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Old Jul 20, 2010, 2:18 AM   #21
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Thanks everyone for taking a look.

Greg, I'm guessing I was around 150 yards from the pelican and cormorants. The egret in the tree was at least twice that far. All in all, 600mm was not too long and the times I wished for more reach was common, and the times I needed to back up were restricted to the coot and the flower shots.
I realize I couldn't afford them even if offered but it's a shame Oly doesn't offer at a fast 400 or 500mm lens. Most wildlife photography seems to be done with a 400 or 500mm prime alone or coupled with TCs. The 300/EC-20 combo is awesome but like you say, 600mm often isn't enough. Only other options are the Bigma/TC combo or the Sigmonster. Or using legacy but I know the vast majority here would prefer not to. The Bigma/EC-14 combo sounds appealing to me as I shoot almost exclusively at the 400mm end of my 135-400 and would love more. Quality wouldn't be anywhere near as good as what you get but it's in the realm of affordability at least. Have you considered a Bigma for the times you need extra reach? I have no idea how well it would work with the Ec-20 but i know I've seen some very nice. sharp pics done with it and the EC-14 which would give you over 700mm.

John

Never mind. The Bigma doesn't seem to be offered in 4/3 mount anymore.

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Old Jul 20, 2010, 6:42 AM   #22
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I realize I couldn't afford them even if offered but it's a shame Oly doesn't offer at a fast 400 or 500mm lens. Most wildlife photography seems to be done with a 400 or 500mm prime alone or coupled with TCs. The 300/EC-20 combo is awesome but like you say, 600mm often isn't enough. Only other options are the Bigma/TC combo or the Sigmonster. Or using legacy but I know the vast majority here would prefer not to. The Bigma/EC-14 combo sounds appealing to me as I shoot almost exclusively at the 400mm end of my 135-400 and would love more. Quality wouldn't be anywhere near as good as what you get but it's in the realm of affordability at least. Have you considered a Bigma for the times you need extra reach? I have no idea how well it would work with the Ec-20 but i know I've seen some very nice. sharp pics done with it and the EC-14 which would give you over 700mm.

John

Never mind. The Bigma doesn't seem to be offered in 4/3 mount anymore.
When lenses reach as far as the 300mm/EC-20 combo, there are several things that start working against you. The first is weight. Bright lenses get incredibly heavy. That requires big time support. I shot off a monopod and could easily see when I wasn't doing well enough at keeping things steady. Movements are magnified.

Another is brightness, and more to the point, useable brightness. According to the EXIF wide open my combo is f5.7 and it is quite happy shooting at that setting. The waxwing and goldfinch pics are wide open. The Bigma is f6.3 by itself, dimmer with the converter, and perfers to be stopped down a stop. I'm not trying to belittle the bigma. Its alot of lens for the buck, but it would be a step back from what I'm shooting.

The Sigmonster 300-800 f5.6 would give more reach. I've liked the results I've seen and it zooms to boot. It weighs a ton and most that shoot it say great care must be taken to keep the old girl steady to get those results. Its interesting and if someone waved one under my nose for $5k I'd be tempted.

All in all, I'm shooting 1200mm EFL and at brightness that autofocus is normally excellent. That's about as much as any of the other guys muster. A crop C/N with a converter and 600 f4 is roughly the same. Olympus doesn't really take a back seat here.

The main reason I posted what I posted is that it astounds me how much of the time I'm looking through the viewfinder and wishing to be closer to the subject. It is still most of the time. Little birds are little, even with big glass. When it comes down to cold, hard facts, getting closer is still the best way to solve the problem. Actually, the 300mm/EC-20 shines here. The pics with the sunflower & bee wouldn't have been possible with the Canon/Nikon 600mm without an extention tube. The 300mm/EC-20 can focus close enough to fill the frame with a hummingbird.

I'm not complaining. I love my lens. I'm not really wanting more.
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Old Jul 20, 2010, 6:49 AM   #23
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I realize I couldn't afford them even if offered but it's a shame Oly doesn't offer at a fast 400 or 500mm lens. Most wildlife photography seems to be done with a 400 or 500mm prime alone or coupled with TCs. The 300/EC-20 combo is awesome but like you say, 600mm often isn't enough. Only other options are the Bigma/TC combo or the Sigmonster. Or using legacy but I know the vast majority here would prefer not to.

John
Hi John,
I agree that a 400mm fast prime is a lens missing from the Olympus lens line up. The 300mm ZD is simply out of my price range and if there was an Oly 400mm prime, my guess would be that it too, would be cost prohibitive. That leaves us with legacy lenses as a choice. If I could pick up the 400mm 2.8 Nikkor AIS internal focus lens at a decent price I would do so. Trouble is that lens sells for around 3,000USD on the used market.

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Old Jul 20, 2010, 12:48 PM   #24
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Hi John,
I agree that a 400mm fast prime is a lens missing from the Olympus lens line up. The 300mm ZD is simply out of my price range and if there was an Oly 400mm prime, my guess would be that it too, would be cost prohibitive. That leaves us with legacy lenses as a choice. If I could pick up the 400mm 2.8 Nikkor AIS internal focus lens at a decent price I would do so. Trouble is that lens sells for around 3,000USD on the used market.

