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Author Topic: Cheap Canon 300mm or 400mm do I Choose?  (Read 5218 times)

PhotoShine

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Cheap Canon 300mm or 400mm do I Choose?
« on: March 01, 2013, 12:04:31 AM »
I currently own FF and focal lengths 85mm and below

I was looking at Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM and EF 300mm f/4L IS USM to use for outdoor events.  what is your experiences and advice. . . handheld, IQ, aperture difference, IS difference, etc.

I want the 400mm but the f5.6 and having no IS pushes me toward the 300mm.

Thanks for your help
« Last Edit: March 01, 2013, 12:34:32 AM by PhotoShine »

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Cheap Canon 300mm or 400mm do I Choose?
« on: March 01, 2013, 12:04:31 AM »

CarlTN

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Re: Cheap Canon 300mm or 400mm
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2013, 12:44:21 AM »
I've rented both.  The 400 is a bit sharper, but the 300 combined with a 1.4x TC would be ok...however, best of all would be a 100-400 zoom.  It gives you the convenience of zoom, it gives you the same amount of IS as the 300 (2 stops)...and it very likely is close to, if not equal to, the sharpness of the 300 with 1.4x converter.  The 300 alone is a bit sharper and a lot faster aperture than the zoom.

It really depends also on what you will be shooting, in how much light...and how fast the subject is moving.

The only downside to the 100-400 that I have seen, is that its zoom "pumping" action tends to pump dust inside the lens.  If you will be shooting in very dusty conditions, that alone would make me not want that zoom.

The 400 Canon prime lens, is difficult to use in less than very bright light, due to the lack of IS.  I was however able to make it autofocus accurately in extremely dark light, but my camera's ISO quality wasn't up to the task.

I decided to order a Sigma 120-400 just today.  I think, assuming I can get a good copy (and based on the pictures I have seen online), that the sharpness will be very comparable to the Canon zoom, for half the price.  If however, I can't get a copy that doesn't have focus issues or other problems, I will work toward getting something else.

I hope Sigma or Canon will make a new lens category at some point.  Such as an f/3.5 300, an f/5 400, or a zoom with limited range but fast aperture, such as a 250-450 f/5, or 200-350 f/4.5...all of which with stabilization.  It's kind of annoying that telephoto lenses go from the $1500 range, to the $3500-$13,000 range...with nothing in between.

TexPhoto

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Re: Cheap Canon 300mm or 400mm do I Choose?
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2013, 12:52:04 AM »
The 300 IS f4 is a great lens, and works really nicely with a 1.4X Extender to become a 420mm f5.6. Love mine. 


helpful

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Re: Cheap Canon 300mm or 400mm do I Choose?
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2013, 12:57:24 AM »
Are you shooting baseball and doing it mostly in the daylight? Go with the 400mm f/5.6. It will do much better for baseball outdoors.

If you want a general purpose lens, then the 300mm with IS and f/4 would be better. But there is no way to get the same reach out of the 300mm f/4 lens without reducing the image quality significantly below the quality of the raw 400mm lens. In terms of megapixels, the 400mm lens offers about 77% higher resolution at the same distance compared to the 300mm lens, plus a slight sharpness advantage on top of that.

However, unless you are desperate now is probably not the time for either one. I have a feeling that at least one of them will be replaced, perhaps both, with new and much improved versions.
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wickidwombat

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Re: Cheap Canon 300mm or 400mm do I Choose?
« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2013, 01:08:08 AM »
The 300 IS f4 is a great lens, and works really nicely with a 1.4X Extender to become a 420mm f5.6. Love mine.

Ditto, its a really nicely balanced light lens too

here is a 100% crop of the 300f4L with a 2x TC on wide open on 5Dmk3

so 600mm f8
with a 1.4TC its sharper
and bare lens is very sharp
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CarlTN

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Re: Cheap Canon 300mm or 400mm do I Choose?
« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2013, 01:44:08 AM »
Helpful, that's good advice.

Wombat, nice crop.  I too combined the 2x with the 300.  I found it to be decent but not "tack sharp" in the image center...but it also had some odd waviness outside the center.  I posted a shot of a jet at altitude in another thread at 600mm. 

