Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Vs Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM + Canon 2x EF Extender III (Teleconverter)

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by eli_ninor, Nov 21, 2013.

  1. I presently have a Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS II USM and a Canon 2x EF Extender III (Teleconverter) but I am not satisfied with the result I get from it while doing bird and wildlife photography. Should I add Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM to have a better result ? And lenses like Canon EF 600 mm f/4L IS II USM and Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X are too expensive. Please suggest.
  2. Hello Rohit,
    I think some examples of the unsatisfactory results might help.
    I suggest this because I own a (very good) 100-400mm, but I've found that results from my Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 OS lens and Sigma 2x converter are just as good - I'd expect the results from the Canon 70-200mm and TC to be at least as satisfying and probably even better than those from the Sigma.
    Oh - which camera are you using?
  3. jpk


    You are not the first PN member who ask this question. I hope that reading previous post can be very helpful, if you are lucky you may even find the answer... :)
  4. The 100-400 will only be slightly better at 400mm, if it is any better at all in your use. And the 100-400 doesn't come close to the IQ of the 70-200II up to 200mm. If you always have a tripod with you, the 400mm f/5.6 would be a good alternative.
    Good bird photography is a challenge with 400mm or less, or without one of Canon's f/2.8 or f/4 "Super Telephoto" lenses. I just recently rented a 500mm f/4 II and was blown away by the IQ and how much better my 7D performed with the latest in AF and IS technology in the big 500.
    Besides the lens, a fast shutter speed is needed to freeze the motion, especially of smaller birds. I've learned to not be too shy about cranking the ISO up on my 7D, if I want a hope of getting a decent shot with my 100-400.
  5. Keith R., I find that surprising, because the Sigma 2x converter has a reputation for being rubbish. I have a Sigma 70-200 and Sigma 2x myself and have found the results to be unimpressive. Is there a newer version of the teleconverter?
  6. It's simple. I shoot sports namely swimming. The 100-400 is my outdoor daylight lens. My 12 year old 70-200 2.8L no IS is for indoor low light pictures in dark pool corners at sometimes at ISO 3200. I like them both. I used a 2x on the 70-200 early on for wildlife but I like the 100-400 better although I showed those early 2x pictures and they were found acceptable by show judges. The new Canon 2x III is supposed to be very good and also expensive. I am not sure the 100-400 would be much better than your current combination which has to be better than my old 70-200 and 2x1. Although that old lens is damn sharp. .
  7. I just printed a flying bird group picture with my new Canon Pro-100 done at 400mm and it is very sharp in good light. If I were you I would look at my camera and my technique. I try to keep shutter speeds as high as I can like 1/1000 or faster for swimming and birds and am very careful about depth of field. I try to shoot swimming particularly starts at 1/2000th although that is sometimes just not possible. 400mm whether on a 400 lens or extended 200 really shows up camera shake. My 7D really shows shake if I am too slow.
  8. Suggestion. EF 400/5.6L. Cheaper, faster focusing, optically better. Use a tripod!
  9. Hi Ed,
    my Siggy 2x was bought used a couple of years ago, so I don't believe it's a new version.
    I can only speak as I find, but this is how it does on my Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 OS, handheld and wide open at 600mm, and this is the same TC on my 70-200mm at 400mm.
    Incidentally, I bought the Sigma 2x (as opposed to a Canon or Kenko alternative) because of positive reviews of its behaviour on Sigma lenses, and I find it to be excellent.
  10. If your serious about IQ, I would also agree with the suggestion of the 400mm 5.6. I find it sharp, fast focusing and easy to use.
  11. The problem is either not being close enough (neither lens has an advantage here), or technique. Raise your ISO to get your shutter speed up over 1/1000-sec. Don't buy the 400/5.6 if you've already got the 70-200/2.8 and 2x TC-III. The 400/5.6's lack of IS makes it a poor choice for hand held shooting. It'll add nothing to your arsenal.
    Use a default ISO of 800 and only lower to 400 when the sun is bright. Go to ISO 1600 when it's cloudy or you're in the woods and 3200 or 6400 at dusk and pre-dawn. Take every opportunity to stop down and still keep the SS over 1/1000. The ideal is around f/8 to f/11, giving you good DOF and shooting the lens in its sharpest range.
    AF accuracy can also be a problem for BIF. Are you in AI Servo mode? If you're shooting a 7D, then the AF will wander from one shot to the next. Are you using single-point AF and trying to put the AF point on the bird's head. (Multi-point AF schemes will often get a wing in focus and miss the eye, giving uneven results).
  12. David Stephens, why does one need IS to get a sharp image handheld from a 400mm lens at shutter speeds of 1/1000 and faster?
