Advice needed, replacement for Canon 75-300mm lens for aerial photography

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by AussieTimmeh, Mar 10, 2008.

  1. AussieTimmeh

    AussieTimmeh TPF Noob!

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    G'day all.

    I hve come to highly respect the opinions of people here, and it is now that I need your advice.

    The main portion of my photography is radio controlled aerial photography, of which I will post a few examples. I have been using the Canon 75-300mm lens on my 20D, which was all I could afford at the time. While it's a decent all round lens for the money, I found I am pushing it way too hard and it's not delivering the results I want.

    My gripes are:

    a) The focus. Oh dear, it's terrible. At full zoom, virtually nothing moving at a distance is in pinpoint focus. No, I am not using excessively slow shutter speeds, I am extremely used to panning photography and I have generally been shooting at 1/750th or higher. See the last photo for bad focus.

    b) The zoom is too short. I simply cannot get closer to the planes, as I cannot simply step up into the sky. I do wait for low passes to get good photos, but even then I would prefer a bit more reach.

    c) The noise can get pretty bad at times.

    My budget is limited to around the thousand dollar mark for a replacement lens. Am I realistically going to find anything to suit?

    A friend has suggested the Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 II APO EX DG HSM Macro lens which suits my budget, but as far as I can tell, while the focus will improve considerably, I am losing 30% of my zoom, which sucks! His suggestion was the sharper focus means tighter crops are enabled, but instead of the aircraft being 1/4 frame, they will drop down to 1/6th frame or so, and I am not real sure the increase in focus will make up for it. But I am very inexperienced with this, so I am asking for advice!

    Another question is can I buy a teleconverter to get more range? How will that affect the images? I have never used a teleconverter before.

    I have included some images of the type of thing I am shooting.

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    So I'm open to peoples experiences with lenses, this is just a hobby I do but I have high expectations of myself I guess and feel frustrated returning from a days shooting knowing that the photos could look great instead of absolutely terrible.

    If you've taken the time to read this, or help me out, I am most grateful.

    Regards, Tim
     
  2. Mav

    Mav TPF Noob!

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    It sounds like you really need a 400. I'd consider the Canon EF 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS if you still want or need zooming. Otherwise they've got the 300mm f/4L IS prime that you can put a 1.4x converter on to get you to a 420mm f/5.6. There's a 400mm f/5.6 prime prime as well.

    I'd probably investigate the 300mm f/4L IS prime lens with and without a 1.4x teleconverter. I'll assume it has an 'active' stabilization mode which ought to help with panning shots, and it'll probably perform better than the 100-400. I'm not familiar the reputations of these lenses, but the 300mm f/4 is quite a popular lens in the Nikon lineup.
     
  3. Mystwalker

    Mystwalker TPF Noob!

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    Have been looking for a long lens myself. Am considering these (cost rounded up from B&H - URL upper right of this page) ...
    300 f/4L IS ... $1100
    400 f/5.6L ... $1100
    100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS ... $1400

    I have the x1.4 so that 300 f/4L IS is tempting. But then 560mm is tempting as well - just no IS and you may lose AF (unless you have 1D body). 560mm with IS will be $1400.
     
  4. AussieTimmeh

    AussieTimmeh TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the replies so far. So it seems the areas I need to address are the lens quality and the focal length, and not so much the f stop.

    I think I really need a lens with AF, I have tried MF before and I had very little success.

    I've heard before that the 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS is a very good lens for this type of work, a little on the pricey side of my budget, but would be nice...

    A lens that has interested me is the Sigma APO 50-500mm f/4-6.3 EX DG HSM. Great range, and 500 bucks cheaper than the Canon 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS. I assume being cheaper it would not be as good? If I cannot afford the L series glass, would it suffice or is it really not a suitable suggestion?

    While primes are tempting, I would have to adapt my shooting style as I need to come out of full zoom on the 300mm lens when the planes are landing as they get considerably closer, and it's usually when the accidents happen so I often come out of full zoom quickly when disaster is about to take place.

    Thanks again for the replies, so far it seems like the 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS is a winner, but affording it will be the challenge if nothing cheaper will still do the job.

