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Old Sep 21, 2009, 8:27 AM   #1
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Default My Experience with Canon 100-400mm L

Okay here is a follow up on my first venture in renting a lens. Ordered through lensrentals.com and it shipped the next day and arrived on day three I believe. Still have until this Friday to ship it back.

I am no expert and there is no technical analysis here I just wanted to share my experience.

Used it some the first Saturday for Baseball and Soccer. In our little league baseball fields we have dreadful looking backstops so the lower aperture did not really hurt the images much compared to the 70-200mm f/2.8. But the reach is so much better. I really enjoyed the 300 to 400 range. The push/pull zooming is really different and sometimes I go the wrong way and I find it hard to adjust the tension without adjusting the manual focus ring but I used autofocus the whole time so that was no issue.

On the soccer field I found it more difficult to use because at the longer ranges there always seemed to be kids in the way. But when I did get a clear shot and they filled the frame the results were okay. Here is where the 4.5-5.6 was not as good as the 2.8 (or f/4 with 1.4x) as the background were more distracting as parents are lined around the field a good distance from the players.

Then on Saturday I got to photograph youth football for the first time. Since it was the local league and I know the guys in charge I was able to get up close to the field. Here the 300-400 really pays off. I realized my regular lens would be okay when they were close and I could move with them but I got better angles to the players shooting further away down the side lines or even behind the end zone.

The lens seemed to focus fast enough, at least as fast as I could find center target and press the back focus button. I have not tried to use the IS feature since I was only shooting sports. Maybe I need to test that before shipping it back. I like the option of two settings to reduce the focus range.

I think I would like this lens but feel I really need to try one or two of the Sigmas before I make a purchase. Also there was a guy at the football game with a 400mm f/2.8 on a 1D. Now that would be a nice option too if I won the lottery!

I have posted a few of the football images in another thread if anyone is interested you can look at - My Very First Youth Football

Thanks for reading,
Canon 7D

Last edited by griffina6; Sep 21, 2009 at 11:20 AM.
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Old Sep 21, 2009, 9:21 AM   #2
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I think that's a pretty good summary of the 100-400 as a sports lens. That's why it's important to get real-life feedback from other sports photographers. People that don't shoot youth sports or don't have good standards don't appreciate how much those backgrounds hurt photos. Each photographer has to decide for themselves what is more important to them - more reach at the expense of bad backgrounds in most shots or shorter reach and wider apertures - giving better backgrounds but costing flexibility in shooting.

All of which is why some of us here selected the Sigma 120-300 2.8. When I bought it about 4 years ago it was a huge bargain - $1850. It now costs $3000 so it's a tougher pill to swallow.

I would suggest trying the 100-300 f4 before the Bigma. The Bigma is going to have the same issues the 100-400 did with regard to backgrounds. It's not sharper than the 100-400.
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