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Thread: What zoom lens?

  1. #1
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    What zoom lens?

    I currently own a Canon 7D and want to buy a Canon L series zoom lens. I am not worried about weight just what is the best option. I would like to use it for wildlife but also any other outdoor photography including sports and motor sports. I have considered three lenses within my budget. A Canon 75-300mm, the lightweight Canon 70-200mm and up to the Canon 100-400mm. My current lens is an L series 28-105mm that takes a 77mm filter. With the exception of the Canon 100-400mm lenses the other two are 68mm size lenses. Does the width of the lens make that much of a difference to consider going for the 100-400mm size lens for more quality photographs? Greg

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    Re: What zoom lens?

    The first question is what sort of wildlife, a sparrow or an elephant? And how close can you get to the motor sports action?

    Very generally speaking, for birds, etc, you will need at least 300 mm.

    By 75-300 do you mean the old 'cheapie' lens? If so, think again. Which 70-200 are you thinking about? The IS models are excellent although not cheap. But if you are going to be hand holding a large lens at slower shutter speeds IS really does make a difference.

    The 100-400 lens is an excellent choice if you need the extra length. Maybe a bit heavy and slower to use but it is very popular for wildlife. Some people find the push pull zoom action to be a little strange but most soon adapt to it. And because this lens will accept a converter you could get a little over 500 mm for that distant wildlife, etc.

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    Re: What zoom lens?

    Hi, I'm Richard... We generally use first names here...

    I think that you mistyped 28-105mm and actually meant 24-105mm...

    The 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 is a very well respected wildlife lens which will serve you from photographing birds to larger animals. It provides a good focal range which will mesh very well with your 24-105mm. However, if you add a Canon converter, you cannot auto focus using this lens with your 7D. There is a possibility that you could use a third party converter or tape the contacts of a Canon converter and retain auto-focus but, the A/F will just limp along and will really not be great for anything but stationary subjects.

    There are actually five total 70-200mm L (series) cousins from the least expensive 70-200mm f/4L (non-IS) to the new 70-200mm f/2.8L IS ii lens. Any one of these is an excellent lens but, IMO, IS capability really is a great help in a lens of this focal length. You can use a 1.4x TC with either of the f/4L models and still retain autofocus and very good image quality. You can use either a 1.4x TC or 2x with any of the three 70-200mm f/2.8L (series) lenses but, the new f/2.8L IS ii lens along with the newest 2x TC is probably the only combination of lens + 2x TC which will give you the IQ you are used to with your 24-105L.

    I would trash the idea of the 75-300mm f/4-5.6 IS lens because it is basically a piece of junk. Shooting with your 24-106L lens, you would be very disappointed with the 75-300mm.

    IMO the 70-300mm DO lens doesn't provide IQ compatible with its high cost. It is light in weight however.

    The 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS lens (non-DO and non-L) is a decent lens at a decent price but, it is a far cry from "L" quality.

    The 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS might be the lens you want. It is an L class lens with a good focal range. However, the maximum focal length of 300mm is just on the "adequate" side for a lot of wildlife photography and you can't effectively use a TC with it.

    The lens for which I am salivating has just been announced but, I have not heard of its release. It is the 200-400mm f/4L IS 1.4x lens which is a 200-400mm lens with a constant f/4 aperture along with a built-in 1.4x TC. IMO, that would be the absolute ultimate wildlife lens, especially for a 1.6x camera because it would autofocus with the built-in 1.4x TC engaged which would give you an equivalent 896mm f/5.6 lens. I just have to wait and see it's price before I learn if I just have to sell my house and my car to buy it or if I have to additionally sell a kidney to afford it.

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    Re: What zoom lens?

