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Author Topic: Long Range L Choices  (Read 7777 times)

Wilmark

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Long Range L Choices
« on: August 01, 2012, 12:02:18 PM »
I am thinking about a long L series telephoto. My interest is action sports and birding. I am a value conscious buyer.

Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM
Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM (+teleconv)
Canon EF 200-400 f/4L IS 1.4X (when it becomes available)
OR Sigma 300-800mm f/5.6 EX DG APO IF HSM (sigmonster)

I am looking for long term use and value in the purchase. I know at least one of the items in the list has not been released yet but apparently there are lot of people previewing it. How does the Sigmonster compare with the Canon L brethren? Considering that its about half the price (well OK not quite half), both from a usage standpoint (speed of focusing, weight, zoom etc) and from IQ. Which one of the Canon is the best choice, Would the 400 F2.8 + 1.4X Converter (not the zoom) be a near match for the 600mm F4? Because if its close, then the 400 F2.8 may be the better choice as it give you the 400mm F2.8 which is a sweet combo for many options, including sports. Whats your opinion? Especially if you'd had any experience with these guys? I plan to use it with a 5DMkIII in the first instance?
« Last Edit: August 01, 2012, 12:52:02 PM by Wilmark »

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Long Range L Choices
« on: August 01, 2012, 12:02:18 PM »

dr croubie

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Re: Long Range L Choices
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2012, 09:24:05 PM »
Long term value = avoid 3rd party brand

Only if you buy new. Buying 2nd-hand 3rd-party isn't so bad, then you can still sell it for about what you paid later (same with 2nd-hand L lenses too). It's only when buying new that L lenses hold their value to 80-90%, SigRons can lose to 50% of the sticker price. Finding the Canon L II versions second hand now would be near impossible (finding them new is hard enough).

Between the 400/2.8 II and the 600/4 II, they both weigh about the same. The prices are about the same, the 600mm is $1k more expensive (although that's only less than 10% more, it's still another nice lens you could have bought).
At 400mm, the 400 wins in IQ (obviously, the 600 doesn't go that wide).
At 560mm vs 600mm f/4, the bare 600mm wins over the 400+1.4x.
At 800mm vs 840mm f/5.6, the 600+1.4x again wins over the 400+2x.
And at 1200mm, the 600+2x wins over the 400 (presuming you stack a 400+1.4x+2x)

So it's more a matter of length. If you need the length, go the 600, especially if you've got a 70-300L or 100-400L that can cover the 400mm range in a pinch. If you'd rather do field sports or anything close(r) up, the 400 could be the go.
As to the SigMonster, there's precious few reviews, the best is probably this one at LL, if you haven't read it already. The IQ doesn't look too bad, but without a direct apples-apples against the new L II primes, we'll never know. I'd be guessing the L II primes are better, but are they $4000 better? ($8k vs $12k)
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Wilmark

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Re: Long Range L Choices
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2012, 11:04:04 PM »
@dr croubie - thanks for your reply. I have read all the reviews at Bryans website and the LL sigmonster (this is what made me consider it). A lot of Bryans reviews on these newer lenses are not based on production models unfortunately, and i think one is not based on him having the actual lens. I hate to ask you this but have you used any of these? If so, was your post based on this? Something that's hard to estimate is how much do you loose with the addition of the extenders. The longest i currently use is the 70-200II with a 2XIII for 400mmF5.6. Not bad for sports an outdoor situation, but the focusing is slow. Not enough for birding in the sheltered rainforests. Its a pitty that there is so little info out there even with the sigmonster. Almost no comparisons. I plan to wait until i see some solid comparisons but i am tending between the 400F2.8 or the 600F4 II. From what you say buying second had sigmas may not be a bad idea as they loose alot of their value on resale (their first resale i imagine). But i know that sigmonsters are hard to come by and i think there is a blacklisted set of serial nos that are defective. Thanks

dr croubie

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Re: Long Range L Choices
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2012, 11:31:04 PM »
Unfortunately I haven't used any of the long L primes, especially not the II versions (there's not many people in the world who would have used the II versions of the 500/600 II versions as they're just so damned new).

A lot of people around here would have used the mk1 versions, but the difference between them and the II versions can be a bit, a lot more price for a lot less weight, and working better with the TCs is their main selling point.

