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Author Topic: Help w/ Lens Choice for Photo Safari  (Read 4864 times)

KenG

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Help w/ Lens Choice for Photo Safari
« on: October 18, 2006, 07:13:31 am »

I'm new to this forum, and am wondering if anyone has an opinion re three choices I'm considering to get to about 400mm at a reasonable price for a trip to Africa in 3 months.  Using a Canon 5D or D1s II:
1.  400/5.6 L IS
2.  300/4.0 L IS with 1.4X extender (which i already own)
3.  100-400 L
I'm leaning toward the IS lenses (we'll be out quite a bit in low light situations where slow-ish shutter speeds will be necessary), but have also read rave reviews of the 400/5.6 in terms of sharpness, color, contrast.   My impression from other review sites is that the 300/4.0 + extender option is probably not as good as the other two but i still haven't ruled it out completely.

I'd appreciate any opinions, comparisons, etc. that anyone can give.  Thanks.
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thienanhpham

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« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2006, 05:05:44 am »

i had the pretty much the same choices... but i don't have to shoot in low light condition.. after reading quite a lot of articles and user comments on FM forum (i'm new to this forum too, so i'm not sure if people talked about this somewhere), I decided to go with the 100-400 F/4.5-5.6L IS....   It's still on the way from BSP to my house.. so i didn't have a chance to play with it yet... but here are the reasons that help me to make this decision

+ I was thinking about the 300mm IS and 1.4x, but i don't like the fact that the extender will degrade the image quality (i used it on my 70-200 F/4L and the image came out not as I good as I expected. I will probably sell both of them when i get the 100-400).. .so this one is out of my list

+ the 400 f/5.6 IS is nice , but it's $6K ...way over what i can afford.
400 f/5.6 is around $1K but it doesn't have IS ....

+ 100-400 IS...  about the price of the prime 400 F/5.6 ....but it's a zoom lens, so i don't have to say "opps, it's too close" .... plus IS... and i think it'll help me a lot with birds shooting....  so ...this one is the winner at last.

hope this help ...

TAP
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Blendenteufel

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« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2006, 06:24:48 am »

Actually it depends a bit on the kind of Safarie...

I was in December in South Africa in a privat game reserve. There we got quite close to a lot of animals and my 200/2.8 was not long enough all the time, but since we shot mostly during dusk and dawn either handheld or with monopod and always from inside the open landrover APERTURE was the key element for me and I crop my 300D pics from 6 MP to 3 MP, upsize them in Photoshop and still get decent A3 prints.

When the sun was higher I could easily live with the 1.4 and 2 converters at f/5.6 and f/8 and so have 280/f4 and 400/f5.6. But with the most beautiful light being early and late i wish I had the 200/1.8 with me ;-)

So, depending on where you go a FAST lens might be the first priority and focal length only second.
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Regards,
 Michael.  [url=http://www.catha

mahleu

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« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2006, 06:57:06 am »

Is renting an option?

I would take a zoom over a fixed as animals like to move.

Where exactly are you going?
« Last Edit: October 20, 2006, 07:07:00 am by mahleu »
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lightcreator

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« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2006, 06:59:02 am »

Quote
I'm new to this forum, and am wondering if anyone has an opinion re three choices I'm considering to get to about 400mm at a reasonable price for a trip to Africa in 3 months.  Using a Canon 5D or D1s II:
1.  400/5.6 L IS
2.  300/4.0 L IS with 1.4X extender (which i already own)
3.  100-400 L
I'm leaning toward the IS lenses (we'll be out quite a bit in low light situations where slow-ish shutter speeds will be necessary), but have also read rave reviews of the 400/5.6 in terms of sharpness, color, contrast.   My impression from other review sites is that the 300/4.0 + extender option is probably not as good as the other two but i still haven't ruled it out completely.

I'd appreciate any opinions, comparisons, etc. that anyone can give.  Thanks.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=80963\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

My personal choice would be a 400mm DO IS L f4 or 500mm IS L f4 (you really need something this long to capture some close encounter of the beautiful animal) plus Extender 1.4x if budget allow.  I found these are still handheldable.

Otherwise I think the 100-400mm IS L plus Extender 1.4x is by far the most economical solution.

I think the 400mm 5.6L IS and 100-400mm IS L I think is NO better than your 300mm f4 IS L with 1.4 extender = 420mm and still 5.6 (you already own - cheapest solution).

Maybe renting the 400mm f4 IS DO L or the 500mm f4 IS L would be good???  Or buy one and sell back on eBay when you don't need it after the 3 months (just take care of the condition and you shouldn't lose too much money) - this is what  I normally do as these lenses do hold their value if taking good care.


     
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elkhornsun

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« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2006, 08:13:43 pm »

If taking a 5D I would take the Canon 100-400mm IS within the price range you are considering.  When animals get close to the car, and you are not going to be leaving the safety of the vehicle, a zoom is great to be able to still take pictures. With a fixed super telephoto you options are more limited.