    Hi Geoff, many thanks for your prompt reply. The three lenses I have been considering are the Canon EF 70-300mm F4.5L IS USM, Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5/5.6 L IS USM and Canon EF 70-200mm f4 L IS USM. Wildlife could be anything from birds to elephants. As an enthusiastic amateur rather than a professional my access to motor sports will be from a gap in the fence and from the touch line when my sons in particular are playing rugby. With mycurrent lens reaching 105mm moving up to just 200mm doesn't seem to be worth it unless I add a TC. For photographing sport from the touchline I thought a 70-300L IS USM might provide some flexibility in focal length without the added size of the 100-400. In reality the wildlife side of things will likely be whatever presents itself in the UK environment rather than stalking some exotic species on the Serengeti. I would welcome you view in light of the added info - Greg

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    Re: What zoom lens?

    Hi Richard,
    Many thanks for your prompt and comprehensive response. The three lenses I have been considering are the Canon EF 70-300mm F4.5L IS USM, Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5/5.6 L IS USM and Canon EF 70-200mm f4 L IS USM. With my current lens reaching 105mm moving up to just 200mm doesn't seem to be worth it unless I add a TC and went for the f2.8L IS which will be outside my budget. For photographing sport from the touchline I thought a 70-300L IS USM might provide some flexibility in focal length without the added size of the 100-400. In reality the wildlife side of things will likely be whatever presents itself in the UK environment rather than stalking some exotic species on the Serengeti. In your opinion in the longer term would I get more out of going for 100-400 than 70-300 bearing in mind my current lens is 24-105mm. Either way I will going for a L series IS USM. Greg

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    Re: What zoom lens?

    Consider using an extender eg 2.0. This will double the focal length say from 100-400 to 200-800. Downside is that auto focus doesnt work, as aperture drops from 9.0 to 11.2. This extender is only compatible with fixed focal length L-series lenses 135mm and over, as well as the EF 70-200/2.8L, EF 70-
    200/2.8L IS, EF 70-200/4L, and EF 100-400/4.5-5.6L. AF compatibility also depends on the combination of the above lenses and DSLR
    body type.
    What zoom lens?
    Grey faced heron. Taken with 5D Mk 11, 1/125, f 11, ISO 100, 100-400mm with 2x extender at 800 mm. As taken from camera, but resized for uploading

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    Re: What zoom lens?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken MT View Post
    Consider using an extender eg 2.0. This will double the focal length say from 100-400 to 200-800. Downside is that auto focus doesnt work, as aperture drops from 9.0 to 11.2. This extender is only compatible with fixed focal length L-series lenses 135mm and over, as well as the EF 70-200/2.8L, EF 70-
    200/2.8L IS, EF 70-200/4L, and EF 100-400/4.5-5.6L. AF compatibility also depends on the combination of the above lenses and DSLR
    body type.
    Or "plan B" - get a EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM II and consider using that with an EF1.4x or EF2.0x teleconverter - that way everything from 70 to 400mm is covered, and you still get full AF

    What zoom lens?

    EF70-200mm F2.8L IS USM II with EF2.0x Teleconverter.

    PS: We've got a few Heron's up the top end of the South Island too (both 200mm + 2x TC)

    What zoom lens?

    What zoom lens?
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 8th March 2011 at 09:34 AM.

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    Re: What zoom lens?

    Greg, I haven't seen any 'real users' reports on the new 70-300 yet; just pre release magazine write ups, and I have yet to see any of these seriously criticise a major advertiser.

    I was in a similar position as you last year and wondering whether to wait and take a chance on the new lens or go for a 70-200 IS F4. Eventually, with an increase in vat (sales tax) coming before the new lens was available, I decided to get the 70-200. I already have a 1.4x converter which I could attach.

    The 70-200 is certainly a well respected and widely used lens, although I haven't exactly 'used it in anger' yet. But so far, including some rather tricky shots from today which I have yet to edit, the lens seems to work well.

    And when faced with a new long lens dilemma previously, I eventually went for the Sigma 150-500 chiefly on the idea that it would get me to 500 mm without needing a converter. I am happy with this lens, subject to needing reasonable light levels etc, but haven't done a real quality comparison with the Canon 100-400.

    The new Canon 70-300 L doesn't seem to be widely available yet in the UK and the asking price is around 1,100. Also, I was a bit wary of being a 'guinea pig' so has anybody here actually used one yet; and if so how good is it?

