Getting to the 500mm range without spending $10K+

Started Jun 29, 2013 | Discussions
plautoq
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Getting to the 500mm range without spending $10K+
Jun 29, 2013

What are your thoughts on getting to the 500mm range ? Canon IS 100-400, Sigma OS 150-500mm, Canon IS 300mm with 1.4 extender (close enough), Canon non-IS 400 with 1.4 extender or other alternatives ? What is your experience so far if you own any (or all) of those lenses ? I saw a lot of comments, but it seems like there is no clear winner. Of course, north of 10K is a no brainer with all available options. Maybe you can share your experiences with cropping as well to reach the same equivalent magnification.

Cheers.

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wazu
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Re: Getting to the 500mm range without spending $10K+
In reply to plautoq, Jun 29, 2013

plautoq wrote:

What are your thoughts on getting to the 500mm range ? Canon IS 100-400, Sigma OS 150-500mm, Canon IS 300mm with 1.4 extender (close enough), Canon non-IS 400 with 1.4 extender or other alternatives ? What is your experience so far if you own any (or all) of those lenses ? I saw a lot of comments, but it seems like there is no clear winner. Of course, north of 10K is a no brainer with all available options. Maybe you can share your experiences with cropping as well to reach the same equivalent magnification.

Cheers.

300/2.8 + 1.4x TC III is what I use. Tried the 2x TC II and III but felt the focus lag made it too,difficult. I'm using a relatively cheap 300/2.8 non IS. So total cost of that and them 1.4tc mkIII was approx $3400.

I've seen used 400mm/2.8 lenses for about the same as what I paid for the 300 but then I figured I could not handle  a beast like that without a tripod or monopod.

I have been seriously thinking about the 400DO since I own the 70-300DO and am pleased with the performance. Trouble is they are just too expensive new, and rare to find used. Especiallly ones that were not used professionaly.

Also tried a 300/2.8 sigma (new) in a store and would have gone with that since it was only slightly more than the used Canon 300/2.8. I've read so much about the focus speed and sharpness of Canons 300/2.8 that I got influenced to stick with Canon. In fact out of all the 12 lenses and two converters I own only one is not Canon.

I think your best bet is to try them out in a shop before the shops dissapear into Ebay and Amazon online outlets altogether. The size and weight coupled with the specific TC affects how well you can aim and focus. I much prefer taking my 70-200 w TC since I really don't need a mono/tripod after even several hours. The 300/2.8 lenses wear down your arms and sline quickly.

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confyushis
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you might only need $400 ...
In reply to plautoq, Jun 29, 2013

plautoq wrote:

What are your thoughts on getting to the 500mm range ?

the sigma 50-500 gets to ~500mm for about $1600 ... see some sample pictures on flickr ...

the sx50 gets to ~1200mm equiv. for about $400 ... see some sample pictures on flickr ...
the fz200 gets to ~600mm equiv. with constant f/2.8 for subject isolation and/or low light for about $600 ... see some sample pictures on flickr ...
hope this helps ...

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bhollis
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Re: Getting to the 500mm range without spending $10K+
In reply to plautoq, Jun 29, 2013

plautoq wrote:

What are your thoughts on getting to the 500mm range ? Canon IS 100-400, Sigma OS 150-500mm, Canon IS 300mm with 1.4 extender (close enough), Canon non-IS 400 with 1.4 extender or other alternatives ? What is your experience so far if you own any (or all) of those lenses ? I saw a lot of comments, but it seems like there is no clear winner. Of course, north of 10K is a no brainer with all available options. Maybe you can share your experiences with cropping as well to reach the same equivalent magnification.

FWIW, when the firmware upgrade came out allowing AF at f/8 with the 5D3, I decided to try my EF 1.4x TC II on my 100-400L--giving me 560mm.  What I got was a combination of significantly slower and less accurate AF, and degraded IQ, to the extent that I decided I was  better off just shooting at 400mm w/o the TC and cropping--at least with moving subjects.  Fact is, I didn't get one really sharp shot of a moving subject with the 1.4x TC fitted.

