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500 f4 - so near yet so far...

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Old Wednesday 10th December 2008, 21:34   #1
Chris Mayne
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500 f4 - so near yet so far...

I couldn't wait any longer, so I decided to blow my savings (and more) on a 500mm f4 a couple of weeks ago. Took it out for the first time over the weekend, and got a few shots of spotted redshank at distances of 30m or so and was pleased with the results (compared to my 100-400) - one attached.

Then things started to go wrong. After a 30 or so shots, the IS jumped, and then again, getting worse with time. I gave up, and went home a tad dissapointed

Returned the lens (Warehouse Express) on Tuesday, and my replacement arrived today (good service!). Just opened it up to find three bits of dust (more like large flakes of grot) attached to one of the inner lenses.

What is going on?

Have I just got really bad luck or has anyone else had such experiences? I'm beginning to worry what lens 3 will be like - at least these problems have been obvious from the start...
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Old Wednesday 10th December 2008, 21:37   #2
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sounds like you've had very bad luck... with the first one were you using a tc? I found that both Kenko and Sigma 1.4x tcs upset the IS and send it funny though it's spot on with a Canon 1.4x.
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Old Wednesday 10th December 2008, 21:58   #3
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It sound like youve been very unlucky return it to warehouse express and try another .owners seem to have very few problems with this lens i know this is hassle to keep returning it but as you can see from the few shot of the Spotted Redshank that you took a reliable one gives excellent results.Let us know how how you get on.
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Old Wednesday 10th December 2008, 22:46   #4
Malcolm Stewart
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Originally Posted by Chris Mayne View Post
...

What is going on?

Have I just got really bad luck or has anyone else had such experiences? I'm beginning to worry what lens 3 will be like - at least these problems have been obvious from the start...
Hi Chris,
Hope you get sorted out. I bought an EF 70-200 f4L from Warehouse Express last year, and returned it immediately, as it was very soft on the RHS whilst being sharp on the LHS and centre. The replacement was better, but I did wonder what happened to my original sample...
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Old Thursday 11th December 2008, 01:18   #5
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Keep the faith, Chris. You are definitely having a highly unusual run of bad luck there. The 500mm is one of Canon's consummate pro lenses and you shouldn't have been so unlucky. The third one will be the charm. It is worth the hassle.
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Old Thursday 11th December 2008, 06:56   #6
Chris Mayne
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sounds like you've had very bad luck... with the first one were you using a tc? I found that both Kenko and Sigma 1.4x tcs upset the IS and send it funny though it's spot on with a Canon 1.4x.
I fitted my Canon 1.4x from the start, however for the first 5 or 10 minutes of playing I had no problems at all. The IS then jumped once. After more playing, changing battery, the jumping became more frequent. By the time I got home it was more of a constant juddering rather than the odd jump. It was also the noisiest IS unit I've heard...

Since I will probably want to use the TC most of the time (and its been fine on a 300 f4, and taped on my 100-400), I kind of hastily packed the lens and returned...
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Old Thursday 11th December 2008, 07:19   #7
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I fitted my Canon 1.4x from the start, however for the first 5 or 10 minutes of playing I had no problems at all. The IS then jumped once. After more playing, changing battery, the jumping became more frequent. By the time I got home it was more of a constant juddering rather than the odd jump. It was also the noisiest IS unit I've heard...

Since I will probably want to use the TC most of the time (and its been fine on a 300 f4, and taped on my 100-400), I kind of hastily packed the lens and returned...
As you're using a Canon tc I doubt that this was the cause of the problem, sounds like it was just very bad luck. As others have said keep the faith, I've had this lens for over a year now and it's been spot on all the time.

I agree that the IS is noisy, but don't worry you'll get used to it!
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Old Thursday 11th December 2008, 07:41   #8
Chris Mayne
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Thanks all.
Just phoned Warehouse Express, and they have promised a new one tomorrow, so fingers crossed.
From everything I've seen and heard, this is a great lens, and I can't wait to use it in earnest (I've got three weeks off work over Christmas so I aim to get about the Norfolk and Suffolk coast as much as I can).
I'll post an update with the results!
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Old Thursday 11th December 2008, 10:15   #9
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You have to wonder if your retailer is shipping you the lenses someone else rejected already. Two duff ones in a row - that is not what you expect with any Canon product, never mind their flagship super-telephoto lenses.

