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Author Topic: Canon lenses choice for wildlife  (Read 7329 times)
Phuong
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« on: July 03, 2006, 10:37:35 PM »
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hi. i am planning to buy my next lens for wildlife and, probably sports too.
however i'm on a budget (and i'm just a hobbyish, don't earn money from my photos), so i can't afford anything more than 1,500.
so i've seen 3 choices: 100-400mmf/4.5-5.6 IS, 400mmf/5.6,  300mmf4 IS.
currently i only own a 20D body, a 70-200 2.8 IS, and a 1.4x TC II.


my quick glance:
-the 300mm f4 IS provides average reach, with IS which is very nice. priced 1,100
-The 400mm f5.6 gives more reach, very nice if i want to shoot birds and/or tigers. but it's 1 stop slower (probably 4 stops slower actually, because there isn't IS). priced 1,100
-the 100-400mm gives a nice zoom flexibiligy. while its quality might be beaten by the fixed ones, but since it'll be used on a 20D, there might be no noticable difference? on the other hand, for $250 more, it's buffed with IS, which makes it although slightly slower than the 300mm for its f4.5 at the 100mm end, but much faster than the 400mm at its 400mm end. priced 1,350

i'm also planning to get a 1D MkII N after photokina 2006.

so here i am very very confused as to which one to get. they all seem to fulfill my needs, and all have similar price. the difference might lie in their qualities? but i've never own any of them to see the difference in their qualities either.

maybe some of you here who had previous experiences with those lenses could help me?
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Yakim Peled
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« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2006, 02:42:34 AM »
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As you have 70-200 IS and 1.4X TC you are well covered till 280mm. Therefore, a 300/4 IS seems a bit redundant. My recommendation is the 400/5.6 L + monopod.

http://www.photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=00DBPt

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/...otten-400.shtml

HTH.
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Happy shooting,
Yakim.
BJL
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« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2006, 06:40:41 AM »
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hi. i am planning to buy my next lens for wildlife and, probably sports too. ...
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=69718\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
I tend to agree with Yakim: for moving subjects like wildlife and sorts, IS does not help so much as the advertised 2 or 3 stops, so the 400/5.6 is not at so much of a disadvantage. (IS, like a tripod or monopod, does not help with freezing subject motion.)

Unless, as some say, the 400/5.6 is not significantly sharper than the 100-400/4-5.6 IS, in which case the zoom flexibility is worth weighing.
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matt4626
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« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2006, 12:09:11 PM »
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I have found the 100-400 to be my most used lens for wildlife. With a big tele I get some great shots but miss tons. The Zoom get the shot when the action is fast.
I just got back from Brooks Falls and had both a 500 f4 and the 100-400. If I could only take one it would be the 100-400.
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Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2006, 03:44:42 PM »
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If you're shooting with a 20D, I think it's a no-brainer. The 100-400 IS zoom is the way to go. You will see little if any gain in sharpness with the 400 f:5.6 because your camera is cropping to the optically best part of either lens, and so the much greater flexibility of the zoom is the main distinction. The 300 f:4 isn't that much longer than your 70-200, and at least by reputation not a stellar optical performer. From a Canon 10D I was able to print images taken with the zoom at 400 mm up to 20x30" with excellent results. On my Eos-1Ds II sharpness even in the corners is quite good if you can stop down to f:8 or f:11, so it'll still be useful if you ever go full frame.
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Phuong
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« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2006, 12:09:47 AM »
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thanks everybody. so, the 100-400 is probably the way to go.
however, has anyone compared the 100-400mm with the 70-200mm 2.8 IS + 2xTC?
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Yakim Peled
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« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2006, 01:05:08 AM »
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http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/...s/400v400.shtml
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Happy shooting,
Yakim.
dlashier
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« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2006, 02:10:14 AM »
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I had the 100-400 and wasn't happy with it at the long end - too soft, plus I didn't like the danged pluger zoom action as it seemed to pump a lot of dust onto my sensor. I replaced it with a 300/f4 IS + 1.4TC and am much happier. However, if I were doing it over I'd go for the 400/f5.6 as I almost never use the 300 without the TC so the stop dif doesn't matter, and with wildlife the IS usually isn't important.

- DL
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Ray
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« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2006, 06:21:27 AM »
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If you check out Michael's review and comparison of the 100-400 and 400/4.6 prime, you'll see that the 400 prime should be (or can be) very much sharper at f5.6 and slightly sharper at f5.6 than the 100-400 at f8 and f11. My copy of the 100-400 IS is also pretty poor at f5.6 but I wasn't able to get a good copy of the 400/5.6 prime.

My advice is, check out both lenses in the store before deciding. There's no substitute for doing your own tests.
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John Sheehy
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« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2006, 09:09:33 PM »
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My advice is, check out both lenses in the store before deciding. There's no substitute for doing your own tests.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=69813\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I'd add that one should test them at the distance they plan to be using them; the 100-400 seems to be optimized for close subjects, and is very sharp at the shorter range.

