100-400 IS Lens and whale watching - Use IS or No?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by rick_tyrseck, Jun 21, 2010.

  1. I have been lucky to be photographing whales for 25+ years, all without the use of IS. My 70-200 f4 on a canon 20D gave me enough reach along with higher ISO speeds for sharp images. Now I have a full frame 5Dmkii and decided to rent the 100-400 lens to have anough reach. I see there are 2 different IS modes Regular+Panning. I don't need to pan per se, but my question is should I use IS and would it make sense to just use in the regular mode. I am concerned because at f5.6 @ 400mm I don't want to push ISO too high. In addition, you need to be quick to catch the action as they break the surface, so would IS slow down the AF-to-shutter time too much?
     
  2. I have a 100-400. From pure logic it doesn't make sense to use IS on a moving object. You need a high enough shutter speed to stop action. I would leave it off. I would imagine a whale breaking water would need a thousandth to be sharp. It may not hurt to have the IS on but I don't know that and it sure would not help the image as IS is only good for relatively still objects in one and only for steady tracking in two.
     
  3. You are dealing both with the moving object (the whale) and the moving camera (being on a boat, I presume). With a 5D2 and this lens (both of which I use) I would have not hesitation about raising the ISO to 400 (or even a bit higher if needed) and using IS.
     
  4. well, if your like me i need all the help i can get and in challenges like this i shoot at ISO 500 or so and use IS, and then speed up shutter speed to help with the light , or dust in photo.
     
  5. Although the IS allows you to use slower shutter speeds, that doesn't do you any good with action photography as you still need a fast shutter to freeze the action. The good news is that the 5d II handles noise at high ISOs extremely well and you can probably get very acceptable images at 800 or even 1600. As for IS, although it won't help freeze the action, it will help keep the camera steady so that you can keep the whale in the frame and on the desired AF point. Just play around with each IS mode in the yard before you go out to see which works best for you. The panning mode tends to not be as jerky and may work better. Also, another thing to look into may be the 300mm f/4L IS. The 70-200mm on a 20D had an effective FL of 320mm on the long end and that was covered by 8MP. While the 300mm isn't quite as long as the effective FL of your previous set up, it is a stop faster than the 100-400mm and the 5D II puts 21MP on that image, giving you LOTS of room to crop. You can also add the 1.4x tele-converter to make a 400mm f/5.6 IS if needed.
     
  6. zml

    zml

    Use IS if available. IS steadies your lens and since (depending on your handholding technique, support, breathing, etc.) you may need as much as 1/1500s to stop the movement/shaking of a longer lens such as the 100-400, IS can be a really good thing. I normally use mode 1 and for slow panning can't see any difference between the panning modes (mode 2 seems to work better if you pan really fast.)
    I know, I know, there are people who "consistently" obtain "critically sharp" results with a 1000 mm lens handheld at 1/15s without IS, but such people exist only in fairy tales, so use IS if available: it won't hurt and it might give you sharper photos.
    Oh, search the 'net: this topic is beaten to death from every conceivable angle on many a forum.
     
  7. I say leave the IS on ! It can't hurt and if your subject is not moving at 100 miles per second, it might help. Just be aware that IS is a big drainer on your batteries, so use it wisely.
     
  8. "what they said..." - use IS
    (IMHO) The only time to turn IS off is when you are intentionally moving the camera (i.e. panning) for an effect you don't want the IS to "correct".
    As others note, nothing changes the rules about shutter speed and subject motion.
     
  9. [[(IMHO) The only time to turn IS off is when you are intentionally moving the camera (i.e. panning) for an effect you don't want the IS to "correct".]]
    A nit to pick here. Not all of Canon's IS-enabled lenses have the ability to sense when they are mounted to a tripod. In these cases, you should turn off IS to avoid over-correcting (and thus blurry photos) from the IS system.
     
  10. Normally you can leave IS on all the time. The only exception are long exposure shots on a tripod (several seconds). In this case IS seems to drift away and make things worse.
     
