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Author Topic: Recommendation For Long Lenses  (Read 11799 times)

cfargo

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Recommendation For Long Lenses
« on: January 06, 2012, 02:09:17 PM »
I’m heading on a South African Photo Safari on the first of March and need some lens advice. I’m shooting with the 1D Mk IV and the 5D Mk II. I own the 500 f/4L IS, 100-400 f/4-5.6L, 70-300 f/4-5.6L, 70-200 f/2.8L along with a 1.4x III and a 2.0x III tele-converters. I have ruled out taking the 100-400 as it is too soft. I’m leaning on taking the 70-200 over the 70-300 due to it’s f/2.8 aperture. It’s a non brainer that I’m taking the 500mm f/4 so my void is between 200 and 500.

I was looking hard at filling this void with the 400mm f/4L DO since it is light weight and would be hand held quite a bit. My concern here is that the 400 DO is 11 year old technology and due to be replaced any day. My other 2 options are the 300mm f/2.8L II with or without 1.4x converter or the 400mm f/2.8L II. Of course the 400mm f/2.8L II is going to be much harder to hand hold and the 300mm f/2.8L II is shorter.

I would love to hear others opinions on which way to go with these 3 options. The other stuff I shoot is nature and aviation.

Curt Fargo

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Recommendation For Long Lenses
« on: January 06, 2012, 02:09:17 PM »

Mendolera

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Re: Recommendation For Long Lenses
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2012, 02:20:07 PM »
If you can hold off a couple weeks we might get lucky (though doubtful) and see the 200-400 f/4 which I think would a good lens for a Safari. My friend brought his 200-400 Nikon and said it was great for this trip to SA.
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neuroanatomist

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Re: Recommendation For Long Lenses
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2012, 02:27:41 PM »
I'd take the 300/2.8 II + 1.4x III over the 400/4 DO - the IQ of the new 300/2.8 even with a TC beats the 400/4 DO lens. 

The 200-400mm with the built-in TC would be ideal...but given that we haven't even seen a formal announcement yet and Canon has still not delivered on the 500/4 II and 600/4 II that were announced back in 2010, I sure wouldn't be holding out any hope you'd actually see that lens by March...perhaps not even March of 2013...
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Re: Recommendation For Long Lenses
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2012, 02:54:44 PM »
I would take the 100-400mm with the 500mm.  I've never been on a real safari, but I imagine that there are times that the trucks can get closer to the animals.  The zoom is just too versatile to leave behind.  I personally, would not want to switch lenses too much in those dusty conditions.  I'd save the 500 with the 1.4x for birds.  I would leave the 5D II at home unless you will be taking some landscape wide angle shots.  Say with a 17-40mm or 16-35mm. 
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dickgrafixstop

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Re: Recommendation For Long Lenses
« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2012, 03:02:13 PM »
Take the 500, the 79-200 and the teleconverters.  If you have to take another lens, take a  24-105 as not all
the "good" shots on safari are animals in the distance.  You might also consider someone to carry all that stuff.

neuroanatomist

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Re: Recommendation For Long Lenses
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2012, 03:23:27 PM »
I would leave the 5D II at home unless you will be taking some landscape wide angle shots.  Say with a 17-40mm or 16-35mm.

I'd bring it, as a backup if nothing else.

...I imagine that there are times that the trucks can get closer to the animals. 

Definitely true.  The first image gives an idea of just how close they get - literally within touching distance, at least that was my experience in Ngorongoro Crater.  Sometimes you get even closer...the second shot is my wife and I among a troop of mountain gorillas at Parc National des Volcans in Rwanda.    :D

Our trip to Africa was 6 years ago...I wish I'd had the gear I have today back then, instead of a 4 MP superzoom P&S...

Bottom line - you'll definitely want a general purpose or ultrawide zoom, IMO.
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Jim K

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Re: Recommendation For Long Lenses
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2012, 03:52:09 PM »
I would leave the 5D II at home unless you will be taking some landscape wide angle shots.
If the 5DII and 7D are your only bodies I would bring them both. No way would I spend that much money and time and only bring one body.

