M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 40-150mm F2.8 PRO + MC20 vs Ai ZOOM-NIKKOR 100-300mm / f5.6S:Lens Resolution Test


Currently, for telephoto lenses used in terrestrial photography, I am using the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 40-150mm F2.8 PRO combined with the MC20. This combination was recently introduced. The other day, I compared it with an old Ai-S NIKKOR ED 300mm F2.8 using a duck as the subject, and in terms of resolution and color expression, the Ai-S NIKKOR ED 300mm F2.8 was superior in both aspects. One might think that it would be better to use that lens instead. However, the Ai-S NIKKOR ED 300mm F2.8 has its drawbacks. First, it’s a prime lens, limiting the shooting scenes. Second, it requires manual focusing, which is time-consuming. Third, it’s large and heavy, weighing 2.4kg, necessitating a dedicated case for transport. In other words, it feels too cumbersome to bring along.
Thus, I wondered if there might be an older Nikon lens that was compact yet superior in resolution and color representation. This led me to purchase the Ai ZOOM-NIKKOR 100-300mm / f5.6S.
It was reasonably priced at 9,000 yen (about 60 USD), though it requires manual focusing via a mount adapter.

Resolution-wise, the NIKKOR 100-300mm is slightly superior

I immediately took a picture of a bunting in my neighborhood. Upon zooming in, the NIKKOR 100300mm slightly outperformed in expressing the texture of the legs and the area around the face. The resolution was better with the NIKKOR 100~300mm.

M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 40-150mm F2.8 PRO + MC20 f8.0 ISO800 E-M1 MarkII
Ai ZOOM-NIKKOR 100-300mm / f5.6S f8.0 ISO800 E-M1 MarkII
(Cropped enlargement photo) M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 40-150mm F2.8 PRO + MC20 f8.0 ISO800 E-M1 MarkII
(Cropped enlargement photo) Ai ZOOM-NIKKOR 100-300mm / f5.6S f8.0 ISO800 E-M1 MarkII
Color expression felt superior with the more recent lens

Overall, the photos taken with the NIKKOR 100-300mm had warmer tones, while the M.ZUIKO 40-150(+MC20) produced cooler tones. Olympus is known for its strong blue tones, so the M.ZUIKO 40-150(+MC20) leaned more towards cooler colors. However, the NIKKOR 100-300mm showed the branches in red tones, unlike the M.ZUIKO 40-150(+MC20). As a result, the color expression of the M.Zuiko 40-150(+MC20) felt superior.

Overall, I judged the M.ZUIKO 40-150(+MC20) to be sufficient

The NIKKOR 100-300mm is a lens from 1984, meaning it’s a 40-year-old lens. Despite its age, its resolution surpasses that of contemporary lenses, even with a teleconverter, which is commendable. However, the difference is minimal, and in terms of color expression, the M.ZUIKO 40-150(+MC20) felt superior. Considering the NIKKOR 100-300mm is compact but still weighs about 1kg and requires manual focusing, there seems no compelling reason to choose it over the other. For an additional lens to bring along with the M.ZUIKO 40-150(+MC20), I would prefer one with a clear advantage in terms of image quality or focal length. Hmm, maybe I’ll try the AI AF VR Zoom-Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED next… It seems like I’m falling deeper into the rabbit hole.