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Old Tuesday 29th December 2015, 10:51   #1
Baron Birder
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Panasonic 100-300 help

I have just bought the Panasonic GH4 AND 100-300 lens having been using my FZ200 for several years. I have taken some test photos at full zoom (both 600mm equivalent) with both cameras to get a feel for the new one. I was surprised and a little disappointed that the gh4 photos looked noticeable softer than those with the FZ200 and this was very apparent when looking at the images at 100%.

I had read lots of reviews forums etc before buying the new camera and lens and was aware of the comments about the lens being soft .However I was not expecting it be this soft. I don't know whether the results are what I should expect from this lens or whether I have a bad example which needs returning so feedback or advice from other users would be much appreciated.

I attach two specimen photos. I chose aperture priority and set it at F5.6.
with ISO AUTO. The fz200 chose to shoot at 1/100th iso400 whilst the gh4 chose 1/640 iso2500. The difference isn't quite so obvious on these as I have resized them to fit here. They are straight out of the camera and I haven't done anything about any firmware updates.
Many thanks
BB
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Old Tuesday 29th December 2015, 11:25   #2
Hobbes2
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Hi BB
Your results echo my experience but I'd still choose the GH4 combo. I have the FZ150 and when the stabilisation gets it right, the images are viciously sharp. With my m4/3rds body + 100-300mm, the images at full zoom are frequently slightly soft but in post processing many can be rectified with "unsharp mask". Sometimes, I shoot the 100-300 at around 275mm and that seems to get much more consistently sharp results. The advantage of the m4/3rds system is a lot less noise and a much nicer bokeh. Neither of my systems are very good in low light but your GH4 might do a lot better than my 5 year old G3.

I'd persevere, preferably in better light, and see how you get on.
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Old Tuesday 29th December 2015, 14:13   #3
Jim M.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Baron Birder View Post
I attach two specimen photos. I chose aperture priority and set it at F5.6.
with ISO AUTO. The fz200 chose to shoot at 1/100th iso400 whilst the gh4 chose 1/640 iso2500. The difference isn't quite so obvious on these as I have resized them to fit here. They are straight out of the camera and I haven't done anything about any firmware updates.
Hi,

I do not think that is a fair comparison. I expect most photos are going to look softer at ISO 2500 than ISO 400 regardless of your equipment. Also, you do not say whether you are shooting raw. For a fair comparison, you should shoot raw and then postprocess in the same fashion. Otherwise, you may just be discovering different in camera default postprocessing software settings. (Your tests do already clearly reveal a surprising difference in auto exposure software between the two cameras even though they are from the same manufacturer!)

Also, as with many lenses, especially in the lower price ranges, you can get sharper results if you stop down a bit. A lot of people prefer to shoot at f7.1 with this lens when the lighting permits.

Finally, as you may be aware, higher-end micro 4/3 long telephoto lenses are on the way. Olympus is coming out with a 300 mm f4.0 (compatible with its 1.4x teleconverter), and Panasonic is coming out with a 100 mm-400 mm f4.0-f6.3 lens. However, rumored prices are around $2000. If the price is not an obstacle, I would definitely consider one of these for bird photography purposes.

Hope this helps,
Jim
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Old Tuesday 29th December 2015, 14:18   #4
njlarsen
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I would echo what Hobbes is saying about going back to 275 mm instead of 300 bringing out sharper photos. The other thing that I have found is that shooting a series of shots often results in one that is sharper than the rest. I do not know if you have tried that, I am not sure what you did.

A year from now, we may have two better lenses to use for the system.

Niels

PS: Jim answered while I was writing
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Last edited by njlarsen : Tuesday 29th December 2015 at 14:36.
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Old Tuesday 29th December 2015, 14:40   #5
Adey Baker
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Quote:
Originally Posted by njlarsen View Post

A year from now, we may have two better lenses to use for the system.

Niels
If the rumour websites are right(!) then they'll be out sooner than that, though there seems to be a lot of people queueing up to bag one of the first batch of each, so it may take a year for the demand to dampen down and the price to drop to more reasonable levels.
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Old Tuesday 29th December 2015, 16:46   #6
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I did see the rumor that the Oly 300 will be announced in January, but how long between then and the actual appearance in shops I do not know. I am curious to see if the PanaLaica will allow for use of the Oly 1.4x TC.

Niels
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Old Tuesday 29th December 2015, 16:47   #7
Paul Tavares
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Baron Birder View Post
I have just bought the Panasonic GH4 AND 100-300 lens having been using my FZ200 for several years. I have taken some test photos at full zoom (both 600mm equivalent) with both cameras to get a feel for the new one. I was surprised and a little disappointed that the gh4 photos looked noticeable softer than those with the FZ200 and this was very apparent when looking at the images at 100%.
BB
As someone else pointed out, shooting at the same ISO will provide a better comparison. Also the FZ with a smaller sensor will give you a deeper depth of field than the GH4 and perhaps a perceived greater sharpness. Hence the fence on the FZ image looks sharper than the fence on the GH4 picture. The lettering on the chicken manure box looks about the same on both images. Hard to tell without knowing the focus point for the images.

