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Thread: A Question For The "Birders" On Lens Choice.

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    A Question For The "Birders" On Lens Choice.

    I love taking shots of birds and I am very lucky that we have a lot of them on our tree covered block. Not so long ago I purcased a Sigma 120-400 thinking that this would serve the purpose. Well I dont like it and I am selling it. So, what to replace it with ? I have sort of narrowed it down to FOUR. 70-200 F4L IS USM, 70-200 F2.8L IS USM, 70-300 F4-5.6L IS USM, and 300 F4L IS USM. If I go the 70-200 F2.8, will it work Ok with a 1.4 or 2.0 X extender. I'm feeling that 200mm is just not long enough for birding. I have read all the reviews I can find but am still not sure. Birding and some motosport will be the only things used for. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

    Cheers Paul.
    Cheers, Paul.
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    Paul, I have the Sigma 70-300 f4-5.6 APO DG and it's nowhere near fast enough for BIF photography, at least in my uneducated opinion. I don't know if the L IS USM version will be better but if it was me I'd be moving to something at least 500mm in the Sigma EX range. Just my opinion of course and it all depends on dollars for most people.
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    PH I thought you have the lens attached to the camera all the time and I thought you love it.

    Can you let us know what you don't like it? So it will help us to provide a better opinion which helps you have a better choice the next time.

    I HAD a 120-400 Sigma and since I am not doing as much birding as I like, I have a 70-200 IS MKII.

    The 200mm end is not long enough for birding for most occasion (unless huge bird + super close)

    The extender will decrease the light goes into the sensor by 1 and 2 stops accordingly, the focus speed is slower and I can see the image quality has decrease a little too. (with Extender gen. II) So it become a bit useless when the light is a bit low, or the bird is super quick.

    From your list the 300L IS is the best choice but still a bit short IMO.
    Last edited by andylo; 17-05-2011 at 10:30am.

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    I am quite happy with the Sigma 150-500but for birding, although in lower light the 600 F4 L would be my choice but at around $11,000 it's way beyond my reach unless the lotto ticket comes in.
    Keith.
    Keith

    Canon 400D Gripped, Canon 7D LCD Timer Gripped, Canon 70-200 f2.8L is ii. Canon 2X iii Extender, Canon 50mm 1.8, Sigma 150-500, Sigma 18-250, Sigma 17-50 F2.8, Sigma 10-20, Tamron 90mm Macro, Yonguno YN460 & 460ii Speedlights and a Hanimax TZ 1 Flash, Wireless Triggers ,LED Macro Ringlight, Extension Tubes, 3 tripods, 2 monopods, PS Elements 5 & 10, PSP9 and canon s/ware, various filters and other photographic paraphernalia all packed in a computrecker backpack + 3 smaller bags and an aluminium case.

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    Unfortunately Andy, love does not last. Another case of mistaken lens envy. Maybe I just got a not so good lens but mine does not AF very well. That does not bother me too much as I tend to MF 99% of the time. I would like sharper detail and I think that maybe an "L" series will give me that. Plus I read that the AF on the Canons is very good. The four lenses I mentioned are all in my price range.

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    70-200 F4L IS USM - tried one, very sharp, but not a good range for most of birding
    70-200 F2.8L IS USM - tried the mark I, have the mark II, sharp! Again not a good range for birding
    70-300 F4-5.6L IS USM - tried one - it's slightly better than the 100-400L and your 120-400 Sigma IMO, but compare to the Sigma I can't justify the price difference.
    300 F4L IS USM - never tried one, but it's a prime so suppose to be super sharp.

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    I went through a range of lenses before I bit the bullet. I purchased a Canon EF 400mm f5.6L USM Lens . It's super sharp, super fast focus wouldn't use anything else ( aahh winning lotto could change that )

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    Hi,
    trying to pick a lens for birding and motorsport is going to be a compromise..

    For birding (in this price range) I would suggest the 400 F5.6L, as per Marion's comment above and arguably the best BIF lens around. Will take a 1.4x quite well (but lose AF on the 40D). Not great for motorsport, doesn't have the versatility of a zoom and 5.6 will struggle to blur backgrounds on track etc.

    For motorsport I would suggest the 70-200 2.8LIS - sharp, fast & versatile. Will also take 1.4x well. Generally too short for birding, even with 1.4x, and the 2x will reduce IQ too much particularly on small subjects such as birds.

    If you must, best compromise IMO would be the 300 f4LIS + 1.4x. More practical for the track at 300 and almost as sharp at 420.

