Better resolution - Another body or another lens?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by mark_davies|1, Jun 27, 2009.

  1. Hi Folk, I have a 40D and the 70 - 200 F4 L IS.
    If I wanted to obtain a larger, sharp, printed image of an object, in this case say a bird some distance away, would it be better to get another lens, e.g. 400 5.6 L IS or another body E.g. 50D, 5D Mk II?.
  2. This is a trick question, right? Since Canon doesn't make an IS version of the 400/5.6L, the choices you have provided would have to be the 5D Mk II. Otherwise, save your money by moving closer and shoot with your 70-200/40D combo.
  3. please define "larger"...
    answer depends on your definition. And just out of curiosity, would this "larger" print be for your pure enjoyment or are you actually making a profit(being monitary, awards, or just to simply satisfy the eyes of the beholder) out of the printed image?
  4. What proportion of the frame will the bird take in the picture - in other words what size bird and how far away? How big do you want to print (assuming you are printing)?
    The 50D jumps from the 10MP of the 40D up to 15MP - I am not convinced that this is a significant improvement and the high ISO performance is better on the 40D which will enable you to get faster shutter speeds. My first preference would be for the 400mm f5.6 which by all accounts is one of Canon's unexpected gems for bird photographers.
    This discussion recently arose on POTN:
  5. I agree with Mike that the 10 mp to 15 mp increase from 40D to 50D isn't that big a deal, and I far prefer my 40D's ISO performance over that of the 50D.
    Mark, conversion and post processing decisions can have a drastic impact on apparent detail and resolution too, but we really need much more information about your intentions here - this isn't a "black and white" issue.
    As to lenses, my preference is for the 100-400mm over the 400mm f/5.6.
  6. The 400mm will bring the bird much closer to you. For small birds in the wild, I think 400mm is right at the minimum necessary. The 50D will give you more room to crop the image if you need the subject to fill the frame. I won't even begin to open the 40 vs 50 debate. I've noted comparisons between the 40/50 performance at different ISO settings. Believe me, you will not be disappointed by the 50D's performance.
  7. Hi mark, First off why not take the shot (or a test shot of an object similar in size and distance as your bird) and see if the 70-200 is good enough. Try cropping the image and print. You will be surprised how good a cropped image can be if you have got everything spot on. If the print is not sharp enough, pixelated or what ever then you are going to need more lens not camera. 400mm is the minimum, either a prime 400 5.6L or a zoom 100-400LIS.
  8. I won't even begin to open the 40 vs 50 debate​
    well, you just did by your biased comments :). I have actually shot with both. I decided not to purchase the 50D and keep my 40D for the obvious well regarded reasons all over the net and cnet. I did however purchase the 5DmkII(just to calm my gear acquitision syndrome GAS) and to my dissapointment the image quality is dependant of the photographer, not the camera. So, take my advice and keep your 40D and acquire a lens that best suits your budget and photographic technique(bird photograhy in this case). By my personal experience(not a bird photog, which I find to be the most boring pictures ever) on "an object shot by a distace away" I find that 200mm does not cut it. Try an ef 100-400 L lens with IS.
    Coming back to the debate. I am almost sure Mr Kiessel is a very proud owner of a 50D. Well it aint that much of an advantage over the 40D, believe me... 10mp-15mp is NOT that big of a deal, even for serious cropping.
  9. I' also have shot with the 50d&40d, keep your 40d and I would get the 100-400L IS or maybe get x1.4 good luck.
  10. I am almost sure Mr Kiessel is a very proud owner of a 50D.​
    Why, yes...yes I do own a 50D. That's very perceptive, Mr. Brocanega. But how on earth did you know?
  11. Keep your 40D. The 100-400mm is a wonderful lens, but if your simply looking for a focal range of 400mm, consider the 400mm 5.6. It's less expensive and lighter.
  12. All things being equal, and they seldom are, MP count need to be 4x more to make an enlargement twice as big linearly.
    MP are figured over area.
  13. Folk, Thanks greatly for the fantastic response. I will try to explain better.
    First, It was not meant to be a trick question, I was going from memory and thought there was a 400 5.6 L IS. Sorry.
