on April 13, 2013
I've had the lens for about 6 months now and I think it's been a great purchase. The pros and cons for me are pretty simple:
- Great range and pretty sharp throughout (very sharp 100-200mm). It's approximately the same field of view you get using a 100-400mm f4-f5.6 on a DX sensor, or 200-600mm on an FX sensor. I picked it over the 200mm version because if I need to shoot long, I might as well spend a little more and have the reach (telecoverters are out of the question on these lenses), plus I'd rather have 200mm at the middle of the range and be sharp as all get out than have it at the end of the range and a little soft.
- Excellent to good wide open at all lengths. No, not tack sharp at 300mm f5.6. Good (and quite a bit better than "good enough"). If you're viewing your pics online, you'll be very stoked; if you're making prints up to 13x19 or so, you'll be stoked. If you're pixel-peeping, what the heck are you doing with a $400 lens and an m4/3 body? Sack-up and get a D800, 5DM3 or a medium format body and be done with it. I'm sure the corners are a little wack, but what lens with this reach and maximum aperture isn't? I'd say it's better than the Nikon or Canon 70-300mm f4-f5.6 for DX, with more effective reach given the m4/3 sensor size.
- Decently-priced for the range. If you can get a good one used, I'd always say go that route, but $400-$500 for this lens is about what you'd expect. Amazon will probably do a crappy job of packing the lens (sorry; it's the truth), but you can always return it if there's a problem.
- Small and light: this isn't an impress your friends with your bulging forearms lens. It's easy to carry and you look like a tourist using it. This is a good thing about the m4/3 system because I don't like being questioned about my gear when I'm shooting. Pull out a monopod and a 100-400 on a dSLR, and someone will be compelled to ask you how much it costs. They also get suspicious of what you're shooting. I can fit this lens, a 9-18, a 25mm, and a 45 mm in a somewhat effeminate, medium murse-sized canvas bag and put it under the seat of a plane.
- IS: I'm just guessing here; I use the Oly in-body IS. If you're using a Panasonic, you'll probably appreciate it. It may be light, but you'll get a lot more keepers at 300mm if you use the IS (or even better: some kind of support).
- Flare/ghosting does not seem to be a problem. Images are contrasty unless shooting directly into the sun.
The cons are pretty limited:
- Chromatic aberration: Maybe it's an m4/3 thing, but it seems like every Panasonic and Olympus m4/3 lens I have is worse than my Nikons for chromatic aberration; this lens is no exception. Pany bodies will remove it if you shoot jpeg, but that's a non-starter for me. It's removable in post, but it would be nice to have it better controlled from the start.
- Not weather sealed: I like shooting in all kinds of weather and around wind-blown sand, so it would have been nice to have it sealed.
- Not good for most sports: I saved this for last because it's a big deal depending on what you want to do. To be fair, it's really a limitation of the m4/3 bodies I've tried, and not just the lens. But there's a lot of people who might be thinking this would be a great birding or sports lens, and it falls flat for two reasons: continuous focus is a joke, and f5.6 is too slow for decent shutter speeds in anything but bright light. Yes, you can do probably do anything with any lens if you're good or patient enough. But why make it that hard? If shooting sports or flying birds is your primary avocation, I think you'll be a disappointed in this lens and m4/3 bodies overall.
Hope the review helps. Overall, if you don't want to spend the big bucks and you're invested in the m4/3 system, this is a good addition to your bag for reach and portability.
on December 9, 2010
It has taken Panasonic a long time to realize the one of the biggest strengths of M4/3 is exploiting the 2x crop factor. They have now done that with the 100-300mm lens. This lens is the equivalent of a 200mm-600mm f/5.6! Wow (In 1:1 Tele Extender Video mode you get a 2.6x extender fro a 520-1560mm f/5.6 equivalent lens). If you check your specs you will see 600mm prime lenses come one stop faster and cost around oh $14,000. That is not a typo. They also weigh 11 pounds. So they are hardly something you would tote around. Now ideally, Panasonic would come out with a 300mm f/2.8 and f/4. Those would be super lenses on the M4/3. However, they would be bigger and heavier than this lens. So this lens is perfect for bright daylight shooting of birds, sports, safari animals. Just about anything you need to reach out and touch.
