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Author Topic: Recommendation for a sidekick wildlife lens  (Read 3028 times)

FunPhotons

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Recommendation for a sidekick wildlife lens
« on: May 26, 2012, 11:26:45 PM »
Hello,
    I like to do landscape photography, and while out I'd enjoy doing some wildlife photography (primarily birds I expect). I have an old Rebel I'd dedicate to the task and just need a lens (when I upgrade my next body the 5DmkII will probably become the wildlife body).
    So ... what lens to pair with it? I want something that I keep with me but will get the critters, so light and long is what I'm thinking about. Good candidates seem like ...

  • 70-300IS (relatively light, relatively cheap, flexible (zoom), enough reach?)
  • 400 (relatively light, relatively cheap, inflexible prime, no IS, more reach)
  • ?

Don't know if the old Rebel might suck too much, maybe I'll upgrade to a newer Rebel or even a 7DII when it comes out.

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Recommendation for a sidekick wildlife lens
« on: May 26, 2012, 11:26:45 PM »

darth mollusk

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Re: Recommendation for a sidekick wildlife lens
« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2012, 01:09:57 AM »
I used an old rebel (350D) for my first year of photography (last year) - and paired it with the 70-300 is (non L) and was able to get some decent wildlife shots with it - though those certainly didn't come without challenges.  The 350D was pretty damn slow with and certainly didn't have great AF, iso was, to be blunt, pretty brutal - upgrading to the 7D was a massive improvement (understatement).  The 70-300 was great fun, but as I improved the soft IQ at 300mm became a little frustrating - the lens is sharp at 70 and slowly becomes softer towards 300.

I now shoot with the 7D and Sigma 120-300 2.8 OS - the lens is a beast, but tack sharp and pairs well with the 1.4 and 2.0 tele-converters (plenty of range).  It's certainly to big to be a 'sidekick' though.  I would pick up a 70-200 (either the 2.8 or 4 are brilliant) and bring along a 1.4 TC for added range if you need it.

you can likely find a 7D for not much more than a 1000 - considering that the new one will likely be close to 3 times that price (assuming Canon continues with their jump in prices) and you wont get it until 2013, it's worth the investment.  keep the 7D with a wildlife lens on it and use the 5D (when you get it) for your primary passion - landscapes.
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FunPhotons

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Re: Recommendation for a sidekick wildlife lens
« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2012, 06:57:25 AM »
Thanks Mollusk - I do have the 70-200 2.8/II already so that would be a nice and cheap option. It's not light, but I was thinking that it wouldn't have enough reach even with a crop body. Using the 1.4 is an interesting idea though, with the 2.8 it would still get a lot of light and probably still have good IQ.

EDIT: Yeah I like this idea - so 1.4x or 2.0x?
« Last Edit: May 27, 2012, 08:22:55 AM by FunPhotons »

darth mollusk

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Re: Recommendation for a sidekick wildlife lens
« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2012, 10:11:38 AM »
the 2.0x results in a fairly steep drop-off in AF speed and IQ (regardless of brand) - I barely use mine to be honest.
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FunPhotons

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Re: Recommendation for a sidekick wildlife lens
« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2012, 05:11:34 PM »
On further thought though the 1.4x won't really give me much reach for the cost and hit in IQ and speed. It's kind of odd, to keep decent usability and IQ you need to stick with the 70-200/2.8 & 1.4, yet all you'll gain there is another 80mm in focal length. Doesn't seem worth it.

Maybe I'll look into the 400mmL ...

darth mollusk

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Re: Recommendation for a sidekick wildlife lens
« Reply #5 on: May 27, 2012, 05:39:26 PM »
I know how you feel, having went through the same thought process myself - I finally just went with the 300 2.8, but wildlife is my passion so I can justify the larger lens...
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FunPhotons

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Re: Recommendation for a sidekick wildlife lens
« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2012, 09:11:38 PM »
Hm, since you're a Sigma guy, what do you think about the 150-500 for wildlife? Not small but certainly flexible and cheap (er)

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Re: Recommendation for a sidekick wildlife lens
« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2012, 09:11:38 PM »

neuroanatomist

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Re: Recommendation for a sidekick wildlife lens
« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2012, 09:29:27 PM »
Although few zooms hold up to a TC, the 70-200 II does well even with a 2x.  I have a 100-400, but use an extender for weather resistance, or when I'm planning to mostly use the 70-200 and bring the extender for opportunistic shots.

FWIW, here are a some examples - the first two on the 7D where I was using an extender + 70-200 II in drizzle/rain (the 1.4x shot was before I had the 2x), the third was bringing the 2x along on a trip with the kids where I brought the 5DII and 70-200 II.  Clicking them then View All Sizes in the upper right will get you to a 1600 pixel version if you want to check sharpness.


EOS 7D, EF 70-200mm f/2.8L II IS USM + EF 1.4x II Extender @ 280mm, 1/2000 s, f/6.3, ISO 3200


EOS 7D, EF 70-200mm f/2.8L II IS USM + EF 2x II Extender @ 400mm, 1/160 s, f/5.6, ISO 3200


EOS 5D Mark II, EF 70-200mm f/2.8L II IS USM + EF 2x II Extender @ 260mm, 1/250 s, f/5.6, ISO 400
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pwp

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Re: Recommendation for a sidekick wildlife lens
« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2012, 09:50:50 PM »
  • 70-300IS (relatively light, relatively cheap, flexible (zoom), enough reach?)
  • 400 (relatively light, relatively cheap, inflexible prime, no IS, more reach)

The 70-300L IS f/4-5.6 has a great rep for being sharp wide open, though this is f/5.6 at the long end. It will perform better on newer bodies. For wildlife I'd be looking at staying with APS-C bodies because of the extra reach, +1.6 over FF. There are plenty of great wildlife images taken with 70-300L IS f/4-5.6 teamed with a 7D.

