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I love this lens!  Just over half the cost of the Canon L series 100-400, it gets an impressive 800mm equivalent view, something that the Canon can’t do without an extender.  And, again like the Canon, it’s versatile with a selection of distance ranges, as close as 1.3m to 6m to infinity.  So, for less money (and less weight!) you get some pretty good results, even if you are a newbie like me.

Olympus makes better lenses, most notably the 40-150 f2 PRO and the incredibly expensive 150-400 f4.5 PRO, but it’s the 100-400 f5-6.3 that will satisfy most budgets.  Even the experienced dedicated hobbyist should be pleased with what this lens can do.

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A quick roadside shot in some diffuse light.

I experimented with the Oly 100-400 at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge a few days ago.  Even though so much of the wildlife has been driven from the refuge due to restrictive marsh management, some fauna and flora remain, at least enough for me to practice on.

Working from Wildlife Drive also allowed me to bring all my gear without trekking over a hot, dusty trail, plus it was a lot easier to take notes and make lens adjustments while sitting in the car.

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Even at a distance of almost 400′, the Oly 100-400 managed to capture the catchlight in the eyes of this young buck, still in velvet.

Most of the shots were  straightforward point-and-shoots, but some required the additional use of manual focus, another feature that I avoided — until recently.

Emboldened by the success of range switching, I decided to experiment with the manual focus feature as well.  I lost a lot of action shots (not too skilled using the focus ring yet), but the standstills were definitely worth the effort.

Of course, the weather worsened before it got better.  A brief r4ainstorm cleared the cloudiness and revealed bright blue skies with great early-morning light.  Even phase-detect needs good light (and some contrast) to do its best work!  The Olympus OM-D EM1iii color engine has to be the best in the business, and the blue skies and deep color proved it.

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Autofocus would have struggled interminably and would likely have set focus on the grassy weeds in the foreground, rendering the bird a hopeless blur.

The combination of shorter distances plus manual focus resulted in some fairly good shots.  Before I learned about these lens features, I would bring a different camera outfitted with a shorter-focal-length lens to get closer to my subjects — a real hassle that is simply not necessary any more!

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A tree swallow prepares for take-off. The whites are blown, but at least you can tell it’s a bird!

I think my next purchase will be the Olympus 40-150 f2 PRO, perhaps with an extender, but it’s going to have to wait a while.  Not only am I short, round, and opinionated, I’m also poor.  But in the meantime, I plan to improve my technique with the 100-400.

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