Cropping with the 70-200 vs. non-cropping the 100-400 "L" lenses

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by robert_thommes|1, Jan 23, 2014.

  1. I currently own a Canon 70-200 f4 IS USM, but have an interest in trading it in for the longer reach of the Canon 100-400 "L' lens. But before I would do so, I'd like to know just how a cropped image taken with the shorter zoom would compare with an uncropped image taken with the longer lens. I could even utilize a top-notch 1.4X TC with the shorter zoom to help reach the 400mm with less cropping.
    So, for the sake of a simplified comparison, how would the IQ compare of an image taken at 400mm with the 100-400mm lens versus that same image taken with the 70-200 f4 lens without (and even with) a 1.4X Canon TC attached to the 70-200 the very same finished size.
    Need some opinions before ditching a lens that has served me well for a longer reach which I just might be able to get with some careful cropping...and not have to part with my 70-200mm.
    Thank you.
  2. It would have been helpful if you indicate what sort of photography you intend to do, such as sports, wildlife, landscapes, etc....where the reach is used. I probably would upped the IQ by getting 70-200/4 **L** version or the 2.8 in similar category to cover many variances. Furthermore, I'd get 300 or 400mm prime (better IQ than zoom) and add 1.4 extender when that extra reach is needed. The 100-400 is rather limiting as to light (at F4.5-5.6)....urr, unless you have the latest rig that allows you to have noise-free images from ISO 1600-6400. Nonetheless, there are always compromises.... Anyway, my two centavos.
  3. At 400mm the longer lens will be better than a cropped image from the shorter lens.
  4. Thanks, Les. I understand what you're saying. Yet, I'd like to keep the conversation strictly between these 2 lenses. I do understand that other options exist, however. I'm looking towards a trip down the Oregon coast, and felt a longer (than 200mm) lens might be of benefit for "some" opportunities. I understand that seals and puffins exist in some areas there. Yet, I like my 70-200. It's a very wonderful lens. Yet an opportunity exists where I "could" trade it for a nice used 100-400mm lens... right now. So if the cropped image of my lens is even close to the uncropped image of the longer zoom, I'd likely opt to keep my 70-200mm lens and do the cropping.
  5. By cropping so severely, you are throwing away a lot of pixels with the crop, so a 18 megapixel image for example, then becomes a 9 megapixel image. You are then shortchanging the capabilities of your camera
    I have a 70-200/2.8 and 100-400/3.5-5.6 and each has its uses. But if you are interested in the longer end, then for sure the 100-400 is the way to go. I also have the 1.4 tele and coupling that with the 70-200 slows down focus lock significantly.
    Just my 2 cents
  6. The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4,5-5,6 IS L lens was first released in September 1998, so some of us were expecting an update at some point, but if the EF 200-400mm is that replacement, it certainly is not merely a "little more" expensive.
    The 100-400mm has a sliding zoom, but I have found it fairly easy to use in practice. The tightening ring to make the movement easier or harder also works well.
    I haven't found it to be the dust vacuum pump some have claimed, either.
    I found it intolerably heavy and awkward to use with a standard camera strap; but I was told here on that I needed to get the Black Rapid style shoulder strap. It was among the best advice I've got here, as the strap makes the lens and camera easily carried, even for hours.
  7. Here's the 70-200mm f/4L IS, with the EF 1.4x TC-III attached, at 98mm:
    Here's the same lens with the EF 2.0x TC-III attached, at 400mm:
    The 100-400mm is one-stop faster at 400mm, which is a real advantage, if you're at the focal length a lot.
    I've got the 500/f4 and use it with both TCs, so I see no need for a dedicated 400mm in my arsenal. I'd never part with my 70-200mm and consider it the most versatile lens in my bag.
  8. I too, value the benefits of my 70-200/4 lens. And it's for those values that parting with it to secure a longer zoom is a difficult decision. If I felt that I "really" had to go longer, I could always just rent one. But it all boils down to just how often such a tele (100-400mm) would be needed.
    Thanks to all for your comments.
  9. You never mention which body you're using and exactly what you plan to shoot on your trip down the coast. That makes a huge difference. If your body will AF at f/8, then adding an EF 2.0x TC-III to your arsenal will solve your problem, assuming 400mm is long enough for your subjects.
    For wildlife and birds, I'll guarantee that 400mm will not be long enough, but that's the point where most people start. For instance, I could and did shoot this coyote with my 70-200mm when he got close, but this portrait taken with the 500/f4 plus the 1.4x TC-III shows much more detail to draw the viewer in:
    Optical focal length always beats digital cropping. However, if you sell your 70-200mm, I think you'll regret it.
  10. Dave,
    I shoot with a Canon T2i. My concerns are being able to shoot puffins, and especially seals along the northern coast of Oregon. Since this will be our first trip to the Pacific Northwest, I have no idea how close we will be able to get to these subjects. So that's why I just mentioned the 100-400mm lens as a possible half-way decent length for the job. I would be delighted to hear that one can get close enough that, with some care, my 70-200mm lens will do the job. I would rather NOT part with my lens, if I can get the shots I want WITH it.
  11. Robert,
    I have absolutely no experience with the 70-200mm but, do have considerable experience shooting wildlife with the 100-400mm over the past several years.
    I acquired the 100-400 because I knew that I would primarily be shooting wildlife and it was the most bang for the buck I could afford, and still is. So, having said that, I have absolutely no regrets and, I can totally understand your NOT wanting to part with the 70-200 that you are already familiar with. However, . . .
    You indicate; "My concerns are being able to shoot puffins, and especially seals along the northern coast of Oregon."
    Even equipped with a focal length of 400mm you will most likely still be cropping. I will reiterate and verify David's comment that "For wildlife and birds, 400mm is not long enough."
    If you could rent the 100-400 would probably be the optimal choice before making the trade.
    I have excellent "hunting" skills that I find a necessity in shooting wildlife and being limited to a 400mm lens. Even with the crop factor of the 50D. I also have the 1.4X TC but then it's all manual focus and smaller apertures.
    I'll post some examples in hopes that it will help in your decision.
    These are some examples of a Barred Owl that I shot recently in good light. The first is at 400mm with a 50D @ ISO 400 and has only been downsized to the 700pix to show here.
  12. Same image as cropped for composition.
    Hope this helps in your difficult decision Robert!
    Better you than me!
  13. There's a new solution to consider, the new Tamron 150-600mm. Going from 400mm to 600mm is huge. For puffins, unless I had a way to get really close, I'd use my 500mm as a 700mm or 1000mm and would likely still crop a little.
    For sea lions, 400mm may or may not be enough. If there's a dock that'll get you near, then it'll be excellent. If you're on shore, shooting out at rocks, then you'll want more power.
    About the Tamron, one of my friends loves it. He also owns the 400/f5.6 prime and hasn't touched it since he got the Tammy. Here's a Flickr search showing many samples:
  14. David's suggestion of the Tamron 150-600 definately stirred my interest but, unfortunately not in my future. Although its got me "frothing at the bit!"
    And, while I was there I found this review by Lens Rental that was interesting, especially with comparisons to the EF 100-400 included.
  15. Are you in a position to just try it?

