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Why I Love µ4/3 for Wildlife Photography

Discussion in 'Nature' started by Phocal, Mar 17, 2015.

  1. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    Before coming over to µ4/3 I shot Canon and lugged around those heavy cameras and lenses. As a wildlife photographer I do a lot of walking (yes, a lot of sitting and watching animals also) and even a few extra pounds can make the difference at the end of the day. For a full day of wildlife shooting I typically carry several times more in weight of food, extra clothing, water, and other essentials, and anywhere I can drop some weight is always a wonderful thing. My current wildlife setup includes an EM1 (443g), ZD 50-200 SWD (995g), and the EM1 grip (225g) for a total of 1,663g. A comparable setup would be a Canon 5D (860g), EF 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 (1,590g), 5D grip (310g, because I grip all of my cameras) for a total of 2,760g. That leaves us with the Olympus gear saving me 1,097g or 2.4lbs, that really is a big difference in weight. That is just from the photo taking stuff. I am not going to factor in all the weight savings I gain from extra lenses (think always take my 60mm macro with me) and the ability to use lighter tripods and heads. As an estimate I would say that is another 2.4lbs in weight savings.

    Price, while not so much a factor does sway me even more in the direction of µ4/3. Total price for my wildlife setup new is $2,700 and the Canon would be $4950. The $2250 in savings could buy me the 40-150 Pro or even better, a used ZD 150mm ƒ2.0 and EC-20. Ummmmm.......wonder if there is any weight savings between that and a 300mm ƒ2.8? If you are curious the 150mm is 740g lighter.

    The crop factor of µ4/3 is a huge benefit for wildlife where you are always wanting more and more reach. For the current available gear this really helps to lower the weight for equivalent focal lengths on a full frame setup. Olympus has yet to really take advantage of this, but I think that is going to change with the rumor about a long fast lens being developed. But, mirrorless cameras are perfect for adapting other lens. While you can only manual focus and aperture control (for Canon) requires a special converter, the ability is there if you want to explore that option. If you don't mind manual focus (I don't, started with manual focus lenses) you can really take advantage of that crop factor and pick up a CaNokin 500mm or 600mm. Something that makes this even more enticing is that those non-IS lenses now have 5 axis IBIS, this is the reason I went Olympus and not Panasonic.

    The last reason is why most people say the µ4/3 is inferior to full frame and the reason I compared my EM1 to the 5D and not the 7D in this post. For a given aperture the µ4/3 is going to give you more dof. While I have nothing against narrow dof in photography, in wildlife photography a little more dof can be a huge benefit. While shooting wide open is normally required because of the low light when the animals are active, a narrow dof is not because of how small the focus area is with long focal lengths. Below you will find a photograph of an alligator that I took over the weekend. This photo really helps show how much area is in focus with long lenses. It was really not shot at a super long focal length, 316mm (effective focal length) using an aperture of ƒ4.6. I do believe this shot would not have suffered from a reduced dof, it's just a great shot for showing the focus area. Pretend you are shooting a bird that is moving around as it hunts for fish, that extra dof can make the difference between that once in a lifetime shot being in focus or just out of sharp.



    These are just my reasons for switching over to µ4/3, well that and my belief that Olympus is not going to forget the wildlife/sport photographers out there. Which I honestly believe they are going to make newer versions of their wonderful SHG glass (we have seen the start of this with the two Pro lenses currently available).

    Ronnie
     
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  2. kinlau

    kinlau Mu-43 Top Veteran

    836
    Feb 29, 2012
    Apply your same logic, but now substitute the Panasonic FZ-1000 instead. I still have my GH3 + 100-300, but the FZ-1000 is actually faster shooting with better AF. I carry that along side my 7D + 400mm.
     
  3. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    pellicle
    100% with you there. Back in Feb 2009 when I went to m43 I'm not sure if I knew about adapted lenses (the cameras were still only in discussions on sites then), but soon after I got my first adapter (an FD one) some time in about May 2009 and quickly wacked on a FD300f4 ... there was totally nothing like the cost effectiveness of that rig at that time. To my mind there still isn't.

    For someone on a budget (read unwilling to throw thousands onto a hobby) I was suddenly able to access image quality which was top shelf professional not long before.

    3616394070_47a590f3dd.

    and when discussing "DoF Advantage" its still not real wide on a 300mm lens at f4 either:

    4321761336_336988ce8b_z.

    When its -20 these little guys don't sit still much. So the m43 really works in your favor
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2015
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  4. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    pellicle
    small point

    that's Canon EOS ... still nothing I know of to control mechanical aperture lenses.... such as oft talked about Canon FD
     
  5. faithblinded

    faithblinded Mu-43 Top Veteran

    929
    Nov 25, 2014
    Cleveland, OH
    Ken
    FD lenses have a mechanical aperture ring. There is no need for the body to control aperture.
     
  6. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    pellicle
    If you read my post it should have been clear that I know this. Having been around these sort of forums and been a moderator on an adapted lens forum on flickr back then too I can assure you that tons of newbies have zero idea on how anything even works. I have given up making assumptions on what constitutes a stupid question as the levels of knowledge on how stuff works are so low as to cause divide by zero errors.

