Go Back   Steve's Digicams Forums > Digital SLR and Interchangeable Lens Cameras > Canon Lenses

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Nov 29, 2006, 3:27 AM   #1
Senior Member
 
BrierS's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 157
Default

As I have been reviewing posts on each of the above lenses, it appears some folks have issues with the 100-400mm and "softness" when compared to the 100-200mm. Additionally, this seems to be worse when combined with the 1.4X extender (2X even worse).

On my 30D, taking photos of indoor basketball games, indoor/outdoor family gatherings, relatively close bird photos and some more distant wildlife shots, do either of the above lenses offer a clear advantage?

At this time, I can only afford one of the two L series plus an extender. Which of the two lenses would be the better choice? Are their other options that would be even better? If so, why?

I appreciate any/all opinions.
Steve
BrierS is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old Nov 29, 2006, 8:11 AM   #2
Moderator
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 8,529
Default

Steve,

First off, you are right - the 100-400 does suffer with a TC. But it's already TWICE the reach of the 70-200. It is certainly better than the 70-200 with 2x TC (which is what you would need to use to get the same focal length).

But, the problem is, neither of these lenses is likely to solve all your problems.

Indoor (non action) shots - both lenses are really too long for in-house type shots. You indicate general purpose and not portrait shots so I think you'll need something MUCH wider than either of these. Something in the 17-70mm range is a good indoor lens.

Indoor basketball. Forget about using the 100-400 - it will be absolutely useless for this sort of thing. And, unless you're shooting in a college level facility or an extremely brightly lit HS facility - a 2.8 lens isn't going to be good enough. You need a bright prime - an 85mm 1.8 (if shooting from baseline) or 135mm 2.0 if shooting from the stands.

Birds an Wildlife - I am an occasional wildlife shooter (I mostly shoot sports) but it's amazing how much reach you really need for wildlife. Even a "close" bird can often require 400mm plus of focal length to get good detail. No doubt the 100-400 is a better choice for the wildlife shots.

What lens(es) do you already own? The question is where they fall short for your indoor/outdoor family gatherings.

If it was just basketball / wildlife my suggestion would be to buy the 100-400 and NOT a TC but spend that money on an 85mm 1.8 lens instead ($360). But you also need to cover your family shots - that's why we need to know what lenses you currently own and why you think they're insufficient for the job.
JohnG is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Nov 29, 2006, 4:36 PM   #3
Senior Member
 
BrierS's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 157
Default

JohnG,
Thanks for the response.

In answer to your question of what lenses do I have now . . . just the Canon EFS 17-85 IS which came with the camera.

As to solving all of the problems, I am not opposed to buying more than one lens and/or extender. My primary problem is what you unearthed through your response. That is, I do not know which lenses are suitable for what I want to do.

I was looking at the 100-400mm "L" series with IS for a couple of reasons. First, it seems the consensus is the "L" series are better than average quality. That does not mean I am only interested in the Canon "L" series. If there are other brands I should consider for specific lenses I have no experience so therefore no bias. Second, from posts I read it seemed the 100-400mm would provide the reach for our prevalent birds/wildlife, more so with an extender. When I read that particular lens become less sharp than the 70-200, I thought possibly I needed to make a choice between the two.

You mention the 17-70mm would serve better for some of my uses. I have a hunch you may not be referring to the 17-85mm IS I have since some have stated this is not of great quality. I am please with the photos I have taken using it, yet not having a known higher quality lens leaves me with no comparison.

So, I am completely open to suggestions on how to build from near nowhere. With winter just about on us in NH, photographing scenery, birds, and wildlife would move me in one lens direction. Question is, which one?

I have used my present lens for two Thanksgiving indoor events and am quite please with the results.

Basketball games, indoor tennis matches present two more shooting opportunities/interests. From our private tennis clubhouse, I have a good, overview of the court. I not only want to be able to achieve some wide-angle photos but also some close-ups during serves, etc. This makes me believe I will need zoom. Lighting is typical tennis court lights though ours are considered slightly better than average. Which lens would serve this situation?

I'll wait for the end of Winter before getting into the macro world to use with our numerous flower beds and gardens.

