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Author Topic: 300/2.8 L (IS MK1) or 400/2.8 L (non-IS)  (Read 6742 times)

DanoPhoto

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300/2.8 L (IS MK1) or 400/2.8 L (non-IS)
« on: April 16, 2012, 01:43:15 PM »
I have squirreled away enough of my "allowance" over the past several months that I have approx $3000 to invest in a second hand "big white".
 
The question I have for the group is, based on my budget, which of these two lens gives me the most "bang for the buck"?
 
I will likely have the lens on a monopod (kids sports) or tripod (birds and such), so would the only benefit for IS be for framing the shots?
 
Thoughts?  Advice?
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300/2.8 L (IS MK1) or 400/2.8 L (non-IS)
« on: April 16, 2012, 01:43:15 PM »

Flake

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Re: 300/2.8 L (IS MK1) or 400/2.8 L (non-IS)
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2012, 02:17:06 PM »
Well thoughts & advice you might not be prepared for!

Firstly a monopod is not going to give enough stability to render IS redundant.  You'll get about a one stop advantage with a monopod, a far cry from the 4 stops IS gives.

300 & 400mm are both two short for birds so you'll be needing a teleconverter for those, my suggestion is a new or recent second hand Sigma 120 - 300mm f/2.8 OS lens.  Amazing image quality and takes a teleconverter very well, plus 4 stop OS system.  With a 2X you get 240 - 600mm f/5.6 or with a 1.4X 170 - 420mm f/4  This is the most flexible range of focal length possible and gives the biggest bang for your buck, the image quality is really very good so no worries there.

If money was no object then I'd buy both of the big whites - new!  However most of us live in the real world and are forced to compromise.  If I were buying new  I'd still think about the Sigma simply because of its sheer flexibility, when considering an older design I'd definitely go for the Sigma.  You really do benefit from IS / OS especially at these focal lengths and the 400mm f/2.8 is a very big & heavy lens, no IS means a tripod - always.  Both the Sigma & Canon 300mm f/2.8 lenses are heavy but not as bad as the 400mm f/2.8

Of course your main priority might be to own one of the big white lenses and showing off might be the biggest attaction of owning one of these lenses (it is for many owners).  It doesn't last though as it's just too high profile for many, and you may well consider buying a camoflague cover especially for birds!

TrumpetPower!

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Re: 300/2.8 L (IS MK1) or 400/2.8 L (non-IS)
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2012, 02:30:03 PM »
For sports, you'll be using a fast shutter. Between the big aperture and the monopod, you'll be just fine without IS. And, with a tripod, you'll again not be needing IS.

(Of course, given a choice between IS and no IS, IS is always welcome. It's just a very minor factor in the types of shooting you're describing.)

Both of your subjects will also benefit from the extra reach of the 400. The 400 is the go-to lens for big-people sports, and kids fill less of the frame. And you can never have enough reach for birds, unless they're chickens in the back yard.

From what you describe, the 400 is the way to go.

Cheers,

b&

DanoPhoto

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Re: 300/2.8 L (IS MK1) or 400/2.8 L (non-IS)
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2012, 03:11:07 PM »
@Flake - Thanks for the third party lens perspective.  I have been one dimensional (Canon only) for so long that was not part of my consideration.  I love the focal range the Sigma offers, as I would be using extenders to get the reach I want for birding (on top of the 1.6 the 7D provides).  As far as the reality check of who is looking at me or showing off, it would be too little, too late (past that stage in life).
 
Will definitely look at the Sigma, but what are your thoughts about the IQ of an "older" 400 (non-IS) versus a relatively "younger" 300?
 
thanks!
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DanoPhoto

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Re: 300/2.8 L (IS MK1) or 400/2.8 L (non-IS)
« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2012, 03:13:55 PM »
@Trumpet - thanks for the feedback.  What do you think about the IQ of the lenses, based on the relative age of each?
 
I love the 100-400, but find myself almost always shooting at the longer end and lose AF with extenders.
 
Thanks!
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xROELOFx

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Re: 300/2.8 L (IS MK1) or 400/2.8 L (non-IS)
« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2012, 03:41:13 PM »
i have never used the 400 but can tell you the 300mm + 1.4x + 7D kicks ass! you'll get quite some reach with it (672mm compared with fullframe) with a max. aperture of f/4. that's really great! it's large enough to get nice blurry backgrounds and fast shutterspeeds. i can tell you i'm really happy with this combination.

i used to have a 100-400 before i bought my used 300mm. the 300 is better in every way. it has faster AF, is weather sealed and has way better IQ. also the larger aperture is a big plus. it lacks a bit of flexibility (without zooming like the 100-400), but i used to use my 100-400 at longest end most of the time.

anyways, good luck with your choice! spend your cash wise ;)
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TrumpetPower!

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Re: 300/2.8 L (IS MK1) or 400/2.8 L (non-IS)
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2012, 03:55:51 PM »
What do you think about the IQ of the lenses, based on the relative age of each?

IQ with any supertelephoto prime is phenomenal, as good as it gets. Yes, the newer versions have even better IQ, but the old ones still beat anything else in the lineup that's not a supertelephoto. The improvements with the newer versions have little to do with IQ and much more to do with IS and reduced weight -- both of which, of course, can have a substantial impact on usability and therefore IQ, but not in any way that you'd be able to measure on a lab bench.

