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the perfect zoo lens

Discussion in 'Animal Photography' started by Arizona Docent, 8 Nov 2014.

  1. NigeW

    NigeW Well-Known Member

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    phwoar! that lens and body is precisely what I would choose too. Maybe time to bump some photo kit upgrades up my priority list!
     
  2. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Well-Known Member

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    :p:p:p:p:p
     
  3. sooty mangabey

    sooty mangabey Well-Known Member

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    Jackwow: now that you have had the lens for a few months, what would be your verdict on it? I am sorely tempted....!
     
  4. Jackwow

    Jackwow Well-Known Member

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    Sooty, what can I say, it's superb. But that's what I expected, as I previously had a 70-300L, which was superb, and the 100-400L is basically just a longer version. The extra reach is welcome and it works very well with Canon's 1.4x Mk III extender, as long as you have a body that will autofocus at f8, which the 7D Mk II does. I haven't used it as much as I expected, mainly due to the wet summer we've been having and also a lack of zoo visits (not a lot of options up here in Inverness!). As well as the 70-300L I also previously had a Sigma 150-500 and the 100-400L is in a totally different league. Build quality, focus speed, quietness, sharpness, etc, etc. I highly recommend this lens. :D
     
  5. ro6ca66

    ro6ca66 Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @sooty mangabey: I'd just like to echo @Jackwow's comments - the lens is truly superb :)

    I was lucky enough to pick one up about three months ago. I'd hired the Mk I version on a couple of weekends during the previous year, so I already knew the 100-400 range was suitable for me (in contrast to @Jackwow, I shoot mainly on a full-frame body - a Canon 5D3). Having read all the positive reviews earlier this year, I just couldn't resist when I saw the Mk II version available at a decent discount at The Photography Show in March.

    Having looked at my shooting stats on Lightooom last night, I see that, in 22 zoo visits since 25 March, I've shot around 3500 photos (not including the 'instant' rejects, which I delete as soon as they're imported into Lightroom). Of those 3500 shots, approx 96% have been with the new lens. So, anything which I've posted in the Galleries dated 25 March 2015 to date was almost certainly taken with this lens - the only exceptions being general exhibit shots and other obvious wideangle photos.

    For me, the main benefits include the stunning image quality throughout the range; and quality is still excellent when using the lens with an extender - I have a Canon 1.4x II which I've used on occasions.

    The close-focusing ability is amazing: to be able to shoot -- at 400mm focal length -- a subject which is only 58cm from the front element, is just crazy! (but incredibly useful) :).

    As @Jackwow mentioned, the build quality (I've used it in the rain without issue), focus speed, and quietness (the IS is certainly a lot quieter than my 70-200 f/4L) are all excellent too. The IS itself is phenomenal: handholding at full zoom, in the less-than-ideal light with which we are often blessed here in the UK, is definitely possible. The lens overall is much better than the Mk I version in my opinion (having used both).

    I had been a little worried about the weight compared to my previous 'usual' kit (the 70-200 mentioned above), but I've not found it a problem in practice. I mainly use the lens handheld, although I appreciate having a monopod available to take the strain if I'm staking-out an enclosure for any length of time :).

    So, highly recommended. Although I should reiterate that I'm shooting on a full-frame body. I suspect that, if I were to use it with a crop sensor camera, the short end would be too long for me: looking at my stats again, about 20% of the shots I've taken with the lens have been in the 100-159mm range - a range which I would effectively lose had I been shooting with a crop sensor body. However, it all depends on what your usual subject matter is of course.
     
    Last edited: 26 Jul 2015
  6. sooty mangabey

    sooty mangabey Well-Known Member

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    @ro6ca66 and @jackwow - thank you for these very positive comments... Definitely the lens to which to aspire....

    Does anyone have any experience of the online retailer SLR Hut? Their prices are very low, which is tempting, but I err towards thinking that if something looks too good to be true, it probably is.....
     
  7. Jackwow

    Jackwow Well-Known Member

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    Panamoz are £100 cheaper and I can definitely recommend them (I got mine from them), as can many others.
     
  8. Simon Hampel

    Simon Hampel Administrator Staff Member

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    How are you guys finding the speed of the lens? I have the previous 100-400L and I find it a bit slow for low light conditions.

    Part of the problem is that I'm using an old 40D body which doesn't have the high ISO capabilities of the newer bodies ... I've taken photos in low light side-by-side with someone who had a 2.8 lens on a 70D while I was shooting with a 4 on my 40D and I was sadly disappointed by how much better their photos were - the combination of the faster lens and higher ISO made a huge difference - this was on a covered patio area at twilight without flashes, so light was quite poor.