This is Panasonic's largest M4/3 lens so far and weighs in at 1.14 lbs. To give you a comparison, Nikon's 70-300 mm lens weighs in at 1.6 lbs. Unfortunately at 4.9" long it is not as small as I think it should be. The Nikon 70-300 VR is 5.6" long so not that much bigger and that is an FX lens. However, with that said this is a solid lens with great construction. It is typical of all of their heigh end lenses such as the 8mm Fisheye and 7-14mm wide angle. Something to note is this lens will be unwieldy to use on all the Olympus M4/3 and the Panasonic GF lines.
This lens takes very nice photos and the autofocus is very fast. Especially on the GH2. The Image Stabilization works as advertised.
Overall, if you are looking to take pictures of birds, your kids soccer games, or anything else that you would use a 600mm lens then this is the one to use on the M4/3 system.
As a comparison the Olympus 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 is smaller and lighter and covers a greater focal range. However, it does not have Image Stabilization as that is built into Olympus cameras. So this would not be a good lens for Panasonic users. Also, I prefer the build and feel of the Panasonic. However, that is my personal bias. Oh the Olympus is $900 vs $600 for the Panasonic.
Now that I have had a chance to play with this lens on the GH2 for a while, I can say this combo is great for shooting wildlife. The GH2 has an Extra Tele Convert (ETC) mode that makes this lens the equivalent of a 840mm (Medium ETC) and 1200mm (Small ETC). When you shoot in this mode you are getting an 8mp and 4mp image respectively. Yes you can crop a picture to get the same magnification. However, by selecting the ETC mode you are more likely to focus to an ultra sharp image on your subject. Also, it saves you 1 step in your work flow and saves space on your computer. So I find the ETC mode useful for stills also. As a down side it effectively makes your sensor smaller so it is not that useful in high ISO situations.
Overall, a brilliant lens and a no brainer if you are looking for extra reach on you M4/3 system.
on March 7, 2011
When I got this lens, I expected it to be very heavy. I was surprised! It is heavy but doesn't feel at all as heavy as my Panasonic 14-140mm lens. You'd think the fact that it is longer than the 14-140mm lens that it would be awkward but it isn't to me. But I did downsize from a Canon 50D with a 100-400mm L lens and that setup weighed in at over 6 pounds so the 2 pounds of this setup is much lighter anyway. The quality of the 100-300mm lens is good. It is not spectacular but it still is very good. It comes in at 600mm whereas my Canon L lens was right at 640mm. In comparing the same shots at full telephoto, there isn't much difference and surprisingly, the quality of the shots are very similar. This lens costs $529 whereas the Canon L lens costs $1500! I am very happy with the results of this lens and so far, all the Panasonic/Leica lenses I've purchased. The shots are not as good in quality as the Canon EOS series but close and at less than half the cost and 1/3 the weight, I am very happy once again. I now own the G2, 14-140mm, 100-300mm, 45mm Leica macro and the 20mm f1.7. All of these lenses and the camera with the spare batteries, memory cards, charger and other miscellaneous gear in my camera bag weigh in at just over 7 pounds. My Canon setup with not as many lenses weighed in at 12 pounds. My Canon setup set me back over $5,000. My current setup cost just over $2,500. Half the weight and half the price. I'm sold on Micro four thirds!!
on January 31, 2011
I purchased this lens to mount on a Panasonic DMC-G2 micro four thirds camera. With great anticipation, I took the camera/lens combo with me on an early morning wildlife shoot. I was a little daunted when conditions turned out to be dismal...misty rain and very low light. However, I figured that if the lens was all I hoped it would be, I would get some good shots in spite of the conditions. A number of deer came to within 20' of me, and I was extremely pleased with the quality and detail of the shots I took of them - fine details were abundant with little noise, and with minimal editing, I got some very pleasing results! Later in the day, after the sun came out, I took the same camera/lens combo with me on a stroll around our ranch. My first impression was how easy the camera/lens combo was to carry around, and I am a small, petite lady. While on my stroll, I found some macro photo ops of ants doing what ants do...and what excellent results! At the 100 end of the lens, with the camera set on IA, I brought home shot with great clarity and detail. Even my pro photographer friends were impressed. So far, this has been one of the more brilliant purchases I've made, and I plan to put the lens to lots of use. I will post photos I've taken with the lens to the lens' product page...please check there for my shots.
on January 5, 2013
This is a telephoto superzoom lens for Micro 4/3 cameras that translates into a "35mm equivalent" of 200-600mm. Typically a lens like this gets used at the long end the majority of the time for "birding" and other wildlife pursuits. Crop sensor cameras like M4/3 have an advantage in this arena, because they allow you to get more "reach" with a much smaller and lighter setup. A Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS Lens costs over $12,000, weighs over 10 lbs and can't be hand-held for more than a shot or two; add another $1000 for a sturdy tripod and gimbal head and you're stuck lugging around a LOT of gear. This lens, on the other hand, weighs slightly over 2 lbs paired with a GH2 and is totally hand-holdable for long periods.
