting handheld...:whistling: :biggrin:
Not me...……………...

I shoot at least 1/2 my wildlife images with an effective 300mm lens and the other 1/2 with 600mm equivalent. It's those with zero to nil fieldcraft that need longer lenses.
 

nstelemark

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Honestly...………………………….

As a birding lens...………………...

The 200/2.8 is really to short for 90% of the people out there who are already in the 800mm+ of reach and are still cropping 1/2 the photograph away because they are to far away. Someone with great field craft could do pretty well with it when it comes to birds. Now as a wildlife life lens, the reach should be good for most people...………...then again is still probably to short for most.

my 2 copper pieces,

Phocal
Totally agree with this. Where I see the 200 f2.8 is sports. It is a stop slower than the 150 but the faster focusing and slightly more reach is a win. If I was still shooting a bunch of sports the 200f2.8 would be on my list to try, but as @Phocal states the 150f2 is a special lens. It is really the big brother to the 75f1.8 (and design wise they are pretty similar - no surprise).
 

nstelemark

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Not me...……………...

I shoot at least 1/2 my wildlife images with an effective 300mm lens and the other 1/2 with 600mm equivalent. It's those with zero to nil fieldcraft that need longer lenses.
It is partially fieldcraft but mostly patience and knowing your environment. If you can be "in" the landscape the shots will happen. Not that I will ever be in the landscape with gators - no way in hell.
 

The Grumpy Snapper

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Makes one wonder how the fellows of yesteryears made do with a 300 or 400mm on tripod with a 35mm film camera, and yet here we are, discussing if a 400/560mm equivalent is good enough, or if one needs the 600 plus TC or 800mm for it whilst shooting handheld...:whistling: :biggrin:
If you were shooting for publication editors wanted slow transparency film. When Kodachrome fell out of favour with editors who started preferring the Velvia colour palette my high speed film was Provia 100.
 

Phocal

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Totally agree with this. Where I see the 200 f2.8 is sports. It is a stop slower than the 150 but the faster focusing and slightly more reach is a win. If I was still shooting a bunch of sports the 200f2.8 would be on my list to try, but as @Phocal states the 150f2 is a special lens. It is really the big brother to the 75f1.8 (and design wise they are pretty similar - no surprise).
The 200/2.8 would be a good sports lens for those that like primes for sports. While I really prefer primes for wildlife photography, I much prefer a zoom for sports because I am much more limited in where I can stand with respect to the action. When I can no longer use the 150/2 I will probably get one, unless Olympus comes out with a prime lens in the 150-200 range (which I keep hoping they will).

It is partially fieldcraft but mostly patience and knowing your environment. If you can be "in" the landscape the shots will happen. Not that I will ever be in the landscape with gators - no way in hell.
I am going to miss my gators but I have traded them for bears...………………..and hopefully wolverines.
 

mfturner

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I don't know if this helps, but for people with zero field craft, I took a couple of yesterday's "dog walking" snaps taken at 100mm FL and added some boxes indicating possible framing for 200mm, 300mm and 400mm. Nothing special, this heron or its mate is somewhere along this creek most mornings when we walk the dog 4 miles, and I take these mostly without stopping (much).

heron_012320_01_b.jpg
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heron_012320_02_b.jpg
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These are taken with an ancient PM1 (so 12 Mpx, no details in these down-rezzed pictures LOL) and a P 35-100 f/4-5.6 from a mixed-use jogging, biking, dog-walking concrete sidewalk that follows a creek. These are simply trying to show possible framing for different focal lengths. A heron is a pretty large bird, and it still only partly fills the frame with my 60 lb standard poodle alongside me before we spook the heron. The mallards on the creek are rarely worth taking pix of at 100mm from this path.

With the tiny aperture keeping the background distractingly focused, I'm trending towards the top scenic view now-a-days, but that's a different subject for another day.
 
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