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Thread: m43rds dilemma

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    Senior Member biglouis's Avatar
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    m43rds dilemma

    I'm going though mental convolutions at present about whether or not to stick with m4rds or change to a APS-C system.

    Ironically, it is because of the Lumix 100-300 I am having these internal discussions.

    The 100-300 has introduced me to the pleasure of photographing birds. I would not have been able to take a chance on a lens of this size with another system without spending double or even treble the purchase price.

    Now that I've discovered how much I want to take forward this type of photography I have also discovered the limitations of the m43rds system. AF is slow, there is a single point of focus, metering is limited and sad-to-say anything shot at higher than iso800 has poor resolution. I'd say the high-iso issue is the most serious limitation. Here in the UK a lot of the time we are dealing with gloomy skies. The need for really clean iso1600 or 3200 shots is paramount. With bird photography cropping is essential and when you crop at above iso800 then I am afraid to say that on my GH-2 things turn to mush.

    Unless, that is, I'm doing something wrong?

    So, I am at a bit of crossroads. Do I stick with m43rds and limit my success with photographing birds, or do I change systems? The need to abandon m43rds is partly financial: I have a lot of money tied up in m43rds kit even at second hand prices and I do not want to proliferate my camera ownership into a 4th system. I don't think the wife will stand for it either!

    It seems sad to ask for insights into personal decision making in a forum but a lot of people in this forum have more experience than I and have become virtual friends, so I would welcome your comments - no matter how critical!

    LouisB

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    Re: m43rds dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by biglouis View Post
    Now that I've discovered how much I want to take forward this type of photography I have also discovered the limitations of the m43rds system. AF is slow, there is a single point of focus, metering is limited ..
    LouisB
    My 2 cents..


    Those two points I would focus on.

    The metering is better than anything else. Have you tried center weighted or spot metering modes? I never use matrix metering for anything as it does not allow for accurate compensations at all.

    Focus may be slow in low contrast situations but isn't "single point" It is single point where you put it, anywhere in the frame. None of of the DSLRs can do that. Among the CDAF focusing systems, the m4/3rds have the fastest focus.

    The 100-300 may be limiting but if you switch systems (ie., to a DSLR), it isn't the camera but a decent lens (prime and not an f/4 zoom) that is going to cost you money and that is where you will start to see some difference in terms of focus and IQ.

    Unless bird photography generates money for you, it isn't worth bothering with a change of systems and it may be far cheaper and better to buy an EM-5 (purported faster focus and sensor stabilzation) instead.

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    Senior Member biglouis's Avatar
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    Re: m43rds dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by Vivek View Post
    My 2 cents..
    The metering is better than anything else. Have you tried center weighted or spot metering modes? I never use matrix metering for anything as it does not allow for accurate compensations at all.

    Focus may be slow in low contrast situations but isn't "single point" It is single point where you put it, anywhere in the frame. None of of the DSLRs can do that. Among the CDAF focusing systems, the m4/3rds have the fastest focus.
    Vivek

    All other things being equal, I would like to stay where I am!

    Can you explain the metering? Both N and C make a big deal about their matrix metering and its power. Bear in mind my other system is a Leica M8 DRF, so metering is... ahem... a bit basic.

    Also, can you explain how to make better use of the focussing point? I find it hard to move it when concentrating on the photograph. I have the focusing square linked to my fn2 button. I've experimented with both small and large squares and in my experience it makes little difference to 'lock on'.

    Does anyone think that the high-iso performance of the OM-D really will be much better - on a par with a Nikon D7000 or Pentax K-5?

    LouisB

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    Re: m43rds dilemma

    Louis - I have had the same reservations about the GF1/2/3, the GX1 as well as the Olympus Pen EP/EPL-1/2/3 series. However, in recent days, I have seen some RAWs from the new Olympus OM-D E-5 that look pretty darn clean at ISO3200. The image stabilization seems to work well, and the weather sealed body and lens seem to work as designed.

