Olympus Handheld High Res Moon Photograph Lens Comparison Test
Astrophotography,  Olympus / OM System,  Photo Gear

The Olympus 100-400mm f/5.0-6.3 vs. the 300mm f/4 on a Handheld High Res Moon Photograph

I recently picked up the Olympus 100-400 f/5.0-6.3 lens from OM Digital Solutions Reconditioned Gear website.  I waited a long time to get this lens because I’ve really happy with my Olympus 300mm f/4 lens. The refurbished price plus an Olympus fall sale coupon code saved me a bunch of money so I decided to go ahead and pick up the 100-400mm lens.

We finally got some semi clear skies here and I decided to put the two lenses to the test shooting the moon using handheld High Res mode.  Olympus’ Handheld High Res Mode produces images up to 50 megapixels by taking multiple images and combining them together in camera to create a larger image. The Tripod High Res mode will create images up to 80 megapixels.

For this night photography test between the Olympus 100-400 f/5.0-6.3 lens and the Olympus 300mm f/4 lens, I used the Olympus OM-D E-M1X and I attached the 1.4x teleconverter to each lens.  So, the 300mm f/4 was shot at 420mm (840mm effective focal length) and the 100-400mm was shot at 560mm (1,120mm effective focal length).

Settings for Testing the High Res Moon Photographs:

  • ISO 200
  • Spot Metering
  • Aperture f/11
  • Auto Image Stabilization (S-IS Auto)
  • Single AF mode
  • Aperture Priority Mode
High Res Shot Selection
High Res Shot Shooting Method Selection

To enable High Res Mode, select High Res Mode in the Shooting Method selection in the Super Control Panel. You can change between High Res Tripod Mode and Handheld Mode by pressing the Info button and rotating the Rear Dial with Shooting Method Selection Menu on the LCD.  If you do not see High Res Mode in the Shooting Method selections, make sure the High Res Mode check box is selected in the Shooting Method Settings in Menu D1.

100-400mm Left - 300mm f/4 Right
100-400mm Left – 300mm f/4 Right
Topaz Labs

High Res Moon Photograph Lens Test Results

So how did the moon High Res test between the 300mm f/4 and the 100-400mm turn out.  I was surprised how close the image quality was.  In the above image, the photograph using the 100-400mm lens is on the left and the 300mm f/4 is on the right.  These images were exported in a small JPEG format for this blog, but you can see that the images are pretty comparable.

Both images were processed the same way just using basic adjustments and sharpening in Adobe Lightroom.

I’ve also been testing the Olympus 100-400mm for bird photograph, and so far I have not had the same equivalent image quality between the 300mm f/4 and the 100-400mm.  The images with the 300mm f/4 have consistently been sharper.  I’ve still got a lot of testing to do, so stay tuned for a future blog on this topic.

I also had a higher percentage of errors during the High Res image stacking process using the 100-400mm f/5.0-6.3 lens.  This could be due to the combination of the longer focal length and the 100-400mm lens not having Sync IS like the 300mm f/4.

Handheld High Res Moon with Color Efex Pro 4 - Detail Extractor
Handheld High Res Moon with Color Efex Pro 4 – Detail Extractor

Moon Photograph Post Processing Tip

I thought I’d add an additional tip on image processing.  The image stacking method that High Res mode uses will also help to reduce the noise in the photograph.  Trying using the Detail Extractor filter in Color Efex Pro 4 to add back some of the detail in the image. 

Color Efex Pro 4 - Detail Extractor Filter
Color Efex Pro 4 – Detail Extractor Filter

I use a Detail Extractor strength setting of 8 to 10 and use negative control points to avoid adding detail in the sky.

Written by Martin Belan

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