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Author Topic: Canon 400mm DO  (Read 16482 times)
maggieddd
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« on: December 24, 2005, 08:54:34 AM »
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I am looking for honest opinion about Canon 400mm DO f4.0 in this particular application.  Hand-handled in unexpected situations, ready to shoot without too much time for proper set up, in a clearings of bush/thicket environment, mainly for extremely skittish, relatively small wildlife.  So you know, its NOT for open savannah or neatly cleared water holes where one could set up a tripod and wait for big game to arrive.

What is your take on this lens for this application? Any other advices would be greatly appreciated.
« Last Edit: December 24, 2005, 08:54:52 AM by maggieddd » Logged
michael
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« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2005, 12:31:37 PM »
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The 400mm DO is an extreemly versatile lens. I know about a half dozen professional wildlife photographers that swear by it. There are some though that swear at it.

The problem is that like all DO lenses, you have to know how to deal with the files. They will be somewhat "softer" in terms of accutance and contrast than those from a non-DO lens. This means that a bit more "sharpening" needs to be added, and also a bit of local contrast enhancement. Once this is done the images are really excellent.

For its size and weight there's nothing that can touch it.

Michael
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JKSeidel
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« Reply #2 on: December 25, 2005, 12:10:59 AM »
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The problem is that like all DO lenses, you have to know how to deal with the files. They will be somewhat "softer" in terms of accutance and contrast than those from a non-DO lens. This means that a bit more "sharpening" needs to be added, and also a bit of local contrast enhancement. Once this is done the images are really excellent.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=54275\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

This is an issue I am having trouble resolving. While the weight difference over the non-DO 400mm is undeniably a huge benefit (11+ pounds vs. 4+ pounds ... plus the addition of IS), should the 'quirks' of Canon's current DO line be considered acceptable for the price? I'm uncertain that they are. A lens that produces a file that requires this sort of post-processing for nearly every shot shouldn't be considered a 'great' lens to my thinking. Perhaps I'm wrong, I'm just a plodding along amateur who admires the works of dedicated pros ... but I want peformance for my hard earned cash. I just don't think the current state (and pricing) of Canon's DO technology provides that great a value over comparable older tech lenses. A seven pound weight reduction, plus the addition of IS, does make me drool a bit though.
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Jeffrey

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Yakim Peled
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« Reply #3 on: December 25, 2005, 03:54:04 AM »
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Not an owner of this lens and from the pictures I've seen in the net which illustrate the bokeh and flare, I guess I never will. Some also claim that 300/2.8 + 1.4X TC was sharper.
I think that for this kind of money one should get not only light weight, but also un-paralleled optical performance.
If I was into super-tele I'd buy another lens. 500/4 IS would probably the most likely candidate.
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« Reply #4 on: December 25, 2005, 07:31:52 AM »
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I think that for this kind of money one should get not only light weight, but also un-paralleled optical performance.
If I was into super-tele I'd buy another lens. 500/4 IS would probably the most likely candidate.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=54287\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

That is exactly what I was thinking. The difference between 300mm and 400mm is rather small and one can buy a very good Canon 300mm with a decent TC for much less than the cost of this lens and get comparable (or better) performance. I'd rather spend this sort of money to go for a 500mm or 600mm. Situationally, Maggieddd raises the only case in which I'd consider the 400mm DO. Still, I'd probably go with either a 300mm f/4 IS or the 100-400mm IS and save $4000. Even the Sigma monster tele zooms seem better options for this kind of money. Oh well, perhaps that is just my nearly empty wallet talking.
« Last Edit: December 25, 2005, 07:37:29 AM by JKSeidel » Logged

