Upload & Sell: On
So, I rented the 500, and a 1.4xIII for the week-end to do a side-by-side comparison with my current 300 F2.8 IS + 2xIII extender. Have been lusting for the 500 for a while and wanted to try it out first before buying. My comparison was done strictly with the respective extenders on each lens as I was trying for more reach than I currently have. On my 7D, the 500 w/1.4X becomes an equivalent 1120 lens, the 300 w/2x becomes 960, thus the 500 has a 16% longer "reach". My subject matter was larger birds, not sports, not little birds.
The lens is indeed BIG and HEAVY. I am a 4'11" woman with small hands and arms. For ME, this lens could only be used on a tripod. I tried to hand-hold one shot and it was an abysmal failure. Because of the size of the lens, it cannot easily be used from within a vehicle while traveling through wildlife refuges, at least not by me. I can leave my 300+2x on the seat next to me and easily swing it up through the window when I want, not so much the 500.
As to IQ, after many shots, both one shot and servo, the two combinations are virtually indistinguishable from each other, at least to my eyes. Both had AF issues with very low contrast shots, i.e. Sand Hill Cranes against tan colored wheat stalk. Both were perfect when focusing on very high contrast areas, i.e. white lettering on black scoreboard sign. AF speed was very comparable, I could not tell a difference.
So, the end result of this little test is that I'm keeping the set-up I currently have. To part with it, and get the 500 + 1.4X would cost me at least $2800-$3000 more than what I could get for the 300 set-up, and I see no reason to let go of that much money for virtually no difference in IQ or AF. Also, the 300 is a bit more versatile, I can remove the extender and use it to shoot my grandson's sports.
I share this just for anyone who might be considering a similar move. I reiterate, I did NOT test the bare 500 against the 300+2X as this was not an option I was considering. Perhaps the IQ would have been substantially better, and I could have just cropped to get to the same image, but then the size factor came into play. For ME, there is no way I could actually carry that larger lens around, working out of the back of my truck was fine, but if I had to go very far, it became a burden quickly.
Test Images shown below, both on 7D, 200 ISO, 1/5000, F6.3. 500 on top, 300 on bottom, taken from across the fully fenced little league field, plus about 20 feet to my truck, You be the judge!
Edited on Feb 07, 2012 at 02:23 AM · View previous versions