    The real-time exposure on Live View (which should really be called Live Exposure) is also an interesting feature. I'm not jumping on the m43 bandwagon at this point in time as I have not seen any wide angle lenses - a 12mm is pretty much a 35mm FLE of 24mm, which 'should' be okay for most landscapes. For street and portrait, the OM-D seems to deliver. Focusing seems pretty precise as well, and metering doesn't seem any worse than my D3s.
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    Re: m43rds dilemma

    Louis,

    Try spot metering (choose compensations later as you need), tripod, stabilization off (you can turn this on if on monopod or handheld), and on the touch screen touch the area for focusing and taking the shot.

    If you are going to use flash with a tele attachment (a lot of them are available, check them out), try flash setting at shutter priority mode.

    Matrix metering (any system) is a combination of factory programmed stuff taking into account the available light. It is over rated and not useful when using metering compensation.
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    Re: m43rds dilemma

    m43 has always been a second, smaller, lighter system while I used it. I never expected performance as from APSC or FF.

    Main issue with m43 for me is, that there is NO pro-level camera on the market today, even the OM-D is far from that - at least from what I understand from pro level AF, ISO performance and general speed.

    Not to mention the too limited lens offering especially WRT high speed primes.

    This is the main reason I no longer use m43, for really compact needs I use Nikon 1 system, for high performance needs Nikon D800E (FF) and a handful selected lenses.

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    Re: m43rds dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by biglouis View Post
    AF is slow, there is a single point of focus, metering is limited and sad-to-say anything shot at higher than iso800 has poor resolution.
    I think the main issue is that you are letting the camera do your thinking for you. This is only optimal for snapshots. AF on MFT actually functions better than many other systems for still or slow targets. But it likely won't track fast moving targets as well as larger cameras. APS-C or FF have their advantages, at significantly higher cost. But if you visit forums for those camera systems you will find exactly the same complaints, since the camera is not the (best) answer.

    The photographer is the answer.

    First, focusing. Here the answer is simple: don't use AF. Learn to focus manually. Focus on where you want to take the picture, ahead of a flying bird, etc. Take the shot when the bird enters the frame. Use burst mode for short periods. Compensate with small manual focus tweaks.

    Second, metering. I have found the meter on my Olympus PEN to be better than other cameras. But shooting birds is often a worst case scenario: there is a big exposure difference between your subject and the background plus the subject is small compared with the background. In these cases you can't expect the camera to out-think you.

    Try the following:
    1. Switch to spot metering and shutter-priority.
    2. Set appropriate shutter speed to freeze subject motion (by experience).
    3. Meter a target with the same grey level as your target.
    4. Note the exposure.
    5. Compensate based on available aperture. To get greater DOF or move to a range of the lens where IQ is better, you may need to increase ISO.
    6. Switch to M mode.
    7. Dial in the aperture and shutter settings obtained from the camera meter.
    8. Go ahead and shoot with metering that won't change based on the whims of the camera. You are in control. Adjust settings as needed.

    Quote Originally Posted by biglouis View Post
    I'd say the high-iso issue is the most serious limitation. Here in the UK a lot of the time we are dealing with gloomy skies. The need for really clean iso1600 or 3200 shots is paramount. With bird photography cropping is essential and when you crop at above iso800 then I am afraid to say that on my GH-2 things turn to mush.
    This is true, but is true of all systems to some extent. It can be fixed by three things:

    1. Fill the frame with your subject. This means:
    a) using a longer focal length
    b) getting closer to your subject

    2. Get exposure exactly right in camera so you do not end up pushing in development.

    3. Get a full-frame camera for better resolution. But then step 1a becomes a lot more expensive, as you have noted.

    You will notice that pro wildlife photographers spend all their time in step 1b, using a combination of animal-tracking skills, hides, and other techniques. Plus lots and lots of patience.

    EDIT
    I just noticed you are using the Panasonic 100-300mm f4.0-5.6. That's a slow zoom. Instead, you need the fastest best IQ prime lenses you can get. The one big drawback of MFT is that the manual focusing on the native lenses sucks. But the one big advantage is that you can adapt some (relatively cheap) old glass.

