June 19, 2018, 05:10:31 AM

Author Topic: Canon 100-400 L II vs Sony 100-400 GM OSS  (Read 11336 times)

Talys

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Canon 100-400 L II vs Sony 100-400 GM OSS
« on: March 08, 2018, 01:40:41 PM »
I've been fortunate enough to have a friend's Sony A7R3 and 100-400 4.5-5.6 GM OSS for a little while.  I've been playing around with the lens, and thought I would share my first impressions of it in comparison to the 100-400 L II, which I own.

DXO gives the Sony a very high score, significantly higher than the Canon.  Plus, this is a much more expensive lens (in Canadian dollars, about $800 difference).  So I was pretty excited to compare them.  Because of the weather (downpour), and the nature of the lens, I haven't had a chance to shoot anything worth sharing, but there are many differences between these two similar lenses.

Spoiler: I like the Canon much better ergonomically.


Make no mistake, the Sony is a finely crafted zoom lens.  It has a super-premium feel about it, tough it "feels" more delicate to me than the Canon.  The construction is very high-end (it had better be, at it's price), the focus and AF rings have a nice feel to them, and it's almost exactly the same size and uses the same filters (77mm) as the Canon.

There are some things I like better about the Sony:

1. It has a better tripod foot.  The foot has 2 threads, which means that if you put an arca plate on it, you don't have to worry about twist.  On the other hand the Canon has many third party foots, and you can get a foot with an arca plate right on it.  However, this works better for me, because I like to put a 3.75" Fusion plate, since that gives better grip when holding the camera by the foot, and also a flip-down BlackRapid loop.  It also angles sharply (like 45 degrees) forward, keeping it out of the way of the grip.

2. The lens hood is really nice.  It has a rubbery ring around it, and is just finished better than the Canon.

3. It has no play with the body.  My Canon has a very small amount of play; the Sony has none.

4. * Theoretically, it has better resolving power.  I haven't seen this yet; I'll report back when I get to shoot with it.  Of course, I don't want to minimize this -- it could be a big deal -- but this post is really about ergonomics, not performance.  After all, if you're gonna lug it and use it for 5-10 hours, ergonomics matters.

Now, things that I like more about the Canon:

5. HUGE.  The Canon is ring USM.  The Sony is Focus by Wire.  'nuff said.

6. Canon has IS Mode 3, which is great for BIF -- or just set it and forget it.  Sony does not.  On that note, maybe I'm smoking something, but I swear the IS on the Canon is better than the Sony, even with IBIS thrown in.

7. On the Canon, Zoom is in on the front, and MF ring is near the body; on the Sony, it's the other way around.  I think the Canon way is much, much better.  Why?  I use zoom a lot more than MF, and the tripod foot is in the way of the zoom, the way Sony does it.  Also, if you have it on a gimbal (like a Wimberley), the zoom control is smack in the middle of the balance point, which is a terrible design.  Even on a monopod, I can't put my hand under the zoom ring (I have to adjust from the left).

8. The Canon has a zillion-times better zoom lock.  When you lock the Canon, it's locked.  When you lock the Sony, it's "tight".  Which means, unfortunately, that it slowly creeps out if you walk around with it pointed down.

9. The plate on the side where the controls are is plastic on the Sony.  Why?

10. The tripod collar is better on the Canon, though not by a lot.  The Sony is somewhere between the 100-400L2, which is the nicest tripod collar I've ever owned, and the 70-200IS2, which is decent but not spectacular.  Personally, I think the collar is a little too much friction on the Sony, but it is a pretty smooth glide.

11.  The zoom ring on the Canon is much more effortless to get it from 100-400.  On the Sony, it's more resistance, though of course, since the lock doesn't work for beans, it's going to end up at 400mm anyways.  The MF ring is also stiffer, but it's focus by wire and sort of annoying anyways, so who knows how much I'll use it.

