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Old Jun 6, 2005, 4:50 PM   #1
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I can't decide on a telephoto lens, and I would like advice and opinions.

The collection of toys so far:

Rebel XT

EF-S 17-85mm IS (the IS is great!)

EF-S 60mm macro (beautifully sharp)

Last week, I was taking pics at my daughter's end-of-year concert held, unfortunately, in the High School gym. The gym was filled with four bands and one chorus group. Although the 17-85 did well, clearly I needed something a lot longer.

Another planned use for a telephoto will be beach wildlife and landscapes.

I will never be a "pro", but I do appreciate quality results, even if the photos are just family snaps. Low cost is definitely a plus -- especially since I have a hard time justifying spending more on one lens than I spent on the camera.

After reading through the various threads here, I am quite confused. Options range from a Sigma 70-300mm APO to some very expensive Canon L lenses. I think that I have narrowed it down to two: Canon 70-200 f4 L or the Canon 70-300 DO IS.

The 70-200L would begreat if it had IS. I am sold on IS, especially after seeing the results from the concert with shutter speeds down to 1/20 or so. Most of my telephoto work will involve stationary or semi-stationary objects. Light weight is important, since I object to carrying around five pounds of hammer all day long, and I will be 99% handheld. The extra range to 300mm is a bit of an advantage, but a 1.4 TC would bring the 70-200 up to match.

The 70-300 DO would be great if it had the contrast and resolution of the L. (And of course a cheaper price -- for the price I could buy TWO 70-200 L's!)

What would be perfect would be the 70-300 DO with the 70-200 L sharpness and price! But that combination is probably what Canon will announce the week after I finally make my purchase.

If I coughed up the big-time bucks for the DO, I would have a nice small and light lens to carry around, full reach for all I want to do, and image stabilization that would compensate for my amateur shake and the slow lens. But would I be satisfied with the sharpness and contrast? There also seem to be various opinions about its bokeh and flare.

If I went with the L, would I always be running out of light, especially inside a gym, without the advantage of IS to make slower shutter speed usable? Would I end up needing to switch to a 1.4 TC frequently? (Not to mention the TC costs nearly $300, too) Would I get tired of swinging it around my neck all day? (Yes, I know it is one of the smaller and lighter L telephotos, but I'm a wimp photog.)

Image quality and price? Or all-round convenience?

Help me before I trade it all in on a Casio P&S!

--M


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Old Jun 6, 2005, 6:26 PM   #2
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There are a few previous threads about the DO.

I own one of these and love it. I'm not sharpness obsessed in general and often I don't sharpen my pictures much, particulalry with portraits. However I find that the DO has plenty of resolution if you want to sharpen; it needs a little more sharpening than my 17-85mm but there is more than sufficient detail for any of my needs. Also I must say that although the JPG output you may see on the web is sometimes slightly off-putting the prints I've got from this lens are really wonderful. I have never had any problems with flare and I like its bokeh - but do check out some sample shots to see if you do.

The DO has a number of characteristics to recommend it:
1. Very good optical performance, not quite as good as L or the best Sigmas, but much better than the standard consumer zooms.
2. An excellent IS system. Once again there has been much discussion of the merits and importance of IS, but I find it to be very useful on the DO, and if you like it on the 17-85 you'll find it many times more useful on the DO.
3. The chief characteristic to recommend it however is its size and weight. This is what makes the lens unique in its class. There is nothing that will give that much optical quality and let you fix it to your camera and keep it around your neck all day.

Some of my keepers with this lens can be seen at:

http://vanderwooks.blogspot.com

You should certainly add the Sigma 100-300 f4 and the Sigma 70-200 f2.8 to your shortlist too.
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Old Jun 6, 2005, 6:53 PM   #3
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I guess the answer depends on how often you shoot indoors (or in low light conditions) and how much money you want to spend.

I recently bought an EF 70-200 f/4L. This is a wonderful lens... slow by some standards, but sharp by everyone's. If you need a 2.8 lens, be prepared to carry around a lot of weight and spend a lot of money. The "slow" is NOT in the focus speed. Take a look at cost vs f-stop vs weight. My f/4L is pretty hefty, but light enough to carry around, even for an old guy like me. And a lot cheaper than the brighter lenses. The Sigma 70-200 looks like a good deal, but I wasn't willing to hike one of those around. Some folks will be happy to do so for another stop. Not me.

To establish my level, I have an EF-S 17-85IS and an EF 50 1.8 II. The former is on my camera (EOS 20D) most of the time. I use the EF 50 rarely (just in low light conditions) and the f/4L when I want some reach outdoors. I'm considering a 1.4X in the future... sailboat races coming up soon here on Whidbey Island, WA.

I'd suggest ear plugs in the gym with four bands playing. :lol:


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Old Jun 6, 2005, 9:29 PM   #4
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These are great samples, Peripatetic! The shots with the DO lens have a very distinctive "mood" to them that I find very appealing. If this is how the DO artifacts appear, I think I would be very happy with the lens.

I originally thought that IS would be more a gimmick than a useful feature, but my admittedly short experience with the 17-85 IS has convinced me otherwise. It certainly gives an advantage to Canon over some of the Sigma offerings.

I am confused about the conflicting reviews that I've read on the 70-300 DO. That's why your samples are so helpful. The thing that matters in the end is the way normal photos look.