I've bought ... er .. I think it's 11 Canon lenses now and never had the slightest trouble with any of them. Not to mention three teleconverters, two flashes, and seven bodies, all of which were likewise in excellent order straight out of the box. So how unlikely is it that you'd get two dud 500/4s in a row?

If the third one isn't perfect tell 'em to stick it where the sun don't shine and take your business elsewhere.
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Old Saturday 13th December 2008, 05:55   #10
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I had a good laugh from the guy who said that for the price of a Canon 600mm/L lens he could have gotten a good used Aston Martin Volante. So here's the question for you: if you want to photograph birds (I presume) mostly from 30m distance, you don't need a 500mm lens. Go digiscoping. Get a quality scope and bracket/rail for half the price of a 500mm /L lens. You'll get more distance with that.
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Old Saturday 13th December 2008, 09:02   #11
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hmmm, a friend of mine bought a 500/4 is and a canon 1.4tc we,ve been out shooting on a number of occasions and she's unhappy with the lens, its focusing with or without the tc is erratic, its been tried on various bodies and no difference, its been sent back to ffordes who have sent it to Canon as they are not happy with it either, it doesn't seen to be an isolated issue
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Old Saturday 13th December 2008, 12:03   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Mayne View Post
I couldn't wait any longer, so I decided to blow my savings (and more) on a 500mm f4 a couple of weeks ago. Took it out for the first time over the weekend, and got a few shots of spotted redshank at distances of 30m or so and was pleased with the results (compared to my 100-400) - one attached.

Then things started to go wrong. After a 30 or so shots, the IS jumped, and then again, getting worse with time. I gave up, and went home a tad dissapointed

Returned the lens (Warehouse Express) on Tuesday, and my replacement arrived today (good service!). Just opened it up to find three bits of dust (more like large flakes of grot) attached to one of the inner lenses.

What is going on?

Have I just got really bad luck or has anyone else had such experiences? I'm beginning to worry what lens 3 will be like - at least these problems have been obvious from the start...

That's sickening. I hope you get it sorted, especially as those lenses cost a fortune.
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Old Saturday 13th December 2008, 15:55   #13
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I have often wondered if some items that you return as being less than 100% perfect but functional are ever sent out by the shop / distributor to see if the second buyer notices? or are they all sent back to the factory? something I guess we will never discover.
It also makes you question the QC on items of this sort of value that really should have less than 0.1% with problems or so you would imagine after forking out 4000+

I am still not certain if my 500 is perfect or if there is a problem with front focusing or if its the camera or my inability to set everything up correctly; I took a series of shots of a Sparrowhawk perched on a fence; 500f4, 1DIII and gimbal on big Gitzo legs and out of 8 only 1 one critically sharp -- when it took off though I banged off two shots and both of it in rapid flight were spot on! maybe I should stick to action photos
perched shot a little soft --
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Old Saturday 13th December 2008, 16:29   #14
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Graham, that's spooky, my friend had a barn owl on a post with a late summer grassy background quite similar to the owl, the mount was rock solid and none of her images were 100% sharp, the shots were very similar to those you posted
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Old Saturday 13th December 2008, 17:39   #15
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I have often wondered if some items that you return as being less than 100% perfect but functional are ever sent out by the shop / distributor to see if the second buyer notices? or are they all sent back to the factory? something I guess we will never discover.
It also makes you question the QC on items of this sort of value that really should have less than 0.1% with problems or so you would imagine after forking out 4000+

I am still not certain if my 500 is perfect or if there is a problem with front focusing or if its the camera or my inability to set everything up correctly; I took a series of shots of a Sparrowhawk perched on a fence; 500f4, 1DIII and gimbal on big Gitzo legs and out of 8 only 1 one critically sharp -- when it took off though I banged off two shots and both of it in rapid flight were spot on! maybe I should stick to action photos
perched shot a little soft --
have you set or checked micro ajustment ? that should take care of front/back focus problems Unless its a mile out.
the perched shot looks focused on the fence in front of the bird to me.
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Old Saturday 13th December 2008, 18:23   #16
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I agree with Rob, it is an autofocus issue - it has focussed on the corner in front of the bird. With the flight shot there is presumably less to confuse it.