    I would look for a 300mm f/2.8 which would give you a two stop improvement over what you have now. And likely much better IQ. Or something like a 500mm f/5.6 which would keep your light the same but give you more reach.

    I am not a bird shooter and so cannot advise on which lenses. but there must be many good choices and many forum threads about this.
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    Re: m43rds dilemma

    If you look on this very forum, there is a thread full of really nice bird images with the 100-300 on a variety of m4/3rds systems.

    Most of them are static not birds in flight (BIF) However, many are of smaller birds.

    I went down this path with a crop body DSLR, for birding, I think the crop helps over FF, but others disagree .....

    From my experience in both, about the only way to abandon more hope than birding is to get in medium format digital backs ...

    To do this at a really good level, and to be able to print 16X20's Think a big gitzo carbon tripod ~1K, Gimbal head $500, really good crop body, Canon 7D or Nikon D300s ... 1.5 K, then two prime lenses, one in the 400 range, you might be able to get away with an f4, around 5-10K, then another in the 200 range .... This gives and effective 600/300mm Kit, just about right, Many used the 70-200 lens for this spot, around 2K these days. In round numbers 9-12K to play well for birding ....

    I personally chose the Sigma 120-300 2.8 zoom. Very good lens, pretty reasonable price, but a beast! At least as the kids move on to field sports, I'll have a really good long zoom.

    All in all, it's a huge kit to carry around ...

    The middle ground really belongs to canon they have a 100-400 f4 zoom that is a favorite in this genre.

    On the other hand, the little 100-300 on a G3 is pretty good, no, not the same, but up to 8X10 prints, and anything for use on the web, way more than good enough.

    In addition, it's WAY EASIER to get good field craft down with this setup rather than a DSLR.

    Hope this helps

    Dave
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    Senior Member biglouis's Avatar
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    Re: m43rds dilemma

    Thanks, all, for the responses. Especially tips on how to tune up the GH-2 so that it has more of a fighting chance.

    If I replace this kit, I have already made up my mind that I would go crop-sensor and a fixed focal length. Probably a 300f4 which in either Nikon or Pentax (or for that matter the 400 in Canon) are reasonable weights and can at a pinch be used handheld. I'm quite attracted to a Nikon solution. I used Nikon for a long time before being seduced by rangefinder cameras into a Leica solution.

    Thanks again for all your advice, much appreciated.

    LouisB

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    Senior Member Tesselator's Avatar
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    Re: m43rds dilemma

    I'll interject my ideas and opinions point by point and you can regard or disregard them as you like:


    biglouis wrote:I'm going though mental convolutions at present about whether or not to stick with m4rds or change to a APS-C system.

    Ironically, it is because of the Lumix 100-300 I am having these internal discussions.

    The 100-300 has introduced me to the pleasure of photographing birds. I would not have been able to take a chance on a lens of this size with another system without spending double or even treble the purchase price.


    Not really. The 100-300 is over $500 currently. You can match it's ultimate IQ with a $250 lens on an APS-C camera. By ultimate IQ I mean that the combo of the (actually better) $250 lens and the APS-C (if a newer hi-res model) will actually look better after you've cropped to what the 4/3 + the Lumix 100-300 would have delivered.

    Additionally if you like bird shooting you can hunt around and get a used 200-400mm or a 400 or 500mm prime with ED or LD glass for about the same as you paid for the Lumix and such primes will just wipe the floor with that Lumix. I know some of you have "feelings" for the Lumix but it really is one of the worst lenses in that range. It has very poor IQ compared to others which are faster, brighter, built better, and costs less.

    Now that I've discovered how much I want to take forward this type of photography I have also discovered the limitations of the m43rds system. AF is slow, there is a single point of focus, metering is limited and sad-to-say anything shot at higher than iso800 has poor resolution. I'd say the high-iso issue is the most serious limitation. Here in the UK a lot of the time we are dealing with gloomy skies. The need for really clean iso1600 or 3200 shots is paramount. With bird photography cropping is essential and when you crop at above iso800 then I am afraid to say that on my GH-2 things turn to mush.

    Unless, that is, I'm doing something wrong?


