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Archive 2012 · long lenses - selecting and buying
  
 
fairtex
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p.2 #1 · p.2 #1 · long lenses - selecting and buying


I was testing the 300 f2.8 with the new 2x TC mk III. To me, the AF seemed rather slow for BIFs, but fine for stationary wildlife. I should test this again with the focus limiter enabled, though.

As Willis rightly mentiones, the 400 f2.8 is way to heavy for me to carry it around and the 400 f4.0 DO supposedly lacks both contrasts and sharpness.

I'll have a closer look at my local store today and tell you guys about the AF speed of the new 300 f2.8 combined with 2x TC mk III.



Oct 16, 2012 at 06:38 AM
PetKal
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p.2 #2 · p.2 #2 · long lenses - selecting and buying


EverLearning wrote:
Fairtex and Petkal, which version of TCs are you discussing when you say the 300 2.8 is slow/sluggish AF with a 2.0x TC?


I haven't tested 300 f/2.8 IS MkII.
I own 300 f/2.8 IS MkI, and I tested it with 2xTC MkIII on 1DX, and AF is slow.

I know that Canon have written that 2xTC III will also reduce the lens AF drive speed by 75%.
However, in my experience that is not the case with 400 II + 2xTC III on 1DX: the AF speed is not reduced by nearly that much. So Canon's statement is suspect in the case of 400 II.
However, they are probably right when it comes to 500/600 II + 2xTC MkIII .....both of those combos are sluggish.....but they are nominally f/8 aperture.

It is just possible that 300 II (+ 2xTC III) exibits the same improved AF response as 400 II (+ 2xTC III) ......but I can not verify that because I do not have the lens.



Oct 16, 2012 at 09:56 AM
EverLearning
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p.2 #3 · p.2 #3 · long lenses - selecting and buying


Willis, I believe it was in this post that I mentioned I would be looking for used. It would be nice if I could plunk down $8k, $10k, $12k for a new lens, but such is not the case.

even at this level of glass there clearly are trade-offs. As I would be looking for used glass, I would not be getting the newest versions of the lens. So that is a consideration. Other than the 300 2.8, I would not consider taking the lens with me on 12 hour hikes! The 100-400 would still be my travel companion for those. It is unfortunate that the 2x TC causes sluggish AF, as going with the 300 and a 1.4x TC is just a 420 f4 compared to the 400 f5.6 reach I have now. that is a lot of money for something that is not a huge step up.

For every question answered, two more pop up. Oh well...



Oct 16, 2012 at 01:13 PM
Roland W
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p.2 #4 · p.2 #4 · long lenses - selecting and buying


I am a long time user of the Canon 300 f2.8 L IS lens, and highly recomend it if you want the large aperture at this focal length. I owned the Canon 2X II extender, but did not use it that much, mostly because of not liking the image quality I got, especially near wide open on the 300. I now have the 2X III extender, and have used it a fair amount on my 300 series one. I am liking the image quality, and am satisified with the autofocus speed when used on my 1DX, but have not tried the combination on a 7D. But I have not shot high speed birds in flight with the combination, only the kind of big birds you find at air shows, which can be fast and chalenging, but only rarely require very high rate tracking while shooting. So the potential use of the combination will depend on how fast the birds or wildlife are.

The way I remembered it, the information about the Canon series III extenders when they were released stated that the autofocus speed improvement was tied to using the extender with one of the new Canon series II super telephoto lenses, and required special communication between the extender and the lens. But this thread got me looking back at what was actually published, and I found the following article by Canon's Chuck Westfall:

http://www.learn.usa.canon.com/resources/articles/2011/updates_supertelephoto_article.shtml

Near the very end of his article, there is a paragraph that includes the following:

"As with previous EF Extenders, usage of Series III EF Extenders lowers AF drive speed to improve AF performance. When Extender EF 1.4X III is used, AF drive speed is reduced by 50%. When Extender EF 2X III is used, AF drive speed is reduced by 75%. This may seem like a drawback, but in reality subject tracking performance remains quite high when Series III Extenders are used with IS II lenses. This is due to improvements in AF precision made possible by the new microcomputer in the extenders."

That statement is not totally clear about how much better the series III extenders are compared to the series II, but does kind of imply that the best improvement is with series II lenses. This paragraph is also likely the source of the "75%" number that was mentiond eariler in this thread, but the number was not an improvement value, but rather how much the autofocus speed is REDUCED from normal when you put a 2X series III extender on compared to no extender. It make no sense to me at all that the previous statement about 75% was an improvement value, and this quote I think clears that up. But this quote does not say exactly how much improvement the III gives over a II extender.

