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Author Topic: Good yet affordable telephoto lens?  (Read 16867 times)

Forceflow

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Good yet affordable telephoto lens?
« on: September 08, 2011, 05:26:33 AM »
Hi folks,

hope somebody here can give me some pointers. I was recently forced to renew my equipment (mental note to self: do not leave your camera backpack in your car in Vancouver. Even if it's locked and nobody can see it) I replaced most of the things I had and changed some of the things around. Currently I have the 7D with Canon's 24-70 2.8, and the 50mm 1.8 plus Sigma's 85mm 1.4 and 150mm macro 2.8 OS.
I used to have Sigma's 70-200 2.8 + the 2x converter, but decided to not get this one for now. (Well, my bank account sort of decided against it) But sooner or later I will want to replace the loss of long zoom range as well. Question is though, with what? The 70-200 from Sigma had an okay quality, but that was pretty much it. It was okay. From what I read on the internet Canon's version might be better built and reliable, but image quality wise it's not going to be much better. (And their IS version is on the outer edge of my budget) In terms of range the 150-500 from Sigma sounds nice, but I haven't hard much good and a lot of bad about that one. The only other affordable lenses I could think of would be the 300/4 or 400/5.6 from Canon. (Plus maybe the 1.4 converter)

So, any recommendations, experiences or great ideas on how I can get long range at an affordable price? (With affordable meaning less than Canon's 70-200 2.8 IS)
Canon 7D - Canon 50mm 1.8 - Canon 24-70mm 2.8 L - Canon 100-400mm 4.5-5.6 L IS - SIGMA 85mm 1.4 - SIGMA 150mm 2.8 OS Macro - SIGMA 10-20mm 3,5

MazV-L

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Re: Good yet affordable telephoto lens?
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2011, 07:04:34 AM »
Hi, I have the Sigma 150-500 and have been able to produce some very sharp shots with it, I'm quite happy with it but maybe I am fortunate to get a good copy?

Forceflow

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Re: Good yet affordable telephoto lens?
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2011, 07:43:52 AM »
Any change of some sample pictures? (And on what camera are you using it?)
Canon 7D - Canon 50mm 1.8 - Canon 24-70mm 2.8 L - Canon 100-400mm 4.5-5.6 L IS - SIGMA 85mm 1.4 - SIGMA 150mm 2.8 OS Macro - SIGMA 10-20mm 3,5

Isurus

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Re: Good yet affordable telephoto lens?
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2011, 07:44:59 AM »
In order to get a telephoto lens on the cheaper side, you are going to have to sacrifice the aperture of the lens and go with a wide open f4 or f5.6 instead of f2.8 most likely.  You could try the Canon 70-300L or 70-200 f/4 L (I/S).  Both of these are very nice lenses and cost significantly less than the 70-200 f2.8 IS II.

I'm not sure what you are reading, but I disagree that the Sigma lens has the same image quality as the Canon 70-200 f2.8 IS II (assuming you are speaking to newest version).  Wide open my copy of the Canon is very, very sharp and it says that way until about f/8 and then starts to decrease slightly as expected.  When I tested the Sigma the Canon clearly beat it from at least f2.8 to f5.6 across the zoom range. 

Nickbroberts

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Re: Good yet affordable telephoto lens?
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2011, 08:44:26 AM »
I've had a Sigma 70-200 f2.8 EX for about 10 years, and it was as sharp as the old Canon 70-200 f2.8 from f4 - I wouldn't say it's as sharp as the latest lens, but in all honesty, it's pretty good. However, it's not as good as the 70-200 f4 L IS or the 70-300 L IS either, and both of these represent excellent choices for the money IMHO. I would say that the 70-300 L is currently my favourite lens, in fact.

Chewy734

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Re: Good yet affordable telephoto lens?
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2011, 08:45:04 AM »
Personally, I would recommend the 70-200mm f/4L IS.  It's an awesome lens, very sharp, fast enough for my shooting style, lighter and smaller than the f/2.8s, and the IS is a necessity for me at longer focal lengths. Plus, I bought mine during Canon Direct Store's refurb sale for under $1k shipped!