The SigMonster 300-800 and the SigLauncher 200-500 f/2.8 are strange beasts, both are pushing the limits of designs (as do their 8-16 and 12-24 on the wide ends), but there's never much info about them, nor many reviews. For sure Sigma has an image problem (sorry for the pun), a lot of people automatically assume that everthing they make is no good, and some people rave about them (especially when factoring in price). The best I can say about them is that they probably have a Quality Control problem, they release good and bad copies of each lens (that said, my 8-16 is wonderful).

Best advice I could give if considering one of these is to go to a real store, try it out and see how well you like it. Or hire it for a few days (if you can buy the exact one that you hire). Or even an online store that will give you a return policy (preferably with free return shipping, those beasts are heavy and shipping's probably fairly steep)...
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Magnumphotography

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Re: Long Range L Choices
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2012, 01:15:35 AM »
I would stick with Canon lenses. The series II will give the best performance and retain value very well.
Also, don't rule out the 500mm series II.

I am currently shooting with the 500 f4L is Series I. Plus the 5D mark III. My main focus is larger birds. I shoot at  500 - 700mm, dependant on situation.  The lens weights roughly 8.5 pounds. Usually home on a gimbal and big gitzo tripod.

Like you, I am planning on upgrading to the series II.
Either the 500mm or 600mm.
Both perform superbly, so it's really weight, focal length and a price difference.

The extra focal length of 600 - 840mm would be welcome. As I am usually wanting more focal length. Plus the weight of the 600 II, is  almost the same, as my current lens.

The 500 series II is roughly 7 pounds. A 1.5 pound weight reduction, to the series I 500mm. This would really change its hand holdablity. 8.5 pounds , is  manageable for occasional shots. But a 7 pound lens,  should open up a new style of shooting. Such as longer hand held shooting and more comfortable hiking, with or without a tripod. (Although, I would still most likely shoot with one.)

The 400 2.8mm would be great, for low light/Auto focus performance. As your mark III can make better use, of the f2.8 aperture for focusing. The weight of 8.5 ish pounds would lead to a good tripod. Yet managable. This focal length would perform excellent for sports.

My overall opinion is mixed.
For me the 400 has great speed, but not enough reach for birds. It would excel at sports though.  So as a bird shooter, I did not consider this lens.

The 600 would give the best reach for birding.
 
The 500 would weight the least and a good cost savings over the 600mm.

So for me, I will most likely get the 600mm. As I want the reach, over the weight advantage.

So it really comes down to what you need. I would rent both lenses. Some stores offer a percentage return on the rental fee. As long as you order one of those lenses, while returning the rental to the store. Henry's in Canada offers this service. I believe it''s through head shots.










Danielle

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Re: Long Range L Choices
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2012, 07:50:40 AM »
Siglauncher... ROFL. I love that name. *wonders who in hell would buy that*

Richard Lane

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Re: Long Range L Choices
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2012, 12:20:08 PM »
Hi Wilmark,

Many people have a hard time choosing between these options, including myself.  These lenses are so expensive, that you have to view them like the long term investment that they are.

I like to shoot Sports, Surfing, BIF, Motorsports, and Airshows. I'm not familar with the sigmonster at all.  As far as the the Canon super-telephotos.  They will all produce exceptional results and are in the top of their class.  So, the choice does come down to what your focal range requirements are.

I have the 300mm f/2.8L IS, 1.4X and 2X extender, 7D, MKIV and 1DX. I have also tried the 400mm f/2.8L IS version I.

Focal length requirements willl come down to Camera body FF vs crop factor and with or without extenders.  The 1.4X reduces AF speed by approx 50% and the 2X reduces AF speed by about 75% according to Canon. The AF speeds of these lenses are already very fast, so half as fast, is still pretty fast.

As you are aware the degradation with the 1.4X is mild and acceptable, however the 2X is more so.  It's always best to buy the FL that you need the most and just use the extenders as a bonus.

I use the 300mm f/2.8L with the MKIV (1.3 crop) for 390mm and many times I add the 1.4X for 546mm which gets to be a little too long for sports, but is good for BIF.
 
I do think that the 500mm would be fine for field sports though.  A lot of sports shooters use the 400mm with MKIV for 520mm.  With the exceptional ISO's of the 5DIII and 1DX, I think that the 500mm f/4 will become more popular for sports, unless someone shoots a lot of night games and really needs f/2.8.

