300mm versus 400 mm


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gtan

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Jan 26, 2005
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hi all . am thinking of going on a safari next year lets discuss 3 lenses for bird/ nature photos.
1. 300 mm f2.8
2. 3oo mm f4
3. 400 mm f5.6

i cannot understand why anyone would buy the f2.8. it is twice the weight and 3 times the price of the other 2 [ btw can anyone tell me what are the best prices of the 3 lenses [new]mentioned ?is shallow DOF the only advantage of the 2.8? also, with the longer focal length, would not the 400 mm f5.6 have a similar DOF to the 300mm at f4?

for shooting in ambient light now with sensors being so good [ talking digital here] i can shoot at ISO 800 or even 1600 so dont really need large apertures for shooting opportunities.

i have a 5D now with a 70 to 200 f2.8. my options
a. maybe shouyld just get a 1.4TC or
b.maybe buy a 20D body to go with my 70 to 200mm zoom [ which equals 300mm with the 1.6 crop factor] . would the photos be good enough for national geographic?
c. buy one of the lenses mentioned above
 

Snoweagle

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Jan 26, 2005
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gtan said:
hi all . am thinking of going on a safari next year lets discuss 3 lenses for bird/ nature photos.
1. 300 mm f2.8
2. 3oo mm f4
3. 400 mm f5.6

i cannot understand why anyone would buy the f2.8. it is twice the weight and 3 times the price of the other 2 [ btw can anyone tell me what are the best prices of the 3 lenses [new]mentioned ?is shallow DOF the only advantage of the 2.8? also, with the longer focal length, would not the 400 mm f5.6 have a similar DOF to the 300mm at f4?

for shooting in ambient light now with sensors being so good [ talking digital here] i can shoot at ISO 800 or even 1600 so dont really need large apertures for shooting opportunities.

i have a 5D now with a 70 to 200 f2.8. my options
a. maybe shouyld just get a 1.4TC or
b.maybe buy a 20D body to go with my 70 to 200mm zoom [ which equals 300mm with the 1.6 crop factor] . would the photos be good enough for national geographic?
c. buy one of the lenses mentioned above
I've tried the 400mm f/5.6L USM...very gd!
 

user111

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Jul 27, 2004
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the 2 main uses of 300/2.8 are

1. for indoors fast long telephoto
2. as a cheap way of getting 600mm/5.6 (ie slap on a 2x extender)

the main use of 400/5.6 is as a cheap way of getting up to 400mm in good daylight

the main use of 300/f4 is to add a bit more length than 200mm without blowing too much $$$ since it is f4. note that 200/2.8, 300f4, 400/5.6 all have filter size 77mm. ie if u are really low on budget then consider getting a 1.4x and a 2x for your 70-200/2.8
 

eng_keow

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Oct 8, 2004
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I suppose you have to ask yourself what kind of game you intend to shoot at the safari. The further they are and the faster they are will require fast lenses with long reach like a 400mm or even a 500mm/600mm if you are going to shoot birds as well. However, if you are going in one of those safari land-rovers, you will be shooting the rhino's horn if you carry a 400mm. :)

In order to get good sharp pics, you'll need to close down the aperture to 16 or 22. Having a fast lens like the 2.8 will definitely be an advantage especially if you need high shutter speed to get the gazelle prancing around.

All the best for your adventure.
 

user111

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Jul 27, 2004
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eng_keow said:
you'll need to close down the aperture to 16 or 22.
stop down so much?
 

Snoweagle

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Jan 26, 2005
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eng_keow said:
I suppose you have to ask yourself what kind of game you intend to shoot at the safari. The further they are and the faster they are will require fast lenses with long reach like a 400mm or even a 500mm/600mm if you are going to shoot birds as well. However, if you are going in one of those safari land-rovers, you will be shooting the rhino's horn if you carry a 400mm. :)

In order to get good sharp pics, you'll need to close down the aperture to 16 or 22. Having a fast lens like the 2.8 will definitely be an advantage especially if you need high shutter speed to get the gazelle prancing around.

All the best for your adventure.
Don't have to stop down so much, maybe around f11 can already. f/8 does the job well too!
 

JediForce4ever

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Aug 16, 2005
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gtan said:
i cannot understand why anyone would buy the f2.8. it is twice the weight and 3 times the price of the other 2 .
Well....the image quality from the 300f2.8L is also better than the other two:thumbsup: ....that explains the price.And some might want the bokeh, so they need f2.8, which in turn accounts for the weight.
 