Jeffrey

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maggieddd
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« Reply #5 on: December 25, 2005, 09:55:04 PM »
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I appreciate all your answers, but it seemes like you completly ingnored the application I want to use this lens in.  The 300mm with teleconverter (which I already own) or another 400mm, 500mm or even the 600mm are beautiful lenses to be used on the tripod, but I really neeed to be able to hand hold it.  If that means a slightly inferior quality, which can be fixed at processing time, I think I have no alternative.
So, again, under the circumstances I described in my first post, do you think that lens is acceptable?  Let me add, the price tag is irrelavant.  I just need a tool for my application.
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Yakim Peled
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« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2005, 01:28:37 AM »
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Will a f/5.6 (either in 400/5.6, 300/4 IS + 1.4X TC or 100-400 IS) be too slow?
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« Reply #7 on: December 26, 2005, 06:20:03 AM »
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So, again, under the circumstances I described in my first post, do you think that lens is acceptable?  Let me add, the price tag is irrelavant.  I just need a tool for my application.
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Michael answered that in his response. He does give a sort of caveat that while some pros love the lens, others are not so happy. Obviously, one can get quality shots from the 400mm DO. As to whether it is the best solution ... that is what's debatable. Since price isn't an issue, go ahead and get it. It fits your requirements.
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Jeffrey

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« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2005, 12:04:03 PM »
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So, again, under the circumstances I described in my first post, do you think that lens is acceptable?  Let me add, the price tag is irrelavant.  I just need a tool for my application.
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I currently own the 400 DO and have owned the 300 f4 and f2.8 IS lenses -- the simple answer to your question is, "Yes."  

1) The 300/4 plus 1.4 TC is light, but focus slows notably with the TC added. Sharpness is good with the extender, but a good 400 DO is better (see final point below).

2) The 300/2.8 with or without the TC is too heavy IMO to use handheld for extended periods.  

3) The 400/5.6 is an excellent lens for the money and a worthwhile consideration if the maximum f5.6 aperture and IS are not concerns, however;

4) The 400 DO (at least a good one) performs exceptionally well with either converter, so you really end up with usable and handholdable 400/4, 560/5.6 and 800/8 focals -- and I did these tests on my 1Ds2 body.

5) In the end I sold both my 300's and even sold my 500/4 IS because I always reached for the 400 DO instead.  HOWEVER!;

6) I had to go through three 400 DO's to find a good one.  Mine does not show a significant loss of contrast as did my earlier samples and is very sharp corner to corner -- not as sharp as my 500/4 IS was, but about as sharp as my 300's were.  My advice is to buy a relatively recent manufacture lens as they seem to generally better performers.  Mine is a UR date code which I believe is 2003.  If you are buying new, check the date code before you purchase -- this lens could have been sitting on the dealer's shelf for a while.  Also note that the optical formula of this lens (as in all the long teles) is designed to have the flat piece of filter glass in the filter drawer -- so do not follow any well-intentioned advice to remove it for better performance.  Moreover, make sure it is clean and positioned correctly in the slot.

Hope this helps,
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maggieddd
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« Reply #9 on: December 26, 2005, 01:27:04 PM »
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Will a f/5.6 (either in 400/5.6, 300/4 IS + 1.4X TC or 100-400 IS) be too slow?
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I've sold my 100-400 IS, I didn't like that lens.
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maggieddd
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« Reply #10 on: December 26, 2005, 01:27:33 PM »
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I currently own the 400 DO and have owned the 300 f4 and f2.8 IS lenses -- the simple answer to your question is, "Yes." 

1) The 300/4 plus 1.4 TC is light, but focus slows notably with the TC added. Sharpness is good with the extender, but a good 400 DO is better (see final point below).

2) The 300/2.8 with or without the TC is too heavy IMO to use handheld for extended periods. 

3) The 400/5.6 is an excellent lens for the money and a worthwhile consideration if the maximum f5.6 aperture and IS are not concerns, however;

4) The 400 DO (at least a good one) performs exceptionally well with either converter, so you really end up with usable and handholdable 400/4, 560/5.6 and 800/8 focals -- and I did these tests on my 1Ds2 body.

