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Old Oct 6, 2011, 1:25 PM   #1
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Default Suggest a cheap(!) telephoto zoom for four-thirds

Hi all, first-time poster from Ireland...

I recently bought a secondhand Olympus E-510 with two kit lenses, the 14-42mm and 40-150mm, which are both very good for the money I paid for them. I'm moseying around for a longer telephoto for certain kinds of work — wildlife in particular — but haven't much of a budget. In any case, I won't be using this terribly often and, much though I'd like one, can't justify forking out for a 'proper' Zuiko ED 70-300mm...

I suppose I've two questions in my mind, although I'm open to any suggestions.

(a) I see a fair few positive mentions of the Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6, and I'm tracking a few on eBay to get an idea of prices. To my surprise, it seems to fetch better money secondhand than, say, the Nikkor equivalent. I'll be needing a four-thirds adapter in any case, so from that point of view it doesn't much matter which brand/mount I go for; focus and exposure will be manual. Would anyone venture that the Sigma is a better lens than the Nikkor? (I'm talking about the older AF "G" series, not the ED or the new VR ones, the arrival of which seems to have pushed down the resale prices of the older ones considerably)

(b) For the kind of use I'm talking about — largely static, on-tripod shooting — is it worth my while trying out a cheaper legacy lens from the likes of Tamron/Vivitar/Cosina/Tokina/Miranda (see this or this, for example). Or am I bound to be disappointed? Will the optics be complete muck?

I'd thought for a while about just getting a fixed 300mm lens (35mm equiv. = 600mm on the E-510), but (a) most of the cheaper/older secondhand ones are no faster than f/4, and (b) I could find myself needing to pull back a little bit to frame a shot, and getting up and backing away 20 yards sometimes ain't an option. IQ mightn't be as good as with a fixed lens, but I can live with a little softness around the edges.

A mate of mine has an old Sirius 60-300mm blunderbuss he picked up for $30 on eBay and he seems to get some pretty good results, with a little care. OK, at the far end of the zoom range I imagine it's very hard to avoid shake/blur on anything but a very bright day, but one of the advantages of my E-510 is that the built-in IS works even with manual legacy lenses (like my $20 Zuiko 50mm f1.8), so that might help matters a bit. I'm tempted to take a punt for that kind of money.

TIA for any pointers.

Last edited by SanDar; Oct 6, 2011 at 1:32 PM.
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Old Oct 6, 2011, 2:50 PM   #2
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I don't think you're going to find one that offers more than the Zuiko 70-300mm for the money. Anything else would require an adapter (as you mentioned) and you will lose any features once mounted (VR, autofocus, etc.) Legacy lenses are fine but you must manually focus them.
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Last edited by gjtoth; Oct 6, 2011 at 3:46 PM.
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Old Oct 6, 2011, 5:10 PM   #3
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And, welcome to the forum. The E-510, while an older e series dslr, none the less is a fine camera that will give you very satisfying results when used within the capabilities of the camera.

As for your request for advise on the practicality of using a legacy lens on the E-510. I agree with Gary for the following reasons:

Long telephotos are a funny breed of lens. Yes, you can find good ones, but those are generally the same price as a preowned 70-300mm ZD Olympus lens.
The really inexpensive lenses generally fall into the 'you get what you pay for catagory".

Also, The E-510 with it's relatively small viewfinder is, really difficult to manually focus through the viewfinder. I've had success when I used my E-510, but it was on a tripod using liveview and lots of light= and even then, my success rate was dismal.

My suggestion would be to save up a few extra dollars and pick up a used Olympus 70-300mm lens. You won't regret it.


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