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    Re: What zoom lens?

    Lots of good ideas. I've been adding bits and pieces to my wildlife photography set-up over the past many years when I could afford to move up from a Sony A100. Now I have the Canon 5D MK II with a 24-105 IS L and a 400 DO L prime I use with a 1.4 TC. I'm ready to fill in the middle with a second camera body (probably a 7D) and a 70-200 f2.8IS L II. My logic is waiting until I have the resources to get what I can best afford and what might serve me well ad infinitum in this rotten economy but also which has the capability to capture excellent images if and when I learn that art and skill. Maybe a 2.0x TC is in my future but not a lot more. The only wildlife I wasn't able to capture were two leopard cubs playing at a waterhole at night - that's when I switched from film to digital and have been happy ever since. Good luck and I'd love more input on the middle I hope to fill before Jan.7 (when B and H sale ends!)
    Alan

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    Re: What zoom lens?

    Alan,

    Here's a tidbit which may or may not help.

    If you buy an L lens and don't like it, you can always sell it at little or no loss.

    Canon L quality lenses have excellent resale value on the used market. In fact, with my 70-200mm f/4L IS lens holding its value and a new f/4L IS lens constantly increasing in price, I could sell my 70-200mm f/4L IS lens for more than I originally paid for it, new, several years ago. But if I needed money that bad, I would consider selling my first born son before selling my f/4L IS lens. However, there is a far better market out there for L lenses than for first born sons!

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    Re: What zoom lens?

    Richard,

    With two 20 something sons of my own I understand their low market value. Your reassurance in purchasing another L lens is very helpful. The only downside is the weight that goes with better quality lenses. Perhaps this is my best incentive to stay in shape and exercise. Have you had experience with the 2.8 lens? In a small group of professional wildlife photographers last year in an Indian tiger shoot, I was the only one without that lens. That's a pretty good recommendation!

    Alan

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    Re: What zoom lens?

    I have the 70-300 f/4-5.6L IS USM lens that I purchased a few months ago. I bought it after renting the 70-200 f/2.8 L IS II. I am able to get pretty similar IQ with both lens, but I know that the 70-200 is better and in more skilled hands, you could see the improvement in IQ, but, the IQ with the 70-300 is very good too.

    I choose the 70-300 as a compromise between getting a 70-200 and wanting more reach. I opted not to get the 100-400 because while its still a good lens, its a bit dated. Now that Richard mentioned they are coming out with a new 200-400L, AHHH, If I had money growing on trees in my backyard, I would go with the 70-200f/2.8 L IS II and the new 200-400L (with the assumption it will be real good!). the 70-300 is half the price of the 70-200 II.

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    Re: What zoom lens?

    New 200-400 delayed indefinitely.

    Sometimes with a long lens one should not just consider the max reach but also the minimum at full zoom.

    The 70-300 is on the camera 95% of the time and a short reach <4feet is a great bonus.

    Regarding the 70-200 f2.8L IS II vs the 70-300L - at the same apertures and zoom ranges they are both about equal. But the 70-200 will take a 2x TC whereas the 70-300 will only take a 1.4. TC results on both are not all the great.
    Last edited by Bobobird; 1st December 2011 at 12:40 AM.

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    You might want to consider the new IS version of Sigmas 50-500 I have one and actually use it as a walk around a great deal. It can be used hand held at 500mm in a daylight setting (I believe you mentioned rugby) I use mine to shoot my daughters cheer leading competitions. I'm not sure as to what functions would be retained with a TC on a 7D though. Just another option to throw out there.

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    Re: What zoom lens?

    Rob - this one?

    Sigma 50-500mm f/4.5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM SLD Ultra Telephoto Zoom Lens.

    If so what are the minimum apertures set by the lens for 300mm and 400mm? Thanks.

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    Bobobird, f/5.6 @ 300mm & f/6.3 @ 400mm it's 9 blade aperture gets narrow fast.

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    Re: What zoom lens?

    This review will help… HERE

    Just realized the original poster, Greg posted this question back in March. Did you end up getting a zoom?

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