A friend (Nikon shooter) took an Africa trip last fall. Bought a 200-400 for the trip but had wanted one for a while, not sure if he took his 500. I'll see if I can find his trip report, probably on Nikon Cafe.
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Re: Recommendation For Long Lenses
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2012, 03:52:09 PM »

thejoyofsobe

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Re: Recommendation For Long Lenses
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2012, 03:59:20 PM »
Take the 500, the 79-200 and the teleconverters.  If you have to take another lens, take a  24-105 as not all
the "good" shots on safari are animals in the distance.  You might also consider someone to carry all that stuff.
this would seem to get you the best variety of options. The 70-200mm lets you shooter faster and in lower light. the 500mm gets you that reach to help fill you frame and since you have the 1D would you could still use autofocus with a 2x teleconverter while achieving a 1300mm focal length 35mm equivalent.

cfargo

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Re: Recommendation For Long Lenses
« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2012, 04:04:48 PM »
Jim, My main camera will be a 1D Mk IV and the 5D Mk II will be my backup and for landscapes. I do own a 7D but wasn’t planning on bringing it due to limited space/weight.

Yes I would give my left  _ _ _ for the 200-400 but Canon is more interested in coming out with new Point & Shoots for now than they are producing this lens.  I have even toyed with going over to the dark side just to get their 14-24 f2.8 G ED and their 200-400mm f/4 G. Now that they have the D4 (and will be shipping next month), Canon is going to lose that many more users even faster. Canon needs to wake up if you ask me.
Below is my list of lenses I plan on bringing and already own.  My earlier list was just to show the area that I’m wanting to fill and trying to decide on what to buy. I would have to say that for this minute, I’m leaning towards the 300mm f/2.8 L II.

I still would love to hear more thoughts on this.

500mm f/4L
70-200mm f/2.8L II
24-105mm f/4.0 L
17-40mm f/4.0 L
24mm f/1.4 L (for stars)
14mm f/2.8 L (if I have room)
8-15mm f/4.0 L

dr croubie

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Re: Recommendation For Long Lenses
« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2012, 04:18:33 PM »
Just how close do you want to get? (I love that photo, from what I remember it was taken upside-down hanging from a tripod held by the feet, cable release, and 30mm or so lens).
So I'd definitely be bringing the 5D2 with a wide-angle zoom like the 24-105.

I'll stick in a vote for the 70-300L over the 100-400, if not just for the more compact size and sealing.
Compared to the 70-200 f/2.8L (I presume non-IS), that's a tougher call.

- If you've already got the 1.4x and 2x teleconverters, I'd be taking that combo, you get 70-200 @ f/2.8, 200-280 @ f/4, 280-400 f/5.6. The 70-300L IQ @ 300mm is probably a bit better than the 70-200 telecombo, and you get IS, but you're stuck limited at 300mm max.

- Or the 70-200 with no tc, 300/2.8, and 300/2.8 with 1.4 tc gives 420/4.0, then 500/4.0, 300/2.8 x2 is 600/5.6, 500/4 x 1.4 is 700/5.6, 500/4 x2 is 1000/8.

- Or the above with 70-300L, leave the 1.4x on the 300/2.8 permanently, when the light gets dimmer switch to the 300/2.8 with no tc.

The 400/2.8 is very nice, the II version is just on the verge of hand-holdability (depending on how big/fit you are), but it's still a lot bigger compared to the 300/2.8. So i'd be choosing from those three options, the first one uses the lenses you've got, the other two require buying a 300/2.8 (but hey, it's a good excuse to spend money).
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Stu_bert

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Re: Recommendation For Long Lenses
« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2012, 04:32:55 PM »
I've done mainly self-drive safaris in Kruger & Etosha/Caprivi strip, but also (organised) trips to Botswana, Kenya & Tanzania...

I normally take 2 bodies (recently both 1Ds Mk III), leave the 500mm on one, the 70-200mm or 70-300mm on the other and only occasionally stop to put on either the 17-40mm or a 1.4x converter on the 500mm. For the "up-close", the 70-200mm "wins", but I would say a high percentage are shot with the 500mm lens and I just move the vehicle to where I want to be...

Most recent trip I played with a 7D just for video, which was cool with the 500mm lens  :)

Are you doing an organised trip? If you are, then make sure you understand the vehicle(s) so you can make appropriate decisions on support for any of your lenses.

I can't think of many times I've yearned for a 400mm or 300mm over using the 500mm. In fact many times, it's the opposite, I'm worrying about DOF @ the subject distance to ensure I can get 2 or more in focus without losing too much speed.

