05-03-2020 11:14 PM
The first and second photos are very sharp. The 3rd is somewhat hard to tell, mostly because the branch cut across the bird's face, making it rather distracting. In the final image, I can't tell if it's sharp or not. Do you recall the focus point? You can easily read the prints on the shirt and on the ball, however, you could see the legs are soft, and part of the grass is blurry. Nice photo though.
In short, would you recommend getting the 400mm f2.8? I might try to pair it with a 1.4 converter later.
I think the 3rd photo is probably suffering from the extremely narrow DoF at close distances and long focal lengths. The DoF is probably significantly less than one inch. Such is a shot that is best taken with some type of camera support.
I have been trying to photograph small birds on small branches swaying in the breezes. I have been using a hi-hat sitting on a table, and shooting through a window between the curtains. They go in and out of focus just sitting there. I'm shooting at 400mm to 600mm at an average distance of about 12-15 feet, using both full frame and APS-C sensors.
I think the limits of DoF are evident in the final shot, too. However, the eye is drawn to the player's face, and the looming action to come. It is a great shot, IMHO. All of them are.
05-04-2020 09:59 AM - edited 05-04-2020 10:54 AM
As Wadizzle noted, the depth of field is VERY shallow with the 400 plus 2X combination, especially if you are reasonably close so only a shallow plane will be in critical focus unless you step the lens way down. These were all shot at the maximum available aperture.
The robin in the 2X had the focus point on its chest and the focus point in the other 2X was on the football about midway down its length.
Here are two more that may help you decide, basically the 2X works quite well when you can fill up much of the frame but not as well when you have to crop severely. Both of the following two are full frame shots down sampled to fit within the website requirements and are in the mid 4 MB file size range. Focus point on the first is on the upper shoulder of the cat and the second is on the throwing shoulder. The second photo makes depth of field limitation very obvious because at the shutter speed used (1/1600) the "blur" of the ball is due to OoF from limited DoF and not motion blur.
The 200, 300, and 400 fast white primes are as sharp as anything Canon makes and I really like all three of them a lot. The 400 2.8 produces beautiful results but it is expensive and heavy. Normally I don't suggest renting glass but the 400 is expensive and heavy and it might be a good idea to do a one week rental to see if it is something that you really want to use. I believe that the big rental places have an option to apply the rent against purchase price so check on that if you decide to rent. Canon also makes glass available for evaluation through CPS although for the most expensive glass it may be limited based upon your membership level as to availability. I love my EF 400 f2.8 but it isn't for everyone and at its price level you want to be sure before you buy. And on edit: I evaluated the 200-400 "extender" from Canon and I did like it but it just isn't quite as sharp as their primes so I went with the less versativle 400 instead. There are times when I wish I had gone with the 200-400 instead but it just doesn't quite produce the same "magic" as the 400 prime and the 1 stop difference is important at the high school football level with its very poorly lit fields. Had I just been shooting daytime soccer I likely would have gone with the more versatile 200-400 which is in the same price range as the fast 400 prime.
As a final thought, the 300 f2.8 is also an incredible lens and it is considerably lighter and less expensive. It makes an excellent 420 f4 and a very good 600 f5.6. Some feel that it is a tad sharper glass than the 400 f2.8 but I really think any difference between the two comes down to how well it is calibrated to the camera along with shot to shot variance. As Canon instructs you as part of micro focus adjustment, you want to do the adjustment using similar conditions to how you will shoot. With most glass, that isn't as critical but with a long fast prime plus an extender it will show up in your results.
05-08-2020 03:56 PM
I have thought of renting before buying. Unfortunately, the rental fees are disappointingly high, 7 days rental for a 300mm is $268 plus tax, and for a 400mm is $437 plus tax.
Would you buy these lenses used?
05-09-2020 07:06 PM
Agree with Ernie that these Canon L series primes are extremely well built and KEH is a very reliable source for used. In normal use they are expected to stand up to rough handling. Several years ago I was standing next to a photographer on the sidelines of a college game who dropped his 1DX with 400 f2.8 on the ground to get out of the way of players crashing the sideline. He told me after you drop them the first time, it doesn't bother you as much the next time and he had jettisoned his gear several times. Not something I care to do and a reason I shoot with both eyes open on the sidelines and stay out of the way.
I bought my 400 f2.8 IS II after the original owner had it for less than a month and he decided that it was far too heavy for him to manage. I wouldn't hesitate to buy one of these used in good condition as long as it is via a trusted venue.
05-24-2020 02:22 AM
Generally speaking you don't need to upgrade your lens as often as you would with the body. This is the reason why i was thinking of investing in a really good lens knowing that it would go the distance. I hope that logic make sense and agreed by most. Cheers
05-24-2020 10:03 AM - edited 05-24-2020 10:08 AM
I strongly agree with buying the best you can afford in glass because it will serve you for a long time. Lens technology is pretty mature so changes with newer lens versions tend to be incremental instead of evolutionary in terms of performance/image quality.
I bought my first 1 series digital in 2005 (1D Mark II) and the advances since then in sensor technology have been amazing. With the 1D M2, ISO 1600 was barely usable and its top expanded ISO of 3200 was useless and those ISO ratings are laughable compared to even consumer grade digital cameras now.
I have added a lot of lenses since I bought the 1D M2 but only two that I bought back then are no longer in use by me (EF 50 1.4 which I never was in love with and was replaced recently by a Sigma 1.4 Art and EF 100 2.8 (switched to an L version for this one)).
I am holding on to the EF 400 f5.6 I bought back in 2005 even though I have an incredible EF 400 f2.8 IS II; within its light conditions capabilities the 400 5.6 is still an incredible lens and its weight and size are a fraction of its big brother. Glass top to bottom is EF 800 f5.6, EF 400 f2.8, bare EF 400 f5.6, EF 300 f2.8, and EF 200 f2. The longer primes are on 1DX series bodies and the 200 is on a 5DS R.
Photo shot with 1D M2 and 17-40 F4/L. Another reason for me to hold on to the 400 5.6 is sentimental attachment because I shot a lot of my daughter's early soccer goals with the 1D M2/400 f5.6 combo And I think the 400 f5.6 is the best price/performance ratio that Canon offers in a prime, it is a VERY good lens if f5.6 is fast enough for your needs and its small size and weight makes it very user friendly.
05-24-2020 11:15 AM
It helps make up for some skills shortcomings of the user I remember back in high school shooting a few sports photos for the annual using manual focus and probably 400 speed film, life has gotten a LOT easier!