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Archive 2012 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?
  
 
Jomax
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p.3 #1 · p.3 #1 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


Well I look after my equipment, and I did get some dust in mine in under the front glass, but it doesnt really make any difference at all, Love the lens, seems to sharpest at f7 or higher on my 7d


Jan 25, 2012 at 05:03 AM
verbiage
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p.3 #2 · p.3 #2 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


Too late to the party, but will chime in anyway, with another vote for the zoom, primarily for its much closer MFD.

I tried out a used copy of the 400mm prime for a week, and found that far too often the birds and bugs would be too close for it to focus. I got the zoom instead, and found it to be of very similar weight, a bit harder to handle because of the push-pull zoom, but with its MFD of 1.8 meters (I got the impression it focuses closer than that, but it's rated for 1.8m/6ft) it's almost a close-up lens - not a true macro, but enough to fill most of the frame with a couple of largish bugs.

This shot does not demonstrate the MFD capability to the full extent (taken from about 8 -10 ft), but I would not get it with the prime (I cropped only about 10% of its height)

Cheers,
S.K.






The Great Migration




Jan 25, 2012 at 09:17 AM
Ian.Dobinson
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p.3 #3 · p.3 #3 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


Don't forget the mfd is the distance from the sensor (not the front element) so yes as the lens is long it does seem that the mfd is shorter.


Jan 25, 2012 at 11:32 AM
Mike1.6
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p.3 #4 · p.3 #4 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


Beautiful examples Tony. The eagles are an especially amazing shot.


Jan 25, 2012 at 12:06 PM
Cicopo
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p.3 #5 · p.3 #5 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


I've only shot the 100-400 and need it's versatility. Bought it used at least 5 years ago & to date no noticeable dust plus it seems as sharp as my eyes need it to be.





Or something going much faster.






Jan 25, 2012 at 01:32 PM
DLP
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p.3 #6 · p.3 #6 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


That Eagle shot is great Tony and I never get tired of the Hummers.

Dave



Jan 25, 2012 at 01:41 PM
GeneO
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p.3 #7 · p.3 #7 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


kevindar wrote:
Geneo, nice images, and the 400 5.6 is indeed a very sharp lens. however, I would be very very surprised on a 10D, if one can discern any difference, even at 100% crop. I would say on my 5d2 (same pixel density as 20d) the L is bitingly sharp. Not as much the the 7D at 5.6.


Oh I could discern the difference, though I might not have had the sharpest r copy of the 100-400.



Jan 25, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Scott Stoness
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p.3 #8 · p.3 #8 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


I have the 100-400 and 500F4.

When I choose which lens to use it is not because of the IQ (500 is better) or the the dust (dust is not noticable in pictures on 100-400), it is about reach, f4 vs f5.6 (twice the shutter speed), weight (100-400 can be used all day long) and speed of focus (500 faster).

I have lost shots on the 500 because I was too close. I have had not so great shots on 100-400 because I was too far or the light was too dim and then more motion blur. But I have had many many great shots on both of them.

So the answer is, if you want the lens for birds in flight, get the 400 (faster), but if you want the lens for good all around get the 100-400.

Personally I am inclined to zooms, with primes for specialty purpose, where you have time to plan your shots.



Jan 25, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Ferrophot
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p.3 #9 · p.3 #9 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


Kevindar, I noticed that the zoom ring was a little slacker, had to turn it further for a lock. then it quickly became very tight, maybe only an inch to tighten then it progressively locked up tight. I was in Pretoria, Africa at the time and wasn't impressed that there was nowhere that it could be fixed. I found that by forcing it out to 400mm and jiggling it about it became looser, and I could still use it with a bit of effort but each time I adjusted the zoom the barrel became scratched and scored. I put up with this for 2 weeks of the trip in Africa, didn't miss any shots, but the lens was a mess. Took Canon Australia over a month to source and replace parts and the lens is as good as new now. They replaced the barrel so it has a new Serial No.
When the lens is extended out to 400mm there is not much holding everything in line, and I think that getting it out of my camera bag placed a bending moment on the lens, it was extending as I withdrew it. from its snug compartment.
Strange, many people here criticise Sigma lenses, but it is my old HSM 70-200 2.8 that is still functioning like new after 11 years, and I've now worn out one 50 1.8 and gone close with the 100-400L.



Jan 25, 2012 at 02:17 PM
kevindar
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p.3 #10 · p.3 #10 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


Ferrophot wrote:
Kevindar, I noticed that the zoom ring was a little slacker, had to turn it further for a lock. then it quickly became very tight, maybe only an inch to tighten then it progressively locked up tight. I was in Pretoria, Africa at the time and wasn't impressed that there was nowhere that it could be fixed. I found that by forcing it out to 400mm and jiggling it about it became looser, and I could still use it with a bit of effort but each time I adjusted the zoom the barrel became scratched and scored. I put up
...Show more
thanks for the detailed description. My zoom tension ring is loose, and I am just going to send it in, b/c I have heard rumors of it reading to a lock up, which is far more expensive to fix.