Zig
I'd love a Nikkor 2.8 as well but like you say the cost is a bit much. I have been considering a Nikkor 400/3.5 as an option coupled with a TC. It's more affordable at around $1200-1300 and still pretty fast.

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Old Jul 20, 2010, 1:28 PM   #25
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I realize I couldn't afford them even if offered but it's a shame Oly doesn't offer at a fast 400 or 500mm lens. Most wildlife photography seems to be done with a 400 or 500mm prime alone or coupled with TCs. The 300/EC-20 combo is awesome but like you say, 600mm often isn't enough. Only other options are the Bigma/TC combo or the Sigmonster. Or using legacy but I know the vast majority here would prefer not to. The Bigma/EC-14 combo sounds appealing to me as I shoot almost exclusively at the 400mm end of my 135-400 and would love more. Quality wouldn't be anywhere near as good as what you get but it's in the realm of affordability at least. Have you considered a Bigma for the times you need extra reach? I have no idea how well it would work with the Ec-20 but i know I've seen some very nice. sharp pics done with it and the EC-14 which would give you over 700mm.

John

Never mind. The Bigma doesn't seem to be offered in 4/3 mount anymore.
The better birding images I see shot on most sites are taken with 500-600mm lenses using full frame bodies, so the "effective focal lengths" are 500-600mm, which the 300mm f2.8 or 90-250mm f2.8 Zuikos gives a (lucky!) owner. Coupled with the EC14 or EC20 a 300mm Zuiko becomes an effective 840mm or 1200mm....same as a 600mm lens on a full-frame body with a 2x. The ultimate Nikon wildlife shooter who's site I visit, Moose Peterson, uses the 600mm f4 Nikkor on a full-frame D3 series body, both with and without TC's. That's the longest lens he uses, and the Zuiko 300mm f2.8 with the EC20 easily gets anyone within the same reach as Peterson with his Nikon setup, at an equal speed. The missing part in the Olympus system is the dynamic focus-tracking ability of those higher-spec Canon and Nikon bodies....and, of course, the techniques Peterson and others like him use to get close enough to make those lenses work.

It's not the lenses that are missing in the Olympus system for the truly dedicated birder with the financial ability to buy the needed lenses, and the cost really isn't that much different when you start comparing Olympus prices to both buying a full frame Nikon or Canon body and the then-needed 500mm-600mm f4 primes. If you can't afford the available Olympus setup, you cannot afford the available Nikon or Canon setups, either. It's the technology in the bodies to take full advantage of the available Zuiko lenses that can be bought that's missing with Olympus.

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Old Jul 20, 2010, 10:41 PM   #26
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The better birding images I see shot on most sites are taken with 500-600mm lenses using full frame bodies, so the "effective focal lengths" are 500-600mm, which the 300mm f2.8 or 90-250mm f2.8 Zuikos gives a (lucky!) owner. Coupled with the EC14 or EC20 a 300mm Zuiko becomes an effective 840mm or 1200mm....same as a 600mm lens on a full-frame body with a 2x. The ultimate Nikon wildlife shooter who's site I visit, Moose Peterson, uses the 600mm f4 Nikkor on a full-frame D3 series body, both with and without TC's. That's the longest lens he uses, and the Zuiko 300mm f2.8 with the EC20 easily gets anyone within the same reach as Peterson with his Nikon setup, at an equal speed. The missing part in the Olympus system is the dynamic focus-tracking ability of those higher-spec Canon and Nikon bodies....and, of course, the techniques Peterson and others like him use to get close enough to make those lenses work.

It's not the lenses that are missing in the Olympus system for the truly dedicated birder with the financial ability to buy the needed lenses, and the cost really isn't that much different when you start comparing Olympus prices to both buying a full frame Nikon or Canon body and the then-needed 500mm-600mm f4 primes. If you can't afford the available Olympus setup, you cannot afford the available Nikon or Canon setups, either. It's the technology in the bodies to take full advantage of the available Zuiko lenses that can be bought that's missing with Olympus.
You raise some very good points. And since this will very soon divert into a disscussion of the merits of a crop factor sensor versus a full frame one I think it's reached an end. I just think Oly should offer more choices is all. Regardless of crop factor, a 400/2.8 would be nice. With the EC-14 added it'd give almost the same length as the 300/EC-20 with one less stop lost. But like you say, if the camera bodies don't have the features to really allow one to make use of the glass it's not really worth it. Oly knows their place in the market I'm sure which is why the advertise the Pen series so much and never the SLR one.

In the end, as Author Morris says "good photographers take good images with whatever equipment they have in hand". Since the Oly 300/2.8 or any of the other brands big glass is out of reach for me I'll just work on improving my images.