That being said, I've heard that the 70-300mm L IS is a great lens too, if you're willing to sacrifice some speed and lower-light capabilities.

Lawliet

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Re: Good yet affordable telephoto lens?
« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2011, 08:58:08 AM »
As an intermediate you could TC the 150OS, thats until the account greenlights an EF70-200ISII. That one replaced my 100-400IS ;)
The 70-200/4IS is just as good, will AF only up to a TC1.4, but the reduced strain on back and pocket makes it an interesting option.

The 150-500 is a rather special lens, very large and starts at a long FL, which limits its everday usefulness. Also its hard to get optimal performance out of it, stopped even slightly down you're in diffraction territory, wide open its in the same ballpark as the Sigma 70-200. F/8 fixed aperture, if one can manage.


neuroanatomist

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Re: Good yet affordable telephoto lens?
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2011, 08:59:48 AM »
The 70-200 from Sigma had an okay quality, but that was pretty much it. It was okay. From what I read on the internet Canon's version might be better built and reliable, but image quality wise it's not going to be much better. (And their IS version is on the outer edge of my budget)

Second the comment that if you're talking about reviews of Canon's 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II, the internet is lying to you (shocking, I know).  Find some honest reviews.  The 70-200mm II is probably the sharpest zoom lens in existence today - sharper than most primes in the same focal range.  But you certainly pay for that sharpness.  Now, if you're talking about the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS (the original/MkI version), then yes, that was ok, but is the least sharp of Canon's five 70-200mm zooms.

The only other affordable lenses I could think of would be the 300/4 or 400/5.6 from Canon. (Plus maybe the 1.4 converter)

Note that while the 300mm f/4L IS works fine with the 1.4x TC, when you put a 1.4x TC behind the 400mm f/5.6 you end up at f/8 meaning no autofocus (except with the center AF point of a 1-series body).

So, any recommendations, experiences or great ideas on how I can get long range at an affordable price? (With affordable meaning less than Canon's 70-200 2.8 IS)

While I agree with the recommendations of the 70-200mm f/4L IS as an excellent lens, I wouldn't call 200mm 'long range' especially since you have a 150mm prime. 

How much less than the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS?  And do you mean less than the MkII version of that lens (US$2500), or the older MkI version (harder to find, but usually ~US$1800)?

Will your budget cover $1500-1600?  I'm guessing yes, since the 300/4 + 1.4x II will run you about that cost.  If so, I'd recommend either the 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS or the 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS.  The new 70-300mm L zoom is sharper and has better IS and weather sealing, it's also smaller and lighter.  If 300mm is sufficient for your needs, that's the way to go.

But, you mentioned the Sigma 70-200/2.8 + 2x TC, so you may need 400mm.  If that's the case, I'd really recommend the 100-400mm.  Yes, it's an old design.  But so what - it delivers great image quality.  That's the lens I use 95% of the time with my 7D.  Sample pics?  Here are several:


EOS 7D, EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM @ 400mm, 1/640 s, f/5.6, ISO 125


EOS 7D, EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM @ 400mm, 1/1600 s, f/6.3, ISO 1600


EOS 7D, EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM @ 400mm, 1/640 s, f/5.6, ISO 200


EOS 7D, EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM @ 400mm, 1/640 s, f/5.6, ISO 100


EOS 7D, EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM @ 400mm, 1/1000 s, f/6.3, ISO 3200

Here's a 100% crop of the last one to show the detail:

« Last Edit: September 08, 2011, 09:09:47 AM by neuroanatomist »
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Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: Good yet affordable telephoto lens?
« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2011, 11:18:42 AM »
I'd go with a refurb Canon 100-400mm L.  They appeared in stock yesterday.  No telling how many they have.  They may have other refurbs you'd like as well.

http://shop.usa.canon.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductListingViewAll_10051_10051_-1_22751

Alki lighthouse, West Seattle - 100-400mm L with 7D @235mm

« Last Edit: September 08, 2011, 11:25:51 AM by Mt Spokane Photography »

TexPhoto

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Re: Good yet affordable telephoto lens?
« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2011, 11:29:41 AM »
70-200 f4 IS, and 300mm f4 IS are 2 fantastic lenses that you should consider depending on how long you want to go.

