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Thread: 500/4 v 600/4

  1. #1
    can't remember Tannin's Avatar
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    500/4 v 600/4

    I'm thinking about selling my 500/4 IS and replacing it with a newer model. The obvious candidate is the lighter, slightly shorter 500/4 IS II - and lighter weight would be very, very welcome, as would the shorter MFD. On the other hand, the new(ish) 600/4 IS II is near enough as makes no difference to the same weight as the previous Mark 1 500/4 IS I've owned and loved for years. Same weight, extra 500mm! That's tempting too. The extra length (about 80mm) does concern me though, particularly for use in-car. The 600/4 Mark II is around the same unweildy length as a 500/4 Mark I & teleconverter, if I have the numbers straight, which is awkward and clumsy but bearable. Not sure I'd want to use the 600 with a TC in a car though. (And no, I'm not going to buy a new car as well!)

    I'd be grateful for any thoughts and experiences anyone has on this topic, or more broadly about the big lenses. (I'm not actively considering a 300/2..8, a 400/4 DO II, a 200-400/4, or a 400/2.8, but any remarks on those would be of interest also.)

    (If it matters, I'll be retaining the 1D IV as my primary body, and these days mostly (but not exclusively) shoot bare lens - i.e., I seldom use the converters, though I frequently use a close-up ring for small birds. I shoot both hand-held, with a tripod, and from the car about equally often. For no reason I can explain, I don't use monopods. Just never got the habit.)

    Edit: I'm not going to worry about the price difference. In reality, they cost the same - one grandmother or a couple of kidneys.
    Last edited by Tannin; 29-10-2015 at 10:46pm.
    Tony

    People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.

  2. #2
    Ausphotography Regular Brian500au's Avatar
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    it really does depend on what you use the lens for. If it is small birds then reach is king and the 600 would be a no brainer.

    I am guessing the prime reason you are even considering upgrading from the version 1 to the version 2 of the 500/4 is the weight saving which is negated if you move over to the 600/4.

    I personally own both the 200-400 Ext and the 500/4. At this stage I can tell you the 200-400 versatility with the inbuilt extender should not be overlooked. With the internal extender it is a 200-560 and add the use of an external extender (with very little loss in IQ) and you have a 784 which is still fractionally lighter than the 500/4. I will mention though the use of the zoom function is difficult hand held and I mostly use it on a monopod.

    When I travel and only have room for one big white - the 200-400 gets the boarding pass every time. The flexibility of a zoom with the IQ of a 500/600 is a pleasure to work with. I will be taking to Sri Lanka with me next month, so I can give you further feedback if you PM me.
    www.kjbphotography.com.au

    1Dx, 5DsR, 200-400 f4L Ext, 100-400 f4.5-5.6L II, 70-300 f4-5.6L IS, 70-200 f2.8L IS II, 24-70 f2.8L II, 16-35 f4 IS, 11-24 f4L, 85 f1.2L II, 500 f4L IS, 300 f2.8 IS, ∑50 f1.4 A


  3. #3
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    Thanks Brian! That's a really useful answer. I use my 100-400 a lot and you make a powerful case for an f/4 400mm zoom. Zoom is so useful for framing birds! A good tip about zooming hand-held: that is exactly the sort of thing I can learn from someone like you but wouldn't spot on a spec sheet. I don't think I'd be comfortable having a 400 as my longest lens. (560mm with converter active of course, but f/5.6.) I'm interested to see that you are using it at f/8 (via extender). I used to use the 500/4 at f/8 (vis a 2x with the 1D III) at one time, but I found it generally unsatisfactory. After a while I decided that I was getting equal or better reach by using a 1.4 and a different body (50D or 7D). Doubtless the newer kit is a bit better in that regard.

    As you say, I'd love the weight reduction; on the the other hand, a "free" 100mm (weight wise) is hard to go past. I tend not to use converters so much these days; at f/4 everything works so much faster and more smoothly for me - I feel more as if I'm making photographs rather than mucking about with the equipment. This is especially so with smaller birds - they move so fast that a half-second faster focus is golden.

    As background, I'm thinking that my wonderful 500/4 is 9 years old now and a discontinued model. It's probably best to move it on while it's still worth a bit. And the prospect of a big weight saving or a significant reach increase is very attractive. But which one?!

