stumpmj
stumpmj Dork
9/7/12 2:40 p.m.

The wife and I are taking another trip to Yellowstone next month which means it's time for a new lens for shooting wildlife (Cannon body). She already has a good landscape lens (50mm f1.4) so we're covered there. Now we need to shoot critiers from a distance. She's got a 55-250 right now and the plan is to upgrade to a pro series telephoto. Right now, we're looking at the 100-400 IS f4-f5.6 and the 70-300 IS (I can't remember the f-stop). Budget is up to $1700.

Thoughts? Any firm recommendations for a non-Canon brand lens (ex Sigma) of equivalent quality? I'm pretty gun-shy of non-Canon brands right now.

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
9/7/12 2:58 p.m.

This is my vacation lens. No lens does "everything" well, but this one comes close. It's the ultimate "walking around" lens.

For shooting the critters from across the canyon, though, I'd probably invest in one of these if I thought I was going to use it again. One of these and an extender may be a more useful setup long term though.

jg

DaveEstey
DaveEstey Dork
9/7/12 3:37 p.m.

I shoot Nikon so my Canon knowledge is limited. I have, however, had some very good luck with Sigma glass.

codrus
codrus Reader
9/7/12 5:43 p.m.

Generally speaking, the bigger the zoom range, the more compromises you'll have to accept in the image quality.

I find that "superzooms" (10x or higher zoom range, like the 18-200) make too many optical compromises for my personal taste. I've used a couple of 4x zoom lenses that were acceptable (I love my 24-105, for example), and I've read good things about the 70-300 L, but I don't like lenses where the max aperture changes as you zoom it.

I've got a 70-200 (f/2.8, IS, version 1) and I use a 1.4x teleconverter with it when that's not enough reach, which gives me a 98-280 f/4. Sigma sells a 100-300 f/4, which would be another option. I've never used it, but a friend of mine has one and has turned out some very nice shots with it.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Intern
9/7/12 6:58 p.m.

I bought a Sigma 120-400mm lens for my trip to Yellowstone, and I've been extremely happy with it. For a quick example, the scion pictures in the November issue were shot with it.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Intern
9/7/12 7:00 p.m.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/cr/B001542X5K/ref=aw_d_cr_photo

donalson
donalson PowerDork
9/7/12 8:44 p.m.

first i'll ask... do you shoot a full frame or crop sensor?

ether way you'll need a good stable tripod... but a crop sensor with a 400mm lens is SUPER long

next question... do you really plan on using the lens $1700 worth?...

you might consider just renting the lens... lensrentals.com has the 100-400 canon glass for $55 for 5 days... you could take what you saved and rent one of the super wide angles like the Sigma 8-16mm and get some fun creative shots... if you end up loving the lens and wishing for it down the road then buy... but for a single trip it seems like a lot to spend... there might be better glass for your regular use for your money... but for a trip like this I do understand the desire for something that really reaches out and touches someone...

(also note I've not used lensrentals... i know there are others... it's just what I found first)

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
9/7/12 11:22 p.m.
codrus wrote: Generally speaking, the bigger the zoom range, the more compromises you'll have to accept in the image quality. I find that "superzooms" (10x or higher zoom range, like the 18-200) make too many optical compromises for my personal taste. I've used a couple of 4x zoom lenses that were acceptable (I love my 24-105, for example), and I've read good things about the 70-300 L, but I don't like lenses where the max aperture changes as you zoom it.

See, I believed the same thing until I got the 18 200. It vignettes a bi at 18 and shows some chromatic abberation at 200, but it's super subtle and super consistent so you can almost kind of use it for an effect if you want to.

