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Thread: 300 mm or 400 MM "Which one to get"

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    300 mm or 400 MM "Which one to get"

    Ok, So the Ministry of Finance and Home Affairs has given the green light,

    But, Which lens.

    400 mm F5.6 L Prime or the 100 - 400 mm F4.5 - 5.6 L IS USM or the 300 mm F4 L IS USM ?????

    Looking at 'thedigitalpicture.com" ISO 12233 Resolution Chart results, the primes edges out the Tele Zoom, and at around F8 it kills the Tele Zoom.

    I will be using this lens mainly to capture my sons new venture into sport, Cricket. I have had some success with my 1D and the 70 - 200 F2.8 + 1.4 Tc but it's still stretched. It will also be one of my go to lenses with Rugby in the winter, with my 70 - 200 on the 50D.

    I like the idea of the 300 mm F4 L USM for the IS and that goes with the 100 - 400? but all the research points the Prime/s has/have the better IQ.

    I would also like to have a crack at birding, so the 400 mm F 5.6 L USM Prime rings the bells there.

    The 300 mm F4 + 1.4 Tc is also an option, especially on the 50D, do the maths and that's some EFOV reach. 420 mm @ F5.6 + IS ???? with out 1.6 crop factor.

    Arrrrrgggghhhh - Which way to go, heart says the 300 mm F4 (As I have used this and loved the handheld slow shutter speeds available with IS) but the brain says the Prime 400 mm for the obvious reach. I don't think I'll use the 100 - 400 full range, the minimal focal distance is much the same as the prime 400, Higher ISO and faster shutter speeds in good lighting conditions is what the lens will mostly be used in???? If the 400 mm F5.6 Prime had IS - Job done.

    70 - 200 mm + 1.4 Tc = 280 mm This is what I've got at F4,

    300 mm + 1.4 = 420 mm @ F5.6 + IS - True focal length,

    400 mm F5.6 L as is.

    Thoughts or suggestions appreciated.
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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    With no tangible evidence to put forward other than "a tugging feeling based upon my questionable experience", AND going on what you say,
    I think that in practice the deficiencies of the 100-400 will be negligible compared to its edge in versatility.

    (Just remembered: why are you worried now? We're all dead, aren't we? Oh, lens heaven!)
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    I used to own the 300/4L IS, and it was a fantastic lens.

    I sold it in 2006 after I bought a 300/2.8L IS.

    Of the three lenses you've listed, I would choose the 300/4L IS.

    It's very sharp, has an excellent minimum focus distance of around 1.5m, handles th 1.4x TC very well, and is stabilised.

    Pairing those two together, you will achieve 420mm at f/5.6 with stabilisation. The 400/5.6L, while it's very sharp, isn't stabilised, so you'll be at a disadvantage in some situations.

    I've heard good things abouit the 100-400, but have never used it or been interested in it; it's a variable-aperture zoom, which I dislike (I prefer primes, and some constant-f/2.8 zooms), is too slow, and is a dust pump. Awkward, ugly thing.

    The 400/5.6L remains very popular with birders, and a mate of mine has one; but for my money, I'd choose the 300/4 + 1.4x TC combo.

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    Who let the rabble in? Lance B's Avatar
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    I do not own Canon equiopment, but I thought I would give my 2cents worth regarding focal lengths and from what I have seen from fellow Canon users.

    I do birding and it is almost a case of "the longer the better", but with a few caveats. I use a 300 f2.8 VRII and a 500 f4 VR, but I regularly use the 300 f2.8 and TC's when I want to travel light. I find the 300 + TC's route a great relatively compact set up and the 300 focal length on FF is a great focal length for zoos and general long lens photography. I can use this lens with a 1.4x TC, 1.7x TC and a 2x TC to get 420mm f4, 510mm f5 and 600mm f5.6 and the results are superb. However, I doubt I would use TC's on a 300 f4 as that would only get a 400 f5.6 limiting the 300 f4's versatility, but still not out of the question if that is all you require. I mean, a 300 + 1.4x TC = 400 f5.6 and this is an "equivalent" to the other telephoto you were considering. You just may lose a bit of IQ.