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    Member Morgo's Avatar
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    Sounds as though the extra reach and similar weight of the 600 II to your 500 is what you really want.

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    ^ I want the extra reach and don't mind the weight now Morgo. I reckon I might be wanting the smaller lens in the afternoon of the first day lugging the damn thing around though! Lord knows, I've cursed the weight of the current instrument of torture often enough .... and blessed its reach. Yes, I'm leaning toward the 600 at the moment, but whichever way I go I'll be stuck with it for a decade. Will I still want to be lugging a 600/4 around in my mid-sixties?

    Actually, the extra length worries me just as much. For in-car use, the 500 is awkward enough already, worse with a TC fitted. I think I'll refer to the spec sheet and mock up a 600/4-length lens using the 500, a teleconverter and as many close up rings as needed to make the length the same as a 600, and then sit in the car pretending I'm taking pictures. I am not going to buy a bigger car just to fit a bigger lens in!

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    Ausphotography irregular Mark L's Avatar
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    Can't help with the lens question but I'm interested with this,
    Quote Originally Posted by Tannin View Post
    I seldom use the converters, though I frequently use a close-up ring for small birds.
    Was thinking about getting a converter soon. Your comment makes close up rings another option??
    "Enjoy what you can do rather than being frustrated at what you can't." bobt
    Canon 80D, 60D, Canon 28-105, Sigma 150-600S.

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    Way Down Yonder in the Paw Paw Patch jim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark L View Post
    Was thinking about getting a converter soon. Your comment makes close up rings another option??
    Mark, remember that with close-up rings your maximum focussing distance tends to be pretty short, while the increase in magnification can be best described as disappointing.
    Last edited by jim; 03-11-2015 at 2:34am.

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    Mark, your Sigma 120-400, according to a quick search, has a MFD of 1.5 metres. You don't need a close-up ring for that lems. (Unless you want to do flowers or beetles with it rather than birds.) The 500/4 I use, though, has a MFD of 4.5 metres. In reality, it's more like 5 metres or 5.5 - I don't reckon the last little bit of the focus travel gives you the same quality you get in mid-range or at infinity. With small birds - a Brown Thornbill for example - you want to be about 3 metres away for best results at 500mm. So a close-up ring is essential.

    I also use one in very poor lighting conditions, rainforest for example. Here you need fill flash. It turns out that, with a 13mm ring on, my 580EX-II has enough oomph to light a subject out to about the same max distance I can focus to. That makes a handy guide: if I can't focus on the bird, it's too far away to light properly anyway. And birds are very visual. have you ever noticed that you seem to get lots closer to birds when the light is bad? Then the sun comes out and the little buggers won't come near you? At first it seems like coincidence and Murphy's Law. It isn't. They are very keyed into the visual world. If the light is bad, they feel more comfortable close to you. When everything is sharp and clear, they keep their distance. So fill flash, a close-up ring, and poor light actually works out in your favour. In your case, although you are blessed with not needing a close-up ring, you'll always battle a bit getting enough light to focus. I regard f/4 as a bare minimum for rainforest. Really, you should have f/2.8. Checked the price of a 300/2.8 or a the price and weight of a 400/2.8 lately? That's why I don't have one.

  9. #9
    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Trying not to get thread diverted to this other lens, but specs are here.
    Close-up rings (CU screw-on lenses?) would have to be fairly (and not very strong) good not to much up IQ. Perhaps (a table somewhere?) you'd get to a
    MFD of about 0.8m with a 1 dioptre. Ie, range would be 1m to 0.8m.
    CC, Image editing OK.

  10. #10
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    Divert away as desired. Close-up rings here: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/buy/Ex...6/N/4077634539 IQ is the IQ of the lens. (Well, minus a bit in China where the air pollution is bad.)

  11. #11
    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Oh, for Terminology of Our Natural Lives!!!

    I thought these "rings" were the close-up lenses. They're exTENsion TUBes instead!

    We should get out of the HOBBIT (speaking of rings) of mixing up nomenclature.

    Yeah, well that's a whole new kettle of chips!

  12. #12
    can't remember
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    I always call them close-up rings. I can't help it if the rest of the world is wrong.

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