    I could not disagree more with your comment about the 400/5.6 being a poor choice for hand held shooting. With its light weight relative to the much heavier Canon telephoto lenses of equal and longer focal lengths, I think it is a great choice for hand held shooting and for carrying long distances to shooting locations. I am not aware of any Canon alternative in the same price range that touches it for portability and image quality.
    Here's one of many sharp photos I took of a hooded merganser I took yesterday with a 5D Mark III and a 400mm f/5.6, all hand held. This one was taken with a shutter speed of 1/640. And I get plenty of sharp images of birds in flight hand held with the 400/5.6 as well.
    Virtually every test I've seen online shows that the 400/5.6 has better IQ than the 100-400 f/4-5.6 at 400mm, which in turn has better IQ than the 70-200 f/2.8 IS plus 2X TC. So why would a 400/5.6 add nothing to the arsenal of somebody who is unhappy with the IQ he's getting from the latter combination?
  13. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Hello Rohit,
    I agree with Keith, that some examples of the unsatisfactory results might help us, help you.
    Also knowing what camera you use will probably benefit a more in depth analysis and possible solutions, for example addressing nuances of Post Production techniques.
    Also, more details of exactly what is unsatisfactory to you would assist: reading through the thread there are assumptions that it is the Image Quality that does not satisfy you - this may be so, but you have not stated it, as so.
    Do not underestimate the potential value to you, by you supplying answers to these questions.
    That stated, here are my experiences:
    I do not shoot birds.
    In lieu of using the EF 400F/2.8 L IS USM, I do often choose to use the EF 70 to 200F/2.8 L USM and the x2.0MkII EF Extender and this combination can produce Good to Very Good quality images:
    I use this rig Hand Held (note that my 70 to 200 lens is NOT Image Stabilized). The main reason that I choose to use the 70 to 200 + Extender, is when I want 400mm FL but do not want the weight (and Monopod) of the 400/2.8L
    My rig vs. 100 to 400 A/B:
    I have used (three) versions of the 100 to 400 F/4.5 to F/5.6 one of which was was a very early model. In terms of overall Image Quality (and lenses used wide open at 400), my 70 to 200 plus extender combination was better than the early model 100 to 400, but the two more recent versions of the 100 to 400 which I have used, were better than my 70 to 200 + extender. These were not "lab tests" but day time shooting, mainly on sports fields or similar, hand held, in reasonable to good light with Tv typically around 1/1250s or faster - but some as slow as 1/640s.
    My rig vs. your rig A/B:
    I have used my rig and the EF 70 to 200 F/2.8 L IS MkII USM and the x2.0 EF MkIII Extender (your rig) - and in an A/B comparison (lenses wide open and at 400mm). The newer lens and extender had generally and noticeably to a trained eye, better image quality than my older 70 to 200 and x2.0 extender combination. My purpose was to ascertain if I should sell my rig and buy into the new MkII IS and MkIII extender versions - I choose not to, as the value for expenditure was not there, for my purposes.
    (BTW in another A/B I note that my NON IS 70 to 200/2.8L and the x2.0 MkII Extender has better general IQ than the 'original' EF70 to 200 F/2.8 L IS USM and the MkII Extender.)
    Your consideration of the 100 to 400 to replace your existing rig:
    I have not directly A/B your rig with a 100 to 400 - but based on what I have used in other A/B comparisons, I would expect, apropos general image quality, there would be not much difference at 400mm and lenses wide open and even less difference when you stopped down to F/8~F/10.

    I have not used the EF 400/5.6 L, but have seen results and talked, face to face with many "Bird Photographers" who use this lens and the results speak for themselves and the lens is generally raved about by those who shoot a lot of birds.
  14. The following report (from the Luminous Landscape) may be helpful:
    Scroll down to the comparison frames of the 400 vs. 100-400 zoom. My experience with the 400 matches their report - the lens is sharp at 5.6 and there is minimal improvement by stopping down - that's for depth of field. I prefer the 400 to the 300 f4 + 1.4x TC notwithstanding the lack of IS and the relatively long minimum focus. In my experience, if you need more 'reach' the 400 + 1.4 tc was much, much, better than the 300 f4 + 2x tc. No comparison at all.
  15. Our OP already owns the 70-200mm.
  16. Don asked:
    David Stephens, why does one need IS to get a sharp image handheld from a 400mm lens at shutter speeds of 1/1000 and faster?​
    Because you can't always shoot at 1/1000 and faster.
    The 400/5.6 is a fine lens, but if you own a 70-200/2.8II and a 2.0x TC-III, the only advantage that a 400/5.6 will offer will be lighter weight. I owned the 400/5.6 and sold it after I bought my 500mm. The lack of IS is a serious limitation.
