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

Started Jun 29, 2013 | Discussions
Erik Bailey
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Re: Getting to the 500mm range without spending $10K+
In reply to plautoq, Jun 30, 2013

Sigma 120-300 f/2.8 + 1.4x or 2x TCs... Well under your budget, and terrific flexibility and quality. With this combination, you get a 120-600mm range. --Erik

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

I have used Olympus DSLR gear for over 5 years.  Olympus had a great thing in its day.  But they have fallen way behind with their DSLR equipment.  About a year and a half ago, I bought two (2) 18mp Canon bodies and two (2) Canon lenses for well less than the price of one (1) 12mp Olympus E-5 body (even at today's price).  I'll be looking at the Canon 400mm F5.6 L lens which will give me 640mm EFL with a 18mp sensor.

I got beautiful airshow pictures with my 10mp Olympus E-510 and Zuiko 70-300mm lens that gave me a 600mm EFL reach.  But I'm impressed how much better equipment I have with what I purchased from Canon.  When I purchase the Canon 400mm F5.6 L lens, that will give me a total of three lenses.  My total cost (for everything) then will be at about $2400 (USD).  Add a 1.4x teleconverter for about $350 (or less used from Ebay) now we are at $2750.  Then the reach is at 896mm EFL with again 18 megapixels (which I doubt I'll need at an airshow; 640mm EFL is plenty good enough most of the time).  In cloudy weather (which we often have in our area) with my Canon equipment I also have the advantage to boost the ISO levels up much higher so that I can have the depth of field and shutter speed that I want at long focal lengths.

Here's some of my most recent airshow photos that I captured with my Canon equipment.

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

i would not say that any of the options offered here may not give better results more consistently. but on the lower end of the money required (where i live) the 300mmf4l w/ 1.4 tc can do some decent work

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

That's a great looking picture of a robin with an older Canon camera.  I'm impressed.

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

If size and weight aren't any issue then you could consider a sigma 300-800mm second hand

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Gearóid Ó Laoi, Garry Lee
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Re: Sigma 500mm f4.5
In reply to oldfartwitha5d, 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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Presently living in Asia

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Pro photographers turn off IS and use monopods or tripods

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olmail
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Re: Getting to the 500mm range without spending $10K+
In reply to Digirame, Jul 1, 2013

thank you. you have some  nice aircraft shots too.  i have moved up to a 7D now. actually,as i look at the robin's capture date, it must have been shortly after i took that one.  the 450d is a capable camera. i enjoyed learning with it and it's 400d predecessor.

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JohnJ851
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Re: Getting to the 500mm range without spending $10K+
In reply to olmail, Jul 1, 2013

olmail wrote:

i would not say that any of the options offered here may not give better results more consistently. but on the lower end of the money required (where i live) the 300mmf4l w/ 1.4 tc can do some decent work

Agree, here's another one 20D + 300 f/4 +1.4 tc

JohnJ

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tjwaggoner
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Re: Getting to the 500mm range without spending $10K+
In reply to plautoq, Jul 1, 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.

Have you thought about the Panasonic fz200? 600mm equiv constant 2.8.

If you're not using it for super demanding work and use it within its limits at lower iso its a pretty nice camera. I picked up a nice used one for $399.  Take the leftover thousands of $$ and take some trips to nice places to use it

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olmail
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Re: Getting to the 500mm range without spending $10K+
In reply to JohnJ851, Jul 1, 2013

very cool shot. galah isn't it?  awesome color at any rate.

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bed bug
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Obvious answer!
In reply to plautoq, Jul 1, 2013

Buy a 10-22 and walk to the subject, thereby saving almost 10K!

Of course if the object is large and furry and has sharp teeth, perhaps you should reconsider this option.

Continual good advice from someone waiting delivery of a nice white 500 F4.

Kind regards
Stephen

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.

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RJPeter
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Re: Getting to the 500mm range without spending $10K+
In reply to wazu, Jul 1, 2013

wazu wrote:

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.

About 6 years ago I bit the bullet and bought a 400 DO f4. Most of the time I now use it with a 1.4x TC on a 7D for bird photos. Where possible I use it on a monopod, but it is very usable handheld. New this combo will be about $7,500. (I don't think I've seen this lens 2nd hand.) Looking back the results for me justify the price, as it has helped me produce a book which has been selling well.

Before dismissing this on price, think about what often happens when someone buys something cheaper such as the Sigma 150-500 mm. Many users grow out of this gear, then decide on something costing much more. Although spread over a longer term the total cost becomes very high, often with less consistent results.

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Steve Balcombe
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Re: Getting to the 500mm range without spending $10K+
In reply to plautoq, Jul 1, 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.

I think a few people have assumed that "without spending $10k+" means "$7.5k is ok"! But seriously, it's important to realise that 500 mm is a very long lens and if you can't (or don't want to) spend several thousand on it there will have to be significant compromises.

