Lens for photograph birds (1 Viewer)

speedofthesea

New member
Hello, It´s my fist post and here I May Help to buy an lent to use in a Bird photo.
The options are :
  • Canon EF 400mm f/5.6 USM L
  • Sigma 150-500 f/5.6-6.3 EX HSM OS

The fist is sold at 1100€ to 1350€ in my country.
and the second at 600€ to 800€.

I know that the 400mm have more IQ and because of it that is more expencive and the 150-500 have more 100mm and it is the doubts.


Tanks
 

fugl

Well-known member
I've had no experience with either of the lenses you mention, but in general I'd always choose a first-class prime over a zoom lens for bird photography, particularly when the difference in focal length is so small.
 

lmans66

Well-known member
I think one thing has to be taken into account here...zoom or no zoom ...is what you are getting.

I have birded for 16 years now and done most all with binoculars...recently in past 2-3 years have done photography mainly. If you are not used to finding birds and following them...pulling up a closeup 400 and knowing where to find them...then I would say a prime is not for you.

Get used to finding birds first...and if you can't do that with up-close and personal and no benefit of first locating with a lower power as a zoom would provide, I would say, don't elect the prime lens. A prime is better but, are you capable of it? I know I prefer a zoom and that is still after years of birding...just my two cents...
 
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QuantumTiger

Well-known member
I have the EF400 f/5.6L and it is a stunning lens. Good fast autofocus, sharp and not too heavy to carry around. One thing I would say is that because it is not image stabilised I use it mostly on a monopod to get that extra stability. It takes a bit of practice to use well. I hardly ever miss it not being a zoom. I'd fully recommend it.

I haven't used the Sigma so can't comment much on that. It is heavier than the prime but is stabilised.
 

postcardcv

Super Moderator
Staff member
If all else was equal then it really would just come down to personal preference of zoom or prime. In this case I think it's much more simple, the IQ from the Sigma will simply not be at the same level as the Canon 400 f5.6. I know a few people who have bought the 150-500 OS lens and they have all been disappointed with it. If you want a zoom then look at the Canon 100-400 IS, focus speed and IQ are much closer to the prime, it must be the most popular birding zoom lens around.
 

Roy C

Occasional bird snapper
No experience of the 150-500 although reviews are mixed (a lot of users report softness at the long end). The 400/5.6 is a superb lens and is renown as a birding lens especially for birds-in-flight. It is light weight with lighting fast focus and takes a 1.4tc very well (no AF on a non 1 series camera of course unless you tape the pins).
For user reviews of the 400/5.6 see here

User reviews of the Sigma 150-500 here

I am not a big fan of tele zooms myself and would always go for a prime but if you are set on a zoom then the only one to considered is the Canon 100-400 IMO, far better than the Sigma (but cost a lot more - you get what you pay for).



Attached is a recent shot taken with the 400/5.6 prime and 1.4 teleconverter (560 mm) to give you some idea of the IQ of the lens at 560mm.
For more shots taken with the 400/5.6 feel free to browse the bird section of my website here
 

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stevo

Well-known member
I`ve got the Sigma 150-500mm lens its fantastic,for the best results it needs moderate to good light & an aperture of f8.I suspect & no malice intended that the people who are disappointed with it are either expexting to much from it or haven`t got their long lens technique correct.

Steve.
 

speedofthesea

New member
No experience of the 150-500 although reviews are mixed (a lot of users report softness at the long end). The 400/5.6 is a superb lens and is renown as a birding lens especially for birds-in-flight. It is light weight with lighting fast focus and takes a 1.4tc very well (no AF on a non 1 series camera of course unless you tape the pins).
For user reviews of the 400/5.6 see here

User reviews of the Sigma 150-500 here

I am not a big fan of tele zooms myself and would always go for a prime but if you are set on a zoom then the only one to considered is the Canon 100-400 IMO, far better than the Sigma (but cost a lot more - you get what you pay for).



Attached is a recent shot taken with the 400/5.6 prime and 1.4 teleconverter (560 mm) to give you some idea of the IQ of the lens at 560mm.
For more shots taken with the 400/5.6 feel free to browse the bird section of my website here
One question , with the 2x teleconverter how is the IQ?

I´ve got a friend with the big 500mm f/4 and I love the IQ of it,I know that focal is different but I didn´t find an comparasion of the 400 F/5.6 vs th 500 f/4 :( I´m decided to the 400 f/5.6 and after the buy (This Summer, I think :D) I´m thinking buy an 1.4 Teleconverter to have the focal rage of 560mm .

Thanks
 
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David Smith

Warrington Lancs
One question , with the 2x teleconverter how is the IQ?
I´ve got a friend with the big 500mm f/4 and I love the IQ of it,I know that focal is different but I didn´t find an comparasion of the 400 F/5.6 vs th 500 f/4 :( I´m decided to the 400 f/5.6 and after the buy (This Summer, I think :D) I´m thinking buy an 1.4 Teleconverter to have the focal rage of 560mm .
Thanks

I dont think you say what your camera is?
The camera/lense combination will most likely need f5.6 to function fully. Your friends lens at F4 with 1.4 TC = 5.6 will function fully.
Depending on your camera the 400 5.6 plus 1.4 TC will lose AF & possible IS (although dependant on the camera there might be ways around that problem) but IQ will be good
My understanding of 2 x TC is DONT as IQ will be poor
 

Roy C

Occasional bird snapper
One question , with the 2x teleconverter how is the IQ?

I´ve got a friend with the big 500mm f/4 and I love the IQ of it,I know that focal is different but I didn´t find an comparasion of the 400 F/5.6 vs th 500 f/4 :( I´m decided to the 400 f/5.6 and after the buy (This Summer, I think :D) I´m thinking buy an 1.4 Teleconverter to have the focal rage of 560mm .

