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DPChallenge Forums >> Hardware and Software >> Canon 100-400 or Canon 400 5.6?
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Showing posts 1 - 19 of 19, (reverse)
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06/05/2011 11:31:51 AM · #1
Hi!
I figure it is time to upgrade to a longer zoom lens (Baby swans, foxes, trip to Africa soon) and was wondering wether I should get the Canon 100-400 mm or Canon 400 mm...
I'd like to know a little about the difference in quality of the lens, if there is one, and if it is worth the extra price for the 100-400...
Thanks!
06/05/2011 11:55:39 AM · #2
I don't have it yet, but im going for the 100-400 just because it's going to be more versatile and it's a sharp lens and for $300 extra I'll save for a bit more. I would check out the equipment link on top of the main page and look at the images for both lenses and maybe some other alternitives.
06/05/2011 12:04:20 PM · #3
I had the 400 5.6 L and loved it. If you are looking for a birding lens, it is perfect for that task. It has very fast auto focus, even on a 5dII. Sharp wide open, with no need to stop down. I was in the same boat as you originally. The deciding factor was image quality. Not that the zoom is not sharp, but the 400 has an edge. The only real drawback is no Is. So you have to shoot in good light. Or jack up the iso levels. The built in lens hood is brilliant also. Check my home page, as the first three animal shots are from this lens. If the best 400mm image quality is what you seek, look no further. If you need the flexibility of the zoom, go for that. Feel free to pm with any other questions.

06/05/2011 12:05:10 PM · #4
How do you afford this! lol
06/05/2011 12:14:43 PM · #5
Originally posted by Magnumphotography:

I had the 400 5.6 L and loved it. If you are looking for a birding lens, it is perfect for that task. It has very fast auto focus, even on a 5dII. Sharp wide open, with no need to stop down. I was in the same boat as you originally. The deciding factor was image quality. Not that the zoom is not sharp, but the 400 has an edge. The only real drawback is no Is. So you have to shoot in good light. Or jack up the iso levels. The built in lens hood is brilliant also. Check my home page, as the first three animal shots are from this lens. If the best 400mm image quality is what you seek, look no further. If you need the flexibility of the zoom, go for that. Feel free to pm with any other questions.

This covers the topic well. Ditto from me.
06/05/2011 12:33:19 PM · #6
Originally posted by hahn23:

Originally posted by Magnumphotography:

I had the 400 5.6 L and loved it. If you are looking for a birding lens, it is perfect for that task. It has very fast auto focus, even on a 5dII. Sharp wide open, with no need to stop down. I was in the same boat as you originally. The deciding factor was image quality. Not that the zoom is not sharp, but the 400 has an edge. The only real drawback is no Is. So you have to shoot in good light. Or jack up the iso levels. The built in lens hood is brilliant also. Check my home page, as the first three animal shots are from this lens. If the best 400mm image quality is what you seek, look no further. If you need the flexibility of the zoom, go for that. Feel free to pm with any other questions.

This covers the topic well. Ditto from me.


Add another voice to that opinion
06/05/2011 12:44:44 PM · #7
No IS on the 400 is a big deal. IS is extremely helpful at this focal length, especially if you plan on shooting in low light. IS will save you many times.
06/05/2011 12:47:54 PM · #8
Originally posted by cloudsme:

No IS on the 400 is a big deal. IS is extremely helpful at this focal length, especially if you plan on shooting in low light. IS will save you many times.

If i was planning on using a monopod or maybe a tripod would that help a lot?
06/05/2011 01:00:06 PM · #9
Forget everything and decide if you need zoom or not. Obviously the 400mm lacks zoom and at this focal length that can be a big deal. You are cruising along in Africa and a cheetah comes right up to your jeep. Whoa! All you got is a nice shot of half his face.

I haven't shot the 400mm, but I've owned the 300mm f/4L and I currently own the 100-400. I find the latter to be far more versatile.

Just offering a countering opinion to muddy the waters. ;)
06/05/2011 01:02:48 PM · #10
Originally posted by DrAchoo:

Forget everything and decide if you need zoom or not. Obviously the 400mm lacks zoom and at this focal length that can be a big deal. You are cruising along in Africa and a cheetah comes right up to your jeep. Whoa! All you got is a nice shot of half his face.

I haven't shot the 400mm, but I've owned the 300mm f/4L and I currently own the 100-400. I find the latter to be far more versatile.

Just offering a countering opinion to muddy the waters. ;)

Ok my head is spinning... How about quality wise...
06/05/2011 01:05:30 PM · #11
A slightly softer well-composed image is better than a really sharp image that can't fit everything you want on the canvas...

It's an L-lens for goodness sake. It's not going to be shabby. No zoom can stand up to a prime in sharpness, but it makes up for it in versatility.
06/05/2011 01:07:39 PM · #12
Originally posted by nB:

Originally posted by sneezy:

I haven't shot the 400mm, but I've owned the 300mm f/4L and I currently own the 100-400. I find the latter to be far more versatile.

