Boreal birds, birders, bokeh and FF vs 4/3.

Started Feb 20, 2013 | Discussions thread
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Karaya Senior Member • Posts: 2,038
Boreal birds, birders, bokeh and FF vs 4/3.

Hello all. I just got back from the winter birding festival at the Sax-Zim bog north west of Duluth, MN. As I am now a 'duel-system' user I took both my E-5, with the ZD300 2.8 for shooting birds, as well as my Canon 5D MKIII and 85L f1.2 for people, landscapes and vacation 'snap shots'.

At last year's festival I did a photo workshop with a pro who shot Canon. He was, at the time, hoping to move up to the 5D MKIII (from a MKII) combined with a 600f4 (replacing his 800 f5.6). So, you may ask, why was I birding with an obsolete 4/3 camera rather then going 'FF'?

Well, there are several reasons. Cost is a big one. To get the same EFL (effective focal length) with the Canon rig I will need the 600 f4 which sells for $12,799 at the moment on B&H. Ouch! Weight is another one. That lens, despite being made from unobtanium tips the scales at 8.64 pounds. I like to hike with my ZD300 and often have it in my lap on car trips (as a passenger!) so that I can quickly put it in on a window mounted bean bag when birds are sighted. I just can't see myself using the big Canon this way!

The big reason is that I love my ZD300. The detail and bokeh with this lens are all that anyone could ask for. I still believe that Olympus was on the rite track with 4/3, at least for nature shooters, perhaps not for wedding photogs. The lenses really are first rate and optically faster then the competition while being smaller, lighter and much less expensive. People never bought this argument with the big f2 zooms but it really is true if you compare the ZD300 f2.8 and ZD150 f2 to a Canikon 600 f4 and 300 f2.8 combo.

The Achilles heel, of course, is noise at high ISOs and little ability to lift shadows, oh, and a second rate AF system when you mount these fabulous lenses to what is still the state of the art in 4/3 bodies - the humble 12mp E-5. I need cooperative birds in good light to get killer shots. The technology to fix these issues is out there. Olympus just needs to put it in a new camera and get it to market. So, yes, I will hold on to my lenses and hope for an E-7 while using my 5D for portraits and landscapes and perhaps macro (I am thinking of the Sigma 180 f2.8 macro lens). If Olympus does not come thru then I will consider putting a mortgage on the farm and getting into Canon super telephotos.

In the meantime here are some photos!

A Boreal Owl.

A Boreal Chickadee.

Some birders we met on the trip. Taken with 5D MKIII.

Best to all,


 Karaya's gear list:Karaya's gear list
Olympus Zuiko Digital 300mm 1:2.8 Olympus E-5 Canon EOS 5D Mark III Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 50mm 1:2.0 Macro Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM +3 more
Canon EOS 5D Olympus E-5 Panasonic Lumix DMC-F5
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