What to replace the 50-200?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by pdk42, Nov 13, 2017 at 6:21 PM.

  1. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    I've just sold my old and trusty 50-200 ED (non-SWD). It has been a good lens for me, but I'm finding the AF just a little slow and noisy compared to the more modern native u43 lenses and I want to start doing some more wildlife photography. So, I'm now thinking what to replace it with. The obvious options are:

    - 40-150 f2.8 plus 1.4 TC. Super sharp (at least without the TC), but limited in reach.

    - 300 f4. Super sharp, but it's not a zoom.

    - 100-400 f4-f6.3. Seems a nice lens, but probably not as sharp as the Olympus lenses and pretty dim at longer focal lengths.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Gillymaru

    Gillymaru Mu-43 Veteran

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  3. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Ian
    The 50-200 non-SWD held its f/2.8 aperture up to 100mm (or just under it, 95mm or so), before slowly tapering off to f/3.5 over the next 100mm.

    The most logical choice is the 40-150 PRO + MC-14. It'll give you the same reach, but it will be anywhere from 1 to 1/3 a stop slower over the same range.

    The 100-400 has double the range, but is also getting quite slow at f/6.3. Unless you need 400mm of reach (which I doubt you do, since you made due to 200mm before), I would recommend looking at the 100-300 II. It's just as fast as the 100-400 across the shared range, but much smaller, lighter, and FAR cheaper.

    The 300/4 PRO doesn't make a lot of sense IMO, unless you KNOW that you need that focal length, which I'm assuming you probably don't since you didn't have it before. Supertelephoto primes can be extremely limiting in terms of flexibility, since you're locked in to a single focal length. That's great if the subject you're shooting fits within that field of view, but it can also mean more missed shots as well.

    My suggestions would either be a 40-150 PRO + MC-14, or a 100-300 II. Or, wait until the PanaLeica 50-200 f/2.8-4 is released and pick that up.
     
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  4. PakkyT

    PakkyT Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2015
    New England
    Ya, you should have kept the ZD 50-200 or upgraded to the SWD version. :blush:
     
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  5. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    Clint
    The Panasonic Leica 100-400mm is a viable alternative. I posted a comparison about the 50-200mm SWD w/2x teleconvertor vs PL 100-400mm vs a Nikon 100-400mm quite some time ago.
     
  6. Hendrik

    Hendrik Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    460
    Feb 27, 2015
    Wayland MA
    Over time I've moved my wildlife photography from the 40-150R to the P100-300 (1) to the 40-150 Pro to the 40-150 Pro + MC-14 to the 300 Pro (+ MC-14). My experience has been that I have seldom missed wildlife shots because I was too close - just the opposite. It may be just me, but I suspect that's just life with wildlife...
    On walks I normally carry the current long telephoto attached to an E-M1 and a more normal lens on the E-M5. This summer my personal project was to beat wide-angle photography into my thick skull so I would venture out and about equipped with a 420mm and a 12mm. No amount of foot zooming can persuade that combo to give a seamless photographic experience. I'm sooo used to zooms! Are there times I wish the 300 was a zoom? You bet! But precious few of those involved animals and they were mostly larger scenes that would have been better served by the 40-150.
    For me, the 300, with (walking) or without (paddling) the MC-14 is my wildlife lens. It also serves as a detail lens if no animal is ready for its closeup. I don't take it to the big city, I don't do family candids with it, I don't do a lot of things I can do with the rest of the lens herd. What it does, it does superbly – and that's good enough for me.
     
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  7. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Thanks!
     
  8. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Thanks Ian - I know what you mean about the 300/4 being a little inflexible and I sort of feel the same. However, I used one on the Olympus Test and Wow programme earlier this year and spent a day photographing birds with it on the Yorkshire coast (see my post here) and was actually surprised that I didn't miss the lack of zooming. If wildlife is the only use, then it's probably the best option since it's just so good optically and the Sync IS with the E-M1ii is amazing. However, I do some aviation from time to time and the odd car really so on occasions like that a zoom would be better.
     
