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Author Topic: 300L 4.0 or 400mmL 5.6  (Read 4175 times)

Plan b

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300L 4.0 or 400mmL 5.6
« on: February 05, 2012, 07:24:46 PM »
I am looking for some feedback in regards to getting my daughter a new telephoto lens.   The lens would be used primarily for nature shots, so she doesn't need an ultra fast lens.  I was thinking about either the 300 f4 or 400 f5.6.     I have already excluded the 100-400 because of the push/pull design.   I am a bit partial to the 300 because of the IS.  However, the extra 100mm could be a bonus.  She is currently using a 7d and mostly shoots concert pictures for various bands.   Therefore, her experience with large lenses is very limited. Any feedback would greatly be appreciated.

neuroanatomist

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Re: 300L 4.0 or 400mmL 5.6
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2012, 07:36:12 PM »
Out of curiosity, what's the perceived problem with the push-pull design?  If she's tried it and hated it, fine.  But it has the advantage of allowing a very fast change in focal length. Also, it's a 400mm lens with IS that stores more compactly than the 300/4 IS, and much more compactly than the 400/5.6.  I owned the 300/4 IS for a while, switched to the 100-400 for the extra 100mm, to keep IS, and for the versatility of the zoom.  So, I'd recommend the 100-400mm over the other two.

Else, I'd pick the 300/4 IS over the 400/5.6. The 400mm lens is good for birds in flight, where you need a very fast shutter speed so the lack of IS isn't a huge issue. The 300/4 IS also has a much closer MFD, so it's good for close ups of flowers and butterflies (as is the 100-400, but not the 400/5.6).  If you like, I can post samples of the 7D + 100-400...that lens pretty much lives on my 7D now.
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Caps18

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Re: 300L 4.0 or 400mmL 5.6
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2012, 08:36:11 PM »
I picked the 300mm f/4.  Mainly because I wanted it to be a little faster at 300mm, and I could add a 1.4x to make it a 420mm f/5.6.  Don't underestimate the need for speed.  If you don't have a tripod, and use low ISO's, you will need the faster shutter speed that the f/4 will give you to help stop motion and prevent blur.

It all depends on if she will take photos in the 100mm-290mm range.  Or if 300mm won't be long enough on a 7D, it is longer than what I have on my camera, and I have been happy so far.
5D mark 2, 16-35mm f/2.8, 17mm TS-E f/4, 85mm f/1.8, 300mm f/4 + 1.4x, 580 EX Flash

Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: 300L 4.0 or 400mmL 5.6
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2012, 08:56:21 PM »
I have had all three, I currently have the 300mm f/4 and 100-400mm L.  All three are good, but the minimum focus distance of the 400mm f/5.6 does not let you fill the frame with small birds, etc.  Both the 300 f/4 and 100-400mm L have close focusing.

I'll be keeping the 100-400 and selling the 300mm f/4.  Its good, but I prefer the 100-400mm L.  Its much easier to store and to carry telescoped, and then extends quickly to zoom to 400mm.  Push-Pull is not a issue to me, and it makes it much easier to fit in my camera bag. 

Killdeer last spring with 100-400mm L





On the nest:


jm345

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Re: 300L 4.0 or 400mmL 5.6
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2012, 09:03:11 PM »
I have had both of the lenses you are asking about. The 400f/5.6 is very sharp and excellent for birds in flight. For other uses it requires either a tripod to handle slower shutter speeds or bright lighting conditions to obtain fast enough shutter speeds to handhold, otherwise you won't get sharp photos. The 300f/4 IS is more versatile. It can be handheld in lower lighting conditions because it is shorter(300mm vs. 400mm), faster(f/4 vs. f/5.6) and of course because of the IS. As has been mentioned it also focusses closer. Plus you can add the 1.4x Extender and turn it into a 420mmf/5.6 IS lens and the photo quality is still very good. BTW, I no longer own the 400f/5.6.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2012, 08:38:23 AM by jm345 »

neuroanatomist

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Re: 300L 4.0 or 400mmL 5.6
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2012, 09:10:26 PM »
Since we're showing samples, here are a few more with the 7D and 100-400mm:


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, 1/640 s, f/5.6, ISO 160


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

And a 100% crop of the last one, the 100-400 is quite sharp:

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Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: 300L 4.0 or 400mmL 5.6
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2012, 09:20:11 PM »
Neuro

Thats a wonderful capture of the  nictitating membrane on the hawks eye.  Thats the first time I've seen one in a image, I had to google it to read more about it.

