Tag Archives: Review

Olympus M. Zuiko 75-300mm f4.8-6.7 II

I’ve had this lens for over a year now and I always get questions about it, questions like:

  • Is it any good?
  • Just how much zoom will it give me?
  • Are the photos sharp?
  • It seems a bit slow …
  • Is it heavy, bulky etc?
  • Was it expensive?
  • When will I use such a long lens?

So I’ll address them from the beginning …

Is it any good?  In short, yes.

Olympus OM-D E-M5, M.Zuiko 75-300mm II
Olympus OM-D E-M5, M.Zuiko 75-300mm II

Just how much zoom will it give me?  A lot, but if you want to get technical about it, the M.Zuiko 75-300mm II is designed to be used on a micro 4/3 camera which means you effectively get 150-600mm focal range.  Think about that next time you go to shoot some wildlife!

Olympus OM-D E-M5, M.Zuiko 75-300mm II
Olympus OM-D E-M5, M.Zuiko 75-300mm II

Are the photos sharp? Sharp enough, and I only say that because I’m generally very picky with my lenses.  For a sub $1000 lens that gives me this kind of reach I’ll definitely be less picky.  In saying that, I have absolutely no issues with it’s sharpness and when combined with the Olympus IBIS I can get the photos I need.

Olympus OM-D E-M5, M.Zuiko 75-300mm II
Olympus OM-D E-M5, M.Zuiko 75-300mm II

It seems a bit slow … First of all I don’t know if you’re asking a question or making a statement.  Since there was no question mark I’ll address it as a statement.  Yes, f4.8-6.7 is VERY slow, even for a zoom lens of this range.  The panasonic equivalent is comparably faster.  However, I can compensate for that with a combination of the great IBIS and high ISO performance of my E-M5.  So, no, it’s not a problem for me.

Olympus OM-D E-M5, M.Zuiko 75-300mm.  Dark conditions, long focal length, small aperture, yet somehow the camera and lens combination does exactly what I need.
Olympus OM-D E-M5, M.Zuiko 75-300mm. Dark conditions, long focal length, small aperture, yet somehow the camera and lens combination does exactly what I need.

Is it heavy, bulky?  No, especially not when I’ve been used to carrying a Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS USM.  It all depends on what you’re used to, being a long time DSLR user, I doubt anything in the m43 or Sony CSC range will make me complain about weight/bulk.  Plus, if you can’t put up with the weight of the gear you need then maybe it’s not for you.

Was it expensive? If I remember correctly I paid around $550AUD for it, to me that was a very cheap price for what this lens is.  It’s significantly cheaper than the original version which was priced around $999 and this price is what I would expect for a m43 lens of this calibre.

When will I use such a long lens?  The photos in this post should answer your question, I mostly use it for wildlife, especially birds.  If you are of the stalker type (I don’t judge) then I suppose you can use it for that.  However I would not recommend it for any situation darker than a cloudy day.

Olympus OM-D E-M5, M.Zuiko 75-300mm II
Olympus OM-D E-M5, M.Zuiko 75-300mm II.  Long focal length makes it ideal for bird photography (during the day).

So there you go!  If you need a super long lens and own a m43 system, go out and buy this because this is one of the few lenses that are stopping me from selling my Olympus kit since buying the Sony kit.  You can get more detailed information about the lens here and here.  This was more of an informal Q&A but I can always go into more detail with it later on if you like.

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Tribute to my OM-D

For a while I was running the risk of sounding like a massive Sony fanboy.  Most of you will know that this isn’t true, I’ve been using Canon DSLR’s for years and my first mirrorless was an Olympus OM-D E-M5.  Sony has always been an extremely innovative company that’s not afraid to push the boundaries.  Let’s face it, Canon and Nikon are too afraid to put a full frame (FF) sensor in their compact system cameras because that’ll destroy their sub $2000 AUD DSLR market.  Olympus is unlikely to make a FF OM-D because they have an extensive m43 lens range which happens to be extremely popular and extremely sharp.  Going FF would mean a whole new lens range for Olympus and Pansonic.

Don’t get me wrong, my OM-D E-M5 is one of the finest cameras I’ve ever used, some of my best photos were taken with the OM-D.

Sydney Town Hall, Taken with OM-D E-M5 and 12mm f2.0.  Speaking of lenses, the m43 range of primes is one of the finest out there for compact system cameras.  I have and still use the Olympus 12mm f2.0 and Panasonic Leica 25mm f1.4.  Sharpness is incredible, focusing speed is quick and build quality is as you would expect for a fast prime (especially in the Oly 12mm).  The versatility of the m43 lens system is worth mentioning too, in case you didn’t know, Olympus and Panasonic “mirrorless cameras” share the same lens mount, which means you can use either brand on their bodies.

Did I mention how good the in body Image Stabilisation (IS) is on the E-M5?  In short, it’s incredible.  I can shoot hand held 1/15 shutter speeds with no issues.  Definitely not something I would try with my 5D2 or even the a7.  Olympus seems to have 5 axis IS figured out before the other manufacturers.  The harbour bridge photo above was taken hand held with E-M5 and Panasonic Leica 25mm f1.4.