Does that mean that this lens can produce images that look as good as a 600mm DSLR lens? Well, unfortunately not, because there is no free lunch. What happens when you scale everything down is less total light gathering ability, plus with a zoom versus a prime lens there are usually some compromises. I would have preferred that Panasonic had just put their effort into a 300mm f/4 prime lens and gone for the best optics possible. F/5.6 is a relatively slow lens and that is a limiting factor. On a bright sunny day, you can shoot without support and get a lot of keepers, but in any circumstances that have less than optimal light, such as on a cloudy day or in the shade of trees, where you find many birds and animals, you might want to have a monopod available to prevent the dreaded camera shake, even with the image stabilization.
All that said, you can do a LOT with this lens that you could never do without getting into a super-expensive, bulky, attention-drawing DSLR rig. A few others have complained about the optical quality but I've found it to be quite good. With a super telephoto field of view, your technique is going to be the most important factor in getting clean shots. With long-distance shots you're also going to have more image degradation with thermal currents (heat waves) and atmospheric pollution than you are with any optical shortcomings in this lens. Panasonic's built-in lens correction takes good care of chromatic aberration, distortion and light fall-off, and the lens is about as sharp as it gets wide open, so it's not really necessary to stop it down further. F/8 may technically get you a bit more sharpness in the corners, but your friends won't notice.
Build quality is a bit on the cheap side; it's a typical plasticy consumer lens, but what do you want for $500? This lens is going to get you some nice shots if your subject is relatively static. Don't expect to get breathtaking shots of birds in flight--I've tried, and it doesn't seem to stabilize very well for panning.
For an affordable super-zoom solution at this high magnification, your choice pretty much comes down to this or getting one of those superzoom "bridge" cameras like the Panasonic FZ200 or Canon SX50; this lens on a GH2 or similar is far and away going to get you the more professional-looking results. What's more this lens is a good investment as the quality of Micro 4/3 bodies and sensors will continue to improve over time. But just because super zooming ability has been reduced down to a compact package doesn't mean that nailing great shots of wild & flighty creatures is going to be easy. It still takes a great deal of patience, a steady hand, and development of your craft. The journey is fun, so enjoy!
on June 30, 2014
This lens is amazing for slow moving wildlife photography and with some patience and good lighting I have success at faster targets. I have been very pleased with the sharpness and the autofocus speed and capabilities on the lens. It is big, it isn't the brightest lens, and it has a plastic extending sleeve, and yes, it gets pretty long, but even with these possible cons, the lens is amazing. It takes great pictures and exploiting the m4/3 crop gives you amazing reach.
If you are looking to shoot moving objects, birds in flight, or sports, you may find this challenging on anything but a bright day or very well lit field. The aperture of f4-5.6 can be somewhat limiting for fast shutter speeds, but I have found it workable.
The sheer range of the lens makes it amazing. The micro four thirds sensor's crop effect effective doubles the range of lenses. This makes the 100-300mm and effective 200-600, and that is awesome for its size and weight. Wildlife just comes right to you, and is easily framed with this lens.
100-200mm is very sharp. Maybe not pixel peeper tack sharp, but I don't think anyone expects this lens or system to be that sharp. As you near the limit at 300mm, it loses a bit of sharpness, but not much. I would have no problem posting online or printing in small to medium format with this lens at 300mm. If you try to blow it up too much, you will find it isn't flawless but given the weight and price, I am willing to live with this.
This lens is impressively light weight, and yet it doesn't have a cheap plastic feel to it. The lens weighs in at just over 1lb and from my experience, doesn't easily extend on its own. This becomes a bit less true with the lens hood on it, but I haven't found it to be a problem. It is easy to handle, and on a tripod, I haven't found a need to use a lens mount. The system is so light weight, especially with my Panny GX-7, that it easily is held even with small flexible tripods.