Other than that, without shooting any meaningful photos, ergonomically with the A7R3, I think that it actually doesn't feel too bad handheld with the A7R3, because you're mostly supporting the camera on the lens end, and compared to my last adventure with the A7R2, the deeper grip makes a big difference. 

One ergonomic design issue -- the A7R3 has an AF illuminator built in.  But the problem is, the Sony 100-400 -- and every other pro Sony lens -- has a barrel that's in the way of the illuminator :D  But that is not a minus to the lens design, and in fairness, I'm not sure there's anywhere on the camera where you could put the AF illuminator and not have it blocked, if you're using a bigger diameter lens.

On a gimbal, it feels ok, if not great.  There's not quite enough camera to grab on to.  However, I really don't like the feel on a monopod, where I'm not supporting the lens with my left hand.  It feels like the body end is just way too small.  Perhaps that would be different with a grip on the A7R3, but my friend doesn't have one, and I'm not going to buy one just to find out :D

One last thing, there are 3 (!!) focus hold buttons on the lens.  I set my cameras to back-button AF (with shutter button AF disabled), so hold is just, "don't press the back button".  Unless I'm missing something, for back button AF people, these are totally useless.  When I was playing with it, sporadically, the buttons would bring up a histogram.  But other times, not.  No clue :)
« Last Edit: March 11, 2018, 03:06:14 AM by Talys »

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Canon 100-400 L II vs Sony 100-400 GM OSS
« on: March 08, 2018, 01:40:41 PM »

AlanF

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Phil, thanks for this, it's most useful. The key things now to know: 1, how sharp is the lens on the A7RIII compared with the Canon on a high resolution body; 2, how good is the focussing for birds in flight?
Thanks
Alan
5D IV, 5DS R, 400mm DO II, 1.4xTC III, 2xTC III, EF 1.8 STM,  EF 24-105, 100-400 II, EF-S 15-85, Sigma 150-600mm C, EOS-M5 15-45, f/2 22, 11-22, Samyang 8mm f/2.8 fisheye: sold 7D II, EOS-M, Powershot G3 X,  Sigma 10-20, EF 300/2.8 II, 70-200/4 IS.

Talys

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Phil, thanks for this, it's most useful. The key things now to know: 1, how sharp is the lens on the A7RIII compared with the Canon on a high resolution body; 2, how good is the focussing for birds in flight?
Thanks
Alan

It's dumping gobs of rain here; when I went out on my patio, AE says, 1/1600, f/5.6... ISO 20,000 :D 

So, I will definitely test this out, and report back, along with a pictures of subjects I photograph all the time with 6D2 (like mallards, for an easy comparison) and an idea of how well it is able to acquire focus, and give a fair assessment of all of the other potentially useful birding-related goodies :)

If I have time, I'll take some studio shots for comparison, so that you can see the sharpness of Canon glass vs Sony glass on the Sony body.

Ryananthony

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Phil, thanks for this, it's most useful. The key things now to know: 1, how sharp is the lens on the A7RIII compared with the Canon on a high resolution body; 2, how good is the focussing for birds in flight?
Thanks
Alan

It's dumping gobs of rain here; when I went out on my patio, AE says, 1/1600, f/5.6... ISO 20,000 :D 

So, I will definitely test this out, and report back, along with a pictures of subjects I photograph all the time with 6D2 (like mallards, for an easy comparison) and an idea of how well it is able to acquire focus, and give a fair assessment of all of the other potentially useful birding-related goodies :)

If I have time, I'll take some studio shots for comparison, so that you can see the sharpness of Canon glass vs Sony glass on the Sony body.

I'm heading to Reifel tomorrow, the weather says it should cooperate.  ;)

stochasticmotions

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I currently own both lenses (and 1.4 teleconverters) and use them mostly for nature photography.  Currently using the Canon 5DS and Sony A7RII.  So far I find them pretty much equivalent and am confortable using either in most conditions (neither are the fastest for either company but they seem to be pretty close in capabilities).  There are cases for both where autofocus is slightly better than the other.  I am finally used to the sony (after 14 years of canon).  With the cameras I currently have autofocus with the teleconverter is better on the sony, however once you drop the aperature below f9 the sony uses contrast detect and loses its value for anything in motion. 

