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Author Topic: 70-200 2.8 L IS II + Extender III vs. 100 - 400 L // Comparison?  (Read 19510 times)

epsiloneri

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Re: 70-200 2.8 L IS II + Extender III vs. 100 - 400 L // Comparison?
« Reply #15 on: August 11, 2011, 02:50:32 AM »
"No. It's not a budget issue."

Even if budget is no issue, portability could be... the 400/2.8L II weighs more than the 70-200/2.8L and 100-400/4.5-5.6L together. The mark I version is even heavier. If only the 400/5.6L had IS...

bycostello

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Re: 70-200 2.8 L IS II + Extender III vs. 100 - 400 L // Comparison?
« Reply #16 on: August 11, 2011, 03:38:25 AM »
I do want the better image-quality!
Sharpness & Details are critical, potenital vignetting not that much.

Profound advises or links to data sources are welcome, thank you in advance.

the more glass you between the subject and sensor the lower the image quality... part the reason i would never use a lens filter.... 

mhvogel.de

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Re: 70-200 2.8 L IS II + Extender III vs. 100 - 400 L // Comparison?
« Reply #17 on: August 11, 2011, 04:28:48 AM »
I had a 100-400 at the same time as 70-200 2.8 L IS II + Extender II ...... Don't get me wrong, it's a fantastic lens.
Thank you for your feedback, summarizing: is there a way to describe the optical difference (regardless weight, pp)?

mhvogel.de

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Re: 70-200 2.8 L IS II + Extender III vs. 100 - 400 L // Comparison?
« Reply #18 on: August 11, 2011, 04:32:58 AM »
I have the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II and the Mk II....vary that with the popups menus for focal length and aperture).
Thank you! Very useful information and link!

motorhead

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Re: 70-200 2.8 L IS II + Extender III vs. 100 - 400 L // Comparison?
« Reply #19 on: August 11, 2011, 08:02:12 AM »
As jcns has suggested, renting the two combinations and trying them out is the best way to make a decision. I am allways amazed how reasonable the hire charges are.

I have both the 70-200 mk2 and the 100-400, but I don't have a 2x converter. I have used both with a 1.4x (not Canon) and personally prefer the product of the 70-200, but thats easy to say when circumstances demand a converter on the 100-400.

I feel thay are very different lenses for very different uses. I use my 70-200 much more frequently than the rather specialist 100-400 - that tends to be my motorsports lens.

ecka

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Re: 70-200 2.8 L IS II + Extender III vs. 100 - 400 L // Comparison?
« Reply #20 on: August 11, 2011, 08:39:18 AM »
If $ is no issue, then I would go for the EF 300/2.8L IS USM and 1.4xTC III. This lens paired with your EF 70-200/2.8L IS USM II should cover the telephoto end well.
FF + primes !

bchernicoff

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Re: 70-200 2.8 L IS II + Extender III vs. 100 - 400 L // Comparison?
« Reply #21 on: August 11, 2011, 09:56:59 AM »
Quote
Thank you for your feedback, summarizing: is there a way to describe the optical difference (regardless weight, pp)?

I posted links to two pictures that I took at 400mm with this combination on a crop sensor camera (7D). Notice how wide the field of view is for a picture taken at this focal length on a 7D...these guys were really far away and yet look at the detail. You can see the ripples in the air behind them caused by the bikes' hot exhaust. That is really impressive to me. I don't have the same pictures taken with the 100-400, but I would expect to see a little more detail in the graphics on the bike and jersey and a little sharper edges. I agree with what other people are saying. You should compare them yourself. If you live in a large city, there will be meetup group join. Someone will have one for you to try. Also, I live in the Washington DC area and there is almost always a 100-400 for sale here. I bought and sold mine this way.

Warning, full-size JPEGs from 18mp camera:
http://photogravic.com/images/race1.jpg
http://photogravic.com/images/race2.jpg
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Edwin Herdman

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Re: 70-200 2.8 L IS II + Extender III vs. 100 - 400 L // Comparison?
« Reply #22 on: August 11, 2011, 04:18:28 PM »
No I do not look for another option then stated above.

I do want the better image-quality!
If you do not know enough to choose between these two radically different options, I would say it is appropriate to assume you also don't know enough about alternatives to lock them out.  You are merely artificially limiting yourself to two inferior possibilities.

Both the 70-200 with an extender and the 100-400mm are rather suboptimal choices for this range.  Even though the 100-400mm is a "dedicated" zoom, it is beaten by the rather ancient (c. 1998) 400mm f/5.6L for sheer image quality, and the loss of the first-generation IS doesn't seem all that big a problem either.