If you add the 1.4X to the 500mm, then you have a nice light-weight 700mm f/5.6 BIF and wildlife lens.  If you shoot smaller birds from far away then you'll need the 600mm and then you can add the 1.4X for 840mm.  But I think the 600mm is too long for sports.  Sure you can get the exceptional isolation portrait shot, but it's a bit too long for general use.

The 200-400mm f/4L +1.4X intrigues me for it's versatility.
Since I already have the 300mm + 1.4X @420mm f/4 for sports, I feel that the 500mm f/4L would be too close to my 420mm f/4 combo.  So, I'm considering the 600mm.  If I sold the 300mm f/2.8 then I would also consider adding the 200-400mm +1.4X. 

Wouldn't this be a killer kit; 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II, 200-400mm f/4L IS+1.4X @560, 600mm with and without 1.4X for 840mm

If I were you I would strongly consider the 200-400mm if 560mm is long enough for you, otherwise the 500mm +1.4X @700mm would provide longer reach.  The 500mm will still be very good for sports on full frame, as well as wildlife with the 1.4X, and it's lighter and cheaper.

It's a tough decision, so don't rush it.

Rich
« Last Edit: August 02, 2012, 03:24:24 PM by Richard Lane »

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Re: Long Range L Choices
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2012, 12:20:08 PM »

westr70

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Re: Long Range L Choices
« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2012, 01:49:37 PM »
I would stick with Canon lenses. The series II will give the best performance and retain value very well.
Also, don't rule out the 500mm series II.

The 400 2.8mm would be great, for low light/Auto focus performance. As your mark III can make better use, of the f2.8 aperture for focusing. The weight of 8.5 ish pounds would lead to a good tripod. Yet managable. This focal length would perform excellent for sports.

My overall opinion is mixed.
For me the 400 has great speed, but not enough reach for birds. It would excel at sports though.  So as a bird shooter, I did not consider this lens.

The 600 would give the best reach for birding.
 
The 500 would weight the least and a good cost savings over the 600mm.

So for me, I will most likely get the 600mm. As I want the reach, over the weight advantage.

So it really comes down to what you need. I would rent both lenses. Some stores offer a percentage return on the rental fee. As long as you order one of those lenses, while returning the rental to the store. Henry's in Canada offers this service. I believe it''s through head shots.

Thanks Richard for offering some good ideas.  I eventually will upgrade to one of these lens and this discussion will help me make the decision.
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canon816

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Re: Long Range L Choices
« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2012, 01:57:37 PM »
I'm very interested in the 200-400.

I have a 300f2.8 and a 600f4 and both are amazing lenses.  Razor sharp images and fast focusing.  But!!! I always find myself lugging both into the field which can be quite a haul. 

If the 200-400 comes close at respective focal lengths of 300 and 560... then it could be an interesting prospect to consolidate my kit into this one lens. 

IQ will have to be superb on the 200-400 to justify this.  I don't think I have ever seen a sharper lens then my 300. 

So in response to your questions:  How long can you wait before you need some long glass.  If you are in a hurry I'd go buy a lens right now even Version I 500/600 lenses present excellent value and produce excellent quality images.  If you can wait.... I'd be curious about the 200-400 which is rumored to finally have a release in the next month or two.

No matter what you decide on... you are looking at the best glass produced.  You will be amazed with all of your "L" suggesttions..

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Re: Long Range L Choices
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2012, 02:31:10 PM »
Wilmark,

The only advice I could offer is to rent any of these lenses first to try them out for a few days, week, whatever.  I've done this on a regular basis before I decide to purchase a lens or not.  Sure, it adds cost to the purchase but may eliminate the hassle of selling or returning a lens that 'didn't work out'. 

As you know and have commented on, adding a TC to any lens just kills the focus speed and I couldn't agree more.

Best Regards
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Wilmark

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Re: Long Range L Choices
« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2012, 02:51:22 PM »
Thanks Richard and 816. I am prepared to wait until more information/ tests are available. I too was piqued by the 200-400 - you can never underestimate the convenience of a zoom. However I feel i am most inclined to go the way of the 400F2.8 as it giving me most of the FL I will need most of the time. However for birding i think 500/600 is better so it boils down to how much is lost (focusing speed and IQ) with the 1.4X on the 400F2.8.

