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Old Aug 5, 2005, 6:45 AM   #1
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I am looking at upgrading my current lens situation for wildlife / birding. I currently have a 20D with SIgma 70-200 2.8 plus 1.4xTC. This combination suits my sports needs, but I'm finding it to be too short for birding / wildlife. Based upon reading a lot of reviews and recommendations, I've narrowed it down to one of these two lenses.

I know there are a number of people who are quite happy with other lenses, but I have to draw the line somewhere - so can I limit discussion to just these two lenses?

I'm particularly interested in opinions of people who have used both.

Any help is appreciated.

John
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Old Aug 5, 2005, 7:18 AM   #2
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I have the 400mm f/5.6 (my other L is the 85 f/1.2) - Excellent lens, but too inflexible and the least used.
It's biggest advantage is it's light (and affordable), but then you'll have to carry another lens, plus the MTF of the 100-400 @ 400 is better!

Go for the zoom!!!
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Old Aug 5, 2005, 9:10 AM   #3
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The "100-400 F4.5-F5.6 L IS" is a good lens.
With your 20D you will have trouble trying to use your 1.4 TC with it at the long end.

The 400 F5.6 L is restrictive, and except for being cheaper than the 100-400 does not buy you anyting in reach or speed. The 100-400 is also slighty sharper going by the charts :-).

Peter.

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Old Aug 5, 2005, 9:37 AM   #4
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Quote:
The 400 F5.6 L is restrictive, and except for being cheaper than the 100-400 does not buy you anyting in reach or speed. The 100-400 is also slighty sharper going by the charts
Thank you both, but this is part of the frustration with researching - this statement partially contradicts what I am reading from other reviews. Primarily about sharpness and focus speed (although I think you meant aperture). From what I gather from other reviews the prime was sharper at 400 5.6 and slightly faster to focus which seems to make sense. The other feedback I had received was that it takes a TC better than the zoom although both would lose autofocus on the 20d.




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Old Aug 5, 2005, 10:04 AM   #5
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:G I know what you mean, I agonized over the last lens choice because there were just too many of them:G

Yes, by speed I meant the maximum aperature of both lenses at 400mm is F5.6.

And the sharpie thing is only going by the MTF charts (same thing NHL said) the zoom appears to be sharper at the 400mm settinng than the prime.

Myself, I ended up with the Sigma 120-300 F2.8 a 1.4x TC and a 2x TC.
At the 300mm setting that gives me a 300/F2.8 a 420/F4 and a 600/F5.6

Peter
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Old Aug 5, 2005, 10:19 AM   #6
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PeterP wrote:
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Myself, I ended up with the Sigma 120-300 F2.8 a 1.4x TC and a 2x TC.
At the 300mm setting that gives me a 300/F2.8 a 420/F4 and a 600/F5.6

Peter
See - it's comments like this that cause so much anguish:angry:

The 120-300 sounds like a fantastic lens and from the reports it would be the sharpest. I have 3 issues with going that route:

1. Doesn't seem to be the wealth of people using it so I haven't been able to find a whole lot of opinions - I like what I've seen from posters here, but not quite the same volume of users that the other two lenses have.

2. with a 300, I'm pretty sure I would have the TC on there all the time. There's just something that seems counter-intuitive about that. Granted I don't have the experience a lot of you have (if I did I wouldn't need to ask these questions :blah - but it would seem that a high quality lens without TC should be better than a high quality lens with TC (although I realize I would have a 4.0 with a TC vs. 5.6 with the Canons). And advice I have been given to date is "get the longest lens you can - if you're going to have the TC on 90% of the time the lens probably isn't long enough).

3. The cost. At this point, I'm not going to be an avid birder - I'm still a generalist in my photography. So, the $1900 price tag is kind of pushing the envelope. If it was a 120-400 it would be a no brainer (but then it would be $4000 instead of $1900).


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Old Aug 5, 2005, 11:47 AM   #7
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JohnG

At this level they are all excellent lenses

Try this first - put a 2xTC on your 70-200 f/2.8 and tape the zoom ring fix @ 200 - See if you can live with it .
If you can't then go with the zoom(s) :idea:
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Old Aug 5, 2005, 12:01 PM   #8
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Sorry :G
Unless you have some use for the way I chose to go I'd stay with the 100-400 L IS.
The 120-300 does not have IS, but I have more use for the F2.8 it offers. It is also a very heavy lens.

Quote:
See - it's comments like this that cause so much anguish:angry:
Peter.
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Old Aug 5, 2005, 12:21 PM   #9
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I wouldn't put alot of stock in some forums. I could spend a day and find several posters on a number of sites that would even agree with me! When you compare lens in this bracket it is very difficult as I believe that there are no bad ones. It comes down to a fine line of the end use, tripod,handheld,IS or not,color and even filter size. There is no correct answer to all, nor is there an incorrect answer to all. I took some of my lens money and built bird feeders. Now with the use of a blind I get twelve feet away from my subject and have eliminated the use of extenders. Do I think everyone should take the same approach? Nope I would not even suggest it. The close shots I get are sold at a local Wild Bird feed store, I don't take cash but exchange the sales for feed. my So my birds are working for food as it were. I have several lens that will handle the job and use them all at one time or another. I can't tell some of the shots apart with out checking EXIF. How could I tell someone what to use? I shoot with several others that each have their own idea what works where. I always enjoy seeing what another produces from the same shooting location. We all make wonderful images, is there one that is right, or one wrong? It is tough to choose a lens, but you just have to do it!
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Old Aug 5, 2005, 6:25 PM   #10
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John, I have the 100-400mm L IS zoom. i love it!!! it rarely comes off the camera unless i do some macro or famiy pics. i have no experience with the 400/5.6 but from what i've read here and seen in pictures, it is an excellent lense. Here's a little features comparison.

100-400 is a zoom with IS is more versatile no IS on 400mm/5.6

400mm/5.6 focuses faster

400mm/5.6 i think, is a bit sharper, at least wide open(see Normcar's wildlife shots)

100-400mm has a closer focus (6ft) thru the whole zoom range and can be used for closeups (1:4.5 i think)

400mm/5.6 cost about $300-$400 less than the zoom

400mm/5.6 is lighter in weight

1.4X TC works a bit better on the 400mm/5.6

hope that helps!! if you are stricly using the lense at 400mm and nothing else but birds, the 400mm/5.6 is probably the way to go. it is a specialized lense where the 100-400mm zoom is more a general purpose lense.

dennis
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