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Author Topic: 400mm Lenses  (Read 11932 times)

Hillsilly

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400mm Lenses
« on: May 03, 2011, 03:01:10 AM »
There was a recent rumour about a canon 400mm f5.6 IS lens to be released in April.  Obviously that didn't pan out, and I suspect that there wasn't much substance to it.

As such, just wondering what the general consensus for sharp photos in the 400mm range is?  I currently use an older Sigma 400mm f/5.6 APO Macro, but it doesn't work with current DSLRs, so am looking for something new.  It will generally be used for daytime sports (mostly field hockey) and some wildlife photos, so f/5.6 is ok (as long as it is reasonably sharp wide open or at f/8).  The logical option seems to be the Canon 400mm (right price, good reputation, fast AF).  The f/2.8s and f/4's, are outside my price range.

The main alternative is the 100-400L.  The zoom adds IS, which is a big plus. Some reviews suggest that this isn't as good at the long end (where it will be used 99% of the time).  But, of course, there's often a big difference between reviews and real world experience. 

What would you choose?  Thanks in advance.
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400mm Lenses
« on: May 03, 2011, 03:01:10 AM »

Rowbear

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Re: 400mm Lenses
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2011, 07:34:18 AM »
I did a soccer match last summer using my 400 f/5.6, and it was very good, but I found it just a bit long.

I would suggest the 300 f/4 if you want to stick to a prime, but if you want more versatility, the 100-400 or better still, the new 70-300 L would be great in my opinion.

You can always crop a bit too later should you want closer shots.

GMCPhotographics

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Re: 400mm Lenses
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2011, 08:25:48 AM »
The ef 400mm f5.6 L lens replacement has been rumoured for as long as I can remember. It probably will still be rumoured late into 2012, I just don't think that it's a big enough seller for Canon to warm it over. But I'd love it to have an IS unit and a much shorter MFD.

Flake

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Re: 400mm Lenses
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2011, 09:07:08 AM »
At the risk of sounding like a stuck record (remember those?) the Sigma 120 - 300mm f/2.8 is an excellent choice for sports and some wildlife, the fast aperture makes it ideal, and with a 1.4X TC it becomes 170 - 420mm f/4, something which Canon will no doubt charge a fortune for when they finally release theirs.

There are a couple of drawbacks, the weight and the price, but if you don't mind the used market you can make enough of a saving.  The new version has OS as well

neuroanatomist

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Re: 400mm Lenses
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2011, 10:22:40 AM »
I started with the 300/4 IS (with 1.4x available), and went to the 100-400mm instead.  300mm was not long enough for wildlife shooting, and the 100-400mm @ 400mm is optically better than the 300/4 + 1.4x TC.  The 400/5.6 is the best of the three at that length but I wanted IS (even the older 2-stop IS of the 100-400 is a big help).

I think for field sports in good light, you'll want the flexibility of a zoom lens.  If that's your primary use, the 70-300mm L would be the best choice, IMO.  If you'll be shooting a lot of wildlife, the extra 100mm will be very useful.
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Re: 400mm Lenses
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2011, 11:45:42 AM »
I started with the 300/4 IS (with 1.4x available), and went to the 100-400mm instead.  300mm was not long enough for wildlife shooting, and the 100-400mm @ 400mm is optically better than the 300/4 + 1.4x TC.  The 400/5.6 is the best of the three at that length but I wanted IS (even the older 2-stop IS of the 100-400 is a big help).

I think for field sports in good light, you'll want the flexibility of a zoom lens.  If that's your primary use, the 70-300mm L would be the best choice, IMO.  If you'll be shooting a lot of wildlife, the extra 100mm will be very useful.

Well said!!

Flake

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Re: 400mm Lenses
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2011, 04:19:53 AM »
I started with the 300/4 IS (with 1.4x available), and went to the 100-400mm instead.  300mm was not long enough for wildlife shooting, and the 100-400mm @ 400mm is optically better than the 300/4 + 1.4x TC.  The 400/5.6 is the best of the three at that length but I wanted IS (even the older 2-stop IS of the 100-400 is a big help).

I think for field sports in good light, you'll want the flexibility of a zoom lens.  If that's your primary use, the 70-300mm L would be the best choice, IMO.  If you'll be shooting a lot of wildlife, the extra 100mm will be very useful.


