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Old May 22, 2008, 10:59 PM   #1
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I want to make a few specific comments about the 70-300...beginning with the first impression of the build quality. I'm not an Olympus lens Guru but I've got enough (6, including 3 kit lenses) to have a basis for comparison. Among the lenses I already have are the 50mm F2 macro and 11-22mm wide zoom. I think we'd all agree that's pretty good glass. I have seen some strange criticism of the 70-300 including one guy who called it "toy like". Personally, I think people are letting there pocket books color their opinions.

I want to look at this lens from the perspective of somebody who hasn't seen the price tags and doesn't know that I paid twice as much for the 11-22mm as I did for the 70-300. We know that the premium lenses are superb with their weather sealing and great optics. But what is that first impression of quality like. If I lay out all six lenses and show them to another photographer who is not familiar with Olympus, what opinion would he form? Well, I didn't run that experiment because I don't have another photographer handy. I just tried to put my self in that position. The lens that makes the best first impression on me? The 70-300mm. Honestly it has a much more positive feel than even the premium lenses. I love that 50mm F2. I've been using it for 2 years and I've probably shot 2500 pictures with it. The manual focus ring on the 50mm turns a bit TOO easily for my taste. It has a generally "plasticky" look and feel. No question…it's a super lens…but not physically impressive.

The 70-300mm strikes me as solid. The finish is excellent, Nothing wobbles or rattles. There are no uneven seams. The zoom is positive with no lash or wandering. Same with the manual focus ring. It just seems like good, industrial piece of equipment. Yeah it's inexpensive. Yeah, it lacks weather sealing. OK, it seems to basically be a Sigma. Nevertheless, it's a handsome, well-finished, solid-feeling lens and I see or feel nothing that telegraphs the modest roots of this fine piece of equipment.

A few test photos. ALL shot handheld at 300mm. Yes that 737 picture is full frame, I didn't crop it one inch. What's the deal with that yellow bird? I don't know much about birds but that caught my eye. Shot with the E-510:






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Old May 23, 2008, 5:40 AM   #2
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Hi Brent,

Yes, your assessment is pretty accurate.

In my limited experience the 70-300mm is one of the best bargain lenses that Olympus offers. Based on the price, when I ordered it, I didn't expect the build quality to be as good as it is. Another plus is that mounted on the E-510,thecomboseems to balance well-I don't get a sense that you have to mount to a tripod right away.

I too had the 50mm F2 selling it so I could get the 70-300mm. The 50mm is an extremely sharp lens. But, I found that, when focusing, it "hunted" a lot . To this point, I haven't had the same experiencewith the 70-300mm.

Great shots. The last one is my favorite.

Zig


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Old May 23, 2008, 9:00 AM   #3
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zig-123 wrote:
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I too had the 50mm F2 selling it so I could get the 70-300mm. The 50mm is an extremely sharp lens. But, I found that, when focusing, it "hunted" a lot . To this point, I haven't had the same experiencewith the 70-300mm.

Interestingly, the 70-300 provides about the same magnification as the 50mm macro. If you notice that little figure I posted in the 70-300 macro thread, I've photographed him from that same angle dozens of times with the 50mm and there isn't a whole lot of difference in the finished image. In fact, for 'net posting, the images are identical. I have to admit that I didn't entirely think that "macro" photo through and I shot it at F10. I should have used about F16 and picked up some sharpness in the lower extremeties and background rocks.

I've experienced some huntingissues with the 70-300 but thats more because of the subjects I've been shooting (only had the lens for 5 days). I've been shooting lots of flying things (birds, planes). If you don't get a focus point on the subject right away, you've gota problem. And, as you can imagine from that bottom picture, it's awful easy to get focus pointson tree branchs and not on the birds. But I don't consider the hunting to be "problem" as much as I consider it to be the natural difficulty of using a long lens with limited depth of field.
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Old May 23, 2008, 10:09 AM   #4
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Brent Gair wrote:
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Interestingly, the 70-300 provides about the same magnification as the 50mm macro. If you notice that little figure I posted in the 70-300 macro thread, I've photographed him from that same angle dozens of times with the 50mm and there isn't a whole lot of difference in the finished image. In fact, for 'net posting, the images are identical. I have to admit that I didn't entirely think that "macro" photo through and I shot it at F10. I should have used about F16 and picked up some sharpness in the lower extremeties and background rocks.
Yep, did see your close up photos of the figure. Frankly, ''til then I hadn't really thought about using the 70-300 for macro shots. I've been fixated on shooting birds etc. at the 300m focal length. I've got to try it.