The minimum focusing distances should be compared, too, if you're looking at the close range.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2006, 09:16:53 PM by John Sheehy » Logged
Mike Boden
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« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2006, 10:05:50 PM »
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I personally think the 100-400mm is a no-brainer. But if you want to test the waters first, you could always rent each of these lenses (or borrow from a friend) to check them out. Then you'll know for sure which you use the most and like the best for your shooting style.
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stever
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« Reply #11 on: July 06, 2006, 02:51:20 PM »
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i have the 300 4.0, extenders, and the 100-400

although the 300 +1.4 is marginally better than the 100-400 at 400, both are noticeably better at f8 than 5.6 and both are capable of making consistently 13x19 prints of wildlife used with a 20d

for me, the flexibility of the 100-400 makes it the lens of choice if you need to work at various distances with various critters

if you are only interested in small birds, etc. you will get better images for less money with the 400 f5.6 -- on the other hand, i have a number of photos of larger birds in flight that i never would have gotten with a prime lens

i've found the 20d and 100-400 to be a very productive combination
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Tristan
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« Reply #12 on: July 06, 2006, 03:47:48 PM »
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I have the 300L IS f/4 and find I use the 1.4x extender a lot. I'm not really into birds so I chose this lens as it has a nice short focussing distance that makes it great for close ups of insects, flowers and portraits. Great all round lens and very very sharp. These links may be of interest:

http://www.naturephotographers.net/imagecr...d=22836&u=22836

http://www.naturephotographers.net/imagecr...d=22836&u=22836

Tristan

Absolutely Nothing | Creative Landscape Photoblog
-----------------------------------------------------------
http://www.absolutely-nothing.co.uk/
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Phuong
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« Reply #13 on: July 06, 2006, 05:16:23 PM »
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thanks everybody for your suggestions. i went to the local store today to try those lenses on. though i didnt have enough time to carefully testing them, i feel they're almost equally fast and sharp. so after much thoughts, i think i'll finally go for the 300/4 IS and probably will buy the 2xTC

the original reason i posted my questions was that, i'm planning a Safari trip to Kenya/Tanzanya next year's February, so it'll almost be used for wildlife for just 1 time (unless of course if i plan go on another trip). the 300mm with min focus distance of 4.9' has the potential for closeup works, and its long range and fast focus has potential for shooting sports as well.

on the other hand because i plan to get a 1D mkII N in the near future, i'll have 2 bodies, so the shorter ranges could always be covered by the 70-200mm on the 20D, which makes the 100-400mm redundant and 400mm. also i'm not into birding either, but if needed, the 400mm range can be covered by comboing the 300mm with a 1.4x, or even 2x if i need more reach; though i'm not sure the 300/4+2xTC combo will work (as f/8 will require pretty good light to be effective) but i hope the high quality of the 1D's sensor will make up for this (i.e., low noise at higher ISO)
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stever
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« Reply #14 on: July 06, 2006, 06:41:22 PM »
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if you're going on a safari, the 100-400 is absolutely the lens to have as you have little or no control over working distance with a wide variety of subject sizes, you will also be shooting primarily handheld or with a beanbag and will frequently need to respond rapidly

the 2x on the 300 is not useable for this application -- it is a slow-working tripod-only (without autofocus, manually focusing at f8 is not quick) combination which does not give a very sharp image and will be too long for many situations (switching the 2x in and out takes way too long and is a non-starter in dusty field conditions)
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Mike Boden
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« Reply #15 on: July 06, 2006, 07:01:07 PM »
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stever is right. the 100-400mm is a must on safari, as is a longer lens like a 500mm or 600mm. These are the two lenses that you'll use the most. On top of this, you will also need 1.4x and 2x extenders.

I just returned from a safari, so I'm speaking from experience. One thing to keep in mind is that you will not be able to get out of the vehicles. Furthermore, the vehicles have to stay on the road. What this means is that you cannot change your position that easily. Instead, you'll need to change your lens to accomodate.

If I can offer another bit of advice, do not select a safari company that will load up the vehicles with too many people. If you can keep the number of people in the vehicle to three or less for the large range rovers, not including the driver, then you'll be much happier. This will allow you to shoot from either side of the vehicle without asking someone to get out of your way or asking the driver to turn around.

Also, unless you're on a photo workshop safari, such as what Andy Biggs leads, then you'll most likely have to bring your own bean bags. I recommend bringing two. Kinesis makes such a bag called a Safari Sack. (http://kgear.com/r/) Once you get in the country and right before going out on safari, buy a couple bags of red beans from a market and fill up the sacks. These will serve as your primary support.