I think that the 300 f 2.8 L IS with extenders would be a big step up compared to the 100-400, but the 300 is not a zoom, and it is clearly a lot more to handle. If you go for the 300, I would think you want to stay with a 1.6 crop for now, and look in to a 7DII when it comes out, assuming it does come out, and is still a 1.6 crop. I still have my 1D4 to complement my 1DX, and a used 1D4 is also something to consider for the needs you have stated. But I think you are on the right track of getting better glass first.



Edited on Oct 16, 2012 at 04:07 PM · View previous versions



Oct 16, 2012 at 03:08 PM
TheBearman
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p.2 #5 · p.2 #5 · long lenses - selecting and buying


If you're concerned about cost and weight the 400mm f2.8 is 3.5lbs heavier and used commands a much higher price than a 500mm f4. The weigh difference has some folks here even talking about hand holding a 500 (not me!). You can also get away using a sidekick as apposed to a full gimbal head, although a full gimbal is still a better option.

The down side is that you would be able to auto focus with a 2x on the 400 and can't on the 500 (unless you have an older 1 series body).

I wouldn't recommend the 400mm DO... Not a bad lens but know folks who sold the 400 DO for a 500.



Oct 16, 2012 at 03:08 PM
EverLearning
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p.2 #6 · p.2 #6 · long lenses - selecting and buying


So many great posts here. I really appreciate the time and thought you folks have put into your comments.

Roland W, special thanks to you for a fantastic post. Great article in the link too.

One of the things I liked about the 300mm 2.8 would be the (relative) versatility. It can be a 300 2.8, 420 4.0 or 600 5.6. It is also 5.17lbs vs the 3.05lbs for the 100-400 so it would still be a usable lens for long hikes (instead of the 100-400). It would also provide great reach for song bird shots in some of the nature reserves within an hour's drive of my place. If I am carrying it, a 1.4x TC, 2.0x TC and my 24-105 4.0, I can have 24-105 4.0, 34-147 5.6 and the aformentioned 300, 420 and 600; tremendous coverage and reach. The problem with the 500 is it is almost exactly 4lbs heavier than the 100-400 (7.03 vs. 3.05). That's starts to be pretty significant on longer hikes. It would also be less versatile (big gap between 147mm and 500mm). Lastly, the 500mm (and the 400m 2.8) are $10k+, while the NEW 300 2.8 is 'only' $6800. It would mean delaying any purchase for an additional year or more, but may be a worthwhile path to take (more 'patience'; damn!).

The one drawback mentioned a few times is the drop in AF drive speed. But this is a qualitative statement; not a quantitative one. If my current car can go 80MPH and my new car can go 200MPH, but an add-on drops its max speed to 100MPH, it is a 50% drop on the new but a 25% increase over the old. The catch of course, is I have no sense of how my 100-400 compares to the new 300 2.8, 300 2.8 with 1.4x TC and 300 2.8 with 2.0x TC. Anybody out there who can comment on this? I don't shoot a ton of BIF, but it is something I would like to get a bit more into.

Perhaps Roland or somebody else can further my education on one point. What is the AF drive speed? AF performance? I want to confirm my understanding. Is drive speed the speed of AF acquisition while AF performance is the accuracy of that acquisition?

As I am a serious enthusiest and not a professional, my shooting habits may be more varied and thus versatility may rate higher for me than somebody who shoots a lot of one type of thing (only auto racing or only mammals or only BIF or only skittish song birds, etc) and may be looking for the proper reach and every last 'drop' of IQ for their speciality.



Oct 16, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Imagemaster
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p.2 #7 · p.2 #7 · long lenses - selecting and buying


If you are considering the Canon 300 f2.8, at a lower price you may want to look at the Sigma option:

http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1157717/0

When it comes to comments regarding AF speed reduction when using TC's, comments like great or sluggish do not mean much, as they are only perceptions, not scientific measurements.



Oct 16, 2012 at 07:00 PM
fairtex
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p.2 #8 · p.2 #8 · long lenses - selecting and buying


Today, I again went to the local store and had a look at the 300 2.8 II combined with the new 2x TC III and I think the AF will work for me. Focus is slower when the converter is used, but not a problem. And limiting the focus range to "6m - infinity" definitely reduces focusing speed.

As EverLearning pointed out, the versatility of the 300 2.8 is an important point. You get a great, hand-holdable 600 5.6 for wildlife and a fantastic, shorter range 2.8 lens for not so skittish creatures. Especially in darker environments (recent early morning deer rutting / photography in the tropics) the option of having a light 2.8 tele seems very appealing to me.



Oct 16, 2012 at 07:11 PM
Roland W
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p.2 #9 · p.2 #9 · long lenses - selecting and buying


The autofocus drive speed is how fast the lens adjusts its focus system while searching for correct focus. That speed is a factor on how fast a given subject can be pulled in to focus, and also potentially limits the fastest subject that can be tracked if it is moving toward or away from you.