    Go out, take the shot you want to use a 400mm for, crop and post proces.
    Judge for yourself whether that satisfies.

    My experience is that it holds up very well.
    But I never print large. I just use images for screens.
  16. I have both a 100-400L and a Sigma 70-200 2.8 EX HSM. Using good technique, both give sharp images at 100% crops. I have tried the 70-200 with a 2.0x but in my experience the bare 100-400L is much better. Others have commented that with the Canon 70-200L 2.8 Mk2 and Mk3 2.0 extender there is not a lot between them, but the 100-400L is again better.
    I find extenders a pain to use, putting them on and off is time consuming, allows dust to enter and I sometimes miss the shot anyway by taking too long.
    The Tamron 150-600 has recieved good reviews, and is relatively cheap, but I have not yet seen the best images from it equal the best from a 100-400L.
    When shooting withh long focal lengths technique becomes very important. Start thinking shutter speeds around 1/1000th, and IS is a big help. A lot of people blame soft lenses for their poor technique.
    If I were breaking out from 200mm I think I'd consider either the 100-400L or the new Tamron.
  17. Sorry, missed the cropping bit. It is generally considered that a 1.4x converter is better than cropping, which is better than a 2x converter, all on lenses like the 70-200s etc. On the big whites different rules seem to apply. I have noticed little difference between cropping and my 1.4x on the 70-200 2.8, I think that cropping the 100-400L is better than using a converter, but I know some will disagree with this.
  18. There is no comparison between cropping and longer telephoto lengths. The longer telephoto will be vastly superior every time.
    Your 70-200 is a very good lens and very handholdable and easy to carry about for all kinds of photography. At twice the weight and considerably larger the 100-400 is no longer so easy to carry about and handhold for long periods of time. I sold an 80-200/2.8 and 200/2 for these specific reasons. I believe you will regret making the switch from the 70-200/4 to the 100-400, so consider other avenues.
    For not much more than a "top-notch" extender (assuming Canon EF 1.4x III) you can get yourself an exceptional used Canon EF 300mm f4 L original, from for example.
    The pair of telephoto lenses that I use on my 5D II, are the original 70-200/4 L and original 300/4 L, and I use both with the original EF 1.4x on a regular basis. When I need the really big gun it's a Nikon 400/2.8 manual lens with/without the EF 2x.
    I highly recommend buying used to maximize your buying/lens potential. I have not bought a "new" lens since 1987, and no regrets.
  19. I'll second buying used, particularly when considering L-series lenses in good condition. They hardly depreciate one used. The super-teles only lose 10% or so when used, at least before they become obsolete. I look at my 500mm as an investment, having paid $6100 for and realistically expecting $5500 to $6000 used when I sell it. That's cheap rent.
    All of the L-series hold there values well after, but the longer the lens, the better it'll hold its value.
  20. Once I did a quick comparison: when shooting a full moon, I shot with 100-400 with and without 1.4X “tube”. The 100% cropped image shot “without” is better than the “with” image of the same size moon. So it seems extension tube is not good for routine use.
  21. Your 1.4x device is likely an "extender" or "tele-converter", not an extension tube. An ET is indeed an hollow tube, used to move the back of the lens away from the sensor and reduce the minimum focus distance, generally for macro photography. I often combine my 25mm ET with my EF 1.4x TC-III to increase magnification by both getting closer and increasing the power.
    David, I can't believe that a Canon EF 1.4x TC-III would not better a 100% crop. What brand of TC are you using? If it's Canon, then you did something wrong. Here's a sample moon shot with a 500/f4-II combined with an EF 2.0x TC-III, hand held at 1/80-sec.:
  22. BTW, I don't know any pro bird photographers that don't "routinely" use teleconverters.
  23. You are right, it’s a TC, a Kenko 1.4X Pro300 DG. When I was shopping for the TC a few years back, the impression I got from web search was that the difference in image quality between Kenko’s and Canon’s (II, not III) is minimal. Because of the price and size difference, I got the Kenko. After that quick comparison, I never touch the TC again.
    Your shot (very impressive, hand hold at 1/80s with that lens + a TC) makes me think to spend half grand to get a Canon III when I’ll finally get a 400/2.8 or 500/4.0. One question, have you noticed any AF speed difference when using the TC on your 500/4?
