EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM Vs EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by eli_ninor, Dec 26, 2013.

  1. Please give your views on the two super telephoto lens with TCs when used with 5D MK III and 1DX ?
  2. They are both very nice, very big, very heavy and very expensive. Both work better without TCs than with them. Both are OK with TCs as long as you don't mind manual focus with the 800 + 2x.
  3. May I suggest that if your interest is so general ("...give your views on...") rather than specific to some use or a particular technical issue, that it might make sense to do a bit of searching for existing write-ups and reviews first/too?
    It might also help to know what your concerns might be that are specific to those two particular bodies.
    1. Rent them
    2. Try them
    3. Decide
    It's the only sensible thing to do with such expensive lenses.
  4. http://www.birdsasart-blog.com/2013/01/15/canon-ef-600mm-f4l-is-ii-vs-canon-ef-800mm-f5-6l-is-and-the-winner-is-2/
  5. I have had both of these in the FD version, far as I know the optics haven't changed. The 600 was noticeably sharper.
  6. I have used the 800mm F5.6 lens extensively over the past two years...both on a tripod:
    and also hand-held (I do a lot of bird migration research and have to shoot moving raptors as part of that research):
    IF you need 1200 mm or so (as in shooting distant birds) my choice would be the 800mm lens with the 1.4x TC. The photo of the kestrel (female) above that is perched on the ground (image #1) is shot with an 800mm lens and the Canon 1.4x TC on a heavy-duty Benro tripod. I don't think the 600mm F4 lens with a 2.0 TC would be as sharp or focus as fast etc. So if your stated goal is to shoot small subject matter at a distance (eg., small birds) - then the 800mm lens is the way to go - at least for me. You can shoot it hand-held (photo #3 of the kestrel in flight is hand-held).
    However, however if you are going to shoot at 800mm, then the comparisons I have seen (over at FM Forums - do a search in the Canon section) show that the 600mm F4 with a 1.4x TC (for an effective 840mm F5.6 lens) is at least as sharp as a bare 800mm lens...yes I know that sounds crazy but several folks did tests and this was their conclusion - and I believe them.
    If you go with the 600mm lens you also have the option of an F4 lens (600 F4) as opposed to an 800 F5.6. To have that extra f-stop in this day and age is huge! With higher MP cameras now and into the future, one can crop and get the same amount of pixels on a subject (or a sufficient amount) as with the 800 mm lens...but the option of having an F4 Telephoto is huge huge huge...
    Both lenses are about the same size and weight...
    The 600mm F4 is considerably more expensive (about $11,000 via Canada = Aden Camera). A used but in mint shape 800 goes for about $8500...so this is a consideration too.
    Bottom line: if money was not a factor and you are going to use the lens a variety of situations, get the 600mm F4 and a 1.4 TC (version #...not version 2 of the TCs). IF you need maximum reach (as in 1200mm or so), then the 800mm F5.6 is better for that than a 600mm with a 2X TC...
    If I were you I would get the 600mm F4 - newer technology...but the 800mm lens is a great lens and if you have a good image, no one is going to be able to tell which lens took the photo...
    Call and talk to these camera stores in Canada to get a great deal on the 600mm lens (better than any price in the USA). When I was considering a 600 II, Camera Canada told me to expect to pay about $300 for shipping and about $50 for brokerage. Several US-based FMers have bought from Canada to take advantage of the savings, and I don't recall anyone complaining about any issues or problems.

    These are two of Canada's most reputable Canon authorized dealers- kind of like B&H and Adorama are to us here in the US:
  7. You need to also consider the EF 500mm f/4L IS II if you like to shoot hand held and shoot birds in flight ("BIF"). Also, the choice between the 5D MkIII and 1D X will be very important, particularly if you plan to shoot them at f/8 due to TCs.
    Don't even think for a minute that the 500 and 600 Series IIs are just a rehash of the Series I. They're both significantly lighter, such that they're both easily hand held by most men and a significant population of women. For BIF, hand holding will significantly improve your "keeper ration". The IS is so improved that I hand held a 1,000mm rig (500/f4-II plus 2.0x TC-III) at 1/40-sec.:
    That is NOT possible with the Series-I lenses, not even close.
