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Old 13-01-2011, 08:45 PM
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koputai (Jason)
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Canon Tele lens recommendation please

Hi Folks,

I'm wanting to get a new tele lens for an imminent safari trip to Botswana, Zambia, and maybe Tanzania.
At the moment I have a 350D (50D or 7D coming soon) so am using a 1.6x crop body.

I also have a 70-200 f/4L IS, which I love and am not planning to get rid of. I currently have a 1.4x extender which takes this lens to 280mm, but I really don't like using the extender.

So I need a bit more reach for animal/bird shots etc.
I'm tossing up between the following:

300mm f/4L IS - Lovely lens, moderate increase in focal length from what I have. Maybe not enough difference to justify.

400mm f/5.6L - Good increase in focal length, a bit slower, and no IS.

70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS - The new wonder lens. Probably too close to what I already have.

100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS - Very versatile focal length, older IS, push-pull zoom.

I'm leaning towards the 400mm or the 100-400mm. All these lenses are similar in price, so that's not an issue.

Anyone into nature photography have any opinions on which way I should go? I'm open to suggestions.

Cheers,
Jason.
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Old 13-01-2011, 09:06 PM
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Octane (Humayun)
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Owing to good high ISO performance (I'm uncertain about the 7D), you could /possibly/ get away with the 400mm f/5.6L.

I'm kind of edging towards the 300mm f/4L IS USM and taking your Extender 1.4x with you.

You just need to bear in mind that you're likely going to be shooting animals in the wild. You need aperture to be able to freeze the moment, as you can't expect wild animals to sit still.

Are you able to rent any 2.8L lenses and go overseas with them? I just feel that with smaller apertures, you might struggle a little.

My 0.02c.

H
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Old 13-01-2011, 09:08 PM
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hotspur (Chris)
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re lens

Jason

I went through the 'torture' of the very same decision for the very same

purpose you want to use the lens for-wildlife.

My list was very similar to yours.

To be honest-just get the 400 mm L F5.6 L, you will never ever regret it,I tell

you it is the very finest L lens for what you want.It is very light,it is the same

girth as your F4 70-200,the 400 mm's tripod ring can be taken off and used on

your F4 so that is a big useful plus,if your F4 does not have that ring.

Everything I can tell you about the 400 L is all very,very good.

The only other lens on your list that comes close as a very close choice is

the 300 F 4,But for wildlife you always want more length.

The 100-400 you mention is good (if you get a good copy,some are so-so)

But the image quality is vastly better on the 400 mm,also the weight of the thing,Let me say when you are in the field it matters a lot!

The 400 on my 450D is light nifty nimble,and handles like a ballerina's slipper.

When I put the 400 on the 50D,and I am in the field,I really notice the difference in weight.

Go for the 400 L you will have a ball,its quick to focus too.

Here is a large kite in flight,no image adjustment.

Good luck,Chris
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  #4  
Old 13-01-2011, 09:53 PM
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Omaroo (Chris Malikoff)
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I tried a mate's 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM on my 5D-MkII a while back at a scale model aeroplane day. This photo was taken of a model jet turbine, at speed and at distance. This is a full 100% crop. You can even see the jet wash and exhaust haze at the rear. Here are the settings:

Camera Maker: Canon
Camera Model: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Original Time Taken: 2010:11:20 12:02:49
Date created:
Time created:
Digital Creation Time:
Shutter Speed: 1/1000 sec
Aperture: f/11
ISO Sensitivity: 400
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Metering Mode: Spot
Flash Fired: No Flash
White Balance: 0
Subject Distance:
Focal Length: 400 mm

Not bad at all - I'd get one of these. It took a while to get used to a push-pull zoom but it really was a doddle after a while. Would I get the 400mm prime instead? Probably not, but I suppose a purist would. If the quality of the 100-400 is anything to go by, the prime would just have to be superb.

The 300 f/4L is a great lens as well - I've tried one for a day from the same friend.
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Old 13-01-2011, 10:23 PM
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dugnsuz (Doug)
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400mm f5.6L and a monopod.
That lens is next on my list.

The 300mm is an excellent lens too and IS is a big bonus.

But IQ will out!!
300 has 15 lens elements, 400 has 7!
Doug
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Old 14-01-2011, 06:27 AM
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hotspur (Chris)
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re lens

You will not need the monopod with the 400 L prime,I have one,I thought I might need it,but never used it.

The 100-400 I have used,its big and heavy,also when out at 400 its long,when you are in the field all the time after wildlife images,you are always at 400,also the 100-400 when at 400 is a considerable length being that long outdoors on uneven ground,its easy to get unbalanced with that long length and get caught up in shrubs etc.