Plan b

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Re: 300L 4.0 or 400mmL 5.6
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2012, 09:33:29 PM »
Wow!  Those are some amazing pics.  I personally believe the 100-400 is the best choice, but she cannot stand the push/pull feature.  However, I think it delivers the most bang for the buck.  Perhaps a little time with the 100-400 will make her change her mind.  If not, I could always use it to replace my own haphazard Sigma.  Thanks for the input.

Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: 300L 4.0 or 400mmL 5.6
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2012, 09:51:05 PM »
Wow!  Those are some amazing pics.  I personally believe the 100-400 is the best choice, but she cannot stand the push/pull feature.  However, I think it delivers the most bang for the buck.  Perhaps a little time with the 100-400 will make her change her mind.  If not, I could always use it to replace my own haphazard Sigma.  Thanks for the input.

The 300mm f/4L IS  is very good, maybe a tad sharper, its just not 400mm.  It would be my second choice for getting up close to nature only because its a shorter focal length.  Beware that its not a very popular lens, and difficult to resell.  I'd look for a good used one for $750-$800 with box and all original accessories if you are comfortable with buying used.  Then, if it doesn't work out, you can resell it and break even.  My 300mm f/4 was the only lens I own that had a AFMA of zero on both my 7D and 5D MK II when I recently tested my lenses with FoCal. (I own a lot of lenses).

Look at the max magnification spec on the lenses to find out which one can fill a screen best with a small object by getting closer.  The 300mm f/4L, 100-400mm L, and 70-200mm f/4 L IS are all focusing closely, which is a property I like.

bigblue1ca

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Re: 300L 4.0 or 400mmL 5.6
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2012, 10:56:28 PM »
Damn you guys, stop putting up such good pictures.....it just makes me want to add more things to my list of things to buy.  ;)  I'm impressed with the 100-400 IQ after seeing those.  Not to side track the thread too far, but how fast does the 100-400 focus? (I realize that's subjective)

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Re: 300L 4.0 or 400mmL 5.6
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2012, 12:47:29 AM »
the 300 f4L IS is great i picked mine up second hand for $800 its IS is very noisey and makes clunking sounds but its very solid comfortable to use (i take the tripod foot off) and f4 is nice I also have the kenko 1.4DGX which i can pop on to make it 420 f5.6 and it keeps IS look for a second hand one
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Re: 300L 4.0 or 400mmL 5.6
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2012, 01:41:23 AM »
The 300 f/4is is really one of Canon's "sleeper" lenses. It's simply great value. Similar size to a 70-20 f/2.8 in the bag but much lighter. Most copies are pin sharp wide open. Use a x1.4 for a f/5.6 420mm.

I sold mine when I got a f/2.8 300is and immediately regretted it. There's room in the kit for both lenses. With it's very close MFD I used to shoot food with it for an interesting, very saleable look.

The f/4 300is is so light and small and such a good performer you tend to take it along with you more often than the bulkier, heavier but brilliant f/2.8 300.

Another lens worth considering for similar money is the extremely highly regarded, much newer 70-300mm F4-5.6L.

Paul Wright
« Last Edit: February 06, 2012, 01:43:12 AM by pwp »

briansquibb

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Re: 300L 4.0 or 400mmL 5.6
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2012, 02:34:46 AM »
Have you considered the 70-300L instead of the 300 f/4?? It is light, compact and gives top IQ images. Has the extra benefit of the best current IS.

neuroanatomist

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Re: 300L 4.0 or 400mmL 5.6
« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2012, 06:07:18 AM »
Not to side track the thread too far, but how fast does the 100-400 focus? (I realize that's subjective)

Pretty fast, IMO.  Not quite as fast as the 70-200 II, but similar to the 24-105, for example.
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Re: 300L 4.0 or 400mmL 5.6
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2012, 07:23:05 AM »
I went through the same process when deciding this over a year ago.

It really depends on what what type of wildlife she is shooting. I use a 400mm f5.6 as I mainly shoot birds and I went for an uncompromised 400mm for this reason and am very happy with it. For for a general wildlife lens including dragonflies, large butterflies 300mm will be better than the 400mm due to the higher magnification ratio at MFD and you'll have IS. A 1.4x tc can be added for that extra reach if needed. So discounting the 100-400mm, which is also an excellent general wildlife lens I would plump for the 300 with a 1.4tc. From the reviews of all the lenses they are produce excellent images, the only downside of the 400mm is you need very good light to handhold at low ISO as it does not have IS.

Jamie Medford