  9. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Thanks Hendrik - that's a useful post. As I said in my reply to Ian above, the lack of flexibility of a long prime is perhaps OK for wildlife, but for other subjects a zoom is still a better option. Decisions... Maybe I should just look to get them both... (40-150 + 300). Lot of dosh though!
     
  10. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Thanks Clint - I'll go search that out.
     
  11. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    I shudder to think of the price given the cost of the new 200/f2.8. However, the 50-200 range is a good one and I'm sure it'll be optically excellent. I guess it'll have IS though which of course won't work with the Oly's IBIS. I wish Panasonic and Oly could sort this out and have a system that was compatible.
     
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  12. alex g

    alex g Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Mar 30, 2016
    New York / Bath
    I guess it depends to a large extent on what kind of wildlife you're aiming for, but assuming you're not dead set on anything really small or distant, my vote would be for the 100-300 (either model). It's definitely the best value for money in that range, IMHO. To me, the only advantages of the 100-400 are the extra 100mm at the end and the tripod collar — in the comparison tests I made a while back, their respective IQs were very, very similar, in fact the 100-300 looked rather better to me most of the time and it's even a tiny bit faster at 300mm (f/5.6 v f/5.7 — not that it's a noticeable difference!). The 100-300 is much lighter and more compact than the 100-400 and currently costs $1150 less — hell, for an additional $200 you could have the 40-150/2.8 and the 100-300 II, which is my fave combo when size and weight are at a premium. :)
     
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  13. Johnny The Greek

    Johnny The Greek Mu-43 Veteran

    225
    Aug 19, 2015
    Unless you're taking pictures of a bunch of leopards doing a 100mph dash, sounds like you had exactly the right lens in your hands--although I agree about the noise and the AF. I got the same lens with the EC-14 to replace the Oly 75-300mm and I was blown away by the difference in quality. So much so that I'm thinking of buying another copy just to have for when/if this one gives up the ghost, I still have one handy.
     
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  14. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Ian
    I'd venture a guess that it'll come in at $1,400 - 1,500, the same as the 40-150 PRO (the PL12-60 is $1,000, the same price as the 12-40 PRO).

    I owned the non-SWD before I owned the SWD, and if memory serves me right (which it always doesn't), the SWD was quieter when focusing. I don't believe it was really any faster, but I do recall that it was quieter. I liked using that lens on the E-M1 II when shooting using the e-shutter, as it gives you 6.5fps, and the E-M1 II's electronic shutter is extremely good IMO.

    The AF still isn't as fast as something like the 40-150 PRO, which if you were missing shots due to the AF with the 50-200 non-SWD, that likely won't be any different with the SWD version, however the AF is quieter.
     
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  15. Hendrik

    Hendrik Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    460
    Feb 27, 2015
    Wayland MA
    I went through this while trying to choose between spending big bucks for the 300 to hang on an E-M1 or spending not too much more than that for the 100-400 and a GX-n. I chose to spend for the less flexible, no-compromise lens. That was my solution, YMMV.
     
  16. DoofClenas

    DoofClenas Who needs a Mirror! Subscribing Member

    Nov 9, 2012
    Traverse City, MI
    Clint
    Replace it with a 150f2 and ec-14/20. Bring along the 75mm if you need a shorter focal length.

    Too bad you’re not near me...I’d let you test it out.
     
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  17. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Thanks for the thought - pity I can't take it up!
     
  18. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    When you say wildlife photography what exactly are you looking to photograph? Having used 4/3 lenses exclusively for the last 3 years I have only found them to be a little to slow focusing for very few things. Mostly for those little birds that never stop moving around in the tree, which I personally am not interested in. I have honestly never felt like I missed shots because they focused to slow, but I also tend to use my manual focus tricks even with auto focus lenses (old habits are hard to break). Now that I have the 300/4 I can compare focusing speed and while the 300/4 is faster to focus, it is not game changing in my opinion. Now, when it comes to CAF that could be the case, but I haven't had the lens long enough to really evaluate how it compares to the 4/3 lenses. But I will mention that I have had no problems shooting any kind of action with CAF and 4/3 lenses...............just need to make sure you have good micro focus adjustment done.

