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Thread: need advice on Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6

  1. #1

    Default need advice on Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6

    Hi there all,



    I'm interested in getting the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 and would like opinions from users/pros and those with field experience. I'll be using it for street photography (daylight/outdoor conditions) and will move on to fiddling studio portraiture in the near future.

    - Generally, how does it perform in terms of street portraiture quality?
    - Are there physical handling discomforts such as weight, overbearing camera shake concerns etc?

    ***

    I do handheld shots most of the time and do not wish to make a purchase that limits my shooting options.
    - Will getting a battery grip improve stability?

    ***

    This is the first time I'll be venturing towards a focal length beyond 100mm.
    Odd question:
    - Will it's f4.5 limits become an issue, say, if I'm shooting at a sheltered walkway, overcast day, young punk zooming by on a skateboard?

    I'm currently using a 24-105mm and it's my only lens. Intend to stop at one final fish eye if I do buy the 100-400mm.

    ***

    Would like to get this because it has IS.
    Because I have the L disease.
    Because at times, it's frustrating when I have to approach subjects too closely for their comfort, people feel violated, babies start yelling and the dogs start coming.

    Open to suggestions if there are better alternatives out there too.

    ***

    - Also, which shop would you recommend?

    I refrain from Sim Lim. I usually get slaughtered because vendors think because you are female, you know nothing about cameras (that is true, in my case) but still, I do not want to get slaughtered.

    Bought my stuff from Song Brothers in Funan but want to explore Penisula as well. Not thinking of Cathay because their prices are comparably higher.



    Many thanks!

  2. #2

    Default Re: need advice on Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6

    Street photography generally means using a small unobtrusive camera to capture scenes of street life. Using a 100-400 would be like aiming a bazooka at someone! Unless you're thinking of a sniper type of photography where you shoot from far, far away. That's not really street photography. For street photography, you need to be part of the action not far away from it. IMHO.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: need advice on Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6

    Hmm...I used this lens for a while, but not for the applications for which you forsee using it. I would think that the primary purpose of this lens would be for wildlife/ zoo photography. It's possible also to use it for outdoor events in good light. This may even go to things like wakeboarding events and some sports.

    Street portraiture: Not the most discrete of things. It's a big lens and easily noticed because of the colour. On top of that the maximum aperture is quite small and probably not suitable for this purpose because lighting can be poor. As most things go, the lower the quantity, the higher the quality. Same goes for light. Light is at its best quality for portraits late or early in the day, or perhaps even in shade. For street, I would probably want a 50mm f/1.8 or 85mm f/1.8, or if shy, a 100mm f/2. That said, take this with a pinch of salt. I don't do street photography for the most part. Your lens choice would also depend on what camera you use.

    Handling: The push-pull design is actually very fast to use in practice, and if you can get used to it, framing objects can be a very quick and intuitive procedure. Best part about it is that the wide zoom range allows you to get an incredible variety of compositions. I've found it to be an incredible zoom lens. It's a little heavy at first but still easy to handle if you train up or take time to get used to the weight. Camera shake and thin DOF may be an issue at the 400mm end, but certainly not extreme or very critical. Besides, you've got IS to help you out and you can always bump the ISO (assuming you use a DSLR) without much loss to picture quality.

    Battery grip: MAY improve stability. However I have used the lens on a 350D with no issues...did not find it unbalanced or unstable.

    Max aperture: f/4.5 will become an issue in shelter. As you zoom through the range it will rapidly hit f/5 and soon f/5.6. When light is poor, you'll either have to attempt panning shots or more impressionistic photos because you may not have the necessary shutter speed to freeze action. Certainly the 100-400mm will fill in the gap left by the 24-105mm and thus make a good travel setup. But for your purposes I would rather have a 70-200mm f/2.8 IS. This lens will still keep you pretty far from your subjects, but as usual, not the most discrete of things. A slower but more discrete alternative would be the 70-300mm IS.

    Shops-wise, I have not bought from any other shop besides CP. Funnily enough although most people say that they are more expensive than other stores, I have found their pricing to be at least on par if not slightly cheaper than the competition. The trick with CP is to get an equote by emailing them and then asking for a price. I often get a better price this way than simply turning up to the shop to get a quote...and this is even after the guys there know me.

    Otherwise, if you're not adverse to handling and buying second-hand goods, try the B&S here. Lots of things for sale. Help someone offload their unwanted things, and you also save a great bundle yourself. Shop around to see what you can find.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: need advice on Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6

    100-400 is my favourite lens at the moment. I used it for everything and its IS makes handheld even at 400mm possible. However as fword mention, using it for street photography may not be apropriate as it draws a lot of attention. BTW, isn't yr 24-105f4 IS a better lens for street?

    The weight is not an issue to me and I'm using it on both my 350D and 1Dmk2. For a lady, i dunno. However I never hung my gears from my neck, always holding it in my hands. The push pull zoom does not suck in dust as many ppl have mentioned. Being using it for a year and there is still no dust found inside.