    If I do it right I can use 2000 ISO on my GH1 and crop to about 1/2 of the frame size and most folks won't know it's not 200 ISO when that's NR'ed and scaled to 1200 pixels across if also using a good lens. But this is a little time consuming in PS and ACR plus it takes a bit study to be able to use those apps to that degree. It's not impossible, it's not even "very difficult", it's just time consuming - like about 15 to 20 min a shot after you know what you're doing. (And lots of reading + trial and error to get to where you know what you're doing). This is true to an even greater extent when printing. Noise shows up very much more on your LCD monitor than it does in the output from a printer!

    Still, Every APS-C released in the past 5 years or so will have less noise than any of the 4/3 cameras - and this certainly will include the GH3 and the OM-D. On top of that all modern APS-C cameras will produce better looking images than all 4/3 cameras just due the subtleties introduced by the difference in dynamic range. 4/3 cameras will produce images which look flat and somewhat lifeless when compared with the APS-C shot taken in the identical situation.

    To say it a different way: No good or knowledgable wildlife shooters (especially birders) will be wanting to use a smaller sensor just so that they can take advantage of the crop-factor. All of them want a FF sensor or at least APS-C and with the best noise handling possible! Mostly this is because they don't want to spend so much time at the computer! But some stuff just can not be corrected or remedied in software in a reasonable amount of time - even if you're a total app-wizzard!


    So, I am at a bit of crossroads. Do I stick with m43rds and limit my success with photographing birds, or do I change systems? The need to abandon m43rds is partly financial: I have a lot of money tied up in m43rds kit even at second hand prices and I do not want to proliferate my camera ownership into a 4th system. I don't think the wife will stand for it either!

    IMHO you should practice manual focusing good glass on a tripod with gimbal head first before you dump your 4/3. The difference between a good lens and what you're using now is just night and day! It's intense! You'll kick yourself for not doing it sooner when you see the difference - I promise! You should be able to find something like the nFD 300/2.8L for around $600 and a good cheap gimbal head for around $75 or so. (I'm using this gimbal head myself. I've compared it directly with the $600 Wimberley and there's not enough difference to mention.) Also the bottom line is that when needing good sharp micro-contrast and micro-detail you can never shoot 300mm hand held. Maybe with perfect lighting and 1/4000s shutter speed you might get 10% that don't have their details destroyed to some degree - if you're lucky. It's just a fact that 300mm needs stable tripod legs and a nice sturdy head - or some similar support. And this becomes more evident the more you crop and the less you scale too.

    Try that first and as you learn to MF-Track (which is also a WHOLE BUNCH OF FUN IN THE DOING!) you'll discover what your camera is actually capable of. From there you may decide that's good enough. If you don't or can't come to terms with MF (but it's so easy! and so fun! anyone can - everyone used to!) just resell the nFD lens (maybe even make $50 in the process) and bump up to an APS-C or better yet the APS-H.

    APS-H is the sensor in the Canon EOS 1D Mark II. And that camera has the best AF short of the 1D X or the D4 (which I don't know enough about yet to say) The 1DmkII and IIn also have a really nice continuous drive mode! Between that AF and that drive mode (plus a nice sized buffer to actually make use of it) you'll be in birders heaven!!! And either camera can be had for around $550 if you spend just a little time looking and are quick on the draw. But again, I think this should be a second step.

    It seems sad to ask for insights into personal decision making in a forum but a lot of people in this forum have more experience than I and have become virtual friends, so I would welcome your comments - no matter how critical!

    Nah, it's not sad. The options out there are nothing short of mind boggling! Mix those with a decent price : performance ratio and you're wise to ask us for our experiences and knowledge - not sad.

    So in short - things I would do first if I were you:
    1. Test how to use higher ISO to a good result.
    2. Get a decent lens (this will mean learning to MF / Track).
    3. Use the proper (proven) birding equipment (gimbal head + sturdy legs).
    4. Invest some time in improving your editing skills a bit.

      And if all that still isn't enough (or you can't hang)... then move up to the APS-H camera and an AF (L quality type) lens.

