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Author Topic: "Affordable" telephoto lens for wildlife  (Read 15535 times)

neuroanatomist

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Re: "Affordable" telephoto lens for wildlife
« Reply #30 on: November 01, 2012, 08:22:27 AM »
I'm not sure what times of day that you intend to do your shooting, but I found that sometimes a faster lens is absolutely critical.  I bought my 70-200 f/2.8 II because my 70-200 f/4 IS was not fast enough in early dawn light to capture the raptors in my area before they left the nest to hunt.

That also depends on the body. An f/2.8 lens on a 7D shot at ISO 3200 wil have more noise in the inage than an f/4 lens on a 5DIII shot at ISO 8000.  The ~1.5-stop better ISO performance actually more than makes up for the loss of that stop in the lens.
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Re: "Affordable" telephoto lens for wildlife
« Reply #30 on: November 01, 2012, 08:22:27 AM »

Eimajm

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Re: "Affordable" telephoto lens for wildlife
« Reply #31 on: November 01, 2012, 08:45:05 AM »
The 7D with 400 f5.6 is a good combination. I don't find that a lack of IS is too much of an issue, if you are shooting from a hide I use a tripod, down to 1/250 I can get sharp shots with a tripod. Your limited by the quick movement of the birds anyways so often need a higher shutter speed to freeze movement. Shooting handheld with a slow or stationary subject it where you'll find the benefit of IS.

Have a look at my Birds set of Flickr to see the results of this combination. http://www.flickr.com/photos/eimajm/sets/72157624573654777/

If you really want IS 100-400 is a popular lens, and good for general wildlife/nature due to the zoom, but more expensive that the 400 bare.

Have fun with whatever you decide.

triggermike

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Re: "Affordable" telephoto lens for wildlife
« Reply #32 on: November 01, 2012, 08:46:46 AM »
The title of the thread is "affordable" for wildlife - this limits the choices to likely the 100-400L, 400 5.6L or 70-200 f4L.
I have the 70-200 f4L IS and it is without a doubt one fantastic lens - but it is unacceptable for servo focusing on in-flight birds or other fast moving subjects.
Of the other 2 choices, the 400 f5.6 would be my choice for the application requested because of its light weight, maneuverability and very fast AF/servo. You will rarely, if ever, find yourself having to "back-off" because you're too close to something with a 400mm fixed lens for wildlife - on the contrary, you will still be performing post cropping even on a crop-body camera. I reach for this lens more than 50% of the time for various uses such as birds-in-flight, general wildlife and action such as surfing, kite surfing, etc.
Here's a couple wildlife images taken with the 400mm f5.6L . . .

miah

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Re: "Affordable" telephoto lens for wildlife
« Reply #33 on: November 01, 2012, 09:57:43 AM »
Nice bird shots, triggermike, can you tell us if in taking them you hand held or used a tripod with your 400 f5.6? Either way, what's your overall take on IS vs no IS with this lens and why do you prefer it over the 100-400L?
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The Bad Duck

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Re: "Affordable" telephoto lens for wildlife
« Reply #34 on: November 01, 2012, 10:14:39 AM »
Not having used any of these lenses (except for a few exposures with the 400 /5.6) but having read a lot of reviews my take on the subject is:

I would also say 400 /5.6.

Shutterspeeds for birds should be high anyway, and IS would not make a huge difference. Glass is very sharp, colours are great and contrasty.

Second choise would be 100-400 because of IS, if you would like to use the lens for other things than wildlife. This is also a sharp lens, but lacks contrast compared to the 400 prime.

