African Safari: Panasonic 100-300 or Olympus 75-300?

Started Oct 14, 2012 | Discussions
Sinan Tarlan
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African Safari: Panasonic 100-300 or Olympus 75-300?
Oct 14, 2012

Trying to figure out the best option. I already have the Oly 45-150 f/4-5.6 which is a decent lens but I will need more reach as I am going to the Masai Mara in July.

I have an OM-D E-M5. I am leaning towards the Panasonic option for 2 primary reasons: faster at 300mm at f/5.6 vs. f/6.7 and the other reason being I hate to pay $900 for an f4.8-6.7 variable aperture lens.

However, my concern lies in the reports I've read with the Panasonic's focus with it potentially being more troublesome than the Olympus which I find surprising given the faster aperture range which should let in more light. I'm not dead concerned with tack sharpness at 300mm although samples from both look good enough so I am not as worried about IQ but more about the focus and aperture speed, etc. Size of the lenses is not an issue either.

Anyone used the 100-300 for a safari? Any reason why I should opt for the Olympus for my purposes?

Cheers.

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sb123
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Re: African Safari: Panasonic 100-300 or Olympus 75-300?
In reply to Sinan Tarlan, Oct 14, 2012

If you want an effective AFC function you should get the Olympus.  If that is not important to you the 100-300 is cheaper and a little faster.  I would pick the first, since the most exciting photos will quite possibly be unexpected, and fast developing.  The newest MFT cameras are all getting good enough at  high ISO that the 1/2 stop difference shouldn't be too important.  In either case turn off IBIS or IS  when you are using shutter speeds fast enough to stop action, since it won't help there, and actually may hinder your getting really sharp photos.  Given the small size of MFT cameras and lenses a case can be made for carrying two cameras - one with the 75-300 for moving subjects, and the other with a longer legacy lens, of 4-500mm, for stationary ones from a tripod.  The G5, with its electronic shutter, would be particularly good for the latter.

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jcharding
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Re: African Safari: Panasonic 100-300 or Olympus 75-300?
In reply to Sinan Tarlan, Oct 14, 2012

If space is significantly limited due to the flight or safari requirements, the smaller size of the Oly may be beneficial.

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Adjuster
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Re: African Safari: Panasonic 100-300 or Olympus 75-300?
In reply to Sinan Tarlan, Oct 14, 2012

Sinan Tarlan wrote:

Trying to figure out the best option. I already have the Oly 45-150 f/4-5.6 which is a decent lens but I will need more reach as I am going to the Masai Mara in July.

I had the opportunity to test both lenses. The 100-300 was much better. Never had a problem focusing with it either.

Enjoy the safari.

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sb123
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Re: African Safari: Panasonic 100-300 or Olympus 75-300?
In reply to Sinan Tarlan, Oct 14, 2012

The focus of the 100-300 isn't exactly "troublesome" but is limited.  It is quite fast and accurate in AFS, but not very usable in AFC (though, that may not be true when used with the GH3).  You can compensate to some degree by just repeatedly using AFS on a moving subject.  Both are good lenses.

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Sinan Tarlan
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Re: African Safari: Panasonic 100-300 or Olympus 75-300?
In reply to Sinan Tarlan, Oct 14, 2012

Thanks for the replies. I think I will give the 100-300 a go and try it out before I go. I'll likely order it soon and I won't be going until the summer so if there is an issue I will have plenty of time to exchange for the Olympus if I then need to.

As long as AFS is good with the E-M5 then I will be happy. Not too concerned with AFC or tracking.

Thanks again.

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Optical1
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Re: African Safari: Panasonic 100-300 or Olympus 75-300?
In reply to Sinan Tarlan, Oct 14, 2012

Sinan Tarlan wrote:

Trying to figure out the best option. I already have the Oly 45-150 f/4-5.6 which is a decent lens but I will need more reach as I am going to the Masai Mara in July.

