Question about Canon DSLR bodies w/150-500mm or 150-600mm

Started Jan 23, 2014 | Discussions
Setter Dog Veteran Member • Posts: 5,564
Question about Canon DSLR bodies w/150-500mm or 150-600mm

Hi Folks,...I'm about to drive myself crazy trying to decide on some long lens options. I have both a Sony a77 and a Canon SL1. I really, really like both cameras and use both regularly. When it comes to long lens options, I get really confused. I'll be using this lens mostly in the National Parks on large animals, and occasionally around the house on birds. At least some of the opportunities will be in the early morning or evenings. I've done some testing in my backyard, on cooperative rabbits, and have concluded that, for my purposes, both cameras are fine at ISO3200 and my personal minimum shutter speed of 1/100th.

Today, I was out early and discovered that the a77 would not allow the shutter button to be depressed in S mode at 1/100th and ISO6400 due to not enough light. I had to back off the shutter speed to 1/25th to get the shot. My SL1 got the shot at ISO6400 but the shot at ISO12800 was actually better and okay for my purposes. Both cameras had Sigma 18-250mm mounted and the shots were at 250mm f6.3.

My conclusion is that the SL1 is probably a better camera in the extreme low light situations. Of course, either the Sigma 150-500, Tamron 200-500, or Tamron 150-600, are all long and heavy lenses. My guess is that I would be happier with these lenses  on a larger Canon body.

Finally, my question. Which Canon DSLR bodies have equal or better low light capability than the SL1? Any user experience would really be appreciated. Thanks!

Jack

Canon EOS Rebel SL1 (EOS 100D) Sony SLT-A77
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Mike Contributing Member • Posts: 783
Re: Question about Canon DSLR bodies w/150-500mm or 150-600mm

I've got the SL1 with a Tamron 18-250 lens that stays on it.  Not a problem at all..!?  I just found it's easier and maybe better at the camrea/lens interface if I hold the pair by the lens rather thAn by the camera.  Even during shooting, the main balance comes from holding the lens.  Easy to get used to.

The lenses you are talking about are a bit larger, though not as heavy as the 28-300 that I have.  I would imagin that if you hold it like I mention above, you wouldn't have any problems.

I have been thinking about trying my 28-300L lens on the SL1...but I probably wont.  Would look funny though..!

Mike

Jeff Peterman
MOD Jeff Peterman Forum Pro • Posts: 12,772
Re: Question about Canon DSLR bodies w/150-500mm or 150-600mm

First, if you're happy with the SL1 don't worry about the lens-body difference - with bigger lenses, you support most of the weight by the lens anyway (I do that with my 7D when the 70-200 f2.8L IS is attached). But, if you want a larger body, the 60D and 7D have the same sensor as the SL1 and have essentially the same low light performance. The 70D has a newer sensor with both slightly better low light performance AND a host of interesting features that you might appreciate coming from the SL1. For serious sports shooting/birding the 7D is the best option. For video/Liveview shooting the 70D is the best option.

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Flying Fish Veteran Member • Posts: 4,476
Re: Question about Canon DSLR bodies w/150-500mm or 150-600mm

A couple of things.  First, none of the crop-sensor bodies from Canon (SL1, T5i, 60 and 70D, 7D) will autofocus well (or at all) if the lens's maximum aperture is less than f/5.6.  F/6.3 is less, so you might have some AF problems when you're zoomed out to where the aperture goes to f/6.3.  That would be true of the big Sigmas as well, although they might AF to some degree anyway. Second, you ask which Canon DSLR bodies have better noise control/high ISO performance than the SL1.  All the current full-frame bodies do; those are the 5D Mark III, the 1DX, and the 6D.  The 6D has been selling recently for less than $1500 although perhaps not anymore; the others are considerably or vastly more expensive than the SL1.  But they all are much better.  I actually think the 7D is the worst of the 18 MP crop sensors in terms of noise, but I can't really say I have done any tests, and anyway, it's not much worse if it is at all.  The 70D seems to be the best of the current crop cameras for noise.  I agree with Jeff when he says don't worry about the lens/camera balance.  While you're shooting, you're supporting the lens by holding it, not the camera, anyway.

