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Archive 2012 · My thoughts on 500 F4 IS-PIX added
  
 
Jo Dilbeck
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p.1 #1 · My thoughts on 500 F4 IS-PIX added


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!

Jo











Edited on Feb 07, 2012 at 02:23 AM · View previous versions



Feb 06, 2012 at 05:26 PM
jcolwell
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p.1 #2 · My thoughts on 500 F4 IS-PIX added


What you say makes good sense to me. Things like this should be judged according to your personal preferences, capabilities and values. OTOH, I'm selling my 300/2.8L IS and keeping my 500/4L IS.


Feb 06, 2012 at 05:35 PM
Jo Dilbeck
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p.1 #3 · My thoughts on 500 F4 IS-PIX added


Yes Jim, personal preference is definitely the deciding factor in a decision like this. I would encourage anyone considering a 500 F4 IS to rent one first, particularly if you're a "little" woman like myself. Also, birds are NOT my main interest in photography, I do not travel through the land just looking for birds. My main interest is landscapes, birds became an interest in winter when things get ugly. Certainly if I was making a living selling bird photos, the 500 F4 would be a better choice!


Feb 06, 2012 at 05:39 PM
jcolwell
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p.1 #4 · My thoughts on 500 F4 IS-PIX added


I use the 500L for sports more often than birds, but that's moot - they're both fantastic lenses.


Feb 06, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Sharona
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p.1 #5 · My thoughts on 500 F4 IS-PIX added


Thanks Jo - Good information to know, as a wildlife shooter I've been considering alternatives to the 100-400, but weight is an issue for me, too. (Although at 5'6" I've got a little height on you!)


Feb 06, 2012 at 09:09 PM
PaulCal
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p.1 #6 · My thoughts on 500 F4 IS-PIX added


I'd be real interested in seeing some of your comparison shots if you feel like posting them, not that I want to CC them but just to see the difference with my eyes

Paul



Feb 06, 2012 at 09:15 PM
bipock
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p.1 #7 · My thoughts on 500 F4 IS-PIX added


Sharona wrote:
Thanks Jo - Good information to know, as a wildlife shooter I've been considering alternatives to the 100-400, but weight is an issue for me, too. (Although at 5'6" I've got a little height on you!)


FWIW, I'm 6'2", 250lbs and I don't handhold the 500. I have found it to be an excellent lens when used in combination with a solid tripod and gimbal, but it falls apart in my hands when held. Probably technique, but I just don't do it if I don't have to.



Feb 06, 2012 at 09:22 PM
Richard Nye
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p.1 #8 · My thoughts on 500 F4 IS-PIX added


I'm certainly not questioning what you observed, and I haven't done a direct comparison myself. But, I am surprised by your results. I have the 300 f/2.8 IS AND the 500 f/4 IS, and both the 1.4X and 2.0X TCs (II, not III). I always liked the 300 f/2.8 IS, but I thought the IQ diminished substantially with the 2.0X TC. Whereas the 500 f/4 IS with 1.4X TC still maintained great IQ.

That is with the 1DsIII and 1DIV bodies.



Feb 06, 2012 at 09:28 PM
dehowie
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p.1 #9 · My thoughts on 500 F4 IS-PIX added


As per Richards post my observations are similar.
I own the 300,new 400,500 and 800.
The IQ of my 300 is superb but when converterized it does degrade to the point hat I will always choose a straight lens if able. The 1.4 on all lenses are very very usable but the 2x is not the same level of IQ. The only exception is the new 400 where with the new converters I really struggle to see any degradation nor a major drop in AF speed. There is a drop in AF initial lock time but once on its spot on in normal light.




Feb 06, 2012 at 09:58 PM
ragebot
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p.1 #10 · My thoughts on 500 F4 IS-PIX added


I can't speak for the Canon 300/2.8 but I do have the Sigma 120-300/2.8 which is only a little lighter and smaller than the Canon and I find that one a handfull at times.

I also have the Canon 100-400 and the Canon 500/f4. Without question the 500 is my lens of choice for most things (I really like the Sigma 120-300 for stuff like Little League Baseball). However for wildlife I like the 100-400 if I am in my kayak or in rough backcountry.