    I can't count how many times people have assumed that the camera can magically control aperture. As to no need ... well on the mechanical bodies it was controlled, it would be nice if you ask me if there was some electronic stepper motor control. If you understand how these lenses work (once called auto lenses) you would realise that even on mechanical bodies we focus with the aperture fully open and it is stopped down (automatically) at shutter release by a simple moving lever . Something like that for instance would be appealing.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2015
  7. faithblinded

    faithblinded Mu-43 Top Veteran

    929
    Nov 25, 2014
    Cleveland, OH
    Ken
    I wasn't giving you attitude, just trying to make sense of your post. I'm well aware of how wide open focusing works. Many FD to m43 adapters have a control ring built into them to switch between stopped down and wide open. Others skip the option and simply engage the aperture blades all the time with a non-moving pin.

    As to a built in stepper motor to control aperture on legacy glass... Sorry but total pipe dream. Reminds me of NASA spending millions to design a pen that writes in space, while russia simply took pencils.
     
  8. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    Really not needed on mirrorless cameras. The reason was to allow enough light for focusing and seeing your subject. With electronic viewfinders the brightness can be increased to provide enough light to focus. I never wished for this feature while using my FD 400mm.
     
  9. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    pellicle
    Hi

    sort of, assuming one wishes to stop down to f8 (not often for me) its nice to focus at f4 for focal plane accuracy and then snap knowing that the stop down will happen in a blink

    aside from that point I agree its like an appendix
     
  10. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    pellicle
    sorry about that ... hard to know sometimes.

    apology if my return was a bit more vinegar than it needed to be.

    sometimes its nice to dream ... but it was not raised as a serious desire, just an example.

    I've seen many many times people confuse mounts here ... thinking Canon is Canon is Canon ... like it is for Pentax or Nikon ... few (aside from those with experience) know that there is even FD and EOS mounts in Canon.
     
  11. faithblinded

    faithblinded Mu-43 Top Veteran

    929
    Nov 25, 2014
    Cleveland, OH
    Ken
    No worries. I only know FD since I have a few lenses, but many of the legacy manual lenses operate similarly. There are so many other common, oddball, and esoteric mounts I know nothing about though, so I get what you're saying.
     
  12. Fri13

    Fri13 Mu-43 Veteran

    353
    Jan 30, 2014
    Until you hear Americans say that in space a flying nice lead dust isn't so nice to electronics... Until you again remember that same lead is used to solder electronics and a such lead dust isn't a problem for soviets used tech as they preferred to use vacuum tubes very much (invulnerable to many electronical problems and protected against EMP, a problem in space).
     
  13. Listener

    Listener Mu-43 Regular

    Pencil "lead" is carbon, not lead.
     
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  14. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    • Agree Agree x 1
  15. Petrochemist

    Petrochemist Mu-43 Top Veteran

    652
    Mar 21, 2013
    N Essex, UK
    Mike
    Yes but graphite (the form of carbon used in pencils) is conductive & can short out electronics.
    Wax crayons may have been a better solution.:)

    Having just followed Barry's link I see that's no good as it's flammable.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2015
  16. Lcrunyon

    Lcrunyon Mu-43 Top Veteran

    758
    Jun 4, 2014
    Maryland
    Loren
    My thoughts on M4/3 as a wildlife kit mirrors the OP's. That they are weather sealed and great optically doesn't hurt either. I've been using an EM-1 and grip, the native Pro and macro lenses, the teleconverter and Kenko extension tubes, Lee filters and a RRS tripod. I can do everything I want with it - wildlife, landscape and crazy macro.

    I did buy a 7D Mk II and 100-400mm L f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM and 1.4 teleconverter for the better AF, and while it is a superb kit for a very limited function, it's nowhere near as fun or versatile, not to mention just as heavy as the entire m4/3 kit (not including the tripod). Granted, it ends up having twice the reach, but my m4/3 kit will catch up with the 300mm Pro.:bowdown:
     
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  17. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014

    With the SWD I am only 100g heavier then your set up and when comparing it to your 7D I am only 40mm shorter and 1/3 stop faster (that's when using the EC-14). I know the autofocus is not there yet but they have come a long way and I think when the EM1 mkII arrives we will see the gap get even smaller. Very happy with my current set up. I have 560mm of reach @ ƒ4 to ƒ5.
     
  18. faithblinded

    faithblinded Mu-43 Top Veteran

    929
    Nov 25, 2014
    Cleveland, OH
    Ken
    I agree so much, I went all in with a 4/3 ZD300 f2.8. It just arrived today, and it's glorious. My precious... Add the EC-14 and EC-20, and my kit is crazy versatile.
     
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  19. denniscloutier

    denniscloutier Mu-43 Veteran

    204
    Dec 24, 2011
    Me too. I've had mine for a few days. It does a great job, but oh boy, 300mm at f2.8 has its challenges. I have a close up photo of a red wing blackbird where the only thing in focus is the base of his beak. I have now figured out that for small animals you need to stop down or you'll end up with a depth of field of about 1/8".:eek-31:
     
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  20. Lcrunyon

    Lcrunyon Mu-43 Top Veteran

    758
    Jun 4, 2014
    Maryland
    Loren
    Yes. I too have high hopes that the EM-1 Mk II. I really do think Olympus has its sights on being a strong wildlife photography contender, with the EE-1 and the work they have been doing on C-AF. If the 40-150 is any indication, the 300mm Pro ought to also help a lot. When that happens, I'll probably not even want the Canon anymore. I just use it for BIF, and haven't gelled with it like I have Olympus.

    A while back I rented the 300mm f/2.8, and it was indeed an amazing lens. It was never really in my budget, though, and in any case the importance of having a hand-holdable kit made it a bad option for me. I'd be interested to hear how the C-AF is with it after the firmware 3.0 upgrade.