    For new set, you can either get it from Oracle (MO) or from the recomended shops like MS, CP,AP,Lords. For used set, search in B&S. Used set range from about $1700 to $2200 depending of condition, age etc.

  5. #5

    Default Re: need advice on Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6

    it's heavy and slow, the image quality is not so fantastic. It's also not a true 400mm... the one that i've tried, zooming out from 300 to 400 also increase the magnification by a small margin. I confirmed it after comparing with a 400 2.8. the 400mm on the prime closes up more.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: need advice on Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6

    An alternative to consider is the Canon 70-300 f4-5.6 IS. Pretty well rated lens and is lighter and cheaper than the 100-400 L. You can check out some user reviews at the following links:

    http://www.fredmiranda.com/reviews/s...&cat=27&page=2
    http://www.fredmiranda.com/reviews/s...&cat=27&page=1

  7. #7

    Default Re: need advice on Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6

    Quote Originally Posted by mpenza View Post
    An alternative to consider is the Canon 70-300 f4-5.6 IS. Pretty well rated lens and is lighter and cheaper than the 100-400 L. You can check out some user reviews at the following links:

    http://www.fredmiranda.com/reviews/s...&cat=27&page=2
    http://www.fredmiranda.com/reviews/s...&cat=27&page=1
    i agree with mpenza, the 70-300 is light and cheaper and equally fast. As i've mentioned, the "400" is not a true 400, maybe just 350mm at most. the L cost almost twice the price of the 70-300.

  8. #8

    Default Re: need advice on Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6

    You might be better off with the 70-200 f/4 IS L. It's light (760g vs 1380g for the 100-400), fairly bright and has 4 stop IS (you have the option of popping on a 1.4x TC to get a 98-280mm constant f/5.6 lens with 4 stop IS). It's slightly more discrete (only slightly) than the other big white zooms.

    The alternative as others have mentioned is the 70-300 IS.

    I would think that the 24-105 is a pretty good lens for street shooting. Then again, it depends on your style.

    Buy from the usual shops recommended here (MS, CP, TK Foto, John etc)... I have a very bad impression of Song Bros (as with Alan Photo), they're there to rip tourists off and give local retailers a bad name.

  9. #9

    Default Re: need advice on Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6

    Hi there,


    I don't think a 100-400mm is necessary on second thoughts. Macky's right, whole view empty, everyone gone by the time I remove lens cap. Might opt for 70-200mm instead, it's more practical.

    Yep the current 24-105mm serves it's purpose well right now. I'd like to add one more lens for close up shots, especially portraits.

    Narrowing down my choices to either 70-200 f2.8 or f4. I find image quality significantly better on an L lens.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: need advice on Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6

    Quote Originally Posted by mpenza View Post
    An alternative to consider is the Canon 70-300 f4-5.6 IS. Pretty well rated lens and is lighter and cheaper than the 100-400 L. You can check out some user reviews at the following links:

    http://www.fredmiranda.com/reviews/s...&cat=27&page=2
    http://www.fredmiranda.com/reviews/s...&cat=27&page=1
    Another alternative to the 70-300 f4-5.6IS would be the 70-300 DO IS (either way will not satisfy your L lust). I had the good fortune of handling one owned by a US tourist when I visited Cape Caneveral (rolling out of the space shuttle) last year. I must say it's pretty sharp at 300mm(clarify : I not pixel peeper), but the best thing about it was the compactness! Definitely something to consider if you want to covertly/ unobtrusively take street shots without inviting attention, or tominimise weight and space of equipment during travels.

    However, it is costly compared to the other 70-300s and many will say its not worth the money. My opinion: whatever turns you on.

  11. #11

    Default Re: need advice on Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6

    Quote Originally Posted by Yayne View Post
    Hi there all,

    - Generally, how does it perform in terms of street portraiture quality?

    good enough for most photo applications

    --------
    - Are there physical handling discomforts such as weight, overbearing camera shake concerns etc?

    weight is 1.4kg. imagine carrying one big 1.5L of softdrinkbottle. and the size is around there, a bit slimmer. most guys will find it handholdable for long treks.

    -------------
    - Will getting a battery grip improve stability?

    battery grip is for improved ergomomics when shooting vertical portrait.
    -------------
    This is the first time I'll be venturing towards a focal length beyond 100mm.
    Odd question:
    - Will it's f4.5 limits become an issue, say, if I'm shooting at a sheltered walkway, overcast day, young punk zooming by on a skateboard?

    if i were u, i will use the 24-105 for the punk on skateboard zooming by within a few footsteps from u. coz the punk moves around fast, the 24-105 can zoom in and out rapidly,catering for fast change in angles

    if i were 100meter away from the punk then i will use the 100-400L. since your view will definitely be telephoto. in this case it will look like either full body shot of the punk or tight head shot showing his pespiration and facial expression
    -------------

    Would like to get this because it has IS.
    Because I have the L disease.
    Because at times, it's frustrating when I have to approach subjects too closely for their comfort, people feel violated, babies start yelling and the dogs start coming.

    just shoot and walk away. they cannot come and rob you or beat u up just because u shot them. you have to practice this.
    -------------
    - Also, which shop would you recommend?

    simlim - only buy from alan photo, nothing else!
    peninsular plaza - cathay is expensive. buy from prime, alex only if u know the store owner well.
    across the road - a good bet is to get from TCW. and occasionally, from camX
    at funan - only buy from john 3:16. dont buy from Alan photo in funan - they got attitude problem.


