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Which lens to go alongside my 500mm?

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Old Saturday 3rd January 2009, 11:37   #1
Magpie70
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Which lens to go alongside my 500mm?

I currently use a canon 500mm f4 for wildlife photography. I am thinking about getting a lens to carry in tandom with my current set up. I will be putting the lens on my back-up 40D body.
Could anyone recommend an ideal complimentary lens? I am thinking of the following:
  • Canon 100-400mm;
  • Canon 300mm f2.8;
  • Sigma 300mm 2.8.
Any advice would be great.
Cheers, Mark

P.S. I have a bigma lens but don't really like it, is the canon 100-400mm much better?
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Old Saturday 3rd January 2009, 15:15   #2
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The Canon 300 2.8 will give you the best image quality. Carry a 1.4 converter and you will have the best kit available for opportunist wildlife pics. If you are used to the quality of the 500 prime, neither the 100-400 or Sigma 300 will satisfy you.
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Old Saturday 3rd January 2009, 16:08   #3
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I used to own a Bigma, my wife owns a 100-400L. Quite often we would stand side by side photographing the same subject. When cropped to the same size, the results from the Canon lens were much better despite being 100mm shorter in focal length. Needless to say I sold the Bigma and bought a 100-400L. It makes a very versatile carry-round lens suitable for birds, butterflies and flowers if you attach a small extension tube.

Since then we now also share a Canon 300 2.8L with 1.4x and 2x TC's. This lens is outstanding and results are excellent with the 1.4x and still very good with the 2x. At times we have used both TC's together and still achieved good results. Highly recommended! You may find though that the weight of the 300 lens may be a bit too much to carry over your shoulder if you are also transporting your 500 and tripod.
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Old Saturday 3rd January 2009, 18:18   #4
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Either 300 f2.8 prime will be a bit on the heavy side as a second lens, I take either a 400 f5.6 or a 300 f4 as my second lens when out with the 500 f4. Both are light and deliver great IQ, I think they're worth a look.
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Old Saturday 3rd January 2009, 19:18   #5
vkalia
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I use a 500 and a 100-400. Both produce images that are sharp enough for stock sales, magazine publications & large publications. I dont know where this whole "100-400 is not sharp enough" jazz comes from - I just sold an image taken with the 100-400 to a magazine for a planned run of 1.2 million. So apparently this lens does take a decent image or two, every so often.

For me, I need the second lens to serve as a complement, to span a greater range of focal lengths. I also need something that I can travel with. That rules out a 300/2.8 - no way can I travel with both a 500/4 and a 300/2.8. Also, for what I shoot, I need something light (ie, easy to get up and shoot) and also a zoom (for forests, where sometimes subjects can be very close). Enter 100-400.

If you shoot birds or dont need a zoom, consider a 400/5.6 or a 300/4. Or if you are shooting braced/off a tripod, get the Sigma 120-300/2.8. A bit heavier but still relatively "portable" - and superb image quality to boot.

I simply dont see how practical a 300/2.8 will be, especially when on a second body with a 500/4 on the first. The sheer logistics of shooting with this setup are mind-boggling and only worth addressing if you have a private jeep to shoot out of, and are shooting birds as well as mammals. Personally, given what I shoot, I wouldn't take a 300/2.8 over a 300/4 if they were priced alike.

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Last edited by vkalia : Saturday 3rd January 2009 at 19:20.
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Old Sunday 4th January 2009, 10:59   #6
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i tried taking my 500f4isl L and 300 f2.8isL once - NEVER again the weight is just to much to haul around unless your next to the car all day.
i would say either the 100/400 or 70/200 + 1.4tc would be the best bet.
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Old Friday 9th January 2009, 18:59   #7
djprest
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if you have a canon 500 f4 and don't know what other lenses you should have,then you should not have the 500 f4.
sorry if this sounds rude,but many of us on here are amateurs just enjoying bird photography and learning the skills.i find it offensive,as it appears you have bought a camera and just bought an expensive lens(albiet a good one)i know bird photography and what lenses are the best for what i can afford,
though having not seen your photos,for it seems 'all the gear,no idea'
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Old Friday 9th January 2009, 21:17   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djprest View Post
if you have a canon 500 f4 and don't know what other lenses you should have,then you should not have the 500 f4.
sorry if this sounds rude,but many of us on here are amateurs just enjoying bird photography and learning the skills.i find it offensive,as it appears you have bought a camera and just bought an expensive lens(albiet a good one)i know bird photography and what lenses are the best for what i can afford,
though having not seen your photos,for it seems 'all the gear,no idea'
Not sure where you got that idea from the guy's post. He says his backup body is a 40D. That would make me believe he shot it with it for awhile and then bought something nicer -- for starters -- and wants to know what the best lens, from other birders' perspectives, to keep on the old body and carry around with him.

I say, follow your own advice from your tagline: its only birding! lighten up.
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Old Friday 9th January 2009, 23:59   #9
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A backup lens has to light enough to carry with the 500/4 and the rest of the kit. It also should be easy to pick up with one hand for the grab shots while you are using the 500/4.
I carry a 300/4 for backup in this type of situation but the 400/5.6 would be given serious consideration too. If you like a zoom as backup then the 70-200/2.8 with 1.4x tele would be the best bet. Very fast AF for grab shots of the warbler that appears on your shoulder. The 100-400 is not fast enough . Neil.
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Old Saturday 10th January 2009, 00:22   #10
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Hi all,

Just got into birding in a small way, my mainstay was landscapes, recently got a 100-400 canon isL, all I can say is the lens needs practise because of is short DOF, but in time gives pin sharp images.
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Old Sunday 11th January 2009, 22:37   #11
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I have the 500/4 (1D III) and the 100-400 (50D).

The 100-400 is certainly useful sometimes, but not all that often. It's a very useful range of focal lengths, but is let down by (more than any other factor) speed, in both senses: I often miss having f/4; and it is much slower to focus. For quite a while now I've been pondering replacing it with a 300/2.8 or a 400/DO.

The question is - would either of those actually be more useful than the 100-400? Or would I end up (as I do now) using the 500/4 nearly all the time and lugging the second rig around to little purpose?

I don't know the answer. It may be that the perfect second rig next to a 500/4 or 600/4 is a Nikon D300 and a 200-400/4 VR. Too heavy and very expensive for what it is, but handy focal length range, and doubtless a lot faster than the 100-400 on a 50D. But (on the other hand) so bulky and heavy that you probably wouldn't use it much.

There are some pretty good reasons to select a 100-400 as second lens (listed by others in this thread). Maybe that's your answer.
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