M4/3 for birding

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Ontarian Senior Member • Posts: 2,137
M4/3 for birding

Want to increase my current reach for birding from 480mm (35mm equiv) to 600mm or 800mm without the kit getting any heavier than my 3.25 lb / 1475 gm Canon kit.  That pretty well puts me into the bridge or M4/3 camps.

I was thinking of the Lumix G9 IV or the Olympus E-M1 II as good options and pairing them with either the 100-300 or 100-400 lenses.

Anyone have experience with either of these setups?

Not worried about video performance, but AF and IQ are important.

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Trevor Carpenter
Trevor Carpenter Forum Pro • Posts: 18,133
Re: M4/3 for birding
6

Many satisfied customers on this forum with both camera and both lenses.  I love my G9 and PL100-400.  My 2021 birds are showcased in the three google pics links below.

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faunagraphy
faunagraphy Contributing Member • Posts: 667
Re: M4/3 for birding
8

Ontarian wrote:

Want to increase my current reach for birding from 480mm (35mm equiv) to 600mm or 800mm without the kit getting any heavier than my 3.25 lb / 1475 gm Canon kit. That pretty well puts me into the bridge or M4/3 camps.

I was thinking of the Lumix G9 IV or the Olympus E-M1 II as good options and pairing them with either the 100-300 or 100-400 lenses.

Anyone have experience with either of these setups?

Not worried about video performance, but AF and IQ are important.

If you're serious about bird photography and want to stay under 1475 gm, your only option is the Panasonic 100-400. The 100-300 / 75-300 lenses won't be good enough at the long end, IMO.

The Panasonic 100-400 is a great lens, at least for subjects that aren't too far away (you lose detail at the long end for distant subjects).

If you're okay with going a tiny bit heavier, the Olympus 100-400 is a great lens, especially with a larger body like the E-M1 Mark ii (perhaps the best value camera in any system). It also takes the 1.4x TC well, taking you into the 1100+mm mark.

By far the best, no-compromise birding lens in m43 is the 300mm f4 Pro (within your weight range). It weighs a bit over 1200 gm, which would bring you to around 1700 gm with a body and possibly a teleconverter.

It pairs splendidly with the MC-20 2x teleconverter, and is the only teleprime I have ever liked with a 2x teleconverter. It offers "bare exotic prime" quality even at 1200mm equivalent, while staying eminently handholdable. Let me know if you need to see samples to convince you. I shot a rufous hummingbird yesterday with this setup.

Worth noting is the fact that a used 300mm f4 - one of the world's best lenses - is just a bit more expensive than an Olympus 100-400, which is a proconsumer-grade zoom.

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OP Ontarian Senior Member • Posts: 2,137
Re: M4/3 for birding

Thanks for sharing Trevor.  Great images.  I especially appreciate seeing the numerous song birds, as they are ones that I struggle with getting unless they are at a feeder.

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OP Ontarian Senior Member • Posts: 2,137
Re: M4/3 for birding
2

Thanks for the info and suggestions. I didn't know that the Oly 100-400 takes the 1.4x TC .

I really have to watch the weight unfortunately, as well as the body-lens balance.  I'm recovering from two different cancers and major operations in the past three years and my strength and stamina are definitely waning.  I don't want to use tripod.  Love to wander and seek out birds.

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Jack Tingle
Jack Tingle Contributing Member • Posts: 699
Re: M4/3 for birding
2

Ontarian wrote:

Thanks for the info and suggestions. I didn't know that the Oly 100-400 takes the 1.4x TC .

I really have to watch the weight unfortunately, as well as the body-lens balance. I'm recovering from two different cancers and major operations in the past three years and my strength and stamina are definitely waning. I don't want to use tripod. Love to wander and seek out birds.

If you want light, go for an Olympus camera & the 75-300mm zoom. So long as you have bright daylight & good handholding techniques it's fine.

The lightest camera would be an M10 Mark II or IV. Best value would be a used M1 Mark II.

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Boss of Sony Senior Member • Posts: 2,306
Re: M4/3 for birding
1

Ontarian wrote:

Want to increase my current reach for birding from 480mm (35mm equiv) to 600mm or 800mm without the kit getting any heavier than my 3.25 lb / 1475 gm Canon kit. That pretty well puts me into the bridge or M4/3 camps.

I was thinking of the Lumix G9 IV or the Olympus E-M1 II as good options and pairing them with either the 100-300 or 100-400 lenses.

Anyone have experience with either of these setups?

Not worried about video performance, but AF and IQ are important.

