70-200 2.8 vs. 100-400

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by brian_clark|5, Sep 13, 2008.

  1. Thursday I was shooting my sons football game. I am right on the field so I am close to the action. I have a 40D and a 24-105L but the
    reach is just not enough. So I was thinking about getting a tele. The 70-200 2.8 IS sounded really nice and I really do like the 2.8 so I
    would not go for the f/4 models of the 70-200. but I am worried about the reach. so I was thinking maybe the 100-400. The reviews are
    that the 100-400 wins hands down to the 70-200 2.8 IS but I am not sure if I want to give up the 2.8 The 2.8 makes the lens more versatile
    but the extra reach and the cheaper price of the 100-400 makes me go for the other. Please help me out with this. any reviews,
    comments or suggestions would be appreciated.

    I have had the 70-300 in the past but don't anymore. but I really did not like how slow the focusing was and how soft it was. So I would like
    to keep it in the L family. I just love the IQ and the focusing speed of the L family.


  2. They are very different lenses... and both are excellent.

    If you need the extra reach, then the 100-400mm is the only game.

    If you don't need anything longer than 200mm I'd go for the 70-200 f/2.8.

    Unless you're going for really tight closeups, or shooting from one end of the field to the other, I'd think the 70-200 would be fine. You can try-before-buying with places like: http://borrowlenses.com/
  3. Go to one of the games with any of your lenses and set things for Av f5.6. Be sure you aren't getting lights in the frame and find out if it is bright enough to allow you to get a decent shutter speed with a workable ISO. That's the problem with the 100-400; it's relatively slow. If the stadium is lit enough to allow you to get 1/500 or better (hopefully better) at f5.6 then the 100-400 will work and that depends on what camera you have and how high an ISO you are willing to shoot at. The 70-200 is NOT long enough, but it can be used by cropping your shots and you can get a very good 8x10 even from a 1/4 crop. Maybe not perfect, but good. If you can walk the sideline you can pre-position yourself for desired action but you won't be able to shoot end-to-end with the 70. Night games with anything less than a 300 or 400f2.8 can be a challenge. stadiums vary greatly in how brightly they are lit.
  4. There is no stadium. They play at in the late afternoon so until an hour or so before sunset. so what ever sun light there is
    that is the light I have. sense there is not stadium there are not stands so I am by the field and can go where ever. this is
    just high school flag ball.

  5. Take a good look at the 70-300mm IS lens. Probably a good fit for that kind of application. Not a big honking bazooka of a lens for being around kid's sports.
  6. There is a great big honking bazooka that is an ideal sport lens: the Sigma 120-300 f/2.8. That will give you both added reach and fast aperture for isolating players from the background, and fast shutter speeds without needing to crank ISO to the top end of the range alongside excellent image quality - although you'll need a monopod. Some user reviews:


    For adult players, the rule of thumb is you need 100mm of focal length on full frame (i.e. 62.5mm on 1.6 crop) for every 10 yards of subject distance to isolate an adult player. High school kids aren't that much smaller than adults. 200mm therefore is good for ~35 yards.
  7. There is not a huge difference in reach from 105mm to 200mm. If you are really lacking reach, your choice is obvious. You won't be disappointed with either as they both produce extremely high quality images.
  8. Brian:

    When you said the reach isn't enough on the 24-105, can you quantify this?

    Look at some pictures you took at 105mm. Crop them to what you wish they were.

    Assuming you're using the largest resolution, the 40D is roughly 3900
    x 2600. Just look at the long dimension (assuming you keep the 3:2
    ratio while cropping).

    So let's say you shot a picture at 105mm, and after you crop it, it's
    2000 pixels long. That's about the max reach you'd get using a 200mm

    For 400mm, that's approximately 1000 pixels. 800mm, 500 pixels. You
    get the idea. :)

    If you consistently like the field of view that 300mm-400mm gives you,
    I'd think about the 300/4 IS instead of the 100-400. I have the 300/4
    IS and 1.4x. I'm happier with the results I'm getting than what I've
    seen from a friend who has the 100-400.

  9. I have compared the 100-400 with the 70-200 (non-IS) over a three day dance recital shoot. I have also used the 70-200 IS at recitals but have not had the 100-400 at the same time to compare.

    A few things to note. The 100-400 has a push pull zoom and that does not work for everyone. You should at least try it out in a local camera shop (if you can find one) or rent it for a few days. It does take some getting used to. Also, I have used the 100-400 for high school sports. It's a real attention grabber particularly when you are zooming out to 400mm because the barrel extends substantially (unlike the 70-200 series of lenses). Add the hood onto the end of the 100-400 and you have quite a weapon at 400mm. You will attract alot more attention. These are not really negatives (you are going to attract attention with any white lens). The IQ is similar on all three of these lenses (though I found each of the 70-200 2.8's to have a bit better color, bokeh and they were easier to focus).