The focal length might well be true on a FF frame body but the OP doesn't say what camera he is using and a 1.6x crop makes a 300mm into 480mm which should be enough.  What does bother me also is the slavish devotion to everything Canon, Oranges are not the only fruit! 

On the forums there appear to be a few people who desperately search for the ultimate tiny degree of performance, the problem with this is that they are the only ones who will ever be able to see it!  Punters will never notice even if you shot two images on a compact or a hasselblad, even industry professionals can't tell when images are printed.  Glossy magazine images can be grabbed from HD video frames, even this quality simply isn't going to reveal those differences.  So when will you need this quality?  The real world answer is never I'm afraid, so long as the images pass a certain ill defined line in the sand of commercial quality then it's enough, as for the extra well, there's only you ever going to notice it, which might give you a warm feeling inside, but that's about all!

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Re: 400mm Lenses
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2011, 04:19:53 AM »

GMCPhotographics

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Re: 400mm Lenses
« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2011, 04:58:40 AM »
The 400mm f5.6L's biggest asset verses the 100-400L isn't IQ (although it's generally a tad sharper and vignettes less) it's the fantastically fast AF system. It's really quick and accurate, where as the 100-400L is pretty slow and ponderous in comparision.

ronderick

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Re: 400mm Lenses
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2011, 05:54:37 AM »
Funny that both of these lenses were introduced last century and still have no replacement in sight. ;D

Like what the others say, if ur going to use the 400mm-end frequently, you probably want the prime (given the long distance, I cannot imagine using this lens w/o a tripod).

Frankly, even if Canon does come out with a replacement for the 400mm f/5.6L, I really doubt the cost performance ratio would ever match the original version (add the IS, weather-sealing, nano-coating, and mark up the price by an arm and a leg).
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neuroanatomist

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Re: 400mm Lenses
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2011, 08:37:35 AM »
The focal length might well be true on a FF frame body but the OP doesn't say what camera he is using and a 1.6x crop makes a 300mm into 480mm which should be enough.  What does bother me also is the slavish devotion to everything Canon, Oranges are not the only fruit! 

The OP is already using a 400mm lens, so regardless of body s/he presumably knows what that focal length looks like on the camera being used.

Slavish devotion?  Although I've not used 3rd party lenses, I have no philosophical issue with them.  The OP has a Sigma 400mm, and stated, "The logical option seems to be the Canon 400mm. The main alternative is the 100-400L," so s/he was obviously considering Canon lenses to replace the Sigma...  Besides, this is the canonrumors forum, not the sigmatamrontokinazeisscosinasamyangrumors forum.  Oh, and I loathe oranges, btw.   :P
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Hillsilly

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Re: 400mm Lenses
« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2011, 09:37:56 AM »
I'd like to thank everyone for their suggestions so far.  Just to answer the question of cameras, I use my Sigma lens with a film camera (Elan 7E), and I find 400mm the perfect length (sometimes, still a bit short).  Am thinking of picking up a 5D later this year, which is why I'm thinking of sticking with 400mm.  That being said, I've also got a 30D, which I'm using almost exclusively now.  As the 400mm doesn't work on this, I use a 70-200 f4 IS. Even with the crop factor, I find this too short.  I think if I was to stay with an APS-C based camera, the 70-300 and the 120-300 would both be ideal suggestions.  But as I'm thinking FF is on the horizon, 400mm is a better option.  Worse case scenario, if I stay with my current camera, or go with a 7D, and the lens is too long, I can just move back a bit or pay more attention to what is happening further down the field.  The other thought I had today was to just pick up a 1.4x teleconverter to use with the 70-200.  Too many options!

By the way, I've got no major concerns with third party lenses.  My sigma lens is the only 3rd party lens I have and I bought it cheap knowing it had compatability problems.  Of course, the bloke who sold it to me wasn't so happy....
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Re: 400mm Lenses
« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2011, 10:21:55 AM »
If it can be helpful, I recently purchased the Canon 70-300 L and the Canon 5.6 L. I got the second one because 300 mm was too short for any wild animal or plane. The image quality is incredible (compared to my old SIgma 120-400), and so is the AF. Even without IS, I tend to use it more than the 70-300, even at the zoo. It is also very light.