I like that 24 105 a lot as well, but I wish it wasn't a sliding barrell. That seems cheap for an L lens.

jg

Jeff
Jeff Dork
9/8/12 12:49 a.m.
donalson wrote: first i'll ask... do you shoot a full frame or crop sensor? ether way you'll need a good stable tripod... but a crop sensor with a 400mm lens is SUPER long next question... do you really plan on using the lens $1700 worth?... you might consider just renting the lens... lensrentals.com has the 100-400 canon glass for $55 for 5 days... you could take what you saved and rent one of the super wide angles like the Sigma 8-16mm and get some fun creative shots... if you end up loving the lens and wishing for it down the road then buy... but for a single trip it seems like a lot to spend... there might be better glass for your regular use for your money... but for a trip like this I do understand the desire for something that really reaches out and touches someone... (also note I've not used lensrentals... i know there are others... it's just what I found first)

Do this for this trip. If you love it, buy one. However, unless you are really going to start shooting a bunch of wildlife, an 80-200 with the converter might be a better option, particularly if you are using an APS-C sized sensor.

Hal
Hal Dork
9/8/12 11:59 a.m.

From what I have read on the Canon Photograpy Forum even a 400 may be a little short for Yellowstone. I would suggest doing some reading on that forum and maybe renting a lens to use.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Intern
9/8/12 1:14 p.m.

I was occasionally stretched to limit at Yellowstone with a 400mm and my Nikon DX sensor– effectively a 600mm lens. However, if you're patient and choose your shots wisely, you don't need more than a 400mm, IMHO.

Max_Archer
Max_Archer Reader
9/8/12 6:54 p.m.

50mm on a crop sensor isn't what I would call a landscape lens, it's way too long. I'd think that for a place like yellowstone, a good wide-angle would be a priority.

As long lenses go, you're not going to want to carry anything over 400. The Sigma 50-500 is the one possible exception, but the problem with Sigma is that their quality control is horrible, and many people have to keep exchanging the lens for a new one two or three times before they get a good one.

I don't see much point in that 70-300L. It's basically a kit zoom with slightly faster AF and better build quality. At 300mm it's already at f/5.6, which means that even with a 1.4x it'll be at f/8, which is probably beyond your camera's ability to autofocus, and shutter speeds will be really low.

The 100-400 is probably the best bet if you really want to own a long lens. It seems to be a pretty good lens, too, I see a decent number of them on the media side of the fence when shooting races.

stumpmj
stumpmj Dork
9/8/12 9:27 p.m.

Let me answer questions and suggestions in no particular order.

I like the idea of the 70-200 f2.8 lens plus an extender. She'd planned on getting one that lens before indoor horse shows started up this winter (She NEEDS that low light performance). I'm not sure we can swing the IS version plus an extender right now though (about $2700 all in I think). Maybe the non-IS version? I don't think the f4 70-200 IS is worth it.

It is for a crop sensor camera. The plan is to stick with one for awhile (plan is to upgrade to a 7D in the near future)

Reported quality issues on the Sigma lenses is what has me shying away from them. I just don't want ot go throught the effort of exchanging lenses till I (hopefully) get the right one. Plus, the resale on Canon lenses is unbelievable. And it looks like the Sigma 50-500 is NLA.

I'll be carrying both a tripod and a mono pod for her.

I'll run renting by her. She may get enough use out of it between wildlife and horse shows to make owning a long lens worth it. It looks like they sell used for $1200 so the cost to own it would only be $400. Plus, I can bring it to track days! FYI, with shipping included it's $84 for 5 days. We'd need it for 8 I'm thinking it'll be a bit over $100.

The landscapes have been good enough with that 50 mm lens (we took it to Yellowstone last year). Her priority is wildlife. Otherwise, I'd probably be buying the 16-35 L f2.8.

Thanks for the opinions and options. The more the merrier!

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
9/8/12 11:11 p.m.

When you upgrade, consider a 60D instead of a 7D. Same guts, plus you get a fold-out screen, and the ability to use SD cards instead of the inferior CF cards. The only real tradeoff is the 60D is slightly less weatherproof. I tend to head for cover no matter what I'm shooting with.

