Panasonic 100-300 Lens | Birds

I’ve already said quite a lot here on the Blog about the Panasonic 100-300 lens. In fact this is a lens I’ve been using a great deal, thanks to the combination of relatively small size, light weight, excellent reach, and good resolving power. If you’d like to read some of my more in depth articles about this lens, and other micro four thirds lenses, there are plenty of earlier postings if you want to look back through the last couple of months.

As many of my readers know, I’m hugely impressed by the Olympus OMD EM-5. The camera is a revelation and I’m delighted to say that it’s no longer necessary to cart around my big heavy pro DSLR bodies and lenses for either work assignments or recreational outings. The OMD does pretty much everything, and it does it so well. The performance is outstanding and the image quality is very impressive indeed. The sensor is able to reveal wonderful detail and the tolerance of the files affords considerable latitude to recover highlights should you need to. The camera is also extremely fast and intuitive to use and the Micro 4/3 lenses are exceptional. I can comfortably shoot all day with this kit without feeling tired or achy. This means I am far more inclined to take pictures outside of my professional assignments and I don’t feel like I’m “working” when I have my OMD with me. In fact I hardly notice its presence, I can just grab it and shoot. Fantastic.

I found myself in Arundel in West Sussex today, a place I visit fairly frequently given that it’s only about 20 min away from my home. The Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre is a favourite place because it’s incredibly relaxing and the inhabitants (birds of all shapes and sizes) are pretty good company, and they’re always begging to have their photograph taken. The Panasonic 100-300 lens is ideal for wildlife since the effective field of view is of course 200 to 600 mm. As I’ve said before you will need to employ reasonably good technique towards the longer end of a lens like this because the higher your magnification the more evident your movement will be, potentially resulting in camera shake if you allow your shutter speed to fall too much.

As you can see I had quite a lot of company as I walked around the reserve. I had the chance to photograph enormous birds and tiny birds. I even saw some ducklings which was a bit of a surprise given that our horrendously awful winter is showing no signs of abating (and I was literally frozen to the core today) and these little ducks appear to have come early. But they seemed quite undaunted by the cold weather and were happily exploring their surroundings, I was even mobbed by a group of them at one point when I crouched on the path to take their picture, it was lovely to see them running around my feet and over my hands. The mother was very relaxed and stood patiently a couple of feet away waiting for her brood to follow her.

  • Mag D - Photographs are absolutely stunning. Great detail, and colours, The Pheasant is fantastic, I had no idea they were so colourful. Close-up head of the Swan is really captivating. Gorgeous birds expecially little Blue-tits. I will look at these over and over again. Thank you.April 1, 2013 – 11:10 am

  • Bob Manowski - Hi, wonderful photos,enjoyed all of them. I have been using Olympus e system ,E5,E30 with the better lenses,12 to 60 ,50 to 200,50 macro. Just got an OMD with some smaller primes and the quality is amazing. Its nice just to see real photos than tests with all the charts,even though I do look at them. I have been agonizing over getting the Panasonic 100 to 300 for the OMD versus waiting for the new Olympus version coming this month. Had you tried both or even the older version? Does the OMD do any corrections in camera if you just shoot JPG images? At what shutter speed do you try to maintain at the longer lengths?
    Thanks .the photos are very nice.

    Bob M.April 1, 2013 – 6:35 pm

  • Lindsay - Thank you Mag and Bob for the kind comments.

    Bob, I briefly tested the Olympus lens and I could not see a difference in quality or sharpness between that and the Panasonic – however the lower price of the Panasonic and the slightly faster aperture at the long end swung it for me. I have not tried the new version of the Olympus lens, but I’m very satisfied with the Panasonic. As you will have read this is somewhat dependent on making sure you get a good copy so it might be worth trying a couple of them. As far as lens corrections go, if you have a Panasonic lens on an Olympus body it will not correct for CA, but this is easily done afterwards in a program such as Lightroom. As far as vignetting and distortion go, Lightroom will also deal with this since the data is embedded in the RAW files but for JPEGs I believe the camera does the correction automatically.April 1, 2013 – 7:21 pm

  • Bob Manowski - Hi, Thanks for your take on the 100 to 300 lens. I am getting close to one or the other ( Oly 75 to 300). I really wanted to shrink the size of the lenses but like the quality you are presenting in your photos with the 100 to 300. I normally order my photo gear from B&H photo and they always provide on time delivery ect, not sure how to determine how not to get a bad copy of a lens. I would hope it would be perfect. I noted in one of your posts your comment on the 40 to 150 r lens for the OMD. I have been using that lens when I travel for my job( sales in Wisconsin). The images are really pretty sharp for such a low cost lens. Any way I will keep your looking at your nice work and try to pick up things I can learn to better my photo hobby.
    Thanks for the feedback.
    Bob MApril 2, 2013 – 2:31 pm

  • Lindsay - Hi Bob, the 100 to 300 is slightly bigger than the Oly, but is a bit cheaper which is really why I chose it. The Olympus lens will focus a bit closer, if that is important to you. With respect to copy variance on the Panasonic, the chances of getting a bad copy are probably quite small but I would recommend making your purchase from a seller who will readily allow you to exchange the lens should you need to. I’ve heard of others buying two copies and then returning one of them for a refund. I think it’s just a question of making sure that whoever you buy from has a flexible return policy – from what I’ve read B&H sound very customer focused so you should be fine. I completely agree with what you say about the 40 to 150R, I think it’s a fantastic little lens, very close in quality and sharpness to some of my big expensive professional optics. Stay in touch and do let us know how you get along with whichever lens you decide to buy.April 2, 2013 – 2:41 pm

  • Karl - I just want say that the person debating the issue of the Panasonic versus the Olympus may watch out for a possible bargain on the older Olympus version. I was able to acquire one – brand new,in box with all the papers and original wrapping – for $440 from a local dealer. It is a relatively small lens. It is just a little longer and wider then my Panasonic 45 – 175. BUT the lens is a little slower at 6.7 versus 5.6.April 3, 2013 – 5:32 am

  • Bob Manowski - Hi Linsday,
    I did get the Lumix 100 – 300 lens. It is a lot of fun to use and the images so far have been quite pleasing. Going on an outdoor trip tomorrow and will it use on the Great Lakes shoreline for mostly bird photos. The weight difference between my E-5/ 50 -200 outfit and the OMD with the Lumix lens is hard to believe it can produce the same great photos. We have spring here now in the midwest, the colors are spectacular now, flowering trees, flowers in the forest, it is the time of re birth from the depths of our long winters.
    Enjoy your work.

    BobmMay 23, 2013 – 3:13 am

  • Lindsay - Hi Bob, I still very much enjoy my 100 to 300 lens, as you say it is a lot of fun to use. The compact size and weight of my Micro 4/3 kit has enabled me to push my photography more, and more frequently, and for longer. My big DSLR bodies and lenses are so limiting at times. I envy your locality, we had a dreadful winter here in the UK and the weather is still unpredictable, hence our flowers and vegetation have barely made a showing this year!May 23, 2013 – 9:37 am

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