USM

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Apr 25, 2002
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Seeing is believing. :)

Since you are going to Safari next year, you still have a fair of time to choose which lens to buy.

To assist you in your choice of purchase, incidentally I have both the EF 400mm f5.6L and EF 300mm f4L IS lenses while +evenstar has the EF 300mm f2.8L IS. Join us for the next outing, and see for yourself the real life action of these lenses.

Sometimes, it is better to see real life action stuff than reading reviews and hear-say, etc.
 

Fiip

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Aug 12, 2005
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gtan said:
hi all . am thinking of going on a safari next year lets discuss 3 lenses for bird/ nature photos.
1. 300 mm f2.8
2. 3oo mm f4
3. 400 mm f5.6

i cannot understand why anyone would buy the f2.8. it is twice the weight and 3 times the price of the other 2 [ btw can anyone tell me what are the best prices of the 3 lenses [new]mentioned ?is shallow DOF the only advantage of the 2.8? also, with the longer focal length, would not the 400 mm f5.6 have a similar DOF to the 300mm at f4?

for shooting in ambient light now with sensors being so good [ talking digital here] i can shoot at ISO 800 or even 1600 so dont really need large apertures for shooting opportunities.

i have a 5D now with a 70 to 200 f2.8. my options
a. maybe shouyld just get a 1.4TC or
b.maybe buy a 20D body to go with my 70 to 200mm zoom [ which equals 300mm with the 1.6 crop factor] . would the photos be good enough for national geographic?
c. buy one of the lenses mentioned above
Hi,

I use a 20D with 70-200 and even at the zoo I feel too short sometimes.

I believe that even in Land Rover Safari you will be happy to catch nice shots from far away.

Now why limit to single focal lens, why not consider zoom ?

I'm also into MotorBike Racing shots and there as well 70-200 is a tad to short (even w 1.6 ratio) then I'm now considering the 100-400L IS, ok, maybe a bit ex, but look good value for money (although stil considering) + you have the IS and you can still shoot f8 with a acceptable speed + you have a versatility of a large telezoom that will not limit you.

For what concerns 1.4 or 2x used with 70-200 I don't recommend if you like sharp pics, but make yourself an idea :

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1029&message=16802766
http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/lenses/400v400.shtml
http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/c-ext.shtml
http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/353578/0
http://www.photozone.de/8Reviews/lenses/canon_100400_4556_is/index.htm
http://www.pbase.com/fstopjojo/image/53297349/original

hope this helps ;)
 

joeyao

Senior Member
Oct 27, 2004
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gtan said:
i cannot understand why anyone would buy the f2.8. it is twice the weight and 3 times the price of the other 2
I cannot comment on other wild life photography but for avian photography, my experience is that the best times to shoot them is early morning and at times late evening. Because of poor light during such times, I need the lens to be as fast as possible to get decent images. For me, the 300mm f2.8 is the most versatile lens for the $$$. The 500mm f4 costs 1.5X more.

Coupled with the 1.4X TC, you get 420mm f4. With the 2X TC, you get 600mm f5.6. And if you stack the 1.4X and 2X TCs, you get a whopping 840mm f8. The only drawback of this lens is its weight, especially if you are carrying it overseas. Here are some sample images taken with this lens:

300mm f2.8 + 1.4X TC


300mm f2.8 + 2X TC


300mm f2.8 + 1.4X + 2X TCs stacked
 

fWord

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Jun 23, 2005
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First thing that came to mind after reading your post was a 20D coupled with a 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6. That would give you effective reach of 160-640mm, and if you were really squeezed, throw a 1.4X TC on that to get 896mm at the longest end. However that'll turn the max aperture to f/8 and you'll lose AF on the 20D.

I can't say for sure if it'll give you National Geographic quality images, because it's subjective. Besides, NG photographers are very experienced with the best techniques and may even wield some of the best equipment for the purpose. Also, don't forget that there's possibly several photographers covering any one production at any one time, so they also have power in numbers.

From what I've read, the 100-400mm is highly recommended if you're taking photos of larger mammals on the safari, or even on a boat without a tripod, while the 400mm f/5.6 is considered the best birding lens in the world. On safari, you'll need as much reach as you can get, and I fear that a 70-200mm on a 20D might not be enough, considering I found such a setup insufficient even for some shots at the zoo.

The 300mm f/2.8 is quite flexible with the TCs, but with a lot of changing action on a safari, plus the possibly dusty conditions, I reckon you should go for a long zoom and minimise lens changes.

