Should I buy a Canon 100-400 L?

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by Chrono251, Oct 6, 2008.

  1. Chrono251

    Chrono251 TPF Noob!

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    Hi there!

    I use a Canon 450D with a Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 EF IS USM. I'm satisfied of the image quality of this glass, but the images are a little soft and not very sharp at 300mm.

    Some days ago I was at the flying club and I had the opportunity to try a Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM. As expected the image quality was very high, as well as sharpness.

    As I use my camera at air shows I was thinking about buying a glass for these occasions. I think that the 100-400 would be the perfect choice.

    My question is: should I buy the 100-400 or something else? I think that if I bought the 100-400 I'd keep the 70-300 for general use, as it is compact and light compared to the 100-400.

    Thank you
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Welcome to the forum.

    It depends on the things that you will primarily shooting. The 100-400mm is a great lens, that's for sure, but the max aperture is only F5.6 at the long end. This could be a major drawback if you need fast shutter speeds to freeze moving subjects. You won't find many pro sports shooters using this lens.
    If that's not an issue for you, then this lens might be a perfect choice.
     
  3. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    This is the most important statement in the entire post. Most people blame the lens and move to spend $$$ on new without examining all the factors (shooter and equipment). You on the other hand found a way to try out the 100-400L and determined that given the same conditions (you the shooter), the lens is making a difference and you are happy with the results. Very good.

    The 100-400L (like the 24-105L) is an excellent lens for general use and maintains a balance between price, packaging (weight/size), image quality, and focal length range (not to mention IS). I shoot with it and it has kept me happy. I kept it over the 70-200 f/2.8L IS simply because I was using more often due to this nice balance/flexibility. One thing to note, the 100-400L is one of the longest running L's in the entire Canon lineup (one of the first to be equipped with IS) and is still a popular lens today. It is a testament to the good design albeit a bit dated (push pull zoom which I don't mind and an older version of IS)

    On the other hand, shooting indoor sports or low light can be an issue with the relatively small max aperture of f/5.6. In those instances, you'll want something with a faster aperture. With faster glass comes a compromise in price (expensive), weight, size, and ultimately flexibility (no longer a walk around general use lens).

    If you see yourself shooting mainly in the same conditions as you tested the 100-400L (bright daylight), I think it is a good choice. In conditions beyond, you can alway rent faster glass.
     
  4. Chrono251

    Chrono251 TPF Noob!

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    Thank you for your answers!

    I'll definitely use the lens outdoor.
    During my test I used ISO 100 and with an aperture of f6.3 the shutter speed was 1/320, and it was a bright day. Of course during an air show I'd use a higher ISO.
    The problem is that I could try the lens with slow planes (Cessna), so I don't know if during an airshow the performance of the glass would be similar.

    I also looked for the 70-200 f/2.8L (1650$ at B&H) but probably 200mm aren't enough for airshows and with a 2x TC I cannot use the AF and the max aperture reduces, so I'm not sure if it could be an alternative. The 300mm f/2.8L is a great lens, but the price is too high for me.

    As the 100-400 is a bit dated (but very successful), do you know if Canon is developing a new version of the lens?
     
  5. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    That is certainly an option. And for the record, you probably wouldn't loose AF with the 2X TC and an F2.8 lens. Although, with an F4 lens, you probably would. The advantage of this combination, is that you can have F2.8 when you want or need it. The disadvantage is you do loose some quality with a TC.
     
  6. Chrono251

    Chrono251 TPF Noob!

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    I found this review: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/lenses/400v400.shtml The result of the test is that "What we see is that wide open, at f/5.6, the 100~400mm lens is quite a bit sharper than the 70~200mm and 2X combination." You were right as the AF can be used with the lens.

    I'm quite undecided because both have pros and cons (obviously), but from the test it's clear that the 100-400 has a better image quality in the range I'd use it more (of course in the range 70-200 the 100-400 performs worse).
     
  7. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    It sounds like the 100-400 is a good choice for you. I've used this lens and I don't have a problem recommending it.
     
  8. Chrono251

    Chrono251 TPF Noob!

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    Thank you for your help!

    Do you know if there is the possibility that in the near future Canon releases a new version of the 100-400?
     
  9. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I haven't heard anything, although...Canon is pretty tight lipped about what is coming down the pipe. Maybe ask Lostprophet if he knows anything.
     
  10. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    This is not a course of action I would recommend. The 70-200 plays nicely at the long end with the EF 1.4X TC but not so well with the EF 2X TC. The image quality is not one that I would like. On a 400 f2.8, the 500; 600 and I would guess the 800 it would be acceptable, but on the 200 it has a lot of faults from my experience. The 100-400 would be a better choice.
     
  11. Chrono251

    Chrono251 TPF Noob!

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    And what about the 400 f/5.6L? I know that it doesn't have the IS (and at 400mm I think that the stabilizer is needed), and this probably is the worst aspect of the lens, but the image quality is very high. Of course this is a prime and so it doesn't offer the versatility of a zoom lens, but the sharpness cannot be compared.
     
  12. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I have seen a 70-200mm + 2*teleconverter deliver good results though I think with this combo you do need a good high end camera body behind the glass (ie 1D series ;)) to get the quality - otherwise shots are softer.
     

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