Which 100-400 for outdoor sports?

Started 4 months ago | Discussions
gipper51 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,041
Which 100-400 for outdoor sports?

I'm considering adding a 100-400 lens for reach and to add some flexibility to my kit for shooting my son's outdoor sports: baseball and soccer.  This year I used my 70-200 f2.8L with the 1.4x extender and was happy with the results.  But, this left me with a 24-70/2.8 on my 5D4 which rarely got used as it was just too short.  The 70-200 (without extender) on the 5D4 would have been the ideal 2nd body/lens combo.

So now my thinking is put a 100-400 on the 7D2 and the 70-200 on the 5D4.  The 100-400II is the obvious choice, but is more than I'm willing to spend.  So I'm considering these:

  • Canon 100-400 version 1
  • Sigma 100-400
  • Tamron 100-400

AF performance is my top priority for sports, so my thinking is to go with the older Canon.  But...the Siggy and Tamron are newer designs, and I much prefer their extending zoom over the push/pull of the Canon.  So maybe the AF advantage isn't as great for the Canon as I'm assuming?  Image quality for all three seems close enough to call it a wash.

The Sigma doesn't have a tripod collar, and it's a $150 add-on for the Tamron.  I use a monopod a lot for outdoor sports, so more points for the 2nd hand Canon here.

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BirdShooter7 Veteran Member • Posts: 4,177
Re: Which 100-400 for outdoor sports?

If you have the budget for the Canon mk2 then that is the obvious choice.  Otherwise I would suggest the Sigma.

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Rexgig0
Rexgig0 Veteran Member • Posts: 6,783
Re: Which 100-400 for outdoor sports?

Just a thought: Have your tried an Extender 2x on your 70-200/2.8L? I have neither of these, so cannot say how this combination would compare to any of your three listed options.

If you are accustomed to the zoom and focus ring directions of Canon lenses, Sigma lenses  work like Canon lenses in this regard, while Tamron lenses’ zoom and focusing operate like Nikon lenses, the direct opposite of Canon lenses. When shooting active subjects, this can be important.

My wife and I share a Sigma 150-600mm Sport, which is optically wonderful, so I have a generally favorable opinion of Sigma lenses. (I/We have not used a Sigma 100-400mm lens.) She also uses, and likes, a Sigma 24-35mm Art lens.

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By accident of availability, I learned to use Canon and Nikon DSLRs at the same time. I love specific lenses made by both Canon and Nikon, too much to quit either system. Dabbling with Leica-M is fun, too. I am, certainly, not an expert.

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OP gipper51 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,041
Re: Which 100-400 for outdoor sports?

BirdShooter7 wrote:

If you have the budget for the Canon mk2 then that is the obvious choice. Otherwise I would suggest the Sigma.

The MkII is above my budget, unfortunately.  How is the AF on that Sigma?  The original Canon 100-400 gets pretty good remarks for AF speed, is the Sigma close?

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OP gipper51 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,041
Re: Which 100-400 for outdoor sports?

Rexgig0 wrote:

Just a thought: Have your tried an Extender 2x on your 70-200/2.8L? I have neither of these, so cannot say how this combination would compare to any of your three listed options.

I haven't tried a 2x on the 70-200. Not really looking to go down that route though, as I'd like a 2nd lens to have two telephotos for field sports.

If you are accustomed to the zoom and focus ring directions of Canon lenses, Sigma lenses work like Canon lenses in this regard, while Tamron lenses’ zoom and focusing operate like Nikon lenses, the direct opposite of Canon lenses. When shooting active subjects, this can be important.

Yeah that could be annoying in use for sure.

My wife and I share a Sigma 150-600mm Sport, which is optically wonderful, so I have a generally favorable opinion of Sigma lenses. (I/We have not used a Sigma 100-400mm lens.) She also uses, and likes, a Sigma 24-35mm Art lens.

I've been hit or miss with Sigma lenses, more so in AF consistency rather than optical performance.  I haven't had any newer gen Sigmas, and the one that gave me AF fits was a cheaper APS-C lens about 8 years ago, so my first hand knowledge is fairly dated.  My only Sigma right now is their older gen 12-24II, and it's mostly manually focused.

