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Author Topic: Wildlife / Sports Lens - 400mm F4 DO  (Read 10811 times)
Fotophil
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« Reply #20 on: August 16, 2006, 03:33:25 PM »
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Before deciding upon the 400mm DO as my flight lens, I made numerous side-by-side tests of the 300mm f?2.8 with 1.4X vs. 400mm DO. Although the resolution was similar, the 300mm +1.4X had better contrast. Of course the 300mm f/2.8 with 1.4X extender was heavier. The bare 300mmf/2.8 was both sharper and more contrasty than the 400mm DO but it was also heavier. I even made some 300mm + 2x tests which were pretty good. The basic ultra high resolution of the 300mm F2.8 is able to provide great perrformance with extenders. My 400mm Do does not like extenders. I choe the 400mm over the 300mm because of hand holding only. The 400mm is shorter and lighter than the 300mm + 1.4x and thus easier to hand hold. Even so, there a days that I wish I had purchased the 300mm f/2.8 instead of the 400mm DO. As I have said previously, the 400mm DO is a very specialized lens with two great features (size and weight) and numerous bad features (marginal resolution, poor extender performance, and low contrast). Perhaps the biggest negative is the horrible boken quality of the background. Rather than the smooth out-of-focus backgrunds of the 300mm f/2.8 and 500mm f/4, the 400mm DO produces a rough, artifacted background. Bright highligths look similar to those of the mirror lienses and line objects (like branches) appear weird. Although it is not a problem with the sky backgrounds in my flight photos, it is a real problem with tree or bush backgrounds in static bird shots. I often have to use Gaussian blur in Photoshop to smooth out the backgrounds.
l
Since weight is important to your application, you might want to look at the performance of the 300mm f?2.8 with both 1.4x and 2x extenders. I also own a 300mm f/4 lens. Although it is a nice light weight lens, it is not in the same category as the 300mm f?2.8. There is a huge difference between the optical quality of the two 300mm lenses. You may find that the 300mm f/2.8 along with 1.4X and 2x extenders to be a great light weight field system. It will not match the quality of the 500mm f/4. but it will be close to the 400mm Do as well as cheaper.
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Josh-H
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« Reply #21 on: August 16, 2006, 09:26:30 PM »
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Perhaps the biggest negative is the horrible boken quality of the background. Rather than the smooth out-of-focus backgrunds of the 300mm f/2.8 and 500mm f/4, the 400mm DO produces a rough, artifacted background. Bright highligths look similar to those of the mirror lienses and line objects (like branches) appear weird. Although it is not a problem with the sky backgrounds in my flight photos, it is a real problem with tree or bush backgrounds in static bird shots. I often have to use Gaussian blur in Photoshop to smooth out the backgrounds.

Thanks for your comments and taking the time to respond - I found your comments very interesting as they havent geled with what I have seen in the way of samples.

Of the hundreds of sample shots I have seen on the web with the 400mm F4 DO I have not yet seen a single one with the phenomenan you are describing of bad Bokeh.

Can you please post an example to illustrate this.

I managed to find an example of a shot that was done with the 300 2.8 and the 400 F4DO and there appeared little difference in resolution [the pixel peepers would probably disagree - but real world to my eye it looked negligable]. There was a minor difference in contrast, whouch would easily be correctable in PS.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2006, 09:45:44 PM by JHolko » Logged

Ray
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« Reply #22 on: August 16, 2006, 09:48:46 PM »
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I managed to find an example of a shot that was done with the 300 2.8 and the 400 F4DO and there appeared little difference in resolution [a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=73589\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I need to ask this because amateur lens testers (and in all humility, I'm in that category) sometimes fail to eliminate obvious variabilities.

I take it the comparison you refer to was of shots taken from different distances to the subject and at apertures representative of the 'sweet' spot of both lenses?
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Josh-H
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« Reply #23 on: August 16, 2006, 10:00:54 PM »
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I take it the comparison you refer to was of shots taken from different distances to the subject and at apertures representative of the 'sweet' spot of both lenses?

I cant confirm unfortunately - no exif data was posted. So I take it with a grain of the proverbial.

I'll know more for sure once I get the loaner 400mm F4DO and then the 500mm F4.