Cheers,

b&

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Re: 300/2.8 L (IS MK1) or 400/2.8 L (non-IS)
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2012, 03:55:51 PM »

pwp

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Re: 300/2.8 L (IS MK1) or 400/2.8 L (non-IS)
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2012, 04:00:58 PM »
If you're shooting sports f/2.8 is a must. Pure & simple. You need to keep your shutter speed as high as practical. And a f/2.8 lens does focus faster... a must with sports if you want consistent results. Unless you have muscles like Mr Universe you'll need the monopod for anything longer than a couple of minutes work.

You have not mentioned the body you are working with. Plenty of photographers including myself who use the f/2.8 300 on a Mk4 with the x1.3 crop are effectively shooting at 390mm. When we transition to the FF 1DX we'll lose that reach and a 400 f/2.8 will become a required purchase.

If you shoot APS-C with x1.6 crop you'll find the 300 f/2.8 a very satisfying useful lens for sports. For birds with a 1.4 extender you'll have an f/4 420mm on FF, and a healthy 672mm f/4 on an APS-C like the 7D.

Because of the likely transition from 300 f/2.8 to 400 f/2.8 by a good number of sports shooters there MAY be more 300 f/2.8 glass coming available second hand as the 1DX reaches the market. This may also put upward pressure on pre-owned 400 f/2.8 lenses as people like me with 1DX bodies on pre-order look around for low cost entry to a good 400.

Optically and performance wise either lens is a stellar performer with the capacity to continue to surprise with its very rapid AF and unique image qualities.

Paul Wright

Harv

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Re: 300/2.8 L (IS MK1) or 400/2.8 L (non-IS)
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2012, 04:44:14 PM »
In my personal opinion, the 300 f/2.8L IS gives you a lot of flexibility when coupled with extenders.  For years, I used a 500 f/4L IS and finally gave up on it because of the weight.  The 400 f/2.8L IS is even heavier than the 500.  It's a brute and weighs over 6 pounds more than the 300.  I am not familiar with the non-IS version, but I'm sure it's a pretty heavy lens as well.  Monopod or not, you still have to carry your gear around.

I shoot mostly motorsports and birds and am amazed at how the 300 performs in those venues.  The AF is incredibly fast and accurate.  The image quality, simply put..... is outstanding.

Don't forget to click on the images to enlarge them.

Here are some images using the lens without a converter (300mm).....







Here are some images using the 1.4x converter (420mm).....









Here are some images using the 2x converter (600mm).....









I'm using the Mark III converters and found the 2x is much better than the previous model, although did not see much difference with the 1.4x to the older model.

I normally shoot a 1D Mark IV but also use the above combos on a 7D which also handles them very well.

They will have to pry my 300 f/2.8L IS from my cold, dead hands.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2012, 04:45:47 PM by Harv »
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TrumpetPower!

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Re: 300/2.8 L (IS MK1) or 400/2.8 L (non-IS)
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2012, 05:28:46 PM »
Dano,

As you can see from Harv's photos, the 300 is a superlative lens -- though, to be sure, what's behind the camera is generally more important than what's attached to its front. And he makes an excellent point about weight; the new 400 is a reasonably light 8 pounds, but the old one is about 12 pounds. And crop factor certainly comes into play, as well.

But I'll still stand by my recommendation for the 400, with all of Harv's caveats. If you can live with the weight and especially if you're now or will be shooting with a non-crop body, the 400 is the better fit for the shooting you describe.

Cheers,

b&

DanoPhoto

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Re: 300/2.8 L (IS MK1) or 400/2.8 L (non-IS)
« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2012, 05:29:39 PM »
@ Paul - I am using the 7D for sports and wildlife, so I am excited about the reach and flexibility with extenders.  AF and fps are as good as I can get...will migrate to a 1D system (hopefully, some day, budget allowing).  This is just a passionate hobby for me, do not have the raw artistic skills you pros have, (yet?).
 
Thanks, Dan.
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DanoPhoto

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Re: 300/2.8 L (IS MK1) or 400/2.8 L (non-IS)
« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2012, 05:34:29 PM »
@ xROELOFx & Trumpet - this is the type of real life experience I was looking for.  Shooting on a crop body for now (1D some day).  I will mull over the pros (many) and cons (few) of each.  weight seems to be a big differentiator.
 
do not think either will be a bad choice...sort of like splitting hairs on a bald man.
 
@ Harv - DAMN NICE work!
 
 
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TexPhoto

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Re: 300/2.8 L (IS MK1) or 400/2.8 L (non-IS)
« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2012, 10:56:43 AM »
Given the choice I'd say 300/2.8 L (IS MK1).  Even on a tripod, the IS can be very helpful. 

I own a 400 2.8 IS and love it, but it so big and heavy, the 300 2.8 IS is a great alternative. 

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Re: 300/2.8 L (IS MK1) or 400/2.8 L (non-IS)
« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2012, 10:56:43 AM »

DanoPhoto

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Re: 300/2.8 L (IS MK1) or 400/2.8 L (non-IS)
« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2012, 11:45:32 AM »
Thanks, Tex.  That is one of the bigger factors in the decision between those two lenses.
 
Will keep my eyes open for 300/2.8 pricing trends over the coming weeks/months, as Paul pointed out earlier, with more second hand copies coming available due to 1D4 to 1DX migration.
 
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Michael_pfh

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Re: 300/2.8 L (IS MK1) or 400/2.8 L (non-IS)
« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2012, 11:52:41 AM »
The IQ of the 400 2.8L is great but you are going to be obliged to use a tripod or at least monopod at all times. Get the 300 2.8 IS instead - that thing is heavy too but you can use it handheld. I am even thinking about getting the 300 mk2 since i am tired of dragging around the heavy 400 2.8L beast...
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Re: 300/2.8 L (IS MK1) or 400/2.8 L (non-IS)
« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2012, 11:52:41 AM »