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| p.10 #2 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X |
As one who has more than a casual interest in the lens, I'm wondering further:
Could you expand on how difficult/easy it was to lock focus on the birds and to keep them locked on?
Could you provide a rough idea of what percentage of keepers you had?
Is your crop percentage number a linear or area measurement?
My instinct was that the lens is probably indispensable for sport shooters and safari, big animals expeditions. Now it seems that if one weren't in possession of either of the big super teles, it may be a tempting viable prospect for BIF shooters as well.
Thanks so...Show more →
The AF lock-on ability is difficult to comment on because this is really the first time I've ever made a serious attempt at BIF. At the beginning I used Peter's 400 II and struggled a fair amount. At that point I decided to use the 1DX's 61 point array and let it track the bird as needed. But I also found a number of times where it just wouldn't lock on. Both not even try to focus on anything, because the defocus was too severe (my guess) or it picked up the background instead. All in all, I spent about 3.5 hours shooting, the first 1-1.5 hours with Peter's lens. This was likely the steepest portion of the learning curve and by the time was using the zoom, had already somewhat figured out what worked better. I also used the 61-point mode with the zoom and like with the 400, it felt a bit hyperactive. Using the center AF point with four point expansion seemed to be better and lock-on was more positive. I have to admit, at times it was a matter of 'spray and pray' at 12fps, sometimes it worked, sometimes not, with one problem being the constantly flapping mirror at times caused me to lose track of the bird if it made a sudden turn. Basically what I'm getting at is I think I was the greatest limitation of the entire system, not the gear. As I noted in the earlier post, the AF worked quite well with the internal TC and an external 1.4x attached, so I don't think there is a big problem with keeping the birds locked on as long as the photographer is able to reasonably keep them on the AF point (even with that, I had a number of frames where the bird was well outside the AF array and still in focus).
Keeper rate: I happened to check how many images I simply deleted, and it was about 40% (not counting in-field edits where the total might be closer to 50%). These were mostly due to poor focus. Some would be user error with massive focus misses, others were just soft enough to be unusable. I think this is par for the course with what I've experienced shooting sports, so I'm not terribly concerned considering the difficulty I had keeping up with the birds. I would consider about 25% of the total shoot number, including deleted, were technically fine, just a lot are kind of boring.
Crop: my figures are intuitive estimations based on area, rather than linear.
Regarding your last comment: I think the 200-400 is a good all-around super-tele for someone who doesn't strongly specialize in one area, or someone who needs to cover a number of bases. For me, the 400/2.8 is a sports lens and a 500 or 600 is an even more specialized sports lens. While I've used the 400 for a number of other things, such as corporate conferences, or anything where I needed 400 (because it was my only 400), it isn't a lens I consider a generalist lens. It's big and heavy. One of my reasons for the 200-400 is that while I shoot sports, I shoot less of it than I did 5-10 years ago. I feel I need to keep a super-tele in my kit, but one with greater versatility than a 400 prime and one that is easier to bring along. I wouldn't hesitate to bring the 200-400 on a daylong outing, as I did with the re-enactment on the weekend. The only time I brought the 400 to that re-enactment was... never actually.