September 19, 2014, 10:15:06 PM

Author Topic: I'm looking for a telephoto zoom, but I've been underwhelmed before.  (Read 11327 times)

jdramirez

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I'm ripping off ahsanford's question format... consider it praise rather than theft.

I thought I would start with a bit of history.  I started off with a Canon XS and a 18-55 and I got a 75-300mm along with it.  Without question, I was not happy with the 75-300, but I did learn a few things about shutter speed with shooting at a distance with a long zoom, not to mention having a relative understanding of bokeh at longer focal lengths. 

I eventually upgraded to the 55-250, and I know I'm romanticizing how great it was, but it was a good little lens, especially at the price I paid for it. 

I had a 70-200mm f/4L usm for a while and I didn't hate it... but I didn't think it was really that much better than the 55-250 (which I had sold quite a while before).  I REALLY didn't like it in low light, but I guess that is expected.  Outdoors it was good, but still never blown away like I had been with my primes (50mm f/1.8 and eventually f/1.4, 100mm f/2.8L IS macro, etc.)

So I waited a while and I got a 70-200mm f/2.8L USM... and I liked it more, but according to everyone here, it was a touch backfocused and my 60D as many of us know doesn't have AFMA... so I sold it because again... I wasn't blown away.  But I did like that a whole heck of a lot more than the 70-200mm f/4L usm. 

I would like a 135mm f/2L but it isn't an emergency to get one, but it contributes to my concern that if I get the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS mkii, then I will have too much money in the same focal range (a 100mm f/2.8L IS, a 135mm f/2L, and then the aforementioned 70-200mm).

So I was thinking... is there a good zoom option that has more reach, with reasonable low light capabilites (5.6+ need not apply)...

Auto focus is a must, and image quality is paramount.  I find that if my lens doesn't have the capability of producing breathtaking photos, I just ignore it and work with my other lenses that are significantly more impressive. 

Brands:

I prefer canon.  I think they tend to have better resale value and so if I don't like a lens, I can always sell it again and either not lose anything, or at least not lose much.  I know Sigma makes a very good product depending on the specific lens, so I'm not averse to them... and they also tend to be a good deal cheaper for comparable specs... though maybe the image quality isn't quite as good... (70-200mm f/2.8 OS, I'm pointing the finger at you). 

I'm going to be upgrading to a 5D mkiii in a few months and I know I'm going to miss the reach of the crop sensor (though I realize the bokeh is still the same, if not better, and when I crop into the image, the depth of colors will be greater and it will be sharper... so I'm complaining only about perception of a loss of length).

As you guys always ask when someone pipes up about lens selection, here are my shooting needs...
 
  • I am an enthusiast, but I'd like to think I've exceeded the hobbiest moniker.  I never been professional, though I think I get a little lucky here and there and come out with pro quality images.  And I would like to do a little sports photography on the side, though I realize that is a dependent position and if the kids plays 4 minutes in a game and doesn't do anything... it was basically a huge waste of time.
  • Currently happily using a 60d, but I'll be upgrading to a 5dmkiii.  I plan on buying the lens after the mkiii, so f/4 for indoors might be manageable though not ideal as I'll kick up the iso.
  • I don't do studio, but I will throw the camera up on a tripod and use my 430ex to get the shot I want.  Yes, a lone 430ex. :(
  • I used to be a snob about using on camera flash... and I still am, though I'll bounce light happily to get more light into the environment and I enjoy the challenge that brings.  I actually created a homemade diffuser that I really thought did a very good job of lighting my subject while not causing them to cast much of a shadow.  I was very pleased with that.
  • I don't like vignetting... I'll add some in post in LR4, but if I can skip that step, I will. 
  • I like shooting wide open, or at the very least moving the aperture just a step away from wide open... so I'd prefer a lens that is really sharp nearly all wide open
  • I am in really low light, handheld situations all the time.  In the last year, I shot football games (3rd grade through 8th), I shot an indoor play my daughter was in in rather dark lighting, I shot indoor baskeball (4th graders), an outdoor track event (photographing people run is crazy boring), and then the normal hodge podge of fatherly duties, like a pumpkin festival, a girl scout fireside jamboree (so very dark and I couldn't get even a hint of AF using my 50mm f/1.4easter egg hunts, trick or treating, etc. My subjects generally are both moving at a full run, or not moving at all. 
  • High priority needs for this length: I'm a big strong guy, so if the lens weighs 10 lbs... it doesn't matter to me.  I really like taking Candids.  I shoot often in aperture priority and if it is a bright setting I'll throw iso into 100 and the let the camera adjust shutter speed. 
  • Medium priority needs for this length: Handheld Low-Light (Concerts), Street, Portraits
  • Low priority needs for this length: Landscapes, Handheld low-light (Gymnasium Sports)
  • Zero need for this length:  Video (I'd shoot with my other lenses first), Macro (already have the 100mm f/2.8), Wildlife (I'll go out into the woods, but the only thing I saw the few time I went was a squirrel.
  • I buy and sell gear at a small profit, and then I put that money into my gear... So I make around $2,000 a year doing so and it feeds my hobby.  So after I get the 5dmkiii, I should have $1,000 and I'm willing to spend maybe $2000 on the lens... up to $3000 if there is a miracle lens that is a great value out there.  I'll pay more for better gear at this stage.
  • Weather sealing is important... and while I don't want to go out into the rain, I might get caught in the rain and I don't want to lament water spots affecting my image quality. 
  • I'll print things for my wall, but they tend to be no bigger than 11x16...  But if I'm actually doing some sports photography, I really want my shots to be print capable. @ a fathead level, if it comes down to that.
What I'm considering...

