Big ticket telephoto decision

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by uplander, May 1, 2008.

  1. uplander

    uplander TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2008
    Messages:
    536
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    S.E. WI.
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    I need some input here to help make a major decision by having gathered as much info as I can.

    I am in a position right now to purchase either a Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM or the Canon EF 500mm f/4.0L IS USM.

    I already have an EF 100-400 f/4.5 - 5.6 L IS USM and find f/5.6 at 400mm a problem many times shooting at dusk or dawn, when a good majority of my shooting ops. take place ( my passion is wildlife photography).

    What i'm seeking is , personal expirience and / or technical knowledge.

    I am leaning towards the 400 f/2.8 because I can really appreciate the large aperture light gathering aspect and capturing many previously missed photo ops.

    On the other hand, I like the added reach I would gain with the EF 500mm.

    My main questions are.
    #1 If I went the 400 f/2.8 route and added a 1.4 x TC I would get a 560mm f/4 lens when needed but at what loss of IQ? How much worse would a 2x TC be and what would the max aperture be with the 2x

    #2 If I went with the 500 f/4. Would f/4 be enough of a light gatherer for what I want, knowing that my EF 100-400's main sore point with me is its f/5.6 aperture. And would the IQ be better than the 400 f/2.8 with a 1.4x TC?

    Please discuss.

    I an hoping a good discussion here might bring up points I haven't even thought of.
     
  2. iflynething

    iflynething TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2006
    Messages:
    1,347
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    South Carolina USA
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Do this........mount the 500mm. Zoom to 400. Go to 500. See if you really can tell the difference from 100mm.

    I'd rather have 2.8 over 100mm any day.

    Sorry it's not technical but just thinking simply

    ~Michael~
     
  3. Antithesis

    Antithesis No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2007
    Messages:
    1,335
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    Caribbean
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    I don't have first hand experience with the 1.4x TC, but I've heard it doesn't diminish quality very much. Some of the wildlife shots I've seen at dpreview using the Big primes with the 1.4x have no noticable image quality loss, atleast in my eyes. Given, they are pretty small images, but you don't always view images at 100%.
     
  4. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2003
    Messages:
    9,523
    Likes Received:
    344
    Location:
    North New Jersey, United States of America
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    * 1.4x do diminish a little... barely noticeable.
    * 2x converter is noticeable but more than acceptable especially if the shot would have been impossible otherwise
    * Please tell me you are using a tripod.... Sports or fast moving objects in low light is problematic but in general, 100-400 has been fine on a tripod even in low light.
    * For me... I'd take the 500mm f4L. There is a difference between in the 100mm loss and it is a whole lot better than cropping postpro. Plus the 500mm is way lighter and IIRC cheaper. I'd use a 2x or 1.4x converter (I have a 1series)... hell I'd even stack em.
     
  5. astrostu

    astrostu Guest

    I would go with the 400 probably. On your crop body, I calculate the horizontal field with a 400 mm is 3.2°. With a 500 mm, it's 2.6° - a difference of less than 20%. I think you'd be better off doing a little cropping and having the bigger aperture than going with a smaller aperture but slightly larger zoom.
     
  6. Jeff Canes

    Jeff Canes No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    May 19, 2003
    Messages:
    6,190
    Likes Received:
    22
    Location:
    Hollywood, FLA USA
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Have you considered renting both lenses to try them out?
     
  7. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2003
    Messages:
    9,523
    Likes Received:
    344
    Location:
    North New Jersey, United States of America
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    The 400mm f/2.8L is almost 4x the weight of a 70-200 f/2.8L IS which is often regarded as heavy but doable. It is also significantly heavier than the 500m f/4L.

    That is one way to kill the enjoyment out of a day out with the camera in my book. I'd lug it around sure.. but it would be for a paid shoot.

    You shouldn't be shooting either without a tripod and f/4 is plenty for "most" situations.
     
  8. 250Gimp

    250Gimp TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2006
    Messages:
    1,031
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Chelsea, Quebec
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    While I don't have experience with these lenses, I will put in my 2 cents.

    If wildlife is your passion, and evening and morning are your best times to shoot, the 400 sounds like the one for you. Wildlife can be skitish and waiting the extra half a second to get the exposure because of a slower lense can make or break the shot. The pics I have seen from this lense with both a 1.4x TC, 2x TC, and stacked TC's have been very nice.

    The second consideration, in my opinion, is the weight. As usayit says, the 400 is HEAVY, so try them out and decide from there.

    Cheers
     
  9. dipstick

    dipstick TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Messages:
    98
    Likes Received:
    0
    I have no experience with Canon lenses, but I do have experience with similar lenses from Nikon.

    For shooting wildlife at dusk or dawn, I would choose an extra stop over the extra 100mm. That one stop could mean getting a sharp image over a blurry one. IS/VR is nice, but it's not gonna help you freeze the rapid motion of many animals.

    Just remember that 2.8 will give you a pretty shallow DOF on 400mm, so getting sharp images of wildlife is still gonna be a challenge.

    I don't know what body you are using, but I would go for 400mm f2.8 on a crop body, over a 500mm f4 on a full frame body.
     
  10. lostprophet

    lostprophet No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2006
    Messages:
    11,770
    Likes Received:
    109
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    I use the Canon 300mm F2.8 with and without the 2 Canon extenders and the results are stunning. some examples here

    I want the 500mm F4 IS for the extra reach and its a lot more flexible than the 400 2.8 as its a lot lighter in weight.

    I have used a 500mm F4 handheld at an airshow and it was amazing.

    The 400 2.8 is very heavy so you would definitely need a Wimberley on a Gitzo series 3 tripod ideally. In truth you'd be wise to use one with the 500mm as well but because of the weight I wouldn't trust the 400mm on any other tripod
     
  11. DSLR noob

    DSLR noob TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2007
    Messages:
    1,527
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
  12. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2003
    Messages:
    9,523
    Likes Received:
    344
    Location:
    North New Jersey, United States of America
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Lostprophet is right....

    I sit here .. and I am trying to imagine... exactly in what situations that an aperture of f/4 is not enough... "Most" wildlife pictures, just like in hunting are not shot with the subject in a full blown sprint or movement... They are pictures showing beautiful animals in their element.
    A fellow photographer whose favorite setting is the wolf preserve nearby has produced amazing shots. Most of them are of wolves stalking prey, interacting with others, wondering around for food, approaching for curiosity, relaxing in the warm sun... etc.. I've been on a few wildlife shots with just a 100-400L. I really enjoyed myself and I can see how even a 400mm focal length is limiting.

    This is unlike sports photography which is focused on capturing moments in the motion of the players to tell a story. The basketball player going for a slam dunk. The baseball pitcher winding up. The soccer player doing a slide tackle. All situations that requires the big glass.

    Then there is a certain element of practicality. The 5800+g of 400mm f/2.8 with a fairly heavy tripod isn't going to be easiest to get "on-location". It will not be the lens that can be quickly transported from one position to another if indeed the subject you need is on the move (Wolves unlike basketball players don't stay within a 50x94ft square. They travel for MILES. It definitely won't be a lens your going to shoot handheld for hours at a time.


    As with this thread... on tons of others here.... (24-105L versus 24-70L and 70-200 f2.8 versus f/4) it seems the answer for the best lens is always the fastest possible. I continue to post my opinion to the contrary even though I do admit there are situations for either.


    oh yeh... what ever lens you choose... don't walk around with the camera strap on your shoulder and the heavy lens hanging from its mount. I cringe when I see that. Perhaps it doesn't actually do any damage but it just looks like it could.
     

Share This Page