Panasonic 100-300mm - poor performer

Started Jun 12, 2012 | Discussions
Robiro
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Panasonic 100-300mm - poor performer
Jun 12, 2012

So I bought myself a Panasonic 100-300mm lens to give me more image-stabilised reach with automatic focusing.

To be honest, I am unimpressed by its performance. The images are quite soft, shallow and lacking details. I dare to say that this lens is not capable of transporting true 16 megapixels to the sensor. After all, it has just one ED element. Beyond f11 it looses details fast so it is best to keep it around f8.0 as at f5.6 it is slightly fuzzy.

Here is how it compares to my archaic Zeiss 200mm f2.8 lens stopped down to f5.6 (Panasonic was stopped down to f8.0).

The competing duo:

Panasonic (whole scene, just downsampled):

Zeiss (whole scene, just downsampled):

Panasonic (central 100% crop, no postprocessing):

Zeiss (100% crop, no postprocessing):

Panasonic (central region, downsampled, sharpened):

Zeiss (central region, downsampled, sharpened):

Conclusion: Zeiss easily beats Panasonic in image quality. There simply is less detail in Panasonic shot, despite having 300mm vs 200mm advantage. Also, the white balance with Panasonic is way off. It is beyond my comprehension why!!!

For Olympus owners with IBIS there simply is no reason to go for this lens. So I am keeping both as one day I might buy an O-MD 2 and suddenly that old Zeiss lens will be image stabilized. The glass does not age, even if made in East Germany...

(Of course, when it comes to ease of use or weight, there is no competition - Panasonic wins.)

Panasonic Lumix DMC-F5
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jalywol
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Did you update the firmware?
In reply to Robiro, Jun 12, 2012

I found that mine did much better, especially at the long end, after I did.....

-J

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maggiemole
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Re: Panasonic 100-300mm - poor performer
In reply to Robiro, Jun 12, 2012

Did you make sure you have the latest firmware installed? It's worth a check - it makes a big difference.
Maggie

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Bob Meyer
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Re: Panasonic 100-300mm - poor performer
In reply to Robiro, Jun 12, 2012

Many people have gotten very, very high quality images with the 100-300. Perhaps you have a bad sample (did you buy it used?), or perhaps there's a problem with your technique. But your conclusion that the 100-300 is a bad lens isn't born out by the results others have gotten.

A sample size of one simply doesn't product meaningful results for anything but that one sample. And perhaps not even then. You've told us little about your test procedures, so I can't discount user error, either.
--

Bokeh is the aesthetic quality of the blur in out-of-focus areas of an image, or the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light. Bokeh is not the same as depth of field (DOF).

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Just Having Fun
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So many things wrong with that.
In reply to Robiro, Jun 12, 2012

The 100-300mm is weakest at 300mm and yours looks worse than normal.

Try at 200mm with a good version of the lens.

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Sabatia
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Re: Panasonic 100-300mm - poor performer
In reply to Robiro, Jun 12, 2012

I came to m4/3s from Canon L teles--300L f4 IS and previously non-IS, 400L 5.6, and 70-200L. The 100-300 is not as good as those Ls, but it is still a very good lens, certainly comparable or better than any of Canon's non-L tele zooms. I've been shooting with it for almost a year now in all kinds of conditions: I have been impressed with how sharp it can be, what good color contrast in decent light, and the high percentage of keepers I get cause the IS really works.

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Just Having Fun
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This statement is telling
In reply to Robiro, Jun 12, 2012

Robiro wrote:

Also, the white balance with Panasonic is way off. It is beyond my comprehension why!!!

So the white balance of the lens is way off?? Please tell me you meant the camera.

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amtberg
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Re: Panasonic 100-300mm - poor performer
In reply to Robiro, Jun 12, 2012

I think the 100-300 is a good lens for its class. I don't see superior detail in the Zeiss shots. Stopping the Panny lens down to f/8 isn't doing it any favors, as you're getting into a bit of defraction there.

