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Thread: Which Lens?

  1. #1
    Rae
    Rae is offline dPS Forum Member
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    Default Which Lens?

    I am currently saving to buy a telephoto lens for landscape and maybe some bird photography and would like your recommendations as to the best lens. I have been looking at the EF 100-400mm F/4.5-5.6L IS USM Telephoto Lens; however, would it be best to just buy a 400mm lens. I know one that is f/2.8 would be better but also a bit pricey. I may be wrong, as I'm new to this whole thing, but believe I would get more use from the 100-400. Your opinions and recommendations are greatly appreciated. BTW, I have a 20D. TIA

    -Rae

  2. #2
    chrisgarrett's Avatar
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    I don't know the lenses personally but the 400mm f/2.8 would perform better in low light (although 2.8 isn't super fast) and would perform ever-so-slightly better optically but I have my doubts that would be visible to the naked eye. The advantage obviously with 100-400 is if the bird moves towards or away from you then you can follow it by adjusting your focal length. IS doesn't really help in the moving situation but when the bird is still you will be able to fire off solid shots without a tripod. Of course with f/2.8 you can go for a higher shutter speed without needing IS in the same light.

    What it comes down to is what are your priorities?
    1. flexibility
    2. price
    3. weight
    4. optical performance
    5. f-stop

    For what its worth I get quite a lot of use out of my 70-300mm IS and chose it over the prime because of flexibility

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    Saralonde's Avatar
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    If you are looking to photograph a large variety of wildlife you would need more versatility. Birds, being notoriously shy, probably do better with 400 or longer. Of course, price usually has to be considered.
    Did you check this site? http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/
    It may help you decide.
    Linda
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    inkista's Avatar
    inkista is offline Gear Geek Girl
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rae View Post
    I have been looking at the EF 100-400mm F/4.5-5.6L IS USM Telephoto Lens; however, would it be best to just buy a 400mm lens. I know one that is f/2.8 would be better but also a bit pricey.
    Um, generally for landscape photography, you go wide, not long. I've heard of using a 200mm for landscape, but a 400 might be overdoing it. 400, however, is the minimal you want for bird photography.

    The general wisdom is that the 100-400 is far more versatile, (and has IS) for the extra $500 or so, but that at 400mm, the 400 f/5.6L prime is sharper. It's also lighter and smaller, and more easily handheld. The 100-400L is a good general wildlife telephoto zoom and the dream zoo lens. The 400L is the best bird-in-flight lens out there (IS is more or less useless for freezing fast motion), provided you've got the light to do fast shutter speeds to avoid camera shake. So, it depends on what you think your uses for the lens are going to be (I wanted bird-in-flight photos, and I live in Southern California, so I opted for the prime). If you think you're going to need the 100-400 range, go for the zoom. If you think you're going to be at 400 all the time, then the prime might be more worthwhile. Both are great lenses, and there's the occasional superb copy of the 100-400 that's as sharp as the 400 at the long end (but this is by no means guaranteed).

    At the f/2.8 range, the supertele lenses become absolute monsters, require tripods, and cost, iirc, around $5k.

    If you don't mind the tripod setup and you just want reach, another lens you might want to consider is the "Bigma", the Sigma 50-500mm f4-6.3 EX APO RF HSM. It has many proponents, reviews favorably, and some folk (who obviously weightlift ) say they can handhold it. It's also cheaper than both of the 400mm lenses you're considering.

    Another resource for lens reviews is the Fred Miranda board.
    Last edited by inkista; 01-31-2007 at 08:53 PM.

  5. #5
    Rae
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    Thanks so much everyone! You have definitely given me "food for thought". I mainly plan on using the lens for landscapes. I love old barns and buildings. However, I would also like to try my hand at birds (the ones just sitting, haha). I think I might still be leaning toward the 100-400. I like the idea of the IS so I wouldn't have to always use the tripod and I believe I would get more use, at this time in my learning process, with this lens. I'm off to read more reviews and will check out the Sigma 50-500mm. Will let you know my final decision.

    Again, thanks to everyone.

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