Makes you wonder how good our shots would be if we maunually focussed ? I did some insects this summer with MF and felt I had more keepers than with AF. Missed a few shots though.

Great flight shot BTW !

Regarding problems "seek and ye shall find" !

Lindsay
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Old Saturday 13th December 2008, 21:19   #17
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have you set or checked micro ajustment ? that should take care of front/back focus problems Unless its a mile out.
the perched shot looks focused on the fence in front of the bird to me.
Rob.
That was the strange thing in that it was central AF point and according to the data that was on the bird's head -- I may try the micro adjustment but had not had the confidence to try it as yet!

One thing I did come across on the Art Morris site was a reference to another site where there is a calculation table for assessing DOF at close focus with different lenses; with a 500f4 at minimum focus it was <1cm and hence would not take in a bird's eye and body if it was anything other than perfectly parallel to the lens --
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Old Saturday 13th December 2008, 23:00   #18
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The point about DOF is good.

I am going to show my ignorance re the canon dSLRs by mentioning another idea: on some cameras, the size of the focus area can be adjusted, and for bird photos I like to have it as small as possible to increase the chance that the camera focuses on the bird and not a leaf it considers "face-like" some distance away.

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Old Sunday 14th December 2008, 06:18   #19
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I fitted my Canon 1.4x from the start, however for the first 5 or 10 minutes of playing I had no problems at all. The IS then jumped once. After more playing, changing battery, the jumping became more frequent. By the time I got home it was more of a constant juddering rather than the odd jump. It was also the noisiest IS unit I've heard...

Since I will probably want to use the TC most of the time (and its been fine on a 300 f4, and taped on my 100-400), I kind of hastily packed the lens and returned...
Chris: the loudish noise from the lens it normal! it is more prominent though when used in a hide on a tripod where it vibrates though the wooden floor a little, it's better used on a bean bag resting on the shelf IMO.
When I first got this lens I thought there was something wrong with it, but after listening to other peoples they were all just as loud.
Hope you get yours sorted out soon because I know for a fact you are going to realy enjoy using it, they are fabulous lenses.
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Old Sunday 14th December 2008, 09:16   #20
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Sucks that you've had bad luck with your new lens Chris - must be crushing when you've built up the excitement and spend that much cash. Hope you get it sorted ok!

Oh, and that Spotted Redshank shot is
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Old Sunday 14th December 2008, 13:03   #21
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That was the strange thing in that it was central AF point and according to the data that was on the bird's head -- I may try the micro adjustment but had not had the confidence to try it as yet!

One thing I did come across on the Art Morris site was a reference to another site where there is a calculation table for assessing DOF at close focus with different lenses; with a 500f4 at minimum focus it was <1cm and hence would not take in a bird's eye and body if it was anything other than perfectly parallel to the lens --
the red squar is smaller than what the focus point covers so at times it will grab something other than what the point is on this happends when a higher contrast subject is prominent just outside the focus point.
Yes dof is tiny and even stopping down does not give much extra dof with the 500f4.
i really would recomend sorting the micro ajustment out .
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Old Thursday 18th December 2008, 22:12   #22
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Well, lens number 3 turned up last Friday, and then East Anglia was plunged into gloomy cloud, fog and rain! Finally got out yesterday to the Norfolk coast, and the lens worked fine all day *phew*. In fact I'm really pleased with the results, the IQ is just as I was expecting.

Just need to go through the 600+ shots now! I'll post some in the gallery when I get them sorted.

I was expecting to need the 1.4x TC on permanently, but often I was finding 700mm just too much.

Oh, and the 30m shooting distance I mentioned previously - I was just challenging the lens really. Not my intended distance for normal work, but its good to know that the 500 will work at a distance if I am out and about without a scope an need a reasonable shot of something further away (I started my bird photography with a digiscoping set-up).

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Old Friday 19th December 2008, 03:49   #23
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Good to hear you've got a good one now Chris, sounds good.

I use my small walkabout zoom (70-300!) to take distant shots too. Ok so you don't get very good image quality and lose the details but I find it very satisfying to get even just a record shot of something interesting, particularly if it's a bird I've not photographed before. Something about being able to prove you've seen a particular bird I think.
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Old Friday 19th December 2008, 08:05   #24
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That's good news Chris, looking forward to seeing your pictures from it.

Now you will have a better christmas!
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