Good telephoto zoom for the Canon 50D

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by chris_houlder, Jan 17, 2010.

  1. Hi all,
    I just purchased a Canon 50D as an upgrade to my Canon Digital Rebel 300D. I am also looking to upgrade my telephoto lens as I currently have the EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III ($199.99). I'm looking at the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM ($649.99) which feels about in the price range that I am looking for unless it is a poor quality lens or I am going to get substantially more for spending a couple hundred dollars more. Please let me know your thoughts on this or comparable lenses.
    The other lenses I have are:
    Tamron SP Di 90mm f/2.8
    Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5
    and I just purchased the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM
    Thanks for your thoughts.
    - Chris
  2. the $650 would be much better spent on the 70-200mm f/4 L. You can get it used for even cheaper, around $500. Better build quality, optics, and faster AF, which is indispensible. The AF on the 70-300mm can take days. Also, I wouldn't hesitate to say that a crop on the 70-200mm would look better than a full image from the 70-300mm if you're worried about the loss of focal length. Resale value of L lenses is better too. All around the 70-200mm is a better choice than the 70-300mm and it fits the budget.
    If you can stretch the budget, the 70-200mm f/2.8 L version can be bought used for just under $1000. Worth it if you can afford it. If not, the f/4 is incredible, its what I have and I love it. Its also smaller and lighter than the other 3 versions.
  3. I don't really consider a 70-200 a telephoto. I shoot it all the time inside on my full frame. But I would get a 100-400 IS L. I have that one too and love it. I use it for all of my aviation photos. The extra money spent on the IS between the 2 lens you mentioned is not worth it IMO. Same focal length just add IS would not be step up at all. I would sell the 75-300 that you have and get the 100-400 IS L, now that is an upgrade all the way around. Good luck v/r Buffdr
  4. My fav telezoom is the EF 70-200 4L IS USM: top optical and build quality with IS. If that's too expensive, the 70-200 4L USM is almost the same minus IS and the o-ring thingie.
  5. normally, i wouldn't have anything to say. but, imo, if you get the 70-300 you won't like the IQ as compared to the 10-22 and 17-55. it's not a match. if your other lenses were more consumer-grade you wouldn't notice. but, 10-22 and (especially) 17-55 (and, i'll bet, the tamron) produce deep saturation with excellent dynamic range. 70-300 does not. by comparison it's 'muddy' or 'murky'... dull.
    also, you have a nice camera. if you had some kind of rebel a consumer tele zoom might be more in line. rebels are nice but the 50d is better. putting a 70-300 on the 50d will diminish some of its potential.
    at the budget level you're talking about, recommend 70-200 f4 L (non-IS), or the 200 f 2.8. these optics match the IQ of the other lenses you mention. deep, bright color -- sharp in the corners wide open
  6. sbp


    Another vote for the 70-200 f/4L. Significantly better build and IQ for about the same price as the 70-300.
  7. Buffdr,
    You say the 70-200mm isn't telephoto and to get the 100-400mm, but you use a full frame camera. With the crop factor of the 50D, the 70-200mm would act like a 112-320mm, which I would consider telephoto. Also, the 100-400mm is quite slow with a variable aperture of f/4-5.6. Yes the 70-200mm comes in a f/4, but its constant and a stop faster than the f/5.6 on the long end.
  8. The Canon 70-300mm IS you suggest is an excellent lens. I had the Canon 70-200mm "L" for a number of years and while sharp and well built I could never get the best out of it without a tripod. I bought the (new) Canon 70-300 IS and kept both for about a year until I sold the 70-200mm. The reasons I prefer the 70-300mm is that the IQ from both is indistinguishable, I tried every test available and I could never tell which lens was being used in side by side shots (the 70-300mm IS has a UD element) and while the 70-200mm wins on build, focus speed, and full time manual, the 70-300mm IS wins on an extra 100mm reach and the IS. Where I needed a minimal 1/250th sec with the 70-200mm at the long end to even approach what it is capable of, the 70-300mm IS can easily do the same at 1/60th using IS. For me the result is that I get literal 100% keepers with the 70-300mm IS vs the continual disappointment with the 70-200mm "L" handheld (I even bought the tripod collar for the 70-200mm which is another $150 from Canon). So for me the IS is invaluable and I would recommend it, and the 300mm is significantly longer and useful than 200mm. Here is a link that fairly reflects what I see in the 70-300mm IS (you can see the 70-200mm "L" on this site too)
  9. AF speed is a big thing to consider; the extra 100mm and IS will never make up for the shots you never get b/c the lens took too long to focus and you missed the shot.
  10. Thanks Nathan. I'm not a fan of tripods, so what is your thought on the impact of losing the IS going with the lens you recommend? (I intended as a response for your first post, but this never sent. Some of this has been answered).
