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Author Topic: 400mm L f/5.6 vs 100-400mm L IS f/5.6  (Read 3799 times)

AlanF

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400mm L f/5.6 vs 100-400mm L IS f/5.6
« on: April 18, 2013, 11:23:59 AM »
It is frequently asserted that the 400mm L f/5.6  is very sharp and a much better lens than than the 100-400mm L IS. As someone who has used both, I know that they are of very similar sharpness, and they are not as sharp as sometimes stated. So, here is a summary of quantitative measurements of both from three very reliable sources: Photozone, SLRgear and Canon MTFs. In all cases, the 100-400mm is at least as sharp in the centre, which is what counts if you are using them for bird photography. For the fun of it, I have also compared them with the now out-of-production Sigma Apo Tele Macro f/5.6. Whereas, the two Canon lenses hover in the "very good" category of Photozone, the Sigma reaches the excellent - and it really is much better. If Canon had put in some effort, they could have made a super sharp 400mm f/5.6, preferably with IS. I wonder why they never did?
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400mm L f/5.6 vs 100-400mm L IS f/5.6
« on: April 18, 2013, 11:23:59 AM »

jcoz

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Re: 400mm L f/5.6 vs 100-400mm L IS f/5.6
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2013, 05:22:37 PM »
I don't know much about what goes in the lens, but the 400 is a pretty tiny and light lens (which I own), I can remember my dad's 100-400 being a little heavier, with IS and zoom. My point is they could have intentionally made a small, light and affordable lens which came with some compromises ? wouldn't the glass be heavier with a super sharp lens ?

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AlanF

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Re: 400mm L f/5.6 vs 100-400mm L IS f/5.6
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2013, 06:07:28 PM »
There would be no difference in length and width, just a few extra small pieces of glass inside.  Sigma gave up their superb 400mm prime in favour of much heavier and optically inferior zooms.  Maybe both Canon and Sigma think the market is not there for a 400mm f/5.6? There are rumours of new 400s from Canon in the offing. We shall see.
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Mick

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Re: 400mm L f/5.6 vs 100-400mm L IS f/5.6
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2013, 07:11:08 PM »
Perhaps my recent photoshoot may help a little. I was in southern France taking pics of the white horses. I had my 70-200 and 300 prime. The horses moved rapidly coming toward me and i had a nightmare using the prime. It was great for a tight shot but I lost so many pics as I was in my fixed position. The others had the advantage of the zoom so got loads more. When i swapped to the zoom I picked up loads more shots and to be honest I cant tell the diferance when I print at A3 between the prime and zoom, modern zooms are just so darn good. The others were using Canons secret top lens, the 70-300 f4-5.6. I sold mine as I thought Id not need it and the prime was better. What a massive mistake. That lens is as sharp as any in Canons range of zooms and the others all had one which says a lot. I had the old 400 prime and its excellent. If your in a fixed position using it for big slow moving or predictable stuff its excellent. Otherwise, go for the zoom. You wont tell the differance at up to A3.The primes have an x factor but youll miss loads of shots if the animal is fast moving.
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docsmith

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Re: 400mm L f/5.6 vs 100-400mm L IS f/5.6
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2013, 07:56:52 PM »
For good measure, here is TDP's comparison at f/5.6:

http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/ISO-12233-Sample-Crops.aspx?Lens=278&Camera=453&Sample=0&FLI=0&API=0&LensComp=113&CameraComp=453&SampleComp=0&FLIComp=7&APIComp=0

The prime beats the zoome at the corners pretty consistently, but in the center, it is darn near dead even.  Plus, the zoom has IS and 100-399 mm.  I find even the 2 stops of IS on the current version to be very helpful and while I probably use my 100-400 @ 400 mm 80-90% of the time, but when I want that other range, it sure is nice to have. 

As with many others, I would love to see a replacement for the 100-400L.  If they give it 4 stop IS, complete weather sealing, and get is sharpness to rival the 70-300L or the 70-200 mm f/4 IS....I am absolutely willing to pay a premium.

Until then, I am happily taking pictures with my 100-400L.

jcoz

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Re: 400mm L f/5.6 vs 100-400mm L IS f/5.6
« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2013, 09:03:16 PM »
Good point, but for birds I am always too short with a 400mm so I'll never need to zoom out :) Now, I do love my 70-300L because of its flexibility, so I'd love to see a new 100-400L as well. What's the latest rumor on that ??
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Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: 400mm L f/5.6 vs 100-400mm L IS f/5.6
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2013, 09:13:54 PM »
Good point, but for birds I am always too short with a 400mm so I'll never need to zoom out :) Now, I do love my 70-300L because of its flexibility, so I'd love to see a new 100-400L as well. What's the latest rumor on that ??
Its pretty much the same rumor that has been circulating for 10 years.  Canon will announce it in the next 6 months ;)
 
Now that Nikon has released a 80-400mm zoom that is slightly better, Canon might just go ahead and announce one in the next year or two or ten.

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Re: 400mm L f/5.6 vs 100-400mm L IS f/5.6
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2013, 09:13:54 PM »

jcoz

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Re: 400mm L f/5.6 vs 100-400mm L IS f/5.6
« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2013, 09:31:31 PM »
Yea, if only they could keep it below $2500...
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greger

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Re: 400mm L f/5.6 vs 100-400mm L IS f/5.6
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2013, 02:12:03 AM »
I just bought the 100-400 Zoom lens. I got it with the instant rebate that I think is about to end. I haven't had it a week.
So am not an expert on this lens. I am happy with the pics I have taken with this lens. I figure it's replacement if and when it comes out will be more than I am willing to pay and it will take too long for the price to drop to where I paid for my lens. In the mean time I will get lots of good use out of my copy and I may not replace it.
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vikram1988

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Re: 400mm L f/5.6 vs 100-400mm L IS f/5.6
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2013, 06:46:13 AM »
@greger - How much did you get it for ? including the instand savings.

East Wind Photography

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Re: 400mm L f/5.6 vs 100-400mm L IS f/5.6
« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2013, 07:22:16 AM »
I would get the 400l. I tried two copies of the 100-400 and its soft wide open or rather yields halos around bright objects.  It also interferes with AF which I found slow to start with and hunted around a lot.  I missed a lot of bird in flight shots.  I returned it for a 70-200 2.8l IS II with a 2xiii extender.

The 400 5.6l is pretty sharp wide open.  AF is quick and it locks reasonably well with BIF provided you have enough light or high enough ISO.

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Re: 400mm L f/5.6 vs 100-400mm L IS f/5.6
« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2013, 07:22:16 AM »