What inexpensive telephoto lens?

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wb2trf Veteran Member • Posts: 3,260
What inexpensive telephoto lens?

I just picked up today a very bargain priced e-m10 Mark III.  Besides playing around with it for short term amusement, I was thinking maybe it could replace my aging Canon SX-50HS for casual bird and wildlife photography and provide noticeably better IQ.  I'm only opportunistic, not serious, about this class of photography, but am happy to bring home from travels the random eagle or grizzly bear photo.

For this purpose my plan is to try it out with an old 300mm Canon FD MF prime that I have (not being used). If it seems like the images are interesting then I'd buy a non-pro lens that will do similar, but with AF and that is smaller, much smaller.  I see there is a 75-300mm Oly and a 100-300mm Panasonic (with new-to-me compatibility limits).

Is this a crazy plan? What would folks here recommend for a casual birding lens?

(As, fyi, I have a large lens ecosystem built around Sony mirrorless and shoot landscape and portrait with that. That's where my heart is. I don't have any telephoto lenses for that and consider the physical size and price of such FF lenses incompatible with my only modest interest in birds and wildlife.)

I really appreciate and comments you knowledgeable folks might be able to offer.

Olympus OM-D E-M10
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HRC2016 Senior Member • Posts: 5,987
Re: What inexpensive telephoto lens?

I'd recommend the Oly 75-300, then the Panny 100-300 II

Another sleeper is the Panny 45-200, which would be cheaper.  The older and newer versions are similar so no sense buying the upgraded one. Both can be found good used, but there seems to be a lot of copy variation.

Telephoto prices will come down once Oly announces its 100-400, possibly next week.

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MaxAMS Junior Member • Posts: 41
Re: What inexpensive telephoto lens?

I have the Panasonic 100-300ii, it is a fine lens but only when there is sufficient light. Focusing speed and contrast suffer in low light.

With smaller bodies without grip such as the GX80 the lens feels front-heavy. It handles better on bodies with a grip.

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acfo Contributing Member • Posts: 854
Re: What inexpensive telephoto lens?
1

wb2trf wrote:

[...] For this purpose my plan is to try it out with an old 300mm Canon FD MF prime that I have (not being used).

I started birding with an adapted manual focus Nikkor 85mm f2 AIS. Here's one of my first shots:

After that I bought the Oly 75-300mm (the cheapest of the m43 super teles). You can read about my frustrations here on this forum. 300mm equals 600mm reach on m43 and even with in body stabilisation takes quite some practice to hold steady. That said, adapt your 300mm Canon prime and have fun.

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OP wb2trf Veteran Member • Posts: 3,260
Re: What inexpensive telephoto lens?

I didn't know about the rumored soon 100-400mm. That's very interesting if not too big. A 600mm eq fov is sort of minimum, I think, for my uses, so I'll try out my 300mm (as soon as the adapter comes in) and then see about this new lens.

Thanks for the info.

JimH123 Senior Member • Posts: 2,578
Re: What inexpensive telephoto lens?

wb2trf wrote:

I just picked up today a very bargain priced e-m10 Mark III. Besides playing around with it for short term amusement, I was thinking maybe it could replace my aging Canon SX-50HS for casual bird and wildlife photography and provide noticeably better IQ. I'm only opportunistic, not serious, about this class of photography, but am happy to bring home from travels the random eagle or grizzly bear photo.

For this purpose my plan is to try it out with an old 300mm Canon FD MF prime that I have (not being used). If it seems like the images are interesting then I'd buy a non-pro lens that will do similar, but with AF and that is smaller, much smaller. I see there is a 75-300mm Oly and a 100-300mm Panasonic (with new-to-me compatibility limits).

Is this a crazy plan? What would folks here recommend for a casual birding lens?

(As, fyi, I have a large lens ecosystem built around Sony mirrorless and shoot landscape and portrait with that. That's where my heart is. I don't have any telephoto lenses for that and consider the physical size and price of such FF lenses incompatible with my only modest interest in birds and wildlife.)

