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Archive 2012 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?
  
 
TJSarchett
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p.5 #1 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


Thanks again everyone.
Hiking isn't in the short term plans, maybe later but have to divest myself of other things taking up my time and energy first. Even so, I'm not one to complain about a couple extra ponds to carry...I've hauled much more than that around. However, it could be a space saver if I don't have to carry the other lens/body as well. More room for dry clothes and canned beans!

The zoom is sounding more and more likely.



Jan 28, 2012 at 07:06 PM
AGeoJO
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p.5 #2 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


Or this could be another option, lighter and more compact : http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1080490.


Jan 28, 2012 at 07:14 PM
TJSarchett
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p.5 #3 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


AGeoJO wrote:
Or this could be another option, lighter and more compact : http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1080490.


300 isn't long enough. Hell, 400 won't be long enough but I won't have the $10K or more for the 6 or 800s...



Jan 29, 2012 at 03:42 AM
akclimber
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p.5 #4 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


I'm coming late to the conversation but hey, better late than never. I'd say the major consideration in your prime vs zoom decision is whether the 100-400 would just end up zoomed to 400 90% of the time. If so, I'd give very serious consideration to the prime. But if you'll really be using the 100-400 throughout its range, than by all means, go for it! I own a 300 f/4 IS, 500 f/4 IS and 100-400 (and 70-200 f/4 IS). A few years ago, I began to become addicted to whale photography and at that time only had the 300 (a very fine lens!) to use (the 500 being far too heavy). For my style of shooting, I found the fixed focal length too constraining with whales. I decided to try a used 100-400, expecting to actually dislike it. Well, I've gotta say, the IQ on mine is just fine and I love having the ability to frame my shots within its zoom range (I use it primarily on my 7D but also on my 5D2). Granted, the IS is rather ancient and inefficient and it may not AF at lightning speed and I find that it's sort of fragile (as have others - don't knock it against anything), but despite my initial misgivings, I'm about to put my 300 up for sale since I just never seem to use it anymore. Now, if I found I was using the 100-400 at 300-400 all the time, I wouldn't be selling my 300 but I'd be thinking about buying a 400 f/5.6 and selling the 100-400

Good luck with your decision!

Cheers!

PS: I find dust a non-issue, have ended up liking the push pull zoom, against all expectations (feels quick and natural when dealing with quick changes in focal length) and altho, as has been pointed out, the AF isn't wildly fast, in my experience, it's at least fast enough to use for breaching whales if nuthin' else.



Jan 29, 2012 at 04:03 AM
dmcharg
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p.5 #5 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


I had the same dilemma last year and ended up going with the 100-400, no regrets. Its an excellent lens and extremely flexible. I have the 70-200F4L non IS which is a great little lens but i wanted more reach. The 400 5.6 may have a slight edge when it comes to sharpness but there are endless examples of outstanding pictures with both lens so in the end for me it was less about the difference in IQ and more about did i want to be fixed at 400. If your intended use is bird photography and/or specifically birds in flight etc then its worth looking at the 400 but if your usage is more general then the 100-400 is a much better option. Having used this lens for a few months i can certainly see why many people who one of canons super telephotos i.e 300, 400, 500, 600, 800 also own the 100-400. Whilst the 100-400 is nothing like the price of the super telephotos its still not a cheap lens and when paying this sort of money i really wanted to make sure i got a lens that i would get plenty use out of.


Jan 29, 2012 at 09:21 AM
gspiridakis
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p.5 #6 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


It's also a factor which you like better in terms of handling..
I had both. iI sold the 400 f/5,6 when i bought my 500 f/4, because i knew that i will never use it anymore.. After 4+ years (since i first bought my 100-400) i sold it also and one reason is that i didn't like the push-pull zoom anymore..
The feeling of holding the prime, along with the fast AF was much better..And i still believe that the 400 f/5,6 is better in terms of handling..
Now, i am waiting for my 300 f/4 IS as a lens for my hiking, because it very similar in handling like the 400 f/5,6 but still has the IS and the advantage of f4 aperture.

What i say, if you are going to photograph birds and other wildlife mainly in days with good light (not cloudy days) and not in early mornings or late afternoons when the light is less, prefer the prime. If you are going to photograph in all these situations prefer the 100-400.