From what I have seen, other good options include:

The new Canon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6L gets you very close to 400mm natively.  Not sure about extender compatibility.
The brand new (released June this year, or so) Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 EX is a fantastic lens, and gets better every time I use it.  I am getting even more confident with wildlife shots, even with a Canon 2X III extender, in good light.  It almost works as well as much shorter lenses for close-up shots - very usable maximum magnification.  Downsides are that it's a bit more expensive than the Canon 70-200mm, probably considerably heavier, and I do have some trouble with the optical stabilizer system (but maybe it's the camera).  Focus problems as well though it just seems the camera I have it on is to blame (the T1i with its old 9 point autofocus system).  If all I needed was the 400mm equivalent range, I would have gotten the new 1.4X extender and I'm sure the image quality would be very good still.

I would avoid the Sigma 120-400mm and probably the 50-500mm as well - I would not be surprised to learn that "budget" options like these are what set you against other options in the first place.  But, mark my words, for $500 less than the Canon equivalent the Sigma takes some hard knocks, but at 2X the price of the 100-400 and a bit of loss on the far end the f/2.8 zoom is the best option in the list so far.  The only lens which seems able to equal it is the recent 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II but you would need multiple extenders before you can rival what the 120-300mm can do.

I would strongly suggest trying out or renting the lenses you think may be your choice.  I don't know how you would go about renting a Sigma 120-300mm.

Photozone.de's tests show the resolution falling off in the corners of a full 35mm frame, and APS-C seems very good on the other hand.  Probably the ideal Canon camera for using the 120-300mm is the 7D or perhaps the 60D.  With the 120-300mm f/2.8 + EF 2X III combination on the T1i (500D) metering has been inconsistent, autofocus speed and accuracy have been inconsistent (in all but the best light), and even the optical stabilizer doesn't seem to kick in when it's supposed to at times.  Without the extender, it performs as it should, and all these points are much improved.

But given that cost - it takes very sharp pictures at a 600mm equivalent setting, enough so that I am willing to put up with the quirks and felling of spinning a roulette wheel when I snap the shutter.  I get a good enough number of great photos that I am very happy to have the equivalent of a 600mm f/5.6 IS lens at only $3700 dollars, and it transforms into a zoom lens that is simply not equaled by any other Canon lens by simply taking the extender off.

UncleFester

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Re: 70-200 2.8 L IS II + Extender III vs. 100 - 400 L // Comparison?
« Reply #23 on: August 12, 2011, 03:35:07 AM »
"No. It's not a budget issue."

Even if budget is no issue, portability could be... the 400/2.8L II weighs more than the 70-200/2.8L and 100-400/4.5-5.6L together. The mark I version is even heavier. If only the 400/5.6L had IS...


With a monopod it's surprisingly very portable and sets up really fast.You just flip the locks and the leg slides out and you're up-and-running. Tripod is slower, heavier but balances better on the shoulder.

Heavy.Yes. Comparatively. But probably no worse than a backpack full of lenses,bodies, laptop, leaf blower, and whatever else goes in those things.

neuroanatomist

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Re: 70-200 2.8 L IS II + Extender III vs. 100 - 400 L // Comparison?
« Reply #24 on: August 12, 2011, 07:14:52 AM »
The new Canon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6L gets you very close to 400mm natively.  Not sure about extender compatibility.

Not compatible with Canon extenders.  Compatible with 3rd party extenders, although you'd lose AF on anything but a 1-series body with a 1.4x, and no AF on any Canon body with a 2x.

Both the 70-200 with an extender and the 100-400mm are rather suboptimal choices for this range.  Even though the 100-400mm is a "dedicated" zoom, it is beaten by the rather ancient (c. 1998) 400mm f/5.6L for sheer image quality, and the loss of the first-generation IS doesn't seem all that big a problem either.

'Beaten' is relative.  Yes, the IQ with the prime is slightly better - but in the era which both lenses are from, that was the norm (actually, it's still the norm, with the exception of the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II, which is a zoom that actually bests primes in the same range, e.g. 200mm f/2.8L II).  I do find that the IS makes a difference - I'm not always shooting at the 1/640 s shutter speeds theoretically necessary for handholding at 400mm on APS-C.  Another factor is MFD - it's very long on the 400mm prime (over 11 feet), meaning for small, close subjects (e.g. close birds) it's not as effective.  The MFD of the 100-400mm is about half that of the 400mm prime.  Portability is another factor - the 100-400mm retracted is significantly shorter than the 400mm prime - the former mounted on a 7D will not fit in a toploading bag like the Lowepro Toploader Pro 75 AW, whereas the latter will (as will the 70-200/2.8, but not with a 2x extender mounted).  OTOH, the 400mm prime autofocuses much faster than the 100-400mm zoom, a big point in it's favor.

