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Author Topic: 100-400, 300f4 & 1.4, or 400 5.6?  (Read 9171 times)
wjy
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« on: November 16, 2005, 08:30:12 PM »
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I searched the site for this topic and nothing came up, although I am sure that it has been discussed.  I have found a few online discussions about these three lenses and which is the one to have, but no one seems to actually own all or at least two, to do a comparison between.  I am looking for the range above 200 as I already own the 70-200 f2.8.  I know that not everyone is a fan of the 100-400 as it has been arguable wether or not it is optically sharp.  I could go with the 400 5.6, and for the 300 range use my 70-200 with a 1.4 TC,  but the 400 5.6 without IS seems to be a very limited lens.  I know on the test on this site the 300 f4 is sharp but not as good as the 400 when paired to a 1.4 TC.  So what I want is versatility (the 100-400) but I don't want poor image quality above 350mm which seems to plague this lens.  the 300 would be a good sharp option at 300, but does it perform at 420 with the TC?
What would be extremely helpful is if someone actually had samples of these three lenses at 400. (420 for the 300 plus 1.4)  If anyone does could you post or link me to them?
Thanks, and if anyone just has advice on what they (you) would do in my position please feel free to comment. It might help you to know that I am trying to find a versatile setup for hiking and Mountian biking on all day trips, so weight is a factor.
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Richard Dawson
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« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2005, 10:06:41 PM »
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wjy,

100~400mm vs 400mm comparisons can be found here:

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

I had a 100~400 for a couple of years.  After I bought my 70~200 IS, I found that I was using the 100~400 less and less, and primarily at the long end of the range.  I wasn't happy with the duplication of focal lengths the two lenses had.

After reading the above review, I bought a 400mm f/5.6 and sold the 100~400 to a guy in California who uses it mainly for air shows.  It turned out to be a win-win situation.  He is very happy with the lens because it meets his needs; I really like and feel comfortable with the 70~200 and use the 400mm when the situation demands it.  I also have a 1.4X extender, which works very nicely with both lenses.  This kit is just right for me.

Most people seem to think the 400mm is sharper at f/5.6, and the lenses are pretty much equal at smaller apertures.  This is consistent with my unscientific observations.

None of these three lenses are very light.  I don't think that you will want to go too far with a 70~200 and 100~400 in your pack, or with a 70~200 and 400mm, for that matter.  If I were doing a lot of back packing and wanted a longer, versatile lens, I would look at the 70~200 with a 1.4X extender, or stick with a couple of shorter primes.  

I think the bottom line is really what works best for you.  I didn't like having the duplication; you might not see it as an issue.  There may also be another issue that is more important to you and that should drive your decision.  

Someone else may have an entirely different viewpoint.  Who knows?

Richard
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Yakim Peled
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« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2005, 01:54:07 AM »
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When I was searching for a longer tele than my 200/2.8 I eventually got the 300/4 IS + 1.4X TC.

I rejected the 100-400 for it's pull-push design (I hate it but regular users tell me you get used to it finally) and not-so-good performance at 400mm wide open, the 400/5.6 for it's lack of IS, the 300/2.8 IS and 400/2.8 IS for their weight and price, the 400/4 DO IS for the price and the Sigma lenses for fear of dealing with future incompatibility problems. So, by elimination, that left me with the 300/4 IS + 1.4X TC setup. More expensive but more versatile. When comparing it to the 400/5.6 I have two focal lengths, IS (which I think is invaluable in long lenses for a non-tripod user like myself) in both focal lengths, faster aperture in the 300 range, closer minimum focusing distance and still have top-notch optical quality.

I think that IS is invaluable in long lenses. I could hand-hold my 200/2.8 only at a minimum of 1/180 but easily reached 1/60 with my 300/4 IS and 1/90 with my 300/4 IS + 1.4X TC. Yes, I have a monopod. Yes, I like it a lot but most of the times it stays at home. I know, I know. I should always use a support and a monopod is a bare minimum but I am too lazy carrying it with me all the time :-( Thus, as fine as the 400/5.6 is, I will never buy it.

HTH.

Happy shooting,
Yakim.
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Happy shooting,
Yakim.
giles
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« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2005, 05:26:52 AM »
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http://www.birdsasart.com/faq_4f56or3is.html

Myself (also owning the 70-200 f/2.8 IS lens) I'd by a 400 f/5.6 IS like a shot.  In the meantime, since that lens doesn't exist, Canon present us with a cruel dilemma.

For the moment I have nothing longer than the 70-200+1.4 teleconverter.  Any time I photograph wildlife I wish for longer, and birds are worse ...

