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FORUMS Canon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Canon EF and EF-S Lenses 
Thread started 25 Nov 2013 (Monday) 11:42
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Lens recommendation (hand-held wildlife) please

 
Limbwalker
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Nov 25, 2013 11:42 |  #1

Looking to the expertise on this forum for some help.

After selling off a bunch of "toys" I don't use often, and rat-holing money for about a year, I've finally managed to set aside about $1K - $1200 for a lens.

Shooting on a 50D body. I currently have the 18-55 STM and 55-250 IS lenses (love them both!).

Most of my shots are for roadside wildlife, or in my blind set up at my feeders or a wetland area I have permission to shoot at. Birds are generally my subject, unless something else interesting pops up.

I have no delusions of becoming a "professional" wildlife photographer, and can't see myself dropping $5K on a camera lens anytime in the next 15 years, but I do know what great image quality looks like (from my medium format transparency days) and doubt I'll be satisfied with anything less than really sharp images.

Past lenses have been the Tokina 400 5.6 SD (Loved the lens, but the IQ and contrast weren't quite up to my standards unless it was stopped down quite a bit), a 300 4.5 ED Nikon MF lens (fantastic IQ, but no image stabilization for hand holding, and not much reach), and a poor copy of a Sigma 100-300 f4 that I recently returned for a refund.

Most likely, this lens will sit attached to my camera body on the passenger seat of my car for quick photos on my way to and from work. I work and live in a very rural setting, so stopping on a gravel road to shoot wildlife is a pretty frequent thing for me.

Looked hard at the 50-500 and 150-500 OS sigma lenses, but the experience with the poor copy of the 100-300 has me feeling a bit burned. Also concerned about the overall size and weight of those lenses.

Right now, I'm really on the fence between a 400 5.6L and the 100-400L with IS. I've had folks tell me I can't go wrong with either. I've even thought about the 70-300 IS (non L) with a 1.4x on it to take the place of my 55-250IS and save me a few $$.

I'd appreciate any and all input the forum can provide until Canon comes out with an affordable 500 5.6 IS lens for guys like me :D :D :D ha, ha.

Thanks in advance.


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BioSci
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Nov 25, 2013 11:55 |  #2

I've done a lot of wildlife shooting, mostly birds, with my 100-400L. Almost always it's hand-held, and often under non-ideal lighting conditions. I found it to be entirely satisfactory, AFTER I experienced the requisite learning curve. Most shots have been at 400mm f/5.6, shooting anywhere between 1/200 and 1/1600 second. I try to keep the ISO at or under 400 to control noise, but there have been times when I've had to use ISO 1600 to get a shot at 1/200 second. That's when the IS shows its true value.

This is a lens that can be purchased new for $1,500 with the current Canon discount, and good used models can be purchased within your budget.


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Madweasel
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Nov 25, 2013 11:57 |  #3

I think the advice you've had is spot on. For the money, the 400/5.6L or 100-400L are the best quality. Because you specify hand-held, I'd recommend the zoom for its IS. Yes, of course you can handhold the 400L, but you'll always be pushing the ISO a bit more to keep shutter speeds up. Lots of people here are fans of the 150-500 Sigma, but my experience is that the Canon has superior sharpness and contrast.


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johnf3f
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Nov 25, 2013 11:59 |  #4

I would suggest you look at the Canon 300 F4 L IS and the Canon 400 F5.6 L new or used. They are both excellent lenses with different strengths and weaknesses, but they will give you better IQ than anything I have tried at comparable prices + they are relatively light.
I chose the 300 F4 because it suited my needs better but the 400 offers longer native focal length so many prefer it - only you can decide.


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MalVeauX
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Nov 25, 2013 12:00 |  #5

Heya,

Used EF 300mm F4 L IS with a teleconverter would be my guess for your price range. On your crop body, that thing will have serious reach.

Alt: EF 70-200mm F4 L also with a teleconverter. Less range, but still great range, and you gain the focal length options of a zoom while keeping F4 (though you drop some stops with the teleconverter). You can get the newer version of this lens with IS, used, in your price range too and that would be a little more ideal if you can find it.

Or straight up EF 400mm f5.6L, used.
Or the EF 100-400mm f4.5L, used.

All in your budget.

Very best,


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shedberg
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Nov 25, 2013 12:57 |  #6

I use my 100-400 for everything from birds to bears, I personally love it.


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Scott ­ M
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Nov 25, 2013 13:00 |  #7

For birding exclusively, the 400mm f/5.6 prime is a nice option, since you would be at 400mm all the time. For a variety of wildlife, the 100-400L offers more flexibility. I have the 100-400L because I shoot everything from bison to large birds.


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ammo
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Nov 25, 2013 13:03 |  #8

Always find those prime lenses are just so much sharper than anything zoom! Just gives the shot that edge!


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Jim_T
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Nov 25, 2013 13:13 |  #9

I'm another 100-400 fan.. It's used with my 7D.

I consider the zoom important. When I'm shooting birds out in the marsh, I often find that I need less than 400mm to properly fame my subject. I can 'zoom out' to a shorter focal length when necessary.

Primes might be sharper, but when stopped down to f/8 - f/9 I get great results..

And one negative.... Since the widest aperture at 400mm is f/5.6, it's a blue sky sunny day lens. On heavily overcast days I find performance is less that ideal, even at higher ISO settings.




  
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Charlie
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Nov 25, 2013 13:18 |  #10

I too, also liked the 100-400. TONS of reach, but may not be enough for smaller birds.

tamron is coming out with a 150-600mm, and might be worth the wait.


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vengence
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Nov 25, 2013 13:25 |  #11

If you don't have to buy right this second, I'd second the recommendation to wait to see how the Tamron 150-600 turns out.

That being said, the 70-300L is very sharp and has a 4 stop IS making it VERY hand holdable. The 100-400L is of course longer and has 2 stops of IS and isn't quite as sharp as the 70-300L (not saying it's soft just a relative comparison). The 100-400L is the go to for most wildlife photographs because it is 33% longer while still being budget friendly. In lower light you will have to put a bit more ISO into it than the 70-300L though.




  
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bfg444
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Nov 25, 2013 13:36 |  #12

I also shoot birds, also harbor no delusions about being a pro, and also have a 50d. I just got a 300mm f4 L IS and a 1.4x TC. Still learning it, but so far I'm pleased with the sharpness and AF both bare and with the 1.4x. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it. I typically use it bare in my backyard and with the 1.4x when I'm out and about. I'd been using a 70-300L but I wanted more reach, and this combo was how I chose to get there. Probably at least 90% of my shots were at 300mm. I tried a kenko 1.4x with the 70-300L but I didn't care for it. I don't think you'd much like a 70-300 nonL with a 1.4x.
I'll probably end up selling the 70-300L, but it really is a fantastic lens and a joy to use.




  
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tomj
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Nov 25, 2013 14:53 |  #13

"400 5.6L and the 100-400L with IS. I've had folks tell me I can't go wrong with either."

Agreed.


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Limbwalker
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Nov 25, 2013 14:58 |  #14

bfg444, that's awesome advice. Your situation sounds almost exactly like my own. Only real reason I'd prefer the 300 vs. 400 primes is because I can easily set up a blind and get really close to birds and other wildlife when I have the time - in which case the f4 would be much appreciated and I wouldn't need the 400mm per say.

All the votes for the 100-400 really have me thinking, but then what would I do with my 55-250? I really like that little lens. It gives me great results, and has IS, so I feel like I have most of the 100-400 range covered already. When I decided I just had to keep that 55-250, that's when I turned my attention to the primes and longer lenses to give me a little more reach.

Does anyone know if the Tamron 150-600 will feature image stabilization (I think they call it VC for vibration correction?)

Thanks!

Oh, another subject I enjoy are dragonflies. Would anyone wish to comment on a lens they think would work really well for those?

John


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MalVeauX
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Nov 25, 2013 15:11 |  #15

Limbwalker wrote in post #16479315 (external link)
Oh, another subject I enjoy are dragonflies. Would anyone wish to comment on a lens they think would work really well for those?

John

Heya,

Really if you like the 55-250, stick with it. It's actually a good lens, despite having the "kit" or budget tags associated with it.

That said, if you already are getting lots of what you need at these focal lengths, and you just want more reach (which is a definite want unless you're sitting in a blind or near feeders) for wild shots, then I would definitely look at 300+ mm with teleconverter, or 400mm primes, and either way, teleconverters really get you closer. Getting wild shots up close are difficult. It comes down to what you're shooting. If they're larger birds, and any other creature, then really you'll be ok in the 300~400 range. Those teleconverts enhancing that further really makes a difference when you're looking at little creatures and tiny birds like finches and things like that unless you want heavily cropped images. Again this is referring to wild shots. Not just camping out near a feeder or in a blind. You can get away with a lot less reach from a `nest.' Wild is much more spooky and they see you coming and don't like a big predator with shiny stuff.

Here's a dragon I did with the 55-250:

IMAGE: http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3676/10138996635_2d7a291ec3_c.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com/​photos/mwise1023/10138​996635/  (external link)
6348 (external link) by Mwise1023 (external link), on Flickr

Very best,

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Lens recommendation (hand-held wildlife) please
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