Try shooting some subjects that will better demonstrate the sharpness (signs with lettering, items with texture, birds etc.) and keep the ISO and focus point the same. I've found the PANA 100-300 to be pretty good for the price and got many good images out of it.

Paul
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Old Wednesday 30th December 2015, 01:40   #8
Jim M.
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Attached are some recent photos of mine taken on an E-M1 with the 100mm-300mm Panasonic lens. These are handheld at maximum zoom with the aperture set at F7.1, and are among the sharpest photos I took on a recent Peru trip. To my mind, these refute the notion that you cannot get sharp photos with this lens at maximum zoom. They also support the notion that stopping the lens down is important for maximum sharpness.
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Old Wednesday 30th December 2015, 02:39   #9
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Jim. great photos. I have noticed that due to the way my camera works, I virtually never do the stop down - and in that context, zooming back just a little really improves the sharpness. Half a year ago I did not have the observations to say that, but today I am convinced.

Niels
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Old Wednesday 30th December 2015, 10:47   #10
Baron Birder
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Thanks for all the suggestions. Shooting at f7.1 or f8 has made a noticeable difference so has using the electric shutter at slower shutter speeds.
When next out I will try comparing shooting at 300mm and say 275mm to see what difference I can see.
Any other tips or suggestions still most welcome
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Old Wednesday 30th December 2015, 13:40   #11
Jim M.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by njlarsen View Post
Jim. great photos. I have noticed that due to the way my camera works, I virtually never do the stop down - and in that context, zooming back just a little really improves the sharpness. Half a year ago I did not have the observations to say that, but today I am convinced.

Niels
Thanks. DxO mark does give the lens a slightly higher rating when combined with the Olympus EM-1 than with the Panny GH-2, GH-3, or GX-7 (GH-4 is not rated). http://www.dxomark.com/Lenses/Panaso...x-DMC-GX7__901 Perhaps due to the lack of an anti-aliasing filter on the EM-1(?) So you are right you may get different results with different cameras.
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Old Wednesday 30th December 2015, 19:50   #12
Jim M.
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I did see the rumor that the Oly 300 will be announced in January, but how long between then and the actual appearance in shops I do not know. I am curious to see if the PanaLaica will allow for use of the Oly 1.4x TC.

Niels
The Pana-Leica 100-400mm is now supposed to be announced Jan. 5, and the Oly on Jan. 6. They appear to be competing to get these out--probably because they know whoever lags behind is going to lose sales to the other. So I'm hoping/expecting they'll be available fairly soon.

Interesting question regarding the oly teleconverter on the Leica. Though, if it works, I'd probably only use it in excellent light and for water or shore birds since you would lose a stop and the Leica is already a slowish lens. It would give you 1120mm equiv reach, similar to the low end of a full size zoom scope.

Jim
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Old Wednesday 30th December 2015, 23:46   #13
njlarsen
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Interesting question regarding the oly teleconverter on the Leica. Though, if it works, I'd probably only use it in excellent light and for water or shore birds since you would lose a stop and the Leica is already a slowish lens. It would give you 1120mm equiv reach, similar to the low end of a full size zoom scope.

Jim
I might also want to use it in the case of a distant bird not immediately identifiable. For example, on a recent visit to Ecuador I saw a hawk a few hundred meters away that I could not identify using bins. I did get it identified after the fact using a picture with my current setup - but a larger reach would make that approach even more useful. I did not bring a scope on this trip.

Niels
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Old Saturday 2nd January 2016, 19:26   #14
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We discussed the sharpness of the 100-300. I am going to bring my own conclusions a little in danger, but the photo uploaded here was (according to Exif) at 300 mm, f5.6, 1/500s, iso 640: http://www.birdforum.net/gallery/sho...p?photo=545887

In post I cropped from full resolution to about 3000 pixels on the long side and afterwards resized to about 1000 pixels on the long side. I do wonder if the camera would register the change from 300 to 275 in exif -- it should!

Niels
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Old Sunday 3rd January 2016, 11:59   #15
Baron Birder
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Originally Posted by njlarsen View Post
We discussed the sharpness of the 100-300. I am going to bring my own conclusions a little in danger, but the photo uploaded here was (according to Exif) at 300 mm, f5.6, 1/500s, iso 640: http://www.birdforum.net/gallery/sho...p?photo=545887

In post I cropped from full resolution to about 3000 pixels on the long side and afterwards resized to about 1000 pixels on the long side. I do wonder if the camera would register the change from 300 to 275 in exif -- it should!

Niels
Are you saying the exif data isn't recording the correct zoom level?
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Old Sunday 3rd January 2016, 16:12   #16
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I cannot be completely sure. I cannot remember if I scaled back to 275 or left it at 300 for this particular shot. My sentence was about wondering, no more. Given that I cannot remember, I probably should have left my last sentence out of the post.

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