    The choice between the 1D X and the 5D MkIII comes down to the use of TC's. When you get to f/8, the AF on the 5D3 it slows down dramatically. Even with accurate prefocus, it can take almost a second to lock onto a flying bird and then track, while the 1D X snaps on focus in about .1-sec. That is HUGE. At f/5.6 (using a 1.4x TC on an f/4 lens) things are not quite as bad for the 5D3, but the 1D X has no real noticeable delay vs. the bare lens.
    Since you seem to need reach, the performance with TCs is going to be factor for you. Other factors include the 12-fps. You'll usually only shoot bursts of 3 or 4 at a time, but this is a help in getting more choices for wing position. This is an incremental difference and not a deal killer for the 5D3, but something to consider.
    The 1D X's high ISO performance is astounding. If you shoot a lot at dawn or dusk, or sporting events indoors, then this will be something that you want. As good as the 5D3 is, the 1D X is a whole order of excellence better. OTOH, I prefer the resolution of the 5D3 for landscape shooting.
    Since you're even considering a 5D3, I assume that you do not "need" the build quality of the pro body. For some, this is a really important factor. I had a 5D2 and a 5D3 now, for around 16-mos. I lug two bodies around the woods in -17F weather, along with rain, snow and sleet and consider the 5D3 up to that challenge, BUT I'm relatively careful with my equipment. Most people will be happy with the weather sealing of the 5D3, but some would not even consider it. You know who you are.
    The 500, 600 and 800mm lenses can all be hand held, but I think that the two shorter lenses are more versatile. I think of the 500mm as a 500/700/1000mm and the 600mm as a 600/840/1200mm. Of course, the 800mm is a 800mm 800/1120mm. The big problem with the 800mm is it's too long at times. At their extreme lengths, all will be slow to AF on the 5D3 and fast on the 1D X, so there's no advantage there.
    Since both the 5D MkIII and the 1D X are full-frame cameras, there's a temptation to go with the longer focal length. I understand that and I'm torn as I try to make the same decision. The new 600/f4 weighs about the same as my Series I 500mm, which I easily hand hold. However, when I borrowed a 500/f4-II from CPS, I was blown away by its light weight and balance in my hands. Before I make my final purchase decision next month (the 800mm isn't even in consideration for me), I'll borrow a 600/f4-II from CPS to see how I feel. Will the extra reach sway me toward the 600mm, or will the handiness of the 500mm keep me in that camp? We'll see...
    BTW, I'll be buying a 1D X as my primary camera and using my 5D MkIII as my landscape and second body. (I borrowed a 1D X from CPS when I borrowed the 500/f4-II).
    Before ordering from Canada, if you live in the US, consider warranty issues and using CPS. With this equipment you'll qualify for membership in Canon Professional Services USA, which entitles you to loaners, expedited service, discounted service and two free clean and checks per year, etc.. However, I think that your equipment will need to be sold through Canon USA. If you buy from Canada, you can pretty easily send it back there for repair, but you should weigh that against the benefits of CPS USA.
    Rentals on this stuff is really expensive; however, if you live near enough to a big retailer that would have this equipment in stock, then go by to handle the pieces. Balance and handiness are important with big heavy lenses. You want to have a tripod, but hand holding is how you get the maximum value out of these lenses and bodies. Airfare is actually cheap vs. trying to rent all these pieces for a few days (shipping and insurance are huge). Don't fail to try the lenses with TCs on the lenses, because it makes a huge difference in responsiveness. Handling them in a store or at a Canon event will tell you a lot.
  8. The issue of repair of a lens or warranty issue if purchased from Canada and shipped to the USA was discussed at FM - it is Canon North America...it will be serviced here in the USA or in worst case scenarios - sent to Japan. Canon NA does not distinguish between USA and Canada for warranty (repair) issues - check over at FM...this was discussed. Anyway, go the Canada route and save several thousand dollars...