  11. IMO, the 55-250mm IS is almost as good as the 70-300mm IS for a lot less money, and with a more useful focal length on a 1.6x format DSLR. YMMV.
  12. Absolutely the 70-200/4 L for a zoom, or a 200/2.8 L. A used 1.4x for either lens will also provide impressive results.
    The image quality of the 300mm zoom with IS is not much better than your current zoom. Yes that is a lot to pay for the IS function! In full sun the 70-200/4 L can be easily handheld at ISO 100 and 1/1000. You can lose two stops of light and still shoot at a handholdable speed of 1/180 to 1/250. Your 50D can easily go to ISO 800 to 1600 when light gets really low. Also remember that IS is only a contributing factor for still subjects in extremely low light.
    The fact that you have a capable 90/2.8 opens the door for the exceptional 200/2.8 L prime lens. Add a 1.4x or even 2x and you get a very good longer telephoto.
  13. I certainly agree with what Peter Rowe says. The 70-300 IS is an excellent lens. After I had it for a year (often renting the 2.8 versions of the 70-200 for low light situations), I sold it to get the 70-200 f/2.8 (non-IS) as I needed the 2.8. The IQ of the lenses are nearly the same. You cannot go wrong with the 70-300 IS - and you might miss the 200-300mm but getting the 70-200 f/4 and you might not like the stares you get with the white lens and you can't get into certain venues with the white lens, etc., etc.
  14. I had both of these lenses and kept the 70-200. AF performance is far superior as is build quality and optical performance. The 70-300 is a fine lens but it is not in the same league as the 70-200 in image quality. IS is the only advantage that it has.
  15. The f/4 IS and f/2.8 non IS are similar in price and the f/2.8 IS the most expensive although the f/2.8 IS II just released so the price of the older version should go down. Some people swear by IS and have to have it. I would personally rather have the extra stop and no IS. I'd rather have the 2.8 non IS than the f/4 IS, but thats me. It depends what you shoot too. The IS will keep the camera steady allowing for slower shutter speeds, but the f/2.8 will blur the background better and isolate the subject. If you have never used IS on a telephoto then you don't know what you're missing, which can be good. Then you can get by with a non IS lens and save money. To tell the truth, I sold my 75-300mm IS lens and I haven't missed the IS yet. I shoot mostly action at longer focal lengths anyways and the IS won't stop action, only a fast shutter will, so the faster lens would be more beneficial, however the IS does make it easier to keep the subject in the frame. I think you just have to think about what you'd rather have and maybe play around with each model and see what works best for you and your budget. Just don't be afraid of being locked into a lens you don't like. The L lenses retain their value and you can sell and rebuy later if need with little or no loss, heck sometimes you make money.
  16. Not to compare this to those really nice lenses being talked about, but there is also the newer Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG OS for $400 that can also be used on full frames. It's good for about 2 to 3 stops, not the 4 it advertises at. I bought it and I got some really sharp shots at 300mm. Unfortunately I had to send my new T1i in for repair because non of my lenses including this lens were getting a sharp focus very often (without manual or live view), but they all worked great on my XTi.
    Anyway, thought I would mention it.
  17. Nathan unless you need the extra stop get the 70-200 F4 IS it is a great lens. I have both the 70-200 F2.8 and 70-200 F4 IS and they are both great lenses. the reason I have both is that I need the F2.8 lens for sports and in these circumstances IS is not needed. The F4 les is for travelling around with - it is half the weight of the F2.8 lens but has the same IQ. For portraits and sports / action (especially indoor) the F2.8 lens is better but it is not a lens you throw in the bag just in case (hence the fact I have the F4 IS). As others have said the IQ of either of these lenses is much better than consumer lenses and (in my opinion) better than the 100-400.
  18. I agree completely Philip. You must consider what you will be shooting the most before deciding. 2.8 for sports/wildlife, f/4 IS for everything else. But you have both, if you could only choose one which would it be? I think I'd choose the f/2.8 non IS, but thats me.
  19. I would go for the Canon 100-400, the others are no better than the cheap 55-250IS
  20. If you don't have one yet and you've just upgraded to a body that can
    use the quality, to me this is a no brainer!
    There's no way I would go for a 75 to 300 lens or any other lens for
    that matter, until you've got yourself a 70-210 L lens. Around 5 or 600
    $$, get a second hand one. It really doesn't matter wheter its IS or
    F2.8 or whatever; that is peripheral and depends how deep your
    pocket is! Obviously F2.8 IS sounds good, bue remember the huge (C
    50%) weight penalty!
    All serious Canon photographers should have some incarnation of
    Canon's "white" 70-210 L glass on their photographic journey. You'll
    never regret it....
    You will if you never get one!
  21. ..... and another thing; STOP buying EFs lenses AND non Canon lenses. Believe me, you'll regret it ultimately if and when
    you start using Canons WITHOUT a crop factor!