    And whatever you do, have fun doing it! Don't get emotionally attached to a format or some equipment just cuz of your brain input, what you've read others say, seduction factors, or etc. Keep it open minded. Like, hay, maybe if you look into it you'll find that something like the Pentax K-5 is actually the best bang for the buck, etc. etc.






    .
    Last edited by Tesselator; 15th April 2012 at 22:08.
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    Re: m43rds dilemma

    A while ago I compared a G3 and a GH2 with the 100-300 zoom against a 7D with the Canon 100-400 lens. This is all my equipment and I am quite familiar with it.

    This was in preparation for a trip to Africa, and the ability to resolve detail was one of the most important criteria. The upshot of my comparisons was that while the 7D with the 100-400, stopped down slightly and in the center of the image resolved very slightly more detail than the GH2 with the 100-300. However, and this is a big 'however', wide open and especially over the rest of the image field the GH2 and 100-300 was noticeably better. This is due to the 100-400 generally having centering problems and not being nearly as good as the 100-300. I've now owned 2 and tested 4 other samples of the Canon, and my current one is the best, but it still suffers from the decentering issue quite a bit.

    I had a 300/2.8 IS Canon for a while, but while it was decent on it's own, with teleconverters it just couldn't hold it together enough. To get a good birding setup a 300/4 and a 500/4 would be a good combo; that would give you the quality improvement you want. If you want to deal with manual focussing, some older generation high quality teles are available.

    I also have a Leica Apo Telyt 280/4, which is rightly regarded as an outstanding lens and works reasonably well on the Canons and m43 cameras. You can tell it's better than the 100-300, but the improvement over the 100-400 Canon is much greater. It is also truly excellent with the 1.4x apo converter.

    I have two friends who have the 200-400 Nikon, one the first version and one the second. The second is better, but neither comes close to the Leica 280/4 and in my opinion the Nikon zoom isn't worth the effort. Again, the fixed teles are definitely better, and again the converters reduce the quality noticeably.

    The upshot of all this is that for image quality for birds in decent light the GH2 with 100-300 provides excellent image quality that is hard to better, to the limits of the GH2 sensor. The 7D excels in focussing speed and general handling speed. Exposure is no better; for birds I generally use manual. In low light the 7D is a little better, but no miracles should be expected.

    For general fast action I use the 7D; for highest quality some FF bodies, but if I'm going to carry it and want maximum detail at a distance, I use the m43 cameras.

    I can hardly wait to use the 280/4 with 1x4 apo converter on the OM-D.

    Henning
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    Senior Member Tesselator's Avatar
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    Re: m43rds dilemma

    I'd love to see those tests of yours. They would certainly prove EVERYONE else as well as myself wrong. What a revelation you could incur. I urge you to go for it; it would be very interesting!

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    Re: m43rds dilemma

    My $0.02: it's either FF or m43. I really don't think there's a significant advantage of APS-C over m43 unless you shoot in dark caves.
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    Re: m43rds dilemma

    That's kinda what I thought too - until I actually tried it. The difference in daylight shots were noticeable to the human eye. DxO seems to reflect this as well:







    But of course I agree that FF is even better.











    .

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    Re: m43rds dilemma

    All, thanks for the advice and experience, very useful indeed.

    I'm all for changing nothing and instead trying to improve my technique first with what I have.

    I would love to get an APO 280/4 and give that a work up on a GH-2 but... sheesh... for that kind of money I could hire someone to take my photographs for me :-)

    LouisB

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    Re: m43rds dilemma

    Personally I would stick with the m43 system. I have been using the 4/3 50-200mm with converter for all of my telephoto pictures. Works great for birding and still gives you the option of handholding (though nothing beats a tripod).

    I remember my trip to Kyoto Japan where walking around with this setup I came across a lake with swans, egrets, and other water birds. Many photographers were there with tripod and gimbal heads locked in one spot. Where as I came in and washable to walk around and reposition myself constantly to get the shots I wanted. Couldn't of done that with another system and had a 400mm equivalent reach.

