September 18, 2014, 02:15:41 PM

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Messages - johnf3f

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I have 2 mono pods and find them both to be excellent for their designed purposes. The small one is a Gitzo GM2541, rather pricey but very strong and ridiculously light - also I don't think it will ever need replacing. The other is a Sirui P424. Not quite as well made as the Gitzo but more reasonably priced, pretty light and holds anything - this is what I use for my Canon 800mm.
I am not a fan of heads on mono pods but where I need significant vertical movement I use the Sirui L10 head which is pretty good with lenses up to a 300 F2.8 + a pro body.
If the Gitzo is too expensive then have a look at the Sirui P324 (my P424 is simply more than you need) as it is a fine robust mono pod that is reasonably light and not silly money.
You may notice that neither of my mono pods have flip locks (neither do my tripods) there is a reason for that - I have used flip locks in the past and do not consider them suitable/trustworthy for tripods and mono pods. Both the Gitzo and Sirui twist locks are far superior and much easier to use, as well as being MUCH more secure.

EOS Bodies - For Stills / Re: Lens to body pairing
« on: August 19, 2014, 03:36:52 PM »
I was at the Weston Super Mare show and go to the Swansea show as well. These are similar coastal events. I use a full frame camera with a Canon 300mm F2.8 L IS for the larger aircraft and add a 2 x Mk3 extender for the small aircraft (or a 1.4 if I am near the center of the flight line). Your 70-200 will give you excellent results but bring along the Sigma for when it's too short. You will have plenty of time to change lenses so I would suggest just taking the 7D.

Canon General / Re: What is your Least Used Piece of Gear?
« on: August 03, 2014, 07:30:41 PM »
My 70-200 F2.8 L IS - simply don't use these focal lengths!

I've quickly checked my camera bag, and it seems there's a spot just big enough to fit YOUR 70-200mm!  :P :P :P :P :P

If you live in the UK send me a PM.

Canon General / Re: What is your Least Used Piece of Gear?
« on: August 02, 2014, 06:21:37 PM »
My 70-200 F2.8 L IS - simply don't use these focal lengths!

Lenses / Re: Teleconverter for 100mm 2.8l
« on: August 02, 2014, 06:16:14 PM »
I use both the Canon 1.4 Mk2 and 2 x Mk3 extenders on my Canon 100 F2.8 Macro with excellent results. I use a 13mm extension tube and manual focus, well who doesn't for static macro subjects? A longer Macro lens may be a better solution but the extenders cost little IQ and have many other uses as well as being cheaper.
I don't see your problem - perhaps I have missed something?

Lenses / Re: 300mm f/2.8 L IS II - what do you use it for?
« on: July 29, 2014, 02:09:46 PM »
I have the Mk1 version + extenders and find it very adaptable and flexible. However for almost everything I do I find the Canon 800 F5.6 is much better (except for mobility).
Surely the question is what do you want. For many applications the 300 F2.8 is the Dogs dangly bits but for many other uses it is not. Just because the 800mm is my most liked/used lens doesn't mean it's the one for you, same with the 300mm.
What are you after?

Lenses / Re: Going native at 400mm
« on: July 24, 2014, 06:12:57 PM »
Looking at your list I have owned/do own all of them (though mine were Mk1 versions) bar the 400 DO and the 400 F5.6 both of which I have used a fair bit.
The 400 F5.6 is probably the most popular choice due to it's combination of price, reach, quality and light weight. F5.6 can be limiting, depending on your camera, though this should rarely be a problem with your 5D3.
The 400 F2.8 (any version) is simply stunning - but big heavy and expensive. The pre IS versions are now pretty reasonable but even heavier!
400 DO - approach with caution! I have tried 3 examples. Two were simply stunning with excellent sharpness and detail (certainly better than my (then) 600 F4 L IS Mk1, the third was distinctly average and not worth the money. Try before you buy!
I have not been convinced by 70-200 F2.8 lenses with extenders - though others seem happy with them.
The 2 300mm lenses are my personal favorites. The F4 is light, cheap and gives excellent quality. The IS is a bit old and clunky but it works well for fairly static subjects. I didn't bother much with the 1.4 extender as on either a 1D4 or a 1DX this lens allows a lot of cropping before the image suffers too much. Unfortunately I couldn't justify keeping mine when I bought the F2.8 version!
The 300 F2.8 is the best option in my opinion. Yes it is fairly heavy, far from cheap and you will end up using extenders much of the time. However, as a bare lens it outperforms pretty much anything and works exceptionally well with extenders (especially the Mk3 versions). if the price is a bit scary then have a look at the Mk1 IS version as it gives up very little to the Mk2 and is cheaper. Having recently had quite a long play with the Mk2 version (4 days ago) I am not thinking of "upgrading" to the Mk2, it is better but it is barely noticeable and not worth the extra to me.

Hope some of the above helps.

Software & Accessories / Re: Gitzo GT3330LS
« on: July 16, 2014, 04:56:06 PM »
I have the Carbon Fiber version (3530LS) and find it to be an excellent tripod for any, production, Canon lens. Mine normally has a Canon 800 F5.6 L IS sat on top of it. I have not used the aluminium version but I expect it would be very good - just a bit heavier.

I have now tried 3 different 400 DO lenses.
I would have ditched my 300 F2.8 in a heartbeat for the first 2 - but they were too expensive! True colours and contrast were slightly muted , but the sharpness and resolution put my (then) 600 F4 to shame - without moving closer for the shorter focal length. Frankly I was amazed at the lenses as they were so good at the things I thought they would be poor at!
Recently I got the opportunity to buy another example at a very reasonable price so I jumped at the opportunity. It was at a local nature reserve so I had the chance to try a few live subjects compared to my 300 F2.8 IS Mk1 both with and without extenders. Now I was amazed in the opposite direction, the 400 DO was good but couldn't live with my 300 F2.8??
The moral is try before you buy. I didn't know they varied so much!