I really appreciate and comments you knowledgeable folks might be able to offer.

The Olympus 75-300 can be sharp in good light. I find it somewhat slow at obtaining good focus. Here are a couple where the target wasn't moving taken at 300mm.

And here is one with a moving target. I had to fix it a little by using Lightroom's Enhance Details and then Sharpen AI Focus, which helped.  FL was only 187mm for this one.

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Astrotripper Veteran Member • Posts: 8,281
Re: What inexpensive telephoto lens?

wb2trf wrote:

my plan is to try it out with an old 300mm Canon FD MF prime that I have (not being used).

Definitely worth a try. It will be a bit hard to use, but could also be fun.

If it seems like the images are interesting then I'd buy a non-pro lens that will do similar, but with AF and that is smaller, much smaller. I see there is a 75-300mm Oly and a 100-300mm Panasonic (with new-to-me compatibility limits).

Both of those will do the job if you get a good copy of either. I own the 100-300 II and use it on my Olympus body. I'm happy with it. I've used the 75-300 briefly and it was ok as well. It's a good option if you want it as cheap and as small as possible.

However, experience of using your FD lens might not translate well to the those native lenses. Doing an MF on a long telephoto is kind of a different beast.

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Barry Twycross Veteran Member • Posts: 3,174
Re: What inexpensive telephoto lens?

I use a Panasonic 100-300 for casual birding (on a Panasonic camera). It works for me. I also use it for a lot of other things I might not have imagined, because it's small enough to always have with me.

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mm0zct Forum Member • Posts: 85
Re: What inexpensive telephoto lens?

You can get the older Panasonic 100-300mm for under £250 second hand, that's what I use with my em10mk2.

The second edition of the lens adds better optical stabilisation, faster focusing and weather sealing, but is optically meant to be the same. With the Panasonic lens on the Olympus camera you get to pick either lens or body IS, I find the body IS better on the lens I have, but the mk2 version of the lens might work better with in lens stabilisation.

The Olympus 75-300 is definitely smaller and lighter (and cheaper new), but is a narrower aperture (and the Panasonic isn't exactly wide to start with) and doesn't have the option of lens IS. I think they are regarded about equals for sharpness, with both having a bit of lens to lens variation.

Have fun with the Canon lens meanwhile

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Miron09 Contributing Member • Posts: 972
Lumix 100-300, with Roesch tripod collar beats them all

very small, cheap, and with the tripod collar you can use 300mm with 2x

digital tele-converter

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Landscapephoto99 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,150
Re: What inexpensive telephoto lens?
1

The consumer grade 40-150m and 75-300mm lenses are great.  I'm not fast enough a photographer to catch a bird in flight, though once I took a butterfly in flight photo, but the length and image quality is there. Telephoto is one of the advantages of m43.

wb2trf wrote:

I just picked up today a very bargain priced e-m10 Mark III. Besides playing around with it for short term amusement, I was thinking maybe it could replace my aging Canon SX-50HS for casual bird and wildlife photography and provide noticeably better IQ. I'm only opportunistic, not serious, about this class of photography, but am happy to bring home from travels the random eagle or grizzly bear photo.

For this purpose my plan is to try it out with an old 300mm Canon FD MF prime that I have (not being used). If it seems like the images are interesting then I'd buy a non-pro lens that will do similar, but with AF and that is smaller, much smaller. I see there is a 75-300mm Oly and a 100-300mm Panasonic (with new-to-me compatibility limits).

Is this a crazy plan? What would folks here recommend for a casual birding lens?

(As, fyi, I have a large lens ecosystem built around Sony mirrorless and shoot landscape and portrait with that. That's where my heart is. I don't have any telephoto lenses for that and consider the physical size and price of such FF lenses incompatible with my only modest interest in birds and wildlife.)

I really appreciate and comments you knowledgeable folks might be able to offer.

