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Author Topic: Need help choosing lens  (Read 2813 times)
riehleks
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« on: December 22, 2005, 08:25:28 AM »
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 Hello.  I need some help. I am an amateur photographer and an avid bird watcher. I have a Canon Digital Rebel XT which I love; probably because it's pretty easy to use.  I currently have a Canon 75-300mm 1:4-5.6 lens. I like it and use it a lot however, a lot of the time the birds are a little further away than I can catch using this lens. I'm looking for a new lens. I've been reading and reading and quite frankly I've confused myself beyond belief.  I've been looking at the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6 USM and the Canon EF 100-400mmf/4.5-5.6 IS USM as well as the Cannon 400mm f/2.8LIS USM and EF400mm f/4 DO IS USM.  I simply need a good lens to take my bird pictures. I'm not a professional by any means but I do use my photos a lot for personal use (cards, gifts, etc).  Can someone who knows more than me please give me some guidance on which lens would be the best for me to take my bird pictures. Any advice will be appreciated.

Kelly Riehle
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Richard Dawson
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« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2005, 12:29:48 PM »
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Kelly,

Check this thread.  There are several references to reviews as well as opinions which should be a good starting point for you.

http://luminous-landscape.com/forum/index....c=9335&hl=400mm

Richard
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francois
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« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2005, 12:35:16 PM »
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Hello. I need some help. I am an amateur photographer and an avid bird watcher. I have a Canon Digital Rebel XT which I love; probably because it's pretty easy to use. I currently have a Canon 75-300mm 1:4-5.6 lens. I like it and use it a lot however, a lot of the time the birds are a little further away than I can catch using this lens. I'm looking for a new lens. I've been reading and reading and quite frankly I've confused myself beyond belief. I've been looking at the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6 USM and the Canon EF 100-400mmf/4.5-5.6 IS USM as well as the Cannon 400mm f/2.8LIS USM and EF400mm f/4 DO IS USM. I simply need a good lens to take my bird pictures. I'm not a professional by any means but I do use my photos a lot for personal use (cards, gifts, etc). Can someone who knows more than me please give me some guidance on which lens would be the best for me to take my bird pictures. Any advice will be appreciated.

Kelly Riehle
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Kelly,
The 400mm f/2.8 and 400mm f/4 DO are not in the same league (performance, price and weight - wise) as the 100-400mm and 400mm f/5.6. You can also visit Fred Miranda [a href=\"http://www.fredmiranda.com/reviews/]web site[/url]. If you're interested in shooting birds, Arthur Morris bulletins may give you valuable info.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2005, 12:39:53 PM by francois » Logged

Francois
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« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2005, 12:49:45 PM »
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I've been looking at the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6 USM and the Canon EF 100-400mmf/4.5-5.6 IS USM as well as the Cannon 400mm f/2.8LIS USM and EF400mm f/4 DO IS USM.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=54122\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Personally, I think the best 'bang for the buck' is the 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS USM. It is sharp enough, has the flexibility of a zoom, can take 1.4x/2.0x teleconverters, and has L glass construction quality. The downsides to this lens are the older (version 1.5) of IS and the push/pull zoom. The IS is still very useful and the zoom just takes some getting used to. It is also light enough to handhold (3 pounds) and only costs ~$1300 USD.

The 400mm f/2.8 L is indeed a sharper lens and handles TCs better for AF. However, it is ~$6200 USD and weighs in at 11.7 pounds. A serious bit of glass. No IS, but one would have to be a circus strongman to try to handhold this puppy.

The 400mm f/4 DO IS USM weighs in at a mere 4.3 pounds but costs ~$5300 USD. Most reviewers think Canon still has a long way to go with their DO technology, although, I believe I have seen a few shots on this site by Mr. Reichmann using a DO lens. You probably could handhold this lens with the IS, but I don't think I'd want to shell out the bucks for this particular offering.

Since you state that you are an amateur (like myself), I'd suggest going for the 100-400mm zoom first. You can walk around with it, have the flexibility of a zoom, not break your back lugging it from place to place, and get very acceptable image quality. You can add a TC (I use a Kenko 1.4x Pro) without losing much. It also won't break the bank like a $5k+ lens might. With the savings, you can get some very nice additional gear (tripod, ballhead, TC, remote, etc.).
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Jeffrey

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Tim Gray
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« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2005, 01:02:17 PM »
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I don't think the issue is which is the"best" lens for birding - of your list it's the 400 2.8 - because you could add the 1.4 or 2x without taking a huge quality/performance hit and still keep AF on your camera.  But it's certainly not the most economical choice and you might find it a bit heavy.  

If there's any way you could rent before you buy... I suspect that you might be surprised as to the relatively small difference between 300 and 400.  Ie in the nomenclature of Xx zoom, its 1.333 times zoom.  

You might also consider the less expensive 300 2.8 IS, lighter and still has very good performance with the 1.4 or 2x.  300 @ 2x starts to give the kind of reach that's a sweet spot for birds.

I have the 100-400 and have rented the 300 2.8 and there's no question what I would do if I could afford it.  Note that the 100-400 with an extender won't AF on your Rebel - (the taping the pin trick is more of an exercise in frustration than adding any useability but your milage may vary).
« Last Edit: December 22, 2005, 01:07:38 PM by Tim Gray » Logged
jimhuber
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« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2005, 04:50:43 PM »
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B&H also has the Sigma 500mm f/4.5 for $4,200 USD. Just another option...
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