FF

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Jeff Peterman
MOD Jeff Peterman Forum Pro • Posts: 12,772
Re: Question about Canon DSLR bodies w/150-500mm or 150-600mm

I actually think the 7D is the worst of the 18 MP crop sensors in terms of noise

All except the 70D have essentially the same sensor. The 7D is certainly not the worst and may be the best (except for the 70D) with low light image quality - based on the RAW files. When you use out-of-camera JPGs, a lot depends on how you've configured options like sharpness, etc.

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AndyMulhearn Contributing Member • Posts: 594
Re: Question about Canon DSLR bodies w/150-500mm or 150-600mm

Flying Fish wrote:

A couple of things. First, none of the crop-sensor bodies from Canon (SL1, T5i, 60 and 70D, 7D) will autofocus well (or at all) if the lens's maximum aperture is less than f/5.6. F/6.3 is less, so you might have some AF problems when you're zoomed out to where the aperture goes to f/6.3.

As I understand it,  lenses like the Sigma 150-500 lie to the camera and tell it that the aperture doesn't go below f5.6, even at full zoom, so AF still works even though the max aperture is less than f5.6.

Reading between the lines this suggests that it's a limitation in the camera, not the amount of light that means AF doesn't work. i.e. the 7D can still focus at less than 5.6 it's just that Canon don't allow it to. Probably because they don't want people complaining on forums when they stick a TC on an f5.6 lens and AF is slow or inconsistent.

This doesn't apply to gear like some of the newer 1 series and the 5D mk III I think which will focus down to f8...

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Jeff Peterman
MOD Jeff Peterman Forum Pro • Posts: 12,772
Re: Question about Canon DSLR bodies w/150-500mm or 150-600mm

It is both - a limitation of the camera and of the amount of light. When the lens can only open to something smaller (in size, not number) than f5.6, the amount of light starts becoming too little for the camera to use for focusing. This means that autofocus becomes very slow, and can become unreliable. Canon have decided that because the focus is slow/unreliable they want to force you to manual focus. Sigma have chosen otherwise - which may or may not work, depending on the subject contrast and other factors.

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OP Setter Dog Veteran Member • Posts: 5,564
Re: Question about Canon DSLR bodies w/150-500mm or 150-600mm

Jeff,

Not sure I understand? Are we saying that the 7d with Sigma 150-500 will not focus at max zoom, since that's 6.3. Surely, I have misunderstood.

I've zeroed in on likely getting a 7d and either the Sigma or Tamron. Surprised how many used 7Ds there are for sale. I'm wondering if I'm missing something?

Jack

Jeff Peterman
MOD Jeff Peterman Forum Pro • Posts: 12,772
Re: Question about Canon DSLR bodies w/150-500mm or 150-600mm

First, there are lots of 7Ds for sale because many people bought them who would be happier with something like a 70D, and because some people are selling them now in the hope that they can get a better price than they will when a 7D MKII is released (which may or may not happen some time soon).

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Flying Fish Veteran Member • Posts: 4,476
And second

I think what Jeff said is that the AF on a Canon 7D with a Sigma lens at f/6.3 is slower and less reliable than with a lens whose maximum aperture is f/5.6 or larger. That's my understanding as well; not that it flat refuses to focus, but that it's iffy.

This does NOT apply to Live View, which does AF with smaller-aperture lenses. But AF using Live View with the 7D is pretty slow anyway, although it's very accurate.

I agree with Jeff about why so many 7Ds are for sale used.  I still think it's an amazing camera and I still love mine.

FF

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AndyMulhearn Contributing Member • Posts: 594
Re: Question about Canon DSLR bodies w/150-500mm or 150-600mm

Jeff Peterman wrote:

It is both - a limitation of the camera and of the amount of light. When the lens can only open to something smaller (in size, not number) than f5.6, the amount of light starts becoming too little for the camera to use for focusing. This means that autofocus becomes very slow, and can become unreliable. Canon have decided that because the focus is slow/unreliable they want to force you to manual focus. Sigma have chosen otherwise - which may or may not work, depending on the subject contrast and other factors.

