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Messages - AlanF

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Lenses / Re: New to Canon - please help me decide on lenses
« on: December 18, 2013, 01:46:48 PM »

There. That's it. 8000 words. I'm interested in your reflections on the matter...if you didn't hang up and leave before you got to the end.  ???

1,127 words ±100.

Lenses / Re: Canon 400mm f/5.6 L
« on: December 18, 2013, 11:29:00 AM »
This what the difference in MTFs of the 400 f/2.8 II at f/2.8 (top) and the 400 f/5.6 at f/5.6 (bottom) mean in practice as measured by SLRgear's blur tests.

I do question that 400mm f2.8 lens test....we all know it's a more capable lens than that, I suspect there is a flaw in their testing method for longer lenses. It's a comon issue with lens tests...the photozone.de lens test of the 300mm f2.8 IS L was laughable...it suggested that it was no better than a consumer zoom...and subsequantly the review got pulled, but some of us still remember it.
I have a 400 f2.8 L IS and I had until recently a 400mm f5.6 L, they are both very sharp lenses but the f2.8 is in a different league.

That's interesting. Part of my reasoning for saying that I don't trust the results of the SLRgear test is that when you go to Photozone.de and compare the 400f5.6 wide open with the 40mm Pancake at f16, the Pancake at f16 should be obviously worse than the 400f5.6. Now go compare that with the SLRgear tests, according to them the Pancake at f16 is far superior to the 400f5.6 wide open.
Someone doesn't have their numbers straight. To get an average, when I look at the TDP charts the 400f2.8ISII and 400f5.6 "look" nearly identical wide open.

GMC apologised for misreading the slrgear charts, which do show clearly that the f/2.8 is far superior to the f/5.6. Have you also misread the charts from photo zone and slrgear?

Photozone shows that the 40mm STM is far superior to the 400mm wide open, the mtf approaching the maximum resolution (borne out by slrgear's 1 blur unit at the centre compared with nearly 3 for the 400mm) and slightly better at f/16. The slrgear charts show that the 40mm is just a tad better at f/16, not far superior. Photozone and slrgear are in excellent agreement. So, I think they have got their numbers straight.

The TDP tests are too crude to distinguish between sharp lenses - you need to see the high resolution parts of the iso charts.

Lenses / Re: 600mm too long?
« on: December 17, 2013, 06:15:45 PM »
Where I live you can rarely get close enough to birds.  600 is not long enough for me.  But, on my one birding holiday in Brazil, the 100-400 on a 7D was pretty optimal as we got so close to the birds and a 600 would have been too long and unwieldy for much of the time. 

Software & Accessories / DxO optics Pro 9 Prime noise reduction speed
« on: December 17, 2013, 04:23:57 PM »
I am really pleased I took up the offer and bought the software. It is much easier to use than implied and is quite user friendly. The PRIME noise reduction is simply amazing. It eliminates noise with hardly any loss of fine resolution and combined with the simultaneous USM doesn't introduce the artefacts I see with PS.  My software plans are to keep updated with DxO and keep PS CS6 for routine work with processing. But, the PRIME is oh so slow, taking about 4 minutes per FF raw on my MacBook retina Pro. Has anyone found a way of speeding it up?

Lenses / Re: Canon 400mm f/5.6 L
« on: December 16, 2013, 01:02:38 PM »
I think you have misinterpreted the figures: the test for the 400mm f/2.8 shows that it is about as good as you can get. The 400mm f/5.6 is not as sharp.

Lenses / Re: Canon 400mm f/5.6 L
« on: December 15, 2013, 05:49:39 PM »
You are absolutely right that there is real and significant copy to copy variation between lenses. I have a very good copy of the 100-400, but have just been offered another copy that is unbelievably sharp. Trouble is that 400mm is now too short for me, and I have got used to the 300mm f/2.8 II with TCs.

Lenses / Re: Canon 400mm f/5.6 L
« on: December 15, 2013, 12:38:41 PM »
This what the difference in MTFs of the 400 f/2.8 II at f/2.8 (top) and the 400 f/5.6 at f/5.6 (bottom) mean in practice as measured by SLRgear's blur tests.

Lenses / Re: Canon 400mm f/5.6 L
« on: December 13, 2013, 02:00:55 PM »
Another link of interest on this topic - Roger at Lensrentals measured all of the 400mm lenses recently - scroll down to "Imatest Results":

You'll notice that the 400 5.6 holds it's own against the big boys

It holds it own in the same way as someone coming 3rd in the 100m a second behind the winner.