Phocal
Phocal Veteran Member • Posts: 3,131
Re: What inexpensive telephoto lens?
4

wb2trf wrote:

I just picked up today a very bargain priced e-m10 Mark III. Besides playing around with it for short term amusement, I was thinking maybe it could replace my aging Canon SX-50HS for casual bird and wildlife photography and provide noticeably better IQ. I'm only opportunistic, not serious, about this class of photography, but am happy to bring home from travels the random eagle or grizzly bear photo.

For this purpose my plan is to try it out with an old 300mm Canon FD MF prime that I have (not being used). If it seems like the images are interesting then I'd buy a non-pro lens that will do similar, but with AF and that is smaller, much smaller. I see there is a 75-300mm Oly and a 100-300mm Panasonic (with new-to-me compatibility limits).

Is this a crazy plan? What would folks here recommend for a casual birding lens?

(As, fyi, I have a large lens ecosystem built around Sony mirrorless and shoot landscape and portrait with that. That's where my heart is. I don't have any telephoto lenses for that and consider the physical size and price of such FF lenses incompatible with my only modest interest in birds and wildlife.)

I really appreciate and comments you knowledgeable folks might be able to offer.

The Oly 75-300 is not a bad lens, I put it in the same category as the Sigma 150-600 C.  I bought mine when I was first testing a switch to Olympus and have contemplated selling it a number of times (just never got around to it).  Now that I am living in Alaska I have found a use for it and am glad I never did sell it.  On my daily fitness bike rides I could come across a fox or bear or moose to photograph, so I carry this on my old EM1 because it is light and will take decent to good photographs.  I also carry it when doing mulit-day backpacking trips.  I do a lot of lens comparisons and you may find a couple of them useful in making that decision.

The Olympus 75-300 vs ZD 50-200 SWD w/ EC-14 vs 300mm f4.0

The Olympus 75-300 vs 300mm f4.0 Battle Over a Fox

Flickr album of Fox images with the 75-300

my two copper pieces,

Phocal

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OP wb2trf Veteran Member • Posts: 3,260
Not too promising

So, as I mentioned, apart from just having a little fun with a camera I'd never tried, the main motivation was to see if I could improve IQ over my Canon SX-50 superzoom without getting the camera size and weight to large.

Before buying a 300mm lens for the E-M10 III, I decided to try it with an old Canon FD 300mm lens I had. I knew that lens to be at least ok.

I was able to determine that I can hand hold the Oly with the old 300mm beast attached and focus it with the IS enabled and set to 300mm. That's very nice. I know I can't do that without IS.

However, the resolution gain just doesn't seem to be there and I don't think it is the lens. Here are crops of two shots, one with the Oly and one with the Canon SX-50. Both are handheld. This test does not lead me to want to spend more money on continuing this experiment. To bother with this I'd need to believe I was chasing some big improvement. I can imagine, however, that the upcoming 400mm lens may show up better than this. So, I'll wait and see what the size and price of that are. (Apart from cropping to the test chart I haven't tweaked these, just to avoid one more variable.)  These were both taken at about 40 feet in bright light, which is fairly typical for my bird/animal shooting, except for grizzlies which I always want to be further away.

Anyone want to chime in? Do you think that the Oly 75-300mm in such a test would beat the SX-50 by enough to make this a worthwhile venture?

Crop of Oly e-m10 image at 300mm 5.6 with Canon FD MF lens

Crop from Canon SX-50 HS at faux 1200mm

Astrotripper Veteran Member • Posts: 8,281
Re: Not too promising
1

wb2trf wrote:

However, the resolution gain just doesn't seem to be there and I don't think it is the lens. Here are crops of two shots, one with the Oly and one with the Canon SX-50. Both are handheld. This test does not lead me to want to spend more money on continuing this experiment. To bother with this I'd need to believe I was chasing some big improvement. I can imagine, however, that the upcoming 400mm lens may show up better than this.

No doubt about that. It supposedly uses the optical formula of the excellent Sigma 100-400 and judging how well that performs, I would even expect it to outperform Panasonic's 100-400 (which is very good, at least the copy I used was).

So, I'll wait and see what the size and price of that are.

All the rumors and leaks say big heavy and expensive.