I agree with the previous comment that in real-world shooting, you're not likely to notice a difference between the 70-200mm II + 2x and the 100-400mm. 

Below is an example with the 70-200 II + 2x II.  A rainy day under forest canopy - note the 1/160 s shutter even at ISO 3200 - there's a clear case where IS was needed to get a shot at 400mm on APS-C.


EOS 7D, EF 70-200mm f/2.8L II IS USM + EF 2x II Extender @ 400mm, 1/160 s, f/5.6, ISO 3200
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Edwin Herdman

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Re: 70-200 2.8 L IS II + Extender III vs. 100 - 400 L // Comparison?
« Reply #25 on: August 12, 2011, 08:10:34 PM »
First, thanks for cleaning up after my mistakes...no excuses, I did know about the 400mm's long MFD and the 70-300mmL incompatibility with extenders, at one time, and had forgotten them.  Of course, I would expect and hope somebody would remember that a f/5.6 lens is not going to play nicely with teleconverters before they buy it, but the option is still out there and when used within limits it has gotten great reviews.
'Beaten' is relative.
Just to make it obvious where I'm coming from, this is the major review I've based my thinking off.  Even at f/11 the 100-400 is still far below what I'd consider to be par.

Of course, close up wildlife actually is much kinder to lens sharpness than many people would expect...and not being able to focus closely is a problem.  I have seen perfectly good pictures taken by the 100-400mmL.  The 1998 400mm prime sits uncomfortably in the lineup - no aperture advantage, no closer focus distance, no weight advantage, and of course no IS - the first three points conspire strongly to make it a poor choice for wildlife shooting up close, but (in my personal opinion) the 400mm length is not great for much of the distance wildlife shooting (that I do).  I can think of many uses for it, but bird or small wildlife photography isn't one of them - though the faster focusing (which I have heard about before) would again put a damper on uses of the 100-400mm.

About my grievance with the 400mm focal length - I usually find it a good length for group portraits - of groundhogs, and other small animals close by! - but not the usual single bird photography often seen.  Both these lenses are limited to f/5.6 at the max aperture - for most of us, that means we're done, no more improvement can be had with teleconverters (without sacrificing quality at least).  600mm is a much more useful focal length for me - at all distances, too.  The f/2.8 zooms are flexible in this regard, but it's for that reason that I am happy enough to deal with a teleconverter for the Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 OS - a 240-600mm f/5.6 lens is very useful indeed.  It's close, though certainly no match or replacement for, the upcoming Canon 200-400mm at the same focal lengths (although no teleconverter switch is needed to move to the 400-600mm-ish range, the f/4 aperture on the coming Canon is nice).  I haven't gone and tested minimum focus distance reduction with a 2X teleconverter, but the 120-300mm goes from 1.5m MFD to 2.5m when moving from 120mm to 300mm focal lengths - a bit longer than the 70-200mm but not by far, and I think the focal length will let you feel closer (and enjoy more of the defocus area effect) even from a slightly further (compare 59.1 inches against 47.2 inches) minimum focus distance.  The teleconverter won't hurt this specification - so it seems to me proof that, if Canon had its act together, one can have multiple great specifications in the same lens.  It is hard to argue against the stable (and actually falling) price of these lenses, though.

But then that takes us back to the issues of flexibility and price - Canon simply ought to update the 100-400mm, no question about it.  The 70-200mm's weight doesn't seem too bad, but for my money - when I'm already looking at $2500 for a 70-200mm IS II, and $500 for a teleconverter, another $500 to get an extra 100mm (to 300mm) on the long end, and go from a very so-so 400mm focal length to a much better 600mm focal length seems adequate.

Of course, that doesn't wipe out my personal frustrations with the autofocus, the odd refusal of the optical stabilizer to kick in at the right times (sometimes), while I do get sharp captures down to 1/60 second even at 600mm, and sometimes even lower (I think I've gotten one handheld down to 1/8 of a second, somewhere!), I definitely would say that it hasn't quite earned the bulletproof reputation of the 70-200mm IS II yet.  With a better body...if only.  One can only hope that Sigma continues to improve that lens line, and that Canon themselves decide to put out a comparable option.

thisYes, the IQ with the prime is slightly better - but in the era which both lenses are from, that was the norm (actually, it's still the norm, with the exception of the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II, which is a zoom that actually bests primes in the same range, e.g. 200mm f/2.8L II).[/quote]
I have to point out a problem with comparing the c. 2008 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II to the c. 1996 200mm f/2.8 USM II design.  The MTF charts on Canon's website were a clue to me it's no new lens.  (The dated looking product photo is another clue.)  The intro of Photozone's article clears up any mystery about introduction dates as well as the difference between the revisions (assuming it is accurate).

