Advice: If you had $3,000 to Spend - what Frame/Lens Combo . ..

Started Jul 6, 2010 | Discussions thread
Flying Fish
Veteran MemberPosts: 3,929
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Re: Yes, you will be upset
In reply to gravediggingaditch, Jul 6, 2010

Ooops, sorry about rushing things, but she seems like a keeper.

I just came back 6 weeks ago from a "safari" in Botswana. (The quotes are because it was quite a luxurious affair.) My cousin was using a Canon 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS on his Canon 1DS Mark III and I was using a Canon 400 f/5.6L on my 7D. We compared notes and switched lenses and took comparison photos, and I think I understand the tradeoffs pretty well. My 70-200 F/2.8L rarely left its case, and my Kenko 1.4X teleconverter left its case exactly once.

For birds, 400mm was rarely too long and often not long enough. Even for the big mammals--leopards, elephants, ungulates, giraffes, hippos, and so on--400 was usually not too long. Even with a 7D, shooting at ISO 800 and ISO 1600, f/5.6 without IS often was too slow, and the minimum focusing distance of the 400 f/5.6L--3.5 meters--often was too great. That said, the 400 f/5.6L is a wonderful lens and it weighs and costs less than the 100-400. In some circumstances, I think it focuses faster than the 100-400, but often there's no discernible difference. But the IS really is a big deal, the zoom really is a big deal, and the difference in IQ between the two lenses was undetectable. Except of course that the IS made a difference many times and so the IQ of the zoom was better.

Now, as to your question about action shots as compared to f/4 or f/2.8. If you weren't going to be using a T2i or a 7D, I'd be more concerned, but you really can shoot happily at ISO 1600 with those cameras and ISO 3200 isn't out of the question, especially if you're comfortable with PP and noise-reduction programs. Filling the frame with your subject is very important for the highest-quality images, even though the T2i and 7D will allow for considerable cropping. Will you miss f/2.8? Yes, but not as much as you'll miss 400mm if your max is only 200mm, at least in my opinion. At least in my hands, a teleconverter isn't an option, because first, it reduces your aperture, and second, except with the 4000 prime, you need to stop down at least one stop for the best quality images.

Some people have complained about the push-pull zoom of the 100-400 but my cousin has used it a lot, and has had no dust issues, and it works beautifully for actual zooming.

Now, before you buy a used one, find out when it was made. The sense I'm getting from these forums is that the more recently made 100-400 lenses--say within the last 3-4 years--are noticeably better than the older ones.

Bottom line: You're going to be investing quite a lot in your trip, photography is important to you, and having a 100-400 with you, or at least the 400 prime, will make you happy. You can always sell the lens when you return for at least 75% of retail, if not more.

FF

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