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Author Topic: Canon 200-400/1.4x vs. 600/4 II  (Read 5559 times)

kirispupis

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Canon 200-400/1.4x vs. 600/4 II
« on: March 29, 2012, 01:19:59 PM »
This isn't really a vs. question as I am well aware of the utility of these two lenses.  I have long wanted a telephoto and am thinking of finally saving for one. These two lenses are at the top of my list but as it will take me awhile to save up I really only have the possibility to buy one.

The following are the major uses I am planning:
- Bird and wildlife photography. I love to photography all types of birds.  I also enjoy photographing mammals - though they are more difficult to come across.
- Zoo photography. For the most part these are the only mammals I often get to see other than squirrels.
- Sports.  Both my sons love playing baseball.
- Travel. Once in awhile we travel somewhere interesting such as Peru or Africa.  Although for this particular case rental is an option, it is nice to have something I am used to.

Note that I will be using these with a FF 5D3.  I do own a 7d but will likely sell it soon.

First, I am aware that no one has had the opportunity to use either of these lenses, but let's assume they are both excellent optically and that the 200-400 is sharp even with the extender (for $11k it better be).  Therefore it comes more down to utility.

What I really like about the 200-400/1.4x is the flexibility.  It should make a great safari lens and zoo lens.  For sports, the focal length is right where I need it.  The zoom capability should also help greatly as kids run around the bases.  The smaller size also makes this a very useful travel lens.  I also like the presumed close focus distance (assuming it has specs similar to the Nikon 200-400).  Occasionally I manage to get quite close to a bird and I enjoy taking closeup shots of leaves from a distance.

The main disadvantage of the 200-400/1.4x is the length.  For most birds on a FF I would prefer more.

What I really like about the 600/4 II is the focal length.  On my 7D, my 70-200/2.8 II + 2x III gives me an effective 640mm and it is barely enough.  I would certainly love to go higher and the 600/4 II would give me an 840/5.6 that is still very sharp.  I also like that the new model is much lighter - making it easier to deal with.  Generally with birds I find the focal length I need is the max I can do, so the zoom isn't as useful.

The biggest disadvantages of the 600/4 are that the length is a bit too long for baseball (though as my kids get bigger I will be forced to stay further away) and it is heavier and more difficult to port around.  The 200-400 is light enough that I may take it on trips where wildlife is not the main focus, but the 600/4 would like accompany me only on serious safaris.  Of course, for safaris I can always rent the 600.

Still, most of my bird photography is not done on vacation but is done almost every day.  My office is within walking distance of an area that has quite a few birds and I take walks there every day during lunch.  Therefore, whichever lens I pick up will likely be used at least twice a week.

Therefore, I like the flexibility of the 200-400 but also like the length of the 600.  Given my needs, which would you go for?
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Canon 200-400/1.4x vs. 600/4 II
« on: March 29, 2012, 01:19:59 PM »

neuroanatomist

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Re: Canon 200-400/1.4x vs. 600/4 II
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2012, 01:40:35 PM »
Tough choice.  I'd be inclined to the 600/4 II, I think, given that you already have the excellent 70-200 II for the closer part of the range.
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joos

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Re: Canon 200-400/1.4x vs. 600/4 II
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2012, 04:28:13 PM »
For me I would go with the 200-400mm f/4.  With the built in 1.4 TC it brings your focal length out to 560mm...  I like that kind of flexibility not to mention it might weigh less than the 12lbs 600m f/4.
I don't know how much gear you carry around but shedding a few pounds would be a plus for me. 

danski0224

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Re: Canon 200-400/1.4x vs. 600/4 II
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2012, 04:43:18 PM »
Well, I went out with my 7D, a 1.4X III and the 300 f4, and it wasn't enough for birds more than about 150 feet out. They were still teeny tiny in the viewfinder. 

That is 672mm equivalent.