  24. I guarantee that you'll be impressed with the III-series Canon TCs.
    The AF speed with TCs varies with the body used. With the 1D X, there's very little difference, but with the 5D MkIII, there's considerable slow down with the 1.4x and too much with the 2x to deal with anything moving fast.
  25. I have recently been doing some ISO-chart tests (on a 5DIII and a 7D) with Version II Extenders and various lenses. The 70~200/4L IS works quite well with the Extender 1.4× II, but results with the Extender 2× II are disappointing, and of course you lose phase-detect AF except with the 5DIII and 1D-series bodies. The 100~400 resolves much more detail at 400mm, but better still in my tests is the 300/4L IS with the Extender 1.4× II, and that lens with the Extender 2× II is better than the 100~400 with the Extender 1.4× II at full stretch.
    My advice is that if 280mm is long enough for you then an Extender 1.4×, ideally Version II, will work well, although all reports suggest that the 70~300L is better, and certainly more convenient. If you want to go beyond 300mm, you will be better off with some other lens. But do bear in mind the bulk/weight issue. I would not consider longer lenses as a replacement for the 70~200/4L IS but as complementing it.
  26. 280mm will be too short for most puffin shooting.
  27. Extender 1.4×, ideally Version II​
    Typo, I meant Version III, although I do not know how much better that will be in practice with that lens. But as David says, 280mm may well be too short for puffins and other wildlife.
  28. I owned both the EF 1.4x TC in both versions II and III. Optically there's almost no difference. With the very top bodies, like the 1D X, the III will communicate with lens faster, leading to quicker AF. On the 7D and the xxD bodies, you will not notice a difference.
  29. I want a lens with some longer reach but I love my 70-200 2.8 L and will keep it. I handled the 100-400 at B&H and found the mechanics of the push pull zoom a bit stange. I did not like the f/5.6. Most of the time I would use the 70-200 and not the 100-400. I think you save up and invest in a longer focal length prime and a teleconverter. I will probably do the same if we ever get a raise.
  30. Just another praise for the Canon converters...I normally only use my 1.4xii converter on my 300 f4is lens, but a couple of years ago I accidentally mounted my 70-200 f4 (non-is) lens on the body with the 1.4 converter...didn't realize until after the soccer game was over what I had done. In a sense it was a blind test, I could not tell apart the pics taken with or without the 1.4 without viewing exif data.
  31. David said:
    I want a lens with some longer reach but I love my 70-200 2.8 L and will keep it. I handled the 100-400 at B&H and found the mechanics of the push pull zoom a bit stange. I did not like the f/5.6. Most of the time I would use the 70-200 and not the 100-400. I think you save up and invest in a longer focal length prime and a teleconverter. I will probably do the same if we ever get a raise.​
    The 70-200/f2.8 is a perfect candidate for the EF 2.0x TC-III. It'll still AF pretty fast at f/5.6 with any of the Canon bodies. The IQ is excellent. I think you'll find it as sharp at 400mm as is the 100-400.
  32. David Stephens writes:
    "The AF speed with TCs varies with the body used. With the 1D X, there's very little difference, but with the 5D MkIII, there's considerable slow down with the 1.4x and too much with the 2x to deal with anything moving fast."
    This is simply wrong. When using a 1.4X III TC with any Canon camera body, the AF motor speed is reduced by 50%. With a 2X III TC, the AF motor speed is reduced by 75%.
    The autofocus speed of the 1D X is faster than that of the 5D Mark III with series II telephoto lens because it has a more powerful battery pack. But that doesn't mean "there's very little difference" in AF speed of the 1D X when you add a 1.4X III TC to a series II telephoto lens. There's a 50% reduction.
    That is unless Chuck Westfall of Canon doesn't know what he's talking about.
  33. Don, I don't think you've compared the 1D X and the 5D MkIII with 1.4x and 2.0x TC-IIIs on them. If you had, you'd know that I'm simply right.
    50% of a small number is still a small number. 75% of a small number is still a small number.
    The difference between the 2X TC-III on the 1D X and the 5D MkIII is HUGE. It's a factor of ten in some cases. That is indeed due to the higher voltage battery, based on what I've read from Mr. Westfall. So, the AF function may only slow a little, but the time taken to lock the lens on and keep it locked on in AI Servo mode becomes unmanageable with the 5D MkIII trying to AF at f/8. Mind you, I'm talking about something moving fast, not some chart on the wall.
  34. My two cents....

