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Bahamut Mar 30, 2005 8:34 PM

On a recent bird ringing excursion I got separated from all my equipment at gun point. Lost about $8.5 thou in a few minutes. Fortunately we all got through it unscathed and TG for all risk insurance.

At the same time I had a 20D, 580EX & MT-24EX on order. It has really sucked having no lenses for the past week or so since they arrived.

I loved the 100-400L but found it to slow during sunrise, sunset and cloudy conditions. The time when animals are most active, either getting up or going home. Just can't get that leopard/hyena not to blur ever so slightly on their way home, same prob with birds flying home in the evening. Also found that with distant subjects, I wanted to be about 10-15 meters closer at full zoom for a nice full frame composition. Beyond this distance, dust, haze, foliage etc gets in the way and is the exception rather than the rule. Also couldn't MF with the 1.4x at full zoom to save my life, subjects just don't stay still long enough.

After reading the forums for the past few days, I now have more questions than answers, i.e. 300 prime versus various zooms, f2.8 versus others, to AF & IS or not etc. Remember I'm a newbie with basicly to lenses under the belt, the 1/4L and the 28-135. So, to keep it simple.....hehe

If you had $4 thou and wanted to buy a lens (and extenders?) primarily for wildlife photography, what would you buy?

Hards80 Mar 31, 2005 12:52 AM

i would maybe check out Canon's 300 f 2.8 IS with a 1.4x tele-extender.. that is going to take up all of your 4000 dollars though..

then when finances permit, i would pick up canon's 70-200 2.8 to add some range.. btw this would also be compatible with the tele-extender..

that combo seems to me to be the best bet for your needs.. i am sure others on here will have some other suggestions..

NHL Mar 31, 2005 6:14 AM

... if you are willing to step out from the Canon brand, there's a very good 120-300 f/2.8 at half the cost: ;)

It has no IS of course, but I have no problem capturing birds in flight handheld with a 2x converter (600mm @ f/5.6):

eric s Mar 31, 2005 10:16 AM

(BTW, I like your "Location" specification in your profile.)

This is a tough choice. Do you take advantage of the close focusing distance of the 100-400L? It doesn't sound like it, but it is surprisingly short so you'll miss it if you do.

The 300 f2.8 is a great lens. A bit heavy, but it should give you that extra shutter speed you're craving. You don't say if you use a tripod or not.

If you did a lot of hiking, I'd recommend the 400 f4 DO, but it is above what you want to spend. Canon seems to have improved the quality of the lens and it takes a TC fairly well. Add on to that that it is very light (great for hiking) and *for the right use* its hard to beat... except for the $5,200USD price (ouch!)

Sigma makes a good 500 f4.5 lens that, if you don't mind using a tripod, is a good deal for the money.

NHL lists some good lenses, but I don't little about their quality. Do some research... if you don't need the IS (and you might, out in the wild with uncontrolable situations) then they could fit the bill nicely at a good price.


barthold Mar 31, 2005 2:12 PM

Are you going to use this lens with the 20D? In other words, a camera with a 1.6x crop factor?

You're also saying that the 100-400L you had isn't long enough and not fast enough either. It sounds to me you're wanting a reach of 500mm or even 600mm with an aperture of f4, is that right?

I'm sure you know this already, but a 1.4x TC adds one f-stop and a 2x TC adds two f-stops. Thus a 400mm f4 lens with a 1.4x tc gets you a nice reach of 560mm, but it becomes f5.6. Which is the same aperture of the 100-400L at the long end. Thus that might not be fast enough for you.


Bahamut Mar 31, 2005 5:02 PM

Ok lets see if I got this right.

Canon solution: (The one I want)
70-200/2.8 IS USM $1699.95
300/2.8 IS USM $3899.95
1.4x II Extender $279.95
Gives me effective 112mm - 672mm @ f/2.8+1 for $5879.85 (Yikes!)
Would have loved to stay with L glass, IS and wow factor.

Sigma solution: (The one I should buy)
120-300/2.8 $1999.00
1.4x Tele Converter $169.00
2x Tele Converter $189.00
Gives me effective 192mm - 960mm @ f/2.8+2 for $2357.00
Now add a Gitzo G228 with BH-55 PCL and adapters for about $1330.00
and the Gitzo G-1564L for $259.95,
for a total of $3946.95. (Sweet!)

So is that it, or am I missing something or should consider?

Any comments while we're here on my choice of tripod, head and monopod considering I also want something to do macros with and stand 6.3' tall?

If it's this good why does B&H have stock, what's the catch? Hehe, just kidding. Thanx for pointing this one out.

I loved everything about the 100-400L and would recommend it gladly. Bought it mainly on your recommendation about a year ago and shot around 25 000 photos with it, either freehand (all day on hikes, zoos etc) or on a bean bag (from my vehicle, in bird hides etc). This is probably just the next step my evolution. I want bigger and faster.
I had the 28-135 in my bag but can only remember using it twice in the Kruger National over the past 14 months. It did see it's share of work in clubs, weddings, parties etc. Found that it was also to slow for low light conditions and I always seemed to end up with my back against a wall (28*1.6=44.8mm), with nowhere to go, when trying to compose a shot of a group of people.
I see the 120-300/2.8 minimum focus distance is 4.9'(1.5m), even shorter than the 100-400L.