    With IS on a 500mm IS lens, plus a 2.0x TC-III (1,000mm) you can hand hold at 1/80-sec.:
  17. David, that's ridiculous. You're talking in circles. You advise the OP to get his shutter speed up over 1/1000, then say the 400 f/5.6 is limited because you can't always get your shutter speed over 1/1000. Of course, you don't have to get a shutter speed anywhere near 1/1000 to get sharp handheld images with the 400 f/5.6. And while you can get sharp images at much lower shutter speeds of stationary birds or animals with the longer Canon telephotos with IS, if the subject is moving then you've still got a problem. And then there's the issue that the longer telephotos cost many multiples of what the 400 f/5.6 costs.
    Your repeated assertion that a 70-200 f/2.8 with a 2X TC will match the image quality (and presumably autofocus speed) of the 400 f/5.6 is not supported by anything I've read.
    And how did we get from shooting birds and 1/1000 shutter speeds to shooting the moon at 1/80 of a second?
  18. I have used a 100 to 400 extensively. I like the lens. It produces acceptable large prints, several hundred swimming pictures a meet and it zooms. I shoot on the deck of competition swimming pools. Typically on a backstroke start I will shoot it at 200 mm or less. I do head shots at 100mm and then turn around at shoot down the pool at 400mm. A 400 5.6 does not work well for me as I use both ends of the 100-400 lens. I generally shoot heads at slower shutter speeds where IS works well. When I shoot indoors I use my 70-200 2.8L I will shoot inside at Boston University in their great facility soon at a large meet. I am more concerned about back light and dark corners inside the arena and coping when the sun goes down as the pool lights are not that great. I have had my own photo business and worked for a paper. I found the 70-200 a great adjunct for weddings,field sports at night at high schools with less than brilliant lighting. 2.8 is important there also. Zooms are and were important for what I use them for. I never had an editor or customer turn down my products because they didn't like my lenses. I don't care about statistics and specs; rather, I care about a product or an image that fills specific needs produced by decent and capable equipment.. I took second in a large show in around 2005 with a picture made with my early 70-200 2.8L and the 2x1 that was excoriated in reviews. I happened to have the camera set up that way when I encountered the picture about fifteen feet from me. If I had not had a zoom I could not have gotten the picture. These are tools that I work and play with. If they work I use them. I would have the 400 5.6 but I wouldn't use it much. It is a very good lens.
  19. Don, you may buy a lens that you'll only shoot over 1/1000-sec., but many of us prefer a more versatile lens. The OP already owns a 70-200/2.8 and a 2.0x TC-III. I own both the 1.4x and 2.0x TC-IIIs and know that both provide excellent IQ. I don't think that he's going to gain anything from buying a 400/5.6.
    Some people like to skimp on IS to save money. If you have to, then that's a good option, but I think that if you can afford an IS solution, then you should get it to maximize the usefulness of your investment. The OP has already invested in IS, so I think that he should work on solutions that take advantage of his investment.
    I do shoot birds a lot. My advice to the OP about setting comes from the experience of shooting tens of thousands of bird shots, not something that I read.
  20. I own and love the 100-400L. Never used the 70-200 with converter. Maybe rent the 100-400L and see how you like it.
  21. If you're serious about IQ​
    Plenty of us are "serious about IQ" and actively choose the 100-400mm over the 400mm f/5.6 prime. And I'll put the results from my 100-400mm up against anything the prime can deliver - as I have done innumerable times before.
    Don, you may buy a lens that you'll only shoot over 1/1000-sec., but many of us prefer a more versatile lens.​
    This, about a million times over - I routinely shoot in light that doesn't even get me close to 1/1000; and speaking of versatility, I have many thousands of bird images where I've been at significantly less than 400mm.
    Besides - it's just a preposterous non-argument to try and suggest that a stable platform (be it IS or a tripod) is ever not a good thing. I wouldn't be without IS for love nor money: and I have really good handholding technique, so I arguably need IS less than most.
    Your repeated assertion that a 70-200 f/2.8 with a 2X TC will match the image quality (and presumably autofocus speed) of the 400 f/5.6 is not supported by anything I've read.​
    So you arbitrarily choose to believe random, unsubstantiated internet chatter over an explicit statement of fact from someone who clearly has experience of the topic under discussion?
    Smacks of an agenda, Don. I don't always agree with everything David writes, but when I do disagree, it is only ever in circumstances where his personal experience directly clashes with my personal experience: here, I have no problem at all in taking David's observations at face value...