I would be wary of using a wax based product as this may affect the leg locks. I could be wrong but I would hate to be right!
I have 3 carbon Gitzos - all are consistently fed a diet of almost complete neglect and they thrive on it!

Yup it looks like I am a fair weather shooter!
To be out and about at dawn here I would be getting up just after I went to bed!

John, that is a lot of shots, but it's not hard to do with the 1D X.  I find myself constantly trying not to take too many photos with that camera - otherwise editing them down is a real chore.

As for the IS, I know we've discussed this before and at 1/2000s IS is pointless for sure, but most of my shots are in very dim light where I'm getting 1/30-1/60s at ISO6400, so IS is the difference between getting the shot or not.  The Mk II IS is rated to 4 stops, and I've gotten that even with the 2x III extender attached.  The new IS Mode 3, where IS kicks in when the shutter closes is great for birds in flight because it doesn't mess with focus or the viewfinder image.

I loved the 800mm, particularly on a monopod with IS, and I almost gave into the purchase during the last refurb sale, but unfortunately my wife knows how much it costs and an irate wife isn't a pretty thing ;)

You are quite correct I did go a bit silly - but then I don't often get to airshows!
When shooting wildlife, these days, I find that I am taking far fewer shots and being much more selective. As a result I have dramatically reduced my workflow and am ending up with better "Keepers".
Perhaps I am a Fair weather shooter or just not very good at post processing! But if the light isn't decent then I tend not to shoot. One of the reasons that I am so enamored of the 1DX is that what I used to consider as poor light is now good with this camera - though even the 1DX has it's limitations!

You know you want one - just do it!
The only question is which one. To me there are only two choices, either the 800mm or 600mm, I suppose you could include the 500mm for mobility.
Many people go on about lenses being too long - this is the opposite of my experience, in fact on only 2 occasions has my 800mm proved too long normally it's too short!

I most definitely would go for the 300 f/2.8 IS II because it's not too heavy of a monster and you have the option of extending its range using tele converters. Such a lens would have to get a lot of use from me, and I usually don't have a need for 400mm plus.

I have the 300 F2.8 but, unfortunately, it get far less use than my 800 F5.6 L. The 300 is a great lens and very portable, plus it works well with extenders. The 800 is just better for my uses.
John, I saw your post in another thread about the 800 even being too short for you many times. I did a CPS loan of the 800 a couple of years ago and found that to be the case, too, even on a 7D.  I thought the 800 would solve all of my problems by getting me close, but that's when I realized I really need a 2000mm to get those shots!  And as such, that's when I decided to change my approach (literally) to wildlife and work on getting closer to them for the shot.  The 300mm (with or without extenders) turned out to be the perfect lens for that purpose because of it's small size & weight, and the IS in the Mk II is so good, I have stopped using a monopod, let alone a tripod for most things.  Some other members on the forum and Canon Explorer of Light Art Morris (see his related blog posts here) is also finding this lens + extenders combination to be well suited for his work, so I'm not alone in my opinion.  Obviously it's not for everyone, but if you can live without 601mm+ or the convenience of the 200-400 1.4x, it's a nice set up for everything from sports to wildlife, especially with the 1D X and 5DIII.

The 300 F2.8 (Mk1 or Mk2) is a superb lens and really does well with extenders. I am more than happy with the performance of my 300 F2.8 IS Mk1 with my 2 x Mk3 extender. A few weeks ago I took 2400+ shots at an Air Display (sorry I got a bit carried away!) - my 300 F2.8 both with and without the 2 x extender, on my 1DX, did not miss focus on a single shot! IQ was excellent also.
However for my main pastime (small birds) the 800 F5.6 gives me better results and faster AF. As to getting closer I am normally shooting between  20 and 40 feet. I have to admit though the 300mm wins hands down if I need mobility!
I am interested in your comment on the Mk2 IS. My 300 has 2 stop IS and the 800 4 stop IS however I nearly always have it turned off as it improves the AF performance and, with the 1DX, shutter speed is rarely an issue. In fact the only time I have used my IS (on any lens) this year was once when hand holding my 800mm and then it was only to steady the image in the viewfinder! Shutter speed was 1/2000 sec so IS wouldn't help the image but it did help me get the focus point where I wanted!

Just my 2p!
Personally I am not convinced by the latest Gitzo Systematics. I do like the new clamping method that eliminates the need to carry a wrench. However, aside from that I am not impressed with the larger bulk and increase in both weight and price. Whilst the 2542 is definitely an advance over any previous 2 series it weighs the same (I checked) as my Gitzo 3530LS which I feel is a better tripod and was much less expensive.
The new safety system (to stop the top plate coming off) is of no relevance to me as I keep top plates attached to the heads that I use on my systematics - the older model Top Plates can be found pretty cheaply. This means that they are tightened every time they are used so cannot work loose over time.
I am not knocking the new Gitzo Systematics - they are superb, I just don't find them much of an advance over the previous range.

Canon General / Re: What's Would You Keep? [The anti-G.A.S. thread]
« on: July 11, 2014, 02:14:22 PM »
If I really HAD to get rid of almost everything then I would keep my 1DX and 800 F5.6 L, if I was allowed I would also keep my 24-105 (which I use occasionally) - the 1DX is virtually glued to the 800!

Dam...bird shooter  ;D

Not just birds! Any wildlife really + landscapes (24-105).
A friend of mine is currently doing a very interesting landscape series with his 600 F4 and 1D4 - I might copy his idea! These very long lenses give a distinctly different perspective for landscapes but are not very portable - unfortunately so subjects have to be chosen carefully!

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