Image stabilization seems to work great. I have taken several quick snaps of a bird or deer that probably weren't fully stable, but the lens did its work and got me a great shot. It isn't a magical good pictures device, but it works as well as I would expect IS to possibly work!
So in summary, I love this lens, it is awesome for many applications. If you stop at or before 200mm, you would think this is a MUCH more expensive system, and even at 300mm, I am frequently impressed myself with the shots I have gotten. So much to love here, just keep in mind that low-light and fast moving targets will present difficulties.
on July 6, 2014
A big splurge for a 15-year-retired guy. But here in the AZ high desert where photographic delights abound -- usually at some distance away -- this lens has inspired me to new heights -- or should I say new distances?. Love it! What I don't love that it is a slow lens (f/4.0-5.6). Tripod usually necessary. Works very well with my Lumix DMC-GH3 (and soon, my finances willing, a new GH4). There are faster lenses at this zoom range but none I could actually afford at age 76, so I am content and quite happy with this lens. I use it several times a week. Larry in AZ.
on June 29, 2011
I've been playing with this lens on a Panasonic GH2 for a week, taking pictures of people, animals, and plants. I used it outdoors in the sun and in shade, and indoors during the day without a flash, both with good results. It's great for taking pictures of animals and people from a distance without disturbing them; and it's also useful when I can't move close to a subject. Its smooth bokek makes it suitable for portraits, surprising for a lens with an aperture of f/4-5.6.
It is sharp, even in low light and in low contrast settings, thanks to the image stabilization. And it focuses quickly and accurately most of the time.
The only time I had trouble focusing was when I tried to focus on a flower with a tree trunk behind it. The lens kept focusing on the trunk and not the blossom, even when the GH2 was set to manual focus. After several minutes of frustration I changed the angle of the shot, with foliage in the background, so I was able to take the picture.
This is the biggest, heaviest micro four thirds lens Panasonic makes; stored with the lens hood and rear lens cap on it is 7" long and weighs 1 pound 2.3 ounces; it's 2" longer and a pound heavier attached to the GH2. But that size and weight isn't much for the 35mm equivalent of 200-600mm. A DSLR with a telephoto zoom lens attached would weigh a lot more and it wouldn't zoom to 600mm, 35mm equivalent field of view. I wish the lens hood was retractable, making it more compact to store in a camera bag, but that is a minor issue.
I posted pictures of plants and animals in the image gallery under the picture of the lens so please look at them.
on March 30, 2011
I have just recently acquired this lens. I also have the Lumix 45-200, and the 14-42mm lenses. This one is by far the best of the three. I have been very impressed with the image sharpness at maximum zoom as well as throughout the focal length range. I am using it with a DMC-G10 primarily for bird photography. Using the 2x digital zoom function on the camera gives an equivalent focal length of 1200mm! This has given me some very sharp images so far, and has exceeded my expectations.
So far I am very pleased with this purchase and highly recommend the lense.
on September 2, 2015
I recently purchased this lens for my new Oly E-M5II camera. Its intended use is mostly bird photography, the shore birds along the Long Island Sound where I live and my personal friends at my garden feeders. I have tried the lens in the field shooting at various combinations of f/stop and shutter speed, ISO between 800 and 1600. The E-M5II controls noise well up to ISO1600 (I shoot Raw and develop in Camera Raw or DxO Optics Pro). Fully open the lens shows visible light fall off at the edges but stopping down one f/stop takes care of that (and adds a little depth of field). I can't complain about sharpness. Most of the pictures I see posted in web reviews are not that sharp but I believe that often this is due to people not properly developing their files. I enhance local contrast and general sharpness and typically get very sharp results (printable up to 16x24" with no artifacts). Check out my 1st pic taken at 600mm eq, f/8 and 1/1000sec on a tripod. I posted the other one just to show what the lens can do for landscapes. I do like the solidity, size and mechanics of the zoom (which is also good looking). People complain that longer lenses throw little cameras like the OMD's out of balance but I disagree. If you let the lens sit in your left hand right at the zoom ring you get very good balance, even better than holding the camera and a smaller lens. A 600mm f/5.6 for a little more than $500 is something that deserves appreciation. I found it "like new" (and it is) for a couple of hundred dollars less and went for it. If you are in the M43 system looking for a relatively inexpensive long lens, give this guy a try.