I am considering the 500mm, but not sure if/when I could actually buy one.
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AmbientLight

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Re: Canon 200-400/1.4x vs. 600/4 II
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2012, 04:54:14 PM »
My choice is buying the 200-400. Quite frankly I don't think a 600m prime would see much use, if I owned one and since the 200-400 so nicely fits the limits of my 70-200/2.8 L, it appears to be made for me. Similar to the original poster I am also thinking to use it for zoo visits or perhaps for safari, which is were this lens should be a brilliant choice given its versatility and focal length range. Of course I must admit that I am not usually shooting birds, only occasionally.

TrumpetPower!

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Re: Canon 200-400/1.4x vs. 600/4 II
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2012, 05:11:34 PM »
I think I'd suggest a third option: the 400 f/2.8 II plus extenders.

For sports, it combined with the 70-200 (on two bodies) you already have is the gold standard that all the SI photographers use.

The 600 f/4 is arguably the best birding lens there is, but the 400 f/2.8 is arguably the second-best -- and, make no mistrake, it's an excellent birding lens. It's also more versatile. Compare:

400 f/2.8 v not-an-option
560 f/4 (w/ 1.4x) v 600 f/4
800 f/5.6 (w/ 2x) v 840 f/5.6 (w/ 1.4)
1120 f/8 (w/ both, unsupported, but works surprisingly well) v 1600 f/8 (w/ 2.0, supported but still won't autofocus)

If you were looking for a single-purpose lens, the 600 would be your best bet. But, since you want some flexibility...well, the 400 has your name written all over it, methinks.

Cheers,

b&

Daniel Flather

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Re: Canon 200-400/1.4x vs. 600/4 II
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2012, 05:56:30 PM »



Still, most of my bird photography is not done on vacation but is done almost every day.  My office is within walking distance of an area that has quite a few birds and I take walks there every day during lunch.  Therefore, whichever lens I pick up will likely be used at least twice a week.

Ok, I can't imagine you taking either of these lenses to work twice a week, especially the 600/4.  I think the 400/5.6 might be lighter, add the 1.4 tc or 2.0tc and boom.  Plus you have the 70-200.
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Re: Canon 200-400/1.4x vs. 600/4 II
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2012, 05:56:30 PM »

Daniel Flather

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Re: Canon 200-400/1.4x vs. 600/4 II
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2012, 05:59:01 PM »
The 400/5.6 with 1.4TC and crop a little in to that awesome 5d3 and you'd be set.  But the lure of a 600/4 is tempting and sometimes you just have give in.  :)

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briansquibb

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Re: Canon 200-400/1.4x vs. 600/4 II
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2012, 06:01:33 PM »
Definitely the 600 on a FF for birds

For basket ball a 70-200 would be closer to the mark.

kirispupis

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Re: Canon 200-400/1.4x vs. 600/4 II
« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2012, 06:20:37 PM »
Thank you for all the replies.  The 400/2.8 II is definitely another strong option that I should consider.  Interestingly my main concern was that the 400/2.8 II + 2x extender would be considerably less sharp than the 600/4 + 1.4x but at least with the current 600 that does not appear to be the case - http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/ISO-12233-Sample-Crops.aspx?Lens=741&Camera=453&Sample=0&FLI=2&API=2&LensComp=336&CameraComp=453&SampleComp=0&FLIComp=1&APIComp=0 One advantage that the 600/4 II does have though is it makes a nice 1200/8 - which perhaps will be more useful in the future when Canon releases a 1 series body again capable of focusing at F8.

