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Using Canon 100-400mm lens on Wildlife safari soon - can I hand-hold or is tripod always preferable?

henslens
Occasional Contributor

I am going on a camping safari in a 4WD truck in Africa soon  - not sure how easy it will be to manoevre a tripod - should I still be able to get sharp images with the IS if hand-held assuming I can use a high enough shutter speed or should I always try and use a tripod/monopod? (or lean on the truck window ledge failing that?)

 

If using the tripod / monopod, should I still be using the IS? I haven't really come to terms with this function yet (or lens, I'm sorry to say). I have often got disappointing results with the autofocus.

 

Thanks.

'You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream...'
C.S. Lewis
22 REPLIES 22

ebiggs1
Forum Elite

First of all you need to learn the lens.Smiley Happy

Now for me a Africa trip would be a once in a lifetime thing, so I would take my Manfrotto, both of them, and use it as much as possible. But that is not always an option!

Generally IS is turned off when using a tripod.

Go practice shooting some birds and wildlife here as much as you can before you go.

It is a great lens and good luck,

EB

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!

cicopo
Esteemed Contributor

Before packing tripods (DO take a monopod) make sure you can have that extra luggage. I know some travel in Africa has weight limits, especially if using light aircraft. Also note AF has a lot more to do with the body than some think but the lens is part of a system so both work as a team. Learn which AF method works best between the pair (such as single center point or a slightly expanded set etc) and use AI ServoI. I shoot a 100-400 a lot and it's used for action so I know it can do the job in decent light. Don't forget to use mode 2 for panning side to side but it should be off if panning birds flying erratically or zig zagging things. Also PRACTICE before hand as suggested above, especially on things like birds. It will help you get used to the weight in advance of the trip.

 

"A skill is developed through constant practice with a passion to improve, not bought."

henslens
Occasional Contributor

Hi, thankyou and to the others who responded. I'm new at this!!!

 I had already thought about the luggage and am hoping the equipment can be share around the family.

About the body - I am considering replacing the 40D with a 60D (in the next couple of weeks) as I was told recently the problems I am having with clarity could partially be due to the camera being 'too old'. Would this be a good idea?

Re focussing method - I have only ever used the single centre point. Have not been very adventurous! I have used the lens a bit - eg. in Mongolia but in good light the images were sharp; mainly had trouble in lower light conditions.

Mode 2 for 'panning' - as opposed to zig-zagging - could you elaborate on that? Do you mean panning as in eg. motorcycle riders going over hillsides etc?

 And should the IS be off completely for eg. erratic birds or on Mode1?

I will get out and practice.

May find some kangaroos. (Which often stand still, before zig-zagging off into the distance):smileyhappy:

 

 

 

 

'You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream...'
C.S. Lewis

7D5D
Super Contributor
Without departing from your original question too far, why not a 7D over the 60D for this (once in a life time) special trip? Seems the AF and FPS could really pay off here.

Bill-Emmett
Frequent Contributor
I am going to South Africa next January, and just bought a refurbished 7D from B&H, for $959. The 7D has a much better build quality than the 60D, with its polymer body. Canonrumors.com suggests that the replacement to the 60d is just around the corner, and should be announced in July, and available in September. So, you may want to wait if you can to see how this plays out. I would not wait after September, to pull the trigger. You will have a learning curve no matter which camera you decide on. I'm sure the 7D price is not going to last long though.


@Bill-Emmett wrote:
I am going to South Africa next January, and just bought a refurbished 7D from B&H, for $959. The 7D has a much better build quality than the 60D, with its polymer body. Canonrumors.com suggests that the replacement to the 60d is just around the corner, and should be announced in July, and available in September. So, you may want to wait if you can to see how this plays out. I would not wait after September, to pull the trigger. You will have a learning curve no matter which camera you decide on. I'm sure the 7D price is not going to last long though.

I am going to Africa the last week of August. Bringing the EF 200-400mm f/4l IS USM Extender 1.4x lens, EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS and EF 400mm f/4 DO IS plus the EOS-1D X and Mk IV. I agree with Bill. The EOS-7D is a better camera than the EOS-60D. In fact it has been my pick as the best value in DSLR cameras for 3 years running. You can read my EOS-7D review. The EF 200-400mm is an amazing lens and I am glad to own it after a two year wait. Take a look at my review here. I wish everyuone a great photo trip in Africa this summer. MichaelDanielHo.com 

cicopo
Esteemed Contributor

The IS system used on that lens allows stabilization in mode 1 which is for stationary targets, and mode 2 is meant for moving targets BUT they should be moving side to side like a race car etc. Neither mode is designed to correct shake when tracking things vertically or moving erratically where you're panning one way & suddenly need to pan in another direction continously making the lens move up / down / left / right / & a mix of those. Mode 2 is for nice smooth panning in a left to right or right to left swing.

All that said I use mine for Radio Control events in mode 2 & do get good results & some of my shots aren't taken in what can be considered just a left to right style pan because I'm also panning upward or downward too but not at a severe angle up or down. I don't know the IS limits when mixing a vertical movement into the panning action but I doubt you can get too much help if the movement (pan) isn't real smooth.

"A skill is developed through constant practice with a passion to improve, not bought."

cicopo
Esteemed Contributor

PS

 

Agree on the 7D suggestion vs a 60D.

"A skill is developed through constant practice with a passion to improve, not bought."

7D:smileyhappy:

60D:smileysad:

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!