5) In the end I sold both my 300's and even sold my 500/4 IS because I always reached for the 400 DO instead.  HOWEVER!;

6) I had to go through three 400 DO's to find a good one.  Mine does not show a significant loss of contrast as did my earlier samples and is very sharp corner to corner -- not as sharp as my 500/4 IS was, but about as sharp as my 300's were.  My advice is to buy a relatively recent manufacture lens as they seem to generally better performers.  Mine is a UR date code which I believe is 2003.  If you are buying new, check the date code before you purchase -- this lens could have been sitting on the dealer's shelf for a while.  Also note that the optical formula of this lens (as in all the long teles) is designed to have the flat piece of filter glass in the filter drawer -- so do not follow any well-intentioned advice to remove it for better performance.  Moreover, make sure it is clean and positioned correctly in the slot.

Hope this helps,
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Thak you Jack, this was very helpful.
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Seigmund
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« Reply #11 on: December 27, 2005, 01:03:41 AM »
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Maggieddd,

I often shoot the same subjects and conditions that you describe, and I’m not at all sure I would choose a 400mm fixed length telephoto. I often find myself surprisingly close to my subjects, so that framing can be a significant issue that favors a zoom lens. Because a tripod cannot always be deployed, lens speed can be critical even if the lens is IS/VR, (more is always better). The 400mm DO IS has a seriously long minimum focus distance of 11.5 feet, which can be too great for small animals. Since you have already rejected the 100–400 mm IS, you may wish to spend some time practicing with the 300mm f2.8 plus 1.4 TC. This combo has a weight disadvantage of 1.78 pounds, but has the ability to focus at 8.2 feet. As I'm sure you know, it is also devastatingly sharp even with the 1.4 TC, and in my estimation, very well balanced and steady for hand-holding. Oftentimes when photographing small animals, we must get down to ground level, and this can provide an extremely stable shooting position making the 300 f2.8 quite manageable. I have never heard of anyone rejecting a C or N 300mm f2.8 for lack of sharpness and contrast, NEVER. For my $5300 US, 1 in 3 odds of getting a good performer is simply unacceptable, as is additional postprocessing to correct for lens deficiencies.

If this type of subject comprises the bulk of your work, you should consider all available options including the Nikon 200–400 f4 VR and the D2x. This lens weighs 7.2 pounds, focuses down to 6.5 feet, and stands up well to the prime lenses in terms of sharpness, contrast and boke. With Nikon, you also have access to the 200 f2 VR which can yield a very potent 280mm f2.8, 340mm f3.3, or 400 f4 when paired with the 1.4, 1.7 or 2.0 TCs. This setup would weigh a bit more than the 400mm DO IS, be shorter in length, focus down to 6.2 feet, and offer much greater flexibility.

One final comment. The attached images were all taken with an 80-200 f2.8 hand held, at less than 200mm focal length. Without zoom capability, I would not have gotten these images.

Holiday Cheers,
Scott
[attachment=84:attachment][attachment=82:attachment][attachment=85:attachment]
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maggieddd
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« Reply #12 on: December 27, 2005, 05:26:42 AM »
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Maggieddd,

I often shoot the same subjects and conditions that you describe, and I’m not at all sure I would choose a 400mm fixed length telephoto. I often find myself surprisingly close to my subjects, so that framing can be a significant issue that favors a zoom lens. Because a tripod cannot always be deployed, lens speed can be critical even if the lens is IS/VR, (more is always better). The 400mm DO IS has a seriously long minimum focus distance of 11.5 feet, which can be too great for small animals. Since you have already rejected the 100–400 mm IS, you may wish to spend some time practicing with the 300mm f2.8 plus 1.4 TC. This combo has a weight disadvantage of 1.78 pounds, but has the ability to focus at 8.2 feet. As I'm sure you know, it is also devastatingly sharp even with the 1.4 TC, and in my estimation, very well balanced and steady for hand-holding. Oftentimes when photographing small animals, we must get down to ground level, and this can provide an extremely stable shooting position making the 300 f2.8 quite manageable. I have never heard of anyone rejecting a C or N 300mm f2.8 for lack of sharpness and contrast, NEVER. For my $5300 US, 1 in 3 odds of getting a good performer is simply unacceptable, as is additional postprocessing to correct for lens deficiencies.