    That said.........................

    Based on the lenses you listed there is only one that I would even consider for wildlife and that is the 300/4. The 40-150 is a great lens and while it is sharper than your 50-200, it's images lack something. I still personally believe the 50-200 produces more pleasing images than the 40-150, but the 40-150 does allow you to use all the features of your camera. Which brings us to the Panny. You are correct that it is not as sharp, but sharpness isn't everything (if it was I would prefer the 40-150 over the 50-200). It is also a zoom vs prime, a debate that is endless and I will get back to that discussion in a minute. I do agree that it is on the slow side and that stop difference at 300 to me is sufficient to rule it out, but I shoot a lot under heavy cover while in the swamps and need every bit of lower ISO I can get. At 400mm it's only 1/3 stop difference, so things do even out there.

    But the biggest thing to consider in my opinion is what camera do you shoot and would you consider moving to the other company's cameras? Both have shown that they will introduce features that are limited to their lenses only and I have no reason to believe that is going to change. So, how much do you value being able to use all the features of your camera with your lenses now and in the future? I am not wanting to debate the whole "well they should make everything compatible because they share a lens mount" argument. That is an old and dead argument and nothing any of us say will change how the companies operate and this limiting features is only going to grow as they each try to claw as many costumers as possible. I should mention that this problem of not be able to use camera features does extend to 4/3 lenses as well as Panny lenses.

    From a pure IQ perspective I think the 40-150 w/ TC is about equal to what you had. So you are not gaining anything in IQ making that switch and are actually losing reach because you could always add either TC to the 50-200. @Clint@Clint mentioned his comparison between the 50-200 w/ EC-20 and the Panny 100-400. I looked at his photos and I do agree that the Panny is a bit a better, but honestly it is not that much better. His test photos are also taken of a subject that is a lot farther away then I would ever consider photographing an animal. Would love to see a repeat of shooting a bird (zoo is a great place) from a more typical wildlife shooting distance (for me that is under 100 feet and much prefer 50 feet or under). I would also argue that for similar focal lengths using the EC-14 or no TC that the 50-200 is much closer in IQ as well as having faster apertures. Based on his test shots and looking at my photos with the 50-200 w/ EC-20 and my 300/4........................there is a very clear and distinctive difference. Enough of a difference that I can see it without zooming in to 100%. The 300/4 is really that sharp...........still think my 150/2 w/ EC-20 produces a bit nicer image because of the smoother transitions. When I get some time I do plan on visiting the Flamingoes at the zoo to test the 50-200 w/ EC-20 and 150/2 w/ EC-20 against the 300/4 with/out MC-14.

    For wildlife photography I fall on the side of prime over zoom. You mention car rally and aviation and those like sports I tend to prefer a zoom. But for those types of photography you tend to be limited to where you can stand vs where the action is. Over the years when I have looked at photographers portfolios I have noticed a trend. It seems that most photographers that use a zoom tend to always have the same type of shot, aka full body. It seems like they shoot a bird at full zoom and as it gets closer they just back off and shoot the same exact photograph, just at a shorter focal length. Compared to a prime shooter who you will see a lot of different types of shots, because they have to get creative when a bird (I use bird but it could be anything) gets closer. I personally feel like this makes for a much more interesting portfolio than just all full body shots. I am not saying this is true for all zoom shooters, but it is a trend that I tend to see.

    I was in my kayak and pulled up on some weeds (to hold me in place) to watch this heron hunt when he caught a crawfish. I positioned myself at the perfect position to capture the action and get this shot from 32 feet away.