The lighting was somewhat overcast, though.  Might try again in better light.  But I'm not particularly optimistic.

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dprsok
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Re: Getting to the 500mm range without spending $10K+
In reply to plautoq, Jun 29, 2013

Canon 300mm F/2.8L II +  2x III

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bhollis
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Re: Getting to the 500mm range without spending $10K+
In reply to dprsok, Jun 29, 2013

dprsok wrote:

Canon 300mm F/2.8L II + 2x III

+1

Based on everything I've read, this does seem to be the best sub $10K option.  Unfortunately, it's still quite expensive at over $7,500.

Another less expensive option that some folks have reported good results with is the Sigma 120-300 f/2.8 and a 2x TC.

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qianp2k
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Re: Getting to the 500mm range without spending $10K+
In reply to plautoq, Jun 29, 2013

I personally picked up a used copy 500L/4.0 IS (mark I) and could not be happier on the price I paid soon after 500L II announced but before the price jump of used 500L in eBay.  Due to seller's error (which is a reputed camera shop), I got all electronic components ('IS', USM...) and focus assembly replaced that paid exclusively by the seller from Canon service center while there are no scratches on glass, so my copy becomes a quasi-new one.

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qianp2k
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Re: Getting to the 500mm range without spending $10K+
In reply to bhollis, Jun 29, 2013

bhollis wrote:

dprsok wrote:

Canon 300mm F/2.8L II + 2x III

+1

Based on everything I've read, this does seem to be the best sub $10K option. Unfortunately, it's still quite expensive at over $7,500.

Another less expensive option that some folks have reported good results with is the Sigma 120-300 f/2.8 and a 2x TC.

Certainly another good choice if 500 or 600mm is the max length if you ever needed.  But 300mm lens is not a substitute for 500L, 600L and 800L as latter especially with 1.4x TC III are much longer while still AF fast with great sharpness.  Any lenses with 2.0x TC has a bit hit in AF speed and somewhat IQ loss in contrast.  300L II is the best lens works with 2.0x TC III nevertheless.

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Lemming51
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you might only need $100 (and a T-mount adapter) ...
In reply to confyushis, Jun 29, 2013

500mm f/8 from $95, or 500mm f/6.3 from $125, or 800mm f/8 from $180:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?atclk=Special+Designs_Mirror+Lenses&ci=274&N=4288584247+4109120018

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Lemming51
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Re: subject isolation
In reply to confyushis, Jun 29, 2013

confyushis wrote: ...
the fz200 gets to ~600mm equiv. with constant f/2.8 for subject isolation and/or low light for about $600 ... see some sample pictures on flickr ...

Low light, yes.  f/2.8 will allow lower ISO and/or higher shutter speeds.

Subject isolation, no. fz200 lens is just 4.5-108mm f/2.8.  Tiny sensor makes it 600mm equivalent, but the equivalency factor also applies to depth of field. 108mm f/2.8 on the FZ200 is equivalent to 600mm f/15 (at the same subject distance) on full frame DSLR.

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dhogaza
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Re: Getting to the 500mm range without spending $10K+
In reply to bhollis, Jun 30, 2013

bhollis wrote:

dprsok wrote:

Canon 300mm F/2.8L II + 2x III

+1

Based on everything I've read, this does seem to be the best sub $10K option. Unfortunately, it's still quite expensive at over $7,500.

If the OP really wants 500, and even better, use of a 1.4x extender that maintains AF on all Canon bodies, a used 500/4 IS MK I can be even cheaper.  KEH has an EX+ one available for $6400, offers a two-week return, and six month warranty (I am in the midst of testing their return policy, or perhaps warranty, because if they can fix the particular telephoto I bought from them which crapped out after 10 days, I'd love ot have it - I'll write up my experience when we're done.  Due to be delivered to their return department on Monday).  This gets you up to 700/5.6 - 500 and beyond for well under $10K.

