Importance of technique with telephoto lenses

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JaKing Senior Member • Posts: 5,221
Importance of technique with telephoto lenses
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Dear People, this is not a thread about image quality; it is not a thread about long lenses; it is not a thread about the artistic merit of the photos presented ...

It is a thread about the importance of technique when using long telephoto lenses in general, and the Olympus 75-300 MkII in particular.

At the beginning of this year, I purchased the 75-300II for occasional use on my E-M1 MkII, not being able to justify any of the expensive and higher quality primes or zooms for the fairly rare times I use it. My FTs 50-200 MkI is a bit too heavy for general carrying about as I get more and more feeble.

Had coffee and lunch with an old friend the other day, and went early to take some snaps where we were meeting. This gave an opportunity to do some experimental shots.

We have all seen posts or threads here complaining of poor IQ at the full stretch of long telephoto lenses. I have often replied that it is highly dependent on technique and learning how to use these lenses. These suggestions have often been questioned, and sometimes outright rejected.

With this in mind, and knowing how difficult these long lenses can be to use, I found myself in a position to take a series of shots of a drinking fountain (and some other subjects) using the above pair with the lens at 300mm. The subject distance (focus distance) to the drinking fountain according to PIE was 5.73m. The shots were all taken free standing without any support, from much the same position. A variety of ISO and shutter speed settings were used.

My conclusion was that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the sharpness (etc) of this lens at maximum FL, other than what one would normally expect in such a "cheap" lens (it cost me just under AUD$400 new). I have always realised that one gets more or less what one pays for, and do not expect the 75-300 to perform like the f/4 300, or similar lenses from any other manufacturer ...

My other conclusions are that this lens needs very careful use. For me, that means ramping the ISO to get a high enough shutter speed, and paying very careful attention to holding, breathing and shutter release technique.

All shots were wide open at f/6.7. I have had little success with this lens at 300mm and a SS less than 1/1000th, unless well braced etc.

These should all be viewed at ORIGINAL size. All are full size, LSF JPEGs with no PP of any kind. They are each around 10 MB in size.

First attempt - ISO 200, 1/500th. Note general blur from low (!) SS, and probably careless 'snap shot' technique.

Second shot. ISO 800, 1/2000th. Better, but still blurry at 100%. Still not acceptable IQ.

Third shot. Still ISO 800 and 1/2000th. More attention to holding technique, breathing and shutter release. This is probably approaching the limits of what this quality of lens can produce, certainly in my old shaky hands! I have seen better than this from a friend using an E-M10 MkII + 75-300 II @ 300mm.

Note that the third shot is clearly superior to the other two. The only changes have been more appropriate camera settings and more attention to technique. I would suggest that these are the keys to success with this lens, and similar lenses.

All of these elements of use become more important the further the subject distance. Angular movement greatly increases with increasing distance.

Here is a shot of a light luminaire at around 37m. Free standing. The general faults of the lens can be easily seen in the original image. However, I reckon that it is acceptable, given its (relatively) cheap price.

ISO 400, 1/1600th. I seem to have little success with this lens at less than about 1/1000th SS unless well supported, and careful.

Another shot with leaves etc that would show up any serious CA etc fairly well. Looks quite reasonable to me, again considering what the lens is.

ISO 400, 1/1250th

ALL EXIF data should be intact, at least in the full sized original files.

Hope this is of some benefit to those contemplating this lens (or similar), and exemplifying the necessity for practice and technique. It is very easy to bugger up photos at FLs longer than about 150 to 200mm.

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br, john, from you know where
My gear list and sordid past are here: https://www.dpreview.com/members/1558378718/overview
Gallery: https://www.canopuscomputing.com.au/zen2/page/gallery/

 JaKing's gear list:JaKing's gear list
Olympus E-M1 Olympus E-M1 II Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ Olympus 12-100mm F4.0 Olympus E-1 +24 more
Olympus E-M1 Olympus OM-D E-M10
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