One of my favourite lenses is the “LUMIX G VARIO 100-300mm / F4.0-5.6 / MEGA O.I.S.”. On a Micro Four Thirds (MFT) camera this gives a 200-600mm 35mm equivalent field of view; this presents a significant advantage when photographing Wildlife.
On a 35mm full-frame camera having a 600mm lens (even with a slow f5.6 aperture) would cost many thousands of pounds. Currently the Nikon 600mm lens retails for £7,069 whilst the Canon costs and astonishing £10,479. The extreme focal lengths can also be achieved by using a combination of a cropped sensor “DX” frame camera (1.5 crop vs. the MFT 2x crop) and smaller focal length lenses such as the excellent Nikon 80-400mm AF-S Nikkor f4.5-5.6G ED VR Lens, but this also retails for £2,239. The Lumix 100-300mm lens retails for around £450 (I only paid £419 – the price does seem to fluctuate quite regularly).
What the full-frame lenses do offer, is a way to mount the lens to a tripod by way of a tripod-collar; the Lumix 100-300mm lens does not have one. A side note worth pointing out here is that with large (typically longer focal length) lenses you mount the lens and not the camera to the tripod; this is better from a balancing point of view but also removes a lot of strain form the lens mount on the camera.
I suspect that the 100-300mm lens does not have a tripod collar as it is quite light and small and even when fully extended to 300mm not much larger; this is the main advantage that the MFT format provides – small, light lenses. The problem is that when you have the lens extended to 300mm you have the same field of view of a 600mm lens (again relative to the 35mm format). Although you can shoot this hand-held, any slight movement even with the Optical Image Stabiliser (OIS) switched on is going to degrade image quality by showing camera shake. It has been suggested that you treat the 100-300mm lens as you would a 35mm full-frame 600mm lens. Unfortunately this is where a tripod collar is required and Panasonic do not make or offer one.
However, there is a guy in Germany (Rudolf Rösch ) who makes aluminium tripod collars for the Lumix 100-300mm lenses. I first head about this on the DPReview forums and wasn’t sure about it; I am always weary of any third-party device especially something like this. That was until Rob Knight who is a Wildlife Photographer who uses Mirror-less Cameras (GH3, GX7 and OMD-E5) posted a quick video about the tripod collar. You can see his video here:
Rob made this video to show some good tips for the 100-300mm lens and is well worth a watch, he also mentions the Tripod collar and the advantages that this provides. So my fears averted along with the knowledge that the foot of the tripod collar will fit to any Arca-Swiss tripod ball head meant that I should get one of these.
The process for obtaining one is to email Rudolf at the email address provided on his website here saying that you are interested in the Collar, he will advise you of an approximate lead time and the cost including taxes and delivery; there were no hidden charges.
He uses PayPal for the financial side of things which makes everything easy, the collar with delivery and taxes cost me €83.50 Euros (which equated to £73.59 at the time that I purchased the collar). The whole process took around 1 week; I was fortunate as a cancelled order meant that I had one earlier than he originally suggested.
I received the collar over a week ago but I wanted to do a video of it before I fitted it to the lens and then used it in a real-life situation. The video goes through what you get in the order, how it is assembled, mounting it to the lens and then how the collar is used in portrait and landscape formats:
For more information on the collar, go to Rudolph’s website here: http://www.roesch-feinmechanik.de/36074.html.