For a perhaps better comparison, take the 200mm f/2L IS - despite being larger aperture still, it is nonetheless better corrected than the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II zoom.  The price points seem irrelevant to me - when Canon releases new designs they are generally the best available for the materials included.  The older 200mm f/2.8 design, of course, is the only option available at that price point and that specific form factor - but they could do better today, especially with more advanced materials.

The "zooms today are better than primes" tale I've seen gaining traction especially since the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II is a myth to me.  I think the gap between primes and zooms is much smaller than before, and for functional photography almost nil...but the MTF charts don't lie, either.  The maximum modulation transfer of a good recent prime design is far ahead of a good zoom, especially when you get further to the corners, although the critical difference found in many older zooms of wild differences in modulation transfer between meridional and saggital lines is much improved these days.  Exotic materials in zooms don't negate the potential of primes to do better with fewer elements, lesser "correction"-induced abnormalities, and to do so at a lower price and often even with fewer exotic materials.  And when you get into teleconverters, the near-flawless MTFs of newer primes will really start to prove their worth.

neuroanatomist

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Re: 70-200 2.8 L IS II + Extender III vs. 100 - 400 L // Comparison?
« Reply #26 on: August 12, 2011, 09:05:05 PM »
All great points, Edwin, thanks!  The only one I'd like to dispute is on the prime vs. zoom issue. I think price does matter, and the >$5K white primes are in a class by themselves, both in price and optically, rendering comparisons unfair. Instead, I'd propose comparing the 70-200 II to a recent prime affordable by mortals - the 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS, same focal length covered, same max aperture. Looking at the MTF data, the zoom is the clear winner. Whether this is a new trend, or the 70-200 II is an outlier, remains to be seen.
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Edwin Herdman

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Re: 70-200 2.8 L IS II + Extender III vs. 100 - 400 L // Comparison?
« Reply #27 on: August 12, 2011, 10:01:21 PM »
The point of bringing up the 200mm f/2L is not that it is better simply because it is more expensive and can make use of better exotic materials, but it's better because it's a newer design.  The days when rare-earth elements were the only option, and restricted to only certain lenses, are gone.  The big whites do use better materials than some of the cheaper lenses - although so does the 70-200mm.  The big question is whether they use the exotics in the same proportions, taking into account the geometric progression of element area required to gain one stop.  I think that (but have no specific numbers handy to back up any assertion) they do.  Comparing one ~2008 lens with another 2008 lens seems fine to me; a lot of that expense goes to correcting the 200mm f/2 and this strikes me (again operating without the influence of empirical information, alas!) as being similar to the situation with superfast 50mm primes - Canon backing away from the f/1 in designing the f/1.2 (which has plenty of problems already).  The relevance is that it seems to me there should be more in common between the improvement of even a $5-6K prime lens and a zoom of the same vintage than between a $2500 zoom of new construction and a $780-ish lens from 15 years ago with obviously dated specifications.

There is the old problem with price:  It can be made better, but at what cost?  $780-ish for a lens of old-fashioned specifications seems like a poor investment to me (in both senses) when there are better options that far outperform it today (and whose price to sale ratios are probably more tightly spaced than they would be 15 years into the item's lifespan), but to paraphrase Bryan from TDP, if all you need is 200mm and f/2.8, and the quality is just acceptable why not go for it?  Ultimately, especially for hobbyists, it is about simply being able to take the picture.  Personally, I have built in to my general assessment of most lenses the assumption that the newer stuff will be more expensive, which of course is not what many people want to haer.  The older lenses are seeing lowered prices due to slight production changes causing "invisible marks" to be slightly cheaper than the earlier lenses - but even if this isn't the case the production should still be cheaper on a fully bugfixed and amortized production line.  It's reasonable to expect real price reductions on older lenses but only at the rate of inflation devaluation.  I would certainly expect a new 200mm f/2.8 prime wouldn't entirely close the gap with the 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II in price entirely, but it should be much more expensive simply because it's being made at today's prices.  It should also more than close the gap in terms of performance.

But hey, that old 50mm f/1.4 (non-L) is still kickin' pretty good at f/8 (and be there).

