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Thread: Low-End 400mm Lens - Possible?

  1. #1

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    Low-End 400mm Lens - Possible?

    I have a couple of Canon L-series lenses for my rig and a buddy of mine's 11 YO son wants to take up "wildlife photography". I let him use my 100-400mm L and of course he loved that... His dad has a Rebel and wants to get him an inexpensive longer-range zoom to take pictures of birds, deer, etc. while he practices. Money is a huge factor and at this age he does not need a $1000-2000+ lens.

    Question--are there any kit-priced lenses that would do a decent job out to 400mm that the kid could have some fun with and once and a while get a great shot? I don't know this end of the market and could use some advice. Non-Canon is fine in this case.

    Thanks,

    Sean

  2. #2
    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Re: Low-End 400mm Lens - Possible?

    Would he consider a point 'n shoot? if so, there are some nice ones out there with up to 18X zoom at a fraction of the price of a lens alone and one heck of a longer reach than a 400MM for wildlife photography.

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    Re: Low-End 400mm Lens - Possible?

    Something like Nikon Coolpix P90 (goes up to 624mm, 35mm equivalent). Single lens so dirty sensor not a problem.
    Pop into a camera store for a HUGE range of options. Older ones can be quite cheap (compared to a DLSR entry level).

    Graham

  4. #4
    John C's Avatar
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    Re: Low-End 400mm Lens - Possible?

    Try a 400mm or 500mm reflex lens. These have reasonable image quality but are rather inexpensive. There are several brands available. I'm not sure if Canon makes one. The advantages are long reach, low chromatic aberration, fairly lightweight, and good resolution (depends on the model). The disadvantages are having to use one f-stop (most are f/8 or f/6.3) and manual focus. You also need to be aware that the out-of-focus highlights tend to form rings (how much you tolerate it is a matter of taste). I use a Sony model (now discontinued) that is very sharp and has autofocus.

    See my Flickr link for some recent examples. This one shows a White Ibis about 75 feet away.

    Low-End 400mm Lens - Possible? Goofy Bird by John Chulick, on Flickr

  5. #5
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    Re: Low-End 400mm Lens - Possible?

    I am assuming the 11yr old is using a tripod for all photography as the 400mm is a very heavy lens. Also, why not have him try a 70-300mm lens and see if it meets his needs.

  6. #6
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Low-End 400mm Lens - Possible?

    I think Frank's idea (get a bridge camera with an extended zoom) is a winner, means he can also get into macro/close up work too.

    Cheers,

  7. #7
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    Re: Low-End 400mm Lens - Possible?

    Maybe a more basic question is, should he start his learning process the hard way with a manual focus, no IS, slow and inexpensive telephoto lens on Dad's camera, which could be quite frustrating to a youngster in the beginning, or the modern way, getting him a decent P&S with IS, AF and maybe f/5.6 @ 400mm or so, whereby he can get right into photography with his own camera and get some encouraging results at the start.

    In this day and age, I would suggest the modern way, giving the son the freedom and opportunity to develop his photography or at least satisfy a phase of interest he may come back to later. Of course if the father also wants a longer lens for his own use too, well, we need to know a specific price limit so we don't wander around in dream land. Plenty of used lenses in perfectly good condition are around too.

  8. #8
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    Re: Low-End 400mm Lens - Possible?

    You can occasionally find a Tokina 400mm f/5.6 ATX lens used on eBay or another used equipment forum at a very low price. Very few were made because it was replaced with the Tokina 80-400mm zoom.

    I purchased one as my first long telephoto lens and it produced very nice quality images. The autofocus was a little slow so the lens was not good for fast moving subjects. However, it was lighter, smaller in size and had a closer MFD than my present Canon 400mm f/2.8L lens.

    I purchased this lens for one hundred U.S. dollars and sold it several years later (after I purchased the f/5.6L because of its faster auto focus) for $150.

    Another thought might be the 55-250mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens which is not long enough to be ideal for long distance shooting but, is a nicely priced telephoto zoom with Image Stabilizaation...
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 16th November 2011 at 05:59 PM.

  9. #9
    Bear's Avatar
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    Re: Low-End 400mm Lens - Possible?