Note that I currently own a 300/4 and a 70-200/2.8 II.  I plan to sell the 300/4 to help fund whatever I buy.  However, the earliest I will purchase something is the end of the year as I have quite a bit of saving to do (the 5D3 did not help here :))

In terms of lugging gear to work, I already lug a bag with a 7D, 5D3, 70-200/2.8 II, and six other L lenses to work every day.  I will need a bigger bag for either lens, but it isn't a big deal.
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Stu_bert

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Re: Canon 200-400/1.4x vs. 600/4 II
« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2012, 07:02:18 PM »
Thank you for all the replies.  The 400/2.8 II is definitely another strong option that I should consider.  Interestingly my main concern was that the 400/2.8 II + 2x extender would be considerably less sharp than the 600/4 + 1.4x but at least with the current 600 that does not appear to be the case - http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/ISO-12233-Sample-Crops.aspx?Lens=741&Camera=453&Sample=0&FLI=2&API=2&LensComp=336&CameraComp=453&SampleComp=0&FLIComp=1&APIComp=0 One advantage that the 600/4 II does have though is it makes a nice 1200/8 - which perhaps will be more useful in the future when Canon releases a 1 series body again capable of focusing at F8.

Note that I currently own a 300/4 and a 70-200/2.8 II.  I plan to sell the 300/4 to help fund whatever I buy.  However, the earliest I will purchase something is the end of the year as I have quite a bit of saving to do (the 5D3 did not help here :))

In terms of lugging gear to work, I already lug a bag with a 7D, 5D3, 70-200/2.8 II, and six other L lenses to work every day.  I will need a bigger bag for either lens, but it isn't a big deal.
If birding priority has a significant gap over wildlife, then the 600mm is your choice. Not sure why you would sell the 7D unless you were considering a 1D IV, as the effective reach is better.

The 200-400 appeals more for when you want to frame the wildlife and you have more opportunity to. I find I have more time with animals than birds, unless you have some lure for them (ie food). Currently I have a 500mm and 70-300mm. I might supplement with a 300mm f/2.8 but the 200-400mm is a rental option only for me I think.

You're biggest gap appears to be the longer reach, so 600mm, 1.4x and 7D. Unless you find you need higher ISO capability than the 7D delivers for you. Rent the 200-400 for Safari's if you're not happy with the 70-200mm.
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 :)

TrumpetPower!

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Re: Canon 200-400/1.4x vs. 600/4 II
« Reply #11 on: March 29, 2012, 07:06:00 PM »
Since you're not in a rush, and since you're considering spending over five figures on a lens...I'd suggest budgeting an extra grand (total) to rent each before you buy (based on a guesstimate of a few hundred each for a four-day rental). Or, at least, go to your local pro camera shop (if you have one) and play with them in person.

Either that, or figure out how much of a hit you'd take to sell one and factor that into your budget. Buy the one you think you're most likely to want, but don't worry about selling it and buying the second on your list if you're not happy (because you've already set that money aside); think of the loss for selling it as the rental price.

And, I gotta tell you...the 400 and the 600 most emphatically are not the sorts of lenses you just toss in a bag with the rest of your gear. They come with hard-shell cases big enough to fit at least a couple dozen laptops, and I wouldn't recommend transporting the lens outside the case. Think of them as watermelon-sized faberge eggs, though their fragility is more like that of the watermelon than the egg.

Frankly, there's no way I'd even think of taking my 400 anywhere unless I knew I was going to be shooting with it, and I doubt I'd be shooting with it on my lunch breaks unless it was part of a paying gig. Don't get me worng -- it's a hella fun lens, and I'm always looking forward to using it. But, at the same time, it's not something to take lightly (so to speak).

Cheers,

b&

kirispupis

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Re: Canon 200-400/1.4x vs. 600/4 II
« Reply #12 on: March 29, 2012, 07:42:33 PM »
I agree that these are big lenses.  I have two friends who have the 800/5.6, two others with the 400/2.8, and a number of people with 500/4's.  I plan to budget for a new camera bag along with the lens.  I do not expect to bring it to work every day - for example if I know it is going to rain - but as the location to photograph is literally outside the door I will not have to lug it very far.

That being said, one advantage of the 200-400 is I expect it to be significantly lighter.  A 600/4 at the zoo will likely be overkill.  Also, due to the different enclosures a zoom lens would be more useful there.