Image quality is fantastic on both, high ISO is better on the sony and image stabilization is absolutely fantastic (canon is very good). 

As spring comes I will be getting out more with both combos for birds on the South Carolina coast and hopefully the bears in the smoky mountains.   If anyone would like to see some specific comparisons let me know and I can try to put something together.  I'm also going to be comparing 16-35 f4 and 24-105 f4 since I now have both in each system (not likely to get a 500 f4 on sony anytime soon).

Right now I don't have many pictures of the same bird on either since I usually go out with the 500 on the canon and and 100-400 on the sony...but you can see what I have shot lately on flickr if you want (flickr.com/photos/stochasticmotions)
 

Ryananthony

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  With the cameras I currently have autofocus with the teleconverter is better on the sony, however once you drop the aperature below f9 the sony uses contrast detect and loses its value for anything in motion. 
 

Is this only when you have the exposure simulation on ( the "what you see is what you get" , I'm not sure what it's actually called.)

If you have that off, the lens focuses wide open and stops down for exposure like canon, if I'm not mistaken? Do you have any input on this? That would make a big difference, as it would still use phase detect.  Thank you!

AlanF

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I currently own both lenses (and 1.4 teleconverters) and use them mostly for nature photography.  Currently using the Canon 5DS and Sony A7RII.  So far I find them pretty much equivalent and am confortable using either in most conditions (neither are the fastest for either company but they seem to be pretty close in capabilities).  There are cases for both where autofocus is slightly better than the other.  I am finally used to the sony (after 14 years of canon).  With the cameras I currently have autofocus with the teleconverter is better on the sony, however once you drop the aperature below f9 the sony uses contrast detect and loses its value for anything in motion. 

Image quality is fantastic on both, high ISO is better on the sony and image stabilization is absolutely fantastic (canon is very good). 

As spring comes I will be getting out more with both combos for birds on the South Carolina coast and hopefully the bears in the smoky mountains.   If anyone would like to see some specific comparisons let me know and I can try to put something together.  I'm also going to be comparing 16-35 f4 and 24-105 f4 since I now have both in each system (not likely to get a 500 f4 on sony anytime soon).

Right now I don't have many pictures of the same bird on either since I usually go out with the 500 on the canon and and 100-400 on the sony...but you can see what I have shot lately on flickr if you want (flickr.com/photos/stochasticmotions)
 

Thanks for this very useful information from real experience. The A7RIII reviews say it is significantly better than the II, including better AF, which would suggest the III would outperform the 5DS. On the other hand, the 5DIV is better than the 5DS for AF, though the 5DS is no slouch. I look forward to more input from Phil and others.

One thing I really like about the Canon AF is centre spot focussing which enables me to focus on a small bird hidden in foliage. Does the Sony have equivalent fine focus pinpointing?
5D IV, 5DS R, 400mm DO II, 1.4xTC III, 2xTC III, EF 1.8 STM,  EF 24-105, 100-400 II, EF-S 15-85, Sigma 150-600mm C, EOS-M5 15-45, f/2 22, 11-22, Samyang 8mm f/2.8 fisheye: sold 7D II, EOS-M, Powershot G3 X,  Sigma 10-20, EF 300/2.8 II, 70-200/4 IS.

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Talys

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Here are some studio shots.  I manually focused on the ColorChecker text on the top right of the Passport.  All of the photos were taken with a remote trigger and on a solid, geared-head tripod.

Warning - the RAW files from the Sony are huge (83MB)!