    That comment is a bit tongue in cheek, but in my view, has some truth in it!
  22. "the others are no better than the cheap 55-250IS"​
    Seriously, That is completely false, but I guess that explains why all the Sports Illustrated photographers have the black plastic 55-250mm lens mounted on their 1D MkIII's on the sidelines of NFL games.
  23. Nathan the 70-200 F2.8 can do all the 70-200 f4 IS can do plus indoor sports and a shallow DOF for portraits so if I could only have one it would be the F2.8 lens. The F4 though is great for acring around being half the weight.
  24. Chris,
    I have the 70-200mm f4L, had a 100-300mm 4.5-5.6 before this, the L zoom is far and away better, light weight. You won't regret it if you get one. The 75-300Is is also fairly good I believe from reports. But it comes down to what you shoot, and where. If you need the reach, then the longer zoom might do. But with the L zoom the bokeh, and the colours rock. You can always get a 1.4 extender like I did. My 2 cents
  25. How often do you shoot your 75-300 maxed out at 300mm and perhaps wish for a bit more reach?
    100-400L IS.
    Does your kit have to be easily portable?
    Are you often in lowish light but your subjects don't run away?
    70-200/4 IS.
    Sports, action?
    Always at the tele end, not really a need for a general purpose range from 70-100mm?
    200/2.8L $750
    300/4L IS, $1400 Both superb but you have to be very certain about your needs before buying a prime.
    How big files do you really need?
    15Mp + 70-200L goes far with some cropping. You can cut away 75%(!) and still print fine 8x10. Quality is rather different than with 75-300 III. I'm not terribly picky but cheap zooms at 300mm are... umm... just bad. They may actually have pretty decent resolution but low contrast and aberrations make the results painful to watch compared to quality teles and instead of cropping you feel more like downsizing 50% to make it look ok.
    Go to a store and handle the lenses if you haven't already. There are substantial differences, lugging around 70-200/2.8 or 100-400L when you don't need them is not fun at all. We're talking about very different weight and size than your previous lenses and you really need to try them yourself before buying.
    And do try the 70-300 IS too. It's pretty small and "normal" looking, image quality isn't half bad and IS works. (Older 75-300 IS is optically different and more shabby.) But if "L-look" is not a problem then any 70-200L variant will beat your 75-300 III silly even though they're 100mm less.
  26. The 70-300 IS is a very good lens for the money - I have one and have got pretty good pictures of birds in flight at 300mm but it does hunt a bit at times and I missed the shot; but this is as much about me learning its foibles in different situations. I have also added the Tamron 1.4x tc and the combination has been impressive compared to what I was expecting when photographing the full length of a rugby field (about 120 yards). I have not tried any of the 70-200 yet but fully intend to but here is my immediate thinking on the matter:
    If you need IS because you are concerned about your technique with slow-moving or stationary objects - 70-300 IS
    If you want to use the 200-300 range then the 70-300 avoids use of a tc - get the 70-300. I don't yet know how the 70-200 with tc compares with the 70-300 without one.
    wildlife - 70-300 with 1.4xtc . Fast moving wildlife may lead you to the 20-200 but the tc will compromise AF. Or the 100-400.
    Sports - maybe the 70-200 due to focussing speed
    Ultimate quality - 70-200 (the reviews echo thoughts here that the 70-300 is very close)
    Colour rendition - probably the 70-200 (though i wonder how much can be obtained with 70-300+photoshop)
    One of the most common statements is that the 50D needs the very best glass to show its true quality so an upgrade of the 75-300 III is certainly needed, but what you replace it with depends a lot on how tight funds are and how you will use it. The 70-300 is the cheapest with the 70-200 f4l not far behind - the comparative quality of the four L combinations (f2.8/f4, IS/non-IS) is one of the most common topics on this forum and you can have many happy hours going ground in circles.
    Can you hire any of them from nearby?
  27. I find the Canon 70-300 f4-5.6 IS to be very decent optically, and the IS works very well. However, IMO there are several shortcomings that make this lens undesirable. Mechanically, there is much to not like about it: it is very long when fully extended, the front face rotates when focusing, making it difficult to use a circular polarizer, and the barrel wobbles and makes noise when focusing. I also find when fully extended at 300mm sometimes it doesn't find a focus and hunts. I wish Canon would redesign this lens to fix it's mecahnical problems. Having said that, I still keep it since it works with my 5DII and is relatively inexpensive and compact.
    This may sound strange but I actually like the Canon 55-250 IS a little better (on a crop camera) even though it is a cheaper lens with 50mm less reach. I like the fact that it is lighter for travel and my copy seems to have a tighter more precise mechanical feel. Optically it is very good and the IS works well. I would give this a look.
