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Old Sunday 20th March 2016, 18:36   #126
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Originally Posted by opticoholic View Post
I suppose it might help to show you the uncropped frames, so you know exactly what I mean when I say "cropped pretty heavily."

Dave
now you won't be needing the 80/480 APO scope, right? :-)
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Old Sunday 20th March 2016, 21:12   #127
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now you won't be needing the 80/480 APO scope, right? :-)
Ha ha ha ha. Well, not really, because the small 80mm telescope was primarily purchased for grab & go astronomy observing, not bird photography. It is more likely that I may someday decide I don't need my heavy Nikon DSLR gear... I do have a disease... Years ago I renamed myself "opticoholic" to remind myself of that fact. What is the old saying? Something like "There is a fine line between a hobby and a neurosis...?" Of course, many people spend a lot of money on their hobbies, but I always feel a little ashamed about it, and I would recommend to others a more sensible approach to bird photography. You can get great images without spending a fortune. It's easy to become a "gear head" and then you may start to miss out on simply enjoying and appreciating nature regardless of whether you are able to "capture it."

That said, I am really looking forward to spending a lot of my vacation time this spring and summer using and comparing 3 different bird photography set-ups: (1) My Nikon DSLR/500mm lens, and the new configurations using my E-M1 with (2) the new 300mm lens or (3) the 480mm telescope. These different platforms all have different advantages/disadvantages. The early indications are that the E-M1 options can nearly or completely match the quality of what I get with the more expensive/heavier Nikon DSLR on everything except BIF. Graeme was so right above when he said "there has never been a better camera and lens line-up for amateur birders," for lightweight hand-holdable choices in particular.

One of the biggest strengths of the 300mm Olympus lens for me is its greater portability and potential hand-held use, and also its versatility as a more general-purpose nature lens for closer targets, flowers and larger insects, focusing near-macro to as close as 1.4 meters (I'm really anxious to try the automated focus stacking/bracketing on different subjects). With my bird photography I have always tried for the utmost quality, which usually meant I lugged around a tripod or at least a monopod, but from what I've seen of this new Oly 300mm lens, I would be a fool not to use it hand-held a lot; it was designed for that... So I'm planning to always have it by my side on a Black Rapid strap, and occasionally I may even carry it in additon to the big Nikon rig on the tripod (carry 2 cameras at once, when I'm not walking too far). Another nice thing is that sometimes it will be easier for me to carry both the Oly 300mm for hand-held bird photography AND my recording equipment (I dabble in bird song recording with a shotgun microphone and digital recorder).

You know, you can really rationalize any insane purchase if you work at it. If anyone needs help with that, just let me know... I'll have you maxing out your credit card in no time.

Dave

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Old Sunday 20th March 2016, 21:43   #128
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Back more directly on topic, 43rumors gave us this link to an interview with the designers of Olympus 300mm Pro lens:

http://www.43rumors.com/interview-wi...ens-designers/

http://dc.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/n...19_744033.html

I'm impressed with how lengthy and detailed the interview is, but unfortunately the Google Translation is awful... The main things I can gather are that the dual lens+body Image Stabilization was quite a challenge and probably unlike anything else out there right now. I also find it interesting that their goal was to make the 300mm provide image quality or detail comparable to the big Canon or Nikon 600mm f/4 lenses on a full frame camera. I think they are saying that this quality goal forced an advanced optical design and increased the price of the lens (and the weight I believe). It's also interesting that related to this they specifically mentioned that they focused on making sure the lens could capture lots of intricate feather detail on birds. But the translation is so poor and vague that I'm probably reading my own meaning into it. If anyone finds a better translation, please share it.

Dave

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Old Monday 21st March 2016, 08:38   #129
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One of the biggest strengths of the 300mm Olympus lens for me is its greater portability and potential hand-held use, and also its versatility as a more general-purpose nature lens for closer targets, flowers and larger insects, focusing near-macro to as close as 1.4 meters


Dave
Actually, this is an area where I'm a bit disappointed with the Olympus lens. I've used a Sigma 400mm F5.6 Apo/Macro HSM lens for a number of years and I have many good photos of butterflies/dragonflies, etc., taken with it. The minimum focus distance of 1.6 metres gives a reproduction ratio of 1:3 as opposed to the Zuiko's (approx.) 1:4.