Giles
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wjy
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« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2005, 01:24:03 PM »
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Thanks everyone,
I am still undecided although your comments have helped somewhat.  I shoot mostly sports, and occasionaly I get some wildlife and bird time in.  From Michael's tests on the 100-400 @ 400mm vs. the 400 5.6, I can see that the 100-400 is really not that great at 400.  What bothers me is I know for sports the 100-400 would be very handy at the 200+ end, and I don't want to get stuck with a lens that I only take out of the closet 3 or 4 times a year.  If only Canon would have made the zoom a little bit sharper at the long end there would be no question for me, but I really hate getting a good shot that is not sharp because of the limits of the lens. (I'm sure everyone hates this)  I guess I could buy them both but that seems stupid becuase obviously there would be no wieght savings if carrying two or three lenses.  I guess I will just roll the dice and hope the 100-400 in the mail is sharper than Michael's.
Thanks again,
Billy Y.
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Giedo
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« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2005, 02:45:03 PM »
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Look here: photozone for objective comparisons of those lenses.
The 400/ 5.6 was not tested yet but will be shortly (as is announced).
Most surprising part of the test is the conclusion that the 100- 400 is a very decent lens, also at the long end. That the 300mm/f4 IS is better (as expected) but NOT when used with a teleconverter...
So if you really need the long end, go for the 100 - 400. I own the lens for wildlife purposes and it is a great lens. At home I never use it. I prefer my 70-200 f4. So you could also decide to rent...

Good luck deciding!
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Giedo
Paul Sumi
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« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2005, 02:56:55 PM »
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What bothers me is I know for sports the 100-400 would be very handy at the 200+ end, and I don't want to get stuck with a lens that I only take out of the closet 3 or 4 times a year

If sports is your focus (pun not intended), you really should test-drive the 100-400 before you buy.  I found its autofocus to be a litle slow for sports (with a 1D2).  Depending on your needs it may be fine.  IMO, YMMV and all the usual disclaimers.  

Paul
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wjy
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« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2005, 06:31:00 PM »
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If sports is your focus (pun not intended), you really should test-drive the 100-400 before you buy.  I found its autofocus to be a litle slow for sports (with a 1D2).  Depending on your needs it may be fine.  IMO, YMMV and all the usual disclaimers. 

Paul
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=51541\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Paul,
I have never been good at abbreviations, I give up. "YMMV"?
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Paul Sumi
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« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2005, 07:07:07 PM »
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Paul,
I have never been good at abbreviations, I give up. "YMMV"?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=51564\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

YMMV = Your Mileage May Vary

Paul
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Paul Sumi
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« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2005, 07:16:45 PM »
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I rejected the 100-400 for it's pull-push design (I hate it but regular users tell me you get used to it finally) and not-so-good performance at 400mm wide open, the 400/5.6 for it's lack of IS, the 300/2.8 IS and 400/2.8 IS for their weight and price, the 400/4 DO IS for the price...

Yakim,

I went through exactly the same thought process as you, but didn't end up with the 300/4 IS - not enough reach without a TC.

Like you, a 400/5.6 L IS would be perfect for me, I'd buy it in an instant.  But if I were to win the lottery, the 500/4 L IS is my dream supertele (sports and wildlife).

Paul
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Yakim Peled
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« Reply #10 on: November 18, 2005, 09:06:43 AM »
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Paul, what did you end up with?

BTW, my dream tele is the 400/4 DO. The 500/4 is too heavy for me.
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Happy shooting,
Yakim.
Paul Sumi
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« Reply #11 on: November 18, 2005, 11:02:02 AM »
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Paul, what did you end up with?

BTW, my dream tele is the 400/4 DO. The 500/4 is too heavy for me.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=51616\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Yakim, in the end I didn't buy any of the lenses mentioned.  The 400/5.6 came the closest, but the lack of IS was a deal-breaker.  I had the opportunity to try the 500/4 on a couple of occasions (surfing and bird photography) and the results were outstanding.  It's my fantasy supertele, but unless I win the lotto I'll never get one.

A friend has the 400/4 DO and he has also gotten very good results with it.

Paul
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Yakim Peled
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« Reply #12 on: November 18, 2005, 11:12:33 AM »
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I decided to give the new 70-300 IS a try (follow all links in it). Optically it seems like a very good lens. I wonder if it will turn out like my 50/1.8. Lousy to feel and operate but with excellent image quality.

Till I can afford the 70-200/2.8 IS, this one will have to do.
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Happy shooting,
Yakim.
AJSJones
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« Reply #13 on: November 18, 2005, 05:20:35 PM »
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Look here: photozone for objective comparisons of those lenses.
That the 300mm/f4 IS is better (as expected) but NOT when used with a teleconverter...

