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Lens choice 7d mk1 ( or maybe mk2 ) (1 Viewer)

willie45

Well-known member
Hi all

I have a 7Dmk1 but am considering an upgrade to the Mk2 soon. Either way, I need a good lens for general birds, both in flight and otherwise. Weight is an important factor as I'm knocking on a bit. I would guess the Canon100-400L mk2 would be too heavy for me to feel comfortable holding it.

I'm attracted to the Canon 400mm f5.6 as it's a prime, good IQ and light and I'm considering the Tamron 100-400 following loads of glowing reviews and it's even lighter weight.

What would you say between these two?

The zoom would give more versatile lengths but as mostly I'd be going at the 400mm end, I'm wondering if the prime might be better. OTOH the Tamron is allegedly as good IQ, has IS has the 100-400 range covered and is cheaper.

I'm not sure about the AF but reviews of Tamron's AF are also positive. Also the Tamron, although not a Canon L, is a much newer design than the Canon and has more modern AF tech I guess. I'd welcome anyone's thoughts.

Thank you all.
 
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johnf3f

johnf3f
Just my experiences.

I have found that 3rd party lenses can produce excellent results - especially the newer offerings from Sigma and Tamron. However I buy Canon L lenses because of their better AF performance and better IQ (depends on model). If you want to catch birds in flight I would subbest the Canon 100-400 Mk2 or the 400 F5.6 L - whichever suits you best.

I have used most of the Sigma and Tamron alternatives, they are great lenses, but if you want fast AF lock and tracking then the native lenses are the better choice. Note for moving subjects (especially flying birds) then turn IS/OS/VR off.

Just my 2p.
 

Dave N

Well-known member
Just a thought..
Canon's 400 mm f5.6 prime has the best reputation for being sharp as a tack, but remember it does not have IS so harder to hand hold
 

willie45

Well-known member
Thank you both. It seems the Canon 400mm is my first choice as there seems little point in having a camera with such fast AF as the 7D mk1 and mk2 have and using a lens which might even marginally diminish it's effectiveness. Even though there's no IS I'm inclined to believe most of my shots will be at 1/1000s and over for BIF and on a tripod for the rest.
 

johnf3f

johnf3f
Just a thought..
Canon's 400 mm f5.6 prime has the best reputation for being sharp as a tack, but remember it does not have IS so harder to hand hold

I would disagree, hand holding without IS (on a well balanced lens) is easy. On a lens like my 100-400 Mk2 is difficult at low shutter speeds due to the rearward balance. On the other hand with my 800 F5.6 L IS is easy to get sharp shots at 1/160 due to it's forward balance, though I can't hold it up for long! Tis a wee bit heavy;)

The Canon 400 F5.6 L is quite front heavy and (using other peoples lenses) I have yet to find a use for IS on this lens.

Just my observations.
 

Barred Wobbler

Well-known member
IS isn't all it's cracked up to be in bird photography anyway.

For birds in flight you need a shutter speed of 1/1600 minimum (and even then wingtips are blurred even on slow-flapping birds like large raptors), 1/2000 or faster is better. No IS wanted and it is a hindrance for moving targets because it is working against any panning.

For perched birds it's fine at helping achieve shots at low shutter speeds in poor light, but then all the bird has to do is twitch or turn its head and the shot is lost, and how many small passerines stay still and pose?

These shots were all taken with the 400/5.6 & 7d (1), tripod mounted because of poor forest light. The squirrel is 1/100 sec. The brambling is 1/160 and the greenfinch is 1/320. Any shorter shutter speed than the greenfinch and you are getting into the realms of what is generally regarded as hand-holding speeds anyway, so IS isn't as important as it's often made out to be (although it does have its uses).

I've got IS on my Sigma 150-600 (S) and it's rarely switched on.
 

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johnf3f

johnf3f
IS isn't all it's cracked up to be in bird photography anyway.

For birds in flight you need a shutter speed of 1/1600 minimum (and even then wingtips are blurred even on slow-flapping birds like large raptors), 1/2000 or faster is better. No IS wanted and it is a hindrance for moving targets because it is working against any panning.

For perched birds it's fine at helping achieve shots at low shutter speeds in poor light, but then all the bird has to do is twitch or turn its head and the shot is lost, and how many small passerines stay still and pose?

These shots were all taken with the 400/5.6 & 7d (1), tripod mounted because of poor forest light. The squirrel is 1/100 sec. The brambling is 1/160 and the greenfinch is 1/320. Any shorter shutter speed than the greenfinch and you are getting into the realms of what is generally regarded as hand-holding speeds anyway, so IS isn't as important as it's often made out to be (although it does have its uses).

I've got IS on my Sigma 150-600 (S) and it's rarely switched on.

You make a good point (which I forgot to mention!), with bird photography it is the subject that determines the shutter speed most of the time! I love photographing Long Tailed Tits - a slower shutter speed is simply a no go with these twitchy little blighters.
 

willie45

Well-known member
I noticed a used 400mm f5.6 on MPB today and it should arrive on Friday :t:

I will update with maybe a shot or two for comment on the lens and technique at the weekend.

Thanks again
 

tom baxter

Well-known member
I noticed a used 400mm f5.6 on MPB today and it should arrive on Friday :t:

I will update with maybe a shot or two for comment on the lens and technique at the weekend.

Thanks again

That is the exact set up I used (7d1 + 400 5.6) for the past 4 years and it was a lot of fun. Not often producing professional quality photos, but it is close enough to fool the eyes of most non-photographers into thinking so. The AF is lightning fast for the price and for birds its just a very fun tool to have at hand. I recently switched lenses after my 400 fell into pieces after years of abuse and I really miss it.
 

willie45

Well-known member
Well guys the mk2 is bought as well as the Canon 400mm f5.6. I experimented a little last week and results were encouraging. I'm wondering how this combo will fare in the darker months here in the UK. Anyone with experience with this?

I'm particularly wondering how far I can crank up the ISO in the mk2 compared with the mk1. I always kept the latter at a maximum of 800 and rarely exceeded 400 ISO with it, then again I have only recently developed an interest in photographing birds in a serious way and could always use slower shutter speeds or even artificial lighting in my previous photographic work.
 

PeterBird

Well-known member
Netherlands
There is no need to limit yourself to iso 800 withe the 7DII. Even iso 6400 preserves a lot of detail and, with some PP work, can produce attractive results. Not every time, of course, but is quite possible. Have fun with the camera and lens!
 

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willie45

Well-known member
Hi Peter

Interestingly I was just viewing some test shots I did today in fairly dull and very wet weather here. I got up to 3200 nicely and 6400 seems good too. I was processing in DPP4 which I believe has a fairly strong noise reduction filter applied as standard but whatever, I've been really pleased with the results of the tests.

Is your shot at 6400?
 

willie45

Well-known member
Nice. Yes I usually use Lightroom too, but don't have it on the laptop I'm currently using hence the DPP
 

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