Sony A7R3 + Sony 100-400 JPEG http://talys.icxi.com/lenstest/sonysony.jpg
Sony A7R3 + Sony 100-400 RAW http://talys.icxi.com/lenstest/sonysony.arw

Sony A7R3 + Canon 100-400 L2 JPEG http://talys.icxi.com/lenstest/sonycanon.jpg
Sony A7R3 + Canon 100-400 L2 RAW http://talys.icxi.com/lenstest/sonycanon.arw

Canon 6DII + Canon 100-400 L2 JPEG http://talys.icxi.com/lenstest/canoncanon.jpg
Canon 6DII + Canon 100-400 L2 RAW http://talys.icxi.com/lenstest/canoncanon.cr2


Talys

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Thanks for this very useful information from real experience. The A7RIII reviews say it is significantly better than the II, including better AF, which would suggest the III would outperform the 5DS. On the other hand, the 5DIV is better than the 5DS for AF, though the 5DS is no slouch. I look forward to more input from Phil and others.

One thing I really like about the Canon AF is centre spot focussing which enables me to focus on a small bird hidden in foliage. Does the Sony have equivalent fine focus pinpointing?

Alan, check out the sharpness for yourself above to compare the Canon vs Sony lens.  I think that it goes to show us how lucky we are that optics that are so sharp are commercially available.

Compared to A7RII, the autofocus on the A7RIII is a incomparably better; also, it feels this way because the EVF is vastly improved, so it's easier to point the camera at what you want to focus on.  But, my memories of using the A7RII AF system for birding was not a happy one, so that bar isn't particularly high.

Regarding Spot AF (little square in focus point square), versus 1 point AF - Sony has this, with a (big) caveat.  There is centre AF, which is a huge square, and there is a more precise one, called flexible spot AF, where you can specify small medium or large focus point.

The major caveat is that medium is outrageously large, and small is only slightly smaller than the Canon 1pt AF.  There is no flexible spot AF size that is as nearly as small/accurate as Canon's Spot AF.  So, for example, if you want to AF on its eye, rather than its beak, you may not be able to.

  With the cameras I currently have autofocus with the teleconverter is better on the sony, however once you drop the aperature below f9 the sony uses contrast detect and loses its value for anything in motion. 
 

Is this only when you have the exposure simulation on ( the "what you see is what you get" , I'm not sure what it's actually called.)

If you have that off, the lens focuses wide open and stops down for exposure like canon, if I'm not mistaken? Do you have any input on this? That would make a big difference, as it would still use phase detect.  Thank you!

You're thinking of Live View Display, Setting Effect On/Off.  I only know because I had to look up to be able to see anything to take the shots I did above :D

But... No.  It's really, really stupid.  If you set aperture > f8, autofocus feels like a Nikon on live view.  On the A9, you can go up to f11.

There are some other things I have found that make me laugh.  For example: the a7rIII is 10fps... but, for anything that's moving fast where focus has to change, they recommend you turn off H+, which drops you down, I think, to 8fps max.  Why?  In H+, what you see in the viewfinder... isn't what's actually there :)  (it's delayed). 

They also recommend you turn off silent shutter -- which is something that is pretty useful for certain types of birds; I'm not sure, but I think it also decreases maximum fps. 

There are also some bizarre ergonomic decisions.  For example: there's an AF illuminator.  Yay!  The camera needs it, because AF in the dark is lacking, I think.  But... slap on any pro lens (like a f/2.8), and guess what?  the lens barrel/lens hood is in the way of the illuminator :D

And there's a touch screen, but there might as well not be.  You can tap to change focus points (but not actually focus or take a picture), and you can use it to move the focus points while you're using the viewfinder.  And I think that's it.  I don't think there's anything else you can touch on the touch screen, not even big orange "Ok" type buttons, or any of the back controls when you put it in the equivalent of the Canon "Q" mode :D

So strange.

btw - I found this very helpful and informative: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNloKXpUOWA

I'm heading to Reifel tomorrow, the weather says it should cooperate.  ;)

Share your photos from the visit!