Consider renting a lens for the time period and you will have more options. A 500mm f4 lens with or without a 1.4 teleconverter would be a good lens much of the time, but a bit pricey if you are not going to be doing a lot of wildlife photography on your return.

With the lens on a bean bag and the motor off the IS is not going to be much help. A used non-IS lens would be a better value than a new IS lens.
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Giedo

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« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2006, 06:43:50 am »

Quote
1. 400/5.6 L IS
As far as I know, this lens comes without IS. I wish they offered it, though...

I have been shooting on three consecutive Safaris in Africa with the 100-400 and on the last one also with the 300 f4 (non IS) with 1.4 TC. That is a very powerful combo. Don't use the 300 IS with TC. Get a used 300 f4 without IS for about $ 650! With a bean bag you don't really need the IS anyway.

The 100 - 400 is the one to get if you only have one lens in this range, because framing is essential and in most cases you're not allowed to leave the road, so you can't move a lot to get closer or further away.
My best shots are with this lens: check on my website with Tanzania wildlife

Good luck! Where are you going exactly? If to Tanzania, I can give you some handy information..

Regards, Giedo
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Giedo

stever

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« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2006, 09:05:17 pm »

this is a topic that comes up every 2 or 3 months so there are lots of recommendations if is you search the old posts

i'm not sure how much better the 400 5.6 is than the 300 4 +1.4, but my 300 +1.4 is just marginally better than my 100-400.  on my 20d they both with produce excellent 13x19 prints (but bigger than this would not stand close inspection)

i'm sure from the many comments on the 400 that it's better at 5.6 than the 300 + 1.4 or 100-400 - i get noticebly better results at f7.1 or f8 even if i have to go to higher ISO.  IS is marginally useful as usually you need reasonably fast shutter speed to stop action

all 3 of these lenses will give good results handheld on a 20 or 30d or even Rebel, but they are not long enough or sharp enough on a full frame camera as your primary long lens on safari

to take advantage of the 5d or 1DS resolution, you need a 300 2.8 with 2x, a 400DO with 1.4X or a 500 to significantly improve on the results of the shorter, lighter, cheaper lenses on a crop frame camera.  And, unless you have a vehicle pretty much to yourself (and an assistant?) , the big glass is going to be hard to manage

so my recommendation is to buy a crop-frame camera to use with your 300+1.4 and take care of the big, close animals with the 5d and a 100-200 f4 with a 24-105 for really close stuff and scenery  -- in general, swapping lenses and extenders just doesn't work -- things happen too fast and the sensor gets to dirty

my last recommendation is a telephoto flash for fill during the day and for images of spotlighted animals at night - this makes a significant improvement
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nspur

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« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2006, 02:27:36 pm »

My wife and I are going to SA in February and we are going on Safari there for the first time (but in the Karoo rather than the Kruger and probably on foot or horseback some of the time as well as in a Jeep). When we were recently in Sri Lanka I took a Sigma 70-200 f2.8 with 1.4 and 2.0 TC for shooting game with either a Canon 20D or 5D and found it too short with the 1.4 and not bright enough with the 2x. And as for the weight.....

So I've bought a Panasonic FZ-50. This has a Leica-branded f2.8/3.3 lens zooming (35mm equiv) 35mm-420mm, manual zoom ring, manual focus, anti-shake that works and saves about 2 stops, really rather good to use. Having a small sensor means either noise or excessive noise-reduction at over ISO 400 but it does do RAW files and it's light enough to carry around all day. If 420mm isn't enough, I've got a screw-on Olympus 1.7 TC which will whack it up to 714mm with loss of detail. I think it's just right for holiday shots but if I were a pro wildlife photographer I would probably be using something very heavy and enormously expensive and white.
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mahleu

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« Reply #9 on: December 02, 2006, 03:51:34 pm »

Have you though of the Sigma 80-400mm OS?
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matt4626

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« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2006, 11:49:22 am »

I spent three weeks in Kenya in September. I had everything from a 16-35 to a 500 F4. The 100-400 was the lens I used ALL the time. If I could only take one lens it would be the 100-400.
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macgyver

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« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2006, 12:24:58 pm »

Quote
Have you though of the Sigma 80-400mm OS?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=88297\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Or their 50-500?
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stever

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« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2006, 11:03:43 pm »

are you suggesting 50-500 from personal experience?  i've seen no tests or posts indicating that this lens should be considered for even moderately serious photography

re: 80-400 - nobody seems to have any experience with it - but tests show it no better than 100-400 and it's not much cheaper

i completely agree with matt that the 100-400 is the one lens for safari, and even with multiple lenses and bodies, the 100-400 probably ends up being the lens for most photographers --  shooting from vehicles where you are not in control of location, you need a zoom, and you reach  -- hence the 100-400 on a crop frame camera  -- the only time you need anything shorter is for elephants, lions, and landscapes
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