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Author Topic: Best telephoto clarity for the money  (Read 5827 times)

lenstrack26

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Best telephoto clarity for the money
« on: August 19, 2013, 07:34:42 PM »
Hello All,

      I am shooting with a 5DIII and want to improve the clarity and reach of my wildlife images. I have the 100-400 and have found it a bit soft at the far end.  So, I am thinking of a prime. (My only Canon primes are the 14 mm super wide and an older 100 mm macro). Last year, I rented an old 500 mm (series I) and was blown away by the color and crispness of the image.
       So, I want to know if anyone has experience with the old Canon EF 300 f/4L IS or EF 400 f/5.6 L in terms of image clarity compared to the 100-400 when the latter is racked out to the end?  I have used the 2X III, and found only mild degradation of the image with the 100-400. I wonder if that is true for the older lenses?  I guess I should mention that I would expect to print images up to 13 x19 inches, perhaps larger.
     And, putting aside the sanity of my VISA card, can anyone speak to the image superiority (ignoring weight issues) of the new series II 300, 400, and 500 mm lenses?  I guess comparisons to Sigma's teles have to be kept in mind, too.
      Certainly have to thank you in advance for sharing your hands-on experience.
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Best telephoto clarity for the money
« on: August 19, 2013, 07:34:42 PM »

neuroanatomist

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Re: Best telephoto clarity for the money
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2013, 07:41:08 PM »
If you can get a high enough shutter speed with the 400/5.6, that's sharper than the 300/4.  Both are very slightly sharper than the 100-400, but there is copy variation to consider, so you may find some 100-400s that best the 400/5.6.  The 70-300L is sharper than all three.

The superteles are on a different class, for IQ and cost. My 600/4L IS II delivers substantially better IQ than my 100-400L, my 70-300L, or the 300/4L IS that I used to own.
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Drizzt321

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Re: Best telephoto clarity for the money
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2013, 07:44:27 PM »
If you've got the money, what about the new 200-400 w/1.4x TC? From what I've read it's nearly as good as the II super-tele primes with a lot more flexibility. I can't speak from experience though, I don't have the scratch for any of those.
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jthomson

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Re: Best telephoto clarity for the money
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2013, 05:21:24 PM »
If you can get a high enough shutter speed with the 400/5.6, that's sharper than the 300/4.  Both are very slightly sharper than the 100-400, but there is copy variation to consider, so you may find some 100-400s that best the 400/5.6.  The 70-300L is sharper than all three.

The superteles are on a different class, for IQ and cost. My 600/4L IS II delivers substantially better IQ than my 100-400L, my 70-300L, or the 300/4L IS that I used to own.

+1  My 500mm f4L II has much better IQ than my 400mm f5.6L.   The 400mm f5.6L does play well with the 1.4x III on the 5D3   and with the Kenko DGX 300 1.4x on a Rebel.  The 100-400mm and extenders are much more hit and miss. 

lenstrack26

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Re: Best telephoto clarity for the money
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2013, 06:15:29 PM »
I just wanted to thank those of you who took the time to write!  Good shooting to you.
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johnf3f

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Re: Best telephoto clarity for the money
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2013, 06:25:21 PM »
I sold my 100-400 as soon as I tried a 300 F4 L IS - simply because of the improved IQ and ability crop further. Basically I could crop to a 400mm field of view and get better pictures with the 300 F4 IS.

Re you point about the Mk3 extender I have used it on a variety of Mk1 Superteles find it to be significantly better than the Mk2, especially on the 600 F4 L IS.
Basically the 2x Mk3 extender works very well with the Mk1 lenses, I suspect it would be even better (AF?) with the Mk2 lenses.

If you are going for a 500mm does it have to be a Mk2? Whilst nobody would deny that the Mk2 Canon lenses are superb they are an incremental improvement over the Mk1 lenses - except for the very significant weight reduction.
The (used) Mk1 Superteles are much cheaper and nearly as good (but heavier). This would allow you to be much kinder to your Visa card or allow you to buy a longer lens - if that suits your needs. For example I purchased a virtually mint Canon 800 mm F5.6 L IS for 2200GBP ($3450?) than I can get a 500 F4 Mk2 here in the UK.
Just some food for thought.

