Before returning the new Olympus 300mm f/4 Pro, I had the chance to use it for the last few days with the MC-14 teleconverter. Since feedback about using the teleconverter with the 300mm is missing from my full review of the lens, I decided to share some images and thoughts in this separate post.
The 300mm f/4 IS Pro is the second M.Zuiko lens to be compatible with the MC-14 1.4x teleconverter in addition to the 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro. The teleconverter is very well built with a metal finish and is also weather sealed (splash and dust proof). It increases the focal length of the 300mm to 420mm, which gives the same angle of view of 840mm on 35mm format. You lose one stop of light, making the fastest aperture f/5.6. Sharpness remains very good even at that aperture. The shortest focus distance remains the same (1.4m) which is excellent.
Something I did notice is that AF performance is slower. In S-AF it tends to hunt back and forth more but things improve if you set the distance range to 4m-infinity. In the case of subjects that are very close, you can switch to the 1.4-4m range but the full 1.4-infinity range should be avoided. In Continuous AF, the camera is slower at locking onto the subject and does not track as effectively.
Below you can see various images taken in different locations with additional comments. They were all taken handheld and no crop was applied in post-production. Happy viewing!
We start with small birds which are not difficult to find here in Wales. I took the following images in various places including the famous RSPB reserve Ynys-Hir. Since they are frequently at the feeders near the entrance, these little birds are not scared by the human presence and it is quite easy to get close to them. The first image was taken at 1.97m.
Note: except for the birds in flight at the end of the article, I always used the Anti-Shock (0sec) mode to avoid shutter shock.
Ynys-Hir is also home to many Canada geese, which migrate from Greenland during the winter. I spotted other birds at the Little Orme in North Wales, as well as one rabbit.
From the top of the cliff at Angel Bay (the Little Orme), you can watch many grey seals that come to rest on the beach. We first saw them in the morning. Since nobody was around, I carefully walked down to the beach, trying to remain as discreet as possible. The seals remained in the water but I could get close enough to take some interesting pictures.
In the late afternoon, we went back to observe them. Since there were almost 20 of them on the beach, including a few pups, I decided to stay on top and take pictures from there.
Then I recorded a short video to see how good the new Sync IS system (sensor + optical stabilisation working together) would be with the teleconverter. I chose the M-IS 1 setting on the E-M1 that also includes software stabilisation in-camera. It is the optimal setting for static shots or for slow movement. I have more than 10 years of experience in the filmmaking industry but I’ve never seen something quite like it. That kind of stabilisation, considering the extreme focal length, is stunning.
Finally, I tried the gear with birds in flight, first on the beach near where I live with seagulls flying close to the ground.
Then I went back to the Red Kite feeding ground at Bwlch Nant yr Arian. Unfortunately we were met with dark clouds and rain so I didn’t bring home many good shots. I had to keep my ISO between 2000 and 4000 and the AF struggled quite a lot.