Forceflow

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Re: Good yet affordable telephoto lens?
« Reply #10 on: September 08, 2011, 12:46:48 PM »
Wow, thank you for the fast and plentiful replies!

The 100-400... that ones does seem like a nice compromise. I really like using primes, but at this range it does become a bit inconvenient. Plus having IS and such a long range could certainly come in handy for some other shoots as well. (And it's not that much more expensive than the 400 prime)

I guess I should really look into that one more closely ones I've paid off my current equipment. (Why did I have to choose such an expensive hobby?)

Thanks for the tip with the refurbished store as well, but it doesn't seem like there is something similar here in Germany :(
Canon 7D - Canon 50mm 1.8 - Canon 24-70mm 2.8 L - Canon 100-400mm 4.5-5.6 L IS - SIGMA 85mm 1.4 - SIGMA 150mm 2.8 OS Macro - SIGMA 10-20mm 3,5

DJL329

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Re: Good yet affordable telephoto lens?
« Reply #11 on: September 08, 2011, 01:21:13 PM »
I have the 300mm f/4L IS & 1.4x TC II combo and like it very much.  The short minimum focusing distance (1.5m) is helpful, as is the sliding, built-in hood.  Being a prime, it's sharper than the 100-400mm, which I considered before getting the 300mm.  This site has a tool you can use to compare the output of lenses:

http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/ISO-12233-Sample-Crops.aspx?Lens=111&Camera=453&Go.x=3&Go.y=6&Go=Go&FLI=0&API=0&LensComp=113&CameraComp=453&SampleComp=0&FLIComp=0&APIComp=0

Here are some cropped samples with the 1.4x TC:



« Last Edit: September 08, 2011, 01:27:55 PM by DJL329 »
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jimmy156

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Re: Good yet affordable telephoto lens?
« Reply #12 on: September 08, 2011, 01:30:40 PM »
As no-one has mentioned it i'll put my 2p worth in with a mention of the Sigma 120-400 4.5 - 5.6. Roughly half the price of the Canon 100-400, and capable of some nice results. A couple of example shots...


IMG_4522 by jimmyb156, on Flickr


IMG_5488 by jimmyb156, on Flickr



IMG_4347 by jimmyb156, on Flickr



IMG_37703 by jimmyb156, on Flickr


Not quite up to the standard of the stunning shots posted by neuroanatomist, but i rather suspect thats to do with talent and not lens choice!  ;)

K-amps

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Re: Good yet affordable telephoto lens?
« Reply #13 on: September 08, 2011, 02:12:08 PM »
I know you asked for Zoom and not knowing how flexible you are on getting a zoom or 2 primes;  vs sharpness you'd like, here's an out of the box recommendation.

Get 2 macro primes, they are the sharpest lens Canon has and would run you about $2200 plus you can do Macro and the worst one is f3.5 but has a very nice bokeh (both of them do) the range covered is not far form one 70-200mm, but if you want ultimate sharpness this is it.

100mm L F/2.8 Macro or the non-L version is just as sharp for 50% of the price.
180mm L f/3.5 Macro

They are both great for portraits. Check their reviews on Fred Miranda.

I know they are not zoom :-)
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neuroanatomist

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Re: Good yet affordable telephoto lens?
« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2011, 02:40:58 PM »
here's an out of the box recommendation.

Get 2 macro primes,
100mm L F/2.8 Macro or the non-L version is just as sharp for 50% of the price.
180mm L f/3.5 Macro

Ok, but the OP stated:

Currently I have the 7D with Canon's 24-70 2.8, and the 50mm 1.8 plus Sigma's 85mm 1.4 and 150mm macro 2.8 OS.

So, how many macro lenses does one really need?   :P
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