Dealing with the easy one first, the Sigma is basically an extremely large consumer zoom. It lacks sharpness and resolution at the long end, just like most 70-300 lenses. It's a very popular lens for birders on a tight budget, but I've spoken to too many who have been disappointed with the image quality. While I haven't done a proper back-to-back test, I honestly think my 70-300L can resolve as much detail shooting from the same distance, despite the Sigma's much higher magnification.

Although I have a bigger lens now, I had the 300/4L IS and a Kenko Pro 300 DG 1.4x for several years and was very happy with it. I was basically in the same position as you - needing a high quality long lens but with a limited budget - and I very quickly narrowed it down to the 300/4L IS or the 100-400L. To cut a long story short, there isn't enough difference to choose one way or the other on image quality, but I preferred the handling of the 300 so that was my choice.

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erbtype
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Re: Getting to the 500mm range without spending $10K+
In reply to Steve Balcombe, Jul 1, 2013

If you need 500mm then buy that focal length, surely your budget will stretch to at least a used 500mm F4L IS (MkI).

There are alternatives but it means a cheaper zoom (sigma) or a combo with TCs, and while they are good, they are no substitute for the 500 prime IMO as you're losing stops of light and AF speed.

cheers

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Steve Balcombe
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Re: Getting to the 500mm range without spending $10K+
In reply to erbtype, Jul 1, 2013

erbtype wrote:

If you need 500mm then buy that focal length, surely your budget will stretch to at least a used 500mm F4L IS (MkI).

There are alternatives but it means a cheaper zoom (sigma) or a combo with TCs, and while they are good, they are no substitute for the 500 prime IMO as you're losing stops of light and AF speed.

This is all true - it's easy if you have the money. (And don't mind carrying a 4kg lens!)

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oldfartwitha5d
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Re: Getting to the 500mm range without spending $10K+
In reply to Steve Balcombe, Jul 1, 2013

Steve Balcombe wrote:

erbtype wrote:

If you need 500mm then buy that focal length, surely your budget will stretch to at least a used 500mm F4L IS (MkI).

There are alternatives but it means a cheaper zoom (sigma) or a combo with TCs, and while they are good, they are no substitute for the 500 prime IMO as you're losing stops of light and AF speed.

This is all true - it's easy if you have the money. (And don't mind carrying a 4kg lens!)

The Sigma 500/4.5 is 3.09kg and very hand-holdable (if you ignore the fact it has no IS/OS).

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Howard S
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Re: Getting to the 500mm range without spending $10K+
In reply to plautoq, Jul 1, 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.

First I think the difference in focal length between 400mm and 500mm isn't why a lot/most buy a big white. Especially when you look at the vast price difference. I think that especially for birders it's the ability to have 700/5.6 or 840/5.6 which is the driver. I just checked and of the images I can easily access (some will be duplicates) 39% were at 500mm, 47% were at 700mm and 14% at 1000mm. The last % surprised me.

I sold my 500/4 mk1 and my longest lenses are now the 400/5.6 and 300/4 IS +1.4x. Of course with extenders I can go longer but unless I'm desperate and on a tripod or having fun I tend not to. I tried a second copy of the 100-400 but it wasn't quite sharp enough and focus not quite fast enough. I could have gone for a Sigma zoom but doubt they would better the 100-400.

So I guess what I'm saying is that unless you want to splash out on a Canon big white, I'd go with either the 400/5.6 and/or 300/4 IS + 1.4x. If BIF is your goal I'd say make it the 400/5.6.

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Harlz
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Re: Getting to the 500mm range without spending $10K+
In reply to qianp2k, Jul 3, 2013

+1 to the a used 500L/4.0 IS (mark I).

After using a 400L 5.6 for two years and often frustrated by its lack of IS I bit the bullet and bought a quality used 500L 4.0 IS on Fred Miranda last year for AUD5.5K. I absolutely love it!

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joger
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Re: Getting to the 500mm range without spending $10K+
In reply to Harlz, Jul 3, 2013

+2 for a used 500 f/4.0 MK I

If you really "need" 500 mm it is a very good compromise between price and performance to use a 500 (I)

(tested it and found it to be a tack sharp lens)

I see tons of people praising the results from their zooms and primes and while lots are acceptable, I see also a lack of details and micro contrast in those images (sorry for that).

(comparing web sized JPEGs is also not very helpful to judge the lens quality - even my iPhone images under good lighting conditions look surprisingly stunning at 1024 x 768 pixels after some tweaking and optimization in LightRoom!)

The big white primes from Canon outperform the rest of the offerings by a huge margin. the MK II versions even more (tested the 400 f/2.8 VR on the D800 and found it to be rather mediocre in direct comparison)

So if you are about quality you will probably sooner or later end up at one of them (depending on your goals)

Buying used can be a rather cheap option if you have a trustable source or a photo dealer that you can rely on. Stretch the budget a bit and go for the 500 or 600 f/4.0 I used - it will not disappoint!

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WilbaW
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Re: Getting to the 500mm range without spending $10K+
In reply to olmail, Jul 5, 2013

olmail wrote:

galah isn't it?

Major Mitchell's Cockatoo

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