    After reading Xenedis's post, I had forgotten about something I have often indicated as a big advantage of TC's and that is they allow the same minimum focus distance as the lens they attach to and the 300 f4 IS has a 1.5mt minimum focus distance (according to Xenedis) and this is very close, but when a 1.4x TC is added to it, you get a 420mm lens with a minimum focus of 1.5mts!! It is a great way to get higher magnification for flowers and bugs and other small creatures.

    I also didn't reralise that the 400 f5.6 wasn't stabilised, so there is that factor to consider as well, so I would go with Xenedis's suggestion and go the 300 and use TC's when required.
    Last edited by Lance B; 22-12-2012 at 11:28am.

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    You say the primary use will be cricket and rugby, so I'd give the 100-400 a miss as it's a touch slower in focus and the limited aperture will frustrate you. Particularly in winter when the days can be gloomy and forcing a higher ISO, which you don't need on a 50D, plus a lack of subject separation (for your rugby) that brings untidy backgrounds into play. The backgrounds not being as bad a problem in cricket at f5.6 with the subjects being far removed from the opposite boundary. It was my first L lens years ago and frustrated me when using it for sport.

    The 400f5.6 will also frustrate you for winter team sports for the same reasons, so I be going for the 300f4 and use the 1.4 for the cricket and still have a reasonable length for the rugby at F4 without the converter. Just don't make the mistake of going chasing the play in the opposite half and wait for it to come to you so you can fill the frame. The 300f4 is very quick in focus and as sharp as a tack. A decent combination with the 70-200 on a second body sitting beside you ready for closer action.

    By the way, the IS is somewhat irrelevant for actions shots because of the high shutter speeds needed to avoid motion blur. If your shutter speed is so low that you think IS might be useful, then the motion blur would be so prevalent it wouldn't matter.

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    I'm a Nikon shooter but in a similar dilemma to you regarding super telephoto gear.

    May I suggest the Sigma 120-300 2.8 which retails at the moment for $2k (due to a new version on the horizon). I suggest you read some of the very favourable reviews (on balance & cost) of it. In a nutshell:

    Pros:
    Centre sharpness @ 300mm 2.8 equal to the name brand primes.
    Zoom
    Handles the 1.4 & 2x TCs well
    Cost ($2k after CR Kennedy price match)
    OS is very very good (e.g. sharp shot 1/100th at 450mm...)

    Cons:
    Corner sharpness not that crash hot.
    Heavy (3kg)
    Apparently some issues with the OS failing (hence the new revision being released in 2013).
    AF not in the same league as the name brand primes.
    No focus limiter (included in the new version)

    Worth a thought I'd think, 2.8 glass is always great.. especially when you can add some 1.4 (168mm-420mm f4) or 2.0 (240-600 f5.6) TCs to cover the entire 120-600mm range with a single lens for $2k... yes it won't beat a Nikon or Canon 300 2.8, but for less than 3 times the cost, it certainly isn't 3 times worse
    Last edited by Sifor; 22-12-2012 at 1:10pm.
    Cheers, Troy

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xenedis View Post
    I used to own the 300/4L IS, and it was a fantastic lens.

    I sold it in 2006 after I bought a 300/2.8L IS.

    Of the three lenses you've listed, I would choose the 300/4L IS.

    It's very sharp, has an excellent minimum focus distance of around 1.5m, handles th 1.4x TC very well, and is stabilised.

    Pairing those two together, you will achieve 420mm at f/5.6 with stabilisation. The 400/5.6L, while it's very sharp, isn't stabilised, so you'll be at a disadvantage in some situations.

    I've heard good things abouit the 100-400, but have never used it or been interested in it; it's a variable-aperture zoom, which I dislike (I prefer primes, and some constant-f/2.8 zooms), is too slow, and is a dust pump. Awkward, ugly thing.

    The 400/5.6L remains very popular with birders, and a mate of mine has one; but for my money, I'd choose the 300/4 + 1.4x TC combo.
    Thanks Xenedis, My heart is with the 300 mm, for all the reasons you've mentioned, and yes the minimum focus is 1.5m not 3.5 m as with the 400 F5.6. I don't feel the zoom offers anything as I agree with you on the non fixed ap and push pull thing.

