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View Full Version : Canon 400 mm F5.6 L or Sigma 150-500mm for bird photographs



Patrick K
04-07-2011, 7:53pm
I have a Canon 500D with kit lenses. I live in the bush in Central Victoria surrounded by woodland birds, which I attempt to photograph with the 55-250mm kit lens. Time has come to get something better.

I am contemplating either a Sigma 150-500mm zoom or a Canon 400 f5.6L. The birds around here are quite small and the 500mm idea appeals as does image stabilising. But I imagine that the quality of the 400 L would be much better. I am also thinking that a 1.4 converter will give me the length if I need it but with some loss of quality.

I would be grateful for any thoughts or feedback that people might have about this choice. At present I am leaning towards the 400 L.

Many thanks for your thoughts

Scotty72
04-07-2011, 8:25pm
I suspect that the loss of 1 stop of light on top of f/5.6 max will see your auto-focus disabled.

So, other than that, if you can afford the L, go for it.

Kym
04-07-2011, 9:04pm
Feral1 (Peter) uses the Sigma 150-500 on his Canon with great results.
Eg.. http://www.ausphotography.net.au/forum/search.php?do=finduser&userid=1619&starteronly=1&contenttype=vBForum_Thread

http://www.sigmaphoto.com/shop/150-500mm-f5-63-apo-dg-os-hsm-sigma

Scotty72
04-07-2011, 9:06pm
Feral1 (Peter) uses the Sigma 150-500 on his Canon with great results.
Eg.. http://www.ausphotography.net.au/forum/search.php?do=finduser&userid=1619&starteronly=1&contenttype=vBForum_Thread

http://www.sigmaphoto.com/shop/150-500mm-f5-63-apo-dg-os-hsm-sigma

Me too :)

But, given the cash for a 400mm L prime ...

Mark L
04-07-2011, 9:21pm
I know it doesn't answer you question directly, however this is worth a read http://www.ausphotography.net.au/forum/showthread.php?84318-A-Question-For-The-quot-Birders-quot-On-Lens-Choice.

Tannin
04-07-2011, 9:28pm
Your best bet is the Canon 100-400. It is sharper than the Sigma, and probably has more effective image stabilisation (not tested to my knowledge, just my guess), it is much lighter and easier to handle (which means sharper pictures 'cause you can't hold a heavy lens as still for as long), is faster, and focuses better. It is almost as sharp as the 400 prime, a bit shorter and fatter and not much heavier, and it has IS - and IS is an absolute must-have in a lens of this length class. The ability to shoot at a variety of focal lengths doesn't make a massive difference for birds, but it is a godsend for other wildlife - roos, wallabies, wombats, Emus, anything large. It is, in short, the best bird and wildlife lens on the market for less than about $5000.

As you have discovered, the 55-250 just doesn't cut the mustard for wildlife. I tried using one for birds once - these birds came really close so 250mm was plenty long enough, but the glacial AF and failure to focus at all accurately was a show-stopper. I ended up using a 500 prime with two stacked close-up rings instead. I've used the 400 prime too. Sweet lens, but severly limited by its lack of AF and long minimum focus distance. See my website (in sig) for lots of sample images.

Short answer: get the 100-400.

PS: superb country up your way, I visit it often. Don't neglect the opportunities for landscape photography with the 100-400 either.

Kym
04-07-2011, 9:40pm
I know it doesn't answer you question directly, however this is worth a read http://www.ausphotography.net.au/forum/showthread.php?84318-A-Question-For-The-quot-Birders-quot-On-Lens-Choice.

One of our all time classic threads! Andrew's use of the Sigma 10-20mm for birds was the 'right' answer, just hone your stalking skills :cool::lol:

Tannin
04-07-2011, 9:43pm
the Sigma 10-20mm for birds was the 'right' answer

Nonsense! It has soft corners. The Tokina 11-16 beats it hollow! :eek:

- but seriously now, yes, a top thread and well worth reading. I was too lazy to dredge it up. Thankyou Kym.

jim
04-07-2011, 11:31pm
...I've used the 400 prime too. Sweet lens, but severly limited by its lack of AF ...