As for focusing on birds planes etc. in motion, I haven't had much success-it's definitely much simpler to focus on a bird sitting in a still position. It's just one more aspect of photography that I need to work on- one of many.

zig




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Old May 23, 2008, 12:14 PM   #5
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zig-123 wrote:

Yep, did see your close up photos of the figure. Frankly, ''til then I hadn't really thought about using the 70-300 for macro shots. I've been fixated on shooting birds etc. at the 300m focal length. I've got to try it.


You should give it a go up close. I purchased the EX-25 to get even closer, and the results can be quite good..









I'm taking mine to the horse races this weekend to see what I can get, and see how well the continuous AF works with the E510.
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Old May 23, 2008, 3:32 PM   #6
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Hi Greg,

Based on the IQ ofyour samples, you're absolutelyright! Really nice images. DOF is alwaystricky.

Just for comparison purposes, I took a close up shot using the 70-300mm. It's the same flower, angle, etc. as done with a 35mm macro in another post. This was done rather quickly,but the IQ ispretty good overall. Still have to fine tune my settings.

http://www.pbase.com/zig123/image/97518316

Also, I looking forward to seeing your results from the races.

zig




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Old May 24, 2008, 5:56 AM   #7
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Hi Guys

Brent, thanks for starting the post and thus further showing how good the 70-300 is. When it was frist released I was a bit suspect abotu it as its basically a Sigma design but Oly have produced an excellent lens and for the price theres not much out there to touch it. I was thinking about getting the TC for the f2 but I think I'll get the 70-300 when I can, esp now that its a pretty good macro lens to boot.

Cheers

Harj



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Old May 24, 2008, 9:05 AM   #8
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Here's another test I shot. Again, I have to say that I didn't entirely think it through and I shot this in the Program mode and it used F8. After all these years of shooting macro, I guess I reflexifly work in manual modes with the 50mm and program modes with other lenses . But the fact that it's F8 is all the more impressive.

The top shows a wolfman model photographed from a distance of 14 feet. The image is right out of camera with zero post processing or cropping (just resizing to 720 pixels high).

The bottom set show show two 100% crops of an area 2cm x 2cm (roughly the size of a thumbprint). To the left is an untouched crop of the top photo...no post processing of any kind. To the right is that same crop with a slight levels adjustment and a small bit of sharpening.






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Old May 24, 2008, 9:45 AM   #9
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I hope you all don't mind me throwing in my opinion about this lens but I also go this lens for birds but when I found out how well it does with the little stuff my direction of photography has changed a little. Walking through the desert all I could see standing up was a redish stained sand. With the help of the 510 and 70-300 I found this not to be true. Those are grains of sand. I like this lens.


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Old May 28, 2008, 11:19 PM   #10
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I continue to be very impressed by this lens. A couple more examples of why.

This upper shot seems unremarkable except that it was shot in the early evening at ISO 1600, hand held (with IS) at 70mm. Included in the frame is a 100% crop which I've rotated to make it legible. Those are tiny letters stamped into the hasp assembly which read "Stanley Made in Taiwan". Those smaller letters are little more than 1/16" high.

The second set of pictures is a Dash 8 "Gonzo" photographed today (I cropped the top and bottom because it was empty sky). As you might guess, that very dark, shiny blue isn't the easiest thing to photograph. I think this was at 158mm (316 EFL), 1/500, F7 at ISO 200. Just underneath it, is a 100% crop of a portion of the aircraft. It was probably moving at about 80 knots when I took this picture.






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