Third choise, and IMO the best choise if budget allows , is Sigma 120-300 /2.8 OS (there is a new version comming out that should have better AF because of a focus limiter but no reviews yet). That baby takes 2x converters while keeping AF on non pro bodies. You can do the math but I really enjoy writing 600 /5.6 OS so much that I write it anyway. 600 /5.6 OS. Oh and it seems (some of you are going to hate me for stating this) that if you need more focal lenght this lens is a better choise than 70-200 /2.8 + 1.4 or 2.0 extender, unless you compare in the far corners. This is because you are always one stop faster >200 mm and that usually gives better pictures when photographing birds in flight. Also, at approx. 300 mm you have the 1.4x on the 70-200 but no extender on the 120-300, @ 300-400 mm you have the 2x extender on the 70-200 and start to take a hit while you only have the much better 1.4x on the 120-300. Then of course, @> 400 mm the Sigma goes on for another 200 mm up to 600mm, something the 70-200 can not do.

so @ focal lengths of 70-200 the canon wins, on all other they are tied or the sigma is better, then > 400 mm the canon is out. And reach is king for birds.

This argument comes from my studies of sample shots at

http://the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/ISO-12233-Sample-Crops.aspx?Lens=803&Camera=453&Sample=0&FLI=0&API=0&LensComp=687&CameraComp=0&FLIComp=0&APIComp=0

You may not come to the same conclution and I will not defend my statement in endless debate. We all have our favourites and criterias for what will make "the perfect lens". A drawback on the Sigma is its bulk and weight - making it unsuteble for portraits and events where the 70-200 shines.

The Sigma is probably my next lens, btw.

good luck with your choise.


triggermike

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Re: "Affordable" telephoto lens for wildlife
« Reply #35 on: November 01, 2012, 10:30:37 AM »
Both handheld, though the owl shot was done while laying on the ground (still plenty of light.)
As one of the previous posters noted, when photographing moving objects, a faster shutter speed is required - thus IS doesn't really play into the process (unless you happen to get a nice, even panning situation like cars or land animal?)
I have not really found times when I couldn't use this lens. For still wildlife, especially when far away (like an eagles nest or something like that) I usually use a tripod anyways with a remote release. I use this lens for watersports as well with great results . . .

vargyropoulos

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Re: "Affordable" telephoto lens for wildlife
« Reply #36 on: November 01, 2012, 11:23:08 AM »
I'd like to also state that all the images posted on this thread are amazing - thanks to all who shared!

for birds and small animals I end up doing a lot of cropping at 300mm so I suspect that I will be shooting at 400mm more often than not. I do shoot other type of photography (macro being my favorite) so I am covered on shorter focal lengths (my 100L macro is my goto lens lately for portraits of people and insects....).

from what I have seen here, the 400mm5.6 is starting to look like my next lens, but I will not make any purchase until I've had a chance to shoot all of the previously mentioned lenses at my local store... also need to wait for things to get back to normal after Sandy's aftermath here in new york.

of course like most of the folks on this forum, I do hope that one day I end up with a "complete set" of bodies and lenses but other priorities do come first as this is a hobby for me and not a profession.

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Re: "Affordable" telephoto lens for wildlife
« Reply #36 on: November 01, 2012, 11:23:08 AM »

vargyropoulos

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Re: "Affordable" telephoto lens for wildlife
« Reply #37 on: November 01, 2012, 01:05:51 PM »
yes, I agree... I currently shoot a rebelXT (8MP from 2005) so anything is an upgrade. I did try the 5D3 with the 24-70 (original) on the same Canon program this past summer and I found the image quality to be excellent at ISO 3200 and minimal noise at 6400.

too bad the 5d3 is on a roller coaster ride with these prices....

Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: "Affordable" telephoto lens for wildlife
« Reply #38 on: November 01, 2012, 01:26:37 PM »
Depends on what you shoot - and when.  In good light, or with fast subjects, not having IS isn't an issue. I often don't have enough light for 400mm f/5.6, 1/640 s at ISO 3200 on a 7D - being able to use 1/250 s handheld is a big deal...for me. 