Also, I'm sure my yadda yadda about how great the Sigma 120-300 OS might be is starting to get a bit timeworn, so I'll have to try to put up some pictures eventually.  I don't know how big the picture you took blows up (from the original file) while keeping acceptable quality, but a lot of stuff I get is right on the edge, even on the camera's 3 inch monitor.  But other stuff is great, especially if I can get somewhere near that close in good light.  People with better cameras and tripods have certainly excelled my average picture, though I don't know about their keeper rates (especially with the extenders), and when I factor in my often unusual shooting situations it's tough to call the difference.  Taking the teleconverter off, I was able to get some pretty good 1/15 second captures today, noticably wider than 400mm framing though, and so less sharp on the subject (but only after increasing magnification to get to a similar subject size on a monitor...like I said, longer focal lengths can help poor lenses; the reverse situation is that being too far away from the subject can make even a good lens look terrible).  The overall picture still looks quite nice.

My big takeaway from my long lens experience has been that the physically closer you can get the better, and better framing can turn a pretty so-so lens into a great one.  I'm not sure how it would do for print making, even versus that 70-200mm, but Sigma's self-published MTF looks great (better at 300mm than 120mm, strangely).

neuroanatomist

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Re: 70-200 2.8 L IS II + Extender III vs. 100 - 400 L // Comparison?
« Reply #28 on: August 13, 2011, 09:28:31 AM »
The point of bringing up the 200mm f/2L is not that it is better simply because it is more expensive and can make use of better exotic materials, but it's better because it's a newer design. 

I do understand that's your point, but by that logic the 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS, which is even newer than the 200/2, should be sharper, or at least as sharp. Is it?  How about the 300mm f/2.8L IS (MkI)?  If age of design is most important, why is a 10-year old design, closer in age to the 135/2 than current lenses, sharper than the new 100L Macro? 

Over time, designs get better. But a design must consider cost of final product, so lenses designed years ago for the high end market could incorporate better features (e.g. more ground/polished elements).  Thus, an older but substantially better design (and much more expensive to produce) can best a newer but more economical design.   
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Edwin Herdman

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Re: 70-200 2.8 L IS II + Extender III vs. 100 - 400 L // Comparison?
« Reply #29 on: August 13, 2011, 02:59:58 PM »
I do understand that's your point, but by that logic the 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS, which is even newer than the 200/2, should be sharper, or at least as sharp. Is it?  How about the 300mm f/2.8L IS (MkI)?  If age of design is most important, why is a 10-year old design, closer in age to the 135/2 than current lenses, sharper than the new 100L Macro?
That's getting close to misquoting and missing the point entirely - I did mention new materials being used.  I'm only using the 200/2 as a baseline for a newer lens - new telephotos, let alone primes, are not being made with MTF lines dipping down into the 60% range in the center.  I would still say that "age" (actually the generation of the design and materials - come on, a one or two year difference is not going to produce new enough technology or materials to overcome optical formula and price differences, to answer your 100mm f/2.8 IS macro vs. 200/2 scenario) is still most important in setting the baseline for what is competitive in terms of IQ - this doesn't mean that cost-cutting or partial updates don't happen.  It is best to compare apples to apples, but with the new generation of primes from Canon there is a clear pattern emerging with MTF graphs all starting very near 100% as opposed to older designs.  And the 100mm f/2.8 macro is, if only by the MTF graphs, a much sharper lens than the non-IS, non-L version it supplements (not replaces) in the lineup (in truth, for many users it should replace that older lens).

If Canon were to release a replacement for the 200mm f/2.8L II USM, the gains in sharpness might not be as big as a "pull out all the stops" release marked at $5-6K, so market positioning and the compromises made should take some effect.  But a $2500 fast telezoom is not so expensive that it uses materials that are going to be off-limits for a prime - I expect that a lot of that price goes to making the whole 70-200mm range usable, and taking away the extra optics used to make that happen should result in a good budget to use materials to make a prime even better.

The real story behind all this is that Canon, and all other companies in the sector for that matter, do not simply release newer lenses because they can; they prioritize.  Letting a 15-year old design stand on the market only illustrates the potential for absurd-seeming situations but in truth most people are going after the 70-200mm f/2.8, even though it is substantially heavier and more attention-grabbing than the black telephoto.  But it doesn't reflect what is possible with current technology at all.

Incidentally, the worst lens I own is an old Makinon 200mm f/3.3 which only focuses as close as 10 feet!  It's roughly late 70s-early 80s (I'd guess) and very hard to focus even in live view - color fringing appears on the edges of subjects depending on whether they are behind or in front of the plane of focus.  Makinon was never close to Canon, but to think - 15 years later would see the 200mm f/2.8 USM.