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    Re: m43rds dilemma

    I actually did some birding today. If you count having a heron fly right up to you and start fishing 1-2m away. I had to step back to get her in the frame. With a 40mm lens. :-)
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    Re: m43rds dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by biglouis View Post
    I'm going though mental convolutions at present about whether or not to stick with m4rds or change to a APS-C system.


    It seems sad to ask for insights into personal decision making in a forum but a lot of people in this forum have more experience than I and have become virtual friends, so I would welcome your comments - no matter how critical!

    LouisB
    I owned a D7000 for a week. The first day, nothing it shot was in focus. I'm too sick of DSLR focusing problems, micro-adjustments, I'm not going back. As for APS-C systems like the NEX-7, it looks ok, except for the tragically mediocre lenses and selection. If I did go to it, I'd find myself using a lot of better manual lenses I think.

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    Re: m43rds dilemma

    drop Pentax from your consideration. The AF is not quick enough for birding (AF-C tracking is awful ). Also, you have a much better lens possibilities (third party) with a Canon or a Nikon.

    For, BIF you need a bright lens rather than IS. Canon 7D & 400/5.6 prime would be a good starting point. For static subject, the Canon 100-400 zoom isn't that bad. Remember both Canon and Nikon offer great 1.4x & 2x adapters as well.

    Then again, birding is a dangerous hobby... before you know it, you'd be thinking about the 500 & 600 lenses...5-10K territory ;-)

    i.e.
    You could also consider the new Nikon D800 and shoot in crop mode.
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    Re: m43rds dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by biglouis View Post
    Thanks, all, for the responses. Especially tips on how to tune up the GH-2 so that it has more of a fighting chance.
    just briefly, I'd say that you should consider carefully looking at Manual exposure. I always take a few quick shots to tune my exposure and then its set for that subject and lighting. Clouds and overcast skies get metering into a knot.

    I use a 300f4 FD lens on the m4/3 and find that its a good size. I've often wondered about getting a EOS system again (which is what I sold to come over to the G1/GH1 I have). The Canon EF300f4 is a sweet lens and has high speed AF, which can be good, but just as you have to pick focal points on the 4/3 system you'll have to pick them on the other too.

    Personally I got less problems with focus accuracy on my FD lens using the zoom tool than I ever got success with bang on AF accruacy on my EOS (film or 20D).

    Lastly the extra magnification provided by the 4/3 sensor will likely mean that to get the same as on APS you'll need another x1.3 (perhaps a converter) so what you win you may loose.

    Here are a few samples of what I get with my rig


    scalyBreasted by obakesan, on Flickr


    tawny Frogmouth by obakesan, on Flickr


    kuusiTintti by obakesan, on Flickr
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    Senior Member biglouis's Avatar
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    Re: m43rds dilemma

    This has been a very useful thread. I am more inclined to get myself a gimbal head - or at least go back to using a monopod which I was using regularly at one point - and also look into a s/h 300fd with an adaptor.

    My one concern remains the ability for the GH-2 at iso800 and definitely iso1600 to turn the resolution to mush. Tesselator is correct that with judicious use of LR and CS3 (and in my case Nik Sharpener) it is possible to recover a lot of detail but you can never get to super detail at iso1600 unless you are almost on top of your subject in my experience.

    Another possibility is to bet on the next generation of m43rds cameras from Panasonic having even more improved high iso capabilities. I expect there will be new models pretty rapidly now given the hype surrounding the OM-D.

    Anyway, once again, many thanks from all the contributors

    LouisB

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    Re: m43rds dilemma

    Louis,

    First, I enjoy your bird shots quite a bit.

    How is the image stabilization on that lens? Can you use it to avoid such high iso shooting?

    I have the Oly 75-300. Common wisdom and certainly forum wisdom says to turn off stabilization and use high shutter speeds, which means high isos because it is a very slow lens. However, I have found to my surprise that stabilization works extremely well at very slow shutter speeds - as slow as 1/30 at 300mm for very sharp and even 1/10 or 1/8 for 'sharp enough for web' shots. I would have never guessed that to be true, so I wonder if you have tried it with your lens. Those speeds are with my technique at its best, usually I need a bit higher - 1/60 or 1/80 for better success as I tend to be a sloppy shooter. But much less than what I would have thought is possible.