Yip, replaced my 10D with the 20D for the 5fps. More shots to chose from during action scenes.
On the f-stop thing. I looked at my photos over the past 14 months and found that I mostly shoot around 160-280mm during low light conditions and often at 400mm in full sun. It's sort of an eye thing, if you can see it well you should be able to shoot it. My current rule of thumb for a good photo. If you have to pick up the 10x binoculars, leave the camera alone.

NHL Mar 31, 2005 5:33 PM

Bahamut wrote:

If it's this good why does B&H have stock, what's the catch? Hehe, just kidding. Thanx for pointing this one out.
You'll find no one stock the 100-300 f/4 either - both are excellent lenses and dominate this range! :G :lol: :-)

I used to take a monopod with the Sigma 120-300 f/2.8 - but not anymore... either I got used to this lens, or my muscle has adapted :blah:

IMO for $4k this is a much better buy (and you'll need a tripod):

Bahamut Apr 2, 2005 7:58 PM

48 hours later...:?

and taking into consideration that
1) I live half a world away from the dealer I'm buying from (B&H), I'll be relying on the mf for support. If body & lens from same mf, it seems that you have a greater chance to get a problem sorted out promptly. (ie back focusing of a lens mounted on a different mf body). The one mf doesn't blame the other for the fault. :mad:Currently all my equipment are untested and I'll be getting 5 new lenses on top of that.
2) I had lots more no shoots because of light than range. Fast lenses a priority.
3) My shooting style. Shooting anything that catches my eye (mushrooms under fallen log to vultures circling overhead or shooting from a tree while watching rhinos graze) during walks or through my vehicle windows in the Kruger National Park & others where you are not allowed to get out. Thus making IS not just a nice to have.
4) Quality of lenses, not just optics. Lots of dust the one moment, totally drenched the next.
5) Resale value if ever needed.
5)This one kept me awake.... stuff the budget. Buy what you think is best without breaking the bank. Don't compromise, cause you'll still end up buying what you wanted in the first place, just a few lenses and more money later.

So, I'll be ordering
Canon EF 180/3.5L Macro USM
anon EF 16-35/f2.8L USM
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM
Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM
Canon 1.4x II Extender
Canon 2x II Extender

can't wait :D

Needless to say, all the nice to haves and the tri/monopods will have to wait.:sad:

The main reason for this post.
Thanx to all the unsung heros that diligently answer the same questions they must have heard a thousand times before. It's much appreciated.:cool:

tswen Apr 2, 2005 10:01 PM

One thing that i want to mention here, is that if you want to stay under $4000, then i would do all of my shopping on E-Bay. Make sure to buy from sellers that have over 100 feedback that are positive. This is my rule of thumb for photography equipment.

I just purchased a Tamron EF 75-300mm for $75

and a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 Mark II for $49

Do some shopping around on there, and add items to your watch list.

Hint of advice, some of the best deals are from people that only do the one day listing.

Here are some of the average prices of the lenses listed in the previous replies.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM - $1,415
Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM - $3,300
Sigma 120-300/2.8 - $1,750
Tamron 300mm f2.8 - $999


NHL Apr 3, 2005 8:32 AM


No question that the 'L' are the safest buy - I'm just a practical kind of a guy:
1. You'll have to carry all those lenses with you ;)
2. I tried a fixed focal before, but just can't get used to one unless I'm in a stalking position
3. If you constantly have to change lenses - it doesn't matter how much dust seal is your gears
4. You also might miss a shot while swapping lens: I also find it easy to use the wide position to track a bird in flight and zoom in for the kill - more difficult to find the target with a fixed prime or when the subjects move in closer...

This is from folks who run into the same experience as you are:

Finally a black lens is more 'low-key' than several white lenses which can attract the same 'bandit' as you've encounter as before! - you don't want to be the 'magnet', let them go after the other photographers with their overweight bag :G

... with respect to the 'myth' of resale value (like the previous Ebay link have noticed as well): A lot of readers here would like the chance to jump on a Sigma 120-300 f/2.8 that doesn't retain value - I know I would :-)
Truth is desirable lenses always hold their prices... It's the starter lenses that no one want which lose value :mad:

NHL Apr 3, 2005 8:40 AM

... As to macro don't discount Sigma either:

This is also slighly faster than the 180mm:

Hards80 Apr 3, 2005 1:37 PM

could also save a little money on the wide end with a combo of

sigma 17-35 2.8-4 ex dg hsm


sigma 24-70 2.8 ex dg macro or 24-60 2.8 ex dg

..combine that with nhl's mention of the 120-300 2.8 and you may be able to save enough money for a tri/monopod, some filters, and a big bag to carry it all in.. ;)

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