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Which lens to buy?

limvo05
Rising Star

Hi All,

 

I am starting to look at lenses for birds photography. Below is what I am thinking of:

 

1. 300mm f2.8 IS mark 1 and 2x converter

2. 400mm f2.8 IS mark 1 and 1.4 converter

3. 500mm f4 IS and 1.4 converter

 

The reason I mentioned the 300 and 400 are that I was told they are much smaller lenses to be carrying out, especially for traveling.

 

I assumed all 3 lenses are equally great in sharpness and quality.

 

Suggestions? Thank you.

15 REPLIES 15

ebiggs1
Legend

If you look at the best photographers that do birds, none I know of use those combination of lenses.  if I were going to use a Canon brand lens for birding, I would select the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM with a 1.4x tel-con. I am not a fan of using a tel-con so my personal choice is and has been for some time now the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sport.

Canon does not see a need to make a lens in this range even though, Tamron, Sigma, Sony and even its arch rival Nikon do.

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

Waddizzle
Legend

@limvo05 wrote:

Hi All,

 

I am starting to look at lenses for birds photography. Below is what I am thinking of:

 

1. 300mm f2.8 IS mark 1 and 2x converter

2. 400mm f2.8 IS mark 1 and 1.4 converter

3. 500mm f4 IS and 1.4 converter

 

The reason I mentioned the 300 and 400 are that I was told they are much smaller lenses to be carrying out, especially for traveling.

 

I assumed all 3 lenses are equally great in sharpness and quality.

 

Suggestions? Thank you.


I agree with Ernie somewhat.  The teleconverters would probably do more harm than good.

 

But, there is a WHOLE LOT more to using a teleconverter than what you may realize.  You cannot use any teleconverter with any lens, and then mount the combo on any camera body.  The AF may not work, or it may work with degraded AF performance.

 

User manuals for camera bodies, teleconverters, and lenses describe what type of performance to expect from the wide variety of combinations of lenses, bodies, and teleconverters.

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"The right mouse button is your friend."

All of those lenses will work with the TC's listed beside them but the AF will slow a bit. Still for the kind of money they cost Ernie's suggested lens seems more versatile with great reach. Even the 150-600 C is worth considering depending on just how much IQ is needed.

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

wq9nsc
Authority

All three of those choices you mentioned are extremely sharp lenses and take teleconverters far better than most of the Canon line.  The 300 2.8 and 400 2.8 are two of my favorite lenses and both work extremely well with the 1.4X and are still good with the 2X UNTIL you compare those results to the base lens but it is quite possible they will still be sharp enough for you depending upon how much "pixel peeping" you do.

 

I own both 1.4X and 2X converters and I wouldn't hesitate to put the 1.4X on any of the fast white primes, I am not as big of a fan with the results from the 2X. 

 

For reference, the attached photo was shot with an EF 400 F2.8 IS II with 2X converter and 1DX III, ISO is 1,250 so it would be a tad sharper shot at base ISO.  It is a crop of just under 20% of the 1DX III's 20 MP sensor.

 

RodgerAS0I4077.JPG

EOS 1DX M3, 1DX M2, 1DX, 5DS R, 1D M2, EOS 650 (film), many lenses, XF400 video

1L7A8459.jpg1L7A8468.jpgRodger, thank you for answering my question. I do have a 2x converter and below are test images taken with 70-200mm Mark ii. Can you tell which photo was taken with the converter and which isn't?

 

 

Image 1L7A8459 shows a bit of loss of sharpness and contrast along with some increased CA that occurs with converters but I was specifically looking for a difference.  If you blew them both up to a very large print size it would be noticeable but someone looking at a gallery of images wouldn't be likely to notice. 

 

In the digital age, there are a lot more "pixel peepers" because it is easy to do instead of using a magnifying glass like the film days.  It reminds me of a very old electronics advertisement where an owner was so worried that his turntable pickup wasn't performing properly that instead of listening to and enjoying his albums he was studying the waveforms on an oscilloscope to look for distortion.  Extreme pixel peeping is the same illness.

 

The primes you listed will take the 1.4X and 2X even better than your 70-200 F2.8 and will produce some excellent images.  My major caution about using the converters with any of these lenses is the result won't be as good as the bare lens which is excellent and the reason for putting up with the expense, weight, and reduced versatility of a prime versus a zoom but it will still be very good even with the converter.  Canon certainly felt comfortable about recommending both converters for their very expensive EF 400 F2.8 IS II which I own because the storage case comes with molded cushioned storage locations for both in the included hard case.  I have the 200 F2, 300 F2.8, and 400 F2.8 and the converters are very usable with these primes. 

 

This shot of a hawk having an appetizer was taken with the EF 400 and 1.4X and the resulting image is cropped from 10% of the 1DX III sensor area.  Unfortunately he was having a tiny snack and didn't stick around long enough for me to capture him with the 2X converter for comparison.

 

Rodger

 

AS0I4020.JPG

EOS 1DX M3, 1DX M2, 1DX, 5DS R, 1D M2, EOS 650 (film), many lenses, XF400 video

"Can you tell which photo was taken with the converter and which isn't?"

 

You didn't but there is a lot, way lot, more aberration in the top photo so I say it is the 2x tel-con. Also may I suggest less saturation in post.  Almost always less is more.

I can't see the eye in the top picture but the eye in the bottom is nice and sharp. If I look at the breast feathers there is less definition in the top shot.

 

All that said, I doesn't make a hill of beans what I or Rodger think about the shots, if you are happy than it's a go.  And, it depends on how you intend to use your photos.  If you are posting to a web site all is good. Nobody will be able to see much difference. On the other hand if you intend to make 8x10 or 11x14 prints, yeah, it will likely show up.

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

You are correct, the top photo was taken with the converter. Both photos were heavily cropped, the posted photos are 3MB in size, cropped from 50MB photos. Also, to be accurate, I moved a lot closer to the bird in the second photo, otherwise, it would be too small to see with a 200mm lens.

"For reference, the attached photo was shot with an EF 400 F2.8 IS II with 2X converter and 1DX III, ISO is 1,250 so it would be a tad sharper shot at base ISO.  It is a crop of just under 20% of the 1DX III's 20 MP sensor."

 

What exactly do you mean by "crop of just unde 20%"?  I frequently crop photos to one of the tic-tac-toe squares created by the Rule of Thirds.  Would that be a crop of 33%"?

 

[EDIT]. I ask because zooming an image to 100% will produce different results depending upon the resolution of your monitor. When you zoom to 100%, then one pixel in the JPG will be represented as one pixel on your monitor, for a 1:1 ratio.

 

When you zoom to 50%, then your display will display pixels at a 1:2 ratio, which means for every two pixels in the JPEG, it will be displayed as one pixel on your monitor.  Zooming to 200% means you will see a 2:1 ratio, which means every pixel in your JPEG will be displayed as four pixels, 2x2, on your monitor.

 

When I zoom to 100% on my Full HD monitor, 1920 x 1080, I will see less of the image than when I zoom to 100% on my 4K monitor, 3840 x 2160.

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"The right mouse button is your friend."
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