    For this reason I was thinking a 70-200L 2.8 IS would be the best compromise between length and speed (big compromise on length I know) ... but perhaps being able to shoot at higher ISO with a better body would make the length of the 100-400 worth the loss in speed?

    Thoughts?
     
  9. savethelephant

    savethelephant Well-Known Member

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  10. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Well-Known Member

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    @Sim - I use a 70-200 2_8 sometimes in conjunction with a 1.4 extender. Of course two point eight is gorgeous, not just for low light but also for the shallow depth of field when you are close. There are times at zoos when it is not quite long enough, but it serves me well. I have a full frame body (5D3), so if you use a body with a crop sensor (such as your 40D or even a newer model like 70D or 7D2) it will give the effect of an even longer lens than it does for me. This should be long enough.

    I did not get the 100-400 because I do not have the money and also I cannot carry two large telephotos. For me (and perhaps for you) it is a matter of deciding which you would need more - large aperture or long reach. Since I do a lot of low light and night shooting (and not as much animal or zoo stuff lately), the 70-200 is the obvious choice. But if you do more animals than anything else, I think the 100-400 (perhaps with a new body) might be the better choice.
     
  11. sooty mangabey

    sooty mangabey Well-Known Member

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    Having read many, many reviews, and having saved up all the extra bits of money I have received over the past year or two (expenses repayment, gifts, small sums paid for 'one-off' work things), I was lucky enough to be in a local camera store when an "as-new" lens came in, second-hand, clearly at a considerably lower price than would have been the case for a brand new lens. Now the frustration is going to be not being able to try it out as much as I would like - but it has had a run out at London Zoo, and at Wroclaw, and, already, I love it. Many thanks in particular to Jackwow and Ro6Ca66 for their advice and comments above!
     
  12. NigeW

    NigeW Well-Known Member

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    Having recently upgraded from a 40D to a 7D2 I can share my experience. My default position would always have been 'lens first', but honestly the improvement from 40D to 7D2 is like the difference between night and day. Especially in the capability to resolve at higher ISO.

    I absolutely agree that in this case Sim, you will gain a significant benefit in upgrading your body.

    (And as much as I love my 100-400L, I'm not going to be able to resist an upgrade to the 2 for much longer, as the results I'm seeing from it are prime-like in quality :) )
     
  13. ro6ca66

    ro6ca66 Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @sooty mangabey: Congratulations on your recent acquisition!! Glad the comments helped :). Having now used the lens for just over a year, I still love it just as much; indeed, it's almost never off my camera(s) whenever I visit a zoo. I've now shot around 11,000 zoo photos with mine, and am looking forward to making more use of it outside of the zoo environment (for landscapes, in particular) during this year.

    I look forward to seeing some shots in the galleries!
     
  14. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Well-Known Member

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    Canon USA had a factory refurbished model at a pretty good price, so I just ordered it. Watch for test shots of your favorite animals in a couple weeks. :)
     
  15. Jackwow

    Jackwow Well-Known Member

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    Congrats, I will be gobsmacked if you don't love this lens.
     
  16. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Well-Known Member

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    It arrived this morning and even though I had the day off, I have not used it yet (I was doing errands). I may use it somewhere tomorrow, not sure where.
     
  17. Jackwow

    Jackwow Well-Known Member

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    When I got mine I couldn't wait to use it, so the first shots I took were of distant neighbours chimneys!
     
  18. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Well-Known Member

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    I am leaving soon to test it out at the Friday night opening of my local zoo. Just to make sure it works, I put it on the camera and took a couple shots inside my condo. It was 1/13 second at both 100mm and 400mm to see how image stabilization works and both photos were sharp! I mean 1/13 at 400mm telephoto handheld - that is insane! I cannot believe how well this latest generation of IS works. It convinced me to go out tonight without a tripod.
     
  19. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Well-Known Member

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    Although mine is refurbished, it looks brand new to me. Other buyers from the Canon refurbish site have said the same thing (via a thread on CanonRumors.com). Initial results are good as expected. I just posted seven animal closeups in the gallery for Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary (USA) if anyone wants samples.
     
  20. Alfa male

    Alfa male Member

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    I'm considering a lens upgrade to a Sigma 150-600 C with the Canon 5D Mk2. Does anyone use that combination in zoo/safari parks ? I would be interested in your opinion of lens size/weight and speed (f/6.3 @600mm?). I'm prepared to do some body building....:)