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bwana
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Canon Lenses

Unread postby bwana » Tue Jul 18, 2006 7:09 pm

Good Evening,

I would like to know if anyone has any experience with the following lens: Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens {<-- clickable link}

From what I've read the reviews range from good to excellent with some not liking it all. What appeals to me is the zoom and range of the lens as well as the reasonable price of around R14k. Saving up and going for the 400mm or 500mm prime lens is an option and obviously they are better but I do fancy the zoom.

If any of you have experience with this lens in the park (what I will use it for primarily) I would appreciate your input.

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Unread postby saraf » Tue Jul 18, 2006 8:08 pm

Hi stranger.

Fleeting visit or are you hanging around for a while.

Check out this thread - might give you a start.

http://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=6468

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Unread postby j-ms » Tue Jul 18, 2006 8:31 pm

Jambo Bwana

I am going to suggest that if you buy the Canon 100-400 L for wildlife photography, even with a 1.6 crop camera like a 350D/20D/30D etc, you will spend most of your time at 400mm.

ALL zoom lenses are a compromise and the usual victim is image quality. So I would suggest looking at the following combination of prime lenses at a better image quality (by general consensus) and lower cost than the 100-400. Namely a canon 400L 5.6 (about R12000) and a Canon 50mm 1.8 (at less than R1000). I know that the 50mm is not an L series and has a plastic barrel but the IQ is as good as an L.

Yes, you will have to swop lenses when that big grey thing with a trunk gets too close but at 3.5m (the minimum focussing distance of the 400) an ellies eye looks impressively large in a photograph. Plus you will learn some valuable lessons in creative composition by only using prime lenses.

The IQ of both the lenses I recommend are generally accepted to be as good as anything you can lay your hands on and they are dead cheap and dead simple (in mechanical and optical terms) which makes it possible for them to deliver geat IQ.

The 100-400 lens has a reputation for being soft at the short end with is also in support of my argument.

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Unread postby bwana » Tue Jul 18, 2006 8:32 pm

saraf wrote:Hi stranger.

Fleeting visit or are you hanging around for a while.

Check out this thread - might give you a start.

http://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=6468


Hi Sara

Thanks for the link - pretty well sums up what I've read. Good enough for me!
Keep Well

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Unread postby j-ms » Tue Jul 18, 2006 8:44 pm

I guess I should add that neither the 50mm nor the 400mm I recommended above have IS. With a 350D or 20/30D you will seldom shoot slower than 200 ISO which gives you 4 stop advantage over quality emulsion like Fuji Velvia 50 so you are still a big advantage over someone using emulsion and IS lenses. I never use a slower ISO than 200 anymore because the in-camera noise reduction is so good it is not necessary so that even with my 400m, I seldom shoot slower than 1/500s. Besides, with a long lens like a 400mm (equivalent of 640mm on full frame or emulsion) you would normally use support like a beanbag/tripod/monpod in anycase.

IS is a wonderful bit of technology but it must not be overstated. From what I can make out on various forums, most users of Canon's 600mm IS leave the IS off because they use some form of support. This doesn't stop Canon from using it as an effective marketing tool. My SO has the Canon 300mm 4.0 L IS which is also an excellent lens and she hates using any form of support but it is at the end of the range that she can effectively handhold on. I handhold a LOT of shots with the 400mm, especially BIFs, but I love REALLY crisp shots so mostly use some form of support and often a remote release as well.

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Unread postby bwana » Tue Jul 18, 2006 8:45 pm

j-ms wrote:Jambo Bwana

I am going to suggest that if you buy the Canon 100-400 L for wildlife photography, even with a 1.6 crop camera like a 350D/20D/30D etc, you will spend most of your time at 400mm.

ALL zoom lenses are a compromise and the usual victim is image quality. So I would suggest looking at the following combination of prime lenses at a better image quality (by general consensus) and lower cost than the 100-400. Namely a canon 400L 5.6 (about R12000) and a Canon 50mm 1.8 (at less than R1000). I know that the 50mm is not an L series and has a plastic barrel but the IQ is as good as an L.

Yes, you will have to swop lenses when that big grey thing with a trunk gets too close but at 3.5m (the minimum focussing distance of the 400) an ellies eye looks impressively large in a photograph. Plus you will learn some valuable lessons in creative composition by only using prime lenses.

The IQ of both the lenses I recommend are generally accepted to be as good as anything you can lay your hands on and they are dead cheap and dead simple (in mechanical and optical terms) which makes it possible for them to deliver geat IQ.

The 100-400 lens has a reputation for being soft at the short end with is also in support of my argument.


Ha. Thanks for the input! Just as I made up my mind! Yeah I am tempted to go for a prime lens but originally favoured the idea of a zoom due to its versatile nature. I've heard people saying its a bit soft at full chuck and the push/pull mechanism acts a bit of a vacuum for dust! The price is so reasonable for a 'l' lens and this also went some way to persuading me.
I was going to chuck my sigma 70-300 and replace it with the Canon. However should I get the prime it'll make sense to keep the sigma until I can get the Canon 200m f2.8 - probably only next year!
I think I am going to see if I can shoot with a mates 400m prime lens - and test it out.