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Bob Tullis
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Not my experience
In reply to Robiro, Jun 12, 2012

I recently obtained this lens, and I'm extremely impressed with it. I came from Canon 70-200/2.8L, and feel like after 2 years I've arrived home again.

The 100-400 is a revelation for me at this point (and the E-M5's IBIS takes to it very well).

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jennajenna
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Re: So many things wrong with that.
In reply to Just Having Fun, Jun 12, 2012

1) a used Zeiss 200mm f2.8 goes for almost $600
2) a used Panny 100-300 goes for around $400

3) you are comparing a zoom with a non zoom (prime) - what the hell did you expect?
4) did you adjust the focus box size to the smallest box? it makes a difference

5) latest firmware on the panny is out - did you update. It does make a difference.

So the cheaper, non prime and possibly not firmware updated lens did not perform as your zeiss.

I'm shocked lol. Almost as much as "poochy" in the photo below. Taken with an ancient GH1 with the 100/300 at full 300mm.

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danijel973
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Re: This statement is telling
In reply to Just Having Fun, Jun 12, 2012

Just Having Fun wrote:

Robiro wrote:

Also, the white balance with Panasonic is way off. It is beyond my comprehension why!!!

So the white balance of the lens is way off?? Please tell me you meant the camera.

Not necessarily. I tested two lenses at 5400K and Minolta had cooler balance than the Zuiko. Optical glass does not necessarily have completely neutral cast.

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Anders W
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Re: Panasonic 100-300mm - poor performer
In reply to Robiro, Jun 12, 2012

Robiro wrote:

So I bought myself a Panasonic 100-300mm lens to give me more image-stabilised reach with automatic focusing.

To be honest, I am unimpressed by its performance. The images are quite soft, shallow and lacking details. I dare to say that this lens is not capable of transporting true 16 megapixels to the sensor. After all, it has just one ED element. Beyond f11 it looses details fast so it is best to keep it around f8.0 as at f5.6 it is slightly fuzzy.

It's not a good idea to stop down beyond f/8.0 with any reasonably decent lens on an MFT sensor. At f/11, diffraction will be pretty serious. The 100-300 at 300 is best about f/8 according to my own tests but will peak earlier at shorter FLs. Some MFT lenses reach their peak already at f/4.

Here is how it compares to my archaic Zeiss 200mm f2.8 lens stopped down to f5.6 (Panasonic was stopped down to f8.0).

Conclusion: Zeiss easily beats Panasonic in image quality. There simply is less detail in Panasonic shot, despite having 300mm vs 200mm advantage. Also, the white balance with Panasonic is way off. It is beyond my comprehension why!!!

Based on the samples you show, I would draw the opposite conclusion. The Panasonic has better micro-contrast than the Zeiss. However, it would have been a better idea to shoot the lenses at the same FL (200 mm) for full comparability.

For Olympus owners with IBIS there simply is no reason to go for this lens. So I am keeping both as one day I might buy an O-MD 2 and suddenly that old Zeiss lens will be image stabilized. The glass does not age, even if made in East Germany...

(Of course, when it comes to ease of use or weight, there is no competition - Panasonic wins.)

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Robiro
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Re: Did you update the firmware?
In reply to jalywol, Jun 12, 2012

jalywol wrote:

I found that mine did much better, especially at the long end, after I did.....

Yes. 1.2.

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Robiro
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Re: Panasonic 100-300mm - poor performer
In reply to maggiemole, Jun 12, 2012

maggiemole wrote:

Did you make sure you have the latest firmware installed? It's worth a check - it makes a big difference.

Yes. 1.2. OIS has nothing to do with my findings.