Please check my gallery. GX85 + Olympus 70-300 (weight: 800g) is fine for non-flying birds. For flying birds, you will need a setup with better AF, or you will need to be lucky/skilled. Panasonic 100-400 + G9 or E-M1 II would be ideal, in my opinion. If you get a Panasonic camera, make sure you get a body with the improved shutter mechanism (GX85 or later bodies). You will get a lot of soft images at 600mm if you use earlier models.

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OP Ontarian Senior Member • Posts: 2,137
Re: M4/3 for birding

Thanks Jack. I

've been looking at those lighter ones, but haven't had a chance to any of them. Local stores are still stock out of most anything. I don't think though that I want a substantial grip on the body and a good size viewfinder as that's what I'm used to. The smaller of the M4/3 at first glance don't seen to be a fit.

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OP Ontarian Senior Member • Posts: 2,137
Re: M4/3 for birding
1

By the way, a new E-M1is being offered at about $750 USD below list at a number of shops.

Hard to pass on that!

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faunagraphy
faunagraphy Contributing Member • Posts: 667
Re: M4/3 for birding
1

Ontarian wrote:

By the way, a new E-M1is being offered at about $750 USD below list at a number of shops.

Hard to pass on that!

By E-M1, do you mean the E-M1 Mark ii? The E-M1 Mark 1 is a nice camera and great value at around $250 used. However the Mark ii is significantly better, with better PDAF and features like ProCapture that are great for birds. The Mark ii is excellent value.

That said, if you mostly shoot perched birds / water birds, you do not need a PDAF sensor like the one on the E-M1 series. E-M1s are great for serious bird-in-flight photography (I have many swallow photos to attest to that).

But if you want to wander around and shoot songbirds / waterfowl, you can do just as well with Panasonic cameras. There are many lighter options there that pair nicely with the Panasonic 100-400, such as the GX series and the G85/95.

Since you are recuperating from cancers, I assume you'll want to stay indoors during inclement weather, so you can go for the lighter bodies like the GX9, which lack weather-sealing.

The reason I'm recommending Panasonic bodies is that you'll get the dual-IS advantage with the Panasonic 100-400, which will allow you to shoot at very slow shutter speeds. Olympus IBIS is great but it doesn't sync with the OIS on Panasonic lenses.

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faunagraphy
faunagraphy Contributing Member • Posts: 667
Re: M4/3 for birding

Boss of Sony wrote:

Ontarian wrote:

Want to increase my current reach for birding from 480mm (35mm equiv) to 600mm or 800mm without the kit getting any heavier than my 3.25 lb / 1475 gm Canon kit. That pretty well puts me into the bridge or M4/3 camps.

I was thinking of the Lumix G9 IV or the Olympus E-M1 II as good options and pairing them with either the 100-300 or 100-400 lenses.

Anyone have experience with either of these setups?

Not worried about video performance, but AF and IQ are important.

Please check my gallery. GX85 + Olympus 70-300 (weight: 800g) is fine for non-flying birds. For flying birds, you will need a setup with better AF, or you will need to be lucky/skilled. Panasonic 100-400 + G9 or E-M1 II would be ideal, in my opinion. If you get a Panasonic camera, make sure you get a body with the improved shutter mechanism (GX85 or later bodies). You will get a lot of soft images at 600mm if you use earlier models.

I'm only correcting you because OP is new to m43 ... the lens is the 75-300. Olympus 70-300 is an older Four Thirds lens.

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Adrian Harris
Adrian Harris Veteran Member • Posts: 6,882
Re: M4/3 for birding
3

Ontarian wrote:

Want to increase my current reach for birding from 480mm (35mm equiv) to 600mm or 800mm without the kit getting any heavier than my 3.25 lb / 1475 gm Canon kit. That pretty well puts me into the bridge or M4/3 camps.

I was thinking of the Lumix G9 IV or the Olympus E-M1 II as good options and pairing them with either the 100-300 or 100-400 lenses.

Anyone have experience with either of these setups?

Not worried about video performance, but AF and IQ are important.

I use the Olympus em1-mk2 and Panasonic PL100-400 for most birding (and butterfly's & dragonflies). It's an excellent combination.

The PL100-400 is obviously heavier than the 75-300 mk2 (& dearer), but it focuses faster - essential for coal tits etc, - is sharper, effectively 200mm longer reach 800 v 600, and a let's in more light.

When ever I want to travel extremely light I do occasionally use my 75-300, but when I get back home always regret I didn't take the PL100-400.

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OP Ontarian Senior Member • Posts: 2,137
Re: M4/3 for birding

faunagraphy wrote:

Ontarian wrote:

By the way, a new E-M1is being offered at about $750 USD below list at a number of shops.

Hard to pass on that!

Thanks for the additional info.

