Canon EF 300mm 2.8 & EF 500mm 4.5 vs. EF 400mm DO 4.0

Discussion in 'Nature' started by rolf_hilfiker|1, May 25, 2006.

  1. Hi, I own the two older, non-IS lenses and recently changed form EOS 1N to D20
    and then to D5. Often I go for longer hikes and so I have to decide witch lens I
    should take with me, not always easy. My favourite motives are mammals and
    larger birds and I�m very happy with the quality of the images. Now my question:
    do you think it makes sense to sell the two old lenses and buy the 400mm DO.
    Many thanks for your advice
  2. You could sell the whole canon package and buy a d2x and the 200-400 f/4 afs, vr and you would have a 300-600 f/4, 12MP AND a 400-800 f/4 6.5MP all with vibration reduction, AND all in one unit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No changing lenses to get more reach and the whole thing can be carried on a sturdy monopod.

    I dont have anything against caonon, and I'm not trying to be a smart mouth, but when you said you go on longer hikes, shoot mammals and larger birds, and even consider packing a 400 then the nikon set up would fit you too a tee!

  3. I've not used the 400 DO but it has a somewhat uncertain reputation, with some samples
    showing rather mundane image quality and odd highlight effects. Aside from the weight
    issues -- which are substantial, especially for hiking -- I'd recommend the superb 500/4
    IS. Another alternative, much smaller but with less reach, is the 300/4 IS with the 1.4X
    converter. That is a bit short for much bird work IMO, but lots of folks use it and
    recommend it highly. It's FAR smaller than any of the lenses you mentioned. Or the
    300/2.8 IS with 1.4X and 2X converters if you're willing to carry more weight. Whatever
    you do, I HIGHLY recommend getting a stabilized lens -- I find it invaluable for working
    with long telephotos.

    The suggestion of the excellent Nikon 200-400/4 is interesting, but for mammals and
    birds, I suspect you would be at 400mm about 99% of the time (I would be, anyway).
  4. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    400mm is unlikely to be long enough even for larger birds, especially on a body such as the 5D with no crop factor.
  5. I had the 400mm f/4 DO lens. I sold it when I got the 300mm f/2.8 & 500mm f/4 lenses. I shoot mammals as my main interest, but I take bird photos if the opportunity comes along.

    First off, I loved my 400mm DO ... great lens. I had a sharp copy and it gave me some wonderful images. The only thing that may be true about quality concerns you read on the web is that the contrast is slightly duller than other Canon big glass ... this can be fixed easily in PS. Everything else about my 400mm f/4 DO was wonderful.

    I sold my 400mm DO because I wanted slightly more reach too many times. I bought the 500mm f/4 for this reason, and I couldn't justify owning the 400mm DO alongside the 500mm f/4. I ended up buying a 300mm f/2.8 lens to compliment my 500mm f/4, and round out my focal lengths.

    I have the 300mm f/4 also, but I much prefer the 300mm f/2.8 because I found myself in a lot of evening situations where I needed a faster lens. I glad I went this route as I've gotten way more keepers of black bears during the evening hours than my 300mm f/4 could have ever provided. I haven't used my 300mm f/4 at all since getting the 500mm f/4 & 300mm f/2.8.

    The 400mm f/4 DO lens is a great compromise lens - if you only want to own just one of the Canon big guns (300mm f/2.8, 400mm f/2.8, 400mm f/4 DO, 500mm f/4, 600mm f/4). If you end up owning a second big gun, then the 400mm DO doesn't make a lot of sense - unless you have the 600mm f/4. If you indeed decide to just own one big gun, then the 400mm f/4 DO should be a very serious contender - if you should primarily mammals.

    For longer hikes I miss my 400mm f/4 DO weight! But, I really enjoy the 300mm f/2.8 speed, and it is a truly tack sharp lens. The 500mm f/4 feels like a beast compared to the 400mm f/4 DO. If I'm hiking for any distance, and I want to take just one lens with me in case I see something cool ... I take my 300mm f/2.8 lens along, not my 500mm f/4. Mostly because of the weight & size issues.

    If I had my 400mm f/4 DO still, with my 500mm f/4 ... on longer hikes, I'd take my 400mm f/4 DO over my 500mm f/4 everytime because it so much more portable.

    That said, I'm shooting with a 20D ... not the full frame 5D. You'd be losing a lot of crop factor focal length over my setup. A 500mm might be a much smarter decision to stick with if you're married to the full frame sensor.

    Tough decision to make! I fretted about my decision a lot also, but have no regrets.
  6. Have you considered the 100-400 IS? No, its not near the class of the 300/2.8 that you are used to using , but it still can produce amazing images. I know many people who use it for bird and wildlife photography, somethimes even with the 1.4x convertor. Since you're outdoors and using cameras that have very useable high ISOs, the relativly slow speed of the lens compared with your primes shouldn't make that much of a difference. Thats also less weight than any of the lenses you listed, and less expensive too!
  7. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    To Ignacio Feito: our communication problem is that while I can receive e-mail from you, all of my e-mails to you are bounced. I have pointed that out to you before.

    Your post in the Nikon Forum were deleted because you have *repeatedly* suggested Canon cameras while people were asking about Nikon, and multiple moderators there have expressed concerns with those posts. We certainly did not delete your posts the first several (like 5) times.