Another advantage over this lens,is that its a very fine astronomy lens,only 7 elements,no reflections (my 70-200 F 2.8 i cannot use it has so many elements and causes reflections)

The other lenses in your list,I have used them all for wildlife/birding,the 400 L prime is the best by far.

Chris
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Old 14-01-2011, 07:08 AM
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Omaroo (Chris Malikoff)
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Having been to South Arica and Botswana on safari a few times, most of the photography you do is from or near the vehicle. Tour operators don't really let you wander around too much - especially in the bushes where hidden animals might be hiding. Given that, the 100-400 is easily propped up against a window frame of the vehicle or on a tripod - which most people use as the wildlife is kept at a safe distance for the most part. You usually aren't given the opportunity to crawl amongst it as such - not that some operators are as safety-conscious as others.

If you are going to be clamouring around on the veldt, it'd make sense to rely on as few swaps as possible - and for that reason I was looking into the 70-300 myself. It IS heavy though. Heavier than the 100-400 by a margin.
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Old 14-01-2011, 07:28 PM
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koputai (Jason)
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Great suggestions so far guys, but you're not making my choice any easier!

H - I don't like using the extender, too much swapping. Also, renting is not an option, it would cost me over $2k, and to me that's wasted money.

Chris1 - I know you LOVE your 400/5.6, it certainly sounds good.

Chris2 - The new 70-300L is lighter at 1050g than the 100-400 at 1360g.

So far:

300mm f/4L IS
Pluses - Image quality, compact
Minuses - Old (V1) IS
Verdict = Ruled out

400mm f/5.6L
Pluses - Good increase in focal length
Minuses - A bit slow, physically long, and no IS.
Verdict = On hold, position 2.

70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Pluses - Compact, well sealed, image quality, latest IS (4 stops), great autofocus.
Minuses - A bit slow, not as reachy as the 400's.
Verdict = On hold, position 1.

100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS
Pluses - Great focal length range
Minuses - Physically heavy and long, old IS, push-pull, just as slow as the two above.
Verdict = Ruled out.

Aaaarrrgghhhh!!!!

Cheers,
Jason.
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  #9  
Old 14-01-2011, 08:21 PM
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hotspur (Chris)
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re lens

Jason,I had two copies of the 70-300 F 4-5.6.I notice a lot of people say how good they are,maybe I had two very bad copies,but I thought they were hardly any better than my 75-300 kit lens,if at all.

Its soft at the 300 end,reasonable at 200/250,But what is the point of having 300 when its not really getting the results.

You have a 70-200 F4 an outstanding lens,use it when the feeders bring the animals up to car.And the longer lens on your other camera.

In fact that would be an ideal combination,I have a 70-200,but its a f 2.8,its big and fat,not suited for field trips,I got it for other reasons,but If I had enough money I'd buy a f4 non IS 70-200 as a 'knock about' lens for everyday use.

Those bigger heavy lens,you will really notice the space and weight in the vehicle,I do similar trips (but not to Africa) and it makes a big difference.

Here are some basic images,with the 400L.its so much sharper than the 70-300

The wren-is a image I took within the first half an hour I ever used the lens,It has no PP,apart from crop,I stuck it in some posh photo comp,just because I was pleased with the sharpness,I expect no result-some pro togs always dominate-well this image got runner up in the nature section-put some noses out of joint-the 400L has been a winner ever since.

The other is a parrot,some PP in CS5,I took this image in low light,around 5 pm

Chris


PS the size of the L 400 is the same size as your F4 70-200,when the hood is not in use,the hood on this lens is another plus
it twists and pulls out,save so much time putting the usual hoods on in the field,and it makes a nice sound too!sound like those
old ship captains' telescopes when the pulled them into use.
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Old 14-01-2011, 08:42 PM
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koputai (Jason)
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Thanks again Chris, it always good to get your opinion.

You're thinking of the wrong 70-300. I already have the one you are talking about. The one I'm considering is the brand new L series 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS. It has only recently been released by Canon, a totally new lens, with the latest IS.

Here is a review:
http://www.canonrumors.com/reviews/e...-6l-is-review/

Definitely a different lens to the cheaper one's of similar focal length.

Cheers,
Jason.

Last edited by koputai; 15-01-2011 at 09:44 AM.
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Old 15-01-2011, 08:38 AM
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Omaroo (Chris Malikoff)
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You're right Jason - I made a mistake here - the lens I was thinking of was the 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L IS USM, which Humayun and I came away with the impression that it was heaver-still than the 100-400 by almost 300g. Given that at the time I decided against it - and I also thought that it may be compromised at either extreme of zoom in terms of overall image quality.

