Don’t buy a Micro 43 lens until you read this – Part 4

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Captured with an Olympus OMD EM5 and Panasonic 45-200 lens.
Captured with an Olympus OMD EM5 and Panasonic 45-200 lens.

Telephoto (Long) Zooms

Continuing this miniseries, it’s time to take a look at telephoto lenses. I class these as lenses that have a focal length beyond 45mm. And please do remember, I only cover lenses that I have used. As I haven’t yet tried any pro level lenses in this class I haven’t included them in the review. If anyone does have experience with these please add your thought to the comments section. I for one would be interested in the Olympus 40-150 f/2.8 or Panasonic 35-100 f/2.8. Lens titles include links to amazon.co.uk to view the lens and ensure you know which I am refering to.

Panasonic 45-150mm

This is my current long lens having switched from the 45-200 below. The reason for my switch is because of the size and weight. This lens is actually tiny when you consider its focal length. It’s only very slightly bigger than the 14-45 kit lens so is very easy to carry. This is a huge advantage over the typical telephoto DSLR lens which tend to get bigger and heavier.

Performance in image quality ranges from excellent at the 45mm end to very good/excellent at the 150mm end of the range. At the 45mm end I would say that my example is sharper than the 14-45mm kit lens that I love so much. It also performs well from wide open, displaying little colour fringing but does improve slightly when stopped down.

A lens of this quality for such a low price is a real bargain.

Panasonic 45-200mm

This is another good performer which achieves results similar to the 45-150 lens discussed above. Beyond the 150mm lens the image does soften slightly but it’s still very good and beyond what many DSLR lenses can achieve at this focal length.

As I mentioned above, I recently sold this lens because I found I wasn’t using the additional reach beyond 150mm, given the additional size and weight of the lens.

Panasonic 100-300mm

I have seen some negative commentary on this lens but have found this difficult to understand. From my experience, I have wondered if the problems are more to do with technique than the lens. With a lens of this focal length, small vibrations can be a problem as they are significantly magnified.

The downside to the lens is that it’s quite costly and also quite specialised, giving the equivalent of 600mm at the long end. Whilst this is a good focal length for getting close to action, the maximum aperture is quite slow, making it less suited for low light work.

Next time we will look at prime lenses where there are a few surprises.

2 thoughts on “Don’t buy a Micro 43 lens until you read this – Part 4

    Tom said:
    September 20, 2014 at 1:57 am

    I’m enjoying your series. Did I miss Part 4 somewhere along the way?

    Too bad you haven’t been able to include Oly lenses in the long zoom category. I’m about to get a zoom in this range for my Oly Pen (soon to be an OM-D). I’m thinking a Panasonic 45-150 is the best choice but I’d like to hear some opinions on the Oly version.

    Still, looking forward to the rest of your series.

      thelightweightphotographer responded:
      September 21, 2014 at 4:37 pm

      No you didn’t miss part 4. There was a catastrophic breakdown in my cut and paste skills and I copied the wrong title over. I have corrected it now.
      Sorry I can’t advise on the Olympus lenses in this category as I haven’t owned them. I do have a friend who bought both the Olympus 40-150 and Panasonic 45-150. He compared them side by side and concluded the Panasonic had better build quality and produced superior results. Although this could have been down to sample variation I do trust his judgement.
      And just in case you are considering it, I used to own a Panasonic 14-140. Not the old version but the new “improved” one. Great idea but dreadful performance. It was very soft and produced very grainy images at anything more than 45mm. I know some people rave about these but the one I had was very poor.

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