By E-M1, do you mean the E-M1 Mark ii? The E-M1 Mark 1 is a nice camera and great value at around $250 used. However the Mark ii is significantly better, with better PDAF and features like ProCapture that are great for birds. The Mark ii is excellent value.

No, definitely the E-M1 Mark II.

That said, if you mostly shoot perched birds / water birds, you do not need a PDAF sensor like the one on the E-M1 series. E-M1s are great for serious bird-in-flight photography (I have many swallow photos to attest to that).

I like the multiple AF features on the more advanced M4/3 cameras, and they don't add much weight. Most small birds are pretty fidgety, so having fast focus and fast frame rates are a real bonus.

But if you want to wander around and shoot songbirds / waterfowl, you can do just as well with Panasonic cameras. There are many lighter options there that pair nicely with the Panasonic 100-400, such as the GX series and the G85/95.

I'll take at those, thanks.

Since you are recuperating from cancers, I assume you'll want to stay indoors during inclement weather, so you can go for the lighter bodies like the GX9, which lack weather-sealing.

Don't mind getting caught in a sudden shower or snow squall.  Hey, I'm Canadian !

The reason I'm recommending Panasonic bodies is that you'll get the dual-IS advantage with the Panasonic 100-400, which will allow you to shoot at very slow shutter speeds.

That is important, especially in wooded areas or early / later in the day.

Olympus IBIS is great but it doesn't sync with the OIS on Panasonic lenses.

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cc99 Regular Member • Posts: 300
Re: M4/3 for birding

Ontarian wrote:

Thanks for the info and suggestions. I didn't know that the Oly 100-400 takes the 1.4x TC.

It also takes the 2.0x TC, giving 200-800mm at f/10 to (a slow and soft) f/13.

However, I find the 66oz weight (of this 45oz lens plus an E-M1.2) is a bit hard to handhold steadily, especially beyond 500mm. So both the weight and the very long (1600mm equivalent) reach tend to favour a tripod.

Alternatively, I also own the Pany 100-300mm (v1), and its 20oz weight pairs perfectly with an E-M1.2 (or Pany G9), and this combo is light enough (and short enough) to never need a tripod.

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OP Ontarian Senior Member • Posts: 2,137
Re: M4/3 for birding

Thanks Adrian.  Helpful info.

This is most likely my last forage into a new kit, so I do want to make the best selection to match my usage.

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OP Ontarian Senior Member • Posts: 2,137
Re: M4/3 for birding

cc99 wrote:

Ontarian wrote:

Thanks for the info and suggestions. I didn't know that the Oly 100-400 takes the 1.4x TC.

It also takes the 2.0x TC, giving 200-800mm at f/10 to (a slow and soft) f/13.

However, I find the 66oz weight (of this 45oz lens plus an E-M1.2) is a bit hard to handhold steadily, especially beyond 500mm. So both the weight and the very long (1600mm equivalent) reach tend to favour a tripod.

I borrowed both the Tamron 150-600 and Canon 100-400 MII on my DSLR and found I could not hand hold the Tamron steady at all.  The Canon was not as bad, but 1/2000 s to to a sharp image.  Spending a half day lugging them around would not be an option for me.  My 70-300 Canon Do weighs 720 gr ( 25 oz) and has a short zoom length.  That's about all I feel comfortable handling.

Alternatively, I also own the Pany 100-300mm (v1), and its 20oz weight pairs perfectly with an E-M1.2 (or Pany G9), and this combo is light enough (and short enough) to never need a tripod.

That lens is on my short list.

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grcolts Veteran Member • Posts: 3,657
Re: M4/3 for birding

I use the Panasonic 100-300 ii lens with my G9 and I really like it. I use it mainly for shooting wildlife and birds. I looked at the 100-400 and for my personal use it was just too heavy for what I wanted to carry around. It is a darn good lens though and will give you a little longer length. For me the 100-300ii performs very well and I am very pleased with my bird images taken with it.

grsnovi
grsnovi Senior Member • Posts: 1,706
Panasonic GX85 w/PL 100-400
3

This great blue heron was sitting on my neighbor's roof two weeks ago.

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Stizzu68 Regular Member • Posts: 397
Re: M4/3 for birding
2

I am a happy user of OMD1 Mkii + PL 100-400 and 300f4

Both cameras are on the same level and it is up to you which one you prefer.

Concerning the lens, I would go for one of the two 100-400 mm.

The Lumix 100-400 works well on the Olympus body. I find AF fast and precise and the lens is really easy to carry around and to use. Image quality (of my copy) is good up to 400 m. Only small complain: The zoom ring of my copy is a bit too stiff.

Stefano

OP Ontarian Senior Member • Posts: 2,137
Re: M4/3 for birding

Thanks for the input GR.

Don

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