I was thinking of going myself on the weekend, with that promised sun :D  But it's been a bit of a crazy week, so I may put it off.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2018, 10:21:41 AM by Talys »

stochasticmotions

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I currently own both lenses (and 1.4 teleconverters) and use them mostly for nature photography.  Currently using the Canon 5DS and Sony A7RII.  So far I find them pretty much equivalent and am confortable using either in most conditions (neither are the fastest for either company but they seem to be pretty close in capabilities).  There are cases for both where autofocus is slightly better than the other.  I am finally used to the sony (after 14 years of canon).  With the cameras I currently have autofocus with the teleconverter is better on the sony, however once you drop the aperature below f9 the sony uses contrast detect and loses its value for anything in motion. 

Image quality is fantastic on both, high ISO is better on the sony and image stabilization is absolutely fantastic (canon is very good). 

As spring comes I will be getting out more with both combos for birds on the South Carolina coast and hopefully the bears in the smoky mountains.   If anyone would like to see some specific comparisons let me know and I can try to put something together.  I'm also going to be comparing 16-35 f4 and 24-105 f4 since I now have both in each system (not likely to get a 500 f4 on sony anytime soon).

Right now I don't have many pictures of the same bird on either since I usually go out with the 500 on the canon and and 100-400 on the sony...but you can see what I have shot lately on flickr if you want (flickr.com/photos/stochasticmotions)
 

Thanks for this very useful information from real experience. The A7RIII reviews say it is significantly better than the II, including better AF, which would suggest the III would outperform the 5DS. On the other hand, the 5DIV is better than the 5DS for AF, though the 5DS is no slouch. I look forward to more input from Phil and others.

One thing I really like about the Canon AF is centre spot focussing which enables me to focus on a small bird hidden in foliage. Does the Sony have equivalent fine focus pinpointing?

I agree with Talys on the answers to your questions.  As further comment I have found the spot (small) to be very good and works off any focus point well.  For me it works well to grab focus through tree branches.  Lock on also works well.  I'm not yet familiar with how much better the A7RIII and the A9 are but I have heard good things.  One thing I have found is that with the A7RII backlit shots it will miss focus and hunt for it more than I would like, canon is better for the center point in those situations (but about the same for other focus points).

On the camera side, I've heard good things about the updates to the sony cameras and small incremental benefits to the canon, but that makes sense since sony had some serious catching up to do and canon is using mature technology.  There is a reasonable chance I will pick up a A7RIII or A7III soon, but on the canon side I probably won't update until I see what they do for 5DS(R) update....if that comes out and matches capabilities of A7RIII or D850 it will be in my bag in a flash.




bwud

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Re: Canon 100-400 L II vs Sony 100-400 GM OSS - first thoughts (ergonomics)
« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2018, 06:35:22 PM »
With the cameras I currently have autofocus with the teleconverter is better on the sony, however once you drop the aperature below f9 the sony uses contrast detect

Note that the a9 will continue PDAF until f/11 (which I suspect you know given the "with the cameras I have")

stochasticmotions

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here are a few examples, first shot is sony with 1.4 teleconverter, second is sony 100-400, and third is canon with 1.4 teleconverter.  All shot have been cropped and adjusted to my liking in lightroom and posted at @2000pixels long side on flickr.  I don't have many recent examples of in flight shots at the moment.


Nice fluffy nest bed by Barry Scully, on Flickr


A turn of the head by Barry Scully, on Flickr

blue grey on Palo verde by Barry Scully, on Flickr

Talys

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Well, I ran into a potential deal-killer for Sony mirrorless as an "only body" any time soon -- the AF illuminator.

As I noted previously, the in-body AF illuminator is nearly useless, because on pretty much every pro lens (anything with a 77mm filter, for sure), a big chunk of the illumination beam is cut off by the lens barrel.  And anyways, it shines a constant, solid red light where you point the camera (not just a flashed pattern), so it's pretty darn annoying even when you put on a cheap kit lens.

More importantly, flash unit AF assist beans don't fire (I understand, they're not helpful to the Sony AF system).  Which means that you can pretty much never use an A7Riii anywhere there isn't enough light to autofocus.

