Yet again: pan 100-400 vs oly 300 f4 summary ??

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Yet again: pan 100-400 vs oly 300 f4 summary ??

I am switching my 'lighter' kit from Nikon 1 back to m43 and looking for a replacement for the excellent Nikon 1 70-300 CX.

For a long tele, in m43 I have only the pan 100-300 Mk1 and I suspect that it is not the best sample since it is noticeably softer than all my other long lenses.

I use long teles for wildlife, birds and general photography including pseudo macro, detailing in architectural shots and landscapes.

I would maybe prefer a 4:1 zoom ( I have the Tamron 100-400 for DX/FX ) ideally, but I am often shooting at the max ( and then cropping ) for birdies.

Have been looking over the 300 f4 vs pan 100-400 reviews and threads and the feeling I get is the following:

(1) people who own and shoot the 100-400 are generally very happy and it is producing great IQ and maybe just a tad less sharp that the oly prime. Certainly, the images here and on flickr etc are impressive. Some sharpening in post seems advisable.

(2) the lenstips tests a year or so ago seem to have been an anomally possibly methodology, shutter shock, or a bad sample. Both the level of the MTF @ 400 and its 'sharp' dip as aperture is opened towards f6.3 are contrary to other results such as camerastuff and the general way 4:1 and m43 zooms tend to behave.

(3) not sure whether the 'stiff zoom' ring has been resolved in the latest production. I don't see the point of getting a zoom if I can't zoom it freely: the tamron 100-400 is very smooth over the whole range for example as is the Nikon CX 70-300. The main use for this is to back off for a general view and then zoom onto the target. PS I intend to buy off the grey market so its awkward, but not impossible, to return lenses if I find that the zoom is too stiff. The hit on buying the pan from a UK store is about £200 +.

At the moment the price ratio in UK is still 2:1 for the oly : panleica i.e. £1650:£880 approx.

I am ambivalent: I have used the pro oly glass 40-150 and 12 - 40 for some time and like the results and their robustness - I can probably live with a prime at 300 +Tc ( and take the hit on IQ due to the TC14) vs the zoom but my reading is that, apart from the stiff zoom issue, the panasonic is a more balanced tool with a wider applicability than the oly 300 f4 - and there is the price issue.

I am also not sure that the oly +1.4 TC or cropping more heavily is any better than the pan 100-400 at 400 - and I routinely push the Nikon CX 70-300 to 300 ( 810 FF FoV )).

Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated

Richard

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