    Timmeh
     
  5. Mav

    Mav TPF Noob!

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    The "Bigma" aka 50-500mm f/4-6.3 is something to consider too, but at 500mm and a maximum aperture of only f/6.3 and no stabilization, it would probably be pretty difficult to get the best results with. Unless you have blindingly good light, you'd probably need a fairly high ISO to get the shutter speeds you'd need. If you give it a try, try to pickup a used one and then if you're not happy you could probably sell it off for about the same price you paid for it.

    Sounds like the best bet would be the Canon 100-400 though.


    BTW, great photos!! :mrgreen:
     
  6. KOrmechea

    KOrmechea TPF Noob!

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    Don't forget about used equipment. If this ends up being the lens for you, it could really help with the cost.
     
  7. AussieTimmeh

    AussieTimmeh TPF Noob!

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    Righto, thanks for the comments. I think the 100-400L really is the lens to get. Expensive but fairly versatile for what I want.

    Timmeh
     
  8. TCimages

    TCimages TPF Noob!

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    I don't think you want a prime lens for what you're photographing. That could be very frustrating in close situations.

    The 100-400 is a very sharp lens at full zoom. Keep in mind it's aperture is 5.6 at full zoom, so it needs good light. You may have to bump up your ISO to get acceptable shutter speeds.

    Maybe you should rent one before you purchase.
     
  9. Mystwalker

    Mystwalker TPF Noob!

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    Doesn't Sigma have a 150-500 (something like this) coming out? I think it has IS and is cheaper then the 100-400L.

    Being a new lens I'm waiting for some reviews :)
     
  10. AussieTimmeh

    AussieTimmeh TPF Noob!

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    TCimages, I have thought about the prime and really thought similar things to what you posted. I'm not sure anywhere around here rents out lenses, I'll have to look into it.

    As for the Sigmas, I don't know about any new lenses but I have a friend that had one without IS and he doesn't rate it at all, he ended up selling it for an L series lens with IS. I guess I am scared of doing the same thing. Maybe their new offerings might be better.

    Thanks for the ideas to consider!

    Tim
     
  11. soylentgreen

    soylentgreen TPF Noob!

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    Are you hand-holding these shots or tripod/monopod? At anything over 300mm hand-held a stable support will do wonders. For the fast shutterspeed you require, the f/5.6 may be a tad slow unless you have a decent amount of light. The primes are far superior to the 100-400 zoom IQ wise. i find the 100-400 a bit soft wide-open, but that's teh price you pay for having the zoom. The EF 300 f/4L IS is pretty darn sharp wide open and the EF 400 f/5.6L is even sharper. I used the EF 300 w/ a 1.4x with decent results at f/7.1-f/11. Granted it's a 420mm f/5.6L IS it was not too shabby till I upgraded to the 400 f/2.8. It looks like you are in need of the longer reach if hte 300 is not getting the job done. The 100-400L IS is decent and has IS, a bit above your budget, while the 400 f/5.6L is sharper but lack IS. Pick your poison.
     
  12. AussieTimmeh

    AussieTimmeh TPF Noob!

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    [FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]I am very tempted by a prime like the 400 f/5.6 but as this will be my only L-series lens, I am worried that not having any zoom will severely limit what I can do.

    It's a hard choice because I want maximum clarity at full reach, which by all accounts the 400 f/5.6 is a sure thing, but I'll want a lens to use at less than full reach too, so a prime is no good. I am already finding times on my 75-300 that I do not want to be at full zoom so being stuck at 400 will be pretty limiting.

    Some people insist their 100-400L is as sharp at full reach as the prime, while others don't think so, but unfortunately I think I will need the versatility of a zoom lens.

    I am shooting all these hand held. I hadn't considered a monopod yet, but I might check out what they are worth and give it a go. It would need a flexible or ball type head as I often have to pan rather quickly, and would take some getting used to, plus I need it to be light and easy to cart around as I often move around the airfield to get differing points of view. Because I am often so close to the runway, the subjects are above me at a very high angle such as 60-80 degrees up, so any sort of mount would need alot of flexibility to look up that high and still allow panning.
    [/FONT]
     

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