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Thread: Next lens to purchase?

  1. #1
    New Member cjcatmur's Avatar
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    Next lens to purchase?

    Hi all,

    I purchased my Canon 600D in June with the two kit lenses. The majority of my time is spent photographing surfing and wildlife. I have a tripod now which has really helped with the surfing shots especially.
    However, I am ready to start looking at purchasing a new lens, I am thinking something with a longer focal length than the 55mm-250mm that my current kit lens has got. I have a budget up to AU$1500.

    Any suggestions would be gratefully received?

    Thanks,
    CJ

  2. #2
    Scott Stephen's Avatar
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    Re: Next lens to purchase?

    Either
    1.) a 400 f/5.6 or
    2.) a 300 f/4 plus a 1.4x teleconverter.

    Both are a prime lens, which will give much better quality than a zoom. A decent IQ zoom longer than your 250mm would cost $6000 to $12,000.

    The 300 + teleconverter would be just a bit over budget, but would give you more flexibility and more reach.

    You cannot use a Canon teleconverter on the 400 because the aperature is not wide enough.

  3. #3
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Next lens to purchase?

    The 70-300mm lenses from Canon and Tamron are just minimally longer than the 55-250mm kit lens. They are both well within your budget. I cannot vouch for the image quality of either of these lenses nor can I recommend or not recommend their autofocus. I can however recommend AGAINST getting the Canon 75-300mm f/4-5.6 IS lens which is generally thought of as inferior...

    There are two Canon lenses which, if purchased used, may be within your budget (I haven't researched prices in Oz); the 300mm f/4L IS and 400mm f/5.6L. Both of these lenses have excellent image quality and fast accurate autofocus. I own both so I can feel quite confident in recommending them. The 300mm is not as long as you might desire, but it can wear a 1.4x teleconverter which will turn that lens into a 420mm f/5.6 lens with quite decent image quality and reasonably fast and accurate autofocus. The 300mm lens is sharp enough that you might also be able to crop the image somewhat. The 400mm f/5.6L lens has probably the fastest and most accurate autofocus of any Canon lens. It is regarded as the best birds in flight lens available and I would think that the problems shooting surfers would be somewhat akin to shooting birds in flight. Although the f/5.6 aperture of this lens is somewhat slow, the image quality is excellent wide open which makes up somewhat for the slower aperture. A tripod or monopod would make up for the lack of IS on this lens...

    There is a problem with using a long telephoto lens to pick out rather small subjects against a background such as the ocean or sky without distinctive topographic features. It is often hard to find your subject. Using a zoom lens, you can locate your subject using the widest setting, place it it the center of the frame and zoom in on it...

    I solve the problem of acquiring a subject using a long prime lens by fitting my camera with this old Topcon sports finder. The sports finder will allow me to point the lens in the general direction of my subject and then look through the viewfinder to frame my image...

    Next lens to purchase?

    There are sometimes sportfinders of different types available on eBay. They are small and light in weight so shipping from the USA to Oz might not be that expensive. I have a hunch that more sports finders might be available on USA eBay. Note: there were none available today...

    The other area that I cannot comment on is the Sigma line of telephoto zooms. Donald owns one and perhaps he can chime in regarding the plusses or minuses of using that lens for your needs. I think you might find one within your budget. I know that finding a small subject in a vast expanse of sky or ocean might be easier with a zoom for the reason I stated above...

  4. #4
    Scott Stephen's Avatar
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    Re: Next lens to purchase?

    Evidently great minds think alike, but I just type a little faster.

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    Melkus's Avatar
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    Re: Next lens to purchase?

    Canon EF 300mm f/4L IS USM, works wery well with 1.4x conventer

  6. #6
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Next lens to purchase?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Stephen View Post
    Evidently great minds think alike, but I just type a little faster.
    Yup! And... I get a bit verbose in my replies...

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    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Next lens to purchase?

    My vote is for the EF300/4L IS and the x1.4 MkII Tele Extender.
    It is more flexible for you than buying the 400/5.6L.
    IMO these are the only two contenders at about the budget you specify: both are immaculate and superior lenses, both will cream your 55 to 250.

    The 400/5.6L will be superior IQ and faster AF (than the 300 + 1.4) – but . . . will that be seen and will that AF be necessary are other questions – likely NO and likely NOT, the IQ difference especially will likely go un-noticed as you will be using only the guts of the Lens’s Image Circle.

    ***

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    There is a problem with using a long telephoto lens to pick out rather small subjects against a background such as the ocean or sky without distinctive topographic features. . . I solve the problem of acquiring a subject using a long prime lens by fitting my camera with this old Topcon sports finder.

    Tip of the week - Good one Richard!

    WW

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Next lens to purchase?

    When faced with a similar question (regarding wildlife photography), my wife went with the Sigma f/5 - 6.3 150-500mm; which is 240-800mm full frame equivalent on your camera body. It should be in your budget range. We bought one on the recommendation of a friend who has been using one for several years for wildlife photography and has been quite happy with it. There is simply no relatively affordable lens from any other manufacturer that comes close on the long end of its range. The autofocus is fast and quiet.

    That being said, there are some downsides. My wife's lens has been back to Sigma for repairs twice due to on-board electronic failures, but on the other hand, at least here in Canada, it comes with a 10-year warranty. Although Canon and older Nikon camera's autofocus theoretically only work up to f/5.6 and this lens is an extra 1/3 stop over that limit; the autofocus does work on her Nikon D90. I personally do not like the build quality on Sigma (and Tamron) lenses and the zoom ring does turn in the opposite direction to Canon and Nikon.

  9. #9
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Next lens to purchase?

