Simple Clicks – Olympus 75-300

An autumn sunset lights up the foliage along Lackawanna Lake near Bullhead Bay on the evening of 24 September 2012.

Got out one evening last week with my newest lens, the Olympus m.Zuiko 75-300mm.  Back when I was getting the E-M5 I wasn’t very complimentary towards this piece of glass; it’s slow, with an aperture of f/6.3 at 300mm, and at $900 it’s overpriced for what basically amounts to a consumer-grade telephoto.  But it’s also a 150-600mm equivalent and the only alternative to the Panasonic 100-300 which I tried and discarded as disappointing.

I’m still not convinced that the Olympus is up to par with the Canon L-series telephotos I used to use, but it’s also not several pounds and over a foot long…so, it’s a compromise at this point.  What I am sure of is that I’ll need to get in some more quality time with his lens over the next few weeks, and that come eagle season this winter, I’ll be equipped with something.
In the meantime, a couple of shots from the NEPA autumn.  At top, a view of Lackawanna Lake that shows off the compression effect that I love.  And below, a Cedar Waxwing in a treetop.  Waxwings are autumn birds here, oddly brave and social creatures, and I always look forward to seeing them.

Cedar Waxwing near the marshy north end of Lackawanna Lake on the evening of 24 September 2012.

And to finish out this simple post, a shot of the moon pre-sunset.  I was happy with the amount of detail I was able to see in the full-res version of this shot, which makes me think there may yet be hope for the lens.

A waxing moon hangs in the sunset sky over Lackawanna State Park on the evening of 24 September 2012.

Meanwhile, I’ll offer up an excuse for why I’ve been off-target lately, missing a couple of posts and managing only quick ones other times: with NEPA BlogCon last weekend and my show this Friday night, I’m a little swamped.  I’ve got client work that started to fall behind, and since the clients pay, they have to come first.  But that means that TRP occasionally has to take the back burner.  I don’t really like doing it, but there are only so many hours in the day.

Good news is that most of the big things on my calendar will be past in another week or so, which means things around here will settle back down more like normal.  Bear with me.  There’s some good stuff coming.

Brent Pennington is a freelance photographer and the driving force behind The Roving Photographer. When he\’s not working with portraiture or promotional clients, he’s usually in the field, hiking, or kayaking in pursuit of nature and wildlife shots.

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  1. Rob Waker

    Just saw this post after commenting in your Panasonic 100-300 thread.

    I see you also gave up on the 100-300 as I am considering doing. How are you now finding the 75-300 in comparison?

    Having read the earlier post, I’m pretty sure your motivation for moving was the same as mine i.e. focusing issues rather than poor IQ. So would value your opinion on whether it’s been worth the move and cured the frustrations.

    • Brent Pennington

      Yep, sounds like you’re suffering from the same frustrations I was with the 100-300. I have since gotten the Oly 75-300, but did so at the start of autumn. Between my own schedule and the natural decrease in bird activity, I didn’t have much chance to really try it out in the field yet. I’m hoping to take it eagling during the coming months (assuming the eagles ever come on down here this year). The bad news is that the Oly is even slower, aperture-wise, than the Panasonic, which is less than ideal. What the m3:4 system really needs is a fast super-telephoto, a 300 f/4 or the like. Until we get such a lens, we’ll have to keep making-do. Given the somewhat ridiculous price of the Oly 75-300, I have decent hopes for it, but even if it performs to my admittedly lowered expectations, it still isn’t going to compete with the glass Canon and Nikon offers (and which I gave up to make this switch). The good news is that there are rumors that the lens makers are getting on this – Panasonic is supposed to come out with a 150mm f/2.8, which will give us a fast effective 300mm lens; if we could get a good teleconverter or two, we could slowly edge into true wildlife-glass territory!

  2. Rob Waker

    Thanks for the feedback Brent. Over the holidays I put a bit more time in with the Panasonic 100-300, and I’ve managed to get some slightly better results by using the lens OIS and switching off the IBIS. As you say though, it’s still way short of the Canon glass I traded in. Overall I’m happy I went to the OM-D though – being smaller and lighter, I carry it with me more, and hence actually take more photos. And with the Canon 100-400 I tended to end up only taking birds or wildlife, whereas now I know the OM-D combo has some limitations in that area, I find myself looking for other shots and so in a perverse way it is helping broaden my horizons. I’m busy arranging a trial of the Oly 75-300 though with my local camera shop as it does sound like it may work a shade better. Will report back on my experiences if I do make the switch.

    • Brent Pennington

      Glad to hear you got to work with the lens+camera combo a bit more! I agree, I’m happy I switched to the E-M5 as well – Canon had definite strengths, but overall the smaller size and feature set still has be convinced I made the right decision. I’d be very interested to know what you think of the Oly 75-300 when you try it out – please feel free to drop a comment here so everyone can get another opinion on the lens! The Oly annoys me in theory – I think it’s terribly overpriced for a lens that’s essentially a slower version of the Canon 75-300 IS, and I hate the f/6.7 aperture – but at the same time, if it does the job then it’s worth the drawbacks. Best of luck – can’t wait to hear what you think!

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