I almost always use the 500 on a monopod, both for the extra stability and because it allows me to sorta take a rest by putting the weight of the lens camera on the monopod.

I have found there is a real learning curve using the 500, but it is not too steep and my images improved very quickly. I also went to my personal trainer right after I got the Sigma 120-300 (my first impression was 'this thing is huge') and she came up with some new exercises for my workout which hurt for the first couple of weeks but improved my handholding with the monopod by at least two stops.

There is a reason lots of wildlife guys view the 500/f4 as the gold standard; but as with any new lens there is a period of adjustment and not everyone is able or willing to adjust.

You can have my 500 when you pry it from my cold dead hands.



Feb 06, 2012 at 10:23 PM
 

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jcolwell
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p.1 #11 · My thoughts on 500 F4 IS-PIX added


ragebot wrote:
You can have my 500 when you pry it from my cold dead hands.


Deal!

Just have your Dead Man's Switch send me a PM.



Feb 06, 2012 at 10:28 PM
Jo Dilbeck
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p.1 #12 · My thoughts on 500 F4 IS-PIX added


Richard Nye wrote:
I'm certainly not questioning what you observed, and I haven't done a direct comparison myself. But, I am surprised by your results. I have the 300 f/2.8 IS AND the 500 f/4 IS, and both the 1.4X and 2.0X TCs (II, not III). I always liked the 300 f/2.8 IS, but I thought the IQ diminished substantially with the 2.0X TC. Whereas the 500 f/4 IS with 1.4X TC still maintained great IQ.

That is with the 1DsIII and 1DIV bodies.


Frankly, I was surprised by the results as well. I fully expected the 500, even with the 1.4xIII attached, to blow the 300 w/2xIII out of the water. But, as stated, TO MY EYES, the difference was almost indistinguishable, negligble to the point of making the decision to keep the 300 an easy one (and save upwards of $3K).

Jo



Feb 06, 2012 at 10:42 PM
Jo Dilbeck
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p.1 #13 · My thoughts on 500 F4 IS-PIX added


dehowie wrote:
As per Richards post my observations are similar.
I own the 300,new 400,500 and 800.
The IQ of my 300 is superb but when converterized it does degrade to the point hat I will always choose a straight lens if able. The 1.4 on all lenses are very very usable but the 2x is not the same level of IQ. The only exception is the new 400 where with the new converters I really struggle to see any degradation nor a major drop in AF speed. There is a drop in AF initial lock time but once on its spot on in
...Show more

Just to be clear, I never compared the two lenses WITHOUT converters, only WITH as that was what I was interested in. I am getting GOOD results currently with the 300 F2.8 + 2xIII and wanted to see if I could get BETTER results, with a LONGER focal length. The difference between the two FOR MY SPECIFIC purposes was not enough to make me drop $3K to upgrade. Plus, the physical size of the 500 makes it very difficult to use in an enclosed environment such as my truck on refuge property where you cannot get out of your vehicle. I really just wanted to let folks know my observations in case anyone was in the same similar circumstance. Mostly, I know folks need to decide for themselves, based on their own situation and limitations.



Feb 06, 2012 at 10:47 PM
anandnvi
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p.1 #14 · My thoughts on 500 F4 IS-PIX added


Jo, thanks for this report, extremely interesting. Quick question - were both lenses the v1's?

Are you able to post any samples?



Feb 06, 2012 at 11:00 PM
Jim Victory
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p.1 #15 · My thoughts on 500 F4 IS-PIX added


Did you MA the 500 and TC before using? If you didn't it could have been the difference.

In addition I find the 500 to be easy to use in the cab of a truck while driving through a refuge. I just use a bean bag in the window and rest the lens on it with the camera resting in my lap. It is easy to pull it up and shoot with minimal effort or time. I attach a camera strap around my neck that is attached to the lens for a security.

No doubt your size and sterngth will play a role in what is comfortable to shoot with and maybe the 300 fits you better. It doesn't help to be uncomfortable with your rig because your more apt to leave it at home than use it.