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    The other area that I cannot comment on is the Sigma line of telephoto zooms. Donald owns one and perhaps he can chime in regarding the plusses or minuses of using that lens for your needs.
    I'm probably not best placed to comment as it sounds like you plan to be a fairly heavy user of whatever it is you get and to be really wanting to get serious about wildlife. I have the Sigma 120-400 F4.5-5.6 APO DG OS, but it is primarily for long landscape stuff and doesn't live on the camera a lot.

    A lot of people knock 3rd party lenses. But these companies wouldn't still be here if people didn't buy their products. Sometimes we have to compromise and can't all have the very highest quality lenses, even if we dream of doing so. For what I want and do, the Sigma is good. I've found it perfectly ok. Just for fun, I did try some birds in flight stuff one. Apart from discovering that I'm not very good at it (though to be fair, I had never practiced), I got this and this.

    But that being said, if someone came along and offered me one of the very long Canon 'L' zooms or primes, I'd bite their hand off.
    Last edited by Donald; 12th December 2012 at 03:53 PM.

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    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Next lens to purchase?

    By the way, I have never made a head to head test of the 300mm f/4L IS + 1.4x TC against the 400mm f/5.6L lens for either image quality or autofocus speed and accuracy.

    That will be a project for the next week or so. We are expecting some storms for the next day or two, but I will try to conduct a test on the next clear day.

    I am thinking that testing out the IQ will be pretty easy, simply put one combination on a tripod and shoot the same shot with the second combination of shutter speed and f/stop.

    I am wondering if shooting passing cars would give me an idea of the capability of either combination....

    Finally, the lack of IS in the 400mm f/5.6L lens is considered a problem by many photographers. I will admit that as I am growing older, I am starting to have a bit of trouble hand holding that lens.

    However, there are some accressories such as the Bushawk which make hand holding a lens easier.
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004HJTBM8/...SIN=B004HJTBM8

    I personally like the type of mount that rests on the shoulder rather than being pressed against the shoulder like a rifle or like the Bushawk. Here is one example...
    http://compare.ebay.com/like/3007727...ypes&var=sbar#

    I fabricated a rig for a long lens out of a few dollars worth of material and using only hand tools. It works quite well because the mount rests on both shoulders which makes it quite stable...
    Next lens to purchase?

    Here is a material list and instructions on how to assemble one...
    http://rpcrowe.smugmug.com/Photograp...8179&k=XC8wvKM

    The rig looks heavy and bulky but, it is actually quite light in weight and can disassemble for storage or transportation...
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 12th December 2012 at 05:44 PM.

  11. #11

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    Re: Next lens to purchase?

    What sort of wildlife and how close can you get to surfing action, CJ?

    I haven't done much surfing photos but I have found that in the UK it means shooting from a clifftop or getting rather too close to salt spray near the water edge.

    Either way, I wonder if 300 mm will prove sufficient. A 400 mm prime is an excellent choice and it will also take a 1.4x converter when you can afford a little more. But would the lack of zoom be a problem if you want a general purpose lens?

    I do have the Sigma 150-500 which I have used on occasions for surfers etc and worked around the 400 to 500 lengths. But although this is a good general lens for the money, there are a few limitations, as Manfred suggested.

    I regard it as a good light lens which is best around F8 or F11 and the auto focus is a little on the slow side; but so are most of the affordable large zooms. Under ideal conditions though, it can be surprisingly efficient.

  12. #12
    New Member cjcatmur's Avatar
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    Re: Next lens to purchase?

    Thank you all very much for your replies, it is fantastic to be able to get such great advice. I will head in to the camera shop here to have a look at the lenses you suggest and price up the different options.

    Richard - Thank you for the advice on the sportsfinder, I hadn't heard of one of these before. I had been concerned about buying a prime lens for the reasons that you state but I think that this sounds like a great way around it for me to get the best lens for the surf photography within my limited budget.

    Geoff - There are a few locations here where I go for photographing surfing that I can get out on a pier or headland area to get nearer to the action, but not close enough at the moment. I was concerned about the lack of zoom but for now my focus is really on honing my surf photography skills.

    Thank you again everyone for taking the time to give such detailed responses of the options available.

    These are a couple of shots I got from my current lens and have cropped on the computer.

    http://cjcatmur.files.wordpress.com/....jpg?w=1000&h=

    http://cjcatmur.files.wordpress.com/....jpg?w=1000&h=

  13. #13

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    Re: Next lens to purchase?

    ps. For what it's worth, here is a surfing photo from my Project 52 thread taken with the Sigma 150-500 and a 7D. But it was with a rather high shutter speed.

    http://www.pbase.com/crustacean/imag...0/original.jpg

  14. #14
    Scott Stephen's Avatar
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    Re: Next lens to purchase?

    I look forward to seeing Richard's comparison. I like to see comparisons of real life subjects rather than shots of test chart patterns.

    That said, you can see test patterns on The Digital Picture. Go to the tools section. To see a lens with a Teleconverter on it, just select a mm length beyond the natural length of the lens, and the site adds a TC for you.
    Last edited by Scott Stephen; 12th December 2012 at 10:39 PM.

  15. #15
    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Next lens to purchase?

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    I am wondering if shooting passing cars would give me an idea of the capability of either combination...
    I have used swimmers, runners and cars: travelling towards me at about 45 degrees.


    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    I fabricated a rig for a long lens out of a few dollars worth of material and using only hand tools. It works quite well because the mount rests on both shoulders which makes it quite stable...
    I have a Rifle Grip. Your idea of the dual shoulder mount is very useful to me, thank you.

    WW

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