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Archive 2011 · 100-400 better than 800L for BIF
  
 
PetKal
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · 100-400 better than 800L for BIF


I have spent past several weeeks testing the following three lenses on real life targets, mostly birds in flight (pijuns, mallards) as well as some swimming ducks: 800L and 400 f/2.8 Mk I and Mk II.

Today I have decided to give my poor arms and shoulders a break, thus I went out with 100-400 on 1DsMkII. Shot some pijuns in flight at varying distances, from 20 ft to about 60 ft.
Two types of shot difficulty were done: head-on incoming bird, as well as flyby.

After about one hour of that, I had a tangible confirmation of what I really suspected all along: although 100-400 is no champ when it comes to its AF drive speed, the zoom is in my experience a significantly better BIF lens than 800L.

Therefore, next time when you hear people complaining about 100-400 becoming outdated and all that, pay no heed........I firmly believe 100-400 is still an exceptionally good lens for a variety of photography tasks, and it is not that bad for BIF either.

Here is a sampler of today's shots with 1DsMkII + 100-400 @ 400mm and wide open.

Edited on Dec 27, 2011 at 10:43 PM · View previous versions



Dec 26, 2011 at 10:24 PM
reno.peterson
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · 100-400 better than 800L for BIF


Great shots Peter!!! On another of your outings could you indulge some of us "cropper" owners, and give your 7D a bit of a breath of fresh air? I'm contemplating the 100-400L also, and and not that it needs any additional "hyping" between you and Tony, however, I'd love to see what you're doing with that camera/lens combo also...


Dec 26, 2011 at 10:28 PM
AGeoJO
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · 100-400 better than 800L for BIF


Peter,
The 800mm doesn't focus as fast as the 100-400mm or did it become unwieldy and it was tougher for you to capture flying objects due to the narrower angle? The second reason is more logical and I would easily buy that . BTW, yes, I agree with you that the 100-400mm lens is not a bad at all.



Dec 26, 2011 at 10:34 PM
PetKal
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · 100-400 better than 800L for BIF


Reno, I did test 7D with three lenses last week on head-on incoming flights: 300 f/2.8 IS, 85L and 300 f/4. I used two different AF point selection schemes: center point with expansion, and area AF. In all cases, 7D was significantly inferior in performance to my 1DMkIIN and 1DsMkII.

Joshua: As far as I can tell, 800L is handicapped for BIF photography by four factors: (1) huge defocus range which makes AF response sluggish unless the focusing distance is in the ballpark to start with, (2) significant inertial mass of the lens which makes it "resist" fast changes in swing and aim , (3) "looking straw" effect and (4) focusing distance limiter threshold values.

Naturally, the physical exertion of handholding compounds the problem.

Edited on Dec 27, 2011 at 10:43 PM · View previous versions



Dec 26, 2011 at 10:45 PM
Ian.Dobinson
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · 100-400 better than 800L for BIF


Peter I knew I made the correct choice when I was in the store buying my 100-400


Dec 26, 2011 at 11:49 PM
PetKal
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · 100-400 better than 800L for BIF


Ian.Dobinson wrote:
Peter I knew I made the correct choice when I was in the store buying my 100-400


Ian, of course you have chosen well, 100-400 it's almost a non-brainer for a general sort of BIF photography, compared to 800L.
However, there are special cases where no other lens can touch 800L. For example, imagine eagles catching fish on a body of water some 150-200 ft distant, and you can't get any closer to the action. The focusing distance shouldn't change much as long as you are able to catapult frozen fish into the same spot on the water.
Even if fish throws change somewhat, 800L is quite fast to focus under those conditions.



Dec 27, 2011 at 12:34 AM
phuang3
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · 100-400 better than 800L for BIF


Great shots on 100-400L. I bet it would be even better with the 200-400/4L 1.4 Ext!


Dec 27, 2011 at 12:48 AM
PetKal
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · 100-400 better than 800L for BIF


phuang3 wrote:
Great shots on 100-400L. I bet it would be even better with the 200-400/4L 1.4 Ext!


You do not have to go that exotic.......even old and inexpensive 400 f/5.6 is generally a better BIF lens than 100-400.



Dec 27, 2011 at 12:54 AM
Tom Dix
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · 100-400 better than 800L for BIF


Really nice; love to see lenses taking actual pics as opposed to rulers and bricks. Great colors and nice detail on those pijins.


Dec 27, 2011 at 01:09 AM
PetKal
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · 100-400 better than 800L for BIF


Glad you like those, Tom.
Servo AF performance really needs to be tested on a moving target.....yet it has to be a common (repeat) target motion, and also fairly challenging.