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Re: Best telephoto clarity for the money
« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2013, 06:39:51 PM »
The 300 f4 IS, the300 f2.8 IS II is obviously faster, sharper and better with tc's(also is heavier)
But it is not 5-6 times as good..,

 the 600 IS II is sharper, faster and can go to 840 and 1200mm, but it's not twice as sharp as the 300 with converter, and it cannot become f2.8(300mm) or 420mm 1.4,

What is sane?, If you don't earn a living with photography you need to look at the money you be losing when re-selling it in 5-10 years.
 the interest you would have gotten from the bank , and the possibly slightly lower resale value of the lens.

I bought mine for 48 euros, price new is 68 here now, I think i can sell it for 30-40 euros in 5 years.
8 euros + the lost interest i would have gotten on the bank (interest is like 2-3% only here now), makes for a pretty ''cheap'' rent of such a lens. It is the rent I would have to pay to rent it for 4 weeks.

Alternatively you can go for something like the sigma 120-300 Sports, but i suspect that will get a price drop sooner or later.
It might hold on to it's value if sigma will not release another update within 2-3 years.

Beste Telephoto clarity for the money would probably be

300 f4 IS/400 f5.6
70-300 L IS
100-400 IS
Then all the more expensive canon lenses (200 2, 300 2.8,400 2.8,etc etc etc)

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Re: Best telephoto clarity for the money
« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2013, 06:39:51 PM »

neuroanatomist

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Re: Best telephoto clarity for the money
« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2013, 09:44:35 PM »
I sold my 100-400 as soon as I tried a 300 F4 L IS - simply because of the improved IQ and ability crop further. Basically I could crop to a 400mm field of view and get better pictures with the 300 F4 IS.

I wonder if you had a bad copy of the 100-400L, or needed a focus adjustment.  Lens testing websites show that the 300/4L IS is only slightly sharper than the 100-400L @ 400mm, and that the zoom is sharper than the 300/4 IS with a 1.4x TC.  My own experience after owning the 300/4L IS and 100-400L matches the published tests.
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Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: Best telephoto clarity for the money
« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2013, 10:13:38 PM »
I've owned the 300mm f/4. the 400mm f/5.6 and the 100-400mm L.  All of them are good.  If your 400mmL is not sharp at 400mm, have it repaired.
 
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LetTheRightLensIn

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Re: Best telephoto clarity for the money
« Reply #9 on: August 22, 2013, 11:10:39 PM »
If you can get a high enough shutter speed with the 400/5.6, that's sharper than the 300/4.  Both are very slightly sharper than the 100-400, but there is copy variation to consider, so you may find some 100-400s that best the 400/5.6.  The 70-300L is sharper than all three.

The superteles are on a different class, for IQ and cost. My 600/4L IS II delivers substantially better IQ than my 100-400L, my 70-300L, or the 300/4L IS that I used to own.

The 300mm are only sharper than the 100-400 if you can get close enough on a 5D3 to frame as desired. For birds that is often not the case. Nothing, no matter how sharp, makes up for 100mm. At comparable focal lengths yeah the 70-300L is sharper than the 100-400 though, same for the 300 f/4 and of course 300 2.8.

scottkinfw

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Re: Best telephoto clarity for the money
« Reply #10 on: August 22, 2013, 11:29:01 PM »
I don't have the stable of lenses that Neuro owns but I have the 400 and the 300 that you mention.  I don't have the 100-400 zoom.

I have found that my 400 5.6 is sharper than my 300 with is. I have really worked the AFMA and have gotten some nice shots with it.  It is somewhat longish with the built in hood extended, but not at all bad to pack when retracted.  It has a small diameter and it is light.  Obviously, it isn't a zoom, but is a fixed aperture.

I am lusting for the 200-400 f4 or 500f4 II.