    Thanks again mate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lance B View Post
    I do not own Canon equiopment, but I thought I would give my 2cents worth regarding focal lengths and from what I have seen from fellow Canon users.

    I do birding and it is almost a case of "the longer the better", but with a few caveats. I use a 300 f2.8 VRII and a 500 f4 VR, but I regularly use the 300 f2.8 and TC's when I want to travel light. I find the 300 + TC's route a great relatively compact set up and the 300 focal length on FF is a great focal length for zoos and general long lens photography. I can use this lens with a 1.4x TC, 1.7x TC and a 2x TC to get 420mm f4, 510mm f5 and 600mm f5.6 and the results are superb. However, I doubt I would use TC's on a 300 f4 as that would only get a 400 f5.6 limiting the 300 f4's versatility, but still not out of the question if that is all you require. I mean, a 300 + 1.4x TC = 400 f5.6 and this is an "equivalent" to the other telephoto you were considering. You just may lose a bit of IQ.

    After reading Xenedis's post, I had forgotten about something I have often indicated as a big advantage of TC's and that is they allow the same minimum focus distance as the lens they attach to and the 300 f4 IS has a 1.5mt minimum focus distance (according to Xenedis) and this is very close, but when a 1.4x TC is added to it, you get a 420mm lens with a minimum focus of 1.5mts!! It is a great way to get higher magnification for flowers and bugs and other small creatures.

    I also didn't reralise that the 400 f5.6 wasn't stabilised, so there is that factor to consider as well, so I would go with Xenedis's suggestion and go the 300 and use TC's when required.
    Thanks lance, the minimum focal distance is a consideration, good to hear you get results with the TC's. Birding is a third option for the lens, so focus subject separation is more of a matter for me. I have found that the 70 - 200 F2.8 I have focuses fine when used with my 1.4 TC. So I'd expect the 300 to be the same. Xenedis backs this as well, so that,s another tick.

    Thanks again.

    Quote Originally Posted by norwest View Post
    You say the primary use will be cricket and rugby, so I'd give the 100-400 a miss as it's a touch slower in focus and the limited aperture will frustrate you. Particularly in winter when the days can be gloomy and forcing a higher ISO, which you don't need on a 50D, plus a lack of subject separation (for your rugby) that brings untidy backgrounds into play. The backgrounds not being as bad a problem in cricket at f5.6 with the subjects being far removed from the opposite boundary. It was my first L lens years ago and frustrated me when using it for sport.
    Yeah, this was my thought's, but nice to hear them confirmed.

    Quote Originally Posted by norwest View Post
    By the way, the IS is somewhat irrelevant for actions shots because of the high shutter speeds needed to avoid motion blur. If your shutter speed is so low that you think IS might be useful, then the motion blur would be so prevalent it wouldn't matter.
    Got that, but I will find times that I will be using slower shutter speeds without tripod/mono, so I'd rather have the option than not. Makes sense.

    Thanks again.

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    I have the older 300mm F4 L non IS lens and use that for footy & surfing pics. Fantastic lens, light enough - easy to handhold, quick focus, plus when teamed with Kenko Pro300 1.4 x teleconvertor I find the image quality is still fantastic. I have tried the 2 x convertor and no good with that.
    I don't notice lack of IS on mine as I try to shoot the footy at 1/800 or faster. Cricket is a bit slower so the IS model can only be a bonus.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sifor View Post
    I'm a Nikon shooter but in a similar dilemma to you regarding super telephoto gear.

    May I suggest the Sigma 120-300 2.8 which retails at the moment for $2k (due to a new version on the horizon). I suggest you read some of the very favourable reviews (on balance & cost) of it. In a nutshell:

    Pros:
    Centre sharpness @ 300mm 2.8 equal to the name brand primes.
    Zoom
    Handles the 1.4 & 2x TCs well
    Cost ($2k after CR Kennedy price match)
    OS is very very good (e.g. sharp shot 1/100th at 450mm...)