(Apart from cropping to the test chart I haven't tweaked these, just to avoid one more variable.) These were both taken at about 40 feet in bright light, which is fairly typical for my bird/animal shooting, except for grizzlies which I always want to be further away.

Anyone want to chime in? Do you think that the Oly 75-300mm in such a test would beat the SX-50 by enough to make this a worthwhile venture?

Crop of Oly e-m10 image at 300mm 5.6 with Canon FD MF lens

Unfortunately, this is quite typical of legacy film era lenses (I got a few teles that produce this kind of images). A bit of a shame, I would expect a better result from a Canon lens. But I guess if it's not an L model, it's just like any other legacy lens.

Yes, Oly 75-300 would do better than this. How much better depends on your luck. I've seen some quite seriously bad quality out of that lens, but I've also seen people getting surprisingly good image quality out of one. I used one for a few days and it was actually pretty good.

As for the above test, keep in mind that Canon bakes in a lot of corrections into the final image, but with a legacy lens on Olympus you get exactly what the lens produces. With a native Olympus lens like 75-300, the camera would also correct some of the aberrations (CA and distortion).

And while I'm convinced that Oly 75-300 would outperform your SX50*, your mileage may vary.

* Based simply on physics, the effects of diffraction on SX50 at the longest FL are similar to what you get with Olympus at f/20. I guarantee you that at f/20, Oly 75-300 will perform worse than even wide open. You can check how image quality would look like by using any lens on Olympus and stopping it down to f/20, since every lens would performs equally badly at that aperture.

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OP wb2trf Veteran Member • Posts: 3,260
Re: Not too promising

I think there are two tele lenses in the oly pipeline, a consumer one and a pro one.  Supposedly the consumer one is due out this month, the pro later.  The pro looks bulky as you say. The other one, cheaper smaller, was my hope.

I own and use all size range of sensors, from cell phone, to FF. Except for low light fast shutter conditions,  the smaller sensors are never as bad as one would believe from reading these forums.  I thought mft might be a sweet spot for casual tele photography, with a package that's not too huge but I'm not yet convinced. I'll do a few more tests and see about this new lens when it emerges.

Thanks for the comments.

Henry Falkner
Henry Falkner Forum Pro • Posts: 15,219
Re: What inexpensive telephoto lens?
1

In November 2018 I got the E-M10 II with the kit lenses 14-42 and 40-150. Changing lenses at the Muriwai Beach Gannet Colony was a pain, but doable -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exz1LiMgjlA&t=846s

33x23 inch prints from these are on my wall now -

These samples are at camera magnification, but highly compressed for DPReview.

Having to change lenses for a wide shot can expose the camera innards to salt spray. This I had to do to get some wide shots to show the setting -

Since then I got the sealed 14-150 lens. The sealing prevents sudden temperature changes from throwing the focus completely.

If I get the promised tax refund I will get the 75-300 (which will need lens-changing again at Muriwai).

Both 14-150 and 75-300 have good reviews here at DPReview, and they retail in New Zealand below NZ$ 750.- (about US US$ 500.-).

From where I am sitting, primes are fine for the dedicated pixel peeper, but my zooms just do me for Sandra's rush jobs-

The order came through at 4:30 in the afternoon. I took 24 shots, and they all had to be emailed to her mum that same evening.

Henry

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WhiteBeard
WhiteBeard Senior Member • Posts: 2,883
Re: What inexpensive telephoto lens?
1

wb2trf wrote:

I didn't know about the rumored soon 100-400mm. That's very interesting if not too big. A 600mm eq fov is sort of minimum, I think, for my uses, so I'll try out my 300mm (as soon as the adapter comes in) and then see about this new lens.

Thanks for the info.

The new 100-400 Oly lens is bigger, heavier and costlier than the already big, heavy and costly Pana-Leica 100-400. From what you said, it's definitely not for you - yet.