If this type of subject comprises the bulk of your work, you should consider all available options including the Nikon 200–400 f4 VR and the D2x. This lens weighs 7.2 pounds, focuses down to 6.5 feet, and stands up well to the prime lenses in terms of sharpness, contrast and boke. With Nikon, you also have access to the 200 f2 VR which can yield a very potent 280mm f2.8, 340mm f3.3, or 400 f4 when paired with the 1.4, 1.7 or 2.0 TCs. This setup would weigh a bit more than the 400mm DO IS, be shorter in length, focus down to 6.2 feet, and offer much greater flexibility.

One final comment. The attached images were all taken with an 80-200 f2.8 hand held, at less than 200mm focal length. Without zoom capability, I would not have gotten these images.

Holiday Cheers,
Scott
[attachment=84:attachment][attachment=82:attachment][attachment=85:attachment]
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=54377\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
but why would you recommend me a Nikon lens when (I think it is obvious) I am a Canon user?
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Yakim Peled
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« Reply #13 on: December 27, 2005, 05:38:20 AM »
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Another thought: 400/4 DO is 1.9 Kg and 5300$. 500/4 is 3.9 Kg and 5500$. Now hear another interesting figures: Minolta 7D + Minolta 400/4.5 are only 2.7 Kg and 3400$. You have built-in AS (equivalent to IS but inside the camera so it works with all lenses) and a 600mm FoV. Don't know what about you but I call that a very interesting offer. You don't have a fast AF motor like USM but considering both weight and price figures, I think it's a minor loss.

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/...inolta-7d.shtml

http://www.mhohner.de/minolta/apo400.php
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maggieddd
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« Reply #14 on: December 27, 2005, 07:30:49 AM »
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Another thought: 400/4 DO is 1.9 Kg and 5300$. 500/4 is 3.9 Kg and 5500$. Now hear another interesting figures: Minolta 7D + Minolta 400/4.5 are only 2.7 Kg and 3400$. You have built-in AS (equivalent to IS but inside the camera so it works with all lenses) and a 600mm FoV. Don't know what about you but I call that a very interesting offer. You don't have a fast AF motor like USM but considering both weight and price figures, I think it's a minor loss.

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/...inolta-7d.shtml

http://www.mhohner.de/minolta/apo400.php
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=54397\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

OK, I am a bit lost in your post.  Are you suggesting to me to buy Minolta DSLR and Minolta lens?
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« Reply #15 on: December 27, 2005, 10:37:49 AM »
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Gentlemen --  The lady has already stated that cost is irrelevant.  She has also stated she needs to hand-hold it.  She has also stated she tried the 100-400 and did not like it.

So, assuming she wants to stay within the Canon family, her choices really are only the two 300mm primes with converter, the 400/5.6L or the 400 DO.

The 300/2.8 with 1.4x converter gets a little unwieldy -- I am male, 6'-6" tall, weigh 240 pounds and am in relatively good physical shape.  I could use that combo hand-held all day long and probably not suffer much.  My 5'-8" tall 135 pound wife OTOH might find it a bit cumbersome to use hand-held all day long  

The 300/4 IS with converter is light enough and focuses quite closely, so it might be worthy of consideration if she can put up with the slower AF speed and f5.6 effective maximum aperture.

Ditto the 400/5.6, except it AF's faster than the above combo but it does not have IS.  IMO, IS is a very worthy feature when hand-holding any long lens, so I wouild dissuade her from this choice.  

That leaves the 400 DO which probably covers all her needs nicely -- except perhaps for the close focus, which is easily handled with the EF12 tube if she needs to be closer regularly.

That really only leaves third party offerings from companies like Tamron and Sigma...
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maggieddd
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« Reply #16 on: December 27, 2005, 11:28:48 AM »
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Gentlemen --  The lady has already stated that cost is irrelevant.  She has also stated she needs to hand-hold it.  She has also stated she tried the 100-400 and did not like it.

So, assuming she wants to stay within the Canon family, her choices really are only the two 300mm primes with converter, the 400/5.6L or the 400 DO.