    Alternatively you could get the 1.4 TC and use it on one of the 70-200 2.8's.

    I am curious as to your comment on the 70-300. Were you referring to the Canon 70-300 IS? I compared that as well to the 70-200 (non-IS) and the 100-400 IS and wow it was pretty darn close as to IQ. And it's black and quite a lbit lighter.

    I guess it really comes down to whether you need 400mm.
  10. Hello Brian

    I rented the 100-400 for 7 days and used it alongside my EF70-200 f/2.8L (no IS) and an EF300 f/4.0L IS on both a
    10D and on an EOS3 (crop and full-frame bodies). The primary use was large (wading) birds in late
    afternoon/early evening. My conclusions were as follows:

    After using the 100-400, I decided that this lens offers poor value for the cost. Here are my reasons:

    - Autofocus performance was not nearly as good as the the other two lenses I mentioned. It was VERY POOR with my
    10D and only fair with my EOS3

    - It vignetted on my EOS3 when used with the lens hood.

    - Low-light performance was dismal (I am talking late afternoon/early evening or in even in the bush during the day)

    - I really disliked the "zoom lock" ring. It was awkward to use (you have to hold the focus ring to turn the lock
    ring) and, even after a week of use, I couldn't seem to operate the lock ring without throwing the lens out of focus.

    - I didn't notice a big difference in image sharpness, but, the contrast and color of the 100-400 was not as good
    as the other two lenses I mentioned.

    - I missed too many shots with this lens.

    I could be that I had a bad copy of the 100-400. It is an L lens so it's quite rugged and actually not that
    heavy...but...If you aim to use this lens in low light, I would recommend you rent one first and practice with it
    a bit before you take it to an important game. You might like it, a lot of folks think it is great. It cost me
    less than US100.00 to rent one for a week and that included insurance and shipping.

    Also, I find that the Canon 1.4 teleconverter does not perform well, on my 70-200, at wide aperture settings. It
    can do a pretty good job at f/8.0 - f/11...but that would not suit your purpose.

    Hope this helps.

    Cheers! Jay
  11. Brian, I'm curious about your statement that the "100-400 wins hands down." What do you mean by that? If you are comparing image quality it is not even close, the 70-200 is far better in IQ and AF speed. You can crop any pic up in size with excellent results also. I shoot mostly motorsports and the 70-200 is my primary lens. I was not impressed with the 100-400, not a bad lens but not in the same league as the 70-200 lenses.
  12. The general consensus (based on comments in this forum and Bob Atkins review) is that 70-200 with a 2X TC gives poorer image quality then 100-400 lens.

    So if you need 400mm, your best options are 400mm/2.8, 400mm/5.6, 100-400mm, 300mm/4+1.4 TC
  13. I have the 100-400 and the 70-200 F4. I would suggest using the 100-400 with the addition of a flash for low light conditions. At iso 400 F5.6 my 430EX would reach 18m or about 59 feet. Enough to reach a significant distance into the field from the side lines. A more powerfull flash would go even further. The only question I have is would there be enough light for the Autofocus to work well. You might also consider using a monopod.
  14. I have shot a dozen highschool games with the 70-200L 2.8is
    The focus speed is good for football
    If you move with the team you will have enough reach unless you need to be super tight
    ...and it mates well with the 1.4x to give u more reach
    400 could be over kill for some.
  15. why not get the 70-200 non IS for less. If you shooting sports you'll need 1/500 shutter speed anyways so there's not much point to IS
  16. Why don't you get 70-200mm f2.8L IS + a 1.4X TC? The sharpness of this combo is still good though. Or, you may want to consider renting one lens and getting the other.
  17. At dusk, the main limiting factor is not lens length, but light. Therefore you want something fast, which will permit you to capture what light there is. You do not want a really long lens that is difficult to use for sports except in brilliant sunshine. This principle may change as faster sensors come to play, but you don't have one of those. As usable light dies, you will fall back to shorter, fast glass to get the images you can.

    I'll give a vote for the 70-200 2.8, with a 1.4X teleconverter that you can put on when light is good (don't get the 2X). Either the IS or the non IS version -- they are equal for the task you have, but the IS would come in handy in other situations when your kid walks that wedding pathway (sooner than you think). I have the 70-200 2.8, and also the 300 2.8. I use the 300 less often, as it is not so versatile as a shorter zoom. Even at f 2.8, light at dusk is very marginal for a 300 mm lens.

    Any lens will have an optimal zone of capture. With longer glass you will need to be shooting a little farther away, with somewhat more risk that other players will get in your way, and a faster shutter speed. I would use the shorter lens and take advantage of the fact that you can get by with less light.
  18. I own the Canon 100-400MM zoom. For sports, on a cropped sensor camera, it'll give you all the reach you'll need. The IS feature is fantastic for stopping camera shake.
    I've published a Canon 100-400MM lens review of my own.

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