In terms of selling the 7D, I am finding with the 5D3 it isn't that useful.  The 5D3 has so much more detail and far better high ISO support and better AF.  Factoring in the resolution the 7D has a 1.44 crop over the 5D3. However, so far I have noticed that even at relatively low ISO such as 400, the 5D3 has a lot more detail.  I plan to do some tests soon to figure out how much of an advantage the crop truly is - but I have a feeling the 7D will not be around for long.

So far it works like this.
Birds - 1st place 600/4 II.  2nd place 400/2.8 II, 3rd place 200-400/1.4x
Sports (baseball) - 1st place 400/2.8 II, 2nd place 200-400/1.4x, 3rd place 600/4 II
Zoos - 1st place 200-400/1.4x, 2nd place 400/2.8 II, 3rd place 600/4 II
Travel - 1st place 200-400/1.4x, 2nd place 400/2.8 II, 3rd place 600/4 II

If I approach this analytically, it works out as follows.
Judging each area equally with 3 pts for 1st place, etc. it comes out to
600/4 II - 6 pts
400/2.8 II - 9 pts
200-400/1.4x - 9 pts

Weighting the categories on a 1-5 scale however.
Birds - Very important.  I do this often. 5
Sports - Very important, but it is only a few months of the year. 4
Zoos - Moderately important, only happens a few times a year. 2
Travel - Not so important. If I lack something I can always rent it. 1

600/4 II - 22 pts
400/2.8 II - 28 pts
200-400/1.4x - 22 pts

That would seem to answer the question, but I will have awhile to think this over while I am saving.
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Re: Canon 200-400/1.4x vs. 600/4 II
« Reply #12 on: March 29, 2012, 07:42:33 PM »

Stu_bert

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Re: Canon 200-400/1.4x vs. 600/4 II
« Reply #13 on: March 29, 2012, 07:43:02 PM »
Since you're not in a rush, and since you're considering spending over five figures on a lens...I'd suggest budgeting an extra grand (total) to rent each before you buy (based on a guesstimate of a few hundred each for a four-day rental). Or, at least, go to your local pro camera shop (if you have one) and play with them in person.

Either that, or figure out how much of a hit you'd take to sell one and factor that into your budget. Buy the one you think you're most likely to want, but don't worry about selling it and buying the second on your list if you're not happy (because you've already set that money aside); think of the loss for selling it as the rental price.

And, I gotta tell you...the 400 and the 600 most emphatically are not the sorts of lenses you just toss in a bag with the rest of your gear. They come with hard-shell cases big enough to fit at least a couple dozen laptops, and I wouldn't recommend transporting the lens outside the case. Think of them as watermelon-sized faberge eggs, though their fragility is more like that of the watermelon than the egg.

Frankly, there's no way I'd even think of taking my 400 anywhere unless I knew I was going to be shooting with it, and I doubt I'd be shooting with it on my lunch breaks unless it was part of a paying gig. Don't get me worng -- it's a hella fun lens, and I'm always looking forward to using it. But, at the same time, it's not something to take lightly (so to speak).

Cheers,

b&
I take mine (500mm IS) in a Lowepro bag and the only time I use the (original) case is when I'm at home.... Oh and for the 500mm, could not fit one of my laptops in there - can't speak for the 400 / 600mm versions :)
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 :)

ajay

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Re: Canon 200-400/1.4x vs. 600/4 II
« Reply #14 on: March 29, 2012, 07:49:09 PM »
I photograph birds almost every day. It's my passion and part-time profession. At least 80% of the time I am shooting 840mm (600+1.4x). The 200-400 is an interesting lens, but 560mm @ f/5.6 doesn't cut it for me.

Also, I have personally tried the 400mm f/2.8 II lens with a 2x III TC and its autofocus is too slow for me. Yes, it will work and it is incredibly sharp. Sharpness is not an issue with that combo, but autofocus acquisition speed is noticeably slower.

Why not the 600mm II and pick up a 100-400mm f/5.6 for baseball, zoo, etc...?




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Re: Canon 200-400/1.4x vs. 600/4 II
« Reply #14 on: March 29, 2012, 07:49:09 PM »