400mm debate

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by justinspeaks, Mar 15, 2007.

  1. justinspeaks

    justinspeaks TPF Noob!

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    I'm stuck in between buying both the 400 f/5.6 and 70-200 f/4 or just the 100-400. The reason that makes this hard is because I'm going to use them both mainly for surf photography and its nice to have the zoom range but i dont know if it would be a good idea or worth the trouble to switch in between the 400 and 70-200 everytime i wanted to zoom. I know the image quality on the 400 is better than the 100-400 but does anyone have both lenses and is it a dramatic difference or what? any sugestions, comments, or advice is appreciated.

    THANKS!
     
  2. DSLR noob

    DSLR noob TPF Noob!

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    (assuming canon) I'd take the 70-200 f/4 because I believe that it is L-series glass and that it'd take the best photos. Just put your camera settings to take high resolution pivs and crop.
     
  3. SaSi

    SaSi TPF Noob!

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    I was going through the same lenses trying to decide what to get to cover telephoto and zoom functionality.

    My first choice was the 70-200/2.8IS, so that I could combine it with a 2xTC and get a 140-400/5.6IS lens.

    Then, I considered the option of a cheaper 70-200/4 and a 400/5.6 prime. Better IQ from both but two lenses to cover the needs (twice the space and weight in my bag). Also, the 400 didn't have IS and for wildlife, birds and scenery, I thought I needed it.

    Then, I considered a combo solution, like the 100-400/5.6 IS and the Sigma 80-400/4-5.6 OS. The Canon is more expensive and has better IQ and better looks. It's also an L lens.

    I decided on the Sigma.

    What I can say, is that although the 400/5.6 is better than the 100-400 which is better than the 80-400 @ 400mm, Ι have made very nice shots with the Sigma at 400 and even at 500~650mm with a Sigma 2xTC.

    Surely the 400/5.6 would allow me to reach 800 with the TC and still get sharp and saturated pictures, but Photoshop can cover that easily.

    Now that I have a Lowepro Commercial AW weighing 12kg with all the stuff inside, I can say that the best option is to choose high quality lenses and get only a few of them. Easy on your wallet and also on your back.
     
  4. Digital Matt

    Digital Matt alter ego: Analog Matt

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    All three of the lenses he is considering are L lenses, and are very good. I don't think it's a good idea to crop your pictures over buying a longer lens (if you can afford it).

    The 400 f/5.6 will obviously be the sharpest option at 400mm. The 70-200 f/4 and 2x TC is not going to be anywhere near as sharp, plus it will be a 400 f/8.

    The 100-400 is supposedly a fantastic lens. I've only read reviews and never actually used it. In the end, it comes down to what is going to be more versatile for you. I would think that with the movement involved in surf photography, a zoom lens would make things much easier. If you are really concerned about sharpness, rent both lenses for a day and compare yourself. It's the only way for you to really know what works for you.
     
  5. zland

    zland TPF Noob!

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    The 100-400mm is a good lens but the better option IMO is to get a 70-200 F4 which is cleaner at shooting in the 100-200mm range and the 400mm prime which is cleaner @ 400mm & has the same F stop at 400mm as compared to the 100-400mm lens. In addition, the 100-400mm lens is heavier than both the other lens. You can buy the combo I am suggesting pretty cheap & both are L series.

    BTW, the 100-400mm lens is known to have a bit of quality control issues. I have read several people that got one lens, was not happy with it, then got a 2nd one & liked it.
     
  6. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Don't rely on crop.... yuk.

    You gotta make a bunch of small decisions rather than just saying I need something to do something...

    1) Focal length = 200mm enough? or 400mm is required?
    2) Max aperture? fast or good enough
    3) Zoom or prime?
    4) weight and size? can I live with heavy or do I need something I can hike with...
    etc... (price? can be the next)

    I don't know anything about surfing photos but here's my guess.

    1) Just like wildlife and birding, subjects are far. Cropping sucks. Go with 400mm
    2) Surfing I assume is in good daylight. So a very fast aperture is not absolutely necessary.
    3) Subject is moving from afar (out to sea) and surfing inland (I assume). Kinda makes me feel the flexibility of a zoom is necessary. This is unless you are willing to head into it with a couple bodies and couple primes.
    4) Weight and size? Well... I don't know...

    1, pretty much rules out the 70-200 and 3, pretty much rules out the 400mm prime. 2, 4 pretty much are open decisions but it is my guess that hiking isn't going to be an issue with the 100-400 for surfing photos.

    Kinda makes me feel that the 100-400mm zoom is the best bet.

    The 70-200 f/2.8 with the 1.4TC is always an option but that decision is a whole different decision process which includes what focal ranges do you shoot most often.
     
  7. zland

    zland TPF Noob!

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    My experience is even with my 400mm prime which is F5.6 that I can shoot surfing photography typically 1/3000+ with sunlight & even with early mornings that are heavy overcast in California I am shooting at 1/1200+ with ISO set at 400 thus I agree, I have not had any reason to pay double for lens to get another f stop.
     
  8. soylentgreen

    soylentgreen TPF Noob!

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    Depends on how far from the action you are. My friend shoots at the beach alot. Skim borders, surfers, etc. He uses a 300 f/2.8 though. The large aperature is desireable, but at the beach, you should be getting plenty of light so a smaller aperature may not be too much of a hindrance. I really like the 300 f/4L IS. Throw on a 1.4TC and you get a 420 f/5.6L IS.
     
  9. icassell

    icassell TPF Noob!

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    I like the rental idea. Try them and see what works. I don't shoot surfers, so I don't know how it would do, but I have a Sigma 100-300mm EX f/4 which has excellent IQ and is alot less expensive than the Canon 100-400. I don't know if it's long enough for what you do. I think my next lens is going to be the 400 f/5.6, because I want to do birds-in-flight and 300 doesn't quite do it.
     
  10. zland

    zland TPF Noob!

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    And to be blunt, the 300mm will often fall a bit short for surf photography unless you happen to be shooting from a reef pass from a boat in the islands which I think he isn't.

    I agree to rent if you are unsure. I happen to have a friend that had a number of lens that let me use them. What I found was 400mm at F/5.6 worked just fine on beach break & point breaks when shooting with a 40D/1.6 crop sensor type camera. Even when it could be a shy too little, you can cheaply use a 1.4 extender. The only thing that it would not work well on is if a person was trying to shoot on outer reefs like in Tahiti or Indonesia & in that case, even the 500mm with a 1.4 extender falls a bit short. The next step up is to go to a 500mm F/4 & now the cost just went up from about $1200 to about $6000 & lets not even discuss the 600mm because the cost is pretty high. Maybe the OP can tell me exactly where he is planning to shoot photos because I might be able to advise him more specifically.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2009
  11. FrankLamont

    FrankLamont TPF Noob!

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    If the 200mm is too short, the 100-400mm is the only way to go, unless you use the prime. Without TC.
     
  12. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    That's why so many sports photographers always carry 2 or even 3 bodies with lenses already mounted.

    The long lens is usually on a monpod.
     

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