There is, as far as I can tell, only one serious hole in my newly adopted Olympus system – a good, sharp, reliable telephoto lens. A lens that has enough reach to get you close to something that is otherwise unreachable. Like critters that are too small for most lenses or too big to safely get close to. Or landscape objects that are just too distant (like up – or down – a 2,000 foot cliff). Or even people that you just don’t want to tip off that you’re photographing them. There just isn’t a micro four-thirds lens currently available that stacks up to a good 70 – 200 mm f/2.8 telephoto or, for example, Canon’s wonderful 300 mm prime. With a 1.4x or 2.0x extender these lenses were more than adequate (for my purposes, anyway).
Without such a telephoto I was good up to 150 mm (in full-frame metrics) when using the EM-5 or my current EM-1. For me, that’s not quite enough. If I happen to be roaming around Zion NP and a desert Bighorn (or two or three) shows up in the vicinity, I’d at least like the option of getting reasonably close (optically, that is). Or if I see an eagle or condor soaring near the high cliffs, it would be nice to be able to get a shot or two where you could actually see the thing without cropping the hell out of the image. Or, if we wind up making it to Charleston, SC this spring, I know I’ll probably get a view or two of some large water birds and some even larger alligators. From past experience I know that herons don’t like a lot of close-up attention – especially when they’re nesting – and alligators are something else altogether. I’d just as soon be as far away as possible. Those guys have big teeth.
So I sold my rarely used 17 mm f/1.8 Olympus lens and bought the Olympus 75 – 300 mm f/4.8 – 6.7 II telephoto lens. (In full-frame terms, that’s equivalent to 150 – 600 mm.) Admittedly, it’s not a world-class lens. But hopefully, it’ll do. For now. I’ve seen pictures of a new Olympus 300 mm f/4 prime that is supposed to be released sometime in 2015. According to the rumors, it’ll be one of the “PRO” lenses (like the very good 12 – 40 mm f/2.8 PRO). It sounds good, but I’m guessing that it’ll be more expensive than the one I just bought. Probably a LOT more expensive. Better start saving my pennies (and nickels and dimes and quarters, etc., etc.).
As you’ve probably guessed by now, this is one of the “test” images I made over the last couple of days with the new 75 – 300 mm lens. This was taken near the middle of the range, or about 150mm (300mm full-frame). At this focal length, the lens is reasonably sharp. It falls off a bit at either end of the range – at an equivalent 600 mm, it definitely loses some sharpness. And it’s a bit on the slow side at the long end as far as focusing is concerned. But as I said, it’ll have to do. There really aren’t many other choices.