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  Reviews by: CJBushnell  

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Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS USM

ef400_4dois_1_
Review Date: Mar 28, 2017 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: 400mm prime image quality at f4 and with IS. Lighter weight than the 300mm 2.8 with 1.4x teleconvertor. Canon Supertele weather proofing. price used is way cheaper than the version II of this lens. massive range with teleconvertors.
Cons:
a little less contrast than the 300mm 2.8 IS (ver.1) with 1.4x. Only center point focus with the 2x, for cameras which focus at f8 (maybe the newest cameras can use all points - you'd need to check that)

I bought this lens last year. It was the lens I wanted when I bought my 300mm 2.8 IS some years ago, but at the time, I couldn't stretch to the used price, (which was still up in the 5k range then). Last year I noticed that the used prices had dropped after the release of the 400 DO mark II, so I decided to buy one and see if it could replace my much loved 300. I shoot wildlife and use the 300 with the 1.4 and the 2x teleconvertors and this lens needed to be good with the 2x in order to justify the change.

What did I find?
------------------
1. IMAGE QUALITY: - it's certainly sharp. Many have said that there is less contrast than some other lenses - I agree - but I also agree that it's fixable in a few clicks in post processing.
2. WEIGHT: - I really do notice the difference between the 300 and this lens. It's easier when hand-holding and noticeably lighter on the shoulder on a long walk.
3. BUILD: - it's on par with the other mark one super teles (strong and weatherproof)
4. FOCUSING: is extremely fast at 400mm; still very fast with the 1.4x at 560mm; at 800mm with the 2x, it's slower, but still good in decent light. When the light is low, it can hunt in situations where the 300 + 2x would not - BUT, remember that it's an f4 lens and the 300 is a 2.8, so the 300 has twice as much light to work with. Also the 300 +2x is only 600mm, so - you take your choice and accept the limitations either way.
5. TELECONVERTORS: - Here's where it gets interesting. It is sharp with teleconvertors. However - it's not forgiving of poor technique. I'm not sure whether the IS is as good as it is in the 300 2.8. I certainly found that a good tripod is needed to get sharp shots with the 2x. Also - be aware that if your subject is too far away, atmospheric quality can become a problem - at 800mm, things like heat haze and sea spray can affect image quality

BONUS: the 400DO at 1120mm !!!

I have found that the old Kenko Pro 300 DG 1.4x can be stacked behind the canon 2x iii and my camera 1D mark iii can't see it, so you can get 1120mm with this lens and still have center point autofocus. Sharp ?? - Yes - it is still sharp. Of course depth of field is shallow and again, you need to be close enough, so that atmospheric issues don't spoil image quality, but it is still sharp. I read somewhere once "focal length is no substitute for proximity". You really see that that's true at 800mm and beyond.

What did I decide?
---------------------
Well - after finding that the Kenko Pro 300 DG 1.4x doesn't get recognised and therefore doesn't affect autofocus, I am left with a choice between:

EF 400mm DO IS: giving 400 and 560mm with all focus points and 784 and 1120mm with center point focus
vs.
EF 300mm 2.8 IS: giving 300, 420, 600 and 840mm with all focus points.

I think the 300 with all focus points may be my choice. I think it will be more useful to me - shame about the extra weight though.

If you're interested to see shots at 1120mm from the 400DO, here are some with the Grey Seals at Horsey in Norfolk this weekend (seal fur detail shots taken between 10-12m and the ones in the sea at about 18 and 25m):
https://www.flickr.com/search/?sort=date-taken-desc&safe_search=1&tags=ef400mmdotest&user_id=24422698%40N04&view_all=1


 
Tamron 180mm f/3.5 Di LD IF Macro Autofocus SP AF

19043180mm_1_
Review Date: Jan 20, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: - usual incredible macro sharpness - possibly the longest working distance for all canon compatible macros - comes with hood and tripod ring - less than half the price of the Canon 180mm and reputedly as sharp
Cons:
- that FEL filter spinning device is a minus if you're using a ring flash or twin flash, but not insurmountable.

First of all - this is a Very sharp lens.

I bought this used on ebay, from Canada (I wonder if it's the same lens sold by the poster who gave it a 2 on this site?). I paid half what I would have paid for it new, and that is less than half what the Canon version costs new. 300 - what a bargain!!!

I keep thinking about buying a 60mm in addition to this one, due to it's portability (It would fit in my pocket as opposed to my 180 with convertors and MR14 EX ringflash - which doesn't Wink ), but then I remember what's so great about this lens and I realise that that 'handy pocket sized 60mm just wouldn't give me what I find so useful in the 180mm

1. - Working distance! This lens has the longest working distance of all the canon compatible macros - the canon 180 is very close, but as mentioned it's twice the price new. That distance is Great for shooting insects which is what I do most for macro. Dragonflies, damselflies, etc are quite twitchy and you often do need that extra working distance so as not to scare them off.