Olympus are quite happy to stress that the magnification of 0.24x is equivalent to 0.48x in 35mm terms, so it's ok for me to do the same with the Sigma on my 1.6x crop-factor Canon bodies and produce a magnification figure of 0.53x. The Sigma lens design is over 20 years old, so Olympus are bringing nothing new to the table. It's one stop faster but Sigma also produced a similar 300mm F4 as well (though I'm not sure whether they ever produced it in the 'HSM' form that could be 're-chipped' for later Canon bodies).
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Old Monday 21st March 2016, 13:56   #130
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Well,

...
I don't have the 1.4X teleconverter yet, and I plan to use that most of the time. It should arrive from Adorama in a few days.
...
Dave,

FYI the past weekend I did some quick tests using my TLAPO804 80mm/F6 with the M.Zuiko MC14 (I recently got hold of a MC14 copy for free) and the results achieved with this setup look promising. The MC14 is really thin and lightweight so it does hardly alter the balance of the setup compared to using a TC from DSLR and the required adapters to m43, which add quite some length and weight. I set the IS focal length to 600mm and it performed well. I can upload some samples in the "Astroscope gallery" if you want.
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Old Monday 21st March 2016, 16:08   #131
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Dave,

I can upload some samples in the "Astroscope gallery" if you want.
Yes please :-)

is the mc14 sold separatedly? (always saw them bundled with the 40-150mm)

I have a telenegative that gives me to much magnification (as close I can have it to the cam) so the mc14 looks interesting with the 480 apo

edit: did you have the opportunity to notice if it added some CA not present when shooting with the 480 only?
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Old Monday 21st March 2016, 16:15   #132
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Actually, this is an area where I'm a bit disappointed with the Olympus lens. I've used a Sigma 400mm F5.6 Apo/Macro HSM lens for a number of years and I have many good photos of butterflies/dragonflies, etc., taken with it. The minimum focus distance of 1.6 metres gives a reproduction ratio of 1:3 as opposed to the Zuiko's (approx.) 1:4.

Olympus are quite happy to stress that the magnification of 0.24x is equivalent to 0.48x in 35mm terms, so it's ok for me to do the same with the Sigma on my 1.6x crop-factor Canon bodies and produce a magnification figure of 0.53x. The Sigma lens design is over 20 years old, so Olympus are bringing nothing new to the table. It's one stop faster but Sigma also produced a similar 300mm F4 as well (though I'm not sure whether they ever produced it in the 'HSM' form that could be 're-chipped' for later Canon bodies).
Adey,
I won't argue with anything you said as far as close-focusing and magnification ratios; there may be better choices for that. I'm just glad the Olympus 300mm is still a functional tool for some close focus work. But in a more broad sense I think the Olympus 300mm lens does bring something new to the table for micro-4/3: the first professional quality super telephoto prime lens. Its biggest selling points are probably the optical quality and the IS technology. I have not used my new lens enough to make any final conclusion, but I suspect these features are at the very least incrementally significant.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tord View Post
FYI the past weekend I did some quick tests using my TLAPO804 80mm/F6 with the M.Zuiko MC14 (I recently got hold of a MC14 copy for free) and the results achieved with this setup look promising. The MC14 is really thin and lightweight so it does hardly alter the balance of the setup compared to using a TC from DSLR and the required adapters to m43, which add quite some length and weight. I set the IS focal length to 600mm and it performed well. I can upload some samples in the "Astroscope gallery" if you want.
Thanks Tord,
I was definitely planning to try it eventually so I'm glad to hear that the MC-14 teleconverter works well with an 80mm f/6 telescope. I'm not expecting miracles; it will add 6 additional elements to the light path... Also it will narrow my field of view and my depth of field, making target acquisition/framing and manually focusing on the bird that much more tricky. So yes, when you have time, I'd love to see samples. No rush.

Dave
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Old Monday 21st March 2016, 20:09   #133
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Adey,
I won't argue with anything you said as far as close-focusing and magnification ratios; there may be better choices for that. I'm just glad the Olympus 300mm is still a functional tool for some close focus work. But in a more broad sense I think the Olympus 300mm lens does bring something new to the table for micro-4/3: the first professional quality super telephoto prime lens. Its biggest selling points are probably the optical quality and the IS technology. I have not used my new lens enough to make any final conclusion, but I suspect these features are at the very least incrementally significant.

Dave

To be honest, Dave it's Olympus' marketing department that I'm having a go at - you'd think that this was the smallest lightest telephoto lens out there and the first one to feature close-focus for insects, etc!