  11. Rick - I would leave the IS on and raise the ISO. The IS may not be of much help (as Dan says) becuase you will need a fast shutter speed. On the 5DII I would not worry too muvch about going to high ISOs to avoid camera or subject movement. ISO 800 produces great results and even ISO 1600 and 3200 are very usable on this camera. I never shot the 20D but I suspect ISO 3200 on the 5DII matches or beats the 20D at ISO 400. here is a shot and a close crop of the 5DII at ISO 3200 1/400 and F2.8 with a 70-200 f2.8 at 100mm (no IS on this lens)
    00WiX9-253469584.jpg
     
  12. Here is the crop to show how good this camera is - even at ISO 3200
    00WiXA-253469684.jpg
     
  13. A couple more things...
    Some folks are saying that IS won't help because the subject will (if jumping) be moving and you'll need a fast shutter speed for that. Yes, but at 400mm on full frame the shutter speed that is slow enough to benefit from IS (e.g. roughly 1/400 second) is also one that is fast enough to stop a lot of action. These limits tend to intersect on longer lenses. (They don't on wider lenses where, for example, 1/25 second may not be enough to stop action but it might be OK in terms of camera motion at 24mm.)
    Regarding ISO on the 5D2, as I wrote, I'll readily use ISO 400 with barely a thought about decreased IQ. In fact, I don't hesitate much at all to shoot at ISO 800 when shooting things like wildlife or sports. If conditions require it, I can get pretty decent quality at ISO 1600.
    Dan
     
  14. Whales (at least large ones arn't that fast but they do tend to appear suddenly. It sounds like you are mainly concerned that IS will slow down AF or cause a delay while the camera waits for IS. IS will not cause the the camera to wait. by the time you have pointed the camera on the whale and focused IS will be ready. There is no shutter delay caused by IS. I have this lens and I consider the IS system good down to a shutter speed of 1/100. Without IS you would need 1/400 of a second. The difference between a F4 lens and a F5.6 lens is only one stop so I so I don't think you need to worry too much. Set you camera to TV at 1/300 of a second (or higher if needed), adjust the ISO as needed, Set IS to normal, and configure the AF as you prefer.
     
  15. Whales (at least large ones arn't that fast but they do tend to appear suddenly. It sounds like you are mainly concerned that IS will slow down AF or cause a delay while the camera waits for IS. IS will not cause the the camera to wait. by the time you have pointed the camera on the whale and focused IS will be ready. There is no shutter delay caused by IS. I have this lens and I consider the IS system good down to a shutter speed of 1/100. Without IS you would need 1/400 of a second. The difference between a F4 lens and a F5.6 lens is only one stop so I so I don't think you need to worry too much. Set you camera to TV at 1/300 of a second (or higher if needed), adjust the ISO as needed, Set IS to normal, and configure the AF as you prefer.
     
  16. I would leave the IS on, doesn't have any downside and may help steady some of the shots. Crank up the ISO (1600 is fine) so you can use higher shutter speeds. The push-pull zoom of the 100-400 lens is ideal for quick zoom when the whale break surface (keep it wide to get more coverage, and zoom in when you see something interesting).
     
  17. The difference between a F4 lens and a F5.6 lens is only one stop​
    Only one stop... One stop is a doubling of shutter speed. Its the difference in 1/500 and 1/1000 sec. That's alot when you're trying to stop action. Or it could be the difference in ISO 400 and ISO 800, or between ISO 800 and ISO 1600. That one stop of shutter or ISO IS a big deal with regards to stopping action or photo quality.
     
  18. Leave IS on. I do - all the time with dolphins in the wild and have never had a problem with slow AF. IS is a real advantage in these circumstances.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    And a rare shot on a grim wet dull cold day of a dolphin playing frisbee with a moon jellyfish
    [​IMG]
    And sometimes you just have too much lens and they come too close
    [​IMG]
    All above are wild animals in the wild doing wild stuff, NOT captive. Loads more shots here, all with IS on: http://www.john.macpherson.btinternet.co.uk/fullimagenature8.html
    IS is a really useful tool in your box of photo stuff in my opinion.
     
  19. I have the 100-400 and have used it for several years now.
    The use of IS will not slow AF in any manner. Leave the IS in the #1(Normal) position, and leave it turned on. IS is only activated when you press the shutter button and is immediate.
    The #2(Panning) position is most effective for a fairly fast panning shot, and I have noticed at times when I forget to switch back to the #1 position, some of my shots of slower moving subjects are not as sharp. I think if the IS is left in the Panning position it's somewhat the same effect as trying to use IS on a tripod.
    I shoot Aviation Air shows, Auto Drag Races, Motocross, and many subjects that would be moving faster than the whales. I shoot at ISO 100 most all the time.
     
  20. As always, great advice can be found here. Thanks for your thoughts
     

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