Your two suggestions (Oly 75-300 and Pana 100-300) make more sense. From the pics I have seen or made myself, I think the 100-300 has the edge on IQ over the 75-300. It also has Power OIS (Mk II version, the original has the less efficient and older Mega OIS) which means that on a Oly body you can choose between either the Oly IBIS or the lens OIS which is optimized for a long tele. The Lumix (Mk II version) is also weather resistant, which is not an issue with the non-WR E-M10  but may eventually be if ever you choose to upgrade in the µ4/3 system. Both lenses can also be found used.

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OP wb2trf Veteran Member • Posts: 3,260
There are two 400mm lenses in Oly pipe

There are two 400mm lenses in the Oly pipeline, apparently. There's a "consumer" one, f5- 6.3

https://photorumors.com/2020/07/27/this-is-the-upcoming-olympus-m-zuiko-digital-ed-100-400mm-f-5-0-6-3-is-lens/

and there's a "pro" one, f4.5

https://photorumors.com/2019/01/24/development-announcement-olympus-m-zuiko-digital-ed-150-400mm-f-4-5-tc1-25x-is-pro-lens-and-m-zuiko-digital-2x-teleconverter-mc-20/

The consumer one is due out sooner, this month.  We now learn that it is a little bit heavier than the Panasonic.  As for pricing, wait and see.

WhiteBeard
WhiteBeard Senior Member • Posts: 2,883
Re: There are two 400mm lenses in Oly pipe

wb2trf wrote:

There are two 400mm lenses in the Oly pipeline, apparently. There's a "consumer" one, f5- 6.3

https://photorumors.com/2020/07/27/this-is-the-upcoming-olympus-m-zuiko-digital-ed-100-400mm-f-5-0-6-3-is-lens/

and there's a "pro" one, f4.5

https://photorumors.com/2019/01/24/development-announcement-olympus-m-zuiko-digital-ed-150-400mm-f-4-5-tc1-25x-is-pro-lens-and-m-zuiko-digital-2x-teleconverter-mc-20/

The consumer one is due out sooner, this month. We now learn that it is a little bit heavier than the Panasonic. As for pricing, wait and see.

The problem is that the "consumer" one is supposed to begin at 1500$ and the pro one at almost 10k$ (TBC, probably less but not much). You can get either of the 300 mm zooms for around 400$ used and for occasional "opportunistic birding", they will hit the spot.  Furthermore, you will find that the diminutive and light E-M10 doesn't mate well with behemoth lenses.

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WhiteBeard
WhiteBeard Senior Member • Posts: 2,883
Re: Not too promising

wb2trf wrote:

So, as I mentioned, apart from just having a little fun with a camera I'd never tried, the main motivation was to see if I could improve IQ over my Canon SX-50 superzoom without getting the camera size and weight to large.

Before buying a 300mm lens for the E-M10 III, I decided to try it with an old Canon FD 300mm lens I had. I knew that lens to be at least ok.

I was able to determine that I can hand hold the Oly with the old 300mm beast attached and focus it with the IS enabled and set to 300mm. That's very nice. I know I can't do that without IS.

However, the resolution gain just doesn't seem to be there and I don't think it is the lens. Here are crops of two shots, one with the Oly and one with the Canon SX-50. Both are handheld. This test does not lead me to want to spend more money on continuing this experiment. To bother with this I'd need to believe I was chasing some big improvement. I can imagine, however, that the upcoming 400mm lens may show up better than this. So, I'll wait and see what the size and price of that are.

  • Olympus 100-400: 86.4mm x 205.7mm; Weight: 1120g for F5-6.3; 1500$
  • PL 100-400: 83 mm x 172 mm; Weight 985 gr for F4-6.3; 1000-1200$ (ebay)

(Apart from cropping to the test chart I haven't tweaked these, just to avoid one more variable.) These were both taken at about 40 feet in bright light, which is fairly typical for my bird/animal shooting, except for grizzlies which I always want to be further away.

Anyone want to chime in? Do you think that the Oly 75-300mm in such a test would beat the SX-50 by enough to make this a worthwhile venture?

Crop of Oly e-m10 image at 300mm 5.6 with Canon FD MF lens

Crop from Canon SX-50 HS at faux 1200mm

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