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bakaroni Jan 15, 2007 1:17 AM

I currently have a Canon 70-300 IS that I've been using quite a lot to shoot wildlife and am really enjoying it. But, as expected, 300 is simply not long enough and I have the option of trading this lens in for something longer. I'm looking for a lens that doesn't need a tripod (for outdoor shots), something light enough that I can walk around with it for a few hours at a time (I'm not big built), and of course good IQ. At the moment my choices appear to be:

1. Canon 100-400L
2. Sigma 80-400 OS
3. Sigma 100-300 f/4 + Kenko Pro 1.4x
4. Tamron 200-500
5. Tokina 80-400

I would love to get the Canon, but I'm not sure I can justify the expense.

The Sigma 80-400 OS looks like a good choice, but it might be just a bit too heavy for me.

From what I've read the Tokina, although cheap and compact, is probably the worst of the lot in terms of IQ. Will I be stepping down significantly in terms of IQ going to the Tokina from my current Canon 70-300IS?

So that leaves me to consider the Sigma 100-300 f/4 + 1.4TC or the Tamron. Which would be the better choice?

Also, would I be getting significantly better IQ going with the Canon 100-400L to justify the additional cost?

Any thoughts/opinions?

Mark1616 Jan 15, 2007 3:42 AM

This is a tough choice as the Sigma is the better lens but even with the 1.4x TC you are not getting the same range as the Tamron. The Tamron is still a sharp lens and will mean you are not needing to worry about needing a TC (extra expense) however by having the Sigma you get an amazingly sharp 300mm f4 lens when the TC is not on which could be good for other things.

Have a look at these two reviews and see what you think.

The Canon 100-400 is not as sharp as the Sigma 100-300 + 1.4x TC but you do get IS which might help in certain situations as you don't want to take a tripod with you.

bakaroni Jan 15, 2007 9:37 AM


That's right, it is a tough choice. I'd read the reviews you reference. The one worrying aspect of the Tamron from the review is the need for a monopod/tripod for a lot of situations. On the contrary I've read on several forums that people have shot with the Tamron handheld. In any case, at 500mm I'd need at least 1/500th of the shutter speed. A good percentage (20-30%) of the photos I've taken so far have been at slower speeds at 200 ISO. So I guess I'd have to shoot at 400 ISO and might still lose some pictures.

I certainly don't like the idea of carrying even a monopod around. The way I shoot wildlife I walk around, stalking birds and animals. I can't imagine staying put in one place with a tripod waiting for members of the animal kingdom to go on a fashion parade in front of me.

I'm also tempted to wait till I get the 1.4TC that I ordered and use it with my Canon 70-300IS (taping the pins if necessary). I'm assuming this combination would be worse than the Sigma 100-300 + 1.4TC combo. But would it be much worse?

Mark1616 Jan 15, 2007 10:52 AM

The Sigma does have better resolution than your Canon but not by a huge amount, however the main difference will be the brightness of the Canon with the 1.4x telecon. It is going to make it a f8 lens so even with taped pins you are going to struggle having enough brightness for AF and also shutter speeds will be dropped (it does help having IS when hand holding but it is not an ideal situation). As for the Tamron I would say it is no harder than either of the other combos to hand hold (apart from the Canon having IS). As for shutter speeds that is a function of focal length and your ability to hold a lens still. I would not be afraid of ISO 400 or even 800 really as long has you have some good noise removal software, even better I would shoot in RAW so you are losing as little as possible.

bobbyz Jan 15, 2007 11:18 AM

If you want to shoot wildlife, I would say get canon 400mm f5.6 prime. Much better IQ and it is fanastic lens. Works well with 1.4xTC (cheap tamron one).

bakaroni Jan 15, 2007 12:31 PM


Thanks for your quick feedback. It appears to me that the Tamron is a decent compromise lens all things considered. But need to mull this a little longer.

Bobbyz, yes, I did consider the 400 prime. But the lack of zoom is a significant downer for me. There are going to be lots of situations where walking forwards or backwards may not be a quick or viable option. I guess this would be a pertinent question to those who do use the prime for wildlife: how often have you missed the zoom? Are there opportunities you've rued because of the lack of zoom?

djb Jan 16, 2007 12:18 AM

I primarily use my 500mm w/1.4TC for wildlife. I often take along my 100-400mm so when I need less focal length. I trudge along with the big gun on a tripod and go looking for pictures. Very rarely do i sit still in one place. If not travelling too far I handhold the 500mm.Is the 500mm+ TC too long?? Sometimes it is and then I decide to take a real closeup instead of a full body. Most of the time my problem is getting close enough to take a decent picture with the 500. I guess it all depends on what you want to do. Unless you blaze your own trails in the woods, a tripod and good long lens is worth it in my opinion. I have see n some remarkable shots in the wildlife forum with the sigma 80-400. I don't know much about the others. Is 400mm the most you want for focal length? Is it enough? You'd be very surprised how small a small bird can look in the viewfinder at fairly vclose distance even with 700mm worth of lense. Oh, the nice thing about the 100-400mm is that it focuses to about 6.5 feet at all focal lengths and can be used very nicely with extension tubes for some closeup work. Just my 2 1/2 cents worth.


bakaroni Jan 16, 2007 12:35 AM

Dennis, I'm not looking at a max of 400. I think of it as the minimum I'll need. So if I end up buying the 100-400 or 400 prime or the 80-400 I'd probably end up using the 1.4TC.

However, I've now been offered a few months old Tamron 200-500 by a local seller for about $650. It is tempting. But is it a good price? (I hope I'm not violating any forum rules by asking questions about price. If so, my apologies in advance.)

djb Jan 16, 2007 12:57 AM

If your thinking of using a 1.4X TC then the 100-400 isn't the best of choices. I've used ithat combo and can get some fairly nice shots but, I'm really not that good or fast for manual focus. If you tape the 3 pins on the TC the 10-400 hunts quite a bit. I don't know how the others fair with a TC. Most places seem to sell the 200-500 for $800+. there's a used one on ebay you can buy for $725. It's 97-98% new. current bid is $699. So at $650 it may not be a bad deal.


bobbyz Jan 16, 2007 12:28 PM

Even when using 1.4xTC on my 400mm prime, I wish I had at least 500mm to start with. Rarely I am close enough where zoom would be nice. I do have 100-400L but using that less often as it is not 400mm on long end and I can use the prime wide open at f5.6. Also 1.4xTC works much better on the prime than the zoom. My next lens would probably be 500mm f4 IS.

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