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AlanF

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Re: Best telephoto clarity for the money
« Reply #11 on: August 23, 2013, 01:45:35 PM »
If you can get a high enough shutter speed with the 400/5.6, that's sharper than the 300/4.  Both are very slightly sharper than the 100-400, but there is copy variation to consider, so you may find some 100-400s that best the 400/5.6.  The 70-300L is sharper than all three.

The superteles are on a different class, for IQ and cost. My 600/4L IS II delivers substantially better IQ than my 100-400L, my 70-300L, or the 300/4L IS that I used to own.

The 300mm are only sharper than the 100-400 if you can get close enough on a 5D3 to frame as desired. For birds that is often not the case. Nothing, no matter how sharp, makes up for 100mm. At comparable focal lengths yeah the 70-300L is sharper than the 100-400 though, same for the 300 f/4 and of course 300 2.8.

Have you actually tested the 300mm f/2.8 L II against the 100-400mm at 400mm to back up that statement?
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Don Haines

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Re: Best telephoto clarity for the money
« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2013, 03:01:14 PM »
If you are looking for bang-for-the-buck, it is hard to beat the 70-200F4 non-IS.

There is also the 70-200F4IS, which is even sharper an woks surprisingly well with a teleconverter to give you a 100-280F5.6,,,

In general, I recommend to stay away from teleconverters unless you have a super-sharp lens to put it on.... The 70-200F4IS is sharp enough, as are most of the "big whites", but those are VERY expensive lenses....
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Re: Best telephoto clarity for the money
« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2013, 03:01:14 PM »

mackguyver

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Re: Best telephoto clarity for the money
« Reply #13 on: August 23, 2013, 03:37:25 PM »
I have the 400mm f/5.6 and it's VERY sharp - nearly as sharp as the expen$$$ive big boys that I've borrowed from CPS.  I recently bought the 70-200 f/2.8 II and when combined with the 2x III extender it's about 95% as sharp as 400 f/5.6 at 400mm, which really surprised me.   This was taking real world outdoor shots at 50 yds with my orange tree and other reasonably still subjects with solid tripod and cable release, but really makes you wonder given how much more versatile the zoom lens is for wildlife.
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LetTheRightLensIn

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Re: Best telephoto clarity for the money
« Reply #14 on: August 23, 2013, 05:33:42 PM »
If you can get a high enough shutter speed with the 400/5.6, that's sharper than the 300/4.  Both are very slightly sharper than the 100-400, but there is copy variation to consider, so you may find some 100-400s that best the 400/5.6.  The 70-300L is sharper than all three.

The superteles are on a different class, for IQ and cost. My 600/4L IS II delivers substantially better IQ than my 100-400L, my 70-300L, or the 300/4L IS that I used to own.

The 300mm are only sharper than the 100-400 if you can get close enough on a 5D3 to frame as desired. For birds that is often not the case. Nothing, no matter how sharp, makes up for 100mm. At comparable focal lengths yeah the 70-300L is sharper than the 100-400 though, same for the 300 f/4 and of course 300 2.8.

Have you actually tested the 300mm f/2.8 L II against the 100-400mm at 400mm to back up that statement?

Not that exact combo, but others, and believe me something has to be worse than a coke bottle and the other lens the sharpest lens in history to make up for 100mm. People just get confused by comparing pixels at 100% view and not comparing actual captured detail differences. The 100-400L is just not that much of a coke bottle at 400mm and sensor densities are not high enough at this time for even a perfect 300mm prime to make up for it.

Some claim the same thing for 200mm vs 300mm, that a 70-200 f/4 IS at 200mm, for instance, easily upscales to something better than any 300mm non-L to bring more detail. Not even close. Sure the 100% view looks sharper than from a 70-300 non-L or tamron 70-300 VC or a sigma 70-300 etc. but the actual total captured detail doesn't match the lenses that hit 300mm. Even the old 75-300 IS disaster would bring in a bit more total detail (although the hazy lack of contrast and CA and so on might be enough in that case that you wouldn't care that it brought in any more total detail).
« Last Edit: August 23, 2013, 05:35:47 PM by LetTheRightLensIn »

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Re: Best telephoto clarity for the money
« Reply #14 on: August 23, 2013, 05:33:42 PM »