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Robiro
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Re: Panasonic 100-300mm - poor performer
In reply to Bob Meyer, Jun 12, 2012

Bob Meyer wrote:

Many people have gotten very, very high quality images with the 100-300. Perhaps you have a bad sample (did you buy it used?), or perhaps there's a problem with your technique. But your conclusion that the 100-300 is a bad lens isn't born out by the results others have gotten.

A sample size of one simply doesn't product meaningful results for anything but that one sample. And perhaps not even then. You've told us little about your test procedures, so I can't discount user error, either.

I took many other comparison shots. I honestly don't think there is anything bad with the lens. This is simply how it performs. But I could be having a poorer piece.

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radsaq
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Re: Panasonic 100-300mm - poor performer
In reply to Robiro, Jun 12, 2012

Robiro wrote:

So I bought myself a Panasonic 100-300mm lens to give me more image-stabilised reach with automatic focusing.

To be honest, I am unimpressed by its performance. The images are quite soft, shallow and lacking details. I dare to say that this lens is not capable of transporting true 16 megapixels to the sensor. After all, it has just one ED element. Beyond f11 it looses details fast so it is best to keep it around f8.0 as at f5.6 it is slightly fuzzy.

How controlled were these tests? Were they on a tripod? As others are saying, I find the performance of the 100-300mm quite good (though not excellent). I do notice a clear difference in critical sharpness between shooting hand-held and shooting on a monopod, though. And I find that image softness at 300mm increases severely for me even with the lens IS or the E-M5 IBIS under 1/320s as I'm just not that steady (and subject motion becoming magnified may also be an issue, even for mostly static but living subjects).

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Robiro
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Re: So many things wrong with that.
In reply to jennajenna, Jun 12, 2012

jennajenna wrote:

1) a used Zeiss 200mm f2.8 goes for almost $600

Bought mine for 55 pounds on eBay

2) a used Panny 100-300 goes for around $400

Bought mine for 390 pounds on eBay

3) you are comparing a zoom with a non zoom (prime) - what the hell did you expect?

OK, you win here.

4) did you adjust the focus box size to the smallest box? it makes a difference

Not the smallest box but right on that chimney. I even tried manually focusing the lens but came with no better results. The focusing is at its best.

5) latest firmware on the panny is out - did you update. It does make a difference.

Yes. 1.2.

So the cheaper, non prime and possibly not firmware updated lens did not perform as your zeiss.

This is not true. See above.

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Robiro
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Re: Panasonic 100-300mm - poor performer
In reply to Sabatia, Jun 12, 2012

Sabatia wrote:

I came to m4/3s from Canon L teles--300L f4 IS and previously non-IS, 400L 5.6, and 70-200L. The 100-300 is not as good as those Ls, but it is still a very good lens, certainly comparable or better than any of Canon's non-L tele zooms. I've been shooting with it for almost a year now in all kinds of conditions: I have been impressed with how sharp it can be, what good color contrast in decent light, and the high percentage of keepers I get cause the IS really works.

I might be spoiled by that Zeiss lens. Perhaps I am too harsh when it comes to that Panasonic. Besides, I am keeping it.

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Robiro
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Re: This statement is telling
In reply to Just Having Fun, Jun 12, 2012

Just Having Fun wrote:

Robiro wrote:

Also, the white balance with Panasonic is way off. It is beyond my comprehension why!!!

So the white balance of the lens is way off?? Please tell me you meant the camera.

The camera's automatic white balance behaves much differently when Panasonic 100-300 is on compared to what you get when Zeiss is on. Both shots taken in Vibrant mode.

After looking at other images taken with 100-300, I see a pattern. Too much yellow and red. Can't explain why.

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Robiro
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Re: This statement is telling
In reply to danijel973, Jun 12, 2012

danijel973 wrote:

Not necessarily. I tested two lenses at 5400K and Minolta had cooler balance than the Zuiko. Optical glass does not necessarily have completely neutral cast.

Correct. My Nokton 40mm had definitely different cast to Leica 14-50mm. Sometimes it is in the glass.

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