You should also check this review out.  For the 300 with the 1.4x converter, good results are only obtained with f/8 and f/11 - this fits my experience also with that combo - and rapid fall-off above and below that range.  While Castleman's absolute numbers may not be perfect, I suspect that no matter how you tested this particular combo, if you checked all apertures for performance, you'd find a similar "performance peak" at the same place.  The site also has some info on the 100-400 and comparisons.

Andy
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Yakim Peled
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« Reply #14 on: November 19, 2005, 11:15:38 PM »
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My results from the 300/4 IS + 1.4X TC (Mk II) were indistinguishable from that of the naked lens itself. However, that may be as I shoot film and never print over A4.

The only difference I felt was in AF speed (slower) and AF hunting (occasionally happened).

HTH.
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Happy shooting,
Yakim.
macgyver
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« Reply #15 on: November 23, 2005, 07:37:35 PM »
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Ironically, I've been thinking of all this too lately and was going to post this same thing once the board was back.  I was thinking the 400 5.6, but have started leading toward the 100-400.  It's more expensive (obviously) and probably isnt as good of a lens in terms of quality, but for a wildlife lens it seems like it would be a decent deal.

As far as the quality goes, I've seen plenty of nice shots taken with one.  You can sit around and fret about whether or not your photos will be 1/2 a pixel sharper, or go get the photos.

You mentioned that you shoot sports, if so the 400 5.6 might be the ticket, slap it on a monopod and you dont need the IS.  Also, I've heard that it focuses amazingly fast.  The fast focus is the biggest thing I've heard consistantly about it.

Any thoughts on how hindersome the minimum focus distance on the 400 5.6 is?
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Yakim Peled
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« Reply #16 on: November 23, 2005, 10:54:31 PM »
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http://opd.usa.canon.com/html/eflenses/pdf/spec.pdf

3.5 meters/11.5 feet.
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Happy shooting,
Yakim.
macgyver
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« Reply #17 on: November 24, 2005, 10:41:15 AM »
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Right, I was just asking if it had proved to be a bother for anyone in the field.
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RandyJK
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« Reply #18 on: November 24, 2005, 04:46:16 PM »
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Thanks everyone,
I am still undecided although your comments have helped somewhat.  I shoot mostly sports, and occasionaly I get some wildlife and bird time in.  From Michael's tests on the 100-400 @ 400mm vs. the 400 5.6, I can see that the 100-400 is really not that great at 400.  What bothers me is I know for sports the 100-400 would be very handy at the 200+ end, and I don't want to get stuck with a lens that I only take out of the closet 3 or 4 times a year.  If only Canon would have made the zoom a little bit sharper at the long end there would be no question for me, but I really hate getting a good shot that is not sharp because of the limits of the lens. (I'm sure everyone hates this)  I guess I could buy them both but that seems stupid becuase obviously there would be no wieght savings if carrying two or three lenses.  I guess I will just roll the dice and hope the 100-400 in the mail is sharper than Michael's.
Thanks again,
Billy Y.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=51536\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I have a lot of experience with various EF70-200's so thats my "gold standard".  Last summer I used a 300f4 lens extensively, side by side with the 70-200 2.8 for soccer. Although the 300 wins hands down in a lens test, viewing at 100%, the differences are minimal in real world shooting.  I have a 100-400 on the way so I will do some comparisons shortly with these lenses.  I suspect I will see the same thing in that the prime and the 70-200 will beat the 100-400 in controlled tests but the edge will disappear in real world use.  But what is real and significant with all these lenses is the max aperture.  I would pay more attention to this, focal lenght of course, than I would to sharpness.  These are all L lenses and results will be more than adequate.
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wjy
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« Reply #19 on: November 29, 2005, 05:30:36 PM »
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O.K. So I did it.
I bought the 100-400,  It is reasonably sharp at 400 and even better at 100.  My only complant is the min. aperature of 5.6 at 400, but I would be stuck there with the 400 prime also.  It isn't quite as fast focusing as the 70-200 2.8, but it does pretty good, and the size and versatiliy found in a zoom make me feel that I made a good choice.  I don't think I would use the prime 400 as much.  Now when I hike I need only 2 lenses, the 17-40 and the 100-400, It makes for a fairly light setup compared to what I was hauling around before.  I will still use the 70-200 for sports at any focal length below 200 since it really is a sharper, faster focusing lens.  Now if Canon would just make an affordable 600mm lens I would be a Happy guy.
Thanks for all the comments.
Billy Y.
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