M6 at 400mm + Extenders - (PICS)

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Marco Nero
Marco Nero Veteran Member • Posts: 5,315
M6 at 400mm + Extenders - (PICS)
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The EOSM + EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM II  - with no Extender attached. .
EOSM6 with the 100-400mmL II lens + Extenders...
After my near-disastrous first test with this lens/camera combo last year (details below), I needed to prove to myself that the system would and should work mighty well with a better choice of filter.  And after several sidetracked adventures, I finally crammed a fair bit of experimental photography into just a few hours in the late afternoon yesterday.  I thought some of the members here might find the information useful.  We had a thread recently asking about the use of a similar lens on the M-series and more than a few members of this forum have lenses of strong magnification.  I've previously reviewed this lens but with a view to my use of it with a Full Frame DSLR camera.  It's not as expensive as the WIDER and faster versions and of course the DOF will not be quite as shallow as those more expensive models lenses.  But it's physically smaller.  In some instances it's lighter. The 600mmL lens weighs right on 4kg with a cost of US$12K.  This one weighs in at a fraction of the weight and a fraction of the cost.  As a result you'll see more people using it.  But the major selling feature of this lens for me was the cutting edge technology that was applied to it. But you can look that up in your own time...
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Battery + Weight
I used one battery yesterday and took 2,934 photographs over 3.5 hours.  On a single freshly charged battery.  With NO drop in the Power icon on the LCD.  I had presumed that the large lens I was using would draw much more power to run the Image Stabilizer and the micro-computer inside it. I can't believe how efficient this setup was although the WEIGHT of the lens on the M6 is considerable.  Walking around with 2.3 kg of camera and lens on my hand wasn't particularly fun.  That's too much weight if you don't appreciate the enjoyment of telephoto lenses.  I generally use this lens for wildlife and astrophotography so it's usually on a tripod ...or at least a monopod.  As I've said before, if you're carrying the lens for a full day you're going to hurt the following day... or (probably) sooner.
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Previous problems with the M6 + 100-400mmL II lens...
I wanted to try and re-test this lens on the EOS-M6.  My FIRST tests with that camera+lens combo was very disappointing due to an optical aberration (specifically Streaky Bokeh) that occurred in all my shots and neither Canon nor other members of the Lens forum were able to explain why this happened.  One possible cause of the problem appeared to be the accidental use of a low-price clear UV filter that I had accidentally left on the lens to be used as a salt-shield near the ocean.  I had intended to use the filter solely as a "salt-shield" and then throw it away.  But weather and vehicle problems at the time prevented me from shooting on the water with the M6 + 100-400mmL II lens at the time.  So I changed my plans and shot in a park but left the crappy UV filter in place by mistake.  The use of lower-priced filters on this lens were said to have been a likely cause - possibly causing an issue with the IS system of the lens and the new processor in the M6.  This time I had both a Hoya Pro 1D MC UV[0] filter as well as a Hoya Pro1 Digital Circular Polarized filter.  I even had them mounted for more than 2,920 photographs without a single recurrence of the strange streaky bokeh from before.  Shooting close to the ground for some shots, I did spot distortion to some of the bokeh from the heat rising from concrete surfaces. It was very reassuring to be rid of the problem that plagued me during my first tests.
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Focal Length...
I used maximum Focal length on the lens 99% of the time.  When a 1.4x extender is on the lens and the lens is extended to 400mm, the resulting APS-C crop factor (1.61x) results in 901.6mm in Focal Length ... but the EXIF information will only show the lens+extender at 560mm.  The APS-C crop factor doesn't end up being added if you hover a cursor over a thumbnail.  Almost all of my experimental shots yesterday were taken with the lens extended all the way to 400mm.  The sliding door on the lens hood made it easy for me to access and adjust the Circular Polarizing Filter as needed.
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EOSM6 + 100-400mmL II + 1.4x III Extender + CPL Filter.  I forgot my ISO was still set to 1000 ... hence the ridiculously high shutter speed of 1/3200 sec.  Tilt screen used to shoot upwards from the ground so as not to irritate the sunbathers located below the bird.

EOSM6 + 100-400mmL II + CPL filter - I wanted to see how the lens would handle shots at 400mm without an Extender.  Surprisingly, on the M6 the speeds were almost the same with or without the use of an extender.
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Shooting at objects over 1km away...
Shooting at massive distances, I was not expecting to see anything beyond smeary, peppery details for objects at any serious distance.  For my first test I thought I'd shoot towards the boring details of the nearby ocean-side town of Terrigal.  The area that I selected for testing was across a considerable amount of summer heat shimmer where the reflective roof tiles and buildings would presumably generate terrible contrast and blown-out highlights with CA and PF.  To my surprise there was a considerable amount of detail and no observable optical aberrations.
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iPHONE 6s - my elevated view from where I took the following picture... The red rectangle shows the target area where i then trained the telephoto lens.  Temperature was about 34C