Jan 29, 2012 at 10:51 AM
gdanmitchell
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p.5 #7 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


I'm thinking a bit about this question since I spent the day photographing migratory birds in California's Central Valley yesterday and, of course, used the 100-400 almost the entire day. Although I had a chance to review the day's work last night, I don't quite have examples ready to post, but I may a bit later today.

Regarding the sharpness of the 100-400 at 400mm... when I do post an example or two, I think that you'll have to agree that this lens is capable of producing very fine results at 400mm. In my experience it can be even a bit better at shorter focal lengths. Of course, someone will come back with the "get a good copy" mantra. There are less than perfect copies of any lens out there, but I don't really think that this is a particular issue with the 100-400.

What I think can be an issue is that shooting with a 400mm lens is not as easy as some like to think, especially if you are shooting moving subjects like I was yesterday, double especially if you have to work handheld, and triple especially when you consider the variables that can mess with focus, including atmospheric distortion and multiple possible AF targets in the frame and so forth.

Another point that may be important. As I photographed these birds, mostly in flight, rather than just getting more pictures of birds centered in and filling the frame, I think a lot about how groups of birds form themselves into interesting compositions and about how they stand against background elements like clouds or trees or the horizon. There are two points to make about this. The first one has little to do with lens quality at all - it is that technique is by far the most important thing when it comes to shooting subjects like this with long lenses. Technique includes many things that affect sharpness, but it also includes practicing enough that you can see not only the target but the whole image while panning and tracking and all the rest. Second, because the darned birds don't always fly exactly where I want them to, I often find myself actively changing the FL while shooting so that I can include them in the frame along with some of the other compositional elements - if the birds come by low I may be at 400mm, but if they are higher I may back off to 300mm so that birds and, say, a tree can share the frame. You can't do that with a prime...

The weight difference was discussed above just a bit. There is a difference, but it isn't a deal breaker. And don't forget that there is also a size difference in that the 100-400 is considerably smaller when zoomed back to 100mm for packing, so it takes less space in your bag.

Finally, if you are on the fence about whether or not you need the zoom or the prime... I recommend the zoom. The only way to answer the question of whether or not you need those other focal lengths is to shoot and find out. With the zoom you'll find out quickly whether or not you need FLs other than 400mm. I predict that you'll use them and be glad that you have them. If not, sell the lens and get the prime. The cost of doing this is low if it ends up getting you the lens that is better for your photography.

Dan



Jan 29, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Alan321
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p.5 #8 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


gdanmitchell wrote:
Regarding the sharpness of the 100-400 at 400mm... when I do post an example or two, I think that you'll have to agree that this lens is capable of producing very fine results at 400mm. In my experience it can be even a bit better at shorter focal lengths. Of course, someone will come back with the "get a good copy" mantra. There are less than perfect copies of any lens out there, but I don't really think that this is a particular issue with the 100-400.


Overall I quite agree with Dan's post but here's the mantra - get a good copy Over several years I've read too many posts here on FM from people who have tried too many 100-400s before getting one that was clearly better than the others and more like what we'd all expect from an L lens. Perhaps more to the point is that such reports were more common regarding the 100-400 than any other lens. Some say that newer copies are better. There is no clear proof of that but the reports of duds seem to be less common nowadays. Maybe Canon has tightened up their quality control at least for this lens, or maybe people are using different lenses or getting better results from newer cameras with higher pixel densities.

My own 100-400 went bad on me - so gradually that it took me quite a while to realize that it was happening (and I was distracted by a simultaneous AF problem with one of my pro cameras). Both were fixed by Canon and so there was indeed a real problem. When I got them back there was a vast improvement in AF tracking performance at high frame rates but the lens still did better with the 1D2 than with the 20D.

The camera matters with AF and some cameras do better with f/5.6 lenses than others do - even in good light but especially in poor light. Nevertheless, the 100-400 is not an AF speed demon; it is not in the class of the up-market super tele primes, for example, on any camera.

If you do get a 100-400 then you might want to disable the full-time manual focus feature in-camera so that zooming or using the zoom ring to support the lens (ready to zoom) will not accidentally tweak the focus manually and upset the AF. This comes about because the 100-400 has a push-pull design that uses the one ring to control zoom and focus.