    Sean didn't say which body, FF or crop, he had the 100-400 mounted on. If it was FF, the son was looking at 400mm, so the 55-250 on his father's crop Rebel will also come out to an apparent 400mm.

    ...a real 400mm on a crop camera comes out an equivalent 640mm which might be a bit much to wag around as a starter.
    Last edited by Bear; 16th November 2011 at 06:08 PM.

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    Re: Low-End 400mm Lens - Possible?

    Im with Frank on this. Were talking about an 11 yr old american kid. While your friends 11 yr old could be an exception to the rule, but by far most 11 yr olds tend to change their interests rather quickly. I dont know how much time he has spend being interested in photography, but with the limited info here, there are alot of good P&S cameras that do a decent job and take the kind of abuse kids subject gear to and would not be a loss to the parents if the 11 yr old suddenly lost interest and started liking something else…like GIRLS!

    I would use better gear as an incentive if he maintains a strong interest over time, and gains skills in taking photos. If Im wrong and he already is at that point, a entry level DLSR like the Rebel would make sense. (Dad could get a better body and give junior his rebel?)

  11. #11
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Low-End 400mm Lens - Possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bear View Post
    Sean didn't say which body, FF or crop, he had the 100-400 mounted on.
    Hi John,

    Yes, it was a Rebel, so it was on a 1.6 crop body.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bear View Post
    ...a real 400mm on a crop camera comes out an equivalent 640mm which might be a bit much to wag around as a starter.
    Which explains Frank's suggested P90 which goes almost as far (624mm equivalent).

    There are some bridge cameras that go to over 800mm, but in time, replacing that on a DSLR is megabucks

    Could you pop a first name into the Real Name field please? - oh, hang on, you just did many thanks

    Warm welcome to the CiC forums ...

  12. #12
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Low-End 400mm Lens - Possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Harpo View Post
    (Dad could get a better body ~ )
    I could do with one of them Mike, I seem to have not looked after this one as well as I should

    (not talking cameras - I do look after those)

  13. #13

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    Re: Low-End 400mm Lens - Possible?

    Thanks for all the thoughtful responses. I ended up suggesting a PS or the 70-300mm with IS, about $500. Dad would be happy with this lens even if son gives up. BTW, my 100-400mm is on a 60D, which is great...if I could stop breaking the top LCD! Have done it 2x. Once was a drop, second, i have no idea.

    Thanks again all.

    Sean

  14. #14
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    Re: Low-End 400mm Lens - Possible?

    Decades ago one could buy a Spiratone 400 f6.3. While Spiratone is long defunct their lenses can still be bought on ebay and elsewhere. They sell for about US$20. Supposedly, when stopped down to f/8 or thereabouts the image quality was decent.

  15. #15

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    Re: Low-End 400mm Lens - Possible?

    I just opened this thread and, without reading all the details in previous responses, want to share that I've had an EF 400 f/4 DO IS USM for a number of years. Along with the Canon Mk 2 and occasional use of a Canon 1.4x II Extender, have taken fabulous wildlife photographs of birds in Panama, tigers in India, cheetah, lions and leopards in Africa, and numerous shy mammals in between. I use it hand held or with a tripod, and only once fell down a muddy, rainy rainforest hill with no no ill effects. Great lens and the lighter weight than other primes is worth it's weight in gold!

    Alan

  16. #16

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    Re: Low-End 400mm Lens - Possible?

    Hello Alan, Liked your post on the Low-End 400mm Lens and I see you use a Cannon; my question is this: Are you aware of that type of lense being made available for Nikon? I currently have a Nikon 5000D and my biggest lense is a Nikon 75-300mm...........It is a fairly good lense, however I would like to be in the area of 400mm for bird photography.

    Tom

  17. #17

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    Re: Low-End 400mm Lens - Possible?

    Hello Tom,

    Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner, however I don't believe Nikon has a DO lens because of patents and Canon wanting to get it's money back from research and development. Good luck with your search!

    Alan

  18. #18

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    Tom Williams

    Re: Low-End 400mm Lens - Possible?

    Hi Allen, Thanks anyway it was worth a trty, guess I will have to "Adapt and React"

    Tom

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