If you don't mind steering me in the right directions, I am willing to purchase some lenses and extenders.

I wish I had the experience to make the selections but as you can see, I certainly don't.

Thanks,
Steve

P.S. My budget is basically what I need it to be yet w/o throwing money away.
BrierS is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Nov 29, 2006, 6:38 PM   #4
Moderator
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 8,529
Default

Steve,

There is absolutely no reason why the 17-85 is not good for family events indoors and out. I would suggest that for indoors, an external flash will provide much better results for 'family events' than any other lens you could buy. But there is no reason at all why the 17-85 can't serve as your family lens - especially since you already stated you are happy with the results.

For wildlife, reach is the important factor. You said you wanted more reach than 400mm (you wanted to put a TC on the 100-400). My point was, the 200mm lens is only HALF the focal length. If you add a 2x TC to it, providing a 400mm result, that combination will be WORSE than the 100-400 without TC. So, for wildlife there is no doubt the 100-400 is a better option.

Now, if you want extra reach, you can always take the NHL approach (NHL is another user who also happens to shoot birds) - he uses a Sigma 120-300 2.8 lens with a 2x TC - effectively a 600mm lens. This combo works better (according to his experience - I don't use mine with a 2x TC) than the 100-400 does with a 1.4x TC. But the 120-300 costs about $2200.

The indoor sports are VERY tricky. Everything about sports is shutter speeds. What aperture and ISO will it take to get the shutter speeds you need to freeze action. You can actually find out using your existing lens. Here's how:
  • Your goal in most sports should be to get a shutter speed of 1/400 or better at a minimum.[/*]
  • Take your existing lens to the tennis and basketball courts during practice or a game. [/*]
  • Set the Camera to AV (aperture priority) mode and set to your widest aperture - 5.6 with the 17-85 fully zoomed out.[/*]
  • Set the ISO to 1600 and EC[/*]
  • Take some shots and see what shutter speeds you're getting.[/*]
  • If you're getting shutter speeds of 1/400 - then 5.6 is good enough (you're not really likely to get those speeds with a 5.6 lens though). [/*]
  • If you get shutter speeds of 1/200 or faster than you can get by with a 4.0 lens - again, not likely.[/*]
  • If you get shutter speeds between 1/100 and 1/200 then a 2.8 lens is good enough. This means you can use a zoom lens.[/*]
  • If your shutter speeds are below 1/100 then a 2.8 lens isn't fast enough and you'll need a prime lens.[/*]
  • Now, other shooters are probably saying - hey, the 30d has a very usable ISO 3200 - that's true, but Canon DSLRs in low light tend to underexpose by about 2/3 stops in my experience. So, if the camera meters ISO 1600 f2.8 and 1/640 as the correct exposure - I'll typically shoot at 1/400 (2/3 stop difference) and get MUCH better shots. So, that pretty well cancels out 2/3 of the gain from going from 1600 to 3200. The other 1/3 is cancelled out by really wanting 1/500 and not 1/400 as a shutter speed. But don't get caught up in this last point - stick to the points before this to test and you'll get a pretty accurate idea of what aperture your new lens needs to be.[/*]
  • I would also encourage you to post the pictures along with the exif info here so we can see them and judge if the exposre is good or not.
[/*]
If it ends up being that 2.8 is fast enough for your basketball and tennis shots then the 70-200 2.8 plus 2x TC might be a very good solution as it will cover your indoor needs and be a stepping stone for wildlife shots until you can buy a longer lens down the road. In my experience unless you're in college level or higher facilities, 2.8 is NOT enough. But you have the ability to test in your specific environments so that's what I would suggest doing.
JohnG is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Nov 29, 2006, 7:49 PM   #5
Senior Member
 
BrierS's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 157
Default

JohnG,
Again, thank you.

As to using an external flash, I am using my 580EX with and w/o the Gary Fong LightSphere. I have ordered the clear version since I find the "Cloud" a little soft at times. I think I have gone in the correct direction on the lighting issue.

Is this the lens you are referring to? Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 EX DG IF HSM APO

[/b]Do you happen to know if the 2x extender works on both the Sigma and the Canon or are they proprietary?