However, a major problem is that this sort of testing doesn't isolate individual components of the operator-camera-lens system. Furthermore, individual test runs/flights are all different.

Here is another one which is a major crop, and not only that the head-on shot was involved, but also you can see a non-vacant background.

Edited on Dec 27, 2011 at 10:43 PM · View previous versions



Dec 27, 2011 at 01:28 AM
 

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RobertLynn
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · 100-400 better than 800L for BIF


It'll be what, 30 minutes before you delete the photos?

Oh, when I was out today, I tried to shoot some BiF with the 55-250...it cannot do birds coming at you. Nope. Unless it's a dead bird, and you're walking towards it.



Dec 27, 2011 at 01:30 AM
PetKal
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · 100-400 better than 800L for BIF


Don't worry about it, Rob old son.
Head-on shots are difficult even against clear sky. The primary reason is that EOS camera Servo AF is not designed for that sort of motion. With long practice one can improve the situation a bit, but not much.



Dec 27, 2011 at 01:45 AM
Herb Houghton
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · 100-400 better than 800L for BIF


Nice thread Peter, though I'll stick with my 800L in most any situation

Herb




  Canon EOS-1D Mark IV    800mm    f/6.3    1/2500s    500 ISO    0.0 EV  






  Canon EOS-1D Mark IV    800mm    f/6.3    1/2500s    500 ISO    0.0 EV  






  Canon EOS-1D Mark IV    800mm    f/8.0    1/1600s    800 ISO    0.0 EV  




Dec 27, 2011 at 01:46 AM
PetKal
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · 100-400 better than 800L for BIF


Great shots as always, Herb.
I will also probably keep 800L at least until I have a chance to check out 600 II.
I like 800L very much, just not for generic BIF photography, or when I stumble upon a bird which is less than 6m distant.



Dec 27, 2011 at 01:51 AM
AGeoJO
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · 100-400 better than 800L for BIF


I went back and looked at images I took with my 800mm; specifically, I searched for sequential shots of BIF. I am actually pleased with the number of keepers AF-wise of images taken with this lens. Straight at you, side ways, diagonally, they are all fine. Artistically, speaking though, I wouldn't post any of the images for showcasing the lens but to demonstrate the AF performance, I may but I have log off in a few here. Composition-wise, especially with a 7D (that's all I had when I bought the lens except for a FF body), the 800mm is tough lens to handle. While I agree that the 100-400mm lens is no slough but the 800mm is for sure not worse than that zoom lens. Sorry, Peter, we don't quite agree in that respect .


Dec 27, 2011 at 02:06 AM
lhdvries
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · 100-400 better than 800L for BIF


Nice shots Peter-I always look forward to your take on the various lenses in various situations!!
Leon



Dec 27, 2011 at 02:21 AM
PetKal
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · 100-400 better than 800L for BIF


AGeoJO wrote:
Peter, we don't quite agree in that respect .


No problem, Joshua......I am sure that there are quite a few bird photographers who like 800L performance on BIF.
However, I always think in terms of shots which I've missed/lost too, and not only about those that I've kept.
After all, I have some decent BIF keepers with all macro lenses, yet, the capture difficulty with those is high and keeper rate is low.



Dec 27, 2011 at 02:24 AM
PetKal
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · 100-400 better than 800L for BIF


lhdvries wrote:
Nice shots Peter-I always look forward to your take on the various lenses in various situations!!
Leon


Thank you, Leon.



Dec 27, 2011 at 02:28 AM
dehowie
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · 100-400 better than 800L for BIF


On a few things..
First the AF speed on the 800 is way faster than the 100-400.
You get an indication of hat when shooting with the Mk4 when you lose drive speed at 10fps with the 100-400 attached particularly tracking targets.
The 100-400 is far easier to use due the the smaller viewing angle..tracking objects particularly small birds is far harder wih a long prime than a zoom where you can zoom out to locate then in to photograph. In that 40-80' range the 109-400 will be easier to use. The 800 is not designed to be used there.
That is why when I'm shooting I have a 100-400 on one body and an 800 on the other.
They are really supposed to work together not against one another as both give great results. But comparing a 100-400 is like comparing a ute versus a Ferrari..around an inner city car park they are jut as fast...put them on a freeway however.




Dec 27, 2011 at 02:47 AM
Don Clary
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · 100-400 better than 800L for BIF


#3 is a great shot, Peter. When are you going to show your head on Pterodactyl pictures, using 14mm? Those 30 foot wingspans would be impressive with that lens.


Dec 27, 2011 at 02:55 AM
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