    Personally, I think the 1Dx is way way overpriced right now for the #of megapixels...and the body is huge in size. I don't want to lug around that size body and a supertelephoto because I hand-hold shoot birds in flight 95% of the time...any weight savings is critical. Also, I take off the lens hood - and save some weight that way too...no issues with flare yet.
  9. Sorry Robert, but what's "FM"? Good to know about North America vs. USA.
    I wouldn't suggest judging a camera body by it's pixel-count. The 1D X has excellent IQ and file quality. It's AF is beyond compare. Even though the 5D MkIII has the same AF scheme and controls, it does not have the high voltage battery needed to manhandle these super-telephoto lens when they're operating at f/8. The 1D X's high-ISO performance is beyond compare, as is its 12-fps burst rate. The file size, fps and high-ISO performance goals are part of the reasoning behind the "low" pixel-count. If you don't need these features, then it might not be a good value for you, but if you value these features, it's a bargain. What would a 1000mm or 1200mm lens that's fast a capable of BIF shooting cost you? It'd cost way more than a 1D X.
    I keep my lens hood on, not so much for lens flare protection, but for protection from limbs and twigs that I run into as I trudge through the woods. Without the lens hood, the front element is quite exposed. It's made out of carbon fiber is not a significant weight element, IME.
  10. Jody, clearly the optics have changed, both the EF lenses have optical image stabilizers, which no FD lenses had.
  11. Fred Miranda forums (fora technically)
    Here is a link to the Canon forum: http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/board/2
    you'll see a "Search" function at the upper right. Type in 600mm and see what pops up...
  12. Thanks Robert.
    Additionally, I've emailed one of my contacts at CPS to confirm what is being said on FM.
  13. Milton at CPS USA confirmed that they will perform warranty and repair service on bodies and lenses with the "1-Year Canon (International) Canada and USA Warranty". They will not honor warranties from Asia, Europe, etc., only North American warranties. So, just as with purchasing in the USA, be careful of "grey market" warranties from other parts of the world. They may or may not repair items, depending on how the specifications differ, so that'd be an item by item concern, that's not relevant to this case (purchase in Canada).
    Wow. That really frees up some budget.
  14. that's a 10% finder's fee headed my way...Thanks David: 10% of $11,000 is good...My wife thanks you - no McHamburger for New Year's dinner...we can splurge on peanut butter.
  15. Check out this great review of the 1D X:
  16. Robert, you'll need to continue practicing delayed gratification. This will be a 2014 purchase, but thanks.
  17. David - I don't do mouth to mouth resuscitation for fellow photographers when they drop from exhaustion from carrying too much equipment (weight). That 1Dx is too big, heavy and costs way too much. OK maybe you are in good shape and will be fine...but if your wife ever finds out you purchased a new telephoto and the 1Dx...she is going to die...or in a better case scenario, she is going to kill you.
    I am just trying to save lives...really with the money you want to spend on the 1Dx you can take yourself and your wife on a nice winter vacation to the Amazon (Peru) or somewhere to use that newly found lens - and make her happy too.
  18. Thanks for your genuine concern Robert, but I've been planning the Series II lens/ 1D X purchase for almost two years and I've accumulated ample brownie points. At this moment, I have a substantial surplus (cruise in the Aegean and Med with two adult daughters, forgiven unscheduled purchases, no photography purchase for months, etc.). The lens/body purchase will possibly throw me into a slight deficit position, but I'll overcome that quickly. Still, I understand and appreciate your concern. (Married 45-years and counting).
  19. BTW, the 1D X and the 500/f4-II would be a net weight reduction over my current rig. The 600/f4-II would be a slight increase.
    I do have a linebacker build and was a roofer as a kid, until I wised up and became an account and later a risk consultant. Anyway, lugging stuff around came to me early in life.
  20. Bob Atkins I wonder what kind of pictures someone can takes with a 800mm + 2x tc ? no Birds In Fly here, the moon, better with a telescope. anyways, I'm out.

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