I have an OM-D E-M5. I am leaning towards the Panasonic option for 2 primary reasons: faster at 300mm at f/5.6 vs. f/6.7 and the other reason being I hate to pay $900 for an f4.8-6.7 variable aperture lens.

However, my concern lies in the reports I've read with the Panasonic's focus with it potentially being more troublesome than the Olympus which I find surprising given the faster aperture range which should let in more light. I'm not dead concerned with tack sharpness at 300mm although samples from both look good enough so I am not as worried about IQ but more about the focus and aperture speed, etc. Size of the lenses is not an issue either.

Anyone used the 100-300 for a safari? Any reason why I should opt for the Olympus for my purposes?

Cheers.

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I decided upon the 75-300 for the added range at 75mm.  The difference between 150mm and 200mm eFOV is enough to capture close up images, and help with framing for the long end when necessary.

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DonParrot
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Re: African Safari: Panasonic 100-300 or Olympus 75-300?
In reply to sb123, Oct 14, 2012

sb123 wrote:

If you want an effective AFC function you should get the Olympus.  If that is not important to you the 100-300 is cheaper and a little faster.  I would pick the first, since the most exciting photos will quite possibly be unexpected, and fast developing.

I abssolutely agree, here.

The newest MFT cameras are all getting good enough at  high ISO that the 1/2 stop difference shouldn't be too important.  In either case turn off IBIS or IS  when you are using shutter speeds fast enough to stop action, since it won't help there, and actually may hinder your getting really sharp photos.

Here I have to contradict. Leaving the IBIS on at any shutter speed improves the AF performance.

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nzpaul
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Re: African Safari: Panasonic 100-300 or Olympus 75-300?
In reply to jcharding, Oct 15, 2012

jcharding wrote:

If space is significantly limited due to the flight or safari requirements, the smaller size of the Oly may be beneficial.

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For what its worth i just did five weeks in Africa with two EM5 bodies plus one grip set; a panasonic 100-300mm, panasonic 14-140mm, panasonic 7-14mm, panasonic 20mm, 6 batteries, two chargers, some filters and cleaning kit all in a tiny Lowepro Event Messanger 150 bag.  The whole lot came in at 4.8kg so under the 5kg limit for carry-on for the small aircraft we were using.

The 100-300 was fantastic - stayed on one of the cameras the whole trip and most of my best shots came from it.  Yes you will miss some due to miss-focusing or image shake but all in all it was effective and gave good results.

Paul

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Henry Richardson
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Re: African Safari: Panasonic 100-300 or Olympus 75-300?
In reply to Sinan Tarlan, Oct 15, 2012

This guy used the 100-300mm with the GH2 on safari:

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/on_safari.shtml
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Birk Binnard
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Re: African Safari: Panasonic 100-300 or Olympus 75-300?
In reply to Sinan Tarlan, Oct 15, 2012

I recently returned from 2 weeks on safari in Tanzania.  I used a GH1 with 14-140 and 100-300.  Both worked well for me and I was changing lenses a lot.

I shoot both stills & videos and my final output is a BluRay disk with some stills/panoramas interspersed between video clips. (Ken Burns is my hero!)  Based on comments I read here about the 100-300 I used Aperture mode with this lens and set it at f7 at least (meaning I tried hard to never go below f7.)

Overall I was quite pleased with the reach and clarity of the 100-300 shots.  What I did not like was the slow focusing and focus-hunting it would often do.  One of the ways I got around this was to use auto-focus to focus at something at infinity, and then switch to manual focus, thus keeping infinite focus locked.  This seemed to work best for animals at a distance and also birds in flight (although BIF is really hard to do at 600 effective mm.  Some sort of radar tracking device would sure be nice.)

Straight manual focus at anything beyond about 200 (400 effective) mm was pretty much impossible due to camera shake and the fact that the focus ring seems to require lots of turns to make significant changes.  Even with a beanbag on the roof of the LandCruiser as a stabilizer it was very difficult to use manual focus on a live animal, especially if the animal was moving.

I understand newer cameras have faster auto-focus and this would make a big difference if it really works.

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