Canon EF 400mm f2.8 IS lens versus EF 600mm f4 IS lens

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by snakeroot, Jan 30, 2006.

  1. Which one? Similar price, similar weight. Is the extra speed worth
    the sacrifice in focal length?

    Neither lens can live without a tripod, is the Gitzo 1348 enough?

    Leaning towards the 600, comments appreciated.
  2. What are you going to do with it? Surprisingly enough, it matters.

    Typically sports shooters like the extra speed of the 400, Nature Photographers like the extra length of the 600.

    Why not the 500/4?
  3. Indeed.... what ae you going to use it for?
  4. I'd recommend the 400 over the 600 as a doorstop, due to the lower center of gravity when stood upright.
  5. >> What are you going to do with it? Surprisingly enough, it matters.

    LOL :)

    >> Why not the 500/4?

    An excellent compromise. It also weigh less.

    Happy shooting,
  6. Dear Michael,

    I have been musing over this - just planning what to do if my Lottery numbers ever come up. If you get the 400 you get an f2.8 lens which is better for low light, you could then add a 1.4x Extender and still get your 600 mm f4. Using the 2x Extender would get you out to 800 mm. Other people have reported on using two Extenders stacked together so you could get out to 1600 mm.

    Some years ago when I did have some money available I did think about buying the 400 or the 600 but ended up buying the 500 mm and I am very pleased with my choice. For me the 400 mm was too heavy if I was just going to have one supertelephoto. Michael Reichman has a review of the different options on his Lumnous Landscape website and it was his review that most influenced my decision.

    Best Wishes

  7. 1348 is only Ok when used with top 1 of the 3 legs extented, even then you are pushing your luck. 5 series G Mountaineer is the standard recommendation for these lenses.

    Choice of head is more critical, both lenses need gimbal head support, the full Wimberly or new Kirk Cobra with bottom mounting clamps are safest for mount/dismount, ie try to avoid side mounting jaw gimbals due to physical weight of the lenses will try to pull the lens out of jaw clamp, if any slack in the rig it can end in tears.

    Mike Smith
  8. This is a generalization with assumptions but if you are thinking in terms of using a tripod (nature) then the 600/4, if you are thinking in terms of a monopod (sports) then the 400/2.8 with an optional 1.4x.

    I use an old manual focus 400/2.8 and it performs brilliantly with a 1.4x, not so brilliantly with a 2x. I sold the 2x and opted to crop from the 400/1.4x combo if required.
  9. Strictly nature photography is my purpose. I haven't looked closely at the 500, (but will considering these responses). I still am leaning towards the 600, even further now. Big purchase though, it nearly matches my 1Ds Mark II.

    I understood the Wimberly head is important, and probably will wind up with another tripod purchase just for the super-tele. I might just balance the 1348 very carefully at lowest level for a while.

    Thanks. Much to research with these comments.
  10. My friend has only one arm - his left, and uses a EOS1Dmk2 and 400 2.8 IS on a monopod for nature work. He has perfected holding the camera almost upside down. He's not big, but is reasonably strong. His work appears regularly in magazines and advertising, and is sharp and professional. My feeling is that there's more versatility in a 400 than a 500 or 600. The wider aperture gives a lot of advantages. The converter works with minimal quality loss, even the 2x gives superb results. I chose a 300 f2.8IS, and the flexibility of the 300 focal length plus converters suits me. If I needed more lens I would consider the 400. YMMV!
  11. Strictly nature photography is my purpose.
    If you intend to do a lot of bird photography, and you are very strong, then consider the 600 (and don't give another though to the 400/2.8, IMO). But keep in mind that a 600 is big enough to be a challenge to take on a plane in carry-on luggage. The 500 IS is smaller, lighter, less expensive, focuses closer, and is easier to transport than the 600. And I can attest that the 500 is optically superb. There are occasions when I've wished I had a 600 instead of a 500 for bird work, but that feeling goes away when I pack for a trip or just pick up the lens+camera+tripod rig.
  12. More for those still interested in this thread, lots of research and some near answers.

    The EF 400mm 2.8 is out for me. I like the speed but not enough reach.

    Choice is now between the 500 and 600, with pros and cons for each. The 500 is an optically superb lens, (pointed out above), and weighs less and costs less. The mount is simpler, using a cheaper Wimberly Sidekick to attach to my RRS 55LR head, (and apparently appropriate for my 1348).

    The 600 has better reach (and also optically superb), but sounds like a monster in transport and use. It requires the full Wimberly head (or equivalent in Kirk), and probably a heavier tripod. Much higher cost outlay initially.

    What I have to decide is whether the higher weight and cost over time justifies the 600. I'm not a pro, but have a hard time with even minor compromise at this point, and am looking for a way to shoot a day with each lens.

    More to follow.
  13. One more thing in your decision tree between 500 and 600: if you contemplate shooting flying birds, then hand-holding is often better than a tripod mount, particularly if you are aiming at a bird high overhead where most tripod heads (including gimbal-types) simply don't work well. It's possible to hand-hold both of these lenses -- I've seen people doing it with a 600 and I often do it with a 500. But for me at least, the 500/4 is right on the edge of what I can handle. If I had a 600 I don't think I could have gotten most of the flight images on this page.
    Of course, if I had a 400/5.6 I might prefer that for some flight imagry, but there's only so many lenses I can carry. Also, the extra reach of the 500 (often with a 1.4X) can be very important.

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