    Cons:
    Corner sharpness not that crash hot.
    Heavy (3kg)
    Apparently some issues with the OS failing (hence the new revision being released in 2013).
    AF not in the same league as the name brand primes.
    No focus limiter (included in the new version)

    Worth a thought I'd think, 2.8 glass is always great.. especially when you can add some 1.4 (168mm-420mm f4) or 2.0 (240-600 f5.6) TCs to cover the entire 120-600mm range with a single lens for $2k... yes it won't beat a Nikon or Canon 300 2.8, but for less than 3 times the cost, it certainly isn't 3 times worse
    Thanks Troy,

    The focus is a major concern with Rugby, keepers V's Non. I had considered this lens, and again, most reviews I've read rate it, but compared to the Canon L glass, it falls behind. It also is reverse engineered, so using it with my TC's may be an issue, so for the 2K+ cost (Yes CR Kennedy Match), I'd rather put my hard earned into a Genuine lens.

    I have several Sigma UWA and WA lenses and rate them highly, i could use them all in MF, but not a major Zoom/Prime for the reasons I wan't/need it for.

    I think it would suit a more general use zoom, where as i'm aiming at a lens that will be left in/at a fixed length.

    Cheers for your input, appreciate it.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Old Skool View Post
    I have the older 300mm F4 L non IS lens and use that for footy & surfing pics. Fantastic lens, light enough - easy to handhold, quick focus, plus when teamed with Kenko Pro300 1.4 x teleconvertor I find the image quality is still fantastic. I have tried the 2 x convertor and no good with that.
    I don't notice lack of IS on mine as I try to shoot the footy at 1/800 or faster. Cricket is a bit slower so the IS model can only be a bonus.
    Hay Old School - What is it with the 2.0 x Tc that is no good?

    Is it no focus or IQ issues please mate?

    Thanks for your input.

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    With my 1D it focus centre point ok with the 2x convertor as the lens looses 2 stops making it a 300mm F6.3? but focus is slow and not quick enough for sport. Quality also drops away whereas quality drop off is not really noticeable using the 1.4 convertor.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Skool View Post
    With my 1D it focus centre point ok with the 2x convertor as the lens looses 2 stops making it a 300mm F6.3? but focus is slow and not quick enough for sport. Quality also drops away whereas quality drop off is not really noticeable using the 1.4 convertor.
    Thanks Old Skool, But I think your math is a little of, 300 + 2.0 x Tc is 600 @ F6.3, so not too bad for a center focused shot from a 300 mm lens. Not to often that I'd look to calling on that from the lens though. But nice to know it can still do it, I guess, within it's limits so to speak.

    Thanks again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roosta View Post
    I think your math is a little of, 300 + 2.0 x Tc is 600 @ F6.3
    Nope; 300/4 + 2x TC = 600/8.

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    I’ve used the 300mm F4L and 400mm F5.6L on a 7D and 5D Mk III and for birds in flight, the 400mm autofocus is noticeably faster at locking on compared to the 300mm, even with IS turned OFF on the 300mm.

    The 300mm F4L is almost a walk about lens – it is so versatile and easy to use, but unless the birdlife is close, you may be frustrated by its lack of reach. The 400mm F5.6L gets used mainly for BIFs and therefore is less versatile.

    If we’re going out for the day, I almost always take the 300mm F4L with me due to its versatility, but only take the 400mm if we are specifically going out to shoots BIFs.

    Cheers

    Dennis

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xenedis View Post
    Nope; 300/4 + 2x TC = 600/8.
    I was replying to Old Skools post Xenedis, where he quoted 300/4 + 2.0 TC = "Making it a 300 mm F6.3"

    Just purchased the 300 mm F4 IS USM - let the waiting begin.

    Quote Originally Posted by nardes View Post
    I’ve used the 300mm F4L and 400mm F5.6L on a 7D and 5D Mk III and for birds in flight, the 400mm autofocus is noticeably faster at locking on compared to the 300mm, even with IS turned OFF on the 300mm.

