Nikon and Canon Photographers scooped up most of the wildlife awards.

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C Sean Senior Member • Posts: 1,641
Nikon and Canon Photographers scooped up most of the wildlife awards.

With my recent trip to South Africa coming up and there's the question of should I rent the Panasonic 200mm 2.8 for it. I bought the following books.

  • British Wildlife Photography Awards: Collection 8
  • Wildlife Photographer of the Year 27

Mostly to study the images and also to inspire me. For those who haven't seen these books or the previous years. Each award winning photograph has the camera model, lens and what setting. Now before I get into the telephoto lenses the award winning photographers used. Daniel Cox recently spoke about the Panasonic 200mm 2.8 and he said it's mostly a sport lens.

While mirrorless has been making entries into the sport and wildlife with new bodies and lenses. We shouldn't forget both Canon and Nikon had their bodies and lenses out for years. The four new mirrorless telephoto lenses only been out for under two years and they are:

  • Sony FE 100-400 with a possible teleconverter
  • Fuji 100-400 with the optional teleconverter
  • Olympus 300mm
  • Panasonic 100-400

That said Sony, Fuji and Panasonic has announced further wildlife and sport pro lenses. So mirrorless will make a bigger impact into wildlife photography and may have the advantage in the future. We know both Nikon and Canon will each release a new mirrorless format and it will take a few years for them to catch up to both M43, Sony and Fuji. Both M43 and Fuji are releasing smaller pro telephoto lenses and more photographers will take notice. They may not get the extra thin depth of field but the larger lenses will be hand holdable compared to the full frame counterparts.

In the books there were a lot of super wide up close shots but when it comes to telephoto lenses, the 400mm prime was virtually didn't feature. When I was looking at the stats, what became apparent there were mostly three type of telephoto lenses used for the award winning shots and I will list them below.

  • 500mm F4

Surprisingly the 500mm F4 were featured heavily in the award winning images. Maybe because the lens is cheaper than both the 400mm F2.8 and the 600mm F4. Also the lens has further reach than the common 100-400 4.5-5.6 and shallow depth of field. It seems to be popular for award winning wildlife photographers and maybe we could get our own 250mm F4 for the M43 format.

  • Canon 100-400 and Nikon 80-400.

This could also include the Nikon 200-500. It shouldn't be a surprise the backbone lens of wildlife and sport photography would feature heavily in the photo competition. On a full frame camera and shot wide open, it will create a thin depth of field and a lot of photographers usually stop down. Sadly M43 doesn't have a lens like this except for the Panasonic 45-200 and that probably the worst Panasonic zoom lens.  But there are alternatives like the approx 75-300 and the approx 40-150 range.

  • Nikon 200-400 F4

Surprisingly the Nikon 200-400 F4 featured heavily and I don't think I saw a single shot from the more expensive Canon counterpart with the in built teleconverter. The good news is Panasonic will be releasing their own version of this lens aka 50-200mm F2.8-4. It probably cost one third of the Nikon and one fifth of the Canon's.

  •  Conclusion.

Approx five years ago both Olympus and Panasonic were starting to release pro lenses and bodies in the M43 format. We saw the GH3/EM5 and later the 35-100mm 2.8/40-150mm 2.8. Both lenses were great for animals and birds who were close but there weren't the long telephoto lenses to back up the mid telephoto zooms. Later we saw the release of the GH4 and the EM1. Finally a year later we finally got our long expensive telephoto lenses with the Panasonic 100-400 and the Olympus 300mm.

I will be studying the pictures more but there were pictures I think I could get the same results or similar with my existing M43 kit. The only problem is when it comes to the blurred background the M43 can't compete very well against the Full Frame cannons. That said do you want cheaper and smaller gear or do you want very large lenses to create truly stunning art shots.

It will be interesting to see what the bokeh will look like on the PL 50-200 and maybe we will see a 500mm F4 for micro four thirds if the system would benefit  from the lens.

Olympus E-M1 Panasonic Leica 100-400mm F4.0-6.3 ASPH Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4
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