Olympus 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 With The EM-1
We recently found some fun to photograph again some animals and birds. For our Nikon and Canon systems, faster long tele lenses or zooms (at least 400mm and f/4) were never a real option. Why? One may think first of the price and rightly so. But even if we would be willing to swallow the price, the size and weight would be clear deal breakers for us.
We currently try to focus on our m43 system. As cameras we use the Panasonic GH3 and Olympus OM-D E-M1 (we bought it mainly for the excellent EVF). Because we own the Panasonic 100-300mm f/4.0-5.6, we tried it first on the GH3. While the results were kind of ok we missed some more contrast and detail. This reminded us of the Olympus 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 Four Thirds SWD zoom. The image quality is considered to be very good for any lens of this range and aperture (see review of Photozone.de). Why did we not use it with the Panasonic GH3? Contrast autofocus on this lens would be pretty slow and the zoom would have no IS support. Fortunately the 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 43 SWD is supported by the E-M1 using the PDAF option on the sensor and also helped by the sensor IS. How well does the AF work in practice. The contrast focus on the E-M1 is really very fast and snappy. The PDAF focusing with this zoom is clearly slower and also requires good edges to aquire focus. Overall the AF works in most cases and we are quite happy with our results. If you look at this zoom you will hardly find any competing zoom that matches in size, weight, range, f-stop, image quality and price (about $1000 or Euro 1350).
When we bought the E-M1 we did not rearly care about the PDAF sensor. Now this makes the E-M1 for us a clear winner.
Of course we want even longer reach 🙂 and ordered the Olympus EC14 1.4x teleconverter lens. This will transform the 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 SWD zoom to 70-280mm f/4-5 (35mm equivalent of 560mm). Because the 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 Four Thirds SWD zoom is already quite good wide open we hope for nice results.
We posted an initial gallery with 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 Four Thirds SWD zoom results. Be aware that these are just some early test shots and we need to learn more how to get the best out of this zoom. If you can live with the resolution of the E-M1 (we think we can) you can have a nice system that can cover 7-280mm (effective 14-560mm) with just three zooms). We carry all in a not so big bag with the E-M1, GH3, 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5, Panasonic 7-14mm, Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8, Pansonic 12-35mm f/2.8 and Pansonic 35-100mm f/2.8. Try this with any system of your choice.
Of course we would have loved to get native m43 zooms with the same range and f-stop. We will probably stay in line for the new Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro zoom but it wont replace the 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 for us.
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