    The 300mm F4L is almost a walk about lens – it is so versatile and easy to use, but unless the birdlife is close, you may be frustrated by its lack of reach. The 400mm F5.6L gets used mainly for BIFs and therefore is less versatile.

    If we’re going out for the day, I almost always take the 300mm F4L with me due to its versatility, but only take the 400mm if we are specifically going out to shoots BIFs.

    Cheers

    Dennis
    Cheers Dennis, As I mentioned, Birding would be third on the list of uses, but I feel I'd still be able to get something better than the 70 - 200 mm offered me. Good to hear the positives on the 300 though.

    Cheers.

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    and i have been looking forward to a 100-400
    well now - maybe - the 300 and a tele 1.4
    50D, 50 f/1.8, 24-105L, 70-200L f/2.8 IS 11, Understanding Wife
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    A. P's Culinary Indiscriminant mongo's Avatar
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    Mongo does not use Canon and has no experience with Canon directly.
    For the use you have described, Mongo would prefer the 100-400mm for the convenience of a zoom capability when you need it (unless you are always going to be perched at a fixed distance from the action in which case, Mongo might think about the 300 f4 + 1.4 converter)
    As far as IQ goes, the results Mongo has seen from the 100-400mm from Richard Hall and Shelley are as good as you would hope to get even with far more exotic lenses.
    Nikon and Pentax user



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    I own the Canon 300mm f/4 lens and use it for Birding with the 1.4 extender its a great combo on my 40D and my 5D Mk11..

    I shoot with Canon And Olympus Cameras



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    Sorry Mongo, I use prime lens for birding 400 5.6L. I think from what I read the 300 would suit you Roosta. I wouldn't go for it as a main birding lens, but like you said it's third on the list. If birding was you first I would say go for the 400.

    I hear the 300 is great for sport, I have used my 400 for surfing shots and it was fantastic shots were used for canvas prints. I find I am always after more reach.

    Whatever you get don't look back and make the most of it, you have a good wife.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allan Ryan View Post
    and i have been looking forward to a 100-400
    well now - maybe - the 300 and a tele 1.4
    Sorry to break your heart Allan. But this is what I need, more-so than a general rule. The 100 - 400 will suit lots of people, that's why it's still a big seller for Canon.

    Quote Originally Posted by mongo View Post
    Mongo does not use Canon and has no experience with Canon directly.
    For the use you have described, Mongo would prefer the 100-400mm for the convenience of a zoom capability when you need it (unless you are always going to be perched at a fixed distance from the action in which case, Mongo might think about the 300 f4 + 1.4 converter)
    As far as IQ goes, the results Mongo has seen from the 100-400mm from Richard Hall and Shelley are as good as you would hope to get even with far more exotic lenses.
    Cheers Mongo, but I have the 70 - 200 mm F2.8 L on the 50D for floating Rugby shots, so the 300 F4 will be a more fixed in place lens, but it's going to get some serious Cricket time as soon as it arrives. Thanks for your thoughts.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mary Anne View Post
    I own the Canon 300mm f/4 lens and use it for Birding with the 1.4 extender its a great combo on my 40D and my 5D Mk11..
    Nice to Mary Anne - Thanks for another positive on the 300 mm.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shelley View Post
    Sorry Mongo, I use prime lens for birding 400 5.6L. I think from what I read the 300 would suit you Roosta. I wouldn't go for it as a main birding lens, but like you said it's third on the list. If birding was you first I would say go for the 400.

    I hear the 300 is great for sport, I have used my 400 for surfing shots and it was fantastic shots were used for canvas prints. I find I am always after more reach.

    Whatever you get don't look back and make the most of it, you have a good wife.
    Shall do Shelley - Might have to catch up again, when I've got the lens. Look for some tips on birding. Happy to head your way. Might be an outing the WA crowd need.

    Thank you all. I purchased the 300 mm F4 L IS USM yesterday afternoon. Let the waiting begin.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roosta View Post
    I purchased the 300 mm F4 L IS USM yesterday afternoon. Let the waiting begin.
    You will enjoy it; it's a fantastic lens.

    It's also very compact for what it is; it's similar in size to a 70-200/2.8.

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