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Re: Long Range L Choices
« Reply #11 on: August 02, 2012, 03:48:44 PM »
I wouldn't worry about image quality. It doesn't get better than a Big White. Is a bare 600 better than a 400 + 1.4? Yes. Is the difference discernible in anything other than pixel peeping or side-by-side comparisons of door-sized prints with your nose a few inches from the paper? No.

Make your decision based on practical requirements, especially focal length.

If you mostly shoot at 400, get the 400. If you need f/2.8, get the 400. If the teleconverter would wind up permanently mounted to the 400, get the 600. If you'll mostly be shooting shorter than 400 but need the option to go longer, get the 200-400. If you need to quickly go from one extreme of the range to the other and don't mind hauling around a section of a telephone pole, get the Sigmonster. If you need something you can hand-hold all day, get the 200-400, maybe the 400 if you're buff.

Cheers,

b&

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Re: Long Range L Choices
« Reply #12 on: August 02, 2012, 04:12:27 PM »
Wilmark:

I own and use regularily the 500 Ver I on a 1D IV and 7D.  The advice given to rent one of these lenses is very good advice if you haven't used one or held one.  When I was buying my 500mm and saw it for the first time, I was surprised amd taken aback at the size of the lens and weight. 

Any one of these lenses will require some serious support and be prepared to spend at least 15% of the cost of the lens for tripod, plates and gimbal head.  Don't cheap out on support and compare load numbers for the tripod and head.  The main support players are RRS, Wimberley and Gitzo. 

When purchasing from an authorized dealer, not many will have demo models for you to see and hold as these lenses are sealed in their boxes and dealers are unwilling to break the seals to show you the lens.  I also don't think the dealer will allow you to return a big white lens with the reason being..."it's not for me".  The return will be acceptable if the lens is defective or damaged. 

For me as a birder, I plan on buying the 600 II and selling the 500 I for the extra reach.  As Canon is forcing our hands to use FF, the 600 II seems the best choice for me and what I photograph.  The 600 II is the same weight as the 500 I, about 2 inches longer and has the same MFD. 

The 200-400 intrigues me as well.  My only concern is the weight.  It's rumored to be 4g.  Not easily hand-holdable and if you can hand hold this lens, zooming and holding may be difficult.  This lens will likely be the most expensive of the lenses you are considering.

If what you photograph is mostly sports, the 400 II sounds like it is a good choice.  It would be easier to transport and should be easier to hand hold.  I don't use extenders that much because of the IQ and focus speed degradation.  I wouldn't make this big of a decision based on using extenders a lot.  Determine the focal length you need and will use the most and buy that lens as if you are not going to use an extender.  Good luck!
« Last Edit: August 02, 2012, 05:29:11 PM by photophreek »

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Re: Long Range L Choices
« Reply #12 on: August 02, 2012, 04:12:27 PM »

canon816

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Re: Long Range L Choices
« Reply #13 on: August 02, 2012, 04:41:47 PM »
I wouldn't worry about image quality. It doesn't get better than a Big White. Is a bare 600 better than a 400 + 1.4? Yes. Is the difference discernible in anything other than pixel peeping or side-by-side comparisons of door-sized prints with your nose a few inches from the paper? No.

Completely agree...

Vossie

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Re: Long Range L Choices
« Reply #14 on: August 03, 2012, 06:56:08 AM »
Interesting thread.

I am also dreaming of a big white unit. For my purposes I would be inclined to go for the 400/2.8. For the same price as the 600/4, one can get a 400/2.8 +1.4x TC + 2x TC. So basically 3 focal length's vs 1 for the same price.
In this respect the 400+T/C's would give more flexibility and thanks to it's faster aperture you can almost reach the same length as with the 600/4 (840@5.6 vs 800@5.6). The 200-400 for my purposes is less interesting as it cannot be 'Extended' to 800 with working AF (besides I already have the 100-400).

I've seen the ISO chart tests at the-digital-picture - and yes the use of T/C's does not give the same sharpness as a native lens. Is any of you aware of real field comparisons of the 600 II vs the 400 II + 1.4x and 600 II +1.4x vs 400 II +2.0x. I would be really interested to read about that. Assuming you would use the lenses wide open to separate your topic from its background, and your topic is generally close to the center of the frame, corner sharpness is of lesser importance in the field. Usable AF is of course very important.

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Re: Long Range L Choices
« Reply #14 on: August 03, 2012, 06:56:08 AM »