Panasonic 100-300 or ......?

Started Feb 5, 2013 | Discussions thread
Kim Letkeman
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Re: Panasonic 100-300 or ......?
In reply to WisGuy4, Feb 7, 2013

WisGuy4 wrote:

This is a timely thread since I've got a birthday coming up and the main present I'm looking for is some extra reach on my camera, along with extra versatility. I've got a G2 with the stock 14-42 lens and was considering a 45-200 lens, which would fit the budget, but really wanted the 100-300, which I don't think would be affordable.

However, I am also thinking about ditching the G2 altogether, selling it on eBay and applying the proceeds to an FZ200. I've been really disappointed with the G2 ever since I got it, as it seems to do most things no better than my wife's Lumix DMC-ZS3 compact travel zoom and several things worse. The colors, the clarity, they just don't seem to pop off the monitor/print like ones I see taken with DSLRs or even a lot of the samples I've seen posted here. They seem like photos taken with a good P&S, no better.

One of the main reasons I bought the G2 was to obtain better low-light performance than a P&S from the bigger sensor and I have not found any benefit whatsoever for shooting in lower light conditions with my G2. I tried using my G2 to shoot a concert video at a club, unfortunately couldn't get a spot close up to the stage and it was so dark as to be virtually useless at full zoom, while at a lower zoom where the kit lens was fast enough to be able to see the stage with some degree of exposure, the band looked very small on the distant stage. At a subsequent show under the same conditions, my wife was able to take a much, much better video, at the same 720p resolution, with her ZS3, obtaining very adequate light levels with the lens zoomed in probably halfway on its 12x range. I tried taking some action photos of my daughter's birthday party at an indoor gymnastics center and no matter what I did with the G2, I could not obtain a good photo - no matter what the shutter setting, exposure setting, or ISO speed I tried, I either got something that was too dark to see, something that was lighter but just a massive blur, or that had an adequate contrast and lighting but was pixellated and noisy to the point of being useless. The Sports setting didn't work either - everything was both blurry and more pixellated - but surprisingly, my wife was able to obtain lots of good, useful photos of the kids in action at the gym using the Sports setting on her ZS3. The ZS3 is significantly better with macro work than the G2 - the photos are sharper and one can get significantly closer. In fact, the macro photos with the ZS3 were so good, my dad bought one for his engineering consulting work as he needs to take close-up photos of welds and joints. I know that I'd have better luck with different lenses, but I don't have a spare $1000-$1500 lying around to buy the pricy/overpriced M4/3 lenses.

I had the ZS3 and can confirm that is very, very good at video and decent with stills. But ... the modern m4/3 eat its lunch in every way possible. But that does not come for free.

If you want "point and shoot" abilities, then you should be using the iS and iS+ features on the m4/3 Panny bodies. These modes are remarkably powerful and give great looking images.

Note also that Lightroom is not expensive and handles RAW files very smoothly. The older bodies have pretty bad JPEG engines, so it would behoove you to move onto a modern body. The GX1, GF3 / GF5 and G5 are pretty good. Some people say the G3 is pretty good, and it is really cheap right now.

Can anyone answer the following for me:

1) The 100-300mm Lumix lens is going to cost $500 or is there a signicantly cheaper price out there from an authorized dealer or otherwise reasonably trusty source?

Check out keh, adorama and bhphoto for used copies.

2) The FZ200 with its full-range f/2.8 lens is going to do a much better job than my G2 with a 100-300 or 45-200 lens on it for action/sports photography, particularly indoors, isn't it? It seems to me that the extra detail a larger sensor can absorb isn't going to matter much if the lens won't let enough light in on the censor in the first place.

My opinion is that the FZ200 versus G3 / G5 with 100-300 is a wash. Even the G2 is probably a wash if you use RAW in Lightroom.

The reason is that you would shoot the Panny at 100 ISO and f/2.8 to get great results. This translates to 400 ISO and f/5.6 with the 100-300 to get the same shutter speeds. The G2 and above at 400 ISO is as good as or better than the FZ200 for noise. The dynamic range is a bit lower, but if you spot meter the bright areas or use compensation correctly, you can open up the shadows later. Or set your dynamic to high in the JPEG engine. I'm just not a fan of letting the JPEG engine do it all ...

Anyway, this really comes down to skills. What the FZ200 does better is give you massive range in one lens. And it is a pretty decent lens. So if you are not really interested in spending a lot of time on books and practice, then the FZ is a better bet.

3) I shoot in JPEG at the highest settings. Would I get much better results in RAW with my G2? Unless there is going to be a marked improvement, I'd prefer not to have to futz around with RAW, especially since I don't have Photoshop and tend to use the free photo editor Paint.net.

Your results in RAW would be "night and day" better than JPEG. Full stop. But it still requires that you spend some time with something like Lightroom, both reading and practising. The results, though, will be worth it. And you will never again be beholden to a JPEG engine.

4) What do you think I'd get for my G2 with kit lens on eBay? I've got two spare batteries, wide and telephoto lens adaptors, as well as a 25mm f/1.4 CCTV lens with m4/3 adaptor, all of which I'd include. I've probably taken only 800 shots with it and it's in completely mint condition, after about 1.5 years of use.

Search eBay and keh for current prices and then give it a shot ... you never know. I've done well on eBay, but it tool patience and I gave up on a few items. Don't expect a huge amount for such an old body and a kit lens though ... (unless it is the 14-45, in which case you should keep it if you decide to stay with the G2 or upgrade the body.)

5) With a megazoom like the FZ200, can one obtain the the blurred out background/bokeh for portraits, for a zoomed-in photo of a bird and for macro shots like a flower or insect, or is that pretty much going to be the domain of interchangeable lens cameras?

You can always blur the background. The formula factors in the aperture size and the subject and background distances and ratios.

For example, imagine shooting a head and shoulders shot from 15 feet at 300mm on your G2. Your depth of field is approximately 1.4 inches. Now do that with the FZ200 at 600mm equivalent -- which crop factor says is going to be 600/5.64 = 106mm -- and you get depth of field of about 2 inches. Pretty close, it would seem, but I have found that a 33% difference can become fairly noticeable in backgrounds that are busy. Anyway, both can do this specific job.

Use DOFMaster to play with these numbers ....

DOFMaster

Good luck with your choice ... I have always favoured larger sensors and am willing to take whatever pain that entails to avoid trying to shoot a 1/2.3" sensor. I save that pain for concerts (Fuji F770EXR with 1/2" EXR sensor), where there is no way to sneak a large sensor in with a telephoto sufficiently long to have any fun

Here are a few shots from the GH2 with the 100-300 ... I quite like this lens

More here: http://letkeman.net/Photos/snow20122013

These bird shots are on page 7. The naming convention in this album includes the camera, focal length, and exposure.

 Kim Letkeman's gear list:Kim Letkeman's gear list
Nikon Coolpix 990 Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR Fujifilm FinePix F770EXR Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 +16 more
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