I would really like to see an example from Photophil of his experiences with the 400mm and the Bokeh issue.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2006, 10:09:02 PM by JHolko » Logged

Fotophil
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« Reply #24 on: August 16, 2006, 11:42:30 PM »
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Hi:

Upon completion of your testing, you will be in a good position to judge the boken effect of the 400mm vs 500mm. If it doesn't bother you, then your lens selection will be that much easier. If you have access to a 300mm f/2.8 so much the better.
Have fun - lens buying can be a challenge. Resale prices on the 300mm and 500mm lenses are always good so you won't lose much money on them. 400mm may be a different story for resale.
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Josh-H
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« Reply #25 on: August 17, 2006, 12:07:26 AM »
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Hi:

Upon completion of your testing, you will be in a good position to judge the boken effect of the 400mm vs 500mm. If it doesn't bother you, then your lens selection will be that much easier. If you have access to a 300mm f/2.8 so much the better.
Have fun - lens buying can be a challenge. Resale prices on the 300mm and 500mm lenses are always good so you won't lose much money on them. 400mm may be a different story for resale.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=73598\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Can you post your own example?
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Fotophil
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« Reply #26 on: August 17, 2006, 10:56:32 AM »
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Sorry but I don't have time to dig out my uncorrected images. The big bad boken effect of the DO lenses is not a secret, look for some of the 70-300 mm DO reviews on the web.
Good luck
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Josh-H
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« Reply #27 on: August 17, 2006, 07:42:00 PM »
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Sorry but I don't have time to dig out my uncorrected images. The big bad boken effect of the DO lenses is not a secret, look for some of the 70-300 mm DO reviews on the web.
Good luck
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=73641\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Sorry.. but I just dont understand your post - I am not discussing the 70-300mm DO. Which, from the reviews is clearly a very different animal to the 400mm F4 DO.

Are you Saying its [the 70-300 DO] Bokeh behaves the sames at the 400mm F4 DO? Because I find that highly unlikely given the significant differences in elements and construction between these lenses.

Anyway.. doesnt matter - ill see for myself when I borrow the 400mm F4 DO and Ill post some samples to verify what its like.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2006, 08:39:36 PM by JHolko » Logged

jeffreyluce
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« Reply #28 on: August 17, 2006, 08:47:28 PM »
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a quick google search of "bokeh issue 70-300" yeilded
http://www.photo.net/equipment/canon/70-300do_2/
to which there is a nice (pixel peeping) 200x200 crop that looks like sand at the beach... this is the effect of the DO.
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Jeffrey Luce
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« Reply #29 on: August 17, 2006, 08:57:56 PM »
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a quick google search of "bokeh issue 70-300" yeilded
http://www.photo.net/equipment/canon/70-300do_2/
to which there is a nice (pixel peeping) 200x200 crop that looks like sand at the beach... this is the effect of the DO.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=73727\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Thanks for the post - interesting link and interesting reading.
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Fotophil
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« Reply #30 on: August 17, 2006, 09:21:54 PM »
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I think you will find some similarity between the boken effect - it has to do with the DO plate rather than the optical layout. The similarity ends with the boken - the 400mm is a vastly sharper lens than the zoom. If you search the Rob Galbraith Forum a few years back, I think you will find lots of 400mm DO information - the lens attracted lots of attention.
Your testing of the lens is really the only thing that counts in the long run. The opinions of others as well as the articles aren't the bottom line. I would suggest that you arrnage for a return option for your purchase if you aren't happy with th lens. In the early days of the 400mm DO production there were some QA sharpness problems that were supposed to have been fixed. I know three photographers in my area that have purchased new 400mm DO lenses within the past year and they are all pleased with the sharpness so the old QA problem probably isn't an issue today.

