Olympus 300 + MC14 or Pana-Leica 100-400 ?

Following on from my post yesterday regarding getting extra reach out the excellent Olympus M Zuiko 300m f/4 Pro lens where I concluded that the MC14 and MC20 teleconverters do produce better image quality than simply cropping the image in post production, I thought it would be useful to look at the fifth option for getting extra reach namely not using the 300mm at all but replacing it with something longer.

I stand to be corrected but I do not believe that there is anything, native to m43, that is longer than the Panasonic Leica 100-400mm f/4-6.3 zoom lens.  As I do have this lens I thought it would be interesting to compare their respective image quality.

So adopting the same methodology as in yesterdays test on the MC teleconverters here are my results.

NB: images are unsharpened RAW and click to view larger.

Firstly the Olympus 300m bare lens (Full Frame equivalent 600mm), heavy crop

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
300mm bare lens cropped

 

and next the Pana-Leica at 300mm (wide open at f/5.7) – there is clearly more detail in the Queen’s face and elsewhere with the Olympus 300mm

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Panasonic Leica 100-400 @ 300mm cropped

 

and next the Pana-Leica at 400mm (wide open at f/6.3) – there is again clearly more detail in the Queen’s face with the Olympus 300mm but perhaps suprisingly, or maybe not, what this shows is that you gain very little by zooming the Pana-Leica right out to 400mm.  The difference between the 300mm image and the 400m are negligible, this fits in with my real world experience where I have noted that this lens does start to get a little soft beyond 350mm.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Panasonic Leica 100-400 @ 400mm cropped

 

and next the real test the Olympus 300m with the MC14, which gives 420mm at f/5.6 – as would be expected a noticeable difference, significantly more detail with the Olympus 300mm and the MC14.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
300mm with the MC14 cropped

 

In conclusion – It is no surprise that the Olympus 300mm f/4 Pro is sharper than the Pana-Leica 100-400, apart from anything else a prime lens is always going to be sharper than zoom. It also appears from this test that the Olympus remains sharper even with the attached MC teleconverters. The Panasonic Leica zoom does of course have other benefits but if ultimate image quality is important then the Olympus with the MCs is the better way to go.

As always these results are based on my copy of the lenses and converters – your mileage might vary !

6 thoughts on “Olympus 300 + MC14 or Pana-Leica 100-400 ?

Add yours

  1. The contrast seems higher with the MC14 and cropped compared to the 300mm alone. Can you put them side to side to compare them directly?

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  2. I’ve enjoyed your last two posts. I think most 100-400 owners (I’m one) would believe that at 400 the lens benefits significantly from being stopped down, even just to 7.1. Cheers.

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