800mm hand held telephoto reach hand held

Written by Gary on September 11th, 2008

OK…you have probably guessed… I am so impressed with this unique combination:

Olympus E510 + ZD 50-200mm + ZD EC20 2x teleconverter to give a relatively light (~2kg), compact, easily carried and used hand held kit that can deliver great images hand held at 1/200th sec shutter speed allowing great photos in the shade at ISO 400, f/7.

Why would you want this?

Well sometimes you just can’t get in close such as with this image of a Sumatran tiger in our zoo here in Melbourne. It was a nice cloudy day and this guy was way up back of his enclosure resting in shade some 50-100m away from me.

Now I’m not that crazy to jump the fence or throw things at him to get him to come closer, nor am I that patient to wait all day for him to move and nor do I want to cart around a 4-6kg camera kit and tripod, and lastly I don’t want to stand out from the crowd that much – I might get mugged!

So here is a cropped version (cropped to 3.8 megapixel) to emphasise the tiger – remember this is at 800mm telephoto reach so you can get a reasonable idea of how far away he was if I still had to crop it by 60%:


But when viewed at 100% crop, you can see how sharp this combo is even hand held at 1/200th sec – this just should not be possible!


see here to see the first image resized to a nice computer screen resolution.

The great thing is that even with the entry level E510, the AF worked very nicely indeed, and before you take this for granted, remember that on nearly all other brand cameras, AF will not work when the lens aperture + teleconverter combination becomes f/8 or smaller.

So even if you are happy to lug a much bigger and heavier lens around with a Canon or Nikon, you may find that you cannot use AF and you may not have image stabilisation available.

A case in point is if I bought the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6 lens and used it with my EF 1.4x teleconverter on my Canon 1DMIII, the result would be 728mm telephoto reach at f/8 and according to Canon’s website, AF is not possible and of course there is no image stabiliser, and it now weighs almost 3kg and is a very conspicuous long, white lens which has a close focus of 3.5m and not 1.2m as with the Olympus combo.

So you would miss out on photo opportunities such as these flowers at the zoo (no crop, just resized):


Now I am not criticising Canon or Nikon here, as they have their own advantages, but for handholdable, super telephoto reach with macro capabilities, you can’t beat the Olympus system.


4 Comments so far ↓

  1. Geir says:

    These images are stunning. Just one question, before I go out and buy: Is the EC20 fully compatible with all ZD lenses? I’ve got the 14-54, 8mm, 50-200mm vintage (in lack of a different name), 35mm, Sigma 30mm and 105 mm.

  2. admin says:

    The EC-20 is compatible with all lenses but you may lose AF on some such as macro lens close up and if the combined aperture exceeds f/8 (I think).

  3. Russell says:

    Those are great. I just got my 50-200mm for my E620 today. I am by no stretch of the imagination anything other than an amateur, and I hope to be able to take pictures half as good as yours!

  4. admin says:

    enjoy it Russell, it is one unique lens that is capable of awesome photos. I am sure you will love it!