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Author Topic: Cheap Canon 300mm or 400mm do I Choose?  (Read 6013 times)

kirispupis

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Re: Cheap Canon 300mm or 400mm do I Choose?
« Reply #15 on: March 01, 2013, 10:02:40 AM »
I currently own the 400/5.6, 300/4, and 70-200/2.8 II + 2x III.  I have owned the Canon 100-400 in the past.

- If you need length, then the 400/5.6 is your best choice.  It also takes a 1.4 extender much better than the 300 takes a 2x. I photograph mostly birds with it, so I am using a high shutter speed in the first place and IS isn't really necessary.

- What I like most about the 300/4 is the close focusing distance.  I therefore use it for dragonflies.  I also use it for the zoo (where animals tend not to move so much), darker situations, and for lizards.

- The 70-200/2.8 II + 2x III is more versatile, but the image quality just is not what I prefer.  The two lenses above are much sharper than the 70-200 with extenders.  The AF is also quite slow, making birds in flight much more difficult.
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Re: Cheap Canon 300mm or 400mm do I Choose?
« Reply #15 on: March 01, 2013, 10:02:40 AM »

sdsr

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Re: Cheap Canon 300mm or 400mm do I Choose?
« Reply #16 on: March 01, 2013, 10:55:45 AM »

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

As far as I can tell, they haven't reviewed the 50-500 OS.  The lens that shows up their comparison tool is the predecessor of the 50-500 OS; and they may not have had a good copy.  The one I rented from lensrentals pleasantly surprised me.  Roger Cicala's blurb on their site reads:

After playing around with it for an afternoon, I’m totally impressed (obviously on limited data but totally impressed nonetheless). It is as sharp as the original 50-500, which is sharp indeed. The OS is spectacular and really does appear to be 4 stops worth. We have some nice 500mm images shot at 1/125 second. Autofocus speed is adequate to the task and accuracy has been good, up until the items discussed below [don't know what he means by that - there's nothing below!]. My summary: once again Sigma has designed a spectacular lens, and while the price isn’t cheap, it’s a good value for what you get.

AlanF

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Re: Cheap Canon 300mm or 400mm do I Choose?
« Reply #17 on: March 01, 2013, 11:06:38 AM »
bwfishing
You wrote that the IS and dust problems are a deal killer, which I think is unfair on a very good lens.

When I go out for nature photography, I take either my f/2.8 300mm II with 1.4 and 2xTC, or 100-400mm f/5.6 or a Sigma Tele Macro 400mm f/5.6. I particularly like the Sigma because it is a sharper lens than both the Canon 100-400 and 400 f/5.6, and, in public places you stand out so much carrying the huge white lenses - I once was accosted when carrying the f/2.8 by a local vigilante who thought I must be a spy, paparazzo or pedophile. And it is dirt cheap.

sdsr
I am pleased that there is now a good Sigma 50-500.
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bwfishing

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Re: Cheap Canon 300mm or 400mm do I Choose?
« Reply #18 on: March 01, 2013, 11:16:28 AM »
I've updated the post. Sorry it was viewed as unfair to provide details regarding a dispointment I had personally with a lens I tried. For all I know I may have just gotten a bad copy of the lens. The post now reads: "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."

I still believe you may be better off with a zoom then a prime at place like the zoo with so many varying conditions and setups to contend with. I'm sorry to the OP (PhotoShine) as I did'nt mean for the topic to change from "Cheap Canon 300mm or 400mm (which one) do I Choose?"  to "What do you think about the 100-400mm lens? Is it unfairly maligned?"
« Last Edit: March 01, 2013, 01:31:47 PM by bwfishing »

kirispupis

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Re: Cheap Canon 300mm or 400mm do I Choose?
« Reply #19 on: March 01, 2013, 11:28:04 AM »
Sigma has serious quality issues, which is why there is so much variance between lenses.  My first telephoto lens was the Sigma 80-400 OS.  I admit that I liked it a lot when I had it, but when I finally compared it to a Canon 100-400 there was really no comparison.  They have come out with a few gems in the shorter focal lengths but I would stay clear of them for any telephoto.  Most of those who really like their Sigma telephoto zooms have never used one of the Canon equivalents.

Interestingly their 400/5.6 has reviewed well but they discontinued it - meaning you may have issues with newer camera bodies.

Personally when I owned the 100-400 I really did not have dust issues and had no problems with the push-pull.  It was a nice lens but was not overly different from the 70-200/2.8 II + 2x III.  It won slightly on sharpness and was about the same for AF.  There was simply no reason to carry both in my bag.  Since then as my skills have increased I have become more demanding on what to expect in sharpness and AF, so I now use my 400/5.6 for all birding.
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lilmsmaggie

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Re: Cheap Canon 300mm or 400mm do I Choose?
« Reply #20 on: March 01, 2013, 01:42:25 PM »
I'm facing a similar decision.  I recently caught the bird photography bug while attending a workshop on the subject.  I rented a 70-300 4/5.6L for the occasion and realized quickly that it just didn't have the reach but I enjoyed shooting with the lens.  Then about 2 weeks ago, I decided to rent the 300 f4L for an upcoming bird outing. 

Unfortunately, I fell ill and couldn't shoot as much as I had planned.  And instead of shooting wide open, I stopped the lens down to around f8-11 which produced unacceptable handheld shots of BIF.  Granted, I'm no pro and I've got a lot to learn about bird photography but between the two lens rentals, the 70-300L in my hands at least, produced sharper images, which to me considering a prime vs. a zoom is a bit counter-intuitive. But I have to admit with the 70-300L, I was shooting at 5.6 almost all of the time.  And even though the 100-400 is more versatile and would give me the reach, with a 1.4x or 2x teleconverter at least in my mind is going to be slow, not to mention the loss of autofocus.  For birds, that might not be so good.