    In this thread, so far there is only one suggestion of Nikon alternatives while the poster was asking about Canon. Nobody has kept on insisting on Nikon. Therefore, at least I don't see any problems at this point.
  8. I think you have far more versatility with the lenses you have, and as you are happy with the image quality I would not suggest you change them for the 400mm f4 DO.

    I use a 300mm f2.8 with 1.4x and 2x extenders when I will be walking around looking for subjects. It is light enough to carry all day, and I can easily hand hold it (though it is the IS model which helps hand holding). You can still get up to 600mm with autofocus using extenders.

    If I know a subject is within walking distance from the car and needs a longer lens, then I take a 600mm f4 with extenders and sturdy tripod. With your 500mm you can get up to 1000mm, though manual focus.

    Having just the 400mm would lose both the speed advantage of the f2.8 lens and the reach of the 500mm lens, and I think you may regret changing them. The DO also has quite varied reports on image quality.

    IS does give great benefits, but if I were to sell two lenses and only have one IS telephoto I think I would rather have the 500mm f4.
  9. For a telephoto, the 400/4 is a dream to carry. I can hike all day long with the EOS 3/400 lens combo slung over my back. I tuck the lens foot down the top of my pants and slip the camera strap over my head. It's very stable, although I wouldn't recommend bouldering.

    Its also much easier to carry on a plane than a 500.

    I believe the sharpness issue was related to the early production lenses. those made in 2005 (maybe 2004?) and later appear to be very sharp. The weird background highlights can be an issue , although those may be easily solvable with a little digital processing (blurring?).

    For birds & mammals perhaps the D20 or D30 would be a better choice over the D5. The crop factor effectively gives you greater reach, and if I read correctly, the greater pixel density of the D20/30 actually provides a better image than what you would get from cutting out the same size image from the d5's full frame sensor. With the 1.4x and 400/4 on the D20/30 you effectively have a 896mm f5.6 with autofocus. You may even be able to get usable shots while hand holding.
  10. Many thanks for all your helpful answers. So it seems that the 400mm DO is not really the first choice of (hiking) wildlife photographer ;-(
    At the moment my idea is to replace the old 300mm 2.8 with the new IS version and to keep the non-IS 500mm 4.5. The old TCs 1.4x and 2x I already have you think they fit for the IS lens?
    Best regards Rolf
  11. The old TCs 1.4x and 2x I already have you think they fit for the IS lens?
    Assuming these are Canon EOS extenders, yes, they'll work fine. The only advantages of the newer (model II) TCs are that you can stack them without an intervening extension tube, they are more weather-sealed, and -- it is said -- the 2X has a slightly better optical performance (but the difference is very small).
  12. Shun Cheung , may 25, 2006; 10:47 a.m. wrote...
    "400mm is unlikely to be long enough even for larger birds, especially on a body such as the 5D with no crop factor."

    Why not just shoot with the 5D and then crop? Same result - you're just using the center of the 5D's image. Remember, it's a "crop factor" - NOT NOT NOT a magnification factor.
  13. Why not just shoot with the 5D and then crop? Same result - you're just using the center of the 5D's image.
    Because the pixel density on APS and DX format sensors is higher than on the 5D. Therefore you'll get more detail out of a 20D or 30D image than from a cropped 5D image (assuming the lens is good enough).
  14. The 400 is smaller and lighter than the 300 or the 500. If you are really serious you should
    get the 1200mm f/5.6 L.
  15. I am a bit confused by all the D5 talk but will go with the flow. Your D5 (EOS 5D) may give you better images than a 20D if you leave a 1.4X tele-converter on it all the time when hiking. This allows you to get more detail with a cropped image than an APS-C sensor (without a tele-converter) will manage. Leaving a 1.4 extender on also allows you to change the front glass with virtually no worries about sensor dust. I have heard a lot of talk about image degradation from tele-converters but personal experience is that camera instability is a bigger factor. Instability just becomes more apparent with a Tele-converter in the equation. Your full frame body reduces instability issues by the inverse crop factor. Adding a TC will just minimize that gain while allowing you to effectively get a 12 megapixel 1.4 crop camera. stick with the 300mm 2.8 and 1.4TC for a 420mm f/4 equivalent base. Consider getting an additional 1.4TC to stack allowing you to achieve 600mm f/5.6 without exposing the camera interior to the environment during focal length changes. finally stack the 2x on the first 1.4x to get an equivalent 840mm F/8 which just might auto-focus (try center point AF selection if you can't get it to work otherwise). Finally do a little experimenting with stacking all your tele-converters and manual focus. you will be disappointed if you are not able to figure out how to mitigate camera instability. A tripod is not enough on it's own here. I use a remote shutter, mirror lockup, delay timer, and brace the camera with a second tripod. I also have been known to set ISO to 100 and stop down in stationary targets. camera shake from shutter alone (with mirror lockup enabled) is noticeable and can be reduced with much longer exposures (5 to 30 seconds). All this will not help much with mammals as targets but can sometimes help with a stationary bird. You did not mention what you did with the 20D. I prefer use it over the 5D on hikes to shoot distant live targets. Just my opinion.

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