The combined system of the lens and the camera, along with subject contrast and light level, are what determine over all autofocus performance, and performance includes if it works at all on a given subject, how often it works, how accuratly it works, how low a light level it can work in, and how well it tracks. From the lens side it is the drive speed, as well as the maximum aperture available, that affect performance. There could be other factors like a better microprocessor in newer lenses that adjust things "better". From the camera side, the particular autofocus system and sensor array in the camera and which autofocus sensor point is in use are major factors. As you add extenders, the optical aperture of the lens and extender gets smaller, and that means that any given focus point will have a harder time determining critical focus. That is why the extender tells the lens to slow down its drive speed, so that the camera and its sensor have a better chance of finding focus or tracking focus without getting lost. The amount that Canon picks to slow things down is undoubtedly based on averages, and also likely is on the conservative side, but it is what it is. The exact reasons why a series III extender and a series II telephoto may have a some what higher drive speed or track things better has not been explained in detail by Canon as far as I know. And of course Canon's selection of what aperture to use to turn off autofocus all together is another parameter they likely picked based on some average situations, and also to be conservative. And the marketing department may also have stuck their finger in on that decision. I really wish they would allow the user to have a custom function to turn on that would allow the system to try to focus at another stop smaller, and would love to see a firmware update for my 1DX and for all those 5D3's out there to give us all that option, of course to be used "at our own risk of it not working". But getting Canon to do a change like that is difficult.

The net effect of comparing a 300 2.8 with a 2X to a real 600 f 2.8 is that the 600 is faster and better at auto focus and focus tracking, but that the 300 with the 2X is still very useful, and more versatile, and weighs less, and costs less.

With Canon lenses, assuming they are not beat to death, they hold their value fairly well, so getting a used 300 f 2.8 L IS now, and then deciding later that you want to change to something else, or go back to the 100-400, will not cost all that much for the change. Since you mention long walks with long glass, have you considered at all the Canon 300 f 4 L IS, along with a 1.4 extender? You loose a stop, and loose 600 autofocus, but you save a bunch of weight and cost. Not trying to side track your process too much, but the 300 f4 is a nice lens.

I have never really liked my 100-400 at the 400 end, and just added the 70 to 300 to my collection to cover low weight situations. But my 300 f2.8 L IS is still my main long lens, and I use it a lot both hand held and on a gimbal mount. And until the series II telephoto lenses came out, it was considered by many to be one of the sharpest and best focusing Canon lenses you could buy.



Oct 16, 2012 at 07:48 PM
 

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EverLearning
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p.2 #10 · p.2 #10 · long lenses - selecting and buying


Imagemaster, thanks for the extra point to consider. It is half the price, but it is about 1.4lbs heavier. Of course, when you start buying glass of this calibre, one does tend to be pickier about quality. So I would love to hear from others with this lens, especially those that have used both the Canon 300 2.8 and the Sigma 120-300 2.8. Also, with the Sigma lens, does it matter whether one uses Sigma or Canon TCs? Lastly, the Sigma lens info states 'Designed for Full-Frame DSLR Cameras' while the Canon 300 2.8 does not. Since I am shooting with a 7D, that statement somewhat concerns me.

Fairtex, when you said 'And limiting the focus range to "6m - infinity" definitely reduces focusing speed.', I suspect you meant reduces the delay (aka, improves focusing speed). Just want to make sure I am not misunderstanding the point you are making.

Roland W, thanks for another great post and explanation. I have to admit I am not really considering the 300 F4. I do most of my shooting in the 360/370 to 400 range, so I would have to use a 1.4x TC on the 300 to get the same reach, but then with the f4 I would be shooting 420mm f5.6, so not really a whole lot of point for a whole lot of cost (and less versatility).



Oct 16, 2012 at 10:30 PM
fairtex
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p.2 #11 · p.2 #11 · long lenses - selecting and buying


You're right EverLearning; I meant "limiting the focus range to "6m - infinity" definitely makes the AF faster". Sorry for that.


Oct 17, 2012 at 04:29 AM
EverLearning
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p.2 #12 · p.2 #12 · long lenses - selecting and buying


No worries fairtex. I appreciate all the great posts people have made. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't missing something.

I would really like to hear from 300 2.8 I and 300 2.8 II users as well as Sigma 120-300 2.8 users; your thoughts on the lens re IQ, versatility, usability (weight, IS, other), use with 1.4x and 2.0x TCs, and anything else you feel is worth commenting on.

Thanks again.