Eh?

Pine
05-07-2011, 4:51am
I agree with Tannin that the Cannon 100-400 is a better choice than the Sigma 150 - 500.
Started off with the Sigma but changed quickly to the Cannon which is noticebly better :cool:

Regards

philiph
05-07-2011, 7:10am
It would seem that vote goes to the Canon. I have a Sigma 150-500 and get mixed results though if I had the choice now I would go for the Canon. With the smaller birds i find you have to get really really close to get good results, a trait which birds in generally, and small ones in particular, don't like. Practice and perservenance does help though.

Patrick K
06-07-2011, 8:49am
Thanks all for your help. I finally decided that I would become disenchanted with photos using my kit 55-250 zoom once I got some quality glass and that the new lens would therefore need to be for more than birds. So I ended up spending about twice what I'd originally planned for the Sigma, but I think I will be well satisfied and the lens will get a lot of good use for many years.

Now it's just a few days wait...

dannat
06-07-2011, 9:00am
Patrick can I ask what the % cost diff is between the 2 ie is sigma 70% of price

Patrick K
06-07-2011, 10:01am
Must be Dan from IIS - Hi!

Sigma 150-500 was 869, Canon 100-400 was 1529, so about 76% more.

Bennymiata
06-07-2011, 10:14am
You'll ove the 100-400 Patrick.
It's a gorgeous lens and well worth the money.

ving
06-07-2011, 11:56am
Must be Dan from IIS - Hi!

Sigma 150-500 was 869, Canon 100-400 was 1529, so about 76% more.
ving from IIS here :p
I have thousand of posts there :p

anyhow if i had a canon rather than nikon then the 100-400L would be what i would get. however being a nikon user i am using the 150-500 siggy. a fine lens but not as sharp as the canon 100-400L :th3:

Tannin
06-07-2011, 12:09pm
"Lack of AF" .... I meant lack of IS on the 400 prime, of course. My braincell went outside for a smoke. Haven't seen it since, though I did hear some brakes squeal. Please check the front of your cars, people. Let me know if you find any ... er ... leftovers.

Pine
06-07-2011, 12:17pm
Shame Tannin that is a sad way to go :rolleyes:

Regards

Tannin
06-07-2011, 12:18pm
Sorry. What was the question?

Patrick K
06-07-2011, 12:41pm
Hi Ving,

I recognise your distinct handle. I suspect there are a lot of IISers here - it all feels quite familiar as a result. And thanks for the thumbs up - I feel very confident with my purchase


ving from IIS here :p
I have thousand of posts there :p

anyhow if i had a canon rather than nikon then the 100-400L would be what i would get. however being a nikon user i am using the 150-500 siggy. a fine lens but not as sharp as the canon 100-400L :th3:

dannat
07-07-2011, 8:41am
does anyone with the 100-400 find the push-pull of the zoom annoying?

Scotty72
07-07-2011, 8:53am
does anyone with the 100-400 find the push-pull of the zoom annoying?

I borrowed the 100-400L from a friend once.

Found it as annoying as watching an Oprah marathon. :eek:

But, I suspect that, once you get used to it, you'll eventually see it as second nature.

Scotty

Redback51
07-07-2011, 9:07am
Not at all, provided the firmness is set to what suits you best. When that's set right, the push-pull is very smooth indeed. Cheers :food04:

Richard Hall
07-07-2011, 9:10am
does anyone with the 100-400 find the push-pull of the zoom annoying?

Not in the slightest, in fact I find it much better as I can manually focus whilst zooming.

Bennymiata
07-07-2011, 9:19am
I wish all my zoom lenses had push-pull zooming.
I find that when you are twisting a ring for zooming, you tend to make the camera sway about as you are doing it, whereas with the push-pull, you can keep the camera steadier.

Much better for chasing birds and other moving objects where you are zooming in and out all the time.

piXelatedEmpire
11-07-2011, 12:32pm
does anyone with the 100-400 find the push-pull of the zoom annoying?

I agree with the others, I actually prefer this style of zooming. The tightening ring is also realy useful as well :th3: