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Archive 2012 · Help with buying a new Telephoto lens.
  
 
MS PHOTO
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Help with buying a new Telephoto lens.


I need some input in buying a new lens that I will be using for bird & wildlife photography, I am looking at both the Canon 400mm f5.6 USM or the Canon 100-400mm f4.5 5.6L IS USM. I like the fact that the 100-400 has IS, but most times I will be @ 400. I will be using this lens with my 1D mark IV, What is your thought & why??
Thanks for any input
Paul



Nov 24, 2012 at 12:48 PM
jcolwell
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Help with buying a new Telephoto lens.


Hi Paul,

Well, if you expect to have slow moving or static subjects when you're handholding the lens, then I suppose the 100-400L would be the best choice. I own this lens, but have not tried the 400/5.6L.

Also, the 24-105L + 100-400L combination covers a lot of territory in a relatively small package; great for everday use and travel.

Cheers, Jim



Nov 24, 2012 at 12:59 PM
Ian.Dobinson
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Help with buying a new Telephoto lens.


The 100-400 is a good lens. There are a few downsides though.

The at is not the fastest ,

The IS is early gen so only about 2 stops of help (but its better than nothing),

Some people don't like the push pull zoom (never bothered me . Intact I think it suits the lens well)

It's not as long as a prime 400 . Some say its about 380mm at less than infinity . I think it's a tax longer than that but still not 400. Also I had a nasty habit of not zooming fully , only when I saw the exit did I notice I was shooting short of full length.


If you need IS and want the prime then give serious thought to the 300/4 + a TC .



Nov 24, 2012 at 01:24 PM
Monito
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Help with buying a new Telephoto lens.


I have the 100-400 L and it is very sharp and very convenient. I have zero interest in the 400 mm f/5.6 lens which is not as compact and offers no f/stop advantage. I've been very pleased with my zoom for years.

It works very well with the Canon 1.4x tele-extender (Mark II and Mark III), so get one at the same time or as soon as possible after.



Nov 24, 2012 at 02:05 PM
vsg28
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Help with buying a new Telephoto lens.


I also recommend the 100-400 L, just note that IQ degrades on this much more with a filter on than most other lenses (based on my experience with 2 copies and general rambling on the internet).


Nov 24, 2012 at 02:21 PM
harrygilbert
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Help with buying a new Telephoto lens.


I have the 400/5.6 and the 1D4 -- they are a great combination for birds and wildlife. To accomplish your goals, my advice is to get the 400/5.6 and a monopod with an RRS MH-01 head. Image stabilization is nice, but can't beat learning how to hold the camera steady and squeeeze the shutter.





Nov 24, 2012 at 02:41 PM
rprouty
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Help with buying a new Telephoto lens.


I have both and you can't go wrong with either.


Nov 24, 2012 at 02:48 PM
3iron
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Help with buying a new Telephoto lens.


I have both. The 100-400 is certainly not up to the 400 as far as IQ goes. The 400 is much sharper. The 100-400 is more versatile in that it also in between zoom abiity. if you will be spending most of the time at 400, it is a no brainer for me; you will be much happier with the 400. You will be able to do 100% crops with and still get sharp photos.
I hardly use my 100x400 anymore and I think you will be disapointed with using a magnifier. It is just not up to that. I know I'm steppint on someone toes here, but we each have an opinion. You will have to decide what you want.
Best wishes.



Nov 24, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Imagemaster
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Help with buying a new Telephoto lens.


I have both and have owned a few copies of both. The prime is not MUCH sharper. I can't tell the difference between the two when it comes to sharpness. The prime is lighter and does AF faster. The zoom is much more versatile and the IS does come in handy. The closer minimum focusing distance of the zoom is also an advantage.


Nov 24, 2012 at 03:38 PM
dmcharg
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Help with buying a new Telephoto lens.


Your options are really 100-400, 300 F4L IS and 400 5.6. I have used all 3 and currently have the 100-400 because of its versatility. The primes have the edge when it comes to image quality but unless your viewing images at 100% all the time its real hard to tell them apart. In the end i concluded that the difference in IQ was less important than other factors i.e image stabilisation, minimum focus distance etc. I found many online reviews to be very biased, in many cases overstating the difference in sharpness between the primes and the zoom. In my own tests i found the primes to be a little sharper but it most certainly was not a huge difference.

From a handling perspective i found the 300 was the best, it just seemed to balance so well on the camera, having F4 is also really nice. The lack of IS on the 400 and the longer MFD i found to be limiting factors, you really need to keep your shutter speed up. I think a big factor has to be the typical light that you will be shooting in, if your always going to have plenty of available light or shooting birds in flight then the lack of IS isn't such a big issue but in less than ideal light without IS you will have to up your ISO to keep the shutter speed high enough or use a tripod. The sheer flexibility of the zoom is really hard to beat and its a great walk about wildlife/bird lens. I use it for wildlife, birds, landscapes and even some macro shots.

Edited on Nov 24, 2012 at 04:52 PM · View previous versions



Nov 24, 2012 at 04:39 PM
 

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arthurb
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Help with buying a new Telephoto lens.


I agonised long and hard between the 400L and the 100-400L. I had a Tokina 80-400 but it was not at all sharp at the long end and I tended to shoot mostly at the 400 setting. In the end I bought the 400L and I am very pleased. It is very sharp and if the light is not so good I use a monopod.


Nov 24, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Scott Stoness
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Help with buying a new Telephoto lens.


I have the 100-400 - it is a great lens. I also have 500f4. They are really complementary. I have no reservations in reommending it. It is not quite as good as 500 (presuming same for 500 prime) but it is very good. You won't miss a shot with this lens that you will with the 400 because of too long or too hard to handle.

My view is that for large wildlife or in the car as a blind with the need to move around and travel plus shorter mm, it is way more versatile.

So if you are exclusively a birder - get the prime but otherwise get the 100-400. And likely if you are birder you will want to upgrade from the 400 after a time because its a bit short.



Nov 24, 2012 at 05:21 PM
gdanmitchell
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Help with buying a new Telephoto lens.


MS PHOTO wrote:
I need some input in buying a new lens that I will be using for bird & wildlife photography, I am looking at both the Canon 400mm f5.6 USM or the Canon 100-400mm f4.5 5.6L IS USM. I like the fact that the 100-400 has IS, but most times I will be @ 400. I will be using this lens with my 1D mark IV, What is your thought & why??
Thanks for any input
Paul


This question comes up a lot - and sometimes people make it even more complex by throwing one of the 300mm primes plus a TC into the mix!

All of these options are fine and any one of them can be used to produce excellent photographs. I happen to have the 100-400, and I can report that it is a fine performer for my work. The choice, in many ways, comes down more to technical, functional, and shooting style issue than anything else To make it very simple:

The 400mm prime is a top choice if you only need to shoot at 400mm, if you always work from the tripod or otherwise don't see the value of IS, and if you don't mind carrying a large and bulky lens.

The 100-400mm zoom is a top choice if your subjects are not always small or far away and you need to quickly move among various focal lengths, your shooting might benefit from image stabilization on occasion, and the more compact size is valuable for travel and so forth.

For my part, I chose the zoom - though there are clearly reasons for some to choose the prime. I greatly value the flexibility of the zoom, since I'm able to quickly move between 400mm (for shooting that bird) and 200mm (for shooting a group of them or a closer bird) and 100mm (which is often short enough for shots of the surroundings). Without this flexibility, my photography would not be possible in many cases. In addition, since I travel with my gear relatively frequently, the small packed size and flexibility of the zoom lets me cover more ground with a smaller kit when necessary.

Take care,

Dan



Nov 24, 2012 at 05:26 PM
maeckstein
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Help with buying a new Telephoto lens.


The 100/400L is very good at 400mm until you try the 400L 5.6 and then you not be so happy with the zoom. The prime also has much faster auto focus than the zoom and much lighter to hand hold. I had both and kept the prime and added 70/300L to replace 100/400L. The 70/300L is better in every respect vs.the 100/400L.


Nov 24, 2012 at 06:41 PM
Older Fossil
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Help with buying a new Telephoto lens.


I currently have both. If I feel that I might need versatility, I'll take the 100-400. If I think I'll be always at the long end I'll take the 400. The 400 is sharper than the 100-400 at 400mm, the af is very quick and the 400 is lighter. For BIF I keep the shutter speed high, so no IS is not a big issue. The MFD on the 400 is almost 12 feet, while the 100-400 MFD is about 6 feet. In the past I've used them on a 7D. I've haven't had my 5DIII long enough to really get any experience with both of these lenses.

Art



Nov 24, 2012 at 11:57 PM
matt4626
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Help with buying a new Telephoto lens.


100-400.... not perfect but I end up using it all the time for wild life.
It and the 24-105 are always in the bag.



Nov 25, 2012 at 12:08 AM
PetKal
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Help with buying a new Telephoto lens.


There is a case to be made for owning either of those lenses, or even having both because they have complementary features.

However, the prime has better IQ and it auto focuses faster.......if you can ensure its steady support (or handhold), 400 f/5.6 should get you superior results.

Obviously, if you need a mixture of focal lengths <400mm, and/or very low shutter speed capability without a tripod, then 100-400 should get you superior results.

The knowledge of your own needs and purposes should direct you towards the right lens for you.



Nov 25, 2012 at 12:24 AM
Kisutch
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Help with buying a new Telephoto lens.


I find that my telephoto pursuits are sometimes limited by the inherent IQ of the lens, but just as often by the challenges of focusing on and freezing the motion of a skittish animal with a heavy lens. Both lenses have different perks for those challenges.

What I've noticed is that the zoom is great for ephemeral moments you want to capitalize on, like when you're driving and get a fleeting glimpse of an animal, and need to quickly find it in the viewfinder before it bolts, or need to track it as it runs by you. For me, a lot of my best shots have come from capitalizing on brief encounters like this.

I have the zoom, and I long for a lighter prime when I have protracted encounters with an animal. The 100-400 seems real easy to handhold, but if you have one of those amazing encounters where you get watch something like a predation event unfold, it can be tricky to continuously hold the 100-400. You might need to shoot handheld for several minutes and then have the best shot come at the very end--here even a small difference in weight can start to affect your ability to get sharp shots. Some stud will pipe up that they can handhold a 500/4 all day, but when you're continuously tracking an animal, I think people underestimate the value of a lighter lens.




Nov 25, 2012 at 01:30 AM
Lotuselite
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Help with buying a new Telephoto lens.


Someone else with both zoom and prime. Between my copies the IQ difference is not really significant. Both are good, (I have a 70-200 F/4 And the 60 mm macro to compare with) in terms of sharpness. I happen to like the push/pull zoom, tracking birds you can frame at a wider FL and zoom in. Catching a large bird launch towards you, (Eagles where I live), the zoom can back off to keep the framing. In spite of some calling the zoom a Dust Pump I have not had much problem. I think the so called dust problem is overstated.
I agree that the prime may be a bit faster to focus and it is very good for BIF but I appreciate the zoom's IS on the gloomier days.
If I could only have one it would be the zoom.



Nov 25, 2012 at 02:20 AM
Imagemaster
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Help with buying a new Telephoto lens.


maeckstein wrote:
The 70/300L is better in every respect vs.the 100/400L.


The 70-300L is not better in the 301-400mm range.



Nov 25, 2012 at 02:55 AM
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