Advice needed, Need a new telelens for my Canon 7D

Started Feb 3, 2013 | Discussions
mikek1357
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Advice needed, Need a new telelens for my Canon 7D
Feb 3, 2013

Hi Folks,

I have a small question. I have a Canon 7D and need a new telelens with it.

Most of my photography is done at airshows, my old lens, a 70-300mm, was used at 300 for about 90 percent of the time. Fast action, but also at time, slow passes.

Lenses in consideration:

Canon 300mm F4 IS L with/without a 1.4TC

Canon 400mm F5.6 L

Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 EX OS DG

Sigma 300mm F2.8 EX

Anyone who has had one or more of these lenses? Curious to your experience with them.

Thanks!!

Canon EOS 7D Panasonic Lumix DMC-F5
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TTMartin
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Re: Advice needed, Need a new telelens for my Canon 7D
In reply to mikek1357, Feb 3, 2013

mikek1357 wrote:

Hi Folks,

I have a small question. I have a Canon 7D and need a new telelens with it.

Most of my photography is done at airshows, my old lens, a 70-300mm, was used at 300 for about 90 percent of the time. Fast action, but also at time, slow passes.

Lenses in consideration:

Canon 300mm F4 IS L with/without a 1.4TC

Canon 400mm F5.6 L

Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 EX OS DG

Sigma 300mm F2.8 EX

Anyone who has had one or more of these lenses? Curious to your experience with them.

Thanks!!

I have the Sigma 120-300 f/2.8 EX non-OS version. It is a very heavy lens, focus is not as fast as my other Sigma zoom lenses. Which are the Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 HSM non-OS, and the Sigma 150-500 OS. Sigma harps on the fast focus speed of the 120-300 f/2.8 OS, so I'm guessing they've corrected that.

The ability to calibrate the Sigma 120-300 f/2.8 OS at home is a big plus, even considering that your 7D has MFA.

I really like my Sigma 150-500 OS, it's fairly lightweight. The 500mm reach is great, and it focuses fast and accurate. I did a lot of online comparisons with it and the Canon 100-400 L and it was the winner in my opinion. And at around $1000 it is priced right.

I use Flickr group photo pools a lot when comparing lenses. I figure that gives me an idea how the lens performs in the real world in the hands of the masses, not just the factory pros or in studio shots.

Sigma 150-500mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM group pool

Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 APO EX DG OS group pool

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rextal
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Re: Advice needed, Need a new telelens for my Canon 7D
In reply to TTMartin, Feb 3, 2013

My vote is for the Canon 400mm F5.6 L.  I switched from the Sigma AF 120-400mm f/4.5-5.6 DG HSM OS to the Canon 400L f5.6 and have never regretted it.

My initial experience aside (returned 2 Sigma lenses due to faulty OS and faulty focus motor) the third and I guess indicative to this lens had to be stopped down to f8 at 400mm to get decent quality images.  Beyond about 350mm the image started to suffer, which is not abnormal with cheaper zooms.  On the other hand the Canon is sharp at wide open f5.6, I kid you not.  It does lack IS but go to ISO 400, a pinch with your 7D and it will repeatedly produce excellent pictures.  It is also a better image quality than the Canon 100-400L and focuses faster than both the Sigma and Canon 100-400L.

I'd wager it'd still be sharper than both those lenses with a 2X teleconverter.  

However it is a prime so no zoom, which may not suit air shows where you get to walk around the aircraft.  Though for that 70 or 120mm is still too long and you'd probably want something like a 24-105 or such.

And speaking of what may not suit airshows, I thought f2.8 would be too shallow.  Planes are big objects and a formation of small planes requires a decent depth of field.  I'd guess you'd want a bare minimum of f4.  I have enough trouble with a bird at f5.6.  All lenses set to a given aperture should theoretically let the same amount of light in and require the same shutter speed so using your f2.8 at f4 or f5.6 is no different from having an f4 lens at f4 or an f5.6 lens at f5.6.

So from that point of view image quality or reach is perhaps the deciding factor.  I'd only go an f2.8 if you thought you'd use that lens in low light or deliberatelly wanted to isolate the background, which I like for birds.  Not sure you'd have too many issues of backgrounds interfering at airshows.  Even trees at take off are usually sufficiently far enough back to be blurred at f8.  And don't forget to factor in the extra weight of f2.8 lenses (generalisation but usually true as they have bigger glass).

P.S. As many lenses require stopping down to get the best result, there is some merit in getting an f2.8 lens as by the time you get to f4 you may be at the sweet spot.

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jim edy
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Re: Advice needed, Need a new telelens for my Canon 7D
In reply to mikek1357, Feb 3, 2013

I have used the Canon 7D for a couple of years now along with the Canon 400 5.6. I have no regrets. I typically use this lens for wildlife, primarily birding it has preformed outstanding. As much as I would like to go to the 500mm, I don't want to give up the versatility of that this lens has to offer. I hand hold it 99% of the time. I have did some aviation photography, not much but at that it put out some outstanding images. Only down fall I can say about it is I have tried a Kenko X1.4 with this lens and with taping pins etc, I still can not get the AF to work. Overall a phenomenal lens!!