Good luck with your decisions. If you're unable to afford buying a big 500mm or 600mm lens, just remember that most major cities in the US will have a rental facility that can set you up.
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John Sheehy
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« Reply #16 on: July 06, 2006, 08:08:03 PM »
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although the 300 +1.4 is marginally better than the 100-400 at 400,[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=69944\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

How old is your 100-400?  It seems to me that the newer specimens tend to be sharper than the older ones.  Mine is from May of '94.  It is very sharp at close range for small birds (I literal get so close to warblers sometimes that the minimum focus distance of 5 feet is too far, and have to back up).  In this close, semi-macro environment, the 100-400 is sharp enough to take a 1.4x and 2x stacked and still get some detail that a 2x alone wouldn't (but not much).  My plan is to get another Kenko Pro 300 1.4x and limit the stack to 1.4x x 1.4x, as I like to leave one 1.4x on the camera as much as possible, unless I'm doing wide-angle stuff with it.  Another 1.4x would allow varying between 1.4x and 2x without exposing the chamber to new dust.

At infinity, my 100-400 already shows a bit of softness with the 1.4x (especially wide open), and it really isn't worth going past 1.4x.

People aren't too specific when they account for their experience, so it's hard to know what to make of it.  People often say a lens is soft but it is really because of AF problems, for instance, which has no interest to people who prefer to focus manually.
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Phuong
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« Reply #17 on: July 06, 2006, 10:08:41 PM »
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@stever & bodenzord, i know what you mean by saying the 100-400 is a must. it's true if you only have one body. that's also why it's also what i thought i would chose. but as i said, i'll have two bodies by that time (300mm on 1D II N and 70-200mm on 20D)

@John: i'm not too concerned about the long end of the 100-400 and it's not the main reason i chose the 300mm over it. i tried it and i'm dead sure this 100-400 is a killer lens. it's just not sharper than the 400mm prime, but on the other hand it's also wayyy superior to many other lenses. the only reason i pick the 300mm over it, is like i said above, i have the zoom flexibility (when needed) the the second body.

so i think, unless it's inconvenient to use 2 bodies, (someone with experiences plz tell me it's not true!) the 300mm is the better choice, no?

if somehow the 100-400mm is still a better choice, i'm sure it'll almost always sleep in my lens wardrobe, as i can't think of anything to use with it for the whole long winter here (in Montreal there're only 4 months of warm summer; the other 8 months are usually at -10 to -40)
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John Sheehy
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« Reply #18 on: July 07, 2006, 08:05:22 AM »
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so i think, unless it's inconvenient to use 2 bodies, (someone with experiences plz tell me it's not true!) the 300mm is the better choice, no?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=69990\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I have both the 300/4IS ans the 100-400, and I don't agree with those who say the prime + TC is as sharp.  My 100-400 with 1.4x is virtually indistinguishable from the lens itself in pixel-to-pixel contrast.  Without the TC, the AA filter in the camera is the limit.

And as I said, my 100-400 is very sharp at close range.  I have printed images at 150 PPI with the 1.4x and 2x stacked, where you can barely tell that the TCs were used (subject 20 feet away).

I would recommend thorough testing of any 100-400 during the return/exchange period, as QC seems to be quite inconsistent with this lens.
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stever
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« Reply #19 on: July 07, 2006, 11:24:24 AM »
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i'm a little curious about the choice of the 1D -- i don't think there are many situatios that the difference between 5 and 8 fps is a make or break, although i've filled the buffer shooting raw a few times - although again i can't say i lost much waiting for the write.  i'd also be surprised if you can find a significant image quality difference between the 1D andd 20D

for calibration, my standard is the ability to make excellent 13x19s from full frame images - the 300 +1.4 and the 100-400 will both do this (but any larger is problematic) -- John probably disagrees, but i have not been abel do this with the 300+2 or 100-400+1.4 (at least not at apertures useable in a safari situation.  

in the bad old days of film, i used 2 bodies - an EOS 3 with the 300 and 1.4 and 2x (the EOS 3 will autofocus -slowly-at f8) and a rebel with 75-300.  This was not a bad combination, but the wrong extender was always in place and i left the 2x in most of the time, although with film, i didn't have to worry so much about the dust.  

using the 300+1.4 on the 1D and the 70-200 on the 20d is not a bad combination - the gap left is probably not a killer (just don't expect to swap TCs in and out very often even with someone helping juggle your equipment)

my point in all this that unless you're experienced with a 2-body setup (and of course have someone to hold the second camera for you), you will get more good images with a 20d and 100-400 with a lot less aggravation -- even with 2 bodies, i'd rather have a 100-400 on one body and the 70-200 on the other.  The 300 f4 just doesn't provide enough improvement over the 100-400 to be worth the trouble.  On the other hand, if you're willing to carry the weight, a 300 2.8 will make a big difference in focus speed and image quality -- consider that you can buy a 2nd 20D and 300 2.8 for about the same money as a 1D and 300 f4.
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