Jan 25, 2012 at 03:38 PM
 

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TJSarchett
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p.3 #11 · p.3 #11 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


Wow, thanks all for the information. Lots of good stuff here, and great images, from both lenses. I think I may end up going prime, as I'll have a 70-200 to go along as well if I need something for close in....but the jury is still out and I may end up with the zoom anyway. I've only had one prime and that was the 50 that came with my AE-1P back 30 years ago! I do realy like the versatility of the zooms. At least you've all releived my apprehension about the dust in the big zoom lens! I think theres a camera store a couple hours from here that may have both. maybe I'll take a ride up and see if I can play with them both a little and make side-by-side comparison so I can see just how much difference there is with the AF speed between them.
Thank you all again, so much!
Tim



Jan 25, 2012 at 03:47 PM
gdanmitchell
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p.3 #12 · p.3 #12 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


This is, of course, a common question. (The common related question is whether to get the 100-400 or get a 300mm prime plus a TC.) I went through this thought process myself and ended up with the 100-400, and I'm very happy with the choice.

It is possible that the prime can produce slightly more resolution in some situations, so if you only need to shoot at 400mm it can be a fine choice.

The reasons that I chose the 100-400 and would choose it again for my own work include:

  1. While we might argue that the prime is potentially capable of slightly better resolution in some circumstances, the 100-400 is actually quite a sharp lens as well. I've made 20" x 30" prints from shots made with mine
  2. The 100-400 certainly wins on the basis of versatility. While I do often use it at 400mm, I also frequently use it at other focal lengths where its performance is even better than at 400mm. Its flexibility is a major advantage for my shooting.
  3. Especially with longer lenses, IS can be a real advantage since camera/lens vibration becomes a more critical issue both due to the magnification of the longer FLs and to the necessity to shoot at somewhat smaller apertures.
  4. Because of the zoom design of the 100-400, it packs quite small for a lens that can go so long.

In my experience the so-called "dust problem" is far more theoretical than real, and I haven't had an issue with it despite shooting in locations and situations where dust is around.

YMMV, of course.

Dan

TJSarchett wrote:
I'm upgrading my toolbox and am ready to buy a longer tele. I've been giving a lot of consideration to the 400 F/5.6 prime and the 100-400 zoom. I used a zoom a little last year doing some racing shots at Lime Rock, and liked what I got from it, but after reading a lot of reviews on both lenses, I have yet to make a choice.
My concerns with the reviews: Prime- Pro; super sharp IQ. Con; Lack of IS
Zoom- Pro; wider range of focal length, has IS. Con; IQ not quite as sharp as prime, dust getting inside
...Show more



Jan 25, 2012 at 04:19 PM
DemonAstroth
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p.3 #13 · p.3 #13 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


Not to make matters more complicated, but have you thought about the 300mm f/4L IS and a 1.4 converter?

300mm at f/4 is super sharp

420mm at f/5.6 is still VERY sharp, specially once you stop to 6.3 in nice light.

You can have slightly more versatility in FL, a prime IQ, and IS for about the same price.





Jan 25, 2012 at 04:45 PM
oldrattler
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p.3 #14 · p.3 #14 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


I have owned the 400-5.6 and rented the 100-400.. I preferred the prime.. Super lens, but not for low light unless you enjoy cranking the ISO.. I went with the Sigma 120-300-2.8 with the 1.4X and am very pleased..

Edited on Jan 25, 2012 at 06:29 PM · View previous versions



Jan 25, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Imagemaster
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p.3 #15 · p.3 #15 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


DemonAstroth wrote:
Not to make matters more complicated, but have you thought about the 300mm f/4L IS and a 1.4 converter?

300mm at f/4 is super sharp

420mm at f/5.6 is still VERY sharp, specially once you stop to 6.3 in nice light.

You can have slightly more versatility in FL, a prime IQ, and IS for about the same price.



With the zoom, you can go to any focal length from 100mm to 400mm in seconds. I would call that far more versatile than putting on or taking off a TC on a 300mm and ending up with just two focal lengths.





  Canon EOS 7D    EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens    375mm    f/8.0    1/125s    1600 ISO    -0.3 EV  




Jan 25, 2012 at 05:28 PM
DemonAstroth
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p.3 #16 · p.3 #16 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


I meant more versatile than the 400 prime, which is what he's leaning towards.