All the reports and reviews that I've seen so far do indeed confirm that it's really a special lens and I'll probably bite the bullet and get one eventually (when the UK price comes down to where it really ought be!). Shame it's not as small and light as the Panasonic 100-400mm - when I moved downwards, size-wise, to m4/3rds I was primarily trying to lighten my load but the 300mm is not much smaller than my 400mm Sigma and it's slightly heavier when the tripod mount is attached.
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Old Monday 21st March 2016, 21:01   #134
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Yup. That is a completely fair position.
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Old Sunday 27th March 2016, 09:44   #135
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This may be interest to other amateur photographers like me. Maybe not.

I went for a walk in the park and saw a lovely Yellow Bittern in the lake. Being far off and a fairly small bird, it was not easy to get a clear photo but with the EM-1 and 300mm PRO lens I had a fighting chance. I'll post the original image and the crop below.

To be honest, the crop is not a brilliant picture but, thanks to the stellar clarity of the lens it still has *some* feather definition, which I find incredible. I haven't done any noise reduction on it, by the way.

So, with this lens I feel I can wander around, not try too hard to get close to the bird and potentially scare it, and still walk off with some lovely pictures for my wallpaper. And, even if I don't get anything worthy of my wallpaper, I at least have some good quality reference photos for my database.

This is an unusual use though, and a much more common scenario for me is to get something like the Coppersmith Barbet shot which only has minor cropping and (for me) excellent framing.
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Old Sunday 27th March 2016, 18:15   #136
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I really like the uncropped image of that bitters, some very interesting patterns.

Niels
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Old Thursday 31st March 2016, 01:17   #137
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I now have the MC-14 teleconverter and I used it a little bit last weekend. I am very pleased with how well it works with the Olympus 300mm f/4 lens. As a bird photographer it was important to me that the teleconverter would work VERY well. I looked at dozens of example images with the teleconverter from others before I made the final decision to get it.

I will attach a tightly cropped 100 percent image with very little processing, just the raw file exported out of Olympus Viewer 3, then converted into a high quality jpeg. This image is a pretty good example of what the lens can do in an ideal situation; it was taken using a tripod with IS off, with the teleconverter (420mm focal length), wide open f/5.6, 1/1250 sec, ISO 320. Click here to open the resized finished image, ~75% reduction (Note this image is on my DropBox but I can't guarantee I will leave it there forever).

I'm really glad that the teleconverter doesn't take away that much from the image sharpness/quality. Also thankfully there isn't much need or reason to stop down the apterture when using the teleconverter; increasing the depth of field to get the whole bird in focus would be the main reason, but as this example shows, even for that it may not be necessary. I used a tripod or monopod quite a lot during my first few times out because I wanted to make sure the lens was capable of getting sharp images independent of other factors. I did try the IS with a monopod and I was very encouraged with how well it works, but I need more time to assess just how good a result I can get using the IS either hand held or with a monopod compared to using a tripod. Generally I'm feeling very good about the new lens.

Dave

PS. Hey that thumbnail looks pretty good. I think I'll change my avatar!
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Old Thursday 31st March 2016, 09:37   #138
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That looks great Dave. It's good to know that the teleconverter doesn't really have a detrimental effect on the IQ but I didn't expect it to. Out of interest have you found many/any situations where 300mm is too long? In other words, have you missed the flexibility of the zoom? In my case, nearly all of my shots are taken at full zoom and usually require at least some cropping. There are, however, some occasions when it is useful to be able to back off the zoom, although they are few.

Ron
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Old Thursday 31st March 2016, 14:40   #139
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Ron, let me tell you about the two situations where I have really loved having a zoom: Safari in South Africa and a trip to Galapagos. In both cases, you could go from a distant flying bird to something almost too close for 100 mm in a split second. Probably half of my pictures from Galapagos were at less than 200 mm.

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Old Thursday 31st March 2016, 15:44   #140
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Yes please :-)

is the mc14 sold separatedly? (always saw them bundled with the 40-150mm)

I have a telenegative that gives me to much magnification (as close I can have it to the cam) so the mc14 looks interesting with the 480 apo

edit: did you have the opportunity to notice if it added some CA not present when shooting with the 480 only?
Hi Carlos,
I uploaded some samples in the gallery thread a few days ago. Feel free to comment and say what you think. I also took some shots of birds against sky and from what I can see it does not add much to the blue/orange fringing that the TLAPO produces.
It is possible to buy the MC14 separately, however it is expensive. (I got mine "for free", included in the cost for a 40-150 lens, campaign from Swedish retailer).
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Old Thursday 31st March 2016, 15:59   #141
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Ron, let me tell you about the two situations where I have really loved having a zoom: Safari in South Africa and a trip to Galapagos. In both cases, you could go from a distant flying bird to something almost too close for 100 mm in a split second. Probably half of my pictures from Galapagos were at less than 200 mm.