Thanks very much for the advice!

regards
bwana

<off topic>I was in schoenies the other day during a nostolgic trip back to P.E. Used to love the drive out there and parking off on the rocks there when I studied in P.E. Used to do some reckless rock jumping in the sea there. shudder- young and reckless! <\off topic>
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Unread postby Jay » Tue Jul 18, 2006 8:50 pm

j-ms, I doubt I have even half the photographic experience you have, but do agree: I end up using either full length of the zoom or as wide as possible...interesting.

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Unread postby DuQues » Wed Jul 19, 2006 9:38 am

Hmmm. Shall I be the first one to throw a spanner in the works?
j-ms wrote:Yes, you will have to swop lenses when that big grey thing with a trunk gets too close but at 3.5m (the minimum focussing distance of the 400)

The correct distance is 1.8 meters. Swapping lenses is not really needed, just make sure you have 2 bodies with you. Borrow one, hire one, steal one, but don't go out on an expensive holiday with just the one. Imagine that one breaking down? :shock:
j-ms wrote:IS is a wonderful bit of technology but it must not be overstated. (...) This doesn't stop Canon from using it as an effective marketing tool.

IS has made it possible for me to make photo's handheld which I otherwise would not have even tried. Yes, if possible you use some sort of rest or tripod, but there are times when you simple can't. Flying birds jump to mind... It's not just marketing or Nikon (VR) and Olympus (AS) would not have joined in....

I am one of the many people that use the 100-400, and have fallen in love with it. Yes a prime is a little sharper, and may even be cheaper (Though I would never buy a f/5.6 prime), however if you do more than wildlife photography only the 100-400 is a way more versatile.
Bwana wrote:and the push/pull mechanism acts a bit of a vacuum for dust!

Some say that yes. As if the turning lenses don't suck in air! I've been in Kruger twice with my lens now, not a speck of dust to be found on the inside. And that isn't the only place that was dusty. Actually I don't even bother protecting it from rain and humidity to some people's distress, and never found the lens to be steamed up (on the inside that is), and water is far more able to get in your lens.
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Unread postby j-ms » Wed Jul 19, 2006 10:09 am

DuQues wrote:The correct distance is 1.8 meters.

Please look here to see that the actual closest focussing distance is 3.5 m. DQ, I think you are referring to the 100-400's minimum focusing distance.

DuQues wrote:ust make sure you have 2 bodies with you
Very good point - it's also good insurance should one of the cameras fail .

DuQues wrote:I would never buy a f/5.6 prime
... yet you are happy with a zoom with a maximum aperture of 5.6 ? :lol:

I think the point is, you will need to decide between the convenience of the zoom vs the sharper, more contrasty and saturated images and faster focussing speed of the primes . It's a dilema that every photag grapples with and in the end the majority of us become draadsitters and end up with both primes and zooms.

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Unread postby DuQues » Wed Jul 19, 2006 10:33 am

j-ms wrote:Please look here to see that the actual closest focussing distance is 3.5 m. DQ, I think you are referring to the 100-400's minimum focusing distance.

:redface: Mixing things up here. Must be the heat. The 1.8 meters is for the 100-400. (Actually, with the close-up lens I have a focussing distance of around 35 centimeters, but that's cheating. :lol:

j-ms wrote:yet you are happy with a zoom with a maximum aperture of 5.6 ?
I think the point is, you will need to decide between the convenience of the zoom (...)

Yep and Yep! A prime that I won't be able to fit an extender to without losing AF just doesn't do it for me. And with a zoomlens you do not have to move the car all over the place to get your subject framed as you want, like you would need to with a prime. A prime would however make you more creative to get a good detailshot when you are too close.

But back to Bwana's question, I would and do recommend this lens. Even for versatility only.
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Unread postby j-ms » Wed Jul 19, 2006 10:56 am

And despite my trading of punches with DQ on the prime vs zoom issue, I would also say that the 100-400 L IS is worth it. 8)

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Unread postby DuQues » Wed Jul 19, 2006 10:57 am

:lol: 8)
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Unread postby bwana » Wed Jul 19, 2006 10:58 am

Thanks for your input Duques. Buying a lens is more challenging than buying a flippin car!
Its the classic amatuer photographers dillemma. Funds vs practicality.

I think like most amateur photographers I am still at the bottom of the learning curve and all things considered still have much time before I really need to worry about absolute tack sharp images at 400mm - then again isn't that what the aim is? :?

Thanks for the advice guys

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Unread postby DuQues » Wed Jul 19, 2006 11:20 am

I can put up a 100% crop of a photo made @400mm with the 100-400, maybe j-ms can do the same with the prime?

It took me about 4 months and a load of surfing/reading to decide on the 100-400.
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Unread postby bwana » Wed Jul 19, 2006 11:45 am

[quote="DuQues"]I can put up a 100% crop of a photo made @400mm with the 100-400, maybe j-ms can do the same with the prime?

[quote]

That would be great thanks; alternatively you can mail it if you wish but it might be helpful to have on here for future ref.

bwana4711 at gmail dot com

Thanks

bwana
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