Jim



Feb 06, 2012 at 11:02 PM
alundeb
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p.1 #16 · My thoughts on 500 F4 IS-PIX added


Richard Nye wrote:
I'm certainly not questioning what you observed, and I haven't done a direct comparison myself. But, I am surprised by your results. I have the 300 f/2.8 IS AND the 500 f/4 IS, and both the 1.4X and 2.0X TCs (II, not III). I always liked the 300 f/2.8 IS, but I thought the IQ diminished substantially with the 2.0X TC. Whereas the 500 f/4 IS with 1.4X TC still maintained great IQ.

That is with the 1DsIII and 1DIV bodies.


May I ask why you don't upgrade your teleconverters to version III? The 300 2.8 + 2xTC III combo should be noticeably better than with 2xTC II.



Feb 06, 2012 at 11:16 PM
Jo Dilbeck
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p.1 #17 · My thoughts on 500 F4 IS-PIX added


Yes Jim, I did MA the 500 and TC, albeit not as efficiently as I might have. I only had a few days with the rental, so I did a quick and dirty version. And you are right, my size and weight play a substantial role in my decision, specifically why I included that information in my post so others of a similar stature might find it useful. And, while I could easily do the camera in the lap, lens on the window trick with the 300, it simply didn't work for me with the 500.

I'll post up some samples later tonight, specifically the very controlled tests I did with high contrast. Both lenses were VERY SHARP and IMHO could not be distinguished from one another.

The 2xversion III I believe is what is making a difference. That extender is very sharp and worth the upgrade price. I was never happy with the version II.



Feb 07, 2012 at 12:26 AM
sritri
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p.1 #18 · My thoughts on 500 F4 IS-PIX added


Jo,

Only last week I bought a 500/4 here on FM after renting out a 600/4 from Calumet. I am a 5' 6" guy, 135 lbs with such strong arms that 30 mins with a 70-200/2.8 IS II wears me out

I just could not work with the 600. Now with the 500 I can only lift and put it on a monopod or the gimbal. I tried handholding once and knew it was not for me. However even with a full gimbal and an old school tripod which is heavier than the 7D + 500 + 1.4x - II combo, I have not gotten one decent picture so far. I took about 3 hours to MA the combo and @ -14 it is somewhat OK. The 7D would not focus at all even with only the center point focus active. I think a 300/2.8 + 1.4 or 2x III would be a lot better and versatile combination for weak arms ? Here is a sample.
(The inset on the top right is 100% crop of the bare 500 on 7D and below it is the 100% crop of 7D + 500 + 1.4 II)

These ducks were more stationary than a pole for about 45 mins. So I changed the AF to One Shot and the focus confirmation red square was on top of the head of the right cropped duck








Feb 07, 2012 at 02:06 AM
PetKal
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p.1 #19 · My thoughts on 500 F4 IS-PIX added


500 f/4 IS MkI is an exceptionally good lens, but it is also a burdensome lens.
I am going to get the MkII for weight reduction (and new IS) alone.
A bread and butter wildlife lens should be reasonably light......which in my books is about 3 kg or less.

I am a fairly sturdy type, or rather, used to be a very sturdy type, but 3 hrs of handheld use of 500 f/4 today was distinctly uncomfortable, and not as effective in responding to fast emerging targets. Lenses like 500 f/4 , 400 f/2.8 IS MkII and 800L can be used handheld, but fast response is difficult.

I think you are making a good personal choice with the 300 f/2.8 IS + TCs.
My 300 f/2.8 IS MkI works better with MkIII TCs.
Our comfort is a major factor which we must take into account when choosing lenses.



Feb 07, 2012 at 02:17 AM
Jo Dilbeck
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p.1 #20 · My thoughts on 500 F4 IS-PIX added


Wow Shreeni, those look pretty bad. Have you tried that 500 on a different body?

Peter, thanks for the contribution, I don't feel like such a wimp now. I AM however happy with my choice, and perhaps others will understand the choice I made now that I've added some pictures!

Jo




Feb 07, 2012 at 02:26 AM
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