Canon 300F4 IS or Canon 100-400mm?

Discussion in 'Nature' started by jeroen_gense, Feb 3, 2000.

  1. Hi
    I already have a Canon 500mmF4.5 for birdphotography and
    I want to buy a smaller/short focus lens for flight shots
    from birds .
    I do not know what to buy : the 300mm F4 or the 100-400 mm from Canon.
    Who can give me some advise?

    Thanks in advance

    Jeroen Gense
  2. I believe Mr. Arthur Morris answers these questions admirably at:

  3. Having owned and used both lenses for flight shots, IMO, they are both excellent and super sharp, but the 100-400IS is much more versatile.
  4. I would agree that Art Morris's website is a good resource to consult on this one. I own the 300mm f/4 IS, and thus far I am finding it a great lens. It works very well with the 1.4x teleconverter, giving full autofocus at f/5.6. My take is that this lens is better for birds and wildlife, whereas the 100-400mm zoom is a more versatile lens for shooting a variety of nature subjects. Sharpness is supposed to be comparable.

    Ross Geredien
  5. I have both. I had planned to keep the best one and sell the other, but I'm having trouble parting with either...

    The 300/4 IS is sharper, an exquisite lens, and nearly a stop faster at 300mm. At 420 (with the 1.4 TC) the quality is similar to the 100-400 at 400mm. I love the built-in hood too.

    The 100-400 is obviously more versatile, I just wish it was sharper. For flight shots it's probably the better choice. I have missed shots with the 300mm because I couldn't zoom out. It is far sharper than those horrible 75-300 zooms Canon puts out.

    Whatever you do, don't buy both. Your bag will be too heavy because you won't want to leave either one behind.
  6. Jeroen, you know what i think. I think the 100-400 is a better buy. Its longer, you can still use 1.4 converter and have AF funcionality with EOS3. For hide work, and especially in Europe where, in my opinion, wildlife and birds are more shy than in the States, the extra reach of the 100-400 is a big plus. You will regret the 300!

    Concerning sharpness: i dont agree with the respons that the lens is not as sharp. Its at least on par!

    For your information Jeroen: there was a big test of long range zooms in the UK and the Canon came out top. The conclusion of the Canon 100-400 was: a lens from a different planet!! Maybe a bit over the top but everyone is enthousiastic about it. For your info: a lot of the nature photographers overhere are swapping their 4/300 for a 100-400!
    If you really want a 300 IS..i might be able to help!
  7. Several comments: 1-Don't forget that the 300 f/4 IS is a superb macro lens with it's amazing close focus. 2-Reports that the 100-400 IS zoom is "less than sharp" are totally ridiculous. I have been carrying and using the 1-4 more and more every day and have been making razor sharp images at all focal lengths with wide open to moderately stopped down apertures. In addition, I have it used it wide open, handheld with the 1.4X tele-converter with excellent results (with static subjects). For bird photography its versatility is unmatched; I find myself making images that I would never even have thought of before--groups of birds in their surroundings among others. Though heavier than the 400 f/5.6L, it is a superb flight lens. At Bosque Del Apache NWR late this fall, I used it on a tripod before sunrise for "bird-scapes" and then again almost exclusivley for the spectacular blast-offs. I only wish that the zoom was a bit smoother. I too am thinking of getting rid of one of my intermediate telephotos: my beloved "toy lens," the aforementioned 400 f/5.6 L (and keeping my 300 f/4 IS and the 1-4). Never thought that I'd ever say that when the 1-4 first came out!
    Best, and great picture making, Arthur Morris.
    P.S. If you'd like to receive BIRDS AS ART On-Line Bulletins, e-mail and request same.
  8. Sounds like Arthur got a better sample of the 100-400 (or a worse one of the 300/4 IS) than I did. On the light table, with an 8x loupe, I can sure see the difference! But it may not matter in the real world, the 100-400 is still good. I doubt you would ever see a difference if you use ISO 200 film. And if Arthur Morris says it's a good flight lens I would tend to believe him!
  9. The 300 f4 IS with a 1.4x TC is about the same as the 100-400mm at 400mm. You will probably be using it at 400mm most of the time for birds. The bare 300 IS is better optically than the 100-400mm at 300mm which is probably close to the optical performace of your 500 F4.5. Tough choice. If your more concerned about optics go for the 300 IS and don't use a TC. If a slight reduction in optics (you get this with moving subjects anyway) isn't such a concern, then get the 100-400mm. If you're rich enough then get the 100-400mm and a cheap used old 300mm F4 (non IS) and you won't have to worry about it anymore!!!!
  10. In January I tested the two 300's and the results wide open definitely favored the one without IS, but I bought the 100-400 anyway because the sharpness difference was negligable in A4 prints and it felt like I was taking better pictures with it. Usually its best to go with what feels right. In Stockholm it wasn't too difficult to rent and test all three and I'd imagine its at least as easy in the states. With this trio you really can't make a bad choice!
  11. Mr Morris mentions that he has received good results with the 100-400 and a 1.4x. But then he says in parentheses "static only." Why is that? Also (perhaps related) can he, or another, let me know if it works in autofocus with an Ellan II? Thank you for your assistance.
  12. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    Michael, the Canon 100-400 IS zoom has a maximum aperture of f5.6 at the long (400mm) end. After you put a 1.4x TC on it, the long end becomes 560mm/f8. Assuming that you use ISO 100 film, with the Sunny 16 rule, you'll be shooting at 1/400 sec f8. If the lighting is anything less than front-lit completely sunny, we are talking about a 1/200 sec, 1/100 sec or perhaps even slower shutter speed, which isn't quite sufficient to freeze the action of flying birds with magnification around 500mm.
  13. Here's another way of thinking on this question. First get the 100-400 zoom since it is a very useful range for many types of wildlife photography and has been highly praised by many. Even Nikon decided to produce its first VR lens in that range so it must be a useful one.

