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Side by side comparison of 600mm F/11 versus 600mm f/4 in the woods

  
 
tiggy
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Side by side comparison of 600mm F/11 versus 600mm f/4 in the woods



This is going to sound crazy, but the 600mm f/11 is good enough that I had to take it out with me along with my 600mm f/4 to prove to myself which one would be better to take along on hikes.

Of course this is a bit like apples and oranges, because the f/4 is so big, itís pretty inconvenient. On the other hand, the f/11 is so slow in autofocus that itís not at all practical for moving subjects. My wife and I both had the experience of having a series of birds land on branches, and every one of them had taken off before the 600 f/11 would achieve focus. Pretty comical. So if Iím doing action, itís going to be f/4, and if I need to be light in weight, itís going to be the f/11. But what about in the juicy middle, when youíre taking pictures of things that arenít flying while off on a hike. Which is going to get me the best results versus the load carried?

I hiked up into the woods a half mile with a couple R5s until I found a shaded in area that seemed like a good test case. I shot a dead snag from about 35 yards away. The dark weighed against the f/11, but this was the more realistic set of conditions for me. At f/11, the exposure at 200/th of a second wound up being 12800 ISO (the max I had the camera set). These were all shot handheld, which became an issue when the teleconverters came out. I had to pick the best of several with the f/11 lens.

Here is a crop of that image at 1:1 pixelsÖ Itís not bad for an f/11 $700 lens at ISO 12800. [See Image 1]

And here is the f/4ís equivalent shot. I kept the aperture at f/11, along with all other settingsÖ [See Image 2]

A pixel peeper would say this is definitely better, but a normal person would likely shrug. Of course, the advantage of the f/4 lens isnít that you can take it out and arbitrarily set it to f/11 for no good reason other than to compare it to another lens so hobbled. So here is the 1:1 crop of the f/4 600mm at f/5.6 due to the 1.4x teleconverter, which is actually how Iíd shoot it in the woods. Note this is still at ISO 12800, which with previous cameras I had locked out, but with the R5 is the ďnew 6400."
[See image 3]

Putting on a 1.4x teleconverter on each respectively, we get these shotsÖ
Here is a crop at 1:1 of the f/11 lens shot at f/16...
[See image 4]

Öand here is a crop at 1:1 of the f/4 lens shot at f/16Ö
[See image 5]

If you zoom in to see, the detail on the f/4 is much, much better. Of course, the f/11 lens is underexposed here due to metering vagaries.

Just for kicks, hereís the f/11 lens at f/22 with a 2x teleconverter. Itís not prettyÖ. [See image 6]


So, as Saint Roger of Cicala would say: So what did we learn here today?
1) Amazingly, a $13,000 lens performs better than a $700 lens, provided youíre looking at image quality and not back ache.
2) We learned that taking the bare 600mm f/11 lens out into the woods is probably the best option if we donít anticipate shooting moving critters. It is just easy to bring. The F/4 is so honking big that itíll be the only thing you bring, so youíll miss everything else.
3) If we need more reach than that, the 600mm F/11 wonít really do it well versus speedier options.
4) The sorts of wildlife places I frequent are pretty dark, and there are significant parts of the day where you just wonít get these results with ISO 12800. I shudder to think of the 6-figure ISOs youíd need at 6:30 a.m. The F/4 is really the only option then.
5) Canon did a couple things wildly well here. A - They squished down a 600mm capacity into a package close to the size of a Pringles can. They did this by sticking in a DO element; and also by creating the funny trombone mechanism. B - They made that funny lens have amazing image quality when shooting still objects in OK-ish light - for the price. This isnít something Iíd have expected from Canon or Sigma or Tamron. I'd expect it more from Dr. Seuss.













Image 1: F/11 lens bare







Image 2: F/4 lens at f/11 bare







Image 3: f/4 lens at f/5.6 with 1.4x TC







Image 4: f/11 lens at f/16 with 1.4x TC







Image 5: f/4 lens at f/16 with 1.4x TC







Image 6: f/11 lens at f/22 with 2x teleconverter




Aug 08, 2020 at 06:52 PM
arbitrage
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Side by side comparison of 600mm F/11 versus 600mm f/4 in the woods


Thanks for sharing this....and a timely post...I just watched Tony and Chelsea compare the Nikon 600/4 E FL to the 600/11 and 800/11. They showed one comparison image where the Canon lens looked almost as good as the Nikon. But I think the specific example probably had atmosphere narrowing the divide.




Aug 08, 2020 at 07:10 PM
Scott Stoness
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Side by side comparison of 600mm F/11 versus 600mm f/4 in the woods


I will buy the 800/11. It will be better for wielding in the car, mid day shooting which is never good, travel and being in my bag. I might even take it backpacking - gizzlies are scary when you don't have doors and 800mm is as close as I want to be.