Do read up a little on the kinds of animals you're likely to encounter, and try to find out how far away you'll be from all the action, otherwise you might be stuck with a lens that's either too long or too short. Do remember to take along a standard zoom as well, which will be useful when action gets really close, or when you want to photograph a large herd of animals in their surroundings.
 

Stoned

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May 7, 2004
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The 300/2.8 is still shockingly sharp even when paired with a 2x extender. All I needed to do was stop down to f8 and I got pin sharp shots. It's plenty sharp wide open at f2.8 also.

I used the 300/2.8+2x combo exclusively for the recent zoo series i posted on world of nature. To see the shots, go here: http://forums.clubsnap.org/showthread.php?p=1916093#post1916093

All the shots except the gazelle and the camel were made with the TC. The gazelle and camel were shot wide open. Decide for yourself.
 

+evenstar

Senior Member
Stoned said:
The 300/2.8 is still shockingly sharp even when paired with a 2x extender. All I needed to do was stop down to f8 and I got pin sharp shots. It's plenty sharp wide open at f2.8 also.

I used the 300/2.8+2x combo exclusively for the recent zoo series i posted on world of nature. To see the shots, go here: http://forums.clubsnap.org/showthread.php?p=1916093#post1916093

All the shots except the gazelle and the camel were made with the TC. The gazelle and camel were shot wide open. Decide for yourself.
Yup, the 300mm f2.8L IS is one of the best lens Canon produces!
 

fWord

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Jun 23, 2005
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+evenstar said:
Yup, the 300mm f2.8L IS is one of the best lens Canon produces!
If only I could afford it. For now, I'll just settle as being a 'wannabe'. :D
 

agape01

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If money is no problem, buy the 400 f/4L IS USM with a 2x TC.

If money is a problem, then a possible good alternative is Sigma's EF50-500 f/4-6.3 APO HSM.
 

Garion

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gtan said:
hi all . am thinking of going on a safari next year lets discuss 3 lenses for bird/ nature photos.
1. 300 mm f2.8
2. 3oo mm f4
3. 400 mm f5.6

i cannot understand why anyone would buy the f2.8. it is twice the weight and 3 times the price of the other 2 [ btw can anyone tell me what are the best prices of the 3 lenses [new]mentioned ?is shallow DOF the only advantage of the 2.8? also, with the longer focal length, would not the 400 mm f5.6 have a similar DOF to the 300mm at f4?

for shooting in ambient light now with sensors being so good [ talking digital here] i can shoot at ISO 800 or even 1600 so dont really need large apertures for shooting opportunities.

i have a 5D now with a 70 to 200 f2.8. my options
a. maybe shouyld just get a 1.4TC or
b.maybe buy a 20D body to go with my 70 to 200mm zoom [ which equals 300mm with the 1.6 crop factor] . would the photos be good enough for national geographic?
c. buy one of the lenses mentioned above
Ideally, your bag should look like the one at the top of the page here: http://www.moosepeterson.com/gear/index.html







Ok just kidding lar, not meaning to scare you! ;p Not necessary to lug so much gear on a safari unless you have a few porters with you.

i cannot understand why anyone would buy the f2.8. it is twice the weight and 3 times the price of the other 2 [ btw can anyone tell me what are the best prices of the 3 lenses [new]mentioned ?is shallow DOF the only advantage of the 2.8? also, with the longer focal length, would not the 400 mm f5.6 have a similar DOF to the 300mm at f4?
Shallow DOF is not just the only asset of the 300mm f2.8. The primary advantage of the 300mm f2.8 is its very fast aperture. With the f2.8 aperture, you can still stack a 1.4x or 2x TC on it and not lose auto focus function. The 300/f2.8 is a very sharp lens, even with the 2x TC on it. You can get 600mm reach and with AF function. However it is is the bulkiest and heaviest of all three lens mentioned and would not be easy to travel with.

BTW you did not mention about your budget, it would help if you could give a ballpark figure so we can help narrow down your choices.

My advise would be: get a 20D and a 100-400mm IS. The 20D has a 1.6x crop factor which would make the 400mm become like a 640mm (due to the cropped view). A zoom would be more versatile than a prime, in case your vehicle can get fairly close to the animals. A 2nd body would be useful too, in case one happens to break down, you would still have a spare. Bring along a wide angle too if you have one, to make full use of your full frame camera.
 

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