    Many thanks!
    answers are highlighted in red .

  12. #12

    Default Re: need advice on Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6

    alternative: 70-200/2.8 + 2x TC

  13. #13

    Default newbie here, need advice

    For users of EF 70-200mm F2.8 and EF 70-200mm F4.0, any vast differences in practical application?

    Hoping that by paying the extra few hundred bucks for the F2.8, improves indoor event photo taking as well as limited lighting condition outdoors. Are there worthwhile differences?

    I personally do not know of any camera rental stores. Just for renting and testing the lens. Any recommendations?

    Read somewhere about buying or being sold 'grey' lenses. What does that mean? Second hand lenses?

  14. #14
    Senior Member asterixsg's Avatar
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    Default Re: need advice on Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6

    I think you've got a lot of constructive advice from the experienced people.
    Let me put in my 2 cents worth.

    I have the 100-400mm lens and I love it. Absolutely. Its given me a chance to shoot some decent pics at the zoo and at the Shanghai F1 race. These are the only two occasions when I have used it for long durations. The rest of the times its just for some experimenting or its lying in the dry cab. People would say its a waste of money but not for me. Its served its purpose. Its allowed me to go close to Michael Schumacher (no lah ! got some photos from the grandstand), which is worth millions to me

    Anyways, if you were thinking of getting the 100-400mm, you are better off getting the 28-300mm (not sure how much it costs in Singapore, probably a 1000 bucks more than the 100-400mm).
    My take is that if you want to do street photography and you want to adopt a sniper approach, you will need reach. And 300mm should be good enough. You didn't say which camera you are using - a FF one or not. If you are using a 30D, then you will get 300*1.6 = 480mm reach on a full frame.

    Do note that the 28-300mm lens weighs more than 100-400mm.

    I am seriously considering a 28-300mm lens in the long term.

    People say 24-105 should be good enough for street photography, but I tend to disagree. First of all, the subject will notice you - 105mm will not get you close enough. Guys with big cameras and lenses tend to get noticed more and get objected to more too. With women photographers, people don't tend to object too much (this is just my personal observation having seen my friends shoot, when we are on an outing) when candid photos are taken of them.

    70-200mm F2.8 (IS) isn't a small and light lens either. You just got to accept that any white lens on an SLR will give you enough attention.

  15. #15
    Senior Member asterixsg's Avatar
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    Default Re: newbie here, need advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Yayne View Post
    For users of EF 70-200mm F2.8 and EF 70-200mm F4.0, any vast differences in practical application?

    Hoping that by paying the extra few hundred bucks for the F2.8, improves indoor event photo taking as well as limited lighting condition outdoors. Are there worthwhile differences?

    I personally do not know of any camera rental stores. Just for renting and testing the lens. Any recommendations?

    Read somewhere about buying or being sold 'grey' lenses. What does that mean? Second hand lenses?
    Two different friends of mine own the EF 70-200mm F2.8 IS (I am referring to the one with IS) and EF 70-200mm F4.0. They are a field apart. Unless you have super-steady hands, you will have camera shake with the latter even though its relatively lighter. Also, under low light conditions, the former far outperforms the latter.
    Don't even consider buying the former without IS. I don't think its worth it.

    Sorry, I don't know of any rental stores that would let you borrow a lens. I would like to know of one too. I want to test the 28-300mm lens.

    Gray lenses are parallel imports. They are brand new lenses but are not meant for sale in Singapore. I am not sure of this, but I read somewhere that Canon won't honor the warranty on such lenses.

  16. #16

    Default Re: newbie here, need advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Yayne View Post
    For users of EF 70-200mm F2.8 and EF 70-200mm F4.0, any vast differences in practical application?

    Hoping that by paying the extra few hundred bucks for the F2.8, improves indoor event photo taking as well as limited lighting condition outdoors. Are there worthwhile differences?

    I personally do not know of any camera rental stores. Just for renting and testing the lens. Any recommendations?

    Read somewhere about buying or being sold 'grey' lenses. What does that mean? Second hand lenses?
    The 2.8 really does make a difference between a usable and blur shot in low light conditions. If you can afford it go for the 2.8 IS if not the f/4 IS will help but not with stopping motion all the time.

    I use a f/4 non-is and have trouble getting critically sharp shots at 1/180 sometimes..
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