Jim

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zalle
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Re: Advice needed, Need a new telelens for my Canon 7D
In reply to jim edy, Feb 3, 2013

I had the 400 5.6L, and while it is a great lens, I found a 100-400 that is 95% as sharp wide open and the same at any other aperture. On top of that I got 100-380 (zoom lenses are never really what they say they are) + IS. So I sold the prime.

Supposedly the prime can focus faster, but I never noticed a difference.

I also have a Kenko 1.4X and with taped pins, both the 400mm 5.6L and the 100-400 have AF on the 7D, but the center point is really bad . Side focus points are ok (on the right they are actually better than on the left, for some reason).

I also had the 300 F4L (no IS) and it was fine with the 1.4X kenko, but not as good as the 400 5.6L.

For fast + accurate focus I would stay with Canon lenses.

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rickpoole
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Re: Advice needed, Need a new telelens for my Canon 7D
In reply to mikek1357, Feb 3, 2013

Mike,

I looked at the last 4 airshows I shot with my 100-400 to see how the focal lengths were spread across the zoom range.

Airshow #1 - 65% @400, the rest fairly evenly spread across 100-380 with small concentration around 100 and 275

Airshow #2 - 72% @400, the rest spread across 100-380 with batches at 200, 275, and 340

Airshow #3 - 33% @400 then batches around 190, 250, and 310

Airshow #4 - 24% @400 (was standing on tarmac for most of the show) with batches around 180, 250, and 360

From the recent ones I've shot the 100-400 is way more versatile than the 400 prime.  The 400 prime will be slightly sharper and will probably focus a little faster.  If you choose the prime you'll either have to switch lenses a lot or put your 70-300 on a 2nd body.

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Christoph v Ballmoos
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Re: Advice needed, Need a new telelens for my Canon 7D
In reply to mikek1357, Feb 3, 2013

Hi,

I have a 7D and I own the 300mm f4 L (non IS) and the Sigma 120-300 f2.8 OS, so I can only speak for those. The old 300 mm f4 L is claimed to be somewhat sharper than the "new" IS version, however, the very short minimal focus distance and two stop IS is advantageous. I always felt that the lens went also well together with a 1.4x, but it felt a bit short and of course no IS.

Now, I have the SIGMA, and it is indeed a great lens for the price. I am pretty sure, it is sharper than my Canon, especially at f3.2. The IS, or OS, works great and with good hands, 4 stops are reasonable. It works great with the 1.4x, and good with the 2x converter. Focusing is not an issue, but the pictures turned out best in good lightening conditions. Maybe, it is the contrast. Sharpness seems ok, if you don't have to crop too heavily. So, quickly said, it is the better lens than the EF300.

However, it is heavy, it is 3 kg and I usually have it on monopod and it fine. But your whole photography becomes different with such a lens. You need a new bag, you wonder, if you really want to take out the in front of everyone. You take your gear less often out your home than with the "light" 300 setup.

As I understand, is the EF 400mm f5.6 the same or better in sharpness as the 300 mm, which means, it is very good and probably on par with the 120-300. It is hard to guess, how it is compared with the Sigma 120-300 +1.4x, but I am happy with the sharpness at ~420 mm (it is less on shorter distances).

So, what I want to say. Maybe think more about the weight than the picture quality before you buy the lens. I don't regret the purchase if my lens, but boy, how great would it be only weighing 1-2 kg instead of 3 kg.

all sized to 1280

A few with the Sigma:



Bare lens

Bare lens

Cheers,

Christoph

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Sovern
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Re: Advice needed, Need a new telelens for my Canon 7D
In reply to Christoph v Ballmoos, Feb 4, 2013

Christoph v Ballmoos wrote:

Hi,

I have a 7D and I own the 300mm f4 L (non IS) and the Sigma 120-300 f2.8 OS, so I can only speak for those. The old 300 mm f4 L is claimed to be somewhat sharper than the "new" IS version, however, the very short minimal focus distance and two stop IS is advantageous. I always felt that the lens went also well together with a 1.4x, but it felt a bit short and of course no IS.

Now, I have the SIGMA, and it is indeed a great lens for the price. I am pretty sure, it is sharper than my Canon, especially at f3.2. The IS, or OS, works great and with good hands, 4 stops are reasonable. It works great with the 1.4x, and good with the 2x converter. Focusing is not an issue, but the pictures turned out best in good lightening conditions. Maybe, it is the contrast. Sharpness seems ok, if you don't have to crop too heavily. So, quickly said, it is the better lens than the EF300.

However, it is heavy, it is 3 kg and I usually have it on monopod and it fine. But your whole photography becomes different with such a lens. You need a new bag, you wonder, if you really want to take out the in front of everyone. You take your gear less often out your home than with the "light" 300 setup.

As I understand, is the EF 400mm f5.6 the same or better in sharpness as the 300 mm, which means, it is very good and probably on par with the 120-300. It is hard to guess, how it is compared with the Sigma 120-300 +1.4x, but I am happy with the sharpness at ~420 mm (it is less on shorter distances).