    The key seems to be keeping the shutter speed below 1/200 or perhaps even lower - 1/180 or 1/160. Not sure exactly when stabilization kicks in.

    'Native' shutter speeds here are frequently from 1/200 to 1/500, so my instinct would have been to raise iso in order to raise shutter speeds to 1/1000 or more. Now I do the opposite and look for ways to lower the shutter speed, if possible.

    Of course, it doesn't help with birds that are moving or when I use tripod, but thought you might try to see if you can use lower iso than you think necessary by using stabilization.
    Roberto M.

  23. #23
    Senior Member biglouis's Avatar
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    Re: m43rds dilemma

    Roberto

    Thanks for the comment about my bird pictures. You do get lucky and I suppose one advantage of the 100-300 is that it is fast to pick up, light and easy to deploy hand-held.

    I find that as soon as the shutter speed drops below 1/160th (If I recall correctly) I get the red anti-shake warning telling me that I need stabilisation. At least I believe that is what it is telling me. However, I have never really got decently sharp pictures at 300mm below 1/125. Maybe one or two lucky ones. Again, it could be my technique needs working on.

    LouisB

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    Senior Member Tesselator's Avatar
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    Re: m43rds dilemma

    The FD 300/4 L is certainly a sweet lens! It's focusing mechanism (throw and dampening) is just about perfect for BIFs IMO. The 300/2.8 L is a tad better in that regard but either will do nicely!

    Here are some poorly processed 100% crops with it on the GH1:












    Unfortunately the 4.0 aperture means that far too many shots come out like this:






    300mm is a pretty good length on 4/3 for larger birds... Ducks, geese, swan, etc. but for me all the fun is with little birds. They're colorful, more interesting to watch, and much more fun to shoot! Smaller bird shooting is a real sport! And to that, 300mm - even a really sharp 300mm, just isn't enough IMO. Here's the 300/4L from only about 15 to 18 meters away (same as the 100% crops above):




    And here I am about 6 or 7 meters away:


    So the 100% or near 100% cropping is really needed (which of course requires a great lens!):



    About 500 or 600mm is about right on 4/3...! But it's not that expensive really. I recently picked up a Sigma AF APO 500/4.5 IF for $900 (which I'm now also selling for the same) that's pretty awesome! I don't have any good BIFs with it yet but here's the FD 300/2.8 L with a 2x TC on it - again on 4/3:








    The trouble with a TC is that it quite noticeably degrades the IQ so that scales are only slightly better than 75% - 100% crops from the same lens without the TC. Even the really good ones take a lot out of a lens. IMO a TC is best used when cropping isn't needed anyway. For example without the TC you're getting the bird full-body (so no need to crop) but maybe you want just a head shot or something - really up close and personal.
    Last edited by Tesselator; 19th April 2012 at 13:57.
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    Re: m43rds dilemma

    wow, forget about the gear, I'm just envious of so many pretty birds.
    Roberto M.

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    Senior Member pellicle's Avatar
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    Re: m43rds dilemma

    Hi

    some pretty darn good shots in there {MeijiJingu?} Hope you don't mind me using your post to discuss this further ... was running short lastnight wanted to just get in a few quick comments.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tesselator View Post
    The FD 300/4 L is certainly a sweet lens! It's focusing mechanism (throw and dampening) is just about perfect for BIFs IMO. The 300/2.8 L is a tad better in that regard but either will do nicely!
    I would totally agree with this, and suggest that I often find myself wanting more than 300mm ... I fully agree with the suggestions later by Tesselator that this is a better route than any TC.

    Personally I don't much go for AF on birds as I find it just as much miss as hit even with good fast AF systems such as an EF300f4. I know that its a bit of effort learning to work with the AF system but then for less effort (for me, I found it just as easy to learn to MF by hand.

    The point Tesselator makes about the focus feel on the FD is certainly true and very important to effective MF. Its the reason I bought the FD's to start with.