Longer focal length with the teleconverter (quite minimal though) at 420mm.

And IS whether at 300 or 420.

Very nice picture BTW.

The 7D is just so noisy!



Jan 25, 2012 at 05:30 PM
verbiage
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p.3 #17 · p.3 #17 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


Ian.Dobinson wrote:
Don't forget the mfd is the distance from the sensor (not the front element) so yes as the lens is long it does seem that the mfd is shorter.


Very good point, thanks!



Jan 25, 2012 at 11:15 PM
jcolwell
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p.3 #18 · p.3 #18 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


verbiage wrote:
Very good point, thanks!


What's the point?

At 400mm focal length, the lengths of these two lenses are almost identical:

    L (400/5.6L) = 257mm,
    L (100-400L) = 265mm, at 400mm focal length;

and so the difference in MFD is real and it is very significant.

    MFD (400/5.6L) = 3.5m
    MFD (100-400L) = 1.8m

"Working distance" (WD) is the distance from the subject to the front of the lens. This is especially useful to know for macro photography, as you sometimes don't want to get your nose in too close to the subject. In this case, we have:

    WD = MFD - L

    WD (400/5.6L) = 3.5 - 0.257 = 3.2m
    WD (100-400L) = 1.8 - 0.265 = 1.5m

Of course, what really counts if you want to get in close is maximum magnification. The Canon EF Lens Instructions CD tells me:

    max. Mag.(400/5.6L) = 0.12,
    max. Mag.(100-400L) = 0.20, at 400mm focal length.

So, no matter how you cut it, the 100-400L gets you in about twice as close to your subject as the 400/5.6L, and it provides almost twice the magnification as the 400/5.6L.

Note that (WD = MFD - L) ignores the register, or "film to flange" distance of 44.0mm for an EOS camera. The complete definition for WD is:

    WD = MFD - L - register

I can't be bothered to correct the math, because the difference is in the noise.

P.S. not including hood.



Jan 25, 2012 at 11:52 PM
Ian.Dobinson
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p.3 #19 · p.3 #19 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


jcolwell wrote:
What's the point?

At 400mm focal length, the lengths of these two lenses are almost identical:

    L (400/5.6L) = 257mm,
    L (100-400L) = 265mm, at 400mm focal length;

and so the difference in MFD is real and it is very significant.

    MFD (400/5.6L) = 3.5m
    MFD (100-400L) = 1.8m

"Working distance" (WD) is the distance from the subject to the front of the lens. This is especially useful to know for macro photography, as you sometimes don't want to get your nose in too close to the subject. In this case, we have:

    WD = MFD - L

    WD (400/5.6L) = 3.5

Of course, what really counts if you want to get in close is maximum magnification. The Canon EF Lens Instructions CD tells me:

    max. Mag.(400/5.6L) = 0.12,
    max. Mag.(100-400L) = 0.20, at 400mm focal length.

So, no matter how you cut it, the 100-400L gets you in about twice as close to your subject as the 400/5.6L, and it provides almost twice the magnification as the 400/5.6L.

Note that (WD = MFD - L) ignores the register, or "film to flange" distance of 44.0mm for an EOS camera. The complete definition for WD is:

    WD = MFD - L - register

I can't be bothered to correct the math, because the difference is in the noise.

P.S. not including hood.
...Show more

my reply was to the statement
"but with its MFD of 1.8 meters (I got the impression it focuses closer than that, but it's rated for 1.8m/6ft)" from verbiage
not with regaurd to the 400/5.6

but actualy while as you say both lenses are the same length (give or take) the zoom can seem like it gets even closer when comparing the 2 as its length is a greater % of the MFD




Jan 26, 2012 at 07:26 AM
Antje
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p.3 #20 · p.3 #20 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


gdanmitchell wrote:
The reasons that I chose the 100-400 and would choose it again for my own work include:

  1. While we might argue that the prime is potentially capable of slightly better resolution in some circumstances, the 100-400 is actually quite a sharp lens as well. I've made 20" x 30" prints from shots made with mine
  2. The 100-400 certainly wins on the basis of versatility. While I do often use it at 400mm, I also frequently use it at other focal lengths where its performance is even better than at 400mm. Its flexibility is a major advantage for my shooting.
  3. Especially with longer lenses,
  4. Because of the zoom design of the 100-400, it packs quite small for a lens that can go so long.

In my experience the so-called "dust problem" is far more theoretical than real, and I haven't had an issue with it despite shooting in locations and situations where dust is around.
...Show more

Couldn't agree more! We take it on kayaking trips, too, and keep it in a PeliCase when not in use. My goto lens when changing lenses or adding a converter isn't really feasible.

Antje



Jan 26, 2012 at 07:51 AM
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