I'm willing to consider a 70-200mm f/2.8L IS with a 1.4 or a 2.0 tele-converter.  With AFMA on the 5kmkiii, I don't have to worry about front or back focused and I know it is a miracle lens... but I have been disappointed with it's smaller brothers... so I just don't want to go back to the well and not like what I'm seeing AGAIN.

http://www.amazon.com/Sigma-70-200mm-2-8-Telephoto-Canon/dp/B003HC8V9A/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1364689577&sr=8-1&keywords=sigma+70-200+2.8

I'm also willing to consider the 70-200mm Sigma.  I know it is not quite as good as the Canon, but for $600+ in savings... I might be willing to overlook it.  Also... throw on a teleconverter.

It is presumed by many (and absolutely expected by myself) that the EF 50mm F/1.4 USM will finally get a modern refresh like the 24mm, 28mm and 35mm lengths.  I own the new 28 and adore it.  I hold it in the same regard as my L glass -- it's a joy to use.

I would consider a prime lens if I had two bodies, but switching when the players come closer doesn't seem practical... though I have done something similar when I was trying to compare image quality of a 70-200 to a 100mm.  100mm won.

The Canon 70-300mm  f4-5.6L calls to me, but I'm not a big fan of variable apertures, but it does have more reach and it is a good price, but the difference between f/2.8 and f/5.6 means only two additional stops of iso, but that's what gives me reason for concern. 

There's also the 100-400mm by canon, but ditto on the variable aperture, f/4.5 to 5.6L.  Also, I don't like the the pump action lens.  If I recall, it lets in way too much dust. 

Sigma has a 120-400 and a 150-500 that sound really interesting, but their apertures are f/4.5-5.6 and f/5-6.3 respectively.  I really don't think I would be able to use indoors, kicking up the iso will help, but I'm not sure it will be adequate. 

If I were to go with a prime, I kinda like the 300mm f/4L.  I don't have too much to say about it, because I really don't want to carry on 200mm prime, one 300mm prime, and one 400mm prime.  Both are very well rated on Amazon, 4.5+ stars each, but it doesn't mean that it is right for me.

My mind is really not made up right now, so I'm willing to hear suggestions based on either personal experience or otherwise. 
Upgrade  path.->means the former was sold for the latter.

XS->60D->5d Mkiii:18-55->24-105L:75-300->55-250->70-300->70-200 f4L USM->70-200 f/2.8L USM->70-200 f/2.8L IS Mkii:50 f/1.8->50 f/1.4->100L->85mm f/1.8 USM-> 8mm ->100L & 85L

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neuroanatomist

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Re: I'm looking for a telephoto zoom, but I've been underwhelmed before.
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2013, 10:02:43 PM »
Your story is like Thom Hogan's article on tripods - start with a cheap one with a pan-tilt head, get better legs, then get a cheap ballhead, then a better ballhead, then better legs, finally you wise up and get Gitzo (or RRS) legs and a top quality head.

The EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II.  It's Canon's best zoom lens, and quite likely the best zoom lens available from any manufacturer. If you want the best, you'll end up there - so skip any more intervening steps and get the best.
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jdramirez

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Re: I'm looking for a telephoto zoom, but I've been underwhelmed before.
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2013, 10:35:57 PM »
Your story is like Thom Hogan's article on tripods - start with a cheap one with a pan-tilt head, get better legs, then get a cheap ballhead, then a better ballhead, then better legs, finally you wise up and get Gitzo (or RRS) legs and a top quality head.

The EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II.  It's Canon's best zoom lens, and quite likely the best zoom lens available from any manufacturer. If you want the best, you'll end up there - so skip any more intervening steps and get the best.

Thanks and sorry for writing so much.  I didn't realize how long it was until I hit submit.  So do you have a suggestion for a good teleconverter, the f/1.4 or 2.0.  I know it is more than I want to spend for what I would consider an accessory... but I think the latest f/1.4 is probably the way to go. 98-280, but you lose a stop of light... so that would be at f/4... right?
Upgrade  path.->means the former was sold for the latter.

XS->60D->5d Mkiii:18-55->24-105L:75-300->55-250->70-300->70-200 f4L USM->70-200 f/2.8L USM->70-200 f/2.8L IS Mkii:50 f/1.8->50 f/1.4->100L->85mm f/1.8 USM-> 8mm ->100L & 85L

Jackson_Bill

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Re: I'm looking for a telephoto zoom, but I've been underwhelmed before.
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2013, 10:43:19 PM »
Just for grins, rent a 300 f2.8. If resolution is paramount, once you try primes you won't go back.

neuroanatomist

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Re: I'm looking for a telephoto zoom, but I've been underwhelmed before.
« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2013, 10:46:15 PM »
Bigger IQ hit with the 2xIII, but useable.  The 1.4xIII does quite well.

Sure, the 300/2.8 II will be better, but at close to 3x the cost, that's no surprise.
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kirispupis

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Re: I'm looking for a telephoto zoom, but I've been underwhelmed before.
« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2013, 11:18:14 PM »
I know you're looking for a zoom, but to be honest aside from the mythical 200-400/1.4x a decent zoom telephoto for Canon does not exist.  I have owned almost every choice at one time or another.

Sigma 80-400/OS - extremely slow AF, unacceptable image quality
Canon 70-200/2.8 II + 2x III - better, but still slow, AF.  borderline acceptable image quality
Canon 100-400 - similar AF to the 70-200 + 2x. marginally better image quality.

The best two choices, and I own both of them, are the 300/4 and 400/5.6.  For most occasions I prefer the 400/5.6 because it has better image quality at 400mm and has the fastest AF of the choices.  I mainly use the 300/4 for occasions when I can easily get close to wildlife (zoo) or for small wildlife that I need to get close to for a decent shot (dragonflies, lizards).
5D3|TS-E 24 II|TS-E 17|TS-E 90|200-400/1.4x|MP-E 65|100/2.8 IS Macro|70-200/2.8 IS II||16-35/2.8 II|EOS M

bwfishing

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Re: I'm looking for a telephoto zoom, but I've been underwhelmed before.
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2013, 11:26:32 PM »
My 2 cents.

EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM prime lens. It looks and feels like the 100mmL macro and 135mmL primes that you already enjoy.
"It’s sharper than the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II zoom and a third of the size and cost."
-Roger Cicala
If you can catch one of the end of the month sales on Canon refurbished website. Last month they had a refurbished model with 15% off @ $557.59
Also takes the 1.4xIII and does quite well.

The EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM is awesome, but I've seen the good ones used for around 4K
« Last Edit: March 30, 2013, 11:31:38 PM by bwfishing »

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Re: I'm looking for a telephoto zoom, but I've been underwhelmed before.
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2013, 11:26:32 PM »

bdunbar79

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Re: I'm looking for a telephoto zoom, but I've been underwhelmed before.
« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2013, 11:28:06 PM »
f/4 really isn't going to work in indoor sports, even with a 5D3, and since you mention you need IQ and fast AF, then the 70-200 f/2.8L II IS is really the only option.
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ksagomonyants

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Re: I'm looking for a telephoto zoom, but I've been underwhelmed before.
« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2013, 11:40:18 PM »
My 2 cents.

EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM prime lens. It looks and feels like the 100mmL macro and 135mmL primes that you already enjoy.
"It’s sharper than the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II zoom and a third of the size and cost."
-Roger Cicala
If you can catch one of the end of the month sales on Canon refurbished website. Last month they had a refurbished model with 15% off @ $557.59
Also takes the 1.4xIII and does quite well.

The EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM is awesome, but I've seen the good ones used for around 4K

+1
200 f.2.8 is a very nice lens!

bdunbar79

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Re: I'm looking for a telephoto zoom, but I've been underwhelmed before.
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2013, 11:45:43 PM »
The 200 f/2.8L is a really nice lens.  However, it AF's way slower than the 70-200L and offers a lot less flexibility, which is why I don't think it'll help him much for sports, whereas the zoom, and yes quite expensive, will.  It'll be a tough choice.  Two bodies/two primes or a single body and the zoom.
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eml58

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Re: I'm looking for a telephoto zoom, but I've been underwhelmed before.
« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2013, 01:23:26 AM »
Your story is like Thom Hogan's article on tripods - start with a cheap one with a pan-tilt head, get better legs, then get a cheap ballhead, then a better ballhead, then better legs, finally you wise up and get Gitzo (or RRS) legs and a top quality head.

The EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II.  It's Canon's best zoom lens, and quite likely the best zoom lens available from any manufacturer. If you want the best, you'll end up there - so skip any more intervening steps and get the best.

I agree totally, this is where you'll end up so just go there, I shoot Wildlife & use the 70-200f2.8 V2, 300f/2.8 V2, 400f/2.8V2 & just added the 600f/4 V2, 50% of my shots are still with the 70-200f/2.8, simply a great Lens, great low light, sharp & fast spot on IQ.
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bwfishing

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Re: I'm looking for a telephoto zoom, but I've been underwhelmed before.
« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2013, 01:25:05 AM »
The 200 f/2.8L is a really nice lens.  However, it AF's way slower than the 70-200L and offers a lot less flexibility, which is why I don't think it'll help him much for sports, whereas the zoom, and yes quite expensive, will.  It'll be a tough choice.  Two bodies/two primes or a single body and the zoom.

The EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM prime lens AF it's plenty fast for me. Fast enough for birds in flight. Now the last time I checked humans are slower than birds. My kid is crazy fast maybe a track star one day, but I have no issues capturing him with the EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM prime lens either. It sounds like the OP enjoys prime lenses. This one is affordable and can do the job, what is not to like?

If he is stuck between these two amazing lenses then why not rent both and see which one is better for the type and style shooter he is now and wants to become?
« Last Edit: March 31, 2013, 02:27:45 AM by bwfishing »

bwfishing

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Re: I'm looking for a telephoto zoom, but I've been underwhelmed before.
« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2013, 02:26:47 AM »
The EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM prime lens does not use phase-detection AF

As far as I can remember NO EF LENS can detect AF???

I did'nt state that the lens detect AF, but it was poorly worded. I actually did not complete the thought. I'm sorry if offended you in some way. I will adjust the post. No, worries as it was not the main point of the post anyway.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2013, 02:41:54 AM by bwfishing »

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Re: I'm looking for a telephoto zoom, but I've been underwhelmed before.
« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2013, 02:26:47 AM »

RLPhoto

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Re: I'm looking for a telephoto zoom, but I've been underwhelmed before.
« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2013, 09:09:20 AM »
If you don't need a zoom, get the 135L. It is a razor.

If you need a zoom, the 70-200LII is also a razor but just a heavier, bulkier, more expensive and slower razor.

Hesbehindyou

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Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM
« Reply #14 on: March 31, 2013, 10:06:44 AM »
Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM

http://www.canonrumors.com/2013/01/sigma-120-300mm-f2-8-dg-os-hsm/

They've had a couple of versions, this is the third one.

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Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM
« Reply #14 on: March 31, 2013, 10:06:44 AM »