Since I own the new Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera . I thought it would be fun to try out the M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO Lens ($2499.00 retail)as a loaner from B&H. I wanted to see how it would perform (combined with the new Olympus body) for bird photography. I also borrowed the M.Zuiko Digital MC-14 1.4x Teleconverter.
My title “Olympus 300mm lens for Birds… or for the Birds???” is actually a question that I’ll try to answer in this post.
First of all the lens and camera feel solid, the combo is much lighter than I am use to working with. The 300mm lens- which is the equivalent of a 600mm lens on the m43rds body, weighs approx. 3.25lbs and with the 1.4ex gives me effectively an 840mm focal length that I can easily hand hold. There is something to be said for being able to hand hold your rig.
When I first stepped up from my Canon 500mm f/4 lens(weight- 8.53 lb) to the Canon 600mm f/4 II lens (weighs 8.64 lb ) everyone said that the weight difference would be insignificant and it was, but what they and I didn’t consider is the ginormous lens hood and the maneuverability of the 600mm lens for a smaller framed person to manage. I truly can only hand hold the Canon 600mm lens for short periods of time without having to rest it on something. The old Canon 500mm lens was much easier for me to manage, it felt more compact. So having the smaller sized Olympus gear makes it easier for me to manage. When you are comfortable with your gear and you can move around freely without encumbrance you will perform much better. OR at least I will and that is my reason for testing it out.
Image © 2017/Denise Ippolito Photography
CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO SEE THE LARGER, STRAIGHT OUT OF CAMERA IMAGE
The new Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera body has performed well. As far as noise from high ISO, I felt that the newer Olympus did great. The above image shows an untouched file, I did nothing to it except size it for my website. The ISO was 1000, it looks pretty good. The noise is manageable. That was a big concern because to get fast shutter speeds, sometimes you need to bump your ISO.
Now for the real challenge. The autofocus and how well it works, the answer is that the continuous AF with tracking performs very well. Anytime you have a clean solid colored background like a blue sky, auto tracking can easily pick up anything with contrast. For a situation like this you can enable the 121 AF points that Olympus has and it would be hard to miss a subject. However, once you have a distracting background you will need to select a much smaller focus area like the 5 point or single point. I always like to use single point focus so that I can direct the focus where I want it and not let auto tracking take over and grab something that I didn’t want it to. You will need to be in Continuous AF with rapid fire. I had trouble at first because I was not use to using the rapid fire on the Olympus and it kept throwing me off. Each time I touched it and it hammered out a round I just stood there in shock. Once the initial fun of this tiny camera with a powerful punch wore off I was able to settle down and really get to work. I have to say that I was impressed with the combo and it did much better than I had expected.
For now, I will continue to use my Canon gear for birds and wildlife. I have complete faith in the gear and would not leave anything to chance when going on location. For landscape photography and night photography, I will use the Sony AR7 II, the sensor is a tank and it focuses in extremely low light conditions, the image files are gorgeous and it is a full frame sensor-I can also use the Metabones adapter and use my Canon lenses(that I already own), the menu is complicated but with everything it takes practice. For travel and macro photography I will continue to use the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera , they have a great selection of lenses and I like the Olympus ED 12-40mm f/2.8 for it’s minimum focusing distance, versatility and sharpness-plus it’s an f/2.8.