  22. Many people let IQ comparison tests get the better of their judgement. There are indeed differences and you can see them in those tests, BUT when actually shooting birds you will almost always crop and half the time you'll be able to stop down to f/8 or so. Even at 1,000mm (500mm plus a 2.0x TC-III) I still tend to crop some. Cropping off the softer corners and stopping down greatly reduces any weakness that one lens may have compared to another.
    Cropping has a negative impact on image quality, so getting more pixels on the subject is the name of the game when shooting small subjects likes birds. Crop sensor vs. full-frame sensor is a factor to consider as is use of teleconverters. I'll not hesitate to grab my EF 1.4x or 2.0x TC-III to get more pixels my subject and reduce the amount of cropping required.
    AF accuracy and consistency is another huge factor. Even though my 7D has a theoretical advantage over my 5D MkIII, due to its higher pixel density, I'll generally pick my 5D3 because I find that its AF tracking accuracy is significantly better. The 7D can produce stunning images, when the AF gets it right, but I find the 5D3 easier to use and more consistent in my hands. (Can't wait for the 7D MkII and praying that it gets the 5D3's AF system).
    Our OP is talking bird photography and he's not satisfied with his 70-200mm plus 2.0x TC setup. I think the problem is likely one of these other factors and not his equipment. My EF 500mm f/L IS has stunning IQ, yet I've disappointed myself with it at times. My disappointment decreased substantially when I improved my hand holding technique, got my ISOs and shutter speeds up and learned to be very precise with my AF points. Until he's addressed all of those, I don't think that he should be looking at new equipment.
  23. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Our OP is talking bird photography and he's not satisfied with his 70-200mm plus 2.0x TC setup. I think the problem is likely one of these other factors and not his equipment.
    I do too.
    The OP seems reluctant to answer the questions asked of him on this thread - in this case readers of this thread might find relevant information here:
  24. I love The-Digital-Picture comparisons. They're very useful. Compare lenses at f/8 and look at the center of the image (how you tend to use super-telephotos) and you'll see most differences almost vanish.
  25. I think the quality league table is:
    1) 400 prime
    2) 100-400 ideal copy, very slightly ahead of:
    3) 70-200 + 2x ideal copy
    I am sure there's enough sample variation for some TC combinations to do better than some 100-400
    The lenses that don't change length should be easier to shoot with consistently. The rule-of-thumb to shoot with the shutter fraction of at least the effective focal length tends to break down when you have your hand on the end of such long and heavy lenses. The prime being lighter is a bit easier to shoot with but then it doesn't have stabilisation.
    Personally I got a 70-200 without stabilisation and another stabilised lens for 400. I did not like 70-200 + 2x away from the centre with two TC I tried. The good news is that at least the 2 EF III has a good resale value.
  26. Nico, why would you say that a prime is easier to shoot consistently compared to a zoom? As long as the zoom's f-stop is consistent and they both have IS, IME, there's no difference.
    I think that all these people unsatisfied with the 70-200mm plus 2.0x TC-III are looking at user error. This is a very fine combination. AF will be more difficult than with a bare lens, but I find it pretty darn fast with my lenses and TCs. The problems grow as you get out past 400mm, but all of you are reporting problems at 400mm. More likely than the lens being at fault, your SS is too low, or you're not using single-point AF and getting the point on the eye or something else.
  27. IQ of my 400 f/5.6L was stellar. When using a mono or tripod.
    For the life of me I could not get suitable results handheld. ABSOLUTELY a technique issue, but an issue nonetheless, and this with a FF body.
    Swapped for a older 100-400 and I am delighted. If IQ isn't as good, I sure can't see it, and the IS is irreplaceable for me. The 100-400 is superb even with a 1.4II extender.
    Handheld 400 f/5.6? Maybe for a mime or a palace guard, but not for a mere mortal like me...
  28. The OP is concerned about the IQ from a 70-200 + 2x converter. I think I would first try to remove technique from the photo. Using a tripod in good light the first thing would be to AFMA the combination (or use live view). Then photograph some suitable still life at the appropriate distance using shutter delay and stopping down the lens. This test is to establish how sharp the combination can be. I find that technique is very important at long focal lengths, and as has been said, shutter speed is your friend. IS is also your friend. I think I would borrow a 100-400L before I purchased one, The lens costs good money and may offer only marginal improvements.
    I own a 70-200mm 2.8 and a 2x converter, but I've never considered using that in preference to my 100-400L, the IQ of which I'm very satisfied with, and I also use the zoom a lot.
  29. Looking at the digital picture crops I'd say the 100-400mm is marginally better at f5.6 at 400mm than the zoom + TC particularly in the center which is usually where the action is for wildlife. Edges are very close with a slight margin going to the zoom + TC. But one person's test is not the last word. They are pretty close...

Share This Page