Edwin Herdman

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Re: 400mm Lenses
« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2011, 03:28:11 AM »
If it can be helpful, I recently purchased the Canon 70-300 L and the Canon 5.6 L. I got the second one because 300 mm was too short for any wild animal or plane. The image quality is incredible (compared to my old SIgma 120-400)
I imagine this is so, up to 300mm where the Sigma has focal length that the Canon simply doesn't.  Though, when you say "old" 120-400, do you mean the DG APO OS HSM?  That's only from 2008.  Is there an older one?  I've been looking around for a long time and I thought that was the introduction of that particular range.

I also thought that 400mm was problematic, but I've managed to take some very nice photos at that focal length.  It seems to depend on a number of factors how well they'll come out.

But in any case, the 120-300mm looks great, perhaps with a teleconverter it'd be a better fit for many shooters than the upcoming Canon 200-400mm.

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Re: 400mm Lenses
« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2011, 03:28:11 AM »

autochrome

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Re: 400mm Lenses
« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2011, 10:45:42 PM »
If it can be helpful, I recently purchased the Canon 70-300 L and the Canon 5.6 L. I got the second one because 300 mm was too short for any wild animal or plane. The image quality is incredible (compared to my old SIgma 120-400), and so is the AF. Even without IS, I tend to use it more than the 70-300, even at the zoo. It is also very light.

I was wondering about this, the weight, how light is it? You can carry it around for most of the day without your shoulders suffering? I'm tempted by this lens, but the lack of weather sealing and IS is disappointing, as will be the price of the lens once they add IS in a new version for sure.

Edwin Herdman

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Re: 400mm Lenses
« Reply #14 on: May 09, 2011, 12:29:20 AM »
The main alternative is the 100-400L.  The zoom adds IS, which is a big plus. Some reviews suggest that this isn't as good at the long end (where it will be used 99% of the time).
One thing that drove me away from the Canon 100-400mm (aside from the price) was the very early generation IS - the rating given means that it wasn't going to be much of a fudge factor compared to the Sigma alternative.

Unfortunately, I was never able to try out the Canon to get a personal base for making comparisons.  I have had the feeling that the Sigma tends to have significantly better pictures in good light than in poor - and in good light you don't need IS much anyway (with one significant exception - the panning mode the Sigma offers, which coupled with the max aperture and focal lengths may make this a decent dirtbike or NASCAR performer).  I've seen the Sigma IS criticized because it clicks-in and clicks-out on a shutter half-press, but this feels pretty reasonable to me, though it's the only IS system I've used.  It definitely was handy in following action and in framing a shot, but I wonder if the "slower" Canon generation 1 IS from 1998 wouldn't do just as well.

For long-range landscape shots the Canon might be at a disadvantage for blur, but at longer focal lengths the Sigma is not at its best.

I guess to boil it down, think of the tradeoff in terms of the limits of resolution:  If you have a lens that optically outresolves what its IS can provide, isn't that still a better solution than a system that can provide much improved (in terms of time gained) IS and yet isn't as sharp?  You can put the first lens on a tripod if need be and attempt to get shots the second lens won't dream of making.

I'm not about to give up the Sigma 120-400mm, though, since the shorter focal lengths may yet prove useful and everything else falls out of the price range.  The 400mm isn't versatile enough for my liking.  I also am trying to see if some focal lengths are better than others, and how much lighting has to do with its performance.

------

A break for the "rumors" side of things:  Last year seemed top-heavy with announcements of big things not intended for hobbyist photographers, and the 200-400 TC (impressive!) seems set to follow this trend.  There apparently have been rumors about a replacement for the 100-400 for years; anything becoming concrete yet?  I don't really see the release of the 200-400 TC as making it less likely for a 100-400mm replacement to happen; if anything it stands to reason that Canon would release the info on the big lens first to snatch some more dollars from somebody who otherwise would spring for a cheaper 100-400mm (or its refresh), although I'm not convinced they can or do schedule releases that way.  I don't think it makes it less likely for a 100-400mm since they appear to not only be different niches but also very different price ranges.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2011, 12:34:48 AM by Edwin Herdman »

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Re: 400mm Lenses
« Reply #14 on: May 09, 2011, 12:29:20 AM »