    Cheers
    John


    EOS 1D MKIII x2, EOS 6D; Samyang 14 2.8 IF ED UMC, EF 17-40 4 L, EF 24-70 2.8 L, EF 50 1.4, EF 85 1.8, EF 70-200 2.8 L IS, EF 100 2.8 macro, EF 400 5.6 L, 1.4x II TC, EF25 ET; Speelite 580EX, 430EX; Nissin Di866II; Yongnuo YN560i/ii & YN460ii, YN622C's, RF602's; Gitzo GT3541XLS + Markins Q20i; Manfrotto 055XProB + Giottos MH1301; Manfrotto 680B c/w Kirk MPA-1; Tamrac Pro5, ThinkTank Airport Accelerator, Airport Antidote V2, Pro Speed Belt + Racing Harness + Modular Skin Set; Lightroom 5.3, Photoshop CS5.
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    +3 for the 400 5.6
    Ben

    Camera: 7d
    Lenses: Canon 17 - 55 f2.8, Canon 85mm f1.8, Sigma 30mm f1.4
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    What about the Canon 100-400L?
    I've used mine for birding and motorsport, as well as lots of other things like spiders are long distances, and I find it a superb lens and very versatile.
    I admit it is big and heavy, but then again, so are most of the long lenses.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bennymiata View Post
    What about the Canon 100-400L?
    +1

    It is a versatile lens and is capable of amazing quality once you get the hang of it. Richard Hall's bird shots are a great example of what it can do.
    Michaela

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bennymiata View Post
    What about the Canon 100-400L?
    I've used mine for birding and motorsport, as well as lots of other things like spiders are long distances, and I find it a superb lens and very versatile.
    I admit it is big and heavy, but then again, so are most of the long lenses.
    Thank you Benny. It is now on my short list.

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    I am surprised that the Sigma 50-500mm OS is not suggested, I am also looking into getting a tele lens for birding and most users are happy with it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kujayee View Post
    I am surprised that the Sigma 50-500mm OS is not suggested, I am also looking into getting a tele lens for birding and most users are happy with it.
    Yes Kujayee, the Sigmas are good too but I would like to go with an "L" series this time. Hopefully one that will serve me for many years.

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    L > Sigma > Non L
    Last edited by andylo; 19-05-2011 at 9:26am.

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    Have just spent the last 12 months making the same decision.

    First a confession, I’m not a good photographer, let alone a good bird photographer.

    I went for a Canon “L” because I wanted the best IQ and IMO none of the third party lenses come close:

    100-400L

    Cons

    Old design (1998)
    Pros

    Is getting cheaper all the time, Canon U.S. took another $100 of the RRP this year.
    2-Stop IS
    Works with all the standard TC’s, but AF may not on your body
    Zoom Lens, greater flexibility
    1.380Kg

    400L f5.6

    Cons

    Oldest design (1993)
    No IS
    Fix focal length

    Pros

    1.250Kg
    Is getting cheaper all the time.
    Works with all the standard TC’s, but AF may not on your body

    70-300L

    Cons

    Doesn’t work with standard TC’s
    100mm less than either of the alternative.

    Pros

    New design.
    Best IQ @ 300mm - See link below
    Zoom Lens, greater flexibility
    4-Stop IS
    1.050Kg

    IQ comparsioin between 400L and 70-300L at full length. IMO the 70-300 is sharper but the 400L has less CA.

    http://www.the-digital-picture.com/R...mp=0&APIComp=0

    In the end I chose the 70-300L because its new technology which should allow it to keep its price. Its lighter, at just over 1Kg its going to be easier to work with. I need both IS and AF, as my eyesight is not the best.

    The only problem with this lens is that missing 100mm.


    Hope this helps


    PS: For those who love the 150-500, there is a Crop IQ comparison chart at 300mm to be fair, at 500mm its very bad:

    http://www.the-digital-picture.com/R...mp=4&APIComp=1
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    i cant believe it took 10 posts for someone to come out with the 100-400L... sheesh!
    just get that one.

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    Yes I agree the 100-400 IS is a really nice lens. I did find it hard to hand hold and slow shutter speeds even with IS becuase the lens is so light and long.
    You could also try 300mm 2.8 + a 1.4tc. The extra stop of light is very useful when the light becomes a bit dim. Not only for shutter speed but also allowing your camera to focus.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PH005 View Post
    Yes Kujayee, the Sigmas are good too but I would like to go with an "L" series this time. Hopefully one that will serve me for many years.
    My bad, didn't read it properly, so are after the ultimate

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    Thank you Gollum for going into such detail in your reply. All your points are very good and all taken onboard. Cheers.

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