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Archive 2012 · The Sharpest Long Lens (or Combo)
  
 
Photon
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p.2 #1 · The Sharpest Long Lens (or Combo)


And the results are continuing to follow the distribution predicted by the collective wisdom that a bare lens is sharpest and a 1.4x degrades the image less than a 2x. One answer would be "it depends upon the camera body". With Canon's highest pixel density, the lens combo with highest resolution of high contrast target might win. With maybe a 1DX, it could go to the combo that stars in the MTF race, because contrast at somewhat lower resolution might be more important to visual effect. Aren't Canon's graphs (in addition to being derived theoretically) based on something moderate like MTF at 30 lp/mm? Anyway, I think even if one owned all of the lenses, it would be hard to choose based on center sharpness with a 1DMkII, but maybe easier with a MkIV.
Hey, I can conjecture too.



Sep 09, 2012 at 04:20 PM
PetKal
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p.2 #2 · The Sharpest Long Lens (or Combo)


Fred Miranda wrote:
IMO, center sharpness will be very similar with the lens or combos mentioned. The bigger differences will be in AF speed, MFD and weight.


Yes, I'd go along with that.
Furthermore, when choosing a lens, people seldom look at sharpness in isolation from other factors such as those listed below, although sharpness is usually one of the key technical traits discussed when looking at various images.

(1) Price.
(2) Weight/size (probably very important to those who use those lenses hand-held).
(3) AF response.
(4) MFD as well as focusing distance limitter settings (this ties a bit to AF response as well).
(5) Multiple focal lengths. For example, some people might make a good use of 400 f/2.8 bare for, say, sports or large animals, and then with the TCs they can extend the lens to 560mm or 800mm for application in other photography fields.



Sep 09, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Tim Kuhn
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p.2 #3 · The Sharpest Long Lens (or Combo)


Lars Johnsson wrote:
Anyone of these 4 lenses bare, is better than the other 3 with extenders. Especially the ones with 2X. In AF, sharpness, bokeh & IQ. Because of that it's an easy choice.

800L


+1

And I'll add, I purchased the 800 solely based on IQ, the reach was a nice bonus.


Tim



Sep 09, 2012 at 07:39 PM
kaycephoto
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p.2 #4 · The Sharpest Long Lens (or Combo)


interesting that the 600II+1.4 combo isn't getting much love.. i'm thinking possibly because there are more 500II+1.4 samples being posted at this point?

if i had to put money on it, the bare 800L should have an advantage in absolute IQ, but loses points for application flexibility, weight & portability..

maybe after I grab my Wimberley i'll find some time to do a CPS test-drive of the 800L..



Sep 09, 2012 at 08:09 PM
PetKal
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p.2 #5 · The Sharpest Long Lens (or Combo)


Tim Kuhn wrote:
+1

And I'll add, I purchased the 800 solely based on IQ, the reach was a nice bonus.

Tim


Tim, however, I do not think any MkII lenses were available yet when you chose your 800L.



Sep 09, 2012 at 09:12 PM
Tim Kuhn
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p.2 #6 · The Sharpest Long Lens (or Combo)


PetKal wrote:
Tim, however, I do not think any MkII lenses were available yet when you chose your 800L.


They certainly weren't, I didn't mean to imply that Peter.

Tim



Sep 09, 2012 at 09:30 PM
PetKal
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p.2 #7 · The Sharpest Long Lens (or Combo)


Tim, I know that.....just to make it clear to other people.

The two folks who have chosen 400 II + 2xTC probably own that combo, or they might have purposefully gone against the conventional wisdom which says that "anything" coupled with 2xTC can not be too good (and turns into a dog when it comes to AF)

Furthermore, I am really surprised by the decisive lead of 800L, particularly when compared to 600 + 1.4 combo.

Edited on Sep 09, 2012 at 10:48 PM · View previous versions



Sep 09, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.2 #8 · The Sharpest Long Lens (or Combo)


It's no secret that these new super telephotos cost an arm and a leg, making it hard for photographers to stay objective when comparing them. This poll was for Canon's "sharpest" super telephoto at around 800mm (700-840mm)
My vote went for the 800L, even though I ended up getting the 500 II. Besides ultimate sharpness/contrast, there were other categories that I find "very important" which contributed to my personal decision:

"Best IQ" (Big prints)
1) 800L
2) 500 II + 1.4x III TC and 600 II + 1.4x III TC
3) 400 II + 2x III TC

"Lightest" (Handhold-able)
1) 500 II + 1.4x III TC
2) 600 II + 1.4x III TC
3) 400 II + 2x III TC
4) 800L

"Longest focal length"
1) 600 II + 1.4x III TC
2) 800L and 400 II + 2x III TC
3) 500 II + 1.4x III TC

"Closest MFD"
1) 400 II + 2x III TC
2) 500 II + 1.4x III TC
3) 600 II + 1.4x III TC
4) 800L

"Best AF response"
I'm not 100% sure about this one. I have heard that the 800L does not have the best AF response; therefore the results could be very close with the 400 II + 2x III coming at last.
Perhaps they would come as:
1) 800L and 500 II + 1.4x III TC and 600 II + 1.4x III TC
2) 400 II + 2x III TC

OOpss..forgot price...but as you read...arm and leg...



Sep 09, 2012 at 10:21 PM
Tim Kuhn
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p.2 #9 · The Sharpest Long Lens (or Combo)


Furthermore, I am really surprised by the decisive lead of 800L, particularly when compared to 600 + 1.4 combo. I hear you Peter because of the 800 vs 600 + 1.4 debates. Also remember, price and versatility are not part of the poll, just sharpness.

