Which Tele for EOS 5 D when wilderness backpacking?

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by Alex_B, Sep 1, 2006.

  1. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Hi there, I need some advice regarding the choice of a tele lens for backpacking/trekking. I will try to explain my situation as precise as possible:

    Cameras currently in use:
    - Canon EOS 5D
    - Canon EOS 100

    Lenses currently in use:
    - 17-40 4.0L
    - 24-105 4.0L IS
    - Sigma 24-70 2.8
    - an old 70-300 (no good.. hardly ever used, strong CA, soft, ...)
    - and some faster prime lenses

    Now for the story, some considerable percentage of my photography is done when travelling and some part of that away from any paths not to speak of roads carrying a 25 + x kg backpack, excluding (!) my photo gear.
    This means I have to chose wisely what lenses I take with me as it adds to the overall weight I have to carry. Some years ago there was a phase when I only took primes with me, however, if you want to be versatile that makes a hell lot of primes you have to carry, so nowadays, when backpacking, the primes stay home and it is th 24-105 and maybe in addition the 17-40.

    That means I do not have a focal length large enough with me to get that brilliant photo of some bear, crocodile or elk which happens to be a bit further away (lucky for me in some cases ;) )

    I know there are some good and fast L-primes beyond 300mm, however they are all way to heavy (and very pricey ;) )! And for some reason I do not trust this diffractive optics thingy yet. It seems to be overpriced for the quality it gives.

    So what do you people out there use when travelling and you need a tele lens? I guess a zoom would be good since it is more versatile, also IS might be useful since I do not carry a heavy tripod on these trips.
    Not sure if any piece of Canon equipment really meets my needs at the moment. I thought of some 70-200 + an extender, but then that might reduce image quality a lot... Any advice? :confused:

    I am really confused ...

    I would also need a Macro on some of these trips .. damn... where are my Sherpas ;)
     
  2. Digital Matt

    Digital Matt alter ego: Analog Matt

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    If you are looking to get brilliant photos of wildlife, the longer the better, and there is no way to avoid the price, or weight. A guy I know that has a Canon 500mm f/4 IS uses a cart for carrying deer out of the woods after hunting. He puts his lens on it tripod mounted, and just drags it behind him. It has wheels.

    If you want brilliant photos, you can't sacrifice on the gear, or the effort. You have to be there, with the tools of the trade, to get the shot.

    In response to your query about extenders, I use the 70-200 f/4 L and a 1/4x TC and the loss in quality is minimal. It's an excellent setup for the money, but the lack of IS, and the small max aperture make it a pain.

    Depending on what you plant to photography with a macro lens, a cheap set of extension tubes and a 50mm lens will do wonders. You should have a 50mm in your lens lineup anyway, being that it is around $75 for the 1.8.
     
  3. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Thanks for the input!

    I agree the longer the better of course ... to get the ideal picture. However I have to make compromises here. When I talk of wilderness this means, no path, sometimes even no tracks .. so no chance of moving something on wheels around. On my last 8-day "expedition" in northern Scandinavia I had days where I had to cross lots of rivers with no bridges, or you had several miles of very rugged alpine terrain whith huge fields of boulders you have to climb over. I mean that sort where you have to use legs AND arms to make any progress and you make maybe one mile maximum in 2 hours ... Not much chance for an additional 5 kg lens there unless you have an assistant. But I mostly travel alone on such trips.

    On that trip in Scandinavia in the end I met by chance an Austrian wildlife photographer, who was carrying his full gear including long tele. But he himself agreed that this was only good for rather short trips or staying close to the paths, not penetrating the area very deeply.

    But I totally agree that very often to get the perfect picture of wildlife you need long lenses.

    As for the macro, I do have the 50mm 1.4, which is a very nice lens. So if you say extension tubes work, I might give it a try. Sometimes I happen to see small things (plants, insects, structures) where it would be nice to get at least some pictures of decent macro quality.
     
  4. thebeginning

    thebeginning TPF Noob!

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    sigma makes two really nice telephoto zooms in the 'longish' range....their 100-300 f4 EX and their 120-300 f2.8 EX. obviously the 2.8 is more expensive, but they both get very good optical quality (with the f4 slightly in the lead). their prices are around $900 and $2000 USD new, which is a good bit cheaper than the canon offerings. The only reasons i would be hesitant to buy them over a canon telephoto is because the AF might not be as consistent or fast as a canon and because they dont have IS, which can be very helpful.
     
  5. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    thanks for the advice.

    probably the best thing is to go to a shop and try some of those lenses with my camera. even though the inside of a camera shop is usually not the best place to produce good test-images ;)
     
  6. 964

    964 TPF Noob!

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    well my 70-200L IS f2.8 is fairly heavy but I use it with the 2x extender so get 400mm with not a lot of loss of image quality IMHO......mind you, if I was shooting a wild bear I think I would want a 1000mm lens minimum!!
     
  7. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Guess I have to find someone with a 70-200 f2.8 to see what it is like with the 2x extender. Some people told me the 2x extender was no good though. But I never saw a sample image.

    Anyway, my last wild bear I shot was with 100mm and pretty close ;)
    Not a grizzly though to be honest, just a young canadian black bear with his mum (she was hiding though).
     
  8. thebeginning

    thebeginning TPF Noob!

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    i honestly would not recommend the 2x on a 70-200. you'd have to shoot wide open in most cases (you'd have a max aperture of 5.6, which kinda sucks), and the 2x does degrade the image quality a good bit (sharpness is lower, but mostly the CA is worse). Not to mention the 70-200 performs worst at ~185mm and up.
     
  9. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Anyway, what you say is in line with what I heard so far from others. 964 seems to be happy though. Well, maybe it depends on what you shoot. But I agree that 5.6 is pretty bad for a tele which you often use for shoots where you don't have full sunshine on your object of desire. And if then you have to go to 8 or beyond to get decent auality, that might wreck your chances to get anything out of it.

    Well, anyway, thank you all guys for sharing your advice and experience! Guess I have to meditate, maybe try some things out and I have to monitor when I'm outdoors, which focal length I would actually need in those situations where my current 105mm are not enough.

    Or maybe I should wait if the Photokina brings anything new which has not yet been introduced. Photokina is just three weeks to wait ... and after all I just live 30 minutes drive from where it takes place :mrgreen:
     
  10. Digital Matt

    Digital Matt alter ego: Analog Matt

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    F/5.6 is not ideal no, but IS makes a world of difference. I've never used the 2x tc, but it's pretty much standard eq for birding, even when you have a 500mm f/4 lens.
     
  11. thebeginning

    thebeginning TPF Noob!

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    i envy you :meh:
     
  12. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I checked again, it might be 35 minutes,.. does that ease your pain? ;)

    Sorry to be that bad... anyway, it will be my first photokina. Just moved here less than two years ago.

    Don't you have anything comparable to Photokina over there?
     

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