The 70-300's still on the cards though for me. I know a fellow who has one, a professional outdoor portrait/model photographer, and he likes it very much. Sounds like the ticket to me.
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Old 15-01-2011, 08:57 AM
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Just bought a 400mm f5.6L on eBay - will let you know some impressions when it arrives Jason.
Good luck with your choice.
Doug
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Old 15-01-2011, 10:03 AM
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hotspur (Chris)
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re lens

Ok,Jason-I am unfamiliar with the lens you mention,must be very new.

Is it IS ? how much is it?,I cannot see it on the DWI price list.

Certainly sounds very good.

But once again,I'd look at the fact you have a 70-200 F 4 which is an outstanding lens-very sharp all the way through its range,This is an excellent lens for taking images of large wildlife from a vehicle.Our friends have a deer
farm and I used my 70-200 for that.

Those animals further away need more length than 300,I had a read of an article from a English chap,who did some wildlife photography in Africa,he said he used
use 70-200 F 2.8 and a 500 L,and those were the two lenses he used on that trip.

Depends,on your general out look of photography,if you really do not do a lot of wildlife photography and astrophotography.The 70-300 sure sounds like a great regular use lens.

Great to hear you got a 400 L Doug,you will really enjoy that piece of glass and use it a lot more than you think,even in regular day use.

Cheers Chris
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Old 15-01-2011, 08:34 PM
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I have the 100-400L, and have had Dennis' 400L on my camera for about 2mins max. The 400L definitely focuses faster - very fast. It's light and smaller than I imagined. Quite impressed with it actually.

That being said, the 100-400L is more compact for travel. Might be heavier, but not prohibitively heavy. I like the versatility in focal length and the IS.

If I had my time again and had to buy one, I honestly am not sure about which one I'd get. May lean towards the 400L? But that's probably because I now have the 135L and 180L and don't really need the lower end of the focal range of the 100-400L.

However considering travel, compactness and versatility being high on my priorities, I'd go the 100-400L.
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Old 07-02-2011, 02:20 PM
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koputai (Jason)
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Well the safari has been postponed due to work commitments..........

BUT! That gives me more time to consider what would be best.

The rumour mills are talking about a new version of the 400 f/5.6 in April, this time with IS.

Has anyone used the 100-400 zoom for astro stuff? I'd imagine there's too many elements?

Cheers,
Jason.
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Old 07-02-2011, 04:20 PM
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G'day, Just to put some more confusion into your decision, have you considered the Sigma 150-500mm (Bigmos). Amongst my arsenal of lenses, this ranges in my top two lenses. Works well with a Kenko MC-7 2xTC. It is a Bazooka, but a very good lens. Well worth considering.

Regards, Dutch
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Old 07-02-2011, 09:46 PM
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Hi Dutch,

I have considered both the Sigma 150-500 and their newer 50-500mm.

They review well in some places, but generally review badly compared to lenses such as the Canon 100-400. For the slight extra cost I prefer to go for the Canon L lenses.

Cheers,
Jason.
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Old 08-02-2011, 09:04 AM
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G'day Jason, Fair enough mate, Canon L lenses are nice pieces of glass. To check out the differences in any lenses go to POTN (Photography On The Net), where they review most lenses suitable for Canon use, with individuals photos. IMHO, IS is overrated, and a function that becomes useless in a lot of circumstances, having said that, it does come into its own occasionally, but for the extra $$$ I found it not worth while. I have one L lens, and think that it's a beautiful bit of glass, I just wish it was a little faster sometimes (f/2.8). Why don't you look for a 2x TC, as you already have some nice glass. Don't forget you already have a 1.6x factor because you have a crop sensor camera - 70-200 f/4= 320mm, with 1.4x TC = 448mm @ f/5.6 or with 2x TC = 640mm @ f/8. The 7D is 18 megPix so cropping should not be an issue.
I would be looking for a faster lens (as I assume you want to capture animals in full flight), and if you choose to go with IS then remember to turn it off when using a tripod, and there are a fair amount of complaints about the IS not working correctly, rendering the lens useless. BTW- man, I'm jealous!!!! What an awesome trip you have planned.

Regards, Dutch
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Old 08-02-2011, 10:42 AM
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Octane (Humayun)
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Modern day lenses automatically disengage IS as the lens senses being mounted on a tripod.

I would argue that IS is not useless. It has saved my skin doing weddings in low light many times.

H
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Old 08-02-2011, 01:39 PM
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Well, Canon have just thrown a mighty contender into the ring with the announcement of development of a brand new lens for release this year!

EF 200-400mm f/4L IS, with an integrated 1.4x Extender taking it to 280-560mm!! I'm sure this won't be cheap when it finally arrives!

Cheers,
Jason.

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