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Thread: Full Frame Blues - Need a telephoto

  1. #1

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    Full Frame Blues - Need a telephoto

    First time posting here =)

    I am the proud new owner of the Canon 5d Mark II. After shooting a couple thousand exposures in the last few weeks, I found some hard proof reviewing my EXIF data -- I shoot 2/3rds of my pictures at 105mm, the longest of my longest lens. I got the 'kit', which includes the 24-105mm IS USM L. In addition, after other recommendations, I purchased the 50mm 1.4.

    I get outstanding wide angle shots - even at only 24mm. The issue I'm having is I don't stick with one 'type' of photography (Of course - new camera I need to try it out for all types of scenerios). When I am shooting subjects, I like to have a tight framing, and I am unfortunatly finding that I can't do it with 105mm. A lot of the subjects I have been shooting it is not possible to get closer (sports, wildlife (zoos)). I am used to the 1.6x (or worse) multiplication of a smaller sensor, and didn't quite realize how drastic (but welcome) difference it would make.

    So that leaves me in the market for a long telephoto. I am a big L-series fan, although how dedicated comes down to how many thousand the lens costs. I am strongly leaning towards a zoom lens to start, and over the years compliment it with primes.

    I hear lots of good things about the 70-200mm lenses, but I don't feel that would give me the reach I'm looking for. From what I understand, the difference between, lets say 25 to 50mm is much more than 100mm to 200mm. I am therefore thinking a max focal length of 300 to 400. The EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM looks great, acceptable price, and of course isn't fast glass by any means.

    Looking for recommendations. I've already spent wwaayy more than I should have on my new system. Maybe get a cheaper lens until I find what focal lengths I use most often and then buy primes (EF 100-300mm f/4.5-5.6 USM)? Or should I get the 1.4 and 2.0 extenders?

    All recommendations would be appriciated.

  2. #2

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    Re: Full Frame Blues - Need a telephoto

    Hi Kent,

    Welcome to CiC - great to have you with us

    The EF70-200 is a great lens (I use the 2.8L IS varient), but as you say, it may not offer enough reach. A couple of thoughts on that ...

    - If you invest in one then you can add a 1.4x teleconverter with practically no image degradation giving you "close" to the advantage that you would have enjoyed with a 1.6x crop-factor camera.

    - You can step up to a 2.0x teleconverter, but (a) on the 5D2 you'd only retain AF if you bought the F2.8 version, and (b) you can get sharp images but sharpening is FAR more critical (and time-consuming)

    Keep in mind too that crop factor cameras don't change the focal length of a lens (blah blah blah) - the "kicker" comes from the fact that most crop-factor cameras have a higher pixel density than most full frame cameras (so for the same field of view with the case lens) a 7D would out-resolve a (cropped image from a) 5D2 - BUT - an image from, say a 40D -v- a 5D2 is FAR less of an advantage.

    This can be difficult to comprehend but in simply terms although the "zoom factor" appears to multiply by 1.6 with a crop-factor camera, the actual detail resolved depends on the megapixel counts of two cameras being compared; case in point ...

    ... I was at a sports event with my 1Ds3 and a friend was there with his 1D3 (1.3x crop-factor). We were giving each other "heaps" (as usual) and he said that his camera was twice as fast (which it is) but that he also had the advantage of the 1.3x crop-factor ... not so. If I crop an image from my 1Ds3 (or your 5D2) to the same field of view then we end up with 13MP whereas he only has 10; we win Same goes for FF -v- 1.6x crop; the crop usually still wins this battle, but if the difference in pixel count is large then the "1.6x advantage" is reduced to something like 1.2x all things considered. So my point is - unless your printing large prints like I do (up to about 44 inches wide) then you can probably crop images from your camera and still retain sufficient detail (kinda like a psudo zoom!).

    Does this help?

  3. #3

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    Re: Full Frame Blues - Need a telephoto

    Thanks for the suggestion Colin. I feel that cropping pictures is nothing more than a "digital zoom" - which everyone knows to turn it off. I purchased the 35mm DSLR specifically so it acted like an old FD SLR my father gave to me years ago. I don't subsribe to the "all things being equal" comparison (Side note: It surprizes me that FF DSLRs are almost considered outcasts when infact 35mm is far more comon (because of film) than the crop sensors). From this perspective - pixel density dosn't matter, and results should be achieved optically, in my opinion.

    I did some futher looking at the 70-200mm 2.8 L that you use. I was surprized to find that it's a little more expensive than the 100-400mm L (not by much). I am impressed that its a much faster lens, and would retain autofocus even with the 2x extender.

    So that gets me thinking. It would seem that the 70-200 would be much better suited (even an extender) for walking around (when I would want more reach than 105mm), whereas the 100-400 would be ideal for tripods - when one wants to take their time to get the shot. Both are L series lenses that have impressive optical qualities.