2. - Works well with teleconvertors (I'm not sure that a 60mm would be so good as telecons are not really designed for such short focal lengths). I've used it often with a canon 1.4x teleconvertor and also with a 2x convertor, attached by adding a 12mm extension tube between the convertor and the lens. It works really well although you do loose infinity focus due to the extension tube and sometimes that's annoying (if you suddenly see something that's more than a few feet away, you can't take that picture (butterflies, randomly appearing deer, hares etc). Solution - I bought the kenko pro 300 DG 1.4x which fits without the need for an extension tube. Initial tests indicate it's optically equal to the canon (amazingly).

Occaisionally I consider replacing this lens with the canon 180, but all the reviews I've read say that optically, this Tamron is a whisker better, so for the weather sealing and the red ring - I just don't think it's worth it.

I love this lens. Here are some of my pictures taken with it:

Lens only:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/clive_bushnell/2798728489/in/set-72157605732688466/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/clive_bushnell/2729049377/in/set-72157605732688466/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/clive_bushnell/2603178643/in/set-72157605732688466/

Lens with 1.4x and 12mm extension tube:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/clive_bushnell/3562550080/in/set-72157605732688466/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/clive_bushnell/3827301816/in/set-72157605732688466/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/clive_bushnell/3827250013/in/set-72157605732688466/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/clive_bushnell/3634822805/in/set-72157605732688466/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/clive_bushnell/3589464475/in/set-72157605732688466/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/clive_bushnell/3562550092/in/set-72157605732688466/

Lens with 2x and 12 mm extension tube:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/clive_bushnell/3626201493/in/set-72157605732688466/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/clive_bushnell/3626016539/in/set-72157605732688466/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/clive_bushnell/3620440032/in/set-72157605732688466/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/clive_bushnell/3612376090/in/set-72157605732688466/

Go on,,,,,,,,, treat yourself!
Clive


 
Canon EOS 50D

50D_1_
Review Date: Aug 18, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: 1 - 20% increase in resolution over the 40D - it shows! 2 - Screen sharp enough to judge pics properly in the field 3 - Live view with new screen excellent for manual focus macro
Cons:
None

Well, it was hard choice to buy this camera, mainly because of how many regurgetated poor reviews there are scattered around. This website is the leveller in this as the reviews are from real owners/users. So, thank you FM and thank you to all the FM posters, because I am Very Happy with my purchase.

I wanted more resolution, mainly for my macro work. There's a lot of criticism of the 50D, mainly centred around two points "it's not sharp at pixel level" and "it's too noisey".

Well maybe at 100% on an unsharpened RAW file you could say it doesn't look so sharp and yes, on a RAW file with no noise reduction at ISO 800 and above it does show noise,,,,,,,,,,,, BUT hold your horses, RAW images require processing right? - if you use the the whole package - i.e. camera settings for noise reduction and sharpening and use the new canon DPP software for processing, the images look Great. The files take noise reduction very nicely (with the new canon DPP software) and simillarly they take sharpening very well. The end results are visibly smoother and sharper than my 40D files were - without doubt.

I posted a 100% crop of a damselfly a few days ago on flickr. See for yourself:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/clive_bushnell/3827250013/

The new vga screen looks fabulous and is excellent for manual focus macro using live view!

The lens micro focus adjustment is a brilliant feature for anyone with front or back focus issues with their lenses (I've not tried it yet as I haven't noticed problems with my lenses, but it's proven technology from the 1D series cameras).

Build quality is the same as the 40D - excellent. If I wanted to nit pick I'd say that they could have weather sealed it, but I think that this is a marketing decision to keep that for the 1 series pro bodies and anyway, I knew it wasn't sealed before I bought it, so it doesn't loose a mark for this.

AF - it's at least as good as the 40D if not better. Art Morris says it's the best canon body so far for birds in flight. Google Art Morris 50D and read for yourself.

High ISO (6400 and 12800): As regards noise - the ISO expansion of 6400 and 12800 are very noisey - but they're are there if you really feel the need and in such cases you'll get an image where you would otherwise had nothing (or something very blurred).

If you buy this camera specificly to shoot about 3200, you may not be happy with the results (depending on what level of image quality you are expecting). however; if you are buying it for the high resolution for cropping or for very large prints; for the excellent screen and live view; for the solid build; for the lens micro focus adjustment; you will be one happy camper! I certainly am!

Incidently, it cost me 150 more than a 40D - at 750, that's a massive drop from the original 1200 price tag when it launched. That's one benefit I got from all those bad reviews - sales have suffered and now it's a lot cheaper. Take my advise and take advantage of that - I doubt that the 5DmkII will drop by the same margin.

Hope this has helped you in your hunt for you next camera.
Thanks to FM for a great site.

Clive