Need help deciding on ≈100-400mm lense, wildlife photography.


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Feb 22, 2022
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Im at the moment running a Canon EOS 60D. I have two lenses, 18-135 and 18-55.
Im now looking into adding a ≈100-400mm lense for wildlife photography. Not the kind where i wisit a zoo or go on a safari in some area where the aninals are used to people. Propper wildlife. Everything from mountain raindeer, muskox and red stag, to birds. Since im running a APS-C sensor i think 400mm should be sufficient. The weight aspect is also important. Wil be bringing it wild raindeer hunting, so i dont want to be dragging a 3kg lense 40km. But i do at the same time want a sturdy lense that can handle some abuse.

Been looking at these:
- Tamron 100-400mm F/4.5-6.3 DI VC USD (≈950$)
- Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS MKI USM (≈700$ secound hand)
- Sigma 100-400 f/5-6,3 DG OS HSM C (1100$)

(prices that i can get them at)

Anyone has hands on experience with both the canon and tamron? The best option would be the canon MK2, but it is more than twice the price of the others... The next step ut is a bit to steep....

Open for other suggestions

Kind regards
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For wildlife photography get the longest lens you can afford, you will regret it if you don't.....
The more light the better at long focal lenghts. So if you've limited yourself to those choices I'd be considering the Canon.
The Canon EF has IS. (Internal Stabilization) which has VERY REAL benefits!

At 400mm, camera shake becomes VERY apparent if off tripod.

The biggest disadvantage to the 100-400 is the weight. It IS heavy!

I like it because I got mine on the cheap!

The other two I havent used, so I dont know the weight factor.
The more light the better at long focal lenghts. So if you've limited yourself to those choices I'd be considering the Canon.
Not limited. They are the ones that seems fitting for my intended use. But i will happily take other choices into consideration 😁
Not limited. They are the ones that seems fitting for my intended use. But i will happily take other choices into consideration 😁
Hogna, Welcome to TPF!
Hogna, I've never even heard of those animals!! You must be in Russia.
I'd look mostly at the Canon for a couple reasons. If I recall the Sigma is a little short of it's stated focal length and slower as well.
The f-stop will be critical especially if you keep using the 60D.
Remember that at f8 the camera will no longer AF. So if you want to use a 1.4x you'll have to tape the pins on the mkl lens to make it AF.
The Canon is a slight bit faster f-stop which will help with the AF. The 100-400 mkl is very sharp in the center where you need it and it's bullet proof!
I'd also recommend, if you could afford it, to buy the Canon 7Dmkll to go with the lens. It will AF if you use the 1.4x and has a far superior focus system. Also your 60D can not be focus micro adjusted if the lens and camera body are not in sync on the focus plane. The 7Dll is made for nature and sports and has spot focus for small birds in trees.
Good luck if you have not yet purchased a lens.
Thanks @Sharpshooterr.
Not Russia, but Norway. Not far from though.

I have not gone ahead and purchased yet. Still thinking.

Not thinking of adding a 1,4x. Think the APS-C sensor itself will crop enough. Or is that what you were thinking of?
But maybe i have to consider another camera body like you mention....

Thanks for the reply nonetheless 🙂
I would skip the Sigma.
The reason for ME, is the Sigma lacks a tripod foot.
While I may not use it, I want the option to use it.
I've used my 75-300 for distant fireworks, ON a tripod, because my exposure was up to 20 seconds.
When holding a heavy kit on a subject for a long time, I use a monopod to support the weight, so my arms don't get sooo tired.

I don't like the idea of putting a 100-400 on a camera, and have the camera be attached to a tripod. That is way too much front weight for me. Even if the tripod socket on the camera can handle it, will the tripod head be able to lock a front heavy load?

Personally, I would get the Canon first, followed by the Tamron.
I may be repeating or reinforcing what others have already written, but having owned a 100-400 Canon and trying to use the Extender, you should know that they don't work extremely well together. I don't know if it was my 100-400 or if I'm just picky, but any of those long zooms, is going to have flaws and images will suffer, because of the zoom. With that... yes you want the Canon, especially if you have your head set on a 100-400 zoom.