- Alan



Jan 30, 2012 at 09:51 AM
morenoar
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p.5 #9 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


Tj, i have owned the 100-400 and made the mistake of selling. The person i sold it to uses it rarely but would not sell it back. I have worked with photographers that have the 400 5.6 and the non zoom was a bit sharper wideopen. I live in the desert and we get wind and dust costantly. I never had the dust issues into the lense. Now having a 400, i have to get used to not beeing able to zoom for near shots. That was one of the complaints i got from the 400 users. Yes, one could move back or forth for zoom, but when uou are shooting soccer it is kind of hard. You should rent them booth and try them out. This should help your decisiin


Jan 30, 2012 at 03:31 PM
jpeter
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p.5 #10 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


I have not owned the 100-400, but did own the 400f5.6 prime. Ended up selling it. I get better quality shots with my 300f4IS + 1.4x converter.

IS is very valuable, might get you a shot that would otherwise be missed.

JP



Jan 30, 2012 at 03:32 PM
 

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moonyguy
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p.5 #11 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


MFD of 400 5.6L is an issue. I have had it for nearly 5 years now and there are times when I had to swap it out for 70-200 F4 to get shots of things close by. But I missed a lot of shots due to this. Last couple of years I have been going whale watching and realized the limitation of the 400 5.6L in terms of versatility. So recently I rented a 100-400L and was amazed how many shots I could get compared to 400 5.6 especially shooting birds that are used to humans (like in public places) because of the zoom and MFD. I just bought 100-400 L from a seller here on FM. I dont think I am going to sell my 400 5.6 L yet since its a great BIF lens and light to carry around. But might get rid of the 70-200 F4.


Jan 30, 2012 at 09:52 PM
M Vers
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p.5 #12 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


FWIW, and this has been posted before, here is an example of the 100-400+1.4x TC @ 560mm, f/9, 1/800, ISO400










a tad bit of sharpening







Jan 30, 2012 at 10:19 PM
kevindar
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p.5 #13 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


wow mvers, what body is that on? I sure dont get that on my 7d, although get something close to that on my 5d2


Jan 30, 2012 at 11:41 PM
bigbluebear
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p.5 #14 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


kevindar wrote:
wow mvers, what body is that on? I sure dont get that on my 7d, although get something close to that on my 5d2


Ditto. That's pretty sharp to me.



Jan 31, 2012 at 12:32 AM
Perdu
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p.5 #15 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


I've had the 100-400L for about 4 years and no dust issues but you must accept that any lens is going to get dust in it over time and unless it's really acute will make no difference to your images.


Jan 31, 2012 at 02:26 AM
M Vers
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p.5 #16 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


Kevin, it was shot using a 1DIII.


Jan 31, 2012 at 05:12 AM
bigbluebear
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p.5 #17 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


M Vers wrote:
Kevin, it was shot using a 1DIII.


Haha.. it's related to the other post I started bout the 1d3 and 5d2



Jan 31, 2012 at 05:56 AM
M Vers
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p.5 #18 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


datousteve wrote:
Haha.. it's related to the other post I started bout the 1d3 and 5d2


Being able to AF at f/8 is very important, so yes, I suppose it does have to do with that (among other things)



Jan 31, 2012 at 07:00 AM
Pixel Perfect
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p.5 #19 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


Here's a few from the 1D3 + 100-400 + 1.4x. The last is a 100% crop from the first




  Canon EOS-1D Mark III    EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM +1.4x lens    560mm    f/8.0    1/2000s    400 ISO    +0.3 EV  






  Canon EOS-1D Mark III    EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM +1.4x lens    500mm    f/8.0    1/1250s    400 ISO    -0.3 EV  






  Canon EOS-1D Mark III    EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM +1.4x lens    560mm    f/14.0    1/320s    400 ISO    +1.0 EV  






  Canon EOS-1D Mark III    EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM +1.4x lens    560mm    f/8.0    1/2000s    400 ISO    +0.3 EV  




Jan 31, 2012 at 12:52 PM
kevindar
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p.5 #20 · Prime 400 or 100-400 zoom?


very nice guys.
the lens does a little better on a lower pixel density, when looking at 100% mag. the lens is tack sharp on my 5d2 at 400 5.6 at 100% view. With a tc, it still looks good. on the 7d, its good, but not tack sharp at 5.6, and with an extender, would not look sharp at 100% crop. I guess the 1d3 has a lower pixel density than even the 5d2, and of course more likely to get perfect focus, so it explains the really nice images you guys are posting.



Jan 31, 2012 at 03:02 PM
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