So, what I want to say. Maybe think more about the weight than the picture quality before you buy the lens. I don't regret the purchase if my lens, but boy, how great would it be only weighing 1-2 kg instead of 3 kg.

all sized to 1280

A few with the Sigma:



Bare lens

Bare lens

Cheers,

Christoph

I just wanted to say that your photos look amazing. I really like your first two photos very, very nice pieces of art.

I don't own any of these long tele lenses but wouldn't it make a lot of sense to have a zoom if your subject is moving all over the place?

Being stuck with a very long prime lens could be a burden I'd imagine unless you're shooting stationary subjects or are set up in a position where you can only get set shots at that focal distance in a set area if that makes any sense.

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mikek1357
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Re: Advice needed, Need a new telelens for my Canon 7D
In reply to rickpoole, Feb 4, 2013

rickpoole wrote:

Mike,

I looked at the last 4 airshows I shot with my 100-400 to see how the focal lengths were spread across the zoom range.

Airshow #1 - 65% @400, the rest fairly evenly spread across 100-380 with small concentration around 100 and 275

Airshow #2 - 72% @400, the rest spread across 100-380 with batches at 200, 275, and 340

Airshow #3 - 33% @400 then batches around 190, 250, and 310

Airshow #4 - 24% @400 (was standing on tarmac for most of the show) with batches around 180, 250, and 360

From the recent ones I've shot the 100-400 is way more versatile than the 400 prime. The 400 prime will be slightly sharper and will probably focus a little faster. If you choose the prime you'll either have to switch lenses a lot or put your 70-300 on a 2nd body.

I looked at just the same thing, about 90 percent of my shots are at 300mm and looking at the pictures I've could've used some more mm's.

Large formations of aircraft are nice, but not with a 400mm prime I agree. Maybe this year a prime and next year a 70-200 on a second body

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happysnapper64
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Re: Advice needed, Need a new telelens for my Canon 7D
In reply to TTMartin, Feb 4, 2013

TTMartin wrote:

mikek1357 wrote:

Hi Folks,

I have a small question. I have a Canon 7D and need a new telelens with it.

Most of my photography is done at airshows, my old lens, a 70-300mm, was used at 300 for about 90 percent of the time. Fast action, but also at time, slow passes.

Lenses in consideration:

Canon 300mm F4 IS L with/without a 1.4TC

Canon 400mm F5.6 L

Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 EX OS DG

Sigma 300mm F2.8 EX

Anyone who has had one or more of these lenses? Curious to your experience with them.

Thanks!!

I have the Sigma 120-300 f/2.8 EX non-OS version. It is a very heavy lens, focus is not as fast as my other Sigma zoom lenses. Which are the Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 HSM non-OS, and the Sigma 150-500 OS. Sigma harps on the fast focus speed of the 120-300 f/2.8 OS, so I'm guessing they've corrected that.

The ability to calibrate the Sigma 120-300 f/2.8 OS at home is a big plus, even considering that your 7D has MFA.

I really like my Sigma 150-500 OS, it's fairly lightweight. The 500mm reach is great, and it focuses fast and accurate. I did a lot of online comparisons with it and the Canon 100-400 L and it was the winner in my opinion. And at around $1000 it is priced right.

I use Flickr group photo pools a lot when comparing lenses. I figure that gives me an idea how the lens performs in the real world in the hands of the masses, not just the factory pros or in studio shots.

Sigma 150-500mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM group pool

Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 APO EX DG OS group pool

I may look for a longer tele, at the moment I have the 120-400 OS, & in good light it is a very capable performer. I purchased it instead of a used Canon 100-400L which was £350 dearer than the 120-400, & after testing for about 40-50 shots each on a sunny day, I could not see any difference, certainly not £350 worth. If the 150-500 is better at 500 than my 120-400 is at 400, then it would be worth looking at, as I use mine mostly at 400, as I have the Canon 70-200f/4 IS for most other shots in the range.

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Saturoldan
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About Canon 400 f/5,6
In reply to mikek1357, Feb 6, 2013

Hi,

I can speak about the 400 f/5,6 which I have about 8 years ago, used on film and digital, and I can say it´s a wonderful lens. It´s size, weight and cost makes it a jewel. It´s really sharp wide open, the way you will use it 90 % of the time.

You have to bear in mind that it´s not a zoom, and sometimes, you can find yourself wanting less or more focal, but you can attach it with teleconverters. By the way, use with 1,4X only when needed because of the loss of IQ (about 20% IQ estimated). I never used it with 2X, because I find 1,4X is the limit.

The AF is a little bit slow if we compare it with the more modern lenses such as 70-200 IS f/4, but it´s not bad at all. I use it with 1DIV and 5dIII.

The only con for me is the lack of IS.

Some says that this year a new version with IS will be launched, as well as the new 100-400. No dates are said, but if it´s not an imminent buy, you should follow them.

You can look some images taken with that lens in my web:

www.naturalezaenpausa.com

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