The f/5.6 400 is a dear old thing, inexpensive but a little slow and of course no IS. People do have great success with it but there may be better options. I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for the 7DII. If we had all held our breaths waiting for the 5D3 half the photographers on the planet would have expired long before that camera's announcement. The 7D has plenty of admirers. It's not perfect, but what is? Go pre-owned if $$ is an issue. There may be good deals around as the upgrade obsessed among us sell up in anticipation of the 7DII.

PW

FunPhotons

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Re: Recommendation for a sidekick wildlife lens
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2012, 10:21:12 PM »
pwp: A friend has the 70-300, nice lens but frankly I'm not sure it makes sense with the 70-200/2.8. Too much overlap for only an extra 100mm.

Neuro, the 2X makes a lot of sense coupled with the 70-200, if the IQ and usability stands up. I like to keep my lens count low so getting more use out of the 70-200 is an idea I like. Your shots look good, so would you recommend it for my application?

I should decide as there is a rebate expiring soon.

darth mollusk

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Re: Recommendation for a sidekick wildlife lens
« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2012, 10:47:46 PM »
Hm, since you're a Sigma guy, what do you think about the 150-500 for wildlife? Not small but certainly flexible and cheap (er)

I briefly considered the Sigma 150-500 - but reviews suggest that IQ doesn't measure up in comparison to the canon telephotos, specifically the 70-200.  I would get the 70-300L before the Sigma - although I will admit that I have run into a number of amateur bird photogs with the 150-500 and they loved it when I asked (I imagine they're likely not as obsessed as I am with IQ).  I went with the 120-300 only because it measures up to the Canon 70-200 IS II.  Also, I find f2.8 on a wildlife lens almost an essential now - for both speed (AF and shutter) and DoF.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2012, 10:52:12 PM by darth mollusk »
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pwp

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Re: Recommendation for a sidekick wildlife lens
« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2012, 11:29:49 PM »
Check out the current thread on the intriguing Sigma AF 120-300mm f/2.8 APO EX HSM DG OS. Talk about value!

PW

sanj

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Re: Recommendation for a sidekick wildlife lens
« Reply #12 on: May 28, 2012, 03:41:16 AM »
100-400

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Re: Recommendation for a sidekick wildlife lens
« Reply #12 on: May 28, 2012, 03:41:16 AM »

Marsu42

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Re: Recommendation for a sidekick wildlife lens
« Reply #13 on: May 28, 2012, 06:08:38 AM »
I like to do landscape photography, and while out I'd enjoy doing some wildlife photography (primarily birds I expect). I have an old Rebel I'd dedicate to the task and just need a lens (when I upgrade my next body the 5DmkII will probably become the wildlife body).

You should think about the "ff for wildlife" plan again - apart from the 5d2's af the 1.6x crop factor does make the decisive difference unless you're going for long, heavy-weight prime lenses that'll cost you.

When not shooting in a zoo, for many shots my 70-300x1,6 resulting in roughly 500mm ff-equivalent isn't long enough, for these and esp. birds I carry around a tc to get to some 700mm zoom length and *then* crop the picture. So you might be better off with the 400 prime or the mentioned -300/2.8 zoom, tc(s) and a crop body - there's a reason the 7d is the bird shooters' favorite. Also remember the f8 af issues when using a tc.

70-300IS (relatively light, relatively cheap, flexible (zoom), enough reach?)
400 (relatively light, relatively cheap, inflexible prime, no IS, more reach)

If you want to shoot wildlife, only the long end matters - so don't get the 70-300 non-L. And if anything moves, IS is just a convenience to stabilize your view, but you can just get a monopod.

FunPhotons

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Re: Recommendation for a sidekick wildlife lens
« Reply #14 on: May 28, 2012, 08:03:20 AM »
Well, it certainly isn't an easy question it seems! Reminds me of doing astronomy, getting good results starts to go sky high (ha ha) both in cost and size, very quickly. I do care about getting the top quality I can (with the high quality of rest of my equip I'd rather not bother with mediocre results due to issues with my camera or lens). However I would like something to see how serious I am about wildlife, if I like it then when I retire eventually I could pop for one of the big white trumpets. Though speaking of which, I'm not sure how my wife would react to a super big, white expensive lens like that. Probably mutter something about 'old rich white guy'.

Anyhow, so the 2X quality is maybe questionable, it is $500 after all and is only useful for the 70-200. Plus like Mr Mollusk I'd probably prefer a 2.8 lens in this application, if I could get it. My biggest problem is that I don't want to buy a 7D just yet, so would be using with an old Rebel which surely wouldn't focus with this combination.

The 100-400 is too old a lens for me, I've been waiting for an update, will probably wait for a good time longer, who knows.

The 70-300 has a lot of nice features (weight primarily), but doesn't give me a lot of reach and is mostly redundant with my 70-200 AFAIAC.

The 400 looks quite good, other than being slow and old (no IS or weather sealing) and the fact that I have to carry another lens around. However I do spent a lot of time at the ocean and have wanted to get shots of ocean critters - seals, whales and what not, so the lack of weather sealing is an issue here. I ruined a 50/1.4 once by taking it to the beach.

On the Sigmas, those look pretty nice but you know I just want to stick with Canon. I'm at the point where I don't want to bother with off brand gear (which is why I returned my off brand battery grip and just bought the Canon, because the buttons sucked on the off brand)

Putting all that together, I guess I don't have a good option without the updated 100-400, Gah ...
« Last Edit: May 28, 2012, 08:14:48 AM by FunPhotons »

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Re: Recommendation for a sidekick wildlife lens
« Reply #14 on: May 28, 2012, 08:03:20 AM »