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Old Jul 20, 2010, 10:46 PM   #27
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The Sigmonster 300-800 f5.6 would give more reach. I've liked the results I've seen and it zooms to boot. It weighs a ton and most that shoot it say great care must be taken to keep the old girl steady to get those results. Its interesting and if someone waved one under my nose for $5k I'd be tempted.
Just in case you're interested here's a vid of the 300-800 in use. Not really a good way to tell about image quality but it gives a great sense of not only the size but the lengths one has to go to keep it steady.

http://www.adorama.com/ALC/BlogArtic...m_medium=Email

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Old Jul 21, 2010, 6:25 AM   #28
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The better birding images I see shot on most sites are taken with 500-600mm lenses using full frame bodies, so the "effective focal lengths" are 500-600mm, which the 300mm f2.8 or 90-250mm f2.8 Zuikos gives a (lucky!) owner. Coupled with the EC14 or EC20 a 300mm Zuiko becomes an effective 840mm or 1200mm....same as a 600mm lens on a full-frame body with a 2x. The ultimate Nikon wildlife shooter who's site I visit, Moose Peterson, uses the 600mm f4 Nikkor on a full-frame D3 series body, both with and without TC's. That's the longest lens he uses, and the Zuiko 300mm f2.8 with the EC20 easily gets anyone within the same reach as Peterson with his Nikon setup, at an equal speed. The missing part in the Olympus system is the dynamic focus-tracking ability of those higher-spec Canon and Nikon bodies....and, of course, the techniques Peterson and others like him use to get close enough to make those lenses work.

It's not the lenses that are missing in the Olympus system for the truly dedicated birder with the financial ability to buy the needed lenses, and the cost really isn't that much different when you start comparing Olympus prices to both buying a full frame Nikon or Canon body and the then-needed 500mm-600mm f4 primes. If you can't afford the available Olympus setup, you cannot afford the available Nikon or Canon setups, either. It's the technology in the bodies to take full advantage of the available Zuiko lenses that can be bought that's missing with Olympus.
I agree in total.

One thing I must say, though, is the autofocus issue for me is limited to C-AF and focus tracking. The pinpoint S-AF just seems to nail shot after shot after shot for me.

When I tried Eagles on the wing with cold batteries, it was as frustrating as could be.

The bad part of this situation is I believe phase detect AF of the DSLR is not a priority for Olympus any longer. I doubt there will be any serious advances in the future.
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Old Jul 21, 2010, 9:09 AM   #29
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I agree in total.

One thing I must say, though, is the autofocus issue for me is limited to C-AF and focus tracking. The pinpoint S-AF just seems to nail shot after shot after shot for me.

When I tried Eagles on the wing with cold batteries, it was as frustrating as could be.

The bad part of this situation is I believe phase detect AF of the DSLR is not a priority for Olympus any longer. I doubt there will be any serious advances in the future.
I have to agree with what you and Greg Chappell have said relative to the limitations imposed by the current Olympus camera bodies when it comes to serious wildlife and birding photography.

When I was looking at upgrading from the E-510 last year to the E-30, I thought long and hard about possibly switching from Olympus to either Nikon or Canon largely due to my interest in shooting birds in flight. In the end, I realized that I wouldn't be able to afford the bodies nor the lenses from either of those companies anymore than I can afford the high end glass that Olympus offers to meet that application.

Additionally, I already had the 50-200mm ED lens along with the EC-14 Telecon and the 12-60mm lens. All really very fine glass. So, I ordered the E-30 and have never regretted it.

Now, that doesn't mean that I don't wish for something better, with the caveat, it is within my budget.

In the meantime, I'll enjoy the equipment that I have and work to improve my own limitations which I think are the biggest factors in getting better results.

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Old Jul 21, 2010, 9:48 AM   #30
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You raise some very good points. And since this will very soon divert into a disscussion of the merits of a crop factor sensor versus a full frame one I think it's reached an end.
I don't really think any discussion about the two different system types has to happen. If you really and truly need a full frame system, there's no discussion....you just do it. People who think they need it and have the money, do it. Everyone else discusses it! It's a non-issue for me so I just ignore those type posts.

I'm sitting here waiting, somewhat patiently, to see where this system is headed. More lenses at this point are not happening. The line is actually shrinking with Sigma not releasing anymore models and not replacing the ones they are discontinuing. I have no need for additional lenses but would be a fool to say I'd be happy with the E30 for the next 10 years when the reality is I have never used any camera, film or digital, for that long or even half that long! Within a couple of years I would be looking for an updated model with, hopefully, more incremental advances in the one area Olympus is still lagging, which is AF technology.

If I was 10-12 years older, what I have right now could very well last as long as I want to deal with a system of this size, but I'm not. If Olympus does what I think they are going to do and not telling anyone about right now, that's the end of it for me with them. I already have a system pretty much picked out and it's not full frame or Olympus.... or Panasonic. Olympus is already positioning themselves to be passed up in the mirrorless market at the snail's pace they work in. I wouldn't doubt within 5 years they'll be lingering in 3-5th place in that market and everyone will be wondering what they'll be trying to come up with next to save themselves. Lord knows they will probably, like today, not be telling anyone.

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