(and, on a completely unrelated note, I have an extra battery grip for a 60D for sale)

jg

codrus
codrus Reader
9/9/12 12:12 a.m.
stumpmj wrote: I like the idea of the 70-200 f2.8 lens plus an extender. She'd planned on getting one that lens before indoor horse shows started up this winter (She NEEDS that low light performance). I'm not sure we can swing the IS version plus an extender right now though (about $2700 all in I think). Maybe the non-IS version? I don't think the f4 70-200 IS is worth it.

I wouldn't necessarily dismiss the 4.0 out of hand -- it's a super sharp lens and much much lighter than the 2.8, although probably not ideal for this intended use (put a 1.4x on it and you're at 5.6 throughout the range).

If you want 2.8, but don't want to pay that much, consider looking for a lightly used copy of version 1. There was about a 30% jump in price from v1 to v2 (which is true of pretty much all of the new Canon lenses coming out lately), combine that with the depreciation of a used and "obsolete" lens, and you can get one used for $1300 or so, which leaves room for a 1.4x teleconverter in your $1700 budget. Yes, it's not as sharp as the version 2, but it was a pro workhorse lens for many years, and it's plenty sharp enough to be happy with (I wouldn't pay the $800 price difference to upgrade mine).

As far as lens rentals go -- there are a lot of people who like the idea of renting, but personally I'm not one of them. A 2 week rental on a $2000 lens is gonna be $250 easy once you include shipping & insurance. With the relatively small depreciation of Canon L glass, you can just about buy one, use it for six months, and then sell it for the same $250 net cost (obviously your local sales tax rate factors into this). Rental lenses get heavily beat up, you don't know if the lens is going to be in proper working order when it arrives, and odds are it won't be as sharp as a personal lens (never buy a used rental lens, IMHO).

codrus
codrus Reader
9/9/12 12:21 a.m.
JG Pasterjak wrote: When you upgrade, consider a 60D instead of a 7D. Same guts, plus you get a fold-out screen, and the ability to use SD cards instead of the inferior CF cards. The only real tradeoff is the 60D is slightly less weatherproof. I tend to head for cover no matter what I'm shooting with.

The 7D has dual DIGIC 4 processors to the 60D's one, plus a 50% higher frame rate and a better autofocus system. The swing-out display is useful if you plan to do a lot of video, but more fragile than the fixed display on the 7D and adds nothing for still photography. CF cards are available in significantly faster data rates than SD, nothing inferior about that.

The price difference is large, but you get a lot of extra stuff. If I were replacing my 50D, I'd go with a 7D over a 60D.

Max_Archer
Max_Archer Reader
9/10/12 1:38 a.m.
codrus wrote:
JG Pasterjak wrote: When you upgrade, consider a 60D instead of a 7D. Same guts, plus you get a fold-out screen, and the ability to use SD cards instead of the inferior CF cards. The only real tradeoff is the 60D is slightly less weatherproof. I tend to head for cover no matter what I'm shooting with.
The 7D has dual DIGIC 4 processors to the 60D's one, plus a 50% higher frame rate and a better autofocus system. The swing-out display is useful if you plan to do a lot of video, but more fragile than the fixed display on the 7D and adds nothing for still photography. CF cards are available in significantly faster data rates than SD, nothing inferior about that. The price difference is large, but you get a lot of extra stuff. If I were replacing my 50D, I'd go with a 7D over a 60D.

I wouldn't buy either - 7DII and 70D are way too close to appearing.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Intern
9/10/12 8:06 a.m.

I'd buy a D7000.

stumpmj
stumpmj Dork
9/11/12 11:43 a.m.

I've heard that there's a big camera show somettime this month when the new cameras will be annouced. We're waiting on that before buying anything body wise.

Where do you guys recomend looking for used lenses? Keh? Somewhere else? If I can find a v1 70-200 f2.8 for the right price I'll do that plus an extender. Otherwise, it looks like 100-400 IS all the way.

codrus
codrus Reader
9/11/12 1:16 p.m.

70-200 f/2.8s are all over Craigslist here, lots of them sold by folks who hardly ever used them but just had to upgrade to the new version. Take your camera body with you when buying the lens to make sure it works.

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