I'll follow your directions on testing my 17-85mm to see if the 2.8 will work or not. In fact, being Wednesday, some of the league players should be down at the club. I'll go down and pester them for awhile. After that, I can let you know what it was shooting.
Steve
BrierS is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Nov 29, 2006, 8:32 PM   #6
Moderator
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 8,529
Default

That's the lens. I have it and use it for sports shooting and it's fantastic. NHL uses it for wildlife shooting.

But you also have to realize it's a pretty heavy lens and doesn't have IS. So, handholding it will take practice - it's VERY different than shooting with your current lens.
JohnG is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Nov 29, 2006, 10:08 PM   #7
NHL
Senior Member
 
NHL's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: 39.18776, -77.311353333333
Posts: 11,547
Default

BrierS wrote:
Quote:
Do you happen to know if the 2x extender works on both the Sigma and the Canon or are they proprietary?
The 2x teleconverter will work with both Sigma and Canon...

As to the weight this is all relative: one has to realize there's no other zoom this long or this fast - A Canon 300mm prime with the same lens speed will weight just as much and the Sigma is a zoom instead with more complex moving groups so that's quite a feat.

With respect to 600, the Sigma 2x combo is quite like light in fact if you compare it against the 600mm prime which can't even be handheld for only 1-stop difference! :-)

NHL is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Nov 30, 2006, 3:11 AM   #8
Senior Member
 
BrierS's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 157
Default

So, if I understand correctly, the quality of the Sigma and some practice using it (w/o IS), is better than either of the two Canon "L" lenses I originally mentioned. Coming from years of 35mm and never having IS lenses, I really don't know what type of difference that feature adds. And, if I am correct, there are trade-offs when using the IS lenses.

It appears to me the next step for me is the Sigma with the 2xTC. Later I can move on to additional lenses for macro and one for longer reach.

The price of the Sigma doesn't seem unreasonable and there certainly has to be a reason it is so popular . . .

Thanks to both of you for the experienced advice. It makes it much easier for those like me and in the long run saves us money from buying blindly.
Steve

P.S. JohnG, I didn't make it down to the tennis court last evening to run the test. Additionally, you threw in an acronym I am not familiar with. "EC" after the instruction of the setting to 1600.
BrierS is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Nov 30, 2006, 5:34 AM   #9
Moderator
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 8,529
Default

Sorry - forgot to delete the EC part - I was going to say something else and ended up not saying it. EC stands for Exposure Compensation. You can use EC in modes like AV or TV. In AV it has the affect of forcing the camera to use a faster shutter speed (negative EC) or slower shutter speed (positive EC) than the camera would otherwise use to achieve what the camera thought was a correct exposure. In TV mode, using EC will change the aperture value.

I agree with NHL that size is a relative thing. Yes the 120-300 is lighter than other lenses - especially considering the reach potential with a 2x TC. BUT relative to the lens you're curretly shooting with, it's enormous. Some people don't want to deal with a lens that size (so they accept the trade-off of buying a lens with a narrower aperture).

If you have a local camera store, it's probably not likely they carry this lens but they may have a Canon 300mm 2.8 lens - not suggesting you buy the Canon (it's $4000) but it will give you an idea of size and weight to expect with the Sigma.
JohnG is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Nov 30, 2006, 6:34 AM   #10
Senior Member
 
BrierS's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 157
Default

No need to try the Canon 300mm 2.8 for weight comparison . . . though if I happen to be in a store that has one, I'll simply check it out.

Even before starting this thread, I knew the lenses I was looking for would be around six pounds. Heavier than my largest 35mm camera's Nikor but not that much. My ability to adapt to different shooting stances/techniques should bring me up to speed using a lens such as the Sigma. For other occasions, I can always rely, somewhat, on either my mono-pod, or tripod.

First though, I need to complete the test you suggested . . . unless you believe it is still going to be the lens I should get. After all, I do need a zoom. One that will work with my 30D and there are only so many to choose from. It now seems two of you decided to go with the Sigma rather than the Canon L with IS and it certainly wasn't to save money. :-) If you agree, then I would be just as well off placing my order so the lens is on my camera sooner rather than later and then do my testing while I await its arrival.

Steve


BrierS is offline   Reply With Quote
 
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 1:26 PM.