I can’t have a post about the OM-D without mentioning just how awesome the kit lens is.  Yes, I said it, kit lens .. and yes, it’s good, REAL good.  The bee photo was taken with E-M5 and 12-50mm kit lens.  It has a neat little push action to activate macro mode and the image above is typical of the kind of quality you would get.  Obviously a lot of luck comes into these photos with timing and lighting but you can rest easy knowing an OM-D kit straight out of the box has the ability to get you quality like that!

With all these qualities, it’s unlikely I’ll officially retire the OM-D.  There are too many lenses I have for it that I love and it has taken SO many great photos for me.  In fact, I might go get it out now to have a play around …

– Chris

PS. This post was mainly about the E-M5 but a lot of the qualities apply to the new OM-D versions as well.  Personally I prefer the look of the E-M5 over the newer and more improved E-M1.

Lowepro Photosport 200AW Review

Some time ago I posted a quick review of the Lowepro Pro Runner 450AW, which you can read here, since then I have experimented with quite a few more camera bags and due to the insane popularity of that last post I’ve decided to do more bag reviews.

So here it is, another camera bag review by a photographer for photographers.  I present the Lowepro Photosport 200AW.

This bag was designed by Lowepro to suit the more active photographers and those who like to combine physical activity with their love of photography.  I would highly recommend this bag for cyclists, trekkers, and climbers to name a few.  The video below sums it up extremely well.

I needed a camera bag that was going to carry a bit of gear and a bit of everything else while maintaining a slim and subtle profile.  I already have a huge bag that carries everything in the Pro Runner 450AW.  Here were my list of candidates:

 The thing you’ll notice immediately about this bag is the way it looks.  It’s a great looking camera bag that doesn’t look like a camera bag at all.  If anything it looks like a trekking bag, or something I would take snowboarding (which I did).  Lowepro offers this bag in two colours, black and orange.  I went with the black mostly because I didn’t want to stick out too much when walking around the city, though the orange still appeals to me and would be my choice for hiking/climbing/snowboarding for visibility reasons.

A quick run down of the features of this bag. 

  • Hydration pocket at rear
  • Dual compartments for camera and personal items
  • Stretch durable fabric
  • Waist and chest straps for improved stability
  • Plenty of pockets for bits and pieces

Outside

 

Lowepro logo aside, pretty inconspicuous as a camera bag which is great for traveling.  You can see I’ve also managed to use the bottom straps to clip my tripod in place (Benro C2692).  The zipped pockets on the waist strap are great for holding things like coins and quick release plates.  The back is padded just enough to keep the bag fairly comfortable when carrying heavy loads over a long distance, I have had no issues with weight in this bag.

 

Sides

 

In the side view you can see I can still squeeze a water bottle on the right.  The camera compartment is a side access much like the Fastpacks which is great for getting your camera in and out on the run without taking the bag off both shoulders.  My only issue with this bag is that it doesn’t actually carry much camera gear in the padded compartment.  In the photo I’ve managed to put my Canon EOS 5D MkII with EF 24-70mm f2.8L attached with a reversed hood.  In the side I also have a second lens.  

This compartment is too small for a pro body like the 1DX or D4, or any body with a battery grip, so certain sacrifices will have to be made.  I’ll only briefly speak about the ‘Ultra Cinch camera chamber’ as I hardly use it, it is only useful if your gear flops around a bit while it’s in the bag.  If your gear only just fits in the compartment, then leave that tucked away (like I have) and it’ll save you a bit of time when accessing your equipment.

 

Interior

 

In the rear pocket where the hydration pack goes, I prefer to put my iPad, in the top zipped pocket I like to put my filters.  In the top half of the bag (designed for everyday things) I have elected to put a padded compartment to fit more gear.  This is my solution to the small space in the camera compartment.  I this padded cell I have:

  • Canon EF 50mm f1.4
  • Canon EF 15mm f2.8 fisheye
  • Olympus OM-D with 12-50mm attached (Used to take these photos)
  • Olympus 12mm f2.0 (not in photo)

At this point the bag carries pretty much everything I need for a day of shooting.  My Canon 580EXII is also in the top compartment somewhere.  

 

Gear

 

There’s a photo of the bag emptied out, as you can see there’s quite a bit of gear in there (again, OM-D isn’t in photo).  Looking at that, most enthusiasts would be satisfied with that setup to handle just about anything that can happen on a day of shooting.  

All in all, I absolutely love the bag, it looks great and is comfortable when I carry as much or as little gear as I want (the above setup weighs in at about 7kg, tripod is about 1.7kg).  For me, the bag gets an 8/10, my only issue is the lack of space in the camera compartment but not everyone will want to carry the amount of gear that I do.  All that aside, this is still the perfect bag for an active photographer who needs a lightweight, comfortable bag to carry a mixed bag of goodies.

 

Rips

 

A minor issue, one side of the top carry strap actually ripped off while I was out on location (slightly annoying), but since I don’t use it a whole lot I elected to cut it off all together.  Not a huge concern, and it didn’t make me think any less of the bag, only the first time any Lowepro bag has done that on me. 

The bag sells for about $149USD on B&H. If you are local in Sydney, Australia, check out Castle Hill Camera House which is where I get a lot of my gear from, the friendly staff are always happy to help and talk photography as well as great local prices (Castle Hill Camera House did not pay me to write that, despite what it sounds like).

As usual, any questions, ask in the comments and I will definitely get back to you, I’m also up for criticisms, after all that’s the way to improve 🙂