As for reach, OP mentions raptors in fall/winter. You can never have enough reach. I'm now at 1200mm f/8 and still cropping sometimes.
+1
You can't have a lens that is too long for birds and wildlife unless you are shooting in a zoo.  Light is the big issue.  I use my 580 EX II plus a Better beamer.  It makes a huge difference when in shadows or low light.
http://www.naturescapes.net/store/visual-echoes/
Here is a image with the better beamer in good light, it elimated the shadow which otherwise covered the birds head.
1. Fill light with Better Beamer in relatively good light, 100-400mmL at 400mm

 

wickidwombat

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Re: "Affordable" telephoto lens for wildlife
« Reply #39 on: November 01, 2012, 06:55:05 PM »
depending on your definition of "Affordable"
the sigma 120-300 f2.8 looks awesome i'm waiting for the new one though

if thats too steep the canon 300 f4L IS is really great even if its old the IS makes clunk noises but its still a very nice lens and can be found reasonably cheaply second hand I only paid $800 for mine!
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pj1974

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Re: "Affordable" telephoto lens for wildlife
« Reply #40 on: November 01, 2012, 10:46:47 PM »
There is definitely a big difference between AF systems of cameras.

If you get to know how to use the 7D's AF system - it's much more capable than the XXD line (faster, more in challenging listing, more AF points).  The XXXD and XXXXD lines are even more limited in terms of AF capability.

Also, there is a big difference between 70-300mm nonL and 70-300mm L in terms of sharpness, contrast, focus speed / consistency AND IS.  The L is noticeably superior in every regard.  Also, though there have been a few 70-300mm L dud lens copies (eg as tested by SLRgear) - but in general, compared to the 100-400mm L, the 70-300mm L is better in AF speed and also has the edge in sharpness / contrast.

I'd definitely love to have a 600mm L II and a 2x teleconv with a camera that can do f/8 AF in some situations.... but hey, then it's not going to be an 'affordable' price!  However having said that, for some reason I seem to get closer to some birds than a lot of people say... eg I even have cropped with small birds at times.  Ok, not every bird!!

All the best.

Paul
I'm not a brand-fanatic. What I do appreciate is using my 7D and 350D cameras along with a host of lenses & many accessories to capture quality photos, and share with friends.

Greatland

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Re: "Affordable" telephoto lens for wildlife
« Reply #41 on: November 01, 2012, 11:16:29 PM »
I think that you should look into the Canon 400 f4 lens...light and the optics are very nice and you don't have to sell everything to get it!

Greatland

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Re: "Affordable" telephoto lens for wildlife
« Reply #42 on: November 01, 2012, 11:17:36 PM »
Oops, I meant the 5.6

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Re: "Affordable" telephoto lens for wildlife
« Reply #42 on: November 01, 2012, 11:17:36 PM »

vargyropoulos

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Re: "Affordable" telephoto lens for wildlife
« Reply #43 on: November 02, 2012, 11:11:36 AM »
There is definitely a big difference between AF systems of cameras.
,,,
Also, there is a big difference between 70-300mm nonL and 70-300mm L
...

hi Paul,

agreed on both points. for the body I am looking at the 5D3 if the "price roller coaster" settles in favorable grounds... this will be my body of choice... if the 5D3 is not in the cards then the 7D will be it.

I have not tried the L version of the 70-300 but based on your images and feedback, I will definitely check it out at my local store.

Thanks,
Vasilis

vargyropoulos

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Re: "Affordable" telephoto lens for wildlife
« Reply #44 on: November 02, 2012, 11:15:03 AM »
...
You can't have a lens that is too long for birds and wildlife unless you are shooting in a zoo.  Light is the big issue.  I use my 580 EX II plus a Better beamer.  It makes a huge difference when in shadows or low light.
...

This is a very interesting accessory... if it works with a 430exII then it will get added to my kit, thanks for the tip and nice bird portrait!

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Re: "Affordable" telephoto lens for wildlife
« Reply #44 on: November 02, 2012, 11:15:03 AM »