PhotoShine

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Re: Cheap Canon 300mm or 400mm do I Choose?
« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2013, 02:08:00 AM »
Are you shooting baseball and doing it mostly in the daylight? Go with the 400mm f/5.6. It will do much better for baseball outdoors.

If you want a general purpose lens, then the 300mm with IS and f/4 would be better. But there is no way to get the same reach out of the 300mm f/4 lens without reducing the image quality significantly below the quality of the raw 400mm lens. In terms of megapixels, the 400mm lens offers about 77% higher resolution at the same distance compared to the 300mm lens, plus a slight sharpness advantage on top of that.

However, unless you are desperate now is probably not the time for either one. I have a feeling that at least one of them will be replaced, perhaps both, with new and much improved versions.

I won't be using this lens (300mm or 400mm) for any sports. 

I do see a noticeable better sharpness in 400mm by ISO 12233.

Does the 400mm f/5.6 not having IS much trouble outdoors if handheld vs 300mm f/4 IS?
« Last Edit: March 01, 2013, 02:15:10 AM by PhotoShine »

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Re: Cheap Canon 300mm or 400mm do I Choose?
« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2013, 02:08:00 AM »

Rat

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Re: Cheap Canon 300mm or 400mm do I Choose?
« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2013, 02:53:20 AM »
Never mind the shooting, IS is great when composing images. I won't buy telelenses without it anymore, and I would not get the 400 for that reason.

But may I ask why, if you haven't more than 85mm of reach, you're not considering one of the 70-200's? Insanely sharp, brilliant IS, about your price range if you choose the f/4IS. With a 1.4TC you have a 280/5.6 IS lens that is only lacking a bit in corner sharpness if you ask me. OK, maybe a little more than a bit if you take a mark II TC... AF speed is significantly lower though.
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PhotoShine

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Re: Cheap Canon 300mm or 400mm do I Choose?
« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2013, 03:13:32 AM »
Never mind the shooting, IS is great when composing images. I won't buy telelenses without it anymore, and I would not get the 400 for that reason.

But may I ask why, if you haven't more than 85mm of reach, you're not considering one of the 70-200's? Insanely sharp, brilliant IS, about your price range if you choose the f/4IS. With a 1.4TC you have a 280/5.6 IS lens that is only lacking a bit in corner sharpness if you ask me. OK, maybe a little more than a bit if you take a mark II TC... AF speed is significantly lower though.

wildlife (less time) and events outdoors (more time).

I was think EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM for the events and a 300mm or 400mm for wildlife (mostly zoo for now). Any of these three focal lengths i will use.  I'm just not sure.

Mr Bean

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Re: Cheap Canon 300mm or 400mm do I Choose?
« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2013, 04:13:27 AM »
I love my 300 f4L IS. A great sized lens, which is tack sharp. I use it for bird pic's (at the moment), and its a nice balance (on the 5D3). About to buy the 1.4 TC III for that extra reach.
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CanNotYet

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Re: Cheap Canon 300mm or 400mm
« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2013, 04:59:59 AM »
I hope Sigma or Canon will make a new lens category at some point.  Such as an f/3.5 300, an f/5 400, or a zoom with limited range but fast aperture, such as a 250-450 f/5, or 200-350 f/4.5...all of which with stabilization.  It's kind of annoying that telephoto lenses go from the $1500 range, to the $3500-$13,000 range...with nothing in between.

I am thinking Tamron might step up here. They now have VC and USD capable enough for this area. A good way to differentiate themselves from Sigma/Canon would be to provide some new combinations of fast primes, like 250mm f/2.5, 350mm f/3.5, and 450mm f/4.5... They would probably end up in the space 2-5k$ (keeping my fingers crossed) :)

bwfishing

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Re: Cheap Canon 300mm or 400mm do I Choose?
« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2013, 06:21:06 AM »
Why not just rent a lens or lenses see which one fits you best? For example: I didn't really care for the 100-400mm, but I understand others may enjoy it and is a wonderful tool for them. Sigma 100-300mm f/4 from what I hear is good as well. For the zoo I may choose a zoom lens over a prime. Like the Canon 70-300mm L or the 70-200mm L. Also would consider if I was renting a prime lens EF 400mm f/4 DO IS USM (around 4.bls) it is heavy maybe a pound or so than the 300mm or 400mm (around 3.bls), but it has IS and it's 400mm at f/4.