    27783267744_db50d8d1d0_k.
    Taco?
    by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr

    But after eating the crawfish he started moving towards me and I was able to capture this tight full body portrait from 25 feet away.

    27815914573_fc6935da86_k.
    The Search
    by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr

    But he didn't stop there, he got about 10 feet away when I took this shot. He was actually so close that I could barely fit his head in the frame so I added canvas and used content aware to fill in the blank canvas. This gave me the extra room to create a pleasing composition. This expand canvas and fill using content aware is a trick I have started using when I can fill the frame with a birds head, really helps capture amazing detail and still have a pleasing composition.

    28268641202_e3161c3067_k.
    Full
    by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr

    At no point in watching that bird did I ever feel limited because I was shooting a prime. Not once in the last three years have I ever felt like I missed a shot because something was to close for my prime lens. I actually love when I can get so close that I have to get creative with my shots rather then just zoom out for full body.

    That was actually my initial thought because that is what I basically replaced mine with (for wildlife photography). But they stated they were not happy with the focus speed of the 50-200, but that could also be the lens. I don't have the original 50-200 so don't know how it focuses compared to the SWD or 150/2, which I feel the 150/2 focuses a bit faster than my SWD. I am actually perfectly satisfied with the IQ from the 150/2 w/ TC's and the only reason I got the 300/4 was it's macro ability and because I can use focus bracketing with it. It will make a great baby gator lens and that is why I picked it up. If I could focus bracket with the 150/2 I probably would not have bought the 300/4. If I am ever in a situation where I am limited to taking only one lens, it would be the 150/2 w/ TC's over the 300/4.................I like the lens that much.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2017 at 10:53 AM
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  19. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Thanks for that super-detailed and thoughtful response Ronnie. My primary use-case is likely to be birds, but I want to track down hares and probably other smallish mammals too (otters etc). As the post I linked to earlier in the thread detailed, I wasn't sure at the time of my Yorkshire trip whether I'd want to pursue this sort of photography but I've been reflecting on it over the months and I think I'll give it a concerted try. It's as much about getting out and experiencing things as the photography TBH.

    I can see exactly what you mean about the fixed AOV of a prime forcing you to compose and get variety. Reflecting on it now, the shots I took of the coastal birds in the link I posted illustrate it perfectly. There are headshots, full body shots and all things in between and it does make for some variety.

    I'm looking at a good deal on a used 40-150 + TC at the moment and I'll probably go for it but I think I'll add a 300/4 too. It's extravagant I know but I have a bunch of stuff I'm not using much that I'm planning to offload (see my listing for the LX 100 - other stuff to come!) and as they say, YOLO!

    Those shots of the Heron are amazing - all of them. The one with the crayfish in its beak is quite a catch (sorry for the pun) and that last headshot portrait is quite arresting. Can you give any more guidance on your PP technique on that shot? I don't currently use PS much, largely limiting my PP work to LR.
     
  20. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    I understand the "getting out and experiencing things" because that is really what drives my wildlife photography. I just plain love being out there and observing wildlife, even when I am getting bit by every bug imaginable. I honestly believe that to be a successful wildlife photography you have to love being there more than the photography because it is not always pretty or pleasant getting the shot.

    While I prefer a prime over zoom I will admit that only having an extreme telephoto lens (which the effective reach of the 300/4 is) can be to restrictive. But I have never advocated against having another shorter focal length lens (for me I prefer a shorter focal length prime) available and it is exactly what I do. The 40-150 will pair nicely with the 300/4, especially if you have a 2nd body to put it on. I honestly believe that Olympus went with the 300/4 over a zoom because they meant for it to be paired with the 40-150 on a 2nd body, since it is designated a pro lens and most pros will shoot with 2 bodies or more. I personally will continue bringing the 150/2 with me every time I go out because for most of my adult gator photography 300mm is just to much reach.

    Thanks for the comment on the photos. I will throw up a post about it and mention you in it so it's easy to find.