I would agree with most of Fred's assessments. I do handhold my 800 a lot and have no problem with that. Still the 500 II is a heck of a lot lighter!!

As for AF response, I truly believe the 800 is quicker to focus that the 500 I bare for what that is worth. I don't have any experience with the 500 II + 1.4 III.

Tim



Sep 09, 2012 at 10:33 PM
PetKal
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p.2 #10 · The Sharpest Long Lens (or Combo)


Fred Miranda wrote:
I have heard that the 800L does not have the best AF response; therefore the results could be very close with the 400 II + 2x III coming at last.


Fred, 800L has a pretty good AF response on the upper focusing distance limit setting which is 20m (60 ft) to infinity. That is fairly long, and it obviously works best on bigger targets.

However, if your target crosses into the 20m zone, or if it emerges unexpectedly within it, you are snookered.

If you set the lens to the full limit switch setting, i.e., 6m (20 ft) to infinity, then you are confronted with a major defocus problem unless the lens happens to be prefocused to your target.
It is also worthy of note that 1DX seems to handle the extreme lens defocus better than anything else I've had before, and it does drive 800 L faster to focus.

For the above reasons as well as the 800L weight/size, I have dedicated that lens to stationary/slow target duty.

However, Tim Kuhn and another guy on the N&W forum keep doing BIF shots with 800L much more than I ever have, and they are getting very good quality keepers.



Sep 09, 2012 at 10:39 PM
 

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Tim Kuhn
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p.2 #11 · The Sharpest Long Lens (or Combo)


Fred, 800L has a pretty good AF response on the upper focusing distance limit setting which is 20m (60 ft) to infinity. That is fairly long, and it obviously works best on bigger targets. However, if your target crosses into the 20m zone, or if it emerges unexpectedly within it, you are snookered

Peter, while I agree that if you are focusing on the long end and a bird flies by close you are hosed but do you think the 500/600 + 1.4 would handle the same situation any better?

The 800 also had very good response with the distance limiter set to the short end. That is my go to setting for photographing humming birds. The focus is darn quick as the hummers go from flower to flower.

Thank you for the props

Tim



Sep 10, 2012 at 12:28 AM
Gary Irwin
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p.2 #12 · The Sharpest Long Lens (or Combo)


Frankly I have no idea which combo is the sharpest, but I'd be willing to bet my lens collection nobody could tell what combination was used to capture any particular image. Suffice it to say I like the native reach and AF performance that my 800L provides without having to rely on a TC, but still have the option of adding the 1.4x if needed for extra reach. At 50-something years of age I can still hand hold the 800L, but another 10 years the 500+TC might start to look more attractive!


Sep 10, 2012 at 02:35 PM
PetKal
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p.2 #13 · The Sharpest Long Lens (or Combo)


Well, the people of FM Forum seem to have decided by overwhelming majority: 800L is the sharpest long lens option. And as they say in California, vox populi, vox dei.

Here is handheld 1DX + 800L doing test shots on some wood pijuns very recently.

Edited on Sep 10, 2012 at 10:13 PM · View previous versions



Sep 10, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Lars Johnsson
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p.2 #14 · The Sharpest Long Lens (or Combo)


The 800L + 1,4x is rather sharp also
















Sep 10, 2012 at 05:34 PM
StillFingerz
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p.2 #15 · The Sharpest Long Lens (or Combo)


Truly IMPRESSIVE sharp-as-a-tack images, Peter, Lars...you and others with your super teles are amazing! Are these last few images hand held?


Sep 10, 2012 at 05:42 PM
PetKal
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p.2 #16 · The Sharpest Long Lens (or Combo)


StillFingerz wrote:
Truly IMPRESSIVE sharp-as-a-tack images, Peter, Lars...you and others with your super teles are amazing! Are these last few images hand held?


Thanx, Jerry.....mine are, but in Lars' case, he probably has his personal valet holding the lens up for him.



Sep 10, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Lars Johnsson
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p.2 #17 · The Sharpest Long Lens (or Combo)


I was resting the lens on a car-window


Sep 10, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Tim Kuhn
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p.2 #18 · The Sharpest Long Lens (or Combo)


A few handheld from a kayak at 800

Tim




  Canon EOS-1D X    EF800mm f/5.6L IS USM lens    800mm    f/8.0    1/800s    800 ISO    0.0 EV  






  Canon EOS-1D X    EF800mm f/5.6L IS USM lens    800mm    f/11.0    1/800s    800 ISO    0.0 EV  






  Canon EOS-1D X    EF800mm f/5.6L IS USM lens    800mm    f/8.0    1/2000s    800 ISO    0.0 EV  




Sep 10, 2012 at 06:03 PM
Pixel Perfect
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p.2 #19 · The Sharpest Long Lens (or Combo)


OMG the thought of taking my gear out in a kayak sends shivers down my back. I just know I would be getting images of more marine life than feathered friends. Have you ever capsized?

Top shots from Lars and Tim. I assume Petal's is good too, but they are gone.



Sep 10, 2012 at 10:36 PM
Tim Kuhn
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p.2 #20 · The Sharpest Long Lens (or Combo)


Pixel Perfect wrote:
OMG the thought of taking my gear out in a kayak sends shivers down my back. I just know I would be getting images of more marine life than feathered friends. Have you ever capsized?

Top shots from Lars and Tim. I assume Petal's is good too, but they are gone.


Thanks for the nice words. I have shooting from a kayak for years. First with a 500 and now for over two years with the 800. Never have come close to capsizing. I have come many times closer to dumping my gear in water shooting from land! Slipping, mis-stepping and such.

Tim



Sep 11, 2012 at 01:23 AM
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