    I did have an OM300f4 but sold it for exactly that reason (even though it was an optically sweet lens).

    A blog post on both lenses here.

    Unfortunately the 4.0 aperture means that far too many shots come out like this:
    this is sort of why I ended up buying the FD200 f2.8 I was at first stunned about how much bigger it was and end up using it less as the extra stop seldom makes so much difference.

    I mainly use it for when I'm walking in rainforest and you seldom get to shoot far in there.

    this guy was within a few meters ...

    noisy pitta by obakesan, on Flickr

    I did wish for the extra stop then (which prompted me to buy it)

    Bottom line is go hold the 300f2.8 and see if its too big for you to carry it. No point in having a great lens left at home.

    About 500 or 600mm is about right on 4/3...! But it's not that expensive really. I recently picked up a Sigma AF APO 500/4.5 IF for $900 (which I'm now also selling for the same) that's pretty awesome!

    so yep ... that's my thoughts

    The trouble with a TC is that it quite noticeably degrades the IQ so that scales are only slightly better than 75% - 100% crops from the same lens without the TC. :
    and that too
    Anyway Lou good luck with the testing. I can say having the high quality EVF certainly is a bonus for birding compared to the optical display on the APS cameras. I can quickly check exposure with some quick snaps and also check for "is my shutter fast enough"

    I'm a follower of the view that faster shutter beats OIS as you can't stabilize the bird even if you can the frame.

    I think the gimbal is a good idea, and the monopod a more or less must. I've put a ball head on my mono (Manfrotto) to allow me to get different angles easier.
    :-)

    and once more nice shots Tesselator!

  27. #27
    Senior Member Tesselator's Avatar
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    Re: m43rds dilemma

    Sure NP.

    I wanna reiterate the points about MFing and lenses that are conducive thereto once again. I dunno if I'm correct or not but I sense a reluctance here to even try it. All I can say is to take the leap! Even if it ends up not being better it will be an added experience and that's the fun in life, love, and photography!

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    Re: m43rds dilemma

    To Tesselator:

    Your point is well-taken, at least in my case. I alternate between using a D700 with Nikkor 500mm f4 AIS (manual focus), a Nikkor 300mm f4 AF-IF, and a Lumix G3 with 100-300.

    The 500mm f4 is a special optic, and yields some of the best results I've ever gotten. That said, it's very hard, even with my gimbal, to shoot birds in flight (BIF) with it. It works, but the hit rate is very low. I do have a nice egret, caught in mid-flight with this outfit, on my wall at 24"x36". There were a LOT of near misses from that same day.

    Here's what it looks like on the screen:


    Great Egret (Ardea Alba) by reed_flickr (www.creativeobjective.com), on Flickr

    My very best BIF image ever was shot last weekend, a pair of ospreys "interacting" in flight, shot with the 300mm f4. I shot that image using autofocus. I wish I had my osprey pic on this computer, as I know it's not impressive to hear about an image, rather than see it. Maybe I can add it to this post later.

    That said, I am quite pleased with the Lumix and 100-300, particularly for shooting from a monopod inside my kayak. I have to focus on filling the frame more with the G3 than the FF D700, but that's not so hard with the 600mm equivalent field of view of the 100-300, and the OIS helps, too. And the portability is just unbeatable.

    Here's an example with the G1 and 100-300, before I upgraded to the G3:


    P1110891-2.jpg by reed_flickr (www.creativeobjective.com), on Flickr

    Anyway, I want to affirm for you that some of us do still use manual focus and the best (affordable to me) sensors and optics, with at least some level of success.



    Reed
    My Lumix Blog: DMC-365.blogspot.com
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  29. #29
    Senior Member biglouis's Avatar
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    Re: m43rds dilemma

    All

    There are such good birding shots appearing in this thread, maybe we should start a birding with m43rds thread?

    Anyway, thanks for the discussion. The weather in the UK is awful at present and since posting I've maybe taken half a dozen photographs!

    Louis
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    My new book "Whitechapel in 50 BUildings", Flikr Stream, www.louisberk.com
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