You can get it cheaper from private parties.

Another possibility is the old non-IS EF 500/4.5 L.  It's a very good lens.  Not as good as the current MK IIs, of course (nothing is, duh!), but a relative bargain (KEH has one for $3300).  Bonus is that this lens weighs about 6 lbs, very light for a 500.  Downside is you lose AF with a Canon 1.4x (why did they make it an f4.5 lens?  Because it's an old FD design, pre-EOS AF, so the AF/5.6 limitation wasn't a consideration, remounted for the EOS line - the original EF 300/2.8 was also a remounted FD 300/2.8) but you can get bodies to AF  with it with aftermarket 1.4xs.  Despite its age, it is part of the first generation telephotos from Canon to incorporate a calcium fluorite element, it's painted a comforting "L" supertelephoto white, and has the kind of build quality you expect from a Canon big white.

While the lack of IS is a downside (but check the price), its light weight makes it easily manageable on a monopod.  I ran into one out in the field at Malheur NWR a month ago, and the owner is very satified with it.  Bob Atkins of photo.net has owned and used one for years and is also very happy with it.

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garyknrd
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Re: Getting to the 500mm range without spending $10K+
In reply to dhogaza, Jun 30, 2013

I am amazed at the people who do not recommend Sigma 500mm F4.5 lens. I own it in Pentax mount and the lens is deadly sharp and very easy to handle. In Canon mount you get HSM, focus limiter. It will be tripod mount but still light and easy to handle. Used wow. A steal for sure. I owne the Canon 300 and will pick the Sigma over it and T.C.'s any day. I even find myself using it instead of the Canon 500. It is that good and that easy to handle.

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BigBen08
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Here's how to do it for about $3200...
In reply to plautoq, Jun 30, 2013

Use Olympus 4/3 gear. A 200mm lens on a 4/3 body provides the same fov as a 400mm lens on a FF body. Here's what to get...

Olympus E-5 $1549

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/734744-REG/Olympus_262865_E_5_DSLR_Camera_Body.html

Olympus 50-200 swd lens $1199 (and 4% store credit)

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/527566-REG/Olympus_261015_50_200mm_f_2_8_3_5_ED_SWD.html

Olympus 1.4x teleconverter $429

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/301934-REG/Olympus_261005_EC_14_1_4x_Teleconverter_Lens.html

Total $3187. I used this same lens combo with the older Olympus E-620 body to get these shots.

But the E-5 has much better AF speed and accuracy.

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Howard S
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Re: Here's how to do it for about $3200...
In reply to BigBen08, Jun 30, 2013

Much cheaper to put an EF400 f5.6 on a Canon 1.6 crop body and crop to 12mp

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BigBen08
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Re: Getting to the 500mm range without spending $10K+
In reply to garyknrd, Jun 30, 2013

garyknrd wrote:

I am amazed at the people who do not recommend Sigma 500mm F4.5 lens. I own it in Pentax mount and the lens is deadly sharp and very easy to handle. In Canon mount you get HSM, focus limiter. It will be tripod mount but still light and easy to handle. Used wow. A steal for sure. I owne the Canon 300 and will pick the Sigma over it and T.C.'s any day. I even find myself using it instead of the Canon 500. It is that good and that easy to handle.

Wow, that's some endorsement. I like the part about being deadly sharp. On Pentax you get IS, I believe. I might have to check into this lens. I'll have to search the net for some sample shots.

Thanks!

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qianp2k
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Re: Getting to the 500mm range without spending $10K+
In reply to garyknrd, Jun 30, 2013

garyknrd wrote:

I am amazed at the people who do not recommend Sigma 500mm F4.5 lens. I own it in Pentax mount and the lens is deadly sharp and very easy to handle. In Canon mount you get HSM, focus limiter. It will be tripod mount but still light and easy to handle. Used wow. A steal for sure. I owne the Canon 300 and will pick the Sigma over it and T.C.'s any day. I even find myself using it instead of the Canon 500. It is that good and that easy to handle.