Just offering a countering opinion to muddy the waters. ;)

Ok my head is spinning... How about quality wise...


You won't be able to tell the difference in quality except in the most extreme cases. And whatever difference there is, will be offset most of the time by camera movement and lack of IS on the fixed lens. You say you're going to use tripod/monopod, which is fine, but you will find that mirror slap alone causes enough movement to slightly degrade quality at 400mm on the cropped camera, and even on full frame for that matter. And you can't shoot wildlife with the mirror locked up.

Get the zoom. On your body, that 400mm is over 600mm effective focal length. You really, really need that IS whenever you shoot hand-held. And you WILL shoot hand-held, trust me.

R.

Message edited by author 2011-06-05 13:08:20.
06/05/2011 01:09:58 PM · #13
Originally posted by Bear_Music:

You say you're going to use tripod/monopod, which is fine, but you will find that mirror slap alone causes enough movement to slightly degrade quality at 400mm on the cropped camera, and even on full frame for that matter. And you can't shoot wildlife with the mirror locked up.


Really? That doesn't make a lot of sense to me. The mirror is on the close end of the lens and so what does it matter how big, heavy or long the lens is? In fact, wouldn't a heavier lens vibrate less from a mirror because of the ratio of mass between the lens and mirror?
06/05/2011 01:12:37 PM · #14
Originally posted by DrAchoo:

Originally posted by Bear_Music:

You say you're going to use tripod/monopod, which is fine, but you will find that mirror slap alone causes enough movement to slightly degrade quality at 400mm on the cropped camera, and even on full frame for that matter. And you can't shoot wildlife with the mirror locked up.


Really? That doesn't make a lot of sense to me. The mirror is on the close end of the lens and so what does it matter how big, heavy or long the lens is? In fact, wouldn't a heavier lens vibrate less from a mirror because of the ratio of mass between the lens and mirror?


The vibration is a constant, it's in the body. The *effect* is magnified according to how narrow the angle of view is; it's not noticeable on a wide angle, it's extremely noticeable on a long telephoto.

R.

Message edited by author 2011-06-06 19:58:21.
06/05/2011 02:21:56 PM · #15
Thank you for all your help! I am leaning a bit towards the 100-400, so now the only decider is price...
Thanks!
06/06/2011 09:11:19 AM · #16
Originally posted by Bear_Music:

You really, really need that IS whenever you shoot hand-held.

That really depends on the shooter; I've actually used both and I'm quite happy hand-holding either. Certainly you want to keep an eye on your speeds but it's perfectly possible to shoot hand-held with either; if you have a steady hand and brace yourself sensibly.

You can tell the difference in image quality. The prime is undeniably sharper; it also seems to be a less variable lens (I'm not sure I've come across anyone who's got a "bad sample" of the prime, whereas I have with the 100-400).

That said, it's a prime. Your shooting style has to be the ultimate decider. I'm perfecly happy with a prime and the compromises that it brings in terms of composition / needing to relocate (zoom-by-foot!). My wife would rather have the flexibility of the zoom - there'd be no point handing her a prime because she simply wouldn't use it much.

Ideally, find some friends with both, head out somewhere nice and spend the day shooting with both. One will probably stand out!
06/06/2011 09:37:39 AM · #17
A couple of things:

IS can only overcome some of the handheld camera shake. Shutter speed must be fast enough to mitigate the vibration and unsteadiness imparted by human hands. I see a lot of photographers with monster telephotos in the low light of dawn hand holding their big lenses. Even with IS, the acquired images are going to be oof. Plenty of light.... no problem. But, low light requires a tripod mount. If mounted on a tripod, then I'd turn the IS off (unless the lens happens to be tripod savvy and turns itself off). I'm talking about the 400mm lens focal length. 100mm is a different type of shot.

I don't want to start a big argument, but a lens is a lens. If you mount a 400mm on a cropped sensor camera, the increased magnification is only apparent, not a real magnification boost. However, the need for a tripod becomes more imperative.

An "L" series lens should be matched with a pro camera body for best results.
06/06/2011 08:04:39 PM · #18
Originally posted by hahn23:

I don't want to start a big argument, but a lens is a lens. If you mount a 400mm on a cropped sensor camera, the increased magnification is only apparent, not a real magnification boost.


In any meaningful sense, it's a "magnification boost", though it's better to refer to it as a narrowing of the Field of View. On a 4x5 film camera, 90mm is a wide angle. On a cropped sensor dSLR it's a moderate telephoto. The only meaningful measure, IMO, is how tight (or wide) the FoV is. I don't see much point in discussing some arbitrary issue of "magnification" that exists irrespective of the imaging circle.

So, yes, definitely, a 400mm lens is "more telephoto" on a cropped sensor camera than it is on a full frame camera. That's just reality.

R.
06/06/2011 08:35:34 PM · #19
Oh, oh! I was afraid of this.

A given lens casts the same image no matter what camera it is attached to. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. LOL!!!! It's just physics.
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