(100 - 400) or (70-200 2.8 + 300 4L+ 1.4x III/ 2x III) for wildlife photography

Started May 9, 2013 | Discussions thread
Steve Balcombe Forum Pro • Posts: 12,667
Re: (100 - 400) or (70-200 2.8 + 300 4L+ 1.4x III/ 2x III) for wildlife photography

Shilpaksphotography wrote:

... im an avid (albeit amateur) wildlife photographer. what would be a better addition to my lens collection in the long run (i intend to upgrade to a full frame at some point much later) especially considering most of the wildlife/safari photography is done in low light conditions (at dawn/ dusk)
70-200 + 300 f/4 + 1.4x/ 2x 
100-400mm +1.4x/2x

The first thing to say is forget about full frame. You can't make a sensible buying decision for your current camera based on something you may or may not possibly do at some unknown point far in the future. In any case, to get any benefit from a 1.6x bigger sensor you have to use a 1.6x bigger lens - so for example you'll have to replace your 300/4 with a 500/4. Full frame for wildlife is a huge investment and a bit of a challenge to carry around too.

Extenders are something of a double-edged sword. People see them as a very cheap way to get more reach but that's only telling half the story. You haven't actually made your lens any bigger - you are trading focal length for f-number, losing one stop with the 1.4x and two stops with a 2x. With all but the very best lenses (and I mean the big whites, not the 300/4 or 100-400) there is a noticeable loss of image quality, practically forcing you to stop down even further to maintain sharpness. This is just about ok with the 1.4x on the 300/4, as you get a 420/5.6 which has decent IQ when stopped down to f/8 - fine in good light. But the 1.4x on the 100-400L is marginal, and the 2x is much worse.

i understand the budgets for these two would be a little different but that's not a constraint unless it makes more sense to buy the 100 - 400 for now and save the rest for a 400 2.8 or 500 4 prime.

That's the right way to think about it. I actually had the 300/4 plus 1.4x for a long time, before investing in a 300/2.8L MkII with both Extenders earlier this year. Slightly different lens choices for my particular needs, but the same principle.

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