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BirdShooter7 Veteran Member • Posts: 4,177
Re: Which 100-400 for outdoor sports?

Budget was a factor for me as well.  I started out with the 100-400 mk2 and it is without a doubt the best of the 100-400’s.

I tried a couple of used 100-400 mk1’s but to really find one in my price range what I got was a pretty beat up copy which when I tested it appeared to be a bit de-centered so I returned it.  I later tried another one with similar issues (again a pretty tired copy).  I know there are some excellent examples of this lens around but I don’t really enjoy buying and returning...

I saw a sale for the Sigma 100-400c for $650 with the USB dock included so I gave it a try.  I like that it is light weight and so far it has been around and gotten banged around a lot and is still going strong.

When I first started using the Sigma the AF did seem a little slow but I did go in with the dock and change it to AF speed priority (or whatever they call it) and also spent some time doing AFMA at the four distances for four FL’s which was a bit tedious and required some trial and error since Sigma pretty much gives no instructions on how to use it.  After all that and a couple of firmware updates I find the AF to be quite good (quick and accurate) at least for bird photography, both perched and flying.  I haven’t used it for sports so not sure how it will do there but my guess is that it will be good.

I did also try the Tamron and it seemed to be a solid lens as well but I did like that the Sigma zoomed in the same direction as my other Canon lenses and at the time the Sigma was less expensive so I stayed with the Sigma.

if you really want to work off a monopod the Sigma might not be a good option due to the lack of collar.  I had to rig a long Arca Swiss plate to do all my calibrations but it doesn’t seem like that would work well for faster paced sports action.

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PerfectMark Regular Member • Posts: 161
Re: Which 100-400 for outdoor sports?

Out of the 3, I would go for the Sigma or the Tamron. But as others have said, the Canon Mk2 is another level.  Both have their pros/cons, so you are probably better deciding which of the pros are more important to you.  There are 2 great reviews below where they are compared.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJK17HqupdQ Sigma

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQ9kKUqjGdg&t=6s Tamron

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pcrc11 Regular Member • Posts: 464
Re: Which 100-400 for outdoor sports?
3

The 100-400 II was out of my price range as well so I bought the Sigma 100-400 and was not happy. The 100-400 II was still out of my price range so I bought the Tamron 150-600 G2 and still am not getting the quality I want. So all in I have 2 lenses that I could afford and am not happy with but have the same amount that I could have bought Canon for. Moral of the story is always the same.

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BirdShooter7 Veteran Member • Posts: 4,177
Re: Which 100-400 for outdoor sports?

What about the quality you are getting from your current lenses is lacking?

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pcrc11 Regular Member • Posts: 464
Re: Which 100-400 for outdoor sports?

BirdShooter7 wrote:

What about the quality you are getting from your current lenses is lacking?

Having just bought a 70-200 2.8 L II and seeing what Canon L glass is capable of, where would you like me to start. I doubt anyone would say the quality and performance the Sigma and Tamron lenses is anywhere near Canon L.

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BirdShooter7 Veteran Member • Posts: 4,177
Re: Which 100-400 for outdoor sports?

Actually in my experience there are many aspects of Sigma glass that are definitely in the same league as L glass.  For example the Sigma compares quite favorably to the Canon in terms of sharpness.  That is why I wonder what you found lacking.

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pcrc11 Regular Member • Posts: 464
Re: Which 100-400 for outdoor sports?

BirdShooter7 wrote:

Actually in my experience there are many aspects of Sigma glass that are definitely in the same league as L glass. For example the Sigma compares quite favorably to the Canon in terms of sharpness. That is why I wonder what you found lacking.

If thats the case can I interest you in a Sigma 100-400? Been calibrated to both my 80D and 90D and cant hold a candle to my 70-200. I get better quality from lens that cropped in the my Sigma. Whats ticks me even more is the fact that Sigma is now selling those lenses brand new for $600 which devalues my used one to the point where it is pretty much not worth selling.