Even on organised trips, especially those specialised photographic trips, then the driver will normally position you based on the glass of the shooters, and most seem to stick with the 500mm or 600mm.

200-400mm would definitely be interesting in the future, however, if money is no issue, then take a 300mm f/2.8 - but probably more as a backup :)

Few other tips - I bought a little sandisk memory holder for the most recent trip. Has a ring so you can attach it to the camera strap, which was easier. A pair of hyperdrive ipads were there for backups, and the ipad for preview (alas did not have a wifi x2 at the time). Oh and bought a coffee mug which plugged into the car cig lighter and boiled me coffee for breakfast in the morning...

Happy to provide any other info which may help, especially if you are doing self-drive....
If life is all about what you do in the time that you have, then photography is about the pictures you take not the kit that took it. Still it's fun to talk about the kit, present or future :)

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Re: Recommendation For Long Lenses
« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2012, 04:34:11 PM »
why don't bring the 500 f/4? if you can't take it with you, the 400 f/2.8 is definitely not an option too. it's larger and heavier then the 500.
i'd go with the 70-200 and a 300 f/2.8 + 1.4 TC. if the 300 f/2.8 is too large/heavy and you can deal with 1 stop less light, you can also consider the 300 f/4.

good luck with your choice and your trip! wish i could join :P.
bring home some nice pictures, and don't forget to share them with us ;)
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NWPhil

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Re: Recommendation For Long Lenses
« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2012, 04:53:56 PM »
Hi Curt,
my two cents, as I have been on a safari in Tanzania two years ago:
YES, the 500 mm and both converters. Is not just the birds that are far away or small
Then the 70-200 2.8L - fast enough and in range for when they get closer.
It's a big world out there - I don't think you need the 8-14mm, 17 to 24 is a good range as everything will look too small, but bring also a 100 or 180mm macro. Between bugs, flowers and other textures, you will have you tons of fun.
But you still need a good wide angle lens. My choice would be either the 14mm 2.8L or the 24mm 1.4 L II versions.
Keep in mind that the 100mm can be used for portraits too
In sum:
you want the max range, then something around 100/300 and something wider at/than 24.
Bring both bodies -while in safari, if you were smart enough and able to afford it, it will be only you and close friend/family - no strangers. It will help having the big lens always on, and the second one with a shorther lens for snap-shots or closer range. It's not easy to change lens while the 4x4 is moving, aside of potential dust. Bring a sturdy tripod, and for the 4x4 you can buy a bag of beans locally - you will need the support as you will shooting from the open top canopy most of the times.
You will need battery chargers: a solar type and/or cigarette lighter type aside of the outlet (do check what voltage and socket type is used locally
a backup system for all your photos would be a great addition too - meaning a laptop with an external backup drive.
Check/search on tripadvisor forums for other gear and advice needed while out there
Good luck
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Re: Recommendation For Long Lenses
« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2012, 04:53:56 PM »

cfargo

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Re: Recommendation For Long Lenses
« Reply #13 on: January 06, 2012, 07:30:18 PM »
I'm thinking the 8-15mm for hanging over the side of the landrover on a monopod with a long cable release to shoot animal that come up right next to us. I'm also hoping that at Jacks Camp, I will be close enough to the Mearkats to get some interesting pictures with this lens. I have enjoyed the 8-15mm 10 times more than I thought I would.  It is an awesome lens.

I have never been to Africa before but here is where I'm going.
Makgadikgadi Pan Game Reserve Jack's Camp
Northern Botswana, Africa

 

tvboy

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Re: Recommendation For Long Lenses
« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2012, 09:11:29 PM »
I also was recently in Botswana in late Oct early Nov...best time between dry and rainy season there and would say as other longer the better. The stars were find with a 17 - 40. and would recommend that you find out what kind of vehicle you are going to be in so you can figure out how to shoot with that long lens. Some trucks don't have enough room for a tripod. I say forget the Ipad or any computer too much weight and trouble...buy a Nexto extreme(or something similar...B&H) maybe 750gig and transfer your cards to that.  I never had any trouble with that and faster than a computer. Do all your processing at home. See if your guides have inverters for their truck so you can use your AC outlet(many people come from Europe besides North America)and charge everything through your ac adapter.

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Re: Recommendation For Long Lenses
« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2012, 09:11:29 PM »