Oct 17, 2012 at 12:47 PM
dmcharg
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p.2 #13 · p.2 #13 · long lenses - selecting and buying


I currently use the 100-400 and for a long time i have contemplated one of canons big guns i.e 300/400 2.8, 500 F4 etc. Given the cost of these lens i finally gave in and decided to rent a 300 2.8 & 500 F4 to see for myself the difference compared to the 100-400. Both the 300 and the 500 are stunning in terms of IQ but the 100-400 is still a cracking lens and i wouldn't part with it. Whilst i love the IQ of both lens i found the size/weight just didn't work for me. The 500 is a beast and you really need to have it on a tripod. The 300 was more manageable but still considerably larger than the 100-400. In the end i saved myself a LOT of money as i decided not to purchase either. I just couldn't see myself taking either lens on a typical walk i do with the 100-400. Whilst the IQ of the 300/500 is excellent i found the handling of both lens much more cumbersome than the 100-400. Keep the 100-400. It would be good to see Canon upgrade the 300 F4, 400 5.6 and 100-400 as i think the size, weight, cost of these lens makes them very appealing.


Oct 17, 2012 at 04:02 PM
EverLearning
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p.2 #14 · p.2 #14 · long lenses - selecting and buying


dmcharg, I think Canon made some good weight improvements with the new versions of the big glass. The 100-400 is 3.05lbs while the 300 2.8 II is 5.17lbs. 2lbs isn't too bad and is definitely hand-holdable, especially with the next-gen IS. Of course, a lot of it comes down to shooting styles, shooting subjects, nature of photographic outings/hikes, health, etc.


Oct 17, 2012 at 05:54 PM
M.P.R.
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p.2 #15 · p.2 #15 · long lenses - selecting and buying


PetKal wrote:
(1) Canon 500 f/4.5L. Only moderately heavy (3kg) and an excellent performer.

Major drawback: Canon doesn't do mainenance on it, the independent repair shops do if they can get the part required.



+1 on the Canon 500 f/4.5L I love this lens, it lives on my 7D.

To get birds in flight, you need reach and focus lock speed. 500mm often isn't enough even on a 7D. But it does a much better job than a 300mm plus +TC. I tried the 300mm+1.4TC approach first. Focus lock was too slow, keeper rate was low. Then I got the 500 f/4.5L, been very happy with it.

Only drawback is Canon doesn't do maintenance on it anymore. But mine is in great shape, has been perfect since day one. (knocks on wood) Seems to be built like a tank. Without the IS there is less that can go wrong.

What I love most is how light and small it is for a 500mm. Most times I leave the hood off, to make it even smaller, lighter and easier to hand hold and carry. Leaving the hood off doesn't seem to effect image quality much. IS isn't needed for sharp photos at BIF shutter speeds. The 500mm 4.5L gives the most bang for your buck. Just don't drop it!

Some examples of 7D and 500mm 4.5L (wish they made new even lighter version of this lens)














Does tiny birds well too.















It does a decent job with really big birds too!















Oct 18, 2012 at 03:36 AM
EverLearning
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p.2 #16 · p.2 #16 · long lenses - selecting and buying


Thanks for the info and photos M.P.R. It sounds like a good thing if you already have it, but I really don't want to buy something that is unsupported.

Now for something 'different'. As I have been doing my research, I find myself giving serious consideration to switching to Nikon. This would be a big undertaking and is not being considered lightly. The D800e is 36MP and just about offsets the 7D's 18MP on the 1.6 crop. It has about 2 to 2.8 stops better DR and about two stops better noise management. I have heard so much about Nikon's AF advantage, although I don't know if that is the case with the D800e specifically. This is certainly a twist I wasn't considering before today.

Is there anybody out there who has shot with both the Canon and Nikon 300mm 2.8? If so, I would love to hear your thoughts. And if you have tried the latest and greatest teleconverts on these bodies, even better!



Oct 18, 2012 at 03:56 AM
Pixel Perfect
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p.2 #17 · p.2 #17 · long lenses - selecting and buying


dmcharg wrote:
I currently use the 100-400 and for a long time i have contemplated one of canons big guns i.e 300/400 2.8, 500 F4 etc. Given the cost of these lens i finally gave in and decided to rent a 300 2.8 & 500 F4 to see for myself the difference compared to the 100-400. Both the 300 and the 500 are stunning in terms of IQ but the 100-400 is still a cracking lens and i wouldn't part with it. Whilst i love the IQ of both lens i found the size/weight just didn't work for me. The 500 is
...Show more

You do quickly adjust to the weight of the 300 IMO. I find it is most definitely a lens I can walk around with for a few hours sans tripod or monopod. The 500 is a lot heftier and I wouldn't leave the house without at least the monopod, but it can be hand held for BIF shots for 5-10 minutes at a time at eye level with a bit of practice. The 7D + 300 + 1.4/2x TC is very nice combo.



Oct 18, 2012 at 04:25 AM
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