Note: I had the first version of the 100-400 the push pull zoom, I'd expect the II version is a better design and will work better. Above 350mm I could only rely on keeper images if I was at f/8 or smaller. I'd love to try the new version, but I've become accustom to the 28-300 and I'm very happy. No lens swapping, wide to tele. The Extender does work with it, but same as anything else, there's some hunting at longer lengths because the lens is now f/5.6

The extender will not focus properly much of the time, except wide open. They do work, I did get some nice images, I still do. Just saying, don't expect things to be 100% and reliable.

This is what people mean by tape the pins. The camera will show the wrong settings, such as if you are at 300mm with the extender, it will show 300mm, instead of 420mm. I use a tape with adhesive that doesn't leave a residue. It's the three pins closest to the guide pin.


You could get a 70-200 f/2.8 and the extender and have a good choice? Just mentioning that. 3.2 pounds for that lens is about the same as the 100-400. Maybe $99 more expensive. If you are considering the Extender either way?

What you would get is a much sharper lens from 70-200, still good at 420 f/4.5 if you are shooting on a f/2.8 lens to start with. What you would lose is easy 100-400mm without complicated additional parts.

Canon lens on a Canon camera is the best combination for your question.

Crop is just CROP the difference is the field of view appears, like a longer length, you still have a 100-400 lens, nothing more. There's no free telephoto magic, as the lens is the same and the sensor distance (focal plane) is identical.
Not considering a extender @RacePhoto. Dont want the quality loss. The "natural" crop of the APS-C sensor is enough.
But a 70-200 2.8 with extender does have a lower f/s. So maybe that would be a possibility.

Thinking of the push pull MK1 canon. Not the new one. Bit to expensive.
Since im running a APS-C sensor i think 400mm should be sufficient.
end quote

I read that as, you are guessing that 400mm is long enough.
But you do not KNOW if 400mm is long enough or not.

Before you spend your money, and possibly find that 400mm is NOT long enough, I suggest making a test.
Lay out a test shoot at the distance(s) you expect to shoot, with a target about the size of the wildlife you expect to shoot.
- Is the distance 50, 100, 200 meters, or more?
- How big or small is the wildlife?
Get the longest lens you have.
Shoot the test target
Back into what focal length you would need.

Example, your longest lens is 135mm lens.
1/4 of the image in the viewfinder is approximately the coverage of a 270mm lens.
1/4 of that is approx the coverage of a 540mm lens.
Each quartering of the area of the image = double the focal length. 1/4 area = 2x focal length
Beyond 1/4 of the image (270mm), it may/will be difficult to judge in the viewfinder. You will probably have to view the image on the larger screen on your computer.

You will have to duplicate this test for the different size wildlife; bird, small animal (fox), large animal (raindeer).

If you are shooting birds, that is a similar problem, but even worse. Most birds are SMALL, compared to large animals.
My limited experience with birds is, whatever lens you use will be too short. This is simply because the bird is so small.
The other option is fieldcraft, to get you CLOSER to the birds, such that the lens magnification is sufficient for the size of the bird.

My guess is that you will have to look at the Sigma or Tamron 150-600 lens.
I haven’t used the older Canon, but love the newest version. No issues with it on my 80D. I tried Tamron 100-400 and had poor focusing with it. Waste of $. No experience with Sigma. However, I find 400 mm too short for wildlife and I have the APS-C. If you are in a blind or otherwise can get close it may work. I tried a 1.4x TC and never could get decent photos.
Based on my own experience, no matter what you have you will find yourself in situations where you wished you had more reach and more speed.

I don't have Canon gear but my Nikon equivalents (on a full frame body) are a Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 that I sometimes use a Nikon 1.7x tele-converter with and get excellent results even handheld. Part of the reason is the VC but it is also lighter than my other option...

...a Tamron 300 f/2.8 that I have a Tamron 2x tele-converter for. That is very heavy and a bit of a challenge to shoot hand held but it can be done with lots of light. Ideally, that one is on a tripod. I get good results with this lens but not as good as with my 70-200. It also doesn't seem to autofocus as well as the Nikon lens, it can hunt on occasion.

Of your three choices, I would recommend the Canon lens, it is the fastest and will have less potential for issues an aftermarket lens may produce.
Hi i have the canon and yes its a weight but the IQ is good
I also use a sigma 170 500 apo f stop ??? the print has worn off lol not heavy as the canon but it is not L glass

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