    I have and had the 70-200, 100-400, 1.4x and 2.0x. I'll keep it simple, even though these decisions are never easy.
    Here's my order of preference based on IQ for getting out to 400mm. This really shows for distant subjects (50m or farther). When shooting closer it becomes less of a contest:
    1.) 100-400
    2.) 70-200 + 1.4x and crop
    3.) 70-200 + 2.0x

    I find that I prefer the 300mm and 1.4x now a days, which suits my type of wildlife photography. Not trying to make your decision harder, but it's never easy when trying to upgrade your gear. I would post some samples, but I don't believe that will help you. Too many factors involved in my opinion.
    If I had lots of money then it would be a very easy decision.
  35. It's important to know, particularly with the 2.0x TC, if you're using the TC-III or TC-II. The IQ of the TC-III is much improved.
  36. Yes, good point David.
    Both TC's are the II version.
    And for those interested, I've compared these to the Kenko Pro 300 versions, both 1.4x and 2.0x. Found that the difference was marginal. I even had a 1.4x TC-III which I compared to my Kenko 1.4x, and the difference in IQ was very hard to see.
    The biggest difference in all these tests was the rendering of the whites. The Kenko's threw a yellow hue on the image, it was minor and removable in photoshop. The canon's did a much nicer job with the whites. Little things that make a difference if you're a perfectionist or doing photography as a professional.
    And I'm not a camera technician (although I am an engineer), so my tests are probably flawed at some level. Take it as food for thought.
  37. What was the problem with your 70-200mm plus 2.0x TC-II that put it at the bottom of your heap?
    I love my EF 2.0x TC-III combined with both my 500/f4 and EF 70-200mm f/4L IS. Here's a typical 2.0x TC-III image:
  38. I enjoy bird photography, and that's a nice crisp image of a Kestrel (male by the looks of it).

    In my experience I found that the combination of lenses with camera bodies can create such huge variations in IQ. So your Camera+lens+TC are probably different then my Camera+lens+TC. And yes, you need to micro adjust your combinations. But even then I wasn't really happy with my results.
    I didn't like the 2.0x because it never brought out enough detail that I couldn't already get from cropping. And the hit on the F-stop doesn't help the matter. Don't get me wrong. I've used it with success on a couple of images, but that 2.0x just sits in my bag 95% of the time.
  39. Moe, your experience is not inconsistent with other reviews of the EF 2.0x TC-II that I've seen. You should borrow a TC-III to try for yourself. They improved the IQ considerably, at least from what I've read.
    BTW, I own both the EF 1.4x TC-II and the TC-III and there's hardly any difference in the IQ between those.

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