EOSM6 + 100-400mmL II + 1.4x III extender + CPL + UV [O] Filter  - I shot this through the haze of a heatwave.  I'm still surprised I could make out some of these details at 901.6mm (equiv)..
High Heat and High Wind...
Walking around with the lens in summer heat was one thing, but there was also high wind coming in from the ocean.  There were times when my lens hood was catching the wind as I was trying to shoot pictures of Seagulls eating a dead shark.  The wind kept pulling the camera and lens to the side. I had to use two hands (one on top of the lens) to keep it trained where I wanted it. The heat shimmer was a real problem when shooting objects in the distance.  Even the moon was problematic for me after the sun had set.  Shooting over water was slightly better.  I think this is why all my winter pictures are always so much sharper to me.  Still, the results from the lens yesterday were quite admirable.  A wide lens will always have a sharper looking result than anything with a long zoom on it.  And the results from a super-zoom compact camera are always plagued with CA and PF issues.
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Vignetting?
Another thing to note was the lack of any vignetting - which was surprising at first, but then I remembered that I was using the lens extended all the way to 400mm... and the added crop from the M6's APS-C sensor would have cut away any corner vignetting.  So then I shot a number of images at 100mm but saw no darkening in the corners. There seemed to be no obvious distortion at either end of the focal range.
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Moving to another beach...
By late afternoon I'd driven to a different beach, hoping to spot some surfers on their boards.  When I arrived at Avoca beach, the carpark and nearby streets were full. I spotted a couple of board riders and wondered if I should have tried for a different beach...  The tide was out, the sun was low, the surf was poor and it was almost 6pm on a Sunday evening.  I chose to remove the EF 1.4x III Extender and used the M6 + 100-400mmL II lens by itself.  I thought that the lens might operate differently in some way on the EOSM6 without Extenders but it was just as fast and just as accurate.  The colors were a bit richer in the evening because the sun was low to the horizon.  With the camera turned on for such lengthy periods of time (with the LCD live) I was impressed that the battery hadn't dropped any power on the Battery Icon.  I'm still surprised by this.  Some examples without any extenders below...
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iPhone 6s - This was where I stood, resting the top of my monopod on the top of my shoe ... to take the images below. I chose to remove the extender for the following shots...

iPHONE 6s - EOSM6 + 100-400mmL II ... ready to go...
EOSM6 + 100-400mmL II lens + CPL + UV Filter.
@400mm - The clifftop here is 2.49 kilometers away (1.55 miles).  You can see a tiny lighthouse on the lower right, just beyond the base of the cliff.  That's Norah Head Lighthouse... the subject of much of my beach photography... which is 24.60 kilometers away (15.29 miles) from where I was standing.

EOSM6 + 100-400mmL II lens + CPL + UV filter. @ 400mm - This is a fisherman using meat in an old sock to catch large Sandworms and Bloodworms.

EOSM6 + 100-400mmL II lens + CPL filter. @ 400mm - Local surfer... just before 7pm..
Color and Contrast...
The color from this lens is always quite rich on a Full Frame camera, and I can't for the life of me understand why that is.  On the M6 is was a little "cooler" in terms of color and I suspect that may simply come down to the difference in the new M6 sensor.  I expected poor contrast with the use of Extenders due to the increased focal length... which would have also been exasperated on the 1.61x APS-C crop aspect.  But again, to my surprise, the colors were always rich and accurate.  Contrast on this lens is well controlled when used with FF DSLRs but it was surprisingly good on the M6.  I wanted to conduct the testing from this day to help me decide if the combination would be good at a zoo or wildlife sanctuary where distance to subject might be a critical factor.  I think I'd easily be convinced to use this combination again the next time I visit such a location.
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Focus Speed...
The lens was QUICK to acquire focus.  With or without the 1.4x III extender, the camera was fast to lock focus.  Twice out of almost 3,000 shots did I experience a mis-focus where the lens missed the target and continued to hunt.  I used the Focus Limiter switch on the side of the lens to cut down on the focus range when shooting distant objects.  Shooting up close wasn't an issue either.  This is a large lens and yet the focus was easy to maintain.  Continuous AF was used for a few hundred shots and it worked remarkably well.  I seemed to get better exposures without it though so I turned it off since my subjects changed from shot to shot.
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EOSM6 + 100-400mmL II + 1.4x III Extender + CPL + UV Filters - Another Seagull demonstrating the shallow DOF with smooth bokeh (and no darned streaking!) .
I'd seen and photographed the Crescent Moon handheld as the sun was setting... but I also thought it might be a good idea to exit the freeway on the way home and take a few Tripod assisted shots of the moon on my way home.  The rest-stop that I found was handy but the mosquitoes were upon me within moments of the sun setting.  I mounted the EF 2x III Extender to the lens and took several handheld pictures of the setup with my iPhone to show how easy and simple it was.  This is better than a lot of telescopes and easier to set up if it's just the moon you're wanting to photograph.  With the Crop Aspect from the APS-C sensor and the 2x Extender on the lens at 400mm, I ended up with a useful 1,288mm (equiv) on the end of the M6.  The moon was a bit too close to the sun as it set so the sky produced warmer colors than I would have liked.  I ended up turning the WB to Daylight for most of the shots to cut down on the yellow tones.  Within 10 minutes I had a small crowd of a dozen folks from an Islamic family - who had quietly set up their prayer mats in the darkness behind me - so I figured I'd give them some privacy and moved on.  More than a few cars passing by on the freeway thought I had a speed-camera and slowed down when they saw me.  I only took a few moon shots but the results were all quite reasonable.  You can see how much of the lunar surface was visible when the Magnify feature was on.  The blue outlines on some of the craters was from the Focus Peaking feature on the M6.
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iPHONE 6s - Setting up the M6 + 100-400mmL II lens along the road

iPHONE 6s - Targeting the moon with the Magnify Feature.  You can see the moon rippling here from the heat haze.  It's still summer here!

EOSM6 + 100-400mmL II + 2x III Extender + UV filter -  (tripod used) - 1288mm (equiv).
Additional thoughts & Pics... (continued on thread)....

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Regards,
Marco Nero.

 Marco Nero's gear list:Marco Nero's gear list
Canon PowerShot S95 Canon PowerShot G1 X Canon EOS 60D Canon EOS 5D Mark III Canon EOS M +15 more
Canon EF 100-400mm F4.5-5.6L IS II Canon EOS M6 Canon Extender EF 1.4x III Canon Extender EF 2x III
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