Have fun with what ever wildlife lens you choose.
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DaveCurtis
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« Reply #31 on: August 18, 2006, 05:17:30 AM »
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I have used the 400mm DO for 11 months and my findings match Michael's review. Very good resolution but slightly low on contrast which can be easily corrected via Local Contrast Enhancement unsharp mask. I use the lens mainly for wildlife and landscape work. If portability wasn't an issue I would have perhaps gone with the 500mm f4 due to the extra focal length as I am increasingly using the 400mm DO with a x1.4. The out of focus background the lens produces I find rather pleasing.
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Josh-H
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« Reply #32 on: August 18, 2006, 06:17:25 PM »
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I have used the 400mm DO for 11 months and my findings match Michael's review. Very good resolution but slightly low on contrast which can be easily corrected via Local Contrast Enhancement unsharp mask. I use the lens mainly for wildlife and landscape work. If portability wasn't an issue I would have perhaps gone with the 500mm f4 due to the extra focal length as I am increasingly using the 400mm DO with a x1.4. The out of focus background the lens produces I find rather pleasing.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=73761\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Thanks for the comments - I am really looking forward to trying one out - which should be next weekend.
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sposch
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« Reply #33 on: August 21, 2006, 03:12:06 PM »
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I stewed over the same decision for quite a while as well. I Have a 5D too and decided to purchase the 400DO. The decision was a little easier for me because a few years ago I had an FD 400 f2.8 for a while and it was definitley not a lens that I would want to pack around all the time.
I'm happy with the 400DO, it fits in a Lowepro Mini Trekker Classic pack attached to the 5D with a 1.4X converter, and there is still room in the bag for the 70-200 f2.8 or a shorter lens and a flash. It also fits in my Poto Trekker AW bag with a ton of other gear but I prefer the smaller bag for short hikes as it is much lighter and more manuverable.
I purchased the 400 in May and just retuned from a six week trip to Alaska from which I brought home 3400 images of which probably 70% were shot with the 400. I find I usually keep the 1.4X converter attached with the camera set at ISO 500 in aperature priority set to the largest available aperature. This allowed me to get many roadside shots (we were travelling in a motorhome) of shy animals. If the subject was not too skittish I had time to drop the ISO or change the teleconverter etc as required after the initial shots were in the bag. I find that to get sharp images I need to keep the shutter speed above 1/400 or 1/500.
With the ammount of shooting I do with the 1.4X attached I'm glad I didn't opt for the 300-2.8 as I don't think it would be long enough a lot of the time and with the 400DO being lighter and a bit smaller it's a little easier to manage. I haven't used the 2X converter much as I think the 5D has enough resolution that a sharp image can be cropped with similar results to using the converter, although I haven't done any testing yet to see if there is much difference in sharpness between the 1.4X and the 2X I'm pretty sure the slower shutter speeds with the 2X would degrade the sharpness a bit.
All in All if you want a lens you can take almost anywhere, use hand held often and get a lot of use out of, go for the 400DO. If you just want to take bird pictures a couple times a year with a heavy tripod and a Wimbley mount get the 500 or 600 lens and let it collect dust the rest of the time, it'll hold resale value if it rarely makes it out of the closet. The choice between the 300-2.8 and the 400DO is the only one you really need to consider. I'm glad I went for the 400, I haven't used the 300-2.8 but in my opinion the extra reach, size and weight advantages tip the scale in favor of the 400, speed isn't a huge factor with the 5D as you can use higher ISO settings without paying much of a penalty. I have't found many situations where I needed to go much above ISO 500 to get useable shutter speeds.
When you do your comparison testing don't just set up a tripod in your backyard and shoot the Sunday comics. Get them out and shoot your intended subjects, to see how they handle in the real world, a tiny edge in resolution won't make a difference if you can't get the shot you want in the first place.

Good luck. Steve.
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Josh-H
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« Reply #34 on: August 21, 2006, 10:37:17 PM »
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I stewed over the same decision for quite a while as well. I Have a 5D too and decided to purchase the 400DO. The decision was a little easier for me because a few years ago I had an FD 400 f2.8 for a while and it was definitley not a lens that I would want to pack around all the time.
I'm happy with the 400DO, it fits in a Lowepro Mini Trekker Classic pack attached to the 5D with a 1.4X converter, and there is still room in the bag for the 70-200 f2.8 or a shorter lens and a flash. It also fits in my Poto Trekker AW bag with a ton of other gear but I prefer the smaller bag for short hikes as it is much lighter and more manuverable.
I purchased the 400 in May and just retuned from a six week trip to Alaska from which I brought home 3400 images of which probably 70% were shot with the 400. I find I usually keep the 1.4X converter attached with the camera set at ISO 500 in aperature priority set to the largest available aperature. This allowed me to get many roadside shots (we were travelling in a motorhome) of shy animals. If the subject was not too skittish I had time to drop the ISO or change the teleconverter etc as required after the initial shots were in the bag. I find that to get sharp images I need to keep the shutter speed above 1/400 or 1/500.
With the ammount of shooting I do with the 1.4X attached I'm glad I didn't opt for the 300-2.8 as I don't think it would be long enough a lot of the time and with the 400DO being lighter and a bit smaller it's a little easier to manage. I haven't used the 2X converter much as I think the 5D has enough resolution that a sharp image can be cropped with similar results to using the converter, although I haven't done any testing yet to see if there is much difference in sharpness between the 1.4X and the 2X I'm pretty sure the slower shutter speeds with the 2X would degrade the sharpness a bit.
All in All if you want a lens you can take almost anywhere, use hand held often and get a lot of use out of, go for the 400DO. If you just want to take bird pictures a couple times a year with a heavy tripod and a Wimbley mount get the 500 or 600 lens and let it collect dust the rest of the time, it'll hold resale value if it rarely makes it out of the closet. The choice between the 300-2.8 and the 400DO is the only one you really need to consider. I'm glad I went for the 400, I haven't used the 300-2.8 but in my opinion the extra reach, size and weight advantages tip the scale in favor of the 400, speed isn't a huge factor with the 5D as you can use higher ISO settings without paying much of a penalty. I have't found many situations where I needed to go much above ISO 500 to get useable shutter speeds.
When you do your comparison testing don't just set up a tripod in your backyard and shoot the Sunday comics. Get them out and shoot your intended subjects, to see how they handle in the real world, a tiny edge in resolution won't make a difference if you can't get the shot you want in the first place.