Thanks
I would not recommend a 2x tc as you would be shooting at f11. IQ with a 2x will also suffer. I have used the 400/5.6 with a 2x and with good light, a very good tripod and a subject that is not too far away IQ is OK but for everyday use I do not use it (see below for sample image at 1120mm)

You cannot really compare the 400/5.6 against the 500/4 as the 500 cost 5x as much (1000 GBP v 5000 GBP).

Please remember that with a f5.6 lens and a 1.4tc you will not get AF on a non 1 series camera unless you fool the camera by taping the pins (or using a cheap non reporting tc). Either way with a tc AF speed will be slower.

Attached is a shot taken with the 400/5.6 and Stacked converters 1.4tc + 2x tc (1120mm) just to give you an idea of quality BUT you will need very controlled conditions to get shots like this.
 

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speedofthesea

New member
I dont think you say what your camera is?
The camera/lense combination will most likely need f5.6 to function fully. Your friends lens at F4 with 1.4 TC = 5.6 will function fully.
Depending on your camera the 400 5.6 plus 1.4 TC will lose AF & possible IS (although dependant on the camera there might be ways around that problem) but IQ will be good
My understanding of 2 x TC is DONT as IQ will be poor

Sorry, my camera is an EOS 400D.
I will buy only the 1.4 TC, but first I´m going to experiment the 400mm (when I buying ) with the 1.4 .
Another question, where I can an Neoprene for my lens, cheap ? I´m going to the Wildlife supplies an th price is 32.22£, can i buy it for less in another shop?


Tanks
 

eastwood

Well-known member
I vote for Postcardcv and Roy. I have the 150 - 500 but not the 400 5.6 (I got the 300 4 + 1.4 instead) I also have the 100 - 400. I wouldn't say the Sigma is unusable, far from it! It is still very good value for money (and imagine one have 500 and OS with that price one pays), but the image quality cannot match both of my Canon lens. Images are definitely on the softer side, can be improved with post-process though. Keeping rate is lower. The only downside of the 456 is that there is no IS, one reason why I choose 300 4 instead (the other reason is the 300 has a closer minimal focusing distance, enables me to do some close shots). So if I can afford any ONE and only one of your pick, I would take the prime.
 

Marcus Conway - ebirder

Well-known member
I think your decision is either the canon 100-400 or canon 400 prime. I am sure the Sigma is a good lens too, but the canon are consistently rated a better lenses.
 

Epsomsalt

Well-known member
Hi Speedofthesea,

I have the EOS400D and the 400mm F5.6 - all the images in my gallery are taken with this combination. I also have a 1.4X converter, but have never been brave enough to 'tape the pins' so on the rare occasions that I have used the TC I have focussed manually. Results with the TC have been poor - no doubt partly due to my (lack of) technique, but also i n order to reduce camera shake you do need to push up the ISO in anything but the brightest of conditions.

I have found (both with and without TC) that whilst IQ at ISO 400 is acceptable anything above this on the EOS 400D is poor / unuseable due to noise. I believe this to be a limitation of the camera and not the 400 F5.6 which is a superb lens.

I hope to upgrade the camera shortly in order to improve IQ at higher ISO speeds.

Hope this helps,

Chris
 

macshark

Electron Chaser
You cannot really compare the 400/5.6 against the 500/4 as the 500 cost 5x as much (1000 GBP v 5000 GBP).

That is a good point. Note that for telephoto lenses (assuming that the lens is near ideal, which is a fair assumption for Canon super-tele primes) the detail you can resolve at a distance is somewhat proportional to the diameter of the front element. Even though the focal length of the 500/4 is only 25% more than the 400/5.6, the diameter of the front element of the 500/4 is almost 65% larger.
 

Nikon Kid

Love them Sula Bassana
I use the 400mm f5.6 with the 50d and the 450d at first it took a bit of skill to get the
BIF in the centre of the lens, but I am glad I got the 400 over the 100-400 as its just
a bit sharper, I had the 1.4 kenko on with it the other day and i need to get used to that
I think you have made the correct choice
 

stevo

Well-known member
For anyone interested theres a review by Steve Young in this months Birdwatch on the Sigma 150-500mm lens.It gets a favourable write up.

Steve.
 

dyasinski

New member
I too am looking at the 400mm prime, but I'm wondering how much a difference 100mm makes in birding? This is why I find the 150-500mm so attractive. Any thoughts?
 

christineredgate

Winner of the Copeland Wildlife Photographer of th
I too am looking at the 400mm prime, but I'm wondering how much a difference 100mm makes in birding? This is why I find the 150-500mm so attractive. Any thoughts?

I have used the 150-500,and have used for several yrs (and still use )the 400F5.6.Quality v quantity.Yes ,you have the extra reach of 100mm,but,if the 400 is sharper ,then you can crop more of the image,and still retain a very sharp subject,esp if using the cams which are not full frame.I am shortly going to post a Bluetit shot in the gallery,which has been very heavily cropped,but the image is very sharp,and the lens was handheld.
I guess,I would rather have a smaller sharper image ,than a close up which is perhaps a little soft.
Having said,this,I did find the Sigma okay,no duff shots,all perfectly useable,but somehow just lacked the polish of the Canon.Also a zoom lens is much more versatile,elimates the need for carrying a second lens for closer shots.
 
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Nikon Kid

Love them Sula Bassana
I too am looking at the 400mm prime, but I'm wondering how much a difference 100mm makes in birding? This is why I find the 150-500mm so attractive. Any thoughts?

I know what you mean about the 150-500 sigma I nearly got one, but you
only have to look at the pics in the forum to see 400 f5.6 it wins all the way.
 

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