Nikon 500mm f/5.6 vs Olympus 300mm f/4

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Tony Rogers Senior Member • Posts: 1,332
Nikon 500mm f/5.6 vs Olympus 300mm f/4
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I have been interested to see how the new Nikon 500mm PF f/5.6 turns out as I have been wondering whether I might get better results with it on a D500, particularly for birds in flight, than with my Olympus 300mm f/4 and E-M1 MkII. Well, lenstip, have done a review - https://www.lenstip.com/index.php?test=obiektywu&test_ob=540. The review is very complementary about the new lens.

I can't say anything about birds in flight with the Nikon but there are some static shots of birds. I have some similar shots taken with my camera and the 300mm and I think the Olympus is way better!

I don't want to copy Lenstip's images but I will provide a link to their samples page - https://www.lenstip.com/540.12-Lens_review-Nikon_Nikkor_AF-S_500_mm_f_5.6E_PF_ED_VR_Sample_shots.html

Compare these images taken with the new Nikon - here or here

with this image taken with the Olympus at 300mm.

This image was shot in raw but batch processed in Olympus Viewer so is effectively the same as an in-camera jpeg. I accidentally chose the option which did not include Exif data - oops.

I was a little closer to the bird than the Nikon shot. Comparing in "full-frame" terms, the Olympus is similar to 600mm at f/8 whilst the Nikon is 750mm at f/8.4, so fairly close but my bird fills slightly more of the frame. My image was taken on a sunny day in October.

I think the Olympus image is significantly sharper and has more contrast. The other Nikon images look similar to my eye. Rather soft at 100%

Whilst this is just one review and set of samples, it certainly dampens my enthusiasm for the "greener grass" of the new Nikon 500mm. Am I reading this right?

 Tony Rogers's gear list:Tony Rogers's gear list
Olympus E-M1 Olympus E-M1 II Olympus 12-40mm F2.8 Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro Olympus M.Zuiko 300mm F4 IS Pro
Nikon D500 Olympus E-M1
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