    To elaborate, I like photos of both birds and people. But, for the sake of the question and I hope it is not to "simple" an example: If I take a photo of either, person, bird (car, plane, apple) from a distance and it fills say one quarter of my frame on the 40D, when I wish to enlarge it to a certain size, there becomes a point when it loses its clarity. Ignoring the walk closer to it option, as birds and people may not wish a large lens to be that close to them apart from the person holding the camera, and cars may be further away than you wish, and I have not seen too many aircraft flying at 100 feet so I can take their picture, then the options left are to have a higher resolution image, so when cropping the part of the image I want, and printing to the size I want, I get a good image.
    I am not making a profit from photography: I am retired and like to capture photos of various genre and occasionally exhibit in local venues.
    But, by the feel of the answers, it would appear the 100-400 is the solution unles the 5DMkII would give a significantly better performance than the 40D. Yes it is more expensive than the 100-400. But I could trade the 40D if going the 5DMkII way but would buy outright the 100 - 400 if going that way. It may make the cost closer. How about the comparison.
    Thanks, Mark
  14. For your situation and concerns a lens upgrade will make a much more significant difference than any body upgrade. Do the lens first followed by a body upgrade when you can afford it. Improved and cheaper bodies are released every 12-24 months, the best lenses are generally only "tweaked" every 5-10 years!
    Now do some more research on lenses. Plenty of discussions here comparing 70-200/2.8 IS/non-IS w/2x, 300/4 IS/non-IS w/1.4x, 400/5.6, and 100-400/5.6 IS.
    My personal preference given that you already have a capable zoom is the 300/4 (either IS or non-IS) and 1.4x. When you just can't get enough light for f5.6 you can forego the converter. The 300 on it's own is sharper than any of the above lenses and with the 1.4x is said to be as sharp or sharper than the 400/5.6 or 100-400/5.6 IS.
  15. A simple notion to think about: With a cropped sensor body the object will fill more of the frame with a given focal length. With a full frame body and a longer lens an object that fills the frame the same way can be captured with greater resolution.
    The questions of resolution also involves a series of other issues besides the lens body. In particular, how large will you print? How close can you get? How big is the subject? etc.
  16. Do the math. Assuming your birds has been filling less then 1/2 the width of viewfinder
    D50 = (4752-3888)/3888 = 22% improvement
    5D MKII = ((5616/1.6) -3888))/3888 = 10% worst
    400/5.6 = (400-200)/200 = 100% better. Since you have the budget to buy get a 5D MK2 then get a 500/4 IS and be 150% better :)
  17. I think a longer lens would be better providing it a quality lens and you have the means to support it. 400 mm is not an easy hand hold. A monopod, tripod, or at least a shoulder brace is required (bushwacker as an example.)
  18. 400 mm is not an easy hand hold.​
    Sure it is - many of us do it all the time (I never use a tripod), and IS makes it even easier.
  19. You said at a bird at some distance. "Some distance" with birds does not have to be very far to make the shot not worthwhile even with very long lenses. Small birds are difficult to shoot with even very long lenses, even on a crop sensor, unless one is pretty close. Attracting the birds with a feeder, having perches set up -- say branches put up for the purpose, and then making yourself not very visible is one way to make up the distance. Long lenses are very expensive. This is one case where the crop sensor may be worth thousands of dollars as opposed to spending the long bucks for a longer lens. Being a stealthy photographer is a lot cheaper.
  20. You most certainly need the 400/5.6 IS. Actually, many do.... :)
    Happy shooting,
  21. My lowly 30D and the 400mm f5.6 photo - big glass is always better for birding
  22. I would agree with Bryan, you will get more from longer glass. The 5d mkII might have a higher MP but you will also have to crop more since it is a full size sensor. Invest in a longer lens, the image quality will be better for big prints over cropping in most cases.
    Even with 1.6x gear, a 200mm lens, with or without a 1.4x TC, is too short for shooting wild birds and forget about a 2x TC, the results can be very disappointing.
    Canon has a pair of primes which won't break the bank and which are eminently suited for wildlife. I have both as a result of a serendipitous purchase from a photographer who gained a lucrative contract to shoot Friday night high school football games in Texas and was in immediate need of funds to hep defray the cost of a 400mm f/2.8 IS lens. His loss was my gain and I got both lenses for less than the cost of the 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L zoom.