I have a suspicion we're saying the same thing...

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Jeff Peterman
MOD Jeff Peterman Forum Pro • Posts: 12,772
Re: Question about Canon DSLR bodies w/150-500mm or 150-600mm

Maybe we're saying the same thing.

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AndyMulhearn Contributing Member • Posts: 594
Re: Question about Canon DSLR bodies w/150-500mm or 150-600mm

Jeff Peterman wrote:

Maybe we're saying the same thing.

Perhaps

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WilbaW
WilbaW Forum Pro • Posts: 11,562
Re: Question about Canon DSLR bodies w/150-500mm or 150-600mm

Jeff Peterman wrote:

It is both - a limitation of the camera and of the amount of light. When the lens can only open to something smaller (in size, not number) than f5.6, the amount of light starts becoming too little for the camera to use for focusing. This means that autofocus becomes very slow, and can become unreliable.

It's not because the illumination is 1/3 of a step dimmer, it's because the view the AF sensor has of the scene starts to get blocked. An AF sensor is like two telescopes looking through a window. No worries if the window is wide enough but a problem if it is narrower than the "width" between the telescopes.

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Jeff Peterman
MOD Jeff Peterman Forum Pro • Posts: 12,772
Re: Question about Canon DSLR bodies w/150-500mm or 150-600mm

Ah yes, I'd forgotten that detail. Thanks for the reminder. So for the bodies where this works, the two sensor must sit further back so they can be the same width apart and still "see" out of a smaller opening.

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hamsteve Junior Member • Posts: 34
Re: Question about Canon DSLR bodies w/150-500mm or 150-600mm
1

I have the Tamron 200-500 lens.  This lens is f6.3 at 500mm.  I get good autofocus results at 500mm, in good and not-so-good light.  This is on my 50d and Rebel XT (350d).

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Steve
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altair8800 Senior Member • Posts: 1,866
Here is a report on 150-600mm from FM forum

Focuses fast on 60D. Maybe that will answer some false info I have seen here. Mine arrived today and seems good, but just very short tests. I have the Sigma 50-500 which is 6.3 at 500mm and AF is good enough for BIF. My main lens with 7D has been the 300mm 2.8 with 2x TC. Thought I would try a lighter zoom.

http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1264113/8#12076422

WilbaW
WilbaW Forum Pro • Posts: 11,562
Re: Question about Canon DSLR bodies w/150-500mm or 150-600mm

Jeff Peterman wrote:

So for the bodies where this works, the two sensor must sit further back so they can be the same width apart and still "see" out of a smaller opening.

AFAIK, all the AF arrays are in one plane, e.g. 5D III AF sensor -

You'd expect the two arrays that comprise a single f/2.8 AF point would be the ones farthest apart on the chip (like the cross-types in the centre), and the f/8 ones the closest together, but since the light comes to them through various mirrors, prisms, relay lenses... there is probably a fair bit of freedom in how far apart any two arrays can be positioned.

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Jeff Peterman
MOD Jeff Peterman Forum Pro • Posts: 12,772
Re: Question about Canon DSLR bodies w/150-500mm or 150-600mm

In a full frame body the rear of the lens is further from the sensor plane and therefore can be further from the focus array too - if it is further away from the aperture opening then it can "see" through a smaller opening.

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altair8800 Senior Member • Posts: 1,866
Re: Question about Canon DSLR bodies w/150-500mm or 150-600mm

Jeff Peterman wrote:

In a full frame body the rear of the lens is further from the sensor plane and therefore can be further from the focus array too - if it is further away from the aperture opening then it can "see" through a smaller opening.

Lenses 300mm or longer are EF mount and the rear of the lens will be the same distance from the sensor plane for both sensor sizes. Only the EF-s can be shorter distance. I have seen reports that the outer focus points on 7D work well at f8 while the center point does not.

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