I understand the 400mm is sharper than the 300mm and I usually want more reach went capturing BIF, but if your not just capturing birds then the 300mm would be my choice. The lack of IS on the 400mm generally not a problem, but in a zoo environment it could be with some of the exhibits with not as strong lighting and if the subject is too far away for flash. I've not used Flash X-Tender (Better Beamer Flash Output Booster) at the zoo before. Also a monopod may help too, but again I usually rent before going to an event to see if the lens will work for me or not.

(Different subject) Another item I might use at the zoo is lenskirt on the glass enclosers to prevent reflections and glare and certainly a shorter/wider focal length.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2013, 01:34:05 PM by bwfishing »

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Re: Cheap Canon 300mm or 400mm do I Choose?
« Reply #12 on: March 01, 2013, 08:13:08 AM »
Does it have to be a prime?  The 300 f/4 is a very good lens, but it's barely distinguishable, if at all, from the 70-300L, which has better IS, is superbly built and, is obviously more versatile.  I would also consider the Sigma 50-500 OS, which is about as sharp as the 100-400L but has smoother bokeh and better stabilization.  Ideally you could do what I did and rent first (after renting the 300 f/4, 100-400 L and Sigma, I bought the Sigma and the 70-300 L; you might, of course, decide otherwise).

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Re: Cheap Canon 300mm or 400mm do I Choose?
« Reply #12 on: March 01, 2013, 08:13:08 AM »

AlanF

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Re: Cheap Canon 300mm or 400mm do I Choose?
« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2013, 08:20:40 AM »
The 100-400mm L needs an update to it's IS and the dust issue is a deal killer, but it would be the easy choice if not for the issues.
Many of us have used the 100-400mm without any dust problem - it seems to be an urban myth, which may affect a few users. As pointed out by Neuro, the dust problems should be no worse than other lenses that change length during zooming, such as 24-105 etc. The IS is not bad - although described as 2 stops, it seems to be a fraction better than that. Two good stops of IS are certainly much better than having none on the 400mm f/5.6!

The Sigma 50-500mm is very soft at long focal lengths - see the tests in the-digital-picture.com.

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neuroanatomist

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Re: Cheap Canon 300mm or 400mm do I Choose?
« Reply #14 on: March 01, 2013, 09:41:04 AM »
wildlife (less time) and events outdoors (more time).

I was think EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM for the events and a 300mm or 400mm for wildlife (mostly zoo for now). Any of these three focal lengths i will use.  I'm just not sure.
Really, it does sound like the 100-400L is the best choice for your needs.

But...what's your budget?

If you've got the funds, I'd consider the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II with the 2xIII teleconverter.  The 70-200mm range with an f/2.8 aperture is more useful for outdoor events where subjects aren't too far away, and you may want to blur the background with a wider aperture.  The 70-200 II does very well with a 2xIII, IQ is slightly lower than the 100-400 based on test charts, but in real world shooting there's no noticeable difference.  That applies only to the 70-200 IS II - the other 70-200 lenses will not stand up well to a 2x TC.  But the 70-200 II + 2xIII combo costs double what the 100-400L costs.  I'm guessing based on your post title that the 70-200 II isn't an option, unfortunately.

The 70-200 II + 2xIII is my 'zoo lens' setup.  Usually, I'm taking my kids so the 70-200mm is great for capturing them.  The f/2.8 aperture is great for enclosures - the better foreground blur you get is useful.  The examples below are of an ABE in a wire mesh enclosure.  Both are shot with the 70-200 II, but the first is at 200mm f/2.8 and the second is at 200mm f/5, which would be wide open at 200mm with the 100-400mm lens.  You can see the difference the wider aperture makes in blurring out the wire of the enclosure.

For subjects that are further away (e.g. wildlife or bigger zoo enclosures), the 2xIII gives an excellent 140-400mm f/5.6 lens.  The third shot below is with the 70-200 II + 2xIII, the bird is in a net enclosure.
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Re: Cheap Canon 300mm or 400mm do I Choose?
« Reply #14 on: March 01, 2013, 09:41:04 AM »