    If the 100-400 doesn't do a good enough job photogrpahing the birds then try adding a 'specialist' lens such as the 300mm or 400mm USM lenses. I suspect that you will find plenty of other uses for the 100-400mm lens even if it's for the birds when it comes to photographing the birds.
  14. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    Back to the original quesiton, for birds in flight, go for the zoom. A couple of months ago (before the Nikon 80-400 VR was announced) I said in another thread that the Canon 100-400 IS is ideal for hand-held birds-in-flight shots. Just to point out the obvious, when birds are flying, usually their distance from your camera keeps on changing and a zoom lets you adjust the magnification (i.e. the image size of the bird(s) on your film) accordingly. That is a huge plus over any fixed lens and IMO far overweights any minute optical quality difference.
  15. With regard to the sharpness of the 100-400, there is, in my experience, a substantial difference between individual lenses. With my original 100-400 I could consistently produce noticeably sharper images using manual focus than when using autofocus (400mm, f5.6, tripod mounted, IS off, mirror lock, electric release, autofocus one shot or AI servo, central focusing point). There was clearly an autofocus problem and it was returned to Canon under warranty. They were unable to fix it (it was returned to me as "fixed" but if anything it was even worse)but did eventually exchange it for a demo model that they leant me whilst mine was in the workshop. This one is very sharp, even with a 1.4 converter. Under a 10x loupe it's almost if not as good as my 400mm f5.6L, which is consistently excellent. The moral of the story is that this is (or can be) a very sharp lens, but there are some lemons out there. If you are unlucky enough to get one, complain! I hope that you get the same sympathetic treatment that I did, for which my thanks go to Canon.
  16. Based on some the responses from this thread, I would like to pose a question. I will be heading up to Yellowstone in a couple of weeks with my family. I recently purchased (actually a birthday gift) the 100-400 IS lens. I will be taking this lens, the 28-135 IS lens the EOS-3 body plus a tripod. Weight is obviously a concern for this trip which is why I will be leaving my Sigma 400 F/5.6 + 1.4x converter behind. Question: Would the Canon 1.4x converter matched to the 100-400 be a worthwhile investment for wildlife photography on this trip???
  17. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    Hans, the main application for long lenses at Yellowstone is to photograph the wildlife. The long end of your 100-400mm zoom will be sufficient for the large mammals such as bisons, elks, etc., but if you are into birds, adding a 1.4x TC to the 400mm will be helpful. However, at maximum aperture f8, the viewfinder will be a bit dark.

    With the new 100-400 zoom, your Sigma 400mm/f5.6 will be redundant.
  18. Thanks for the advice on the 1.4x. When I added the Sigma 1.4x to its 400 f/5.6, the resulting darker viewfinder at f/8 did not hinder my photographing birds (relatively static shots). Providing that the optical quality is similar with the Canon 100-400 IS + 1.4x, then yes, the Sigma becomes a redundant item.

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