Good luck. Steve.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=74020\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Steve,

Thanks very much for taking the time to post your experiences. Your method of shooting and mothodology in buying the 400mm F4 DO is VERY similar to my way of thinking.

Im all but sold on the 400mm F4 DO - only waiting for two things before I place the order.

1. Photokina announcements - just in case there is anything new announced. Paranoid I know.. but I did buy the 85mm F1.2L 2 weeks before the MKII was announced - so I'm waiting this time!

2. The loaner 400mm F4 DO - which I should be getting this weekend for a trial. And definately planning to use it in the field for reall world results.
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Josh-H
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« Reply #35 on: August 25, 2006, 05:48:16 AM »
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Well.. I finally have the 400mm F4 DO in my hands - well sitting next to me on the floor anyway  

First impressions...

1. Its Small!!! Its Light!!! And the lens hood is big enough to be a basketball hoop!  

I havent had a chance to even put it on the camera yet - its night time here in Aust. at the moment anyway so it will have to wait until tommorow.

Got an early morning shoot planned at the Zoo to test the lens. I got a pass to get in when the sun is coming up and animals are at their most active, before the zoo opens - hopefully I can give the lens a really good work out and see how it performs.

Day after that will be taking it out into the wild for some birding at some local waterholes.

Going to test exclusivley on the 5D.

I only have the loaner lens for two days - so need to make the most of it - will post some results after the weekend.

Thanks again to all of the posters above
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DaveCurtis
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« Reply #36 on: August 25, 2006, 04:08:03 PM »
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If it works well over here in NZ then I'm sure it will work well  over there in Aussie.  

Dave
www.magiclight.co.nz
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jimhuber
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« Reply #37 on: August 26, 2006, 09:29:57 AM »
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I've seriously pondered the 400 DO several times myself, but I keep talking myself out of it. If it was 500mm I'd have ordered it several times, but I have a 300 f/4L IS that works very well with the 1.4x extender, so I have a 420mm f/5.6 IS I really like that's only 3.1 pounds.

I own the 70-300 DO and I'm very pleased with it. So I'm not holding out due to the technology, concerns about quality, or even the price. I'm holding out for a 500mm prime or a long zoom, something like 200-600mm that's less than 8 pounds. I'd prefer less than 6 pounds so that the total including my 5D body would be less than 8 pounds, less than 8.5 with 1.4x extender. But I'd buy it if it were no more than 8 pounds, then call Andy Biggs and go to Africa.
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Josh-H
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« Reply #38 on: August 26, 2006, 07:06:13 PM »
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Well.. after trialling all day yesterday [Ireckon  I walked 20kms yesterday   ] I have decided to purchase the 400mm F4 DO.

I am still working through processing the 4 Gig of images I shot yesterday - but initial quick check has yielded some great shots that I am very very happy with.

What I found shooting with this lens was that portability and ability to get into position very quickly is of great value - not to mention the weight issue when hiking / walking. I was very glad I wasnt carrying anything heavier.

I shot almost exclusively with the 400mm F4DO on a manfrotto carbon tripod with a manfrotto ball head and found this combination excellent. I left IS on and have a good number of razor sharp images - despite the overcast conditions and slow shutter speeds.

Out of all the images I shot yesterday I only saw one with an odd Bokeh - this would appear to be a result of some flare, shooting directly into the sun- all the rest are gorgeous and creamy. I shot almost exclusivley wide open - F4 and occassionaly F4.5 or F5.

Shooting with it again all day today - but the decision is made for me  

Will put some images on my website when I get a chance
« Last Edit: August 26, 2006, 07:08:21 PM by JHolko » Logged

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