Niels
Having had the privilege to experience similar situations (yet other destinations), I have learned to bring two setups.
One setup with a short-medium telezoom (like the 50-200 SWD) for mammals and the real close encounters with birds.
One with a fixed focal length super telephoto mainly for bird photography. If I were to select one length only, I would go for ~500mm. On the first trip I brought my TLAPO804 480mm refractor scope, it was close to perfect. Next trip I brought the 300mm/2.8 lens and found myself using it with the EC14 in >80% of the situations. Last trip I brought a SW80ED 600mm refractor scope and Canon 400mm/5.6. Scope was too much, so I fell back using the Canon 400mm/5,6 in most birding situations.
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Old Thursday 31st March 2016, 16:02   #142
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Yes, I can imagine in the Galapagos where many of the targets are unafraid of humans, a zoom would have advantages, but also any time when you might want more flexibility and maybe you have limited time or opportunity, like when you travel to a place you may not get a chance to visit again, and you find yourself in situations like Niels described. I know zooms are a popular choice for wildlife photographers on African safari. My first birding lens was a Nikon 200-400mm zoom, but I often stalk small birds and I found I needed to use a teleconverter most of the time on the zoom, and I eventually moved to a 500mm prime which worked better for me both with and without a teleconverter.

As a direct answer to Ron's question, I've only been out with the new lens 3 times, but I know from my past experience with other lenses that I will rarely find myself too close to birds, especially small birds. Some people appreciate the option to zoom out to facilitate target acquisition, then zoom back in, and I think a zoom does indeed help with that. But I am really finding the EE-1 sight helps a lot when I have seconds to frantically get on a small bird that has suddenly appeared, or moved (I now use the EE-1 on my Nikon rig too, if I'm not using a flash). I think the advantage of a zoom super telephoto is proportional to how often one might want to (a) photograph larger birds/animals, (b) photograph non-animal subjects e.g., flowers or landscape perspectives. I'm willing to compromise on these applications in order to perhaps get a little bit more image quality for birds.

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Old Sunday 17th April 2016, 02:40   #143
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I am looking forward to the Warbler migration this spring.
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Old Sunday 17th April 2016, 16:07   #144
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Nice!
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Old Friday 29th April 2016, 17:43   #145
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This guy is getting some great results from the 300mm f/4 and MC-14, used with the E-M1. There is some fine feather detail on the Bullfinches and Wren.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/alanwa...n/photostream/

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Old Saturday 30th April 2016, 07:15   #146
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It is indeed possible to get great detail with the combo, but I think that particular photo looks over sharpened.

Here's one of mine with no post processing (pretty sure, except a crop)
https://flic.kr/p/GtCyvT

I highly recommend them! (A lot of money, though)
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Old Saturday 30th April 2016, 16:56   #147
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Graeme,
What a fantastic bird and a wonderful photo! Someday I will visit the tropics for the first time. Until then I will keep practicing my skills with the less diverse but still interesting assortment of species in the North American temperate zone.

Regarding the 300mm with the MC-14 teleconverter, I concur that the image quality is excellent. And I know what you mean about an "over-sharpened" feel on bird images coming out of my E-M1... I am often adding no sharpening or almost none, and I'm even starting to think about turning down the in-camera sharpening one notch (right now it is set at 0).

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Old Sunday 1st May 2016, 04:02   #148
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Thanks Dave.
I haven't actually had any complaints about the out-of-camera images looking over-sharpened, though I have dialled back pretty much any processing the camera does itself (eg turning off noise reduction, using the Natural setting etc).

What I do find is there's no need to add any sharpening in post-production (it actually degrades quality), which used to be useful with my cheaper zoom lens.
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Old Friday 13th May 2016, 01:49   #149
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Bird migration is in full swing here in Toronto Canada. Below is a my most recent image, but you can check my flickr account for more examples.
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Old Thursday 30th June 2016, 14:02   #150
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New review from Lenstip.

http://www.lenstip.com/index.php?tes...wu&test_ob=478
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