    400mm f/5.6L: (around $1,200 new)
    This lens produces outstanding IQ even wide open which is where I shoot it most of time so I can keep the shutter speed high. The auto-focus of this lens is snap on - even using a 40D camera. The down side of this lens is that it has a rather long minimum focus distance of 11.5' giving a maximum of 1:8.3 image ratio. However, more importantly, this lens is not equipped with IS so you need to keep the shutter speed up there (use high ISO in lower light levels) and or use a tripod, monopod or a shoulder pod. Here are plans for a shoulder pod which weighs less than two pounds and which I fabricated from less than ten bucks of material.
    300mm f/4L IS with 1.4x TC: (lens about $1,200 new, TC price depends on brand of TC)
    This lens is great. It has an f/4 aperture at 300mm which can do in a pinch when light is lower. Without the TC, this lens is also razor sharp and has extremely fast focus. The TC degrades the IQ and AF just a bit but, the lens/TC combination is still extremely good in both areas and provides a 420mm f/5.6 lens with IS capability. It focuses as close as 4.9 feet which provides a 1:4.2 image ratio without the TC and a 1:3 image ratio with the TC. This gives excellent close up capability with IS assistance. It allows you to shoot from a decent distance to avoid scaring any little creepy crawly critters you are shooting. I only have experience with the Canon 1.4x TC but, apparently third party 1.4x TC's such as those made by Kenko are very good.
    NOTE: Both of the above lenses are equipped with built in retractable lens hoods which work beautifully and are IMO much more fun to shoot with than removable lens hoods.
    The 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS zoom is another option as are several third party (especially Sigma) long tele lenses but, I have no personal experience with any of those.
  24. The 40D with the 400 mm lens will give you an effective focal length of 400 + 240 = 640 mm. If you use a tele-converter, don't go above 1.4X. That will get you 640 + 256 = 896 mm effective focal length, but you will lose a stop, which means that the already somewhat slow lens will be even slower (f/8 at best).
    You will need good light to be able to increase the shutter speed enough to be able to regularly get the shot hand-held at that aperture. You can compensate with higher ISO--up to a point.
    In general, the cropped-sensor cameras are better for telephoto work.
    I would get the lens and a 1.4 TC. (Actually, I think Canon calls them extenders rather than converters. "TC" is Nikon terminology.)
  25. An f/5.6 lens (400mm f/5.6L or the 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS) cannot retain autofocus with a Canon 1.4x or 2x TC. The minimum f/stop at which an xxxD or xxD camera can retain autofocus is f/5.6 and with the 1.4x; an f/5.6 lens becomes f/8 and with a 2x it becomes f/11. However, a 1D (series) camera can retain auto focus at f/8.
    Autofocus CAN be effected with a 1.4x TC on an f/5.6 lens if the TC is a third party brand such as Kenko which doesn't signal the f/stop to the camera or if you tape of some contacts on the Canon TC. Either way, this is not a very acceptable way to shoot.
    You can of course, use a TC and manually focus the lens. However, the viewfinder with an f/8 or f/11 lens will be pretty dim.
    Access Romy Ocon's web site on Birds of the Philippines for examples of how Romy "piles on" teleconverters to shoot his birds. By the way, his work is fabulous.
    See "Equipment Tests and Other Photos"
  26. Many thanks Gents, it looks as the glass will give the better result. I will go that way and try out the vaious options: 300 f4LIS with a 1.4TC, 400 f5.6L, 100-400. Again, thanks for the input. Mark
  27. The 5D Mark II will make you loose zoom so although you will be able to crop more you will loose length by a factor of 1.6.
    So with your 40D you 200 MM lens becomes a 320 MM lens. A 300 MM lens on your camera is affectively a 480MM lens. Cropping a 5D mark II images is not going to give you the detail of a longer zoom lens.
  28. @minute photos:
    The 5D Mark II will make you loose zoom so although you will be able to crop more you will loose length by a factor of 1.6.
    So with your 40D you 200 MM lens becomes a 320 MM lens. A 300 MM lens on your camera is affectively a 480MM lens.​
    I really don't understand this argument for bird photography. It works for landsapes where field of view is usually the prime consideration, but for bird photography the key is often magnification and in this situation the size of the sensor does not become a focal length multiplier. In other words with the 35mm sensor you gain width, you don't lose length.
    Given that you are usually shooting birds from a fixed position, it means that you will usually have to crop more with an image from the 5DII - some see that as a disadvantage, I see it as having more compositional options in post processing.
    Cropping a 5D mark II images is not going to give you the detail of a longer zoom lens.​
    I agree.

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