Also, another ergonomics/design issue: the sony flash pins are insane.  They have a whole bunch of little tiny delicate pins at the end, so delicate that both the camera and the cover have plastic covers to protect them when not in use.  It's so delicate that the flashes have a cover over them when not in use, as does the camera (since it has matching, ultra-fine matching pins).  They look like a nightmare for durability.

For bird photography, it's still helpful to have a flash to help with front illumination if the sun is on the wrong side, or with an off-camera flash for lighting the subject, generally.  But low light flash photography, I think the AF situation would make it a non-starter.

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Talys

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@Alan re: AF speed and accuracy in the field (and then some other observations) -

I spent about an hour today taking pictures of a few mallards at a lake near my home.  There weren't many BIF opportunities, and it was at the end of the day (about 4:30pm) with not terrible, but less than ideal light.  That said:

1. A7R3 with FE 100-400 is way, way better than A7R2 for BIF AF.

2. AE was a problem; I'll need to play with that.  Multi pattern metering (default) sucks for BIF, as it was underexposing the birds almost every time.  Tomorrow, I will have more time and will try spot metering with large circle.

3. The BIF AF was surprisingly not terrible in center + expansion... but it also wasn't great.  Maybe in-line with a 6D2, though definitely less enjoyable to use.  IMO, inferior to 7D2/5DIV.

4. A7R3 seems to be a fantastic bird portrait camera.

5. A super useful feature is crop mode.  First, because of composition, and second, because the file sizes are 18MB for an 18 megapixel file that benefits from the excellent Sony sensor.  It's so useful that I programmed one of the most accessible Custom buttons to that feature for rapid toggling (around where the Canon top ISO button would be).

At the end of the day, if you can fill up the APSC square and get the center 18 megapixels in focus with good composition and lighting, it's going to be a great photo.

6. The battery is not even close to the durability of a LPE6 on a Canon body birding.  1 hour = 25%+ used for me, looking through the viewfinder a pretty good chunk of the time.  I couldn't imagine owning one of these guys without at least 2 batteries; probably 3, or even 4 to go into a grip two at a time.

7.  I wish my friend had a grip.  The camera was painful after an hour - I'm not a big guy and I don't have sasquatch hands, yet, my palm hurt from the bottom of the camera biting into it.  No idea how people do it without a grip.  I'm tempted to buy him one and call it Christmas -- also as a nice thank you for extended usage of his rig. :)

I do have some pictures that I have to go through, but may not get to them today.  I will experiment some more tomorrow.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2018, 01:46:53 AM by Talys »

Neutral

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2. AE was a problem; I'll need to play with that.  Multi pattern metering (default) sucks for BIF, as it was underexposing the birds almost every time.  Tomorrow, I will have more time and will try spot metering with large circle.

3. The BIF AF was surprisingly not terrible in center + expansion... but it also wasn't great.  Maybe in-line with a 6D2, though definitely less enjoyable to use.  IMO, inferior to 7D2/5D

For #2 you would possibly  better go with "focus point link" , then exposure will be linked to the selected focus point, basically the same as  one would do with 1dx or 1dxm2. Possibly still need to do some AE compensation though. Here is the link for more info.
http://helpguide.sony.net/ilc/1710/v1/en/contents/TP0001211747.html

For #3 best one on clear sky would be wide AF area using AF-C.
It works surprisingly well finding any bird within the frame , even very far and small, locking to it and then performing its tracking.
But do not expect it to be on par with a9 with its superfast sensor readout and calculations for AF which seems to be more close to military implementations of objects tracking rather than normal photography implementations.

For stills (birds sitting in foliage) for precise focus point you could use focus magnifier , i have it assigned to AEL button. Press twice and you will have "+" where you have focus point. AF works for this in AF-S mode only which is ok for still object. This is similar to 1dx and 1dxm2 dot focus ( dot within single point focus rectangle )

Regards
« Last Edit: March 10, 2018, 07:45:47 AM by Neutral »

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