    That being said, it seems to come down to more specialized vs generalized use (?). With a set of extenders (each 1.4x and 2.0x) and the 70-200 I would be able to reach the focal lengths of the 100-400, and at the same (or better) f-stops. However I don't imagine I would ever walk around with the massive 100-400 lens - would probebly even need a seperate backpack for it.

    So -- heres a thought. Mixing your advice with my way of looking at FF DSLRs - even with a 2x extender on it, if I could fill the frame to get the shot as I wanted -- when I downsample for print (I don't print 44" images -- but you never know, when that shot comes along it's going to get framed) -- the sharpness should kick right up. SO assuming that theres no other downsides of using extenders (loss of sharpness, loss of 1-2 stops), then I think it should be ok. When not using extenders - I should be left with an extremely nice lens =)

    See any holes in my theory? (Besides the fact the 70-200 plus the cost of extenders is nearly $1000 more)

    Thanks a lot of the reply - it's very helpful.

  4. #4

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    Re: Full Frame Blues - Need a telephoto

    Hi Kent,

    Yes - cropping to achieve a "digital zoom" is "cheating" - but you get away with it these days. case in point - that a look at this image ...

    Full Frame Blues - Need a telephoto

    It's a 3:1 aspect ratio - shot from a single frame (1.5:1 aspect ratio) and it's not digitally stretched - it's simply cropped (discarding a full 1/2 of the captured information). It'll be printed out exactly 66 inches wide, and it'll look just fine. If you're also shooting with a 21MP camera - but not printing anywhere nearly as large - then you can afford to get far more agressive with your cropping and STILL have resolutions above what the human eye can resolve. I've got 21MP shots and 8MP shots hanging side-by-side in my gallery and you really can't tell which was shot with which - honestly, the megapixel "race" should have been "declared a draw" once they sailed past 8MP.

    I think your plan sounds just fine - both the 70-200 & 100-400 are both great lenses, but as you say, there's more speed and versatility in the 70-200 with 1.4 and/or 2.0 TCs. Probably the only caviet is that the 100-400 is marginally sharper until the 70-200 is stopped down a couple of stops, and then there's nothing in it - although having just said that, correct sharpening will make a FAR bigger difference to both of them than the native differences in sharpness between them. Physically, the two lenses are practically identical with the 100-400 at the 100 end.

    Keep in mind that if your talking L-Series then your talking expensive, professional grade equipment that's never short on performance or build quality. Learning how to get the best out of it can take an investment in time though.

  5. #5

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    Re: Full Frame Blues - Need a telephoto

    Thank you Colin - I agree. I am typically downsizing images (which by itsself increases sharpness) before I do any custom sharpening. Cropping for aspect ratio is always acceptable in my mind All I gotta do now is save up some money so I can invest in the lens and a quality tripod. The 70-200 seems quick enough to handhold, yes? So if I get anxious it's worth using before I can afford a tripod?

  6. #6

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    Re: Full Frame Blues - Need a telephoto

    Quote Originally Posted by KentDub View Post
    Thank you Colin - I agree. I am typically downsizing images (which by itsself increases sharpness) before I do any custom sharpening. Cropping for aspect ratio is always acceptable in my mind All I gotta do now is save up some money so I can invest in the lens and a quality tripod. The 70-200 seems quick enough to handhold, yes? So if I get anxious it's worth using before I can afford a tripod?
    Hi Kent,

    It's not too bad if you use bicubic sharper for down-sampling, but generally, the smaller an image, the more agressive the sharpening needs to be (so that they eye can resolve the sharpening halos). Viewing distance also plays a big part though.

    If your going to get a 70-200, I'd strongly suggest getting the F2.8L IS version. On a FF camera with the "one over focal length" rule of thumb your looking at 1/200th @ 200mm on a FF camera - with IS you can (in terms of camera shake, not subject motion) get that down to 1/25th. Big difference.

    Tripods are pretty mandatory for good landscape - the best light is after sunset where exposures range from a few seconds to several minutes. My Lone Vista shot was 12 MINUTES a few weekends ago. (wouldn't want to try and hand-hold that!) (Was shot with the 70-200/2.8L IS though).

  7. #7

    Re: Full Frame Blues - Need a telephoto

    Quote Originally Posted by KentDub View Post
    First time posting here =)



    Looking for recommendations. I've already spent wwaayy more than I should have on my new system. Maybe get a cheaper lens until I find what focal lengths I use most often and then buy primes (EF 100-300mm f/4.5-5.6 USM)? Or should I get the 1.4 and 2.0 extenders?

    All recommendations would be appriciated.
    you can use the Tcs with the 400 f5.6 prime and still get decent shots but I doubt you'll be impressed using Tcs with the 100-4oo zoom

    As you're used to a crop in the past then I suggest that 400 is the best FL to go for

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