How it compares to 500L/4.0 IS mark I as a used copy will not be much more expensive?  One potential issue from what I heard is that the new 5DIII firmware (I guess the same as 1DX) doesn't support AF this Sigma 500/4.5 with Canon or even Sigma own 1.4x TC.  Kenko 1.4x TC may work but not sure how it affects AF speed.

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dhogaza
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Re: Getting to the 500mm range without spending $10K+
In reply to garyknrd, Jun 30, 2013

garyknrd wrote:

I am amazed at the people who do not recommend Sigma 500mm F4.5 lens.

I don't have experience with it, for one reason.  And my previous experiences with Sigma don't give me that "L" supertelephoto warm vibes ... but it's been years.  That's what happens when a company has a history of putting out crap, if they've improved, it will take a lot of convincing to convince me.

Sigma seems to be making a real effort with their new designs, but their 500/4.5 isn't one of them.  And this particular lens does seem to have decent reviews.

On the other hand, Sigma has a history of having very bad service (read lensrentals.com).  But according to that source, Sigma's trying hard to improve.

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joger
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Re: Getting to the 500mm range without spending $10K+
In reply to garyknrd, Jun 30, 2013

garyknrd wrote:

I am amazed at the people who do not recommend Sigma 500mm F4.5 lens. I own it in Pentax mount and the lens is deadly sharp and very easy to handle. In Canon mount you get HSM, focus limiter. It will be tripod mount but still light and easy to handle. Used wow. A steal for sure. I owne the Canon 300 and will pick the Sigma over it and T.C.'s any day. I even find myself using it instead of the Canon 500. It is that good and that easy to handle.

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Baecause this Combo on Canon has no IS - and that's the killing fact

if you have laboratory conditions the IS is not very Importanz but in Real world it is IMHO a Must have for most sujets if you want to keep the ISO moderatly low

of  course you can use a higher ISO number but then you waiste a lot of possible Image qualty also on the latest and gratest cameras

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oldfartwitha5d
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Sigma 500mm f4.5
In reply to garyknrd, Jun 30, 2013

+1, with a couple of reservations. I owned the Sigma 500/4.5 for a year, before upgrading to the Canon 600 mkII. Great optics, for sure, but lack of IS became the deciding factor for me, in the end. Very annoying that such a small-ish and light-ish lens still was so hard to use hand-held, mostly due to lack of IS.

Also, if you plan on using 1.4x TCs with it, note that it will only work with a couple of 3rd party teleconverters. I found a Tamron 1.4x that worked OK, in the end. Canon TCs, or even Sigma's own TC will not give you AF, even on a 1D-series body, which otherwise focuses fine up to f8.

Here is a gallery of test-shots I made with the Sigma 500/4.5, with an without the Tamron 1.4x TC.

http://eyvindness.zenfolio.com/sigma500/h40844130#h40844130

garyknrd wrote:

I am amazed at the people who do not recommend Sigma 500mm F4.5 lens. I own it in Pentax mount and the lens is deadly sharp and very easy to handle. In Canon mount you get HSM, focus limiter. It will be tripod mount but still light and easy to handle. Used wow. A steal for sure. I owne the Canon 300 and will pick the Sigma over it and T.C.'s any day. I even find myself using it instead of the Canon 500. It is that good and that easy to handle.

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R2D2
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Re: Here's how to do it for about $3200...
In reply to Howard S, Jun 30, 2013

Howard S wrote:

Much cheaper to put an EF400 f5.6 on a Canon 1.6 crop body and crop to 12mp

+1

I can shoot handheld down to 1/125 sec in low light with the 400 f5.6 with confidence (shoot bursts and cherry pick the best).

The 300 f2.8L IS (even Mk I) will give you more capability though (but you have to be able to handle the extra weight of course).

R2

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