--M




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Old Jun 6, 2005, 9:41 PM   #5
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Wildman --

Unfortunately, I often find myself with barely enough light. The concert shots were pushing the limits of the 17-85, even at ISO 1600. Some of the best beach photo ops are with an overcast sky. (Of course, this would be the norm on Whidby Island or Mukilteo!) Like you, I can't see myself putting up with the weight of the f2.8. That's part of the appeal of IS.

Some of the bands should be passing out earplugs, but to us parents, it all sounds like the Chicago Symphony!

Maybe if I took out a second mortgage, I could get both lenses???

--M






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Old Jun 7, 2005, 3:16 AM   #6
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M

Also have a look at these links:

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/re...70-300mm.shtml

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/es...a-worked.shtml

I judge the quality of my lenses by how the prints look, not how it looks on my (fairly dodgy) laptop LCD. As I continue with my photography I'm beginning to realise that each of my lenses has its own character and the colour and contrast of each is different. I love the prints from the DO.

Be careful about regarding the IS as making the lens usable in low light however. It only stops camera shake, not motion blur - on a telephoto that means that 1/125s becomes quite usable whereas otherwise you might have needed 1/500s. But 1/60s is too slow for moving objects like parades, and even 1/125 is too slow for sports.
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Old Jun 7, 2005, 3:53 AM   #7
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mgipe,

I suppose it depends of whether your just a happy snapper or you pick your equipment as tools judged on how well they perform. It seems from your post your mind has been made up and the heavy lenses you will probably not appreciate, so no point really in wasting money there. The DO lens is not my cup of tea, but if it means you are more likely to be out and about taking photographs then theres your solution.

Anyway a few further points on the good telephotos are listed below.

http://www.photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-...?msg_id=00CSPN

http://www.photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-one-category?topic_id=1545&category=+EOS+Lenses


http://www.photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-...?msg_id=00CDoW



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Old Jun 7, 2005, 6:48 AM   #8
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LBoy,

I am quite happy accept your rather scornful epithet of "happy snapper", but the reviews I linked to are by Michael Reichmann, and whetever else he may be he is a Pro of many many years who makes a very good living as a fine art photographer. A "happy snapper" he is not. He finds the 70-300 DO to be a very good lens, and one that he believes (based on his experience) to be optically superior to the 100-400 L for example. Perhaps he is wrong, perhaps your experiences are different.

Have you ever used the 70-300 DO? If not that one then perhaps you have used the 400 DO L?

Do you have any opinions (based on experience, not the colour of the ring around the lens) about the optical quality of these DO lenses compared to the non-DO L lenses you have used over similar focal lengths?

I personally find that the forums on Photo.Net, DPReview, and (to a slightly lesser extent) FredMiranda are extremely variable. You find a mixture of complete idiots and wise old souls, but the preponderance are idiots.

If you must point to other forums (I think it's rather rude to Steve) do you not think that links to some Pro forums like Luminous Landscape or Rob Galbraith might be more useful in making an informed decision?
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Old Jun 7, 2005, 7:59 AM   #9
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Quote:
I am quite happy accept your rather scornful epithet of "happy snapper",
Don't read to much into everyday life laddie. I wasnt refering to anyone imparticular, more in general.

The original poster asked for what we all want - lightweight small fast Sharp lenses that are cheep. Actually not available. He answered his own question and knew most of what he needed to know.

The DO lens is happy snapper as I put it,as its the kind of lens you could put on your camera and walk about all day with. Its a capable lens, but doesn't have the speed I require or for that matter the poster himself. Simple as that. It an opinion, nothing more.

The other lenses that I pointed to are maybe for people who for the love of what they are doing are not bothered by the extra weight and inconvenience of that. As the poster wanted to hear about high quality lenses also, I offered links to some threads I thought would show some other thoughts on these lenses.

You post links to another site and then tell me off for this .. :?ok then. Anyway you are entitled to your opinionbut I have always found the links I includedto bevery balanced actually. Maybe you could be a gentleman and letothers decide for them selfs ?

I'm certainly not trying to be rude in the entering the links to another, if this is not as things are done I'm sure I will be notified. I don feel there is a higher regard for the sites you have talked about above photo.net where I know a lot of pro photographers spend time.You only need takea look at the gallery to see what I mean.
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Old Jun 7, 2005, 11:50 AM   #10
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LBoy wrote:
Quote:
You post links to another site and then tell me off for this .. :? ok then.

Steve reviews cameras not lenses, he also provides forums. Linking to something his site doesn't provide is not the same thing as linking to another forum site which is in direct competition with his for advertising revenue.


Quote:
Its a capable lens, but doesn't have the speed I require. Simple as that. It an opinion, nothing more.
And yet in other threads you counsel the use of the 70-200 f2.8 with 2x converter. Which is an effective 140-400 f5.6, how is it that this combination has the speed you require? It certainly appears to be nothing more than an opinion, what most of us hope for on these forums is reasoned and sensible advice, sometimes however we just get opinions.


Quote:
Anyway you are entitled to your opinion but I have always found the links I included to be very balanced actually.

I am entitled to my opinion? How very liberal of you. Despite your abrasive manner I would be quite happy to learn from you and change my opinion if you had anything interesting or informative to add, but so far your posts in these forums have been long on insults and invective and short on intelligible content.

I have little doubt that you find those other threads balanced, but that only in the context of my earlier statement about those forums.


Quote:
Maybe you could be a gentleman and let others decide for them selfs ?

Astonishing grammer aside, I'm sure mgipe is quite capable of making his own decision. I fail to see how anything I have posted is ungentlemanly. I also find it rather rich that someone who is so desperately attached to 'argumentum ad hominem' attacks has the audacity to accuse others of poor manners.
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