Lenses / Re: Canon 400mm f/5.6 L
« on: December 12, 2013, 05:00:57 PM »
Arthur Morris is the doyen of bird photographers. For many years, the 400 f/5.6 was his "favourite toy" lens. Here is a typical quote from his blog:


Which is a better lens, the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS zoom lens, or the 400mm f/5.6L lens?
I'm asked this question almost every day (sometimes more than once) -- either in person, on-line, or by phone. I always answer it with a question, "Do you want to use the lens primarily for bird photography?"
If yes, then the straight 400 is clearly the lens for you. It is the world�s best flight lens. It is lighter than the 100-400 zoom. It costs less. It will give sharper results with the 1.4X teleconverter than the 1-4 zoom. The speed of initial focus acquisition is unmatched. When used with an EOS 3 body and mounted on a fairly sturdy tripod, you'll have a great starter outfit for bird photography -- a sharp 560mm f/8 lens with functioning autofocus.

But, a few years later comes this confession:


Confession #1: Though I still consider it the best lens in the world for photographing birds in flight (see FAQs on web site for details), I no longer carry my beloved "toy lens"--the Canon 400mm f/5.6 L--on my shoulder as my auxiliary intermediate telephoto. It has been replaced by the Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L Image Stabilizer zoom lens. I have been using the 1-4 more and more every day and--contrary to some reports from other users--have been making razor sharp images at all focal lengths with wide open to moderately stopped down apertures. In addition, I have it used it wide open, handheld with the 1.4X tele-converter with excellent results (with static subjects) at 560mm. For bird photography, the versatility of this lens is unmatched; I find myself making images that I would never even have thought of before--especially of groups of birds in their surroundings. And though it is heavier than the 400 f/5.6L, it is also a superb flight lens. At Bosque Del Apache NWR late this fall, I used the 1-4 on a tripod before sunrise for "bird-scapes" and then again almost exclusively for the spectacular blast-offs. I only wish that the zoom were a bit smoother. I am even considering selling one of my 400 f/5.6s; I never ever thought that I'd  say that when the 1-4 first came out.....

In my opinion, it is simply preposterous that Canon still makes a 400mm lens without IS. When I want a 400, I put the 1.4xTC on my 300mm f/2.8 II. It's expensive but not too heavy, and four stops of IS make all the difference in use. Or, I take the 100-400mm when weight and size are concerns or I need a zoom. What's the pint of carrying a lightweight lens if you have also to carry a tripod to get the best out of it?

Lenses / Re: Canon 400mm f/5.6 L
« on: December 11, 2013, 10:30:30 AM »
   I have this 400mm lens, but I seldom use it.  It is very sharp.  The numbers on it are right up there with the $10, 000 lenses. 

It is simply not true that the numbers are up there with the $10,000 lenses. The 400mm f/5.6 is a very good lens, but use one of the big whites and you see immediately how sharp is a really superb lens. I sold my 400mm f/5.6L after I bought a Sigma apo 400mm f/5.6L tele macro for £120. It's sharper than the Canon in the Photozone MTF measurements and also in my experience. For cropping the centre portions, my 100-400 was as good as my 400 L.

Here is a comparison of the 100-400 L with the 400 L, combined from various sources.

Lenses / Re: Do You Take Better Pics with Primes?
« on: December 07, 2013, 01:11:13 PM »
I'm increasingly finding that a 'classic' combination of wide-to-normal primes and tele-zooms works best for me. Given enough light I like to work with my 24-105 though, especially for events and holidays. In any case it's December - dark and miserable, it's 'prime' season to get the most out of the little light available.

I agree with what others said: primes force you to think more about what you're doing. Beforehand, even. Good shots follow from good preparation.

Opposite for me. I need the sharpest possible telephotos for big cropping of nature photos, and zoom moderate wide to moderate teles for general carry around.

Lenses / Re: Patent: Canon EF 300-600 f/5.6 w/1.4x TC
« on: December 07, 2013, 12:02:29 PM »
Why? It's unlikely to be as good as the old 100-400 at 400, and probably much worse than a new 100-400mm II, and even less likely to be seen.

i don't see why ? the actual 70-300 f4-5.6 IS is way better than the 100-400 ! and the new 100-400 II still not exists and might never exists ;)

Because the current relatively new 70-300 L with a 1.4xTC at 420mm is not nearly as good as the old 100-400mm - see


Lenses / Re: Patent: Canon EF 300-600 f/5.6 w/1.4x TC
« on: December 06, 2013, 03:49:49 PM »
Now they handle the technic, Canon might think about a line of zooms with built in converter

i would like to see a 70-300 f/4 IS with x1.4

Why? It's unlikely to be as good as the old 100-400 at 400, and probably much worse than a new 100-400mm II, and even less likely to be seen.

Lenses / Re: Patent: Canon EF 300-600 f/5.6 w/1.4x TC
« on: December 06, 2013, 02:17:20 PM »

<li>Teleconference insertion</li>

I like the idea of being able to insert a Teleconference. If we all get one, then we could confer over each shot.

It would be fun to test an SX50 body adapted so it would fit on to a 300mm f/2.8 to give an effective fov of 1675mm or, in terms of pixel size 1200mm. Using the sharpest Canon lens at f/2.8, instead of the f/6.5 of the SX50 zoom (which has a true focal length of 215mm) might give some interesting insights.

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