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Thread: Canon 400mm F2.8 or 500 F4

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    Member Graeme Buckland's Avatar
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    Canon 400mm F2.8 or 500 F4

    I have the chance to purchase a prime lens they are the canon 400 L series F2.8 or the canon 500 L series F4, my problem is I don't know which one to get.
    The lens would be used for sport and wildlife, I would like your input in this.
    Canon 5D Mark 11
    Canon 30D
    Canon 50mm 1.8
    Canon 16-35 L series
    Canon 24-105 IS L series
    Canon 100-400 IS L series

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    can't remember
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    No-one is answering because "sport and wildlife" doesn't provide anywhere near enough information.
    Tony

    Edit and critique at will. Tokina 10-17 fish, Canon 10-22, 24-105, 100-400, TS-E 24, 35/1.4, 60 macro, 100L macro, 500/4, Wimberley, MT-24EX, 580EX-II, 1D IV, 7D, 5D II, 50D.

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    Graeme Buckland's Avatar
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    Sport as in Football (aussie rules) and wildlife as in birds mainly, my wife and I are also going to spend 1 month traveling through Africa next year. I have a 1.4 convertor to go on the lens as well, I'm not sure if the 500 F4 will still auto focus with the convertor on.

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    Ahh, thankyou. Graeme. Yes the 500/4 will AF with the 1.4 on any Canon body. For the 2x converter, you need a 1 Series body. The 40/2.8 will always AF with any converter regardless of the body. (Same answer applies to all other f/4 and f/2,8 lenses.)

    For the football, I am not an expert but I expect that the 400/2.8 is the correct answer - that's what all the big-time football 'togs seem to use. For birding, your priority should be to get a more suitable body. A 7D will cost you ~$1500 and improve your birding ability enormously. It would be insane to buy a $10,000 lens and keep on using the 5D II. (Or the 30D, for that matter.) On the whole, a 500/4 is probably a little bit more useful than a 400/2.8 for birding - mostly because of the lighter weight and added usability, but there are certainly times when a 400/2.8 is superior - deep in the Otways chasing down a Pilotbird, for example, you will be grateful for the extra speed.

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    Who let the rabble in? Lance B's Avatar
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    I do not use Canon, but I use Nikon and so I can only speak as far as what would be required as a focal length for the things that you do.

    Using either my D700 or D7000, I find that I would mostly like to use a 500 f4 rather than a 400 f2.8 simply for the fact that a 400 f2.8 is getting heavy and a 500 f4 gives the reach that I usually require.

    At the moment, I use a 300 f2.8 and TC's and I am forever using the 2x TC to make it a 600mm f5.6 on the D700 (FF), or on my D7000 (APS C) 900mm f5.6. Actually, the IQ is excellent with the 300 f2.8 + TC combo and makes for an easily transportable system for birding etc. However, if I were to get a longer lens it would be a 500 f4 simply for the fact that for me it would be the best compromise as a 600 f4 is too big and heavy and the 500 f4 is more esily handheld.

    I would be using the lens mainly for birding, but also for my zoo trips.

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    If you're doing to be shooting in dim light (unlikely for what you've specified), the 400 would be the choice.

    Given that distance tends to be an issue on football fields, I'd be leaning towards the 500. The 500 also has the advantage of hand-holdability, whereas the 400 is quite unwieldy.

    Wildlife also tends to need longer focal lengths, unless you can get closer. Again, the lighter weight of the 500 gives it an advantage if you're lugging it around or needing to hand-hold it.

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    In my opinion, "hand-holdability" is not really an advantage in such long focal length. Both in sport and wildlife, you need to wait till the right moment to take the photo. Often, it can be a long wait !
    Monopod or tripod allows you to get the best of the lens without pain !!

    Choosing between the 400/2.8 and the 500/4 depends on your shooting ability and also the camera body you are using. Shooting with a 400mm at f/2.8 on a dense sensor can be very challenging and often requires specific skills (especially on fast moving subject), as the DOF is very shallow and the tiny pixels needs much better focus accuracy than large-pixels sensor.
    Your need for converters (especially 2x TC) must be taken into account too when making your decision : in general a TCx2 works better on a f/2.8 telelens than a f/4 one, in particular when you use a high resulution body like the 7D.

    Hope this can help you and good luck on your choice !

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    I would to thank you all for your input, i should of said that i also now have a canon 7D, i think i will go for the 500 so i will be picking it up next month when we visit New Yorks B&H mega store

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sar NOP View Post
    In my opinion, "hand-holdability" is not really an advantage in such long focal length.
    Looking at your avatar, I'm not convinced. ;-)

    I shoot at 300mm, 420mm and 600mm, all hand-held.

    Of course, hand-holdability depends not only on lens weight, but the achievable shutter speed.

    Apart from a few shots of the moon, all of my shots taken at 600mm were done hand-held. It just works for me. Mind you, I'm using my 300/2.8 with 2x TC, so it's a lot lighter than a native 600mm lens.

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    Who let the rabble in? Lance B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xenedis View Post
    Looking at your avatar, I'm not convinced. ;-)

    I shoot at 300mm, 420mm and 600mm, all hand-held.

    Of course, hand-holdability depends not only on lens weight, but the achievable shutter speed.

    Apart from a few shots of the moon, all of my shots taken at 600mm were done hand-held. It just works for me. Mind you, I'm using my 300/2.8 with 2x TC, so it's a lot lighter than a native 600mm lens.
    I also use the Nikon 300 f2.8 + 2x TCIII, and like you, I find that it isn't too bad to hand hold, but having handled the Nikon 600/4, it is quite a different beast and quite a bit heavier and longer than the 300 + 2x TC combo and added to this, the 600's weight is further from the camera thus making it a tad harder to handhold successfully.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xenedis View Post
    Looking at your avatar, I'm not convinced. ;-)

    I shoot at 300mm, 420mm and 600mm, all hand-held.

    Of course, hand-holdability depends not only on lens weight, but the achievable shutter speed.

    Apart from a few shots of the moon, all of my shots taken at 600mm were done hand-held. It just works for me. Mind you, I'm using my 300/2.8 with 2x TC, so it's a lot lighter than a native 600mm lens.
    Of course, we can handhold a 300/2.8 all day. But here, we were talking about a 400/2.8 and a 500/4.
    Handholding a 600/4 a few seconds for a stationary subject is possible, but can be very challenging when shooting action/sport or wildlife for a long periode of time, especially if you want to get a high keepers rate on your images.

    Anyway, everyone don't have the same requirements in term of image quality...

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    simple - do you need 2.8 ?

    If you are shooting sport at night - absolutely

    If not - the 500 is better for a whole lotta reasons.
    Darren
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sar NOP View Post
    But here, we were talking about a 400/2.8 and a 500/4.
    Of course. I consider a 500/4 hand-holdable, but not so re a 400/2.8.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sar NOP View Post
    Handholding a 600/4 a few seconds for a stationary subject is possible
    There is a difference of 10 grams between the Canon 400/2.8 and 600/4 (the 400 is heavier), so it's not a lens I personally consider hand-holdable.
    Last edited by Xenedis; 11-08-2011 at 2:54pm.

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