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BirdShooter7 Veteran Member • Posts: 4,177
Re: Which 100-400 for outdoor sports?
1

I already have one and use it often, sold my 100-400 mk2 and got the Sigma and 7d mk2.  If you aren’t able to get sharp shots with yours maybe it’s something other than the lens that’s the issue.

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pcrc11 Regular Member • Posts: 464
Re: Which 100-400 for outdoor sports?

BirdShooter7 wrote:

I already have one and use it often, sold my 100-400 mk2 and got the Sigma and 7d mk2. If you aren’t able to get sharp shots with yours maybe it’s something other than the lens that’s the issue.

Your inference that my photography skills could be lacking is noted, however, being that I get tack sharp pictures with my 70-200 I dont think I am the problem. Your consistent narrative that a $600 Sigma lens is every bit as good as the Canon is laughable and I would have to assume would put you in a very slim minority.

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BirdShooter7 Veteran Member • Posts: 4,177
Re: Which 100-400 for outdoor sports?

It’s much easier to get sharp photos from a 200mm lens than a 400.  Also the IS on the Canon is superior.  Also the Canon is f/2.8 vs f/6.3 at the long end meaning much faster shutter speeds are possible for a given lighting situation with the Canon.

Yes I am saying that a $600 lens can be in the same league of sharpness as a $2000 lens.  Look what all you get for the extra money that has nothing to do with sharpness.  You get constant f/2.8, that’s pretty huge just by itself.  You get better IS, better build, faster AF and it is the OEM

brand which people pay a premium for.  There’s more to a lens than just sharpness.

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expro Senior Member • Posts: 1,922
Re: Which 100-400 for outdoor sports?
1

There is a somewhat different approach.... keep using the 70-200 but buy a used 5dsr and crop. The advantage is not just the cropping foiled of view but shooting at f2.8 is a significant advantage both to lighting conditions and much better looking dof/isolation.

there is a reason why pros shoot 300/400 f2.8 and 500/600 f4.

OP gipper51 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,041
Re: Which 100-400 for outdoor sports?

Thanks for all the replies and info, everyone.  Well dang...I thought for sure the Canon 100-400 would get a hefty recommendation, but seems more votes for the Sigma and Tamron variants here.  Hmmm, really not sure which way to lean.

I'm thinking of crossing the Sigma off the list due to lack of tripod collar.  For the sports, it would be glued to the monopod most times.

Part of me thinks a 70-300 may be sufficient for reach also.  I'm not often starved for reach with my current setup, which is 280mm.  The 7D2 can get out there.  I've seen some pretty nice deals on 2nd hand 70-300L.

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OP gipper51 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,041
Re: Which 100-400 for outdoor sports?

expro wrote:

There is a somewhat different approach.... keep using the 70-200 but buy a used 5dsr and crop.

That's basically what my 7D2 is doing.  Same pixel density.

there is a reason why pros shoot 300/400 f2.8 and 500/600 f4.

Well there is that I guess lol.

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BirdShooter7 Veteran Member • Posts: 4,177
Re: Which 100-400 for outdoor sports?

I’m a big fan of the 70-300L, hard to go wrong with it.  Heck, if you can find a good deal on a Canon mk1 I think you should give it a try.  It does have the collar (hopefully not lost) and it’s hard to go wrong with Canon.

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Dave
Dave Veteran Member • Posts: 4,968
Re: Which 100-400 for outdoor sports?

gipper51 wrote:

Thanks for all the replies and info, everyone. Well dang...I thought for sure the Canon 100-400 would get a hefty recommendation, but seems more votes for the Sigma and Tamron variants here. Hmmm, really not sure which way to lean.

I'm thinking of crossing the Sigma off the list due to lack of tripod collar. For the sports, it would be glued to the monopod most times.

Part of me thinks a 70-300 may be sufficient for reach also. I'm not often starved for reach with my current setup, which is 280mm. The 7D2 can get out there. I've seen some pretty nice deals on 2nd hand 70-300L.

I shoot tennis with my 80D and 70-300L and am quite happy with the results. If budget is a concern, how about the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM? It's lightweight and fast-focusing.

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