The 300/2.8 with 1.4x converter gets a little unwieldy -- I am male, 6'-6" tall, weigh 240 pounds and am in relatively good physical shape.  I could use that combo hand-held all day long and probably not suffer much.  My 5'-8" tall 135 pound wife OTOH might find it a bit cumbersome to use hand-held all day long   

The 300/4 IS with converter is light enough and focuses quite closely, so it might be worthy of consideration if she can put up with the slower AF speed and f5.6 effective maximum aperture.

Ditto the 400/5.6, except it AF's faster than the above combo but it does not have IS.  IMO, IS is a very worthy feature when hand-holding any long lens, so I wouild dissuade her from this choice.   

That leaves the 400 DO which probably covers all her needs nicely -- except perhaps for the close focus, which is easily handled with the EF12 tube if she needs to be closer regularly.

That really only leaves third party offerings from companies like Tamron and Sigma...
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Jack,

Tremendous thanks for your reply.  This is the exact assurance I was looking for.  I wish post like this were more visible.  Thank you so much for all your help.
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Seigmund
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« Reply #17 on: December 27, 2005, 11:48:42 AM »
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but why would you recommend me a Nikon lens when (I think it is obvious) I am a Canon user?


Maggieddd,

For two reasons:

You said in your previous post, “What is your take on this lens for this application? Any other advices would be greatly appreciated”, and “Let me add, the price tag is irrelevant. I just need a tool for my application.”

While I can readily see that you shoot Canon gear, I was not aware that you restrict yourself to shooting only Canon gear. I did not wish to place such an arbitrary restriction on you, so suggested tools that seemed to fit your requirements.

Again, I think a 400mm tele is a very limited tool for the situations you describe. A zoom would be a far better choice. I really think a 70-200 f2.8 plus 1.4 TC is nearly ideal. When coupled to a 1D Mk II, you get an effective focal length of 160-450mm @ f4.0.

Scott
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maggieddd
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« Reply #18 on: December 27, 2005, 01:30:23 PM »
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Maggieddd,

For two reasons:

You said in your previous post, “What is your take on this lens for this application? Any other advices would be greatly appreciated”, and “Let me add, the price tag is irrelevant. I just need a tool for my application.”

While I can readily see that you shoot Canon gear, I was not aware that you restrict yourself to shooting only Canon gear. I did not wish to place such an arbitrary restriction on you, so suggested tools that seemed to fit your requirements.

Again, I think a 400mm tele is a very limited tool for the situations you describe. A zoom would be a far better choice. I really think a 70-200 f2.8 plus 1.4 TC is nearly ideal. When coupled to a 1D Mk II, you get an effective focal length of 160-450mm @ f4.0.

Scott
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=54422\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Thank you Scott for clarifying that for me.  You know, I will give the 70-200 f 2.8 plus 1.4 TC a serious thought.  This may actually be a pretty good idea.  Althought, I will be using it on 5D therefore it may not give me the focal length you calculated.  But might be a good idea anyway.

Thank you
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Slough
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« Reply #19 on: December 27, 2005, 02:40:42 PM »
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OK, I am a bit lost in your post.  Are you suggesting to me to buy Minolta DSLR and Minolta lens?
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I can't speak for Yakim, but it is not unusual to keep one body permanently attached to a ~400m lens for grab shots etc. If you take this approach, then you can think about other brands. The KM 7D + 400 F4.5 combo is much cheaper than the Canon 400mm F4 DO lens, offers similar weight savings (the lens alone weighs 2Kg) and offers IS from the KM body. The question then is do you want to have to carry a camera body that cannot be used with your other lenses and hence cannot act as a backup. Also it cannot be used with your other Canon bits and pieces such as flash, teleconverters etc. And of course the 7D 'only' has 6MP. (Or do you shoot film?) But the benefits (for which read cost savings) might outweigh the negatives. And of course you could add other lenses if you needed an IS enabled lens that Canon do not offer.

Just my thoughts.

Leif
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