But I doubt it will make it to Churchill for polar bears at f11. Or at 6am or 10pm when the grizzlies are out and its dark.



Aug 09, 2020 at 12:12 AM
tiggy
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Side by side comparison of 600mm F/11 versus 600mm f/4 in the woods


Yeah, I saw that soon after the post. Tough to make that comparison with such different bodies, but itís what they had on hand.

I think they do an exceptional job almost always.

The RP does fit the new f/11 lenses super well. This might be troublesome for me, as my wife, an RP user, is interested now.




Aug 09, 2020 at 07:15 AM
kezeka
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Side by side comparison of 600mm F/11 versus 600mm f/4 in the woods


Iím over here thinking my Leica Q is the heaviest Iíd bring for 1500ft plus verticals hikes. God bless you folks carrying 600/11 much less these massive 600/4 out on hikes!

Thanks for the interesting comparison!



Aug 09, 2020 at 07:51 AM
David Garcia
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Side by side comparison of 600mm F/11 versus 600mm f/4 in the woods


Iím still not sold on F11. Iím hoping Canon will release more F4 DO lenses for RF soon. An RF 600mm F4 is what Iím waiting for. Until then, Iíll continue using the long EF primes.


Aug 09, 2020 at 08:55 AM
RCicala
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Side by side comparison of 600mm F/11 versus 600mm f/4 in the woods


I actually bought one for specific purpose; I have a house in a wildlife reserve area near the gulf coast. I have bright daylight 90% of the time when I go for a walk, sometimes there's cool wildlife, but not often enough to make carrying a big lens something I'm interested in.

My expectations are adequate images I wouldn't get otherwise. Low expectations usually make me happy with a purchase.



Aug 12, 2020 at 06:51 AM
 


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tiggy
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Side by side comparison of 600mm F/11 versus 600mm f/4 in the woods


RCicala wrote:
I actually bought one for specific purpose; I have a house in a wildlife reserve area near the gulf coast. I have bright daylight 90% of the time when I go for a walk, sometimes there's cool wildlife, but not often enough to make carrying a big lens something I'm interested in.

My expectations are adequate images I wouldn't get otherwise. Low expectations usually make me happy with a purchase.


I don't want to ruin your low expectations, but I'll be very curious to see what you think after hefting this around for a little while. It's growing further on me, especially the 800 (although the minimum focus distance is placed somewhere in the town next door).

It would certainly be very, very interesting if someone were to take one of these and disassemble it, forcing a long-suffering tech to be a hand model in the process. We should all draw straws.



Aug 12, 2020 at 08:30 AM
RCicala
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Side by side comparison of 600mm F/11 versus 600mm f/4 in the woods


tiggy wrote:
I don't want to ruin your low expectations, but I'll be very curious to see what you think after hefting this around for a little while. It's growing further on me, especially the 800 (although the minimum focus distance is placed somewhere in the town next door).

It would certainly be very, very interesting if someone were to take one of these and disassemble it, forcing a long-suffering tech to be a hand model in the process. We should all draw straws.


We actually did that last week with the 600mm. Post should be up late this week.



Aug 12, 2020 at 08:40 AM
kylebarendrick
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Side by side comparison of 600mm F/11 versus 600mm f/4 in the woods


I find this lens interesting for the size and weight, but I keep coming back to the fact that putting a 2x TC on my 100-400 gives me an 800 f/11 that can zoom without spending any additional money.


Aug 12, 2020 at 10:20 AM
MatthewK
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Side by side comparison of 600mm F/11 versus 600mm f/4 in the woods


f/11 @ 1/200, ISO 12,800... yikes. Topaz Labs DeNoise AI and Sharpen AI are a pretty much a need-to-have with these lenses.




Aug 12, 2020 at 10:37 AM
tiggy
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Side by side comparison of 600mm F/11 versus 600mm f/4 in the woods


Had a nice little comparison opportunity this evening. I typically shoot in very poor light (light limited) and at extreme distances (reach limited). That presented itself tonight with a great blue heron about 300-400 yards away at 7:45 p.m.

The first image is from the 800mm f/11 lens. The second is from the 600 f/4 II with a 1.4x teleconverter (III) making for 840mm.

So what do we learn? In good light, the 800mm f/11 is a much better bang per pound than the f/4. In cruddy light, it falls apart. As expected, of course. Interesting to see to what degree, though...





F/11 lens









Aug 16, 2020 at 08:48 PM
Douglas L
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Side by side comparison of 600mm F/11 versus 600mm f/4 in the woods


Some sites are showing a new Canon patent on a RF 200-800 f/6-8.5 L lens. Very interested even though I don't have a Canon Rf camera, yet...


Aug 16, 2020 at 09:23 PM







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