Anyway, I'm also trying to decide on whether to get the 300 f4 IS, or the 400 5.6.  I like the versatility of the 70-300L but the 70-300L lens was not designed to be used with a teleconverter, which means in those instances where I need the reach, I’m looking at other options.  BTW I’m shooting with a T3i which I’m hoping to upgrade to the 7D or maybe the 7D II.  Whichever lens I wind up choosing will see some time mounted to a 5D MK II as well.
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Kiboko

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Re: Cheap Canon 300mm or 400mm do I Choose?
« Reply #21 on: March 01, 2013, 01:53:08 PM »
I've been through the whole lot! Started off with a Sgma 400mm f5.6 the build quality of which was dubious to say the least, (this was a good few years ago I hasten to add). Replacing it with a Canon 400mm f5.6 was the best decision I ever made. But the views of the professionals and advice from those in the know, eventually persuaded me that my wildlife photography would benefit from an f2.8 lens. It didn't! SO large, SO heavy, very impracticable, - shooting at f2.8 I found that the depth of field was so limited it was necessary to stop down to.... f5.6! Two years of huffing and puffing with the thing I traded it in for the new 400mm f4 DO lens. At last here was a lens I could use wide-open and still retain a resaonable d.of f. Unfortunately even the muscles I'd developed using the f2.8 hadn't the resiliance to keep going with it for long though, (and the hood was like a giant waste-paper bin)! - so I traded it in for a 100-400 f5.6 zoom. I soon got used to the push/pull mechanism, (never had any trouble with dust in it although I used in in both India and Kenya over a period of a good few years), it was smaller and lighter than my last two lenses, nor did I notice any difference in the IQ. A year ago, (getting fussier over IQ now), I traded it in for another f5.6, - there is definately an improvement in IQ but I do perhaps, miss IS. So over a period of some 20 years, a complete circle (shows how old the f5.6 is)! On a practical basis, I used it on my last photographic safari in Kenya with a bean-bag propped over the base of the open window of my jeep, so IS wasn't a necessity, but for most of my general shots I used a Canon 70-300 f4-5.6L IS which I love to bits. If you're using a crop body (7D or similar), I'd advocate the 70-300 IS zoom as a first choice. If you have F/F, the 100-400 zoom is fine, the 400 f5.6 is sharper but no IS, - take your pick!   

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Re: Cheap Canon 300mm or 400mm do I Choose?
« Reply #21 on: March 01, 2013, 01:53:08 PM »

jhpeterson

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Re: Cheap Canon 300mm or 400mm do I Choose?
« Reply #22 on: March 01, 2013, 02:16:18 PM »
Over the years I've owned a couple 300/4 lenses, both with and without IS, a 400/5.6 and several of the 70-200 variations, so let me weigh in. And, while I've had only limited experience with the 100-400, I found it to be only "adequate" in terms of sharpness at the long end of its range. I suppose it's just the price you pay for such convenience.
While the 300/4 non-IS is an older lens and no longer in production, I found its image quality to be superior to that of the IS version (I've borrowed others to be sure I didn't have unusually good/bad examples). If you could find an excellent copy of one used, I would consider it to be a "best" option, that is, if you don't need IS. (But then, if you did, you wouldn't consider the 400 either!)
The latest model of the 70-200/2.8 IS and adding 1.4 and 2x converters is another consideration, though I would insist on getting the III version of the latter. You get all your focal lengths in, plus the added advantage of a sharp f:2.8 lens when you don't need all that reach.
Still, none of these possibilities compares with the IQ from a 300/2.8, which, even with extenders, gives great results (hardly any loss with the 1.4x model, and much better with a 2x than a 1.4 on the 400). If you could put up with the size and weight, you'd have an excellent set-up for most any situation. You might even find an older non-IS version for little, if any more, than what you'd pay for a new 300 or 400.
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jasonsim

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Re: Cheap Canon 300mm or 400mm do I Choose?
« Reply #23 on: March 01, 2013, 02:33:16 PM »
hmmm... if your longest focal length lens is 85mm, why not look at one of the very good 70-200mm options?  Or if you don't mine a variable aperture throughout the range, maybe look at a 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS lens.  They are super sharp and lighter than the 100-400mm and has 4th generation IS. 

If you don't need f/2.8, the Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS is very very good.  The best in this range is the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens, but if you don't need f/2.8 look at the f/4.

Hope this helps some.

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CarlTN

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Re: Cheap Canon 300mm or 400mm
« Reply #24 on: March 01, 2013, 02:46:57 PM »

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) :)

Yes, those larger primes you suggested would be nice too, however I think they might fall more into the $4000 to $8000 category, even from Tamron.  I wouldn't count on any of our suggestions happening though, because none of the manufacturers seem very adventurous about new lens categories, other than for dedicated video (which is fine I guess for them, since there seems to be big demand.)

The one I would like most, would be either a prime or a zoom...but extremely fast aperture.  Obviously it would be very expensive and difficult to make.  So I'm kind of glad there isn't one available right now, because I couldn't afford it even if one existed.  I am thinking along the lines of a 60-110 f/0.8, and a 110-170 f/1.2, 1.4, 1.6...whichever could be possible.  Again, probably be next to impossible to achieve a design with good image quality with such a fast aperture, especially if it's a zoom...but it would be oh so cool if it could be done.  Getting results that are in focus might also be difficult, but I think people could figure it out eventually. 

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Re: Cheap Canon 300mm or 400mm
« Reply #24 on: March 01, 2013, 02:46:57 PM »