    At the other end, the 70-200 f4L seems to be just about perfect in every respect. Yes, it cost more but in this regard, you get what you pay for. It is surprisingly light for white L glass and definately hand holdable. You may give up some reach, but both optically and mechanically, this lens is a gem. All movements are interal, focusining is fast and precise and optically, it's IQ is comparable to some prime lenses. One of Canon's finest.
  28. I use the Canon EF 70-200 F4 L
    It is an excellent lens with sharp contrasty images and fast focus
    I have no complaints with that lens
    The Canon EF 300mm F4 L IS is also excellent if you need a longer lens.
    I have had no problems with my copy.
    It also produces sharp contrasty images and has quick focus
    I find little use for IS as my subjects are always moving
  29. Wow, as a replacement to the 75-300 (which is what we're talking about here), IMHO, the 70-300 IS USM is an excellent choice. It's a good lens, and unless there are some serious reasons that you MUST have a constant f4, I wouldn't lose the effective additional range to get the 70-200, keep in mind, one's range on your 50 is 112-320mm (the 70-200), and the other's range is 112-480mm. frankly if you want to grab face and head shots of your kids on the playground from the benches, you'll need that extra 160mm of range, and most days that they'd actually be playing on the playground, you'd have it stopped down anyway.
    If you are replacing your current 75-300, you will feel significantly shortchanged by a 70-200. That being said, I use a 70-200/2.8 IS for paid work, but use the 70-300 IS (recreationally) because it produces great imagery, has optimal range, and unless you NEED the speed, isn't worth the weight (or the risk of loss, after all, most of the recommended lenses are worth more than your 50, some by several thousand dollars...)
  30. 100-400 IS is great if you want zoom.
    I'd suggest kind of forget about the Teleconverters. They screw up your focus and exposure, I've been using one for a year by now. There's too much fiddling around with them.
    If short on cash, get the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM, the crop factor will make them like an 480mm on the long end. Add a 1.4 Kenko TC and your lens will give you a 672mm zoom.
  31. When facing a difficult question, I say go back to basics. I mean by that consider exactly how you will be using the lens. What kind of pictures will you be taking? How far away is your subject?
    I have start off by saying I own a 50D and a 70-200mm f/4 lens. I could not be happier with the package. I believe that the 70-200 is the better lens, for all the technical reasons many of previous posts pointed out it's strenghts. However there is a price to be paid...that price comes in the form of space and weight.
    The 70-200 will take up more space in your backpack (assuming you are carrying your 4 lenses around with you). It will also weigh a good bit more. In the camera shop this may not seem like a lot of difference, however if you are walking around all day with the camera/heavy lens around your neck or in your pack, you will feel the difference.
    What kind of shots requiring a telephoto would you like to take: Sports/Action, Wildlife, Photo Journailst, Travel, Family Events? Try and imagine yourself doing whatever you will be doing with the camera/lens package. If it involves lugging around a heavier lens for an extended time, you may want to go for the lighter of two.
    You mentioned you are not a fan of tripods. I solve that problem by using a compact light monopod for long days out. This allows me to prop the camera lens weightless, while I am waiting for the perfect shot, and also affords me some of the benefits of a tripod when necessary. However, if lugging around an additional piece of equipment does not appeal to you, then I guess the monopod is out. Another way to address the weight issue, is to either limit what lenes you carry with you, or simply keep fewer lenses and use the money you save to invest in quality.
    The 100mm extended reach on the 75-300 is significant. I hate having to digitially extend the range of a shot in post processing and degrade the quality. That defeats the purpose of having a better quality lens. I seem to do it a enough for my shots that after a few years I am definitely looking an upgrade myself to the 100-400mm.
    If being light and free is critical then go with the EF 75-300 f/4-5.6 III. If 200mm is adequate and quality of image is most important and you are willing to pay the price, ($ as well as wt.) then I say go fo rthe 70-200mm.
  32. I'll pile on with praising of the 70-200mm f/4L IS. I own it and use it a lot, with and without a 1.4TC. When you consider that it will AF with the TC and it has IS, it's an incredibly versatile lens for the money. I'd recommend it, plus the 1.4TC, without reservation.
  33. Wow! This thread has been extremely helpful and educational. Thanks for all the feedback. One thing I've concluded is that I need a little more time to decide on exactly what it is that I will be shooting.
    On a related note, my 50D just arrived. What a difference over the original digital rebel!
  34. Marcus said
    most of the recommended lenses are worth more than your 50, some by several thousand dollars...​
    I'd say that's untrue.
    Even a lowly rebel will show better results with better lenses. The 50D's a step up from a lowly rebel and is certainly worth good lenses IMNSHO.
    Marcus, why did you say that? Could you explain the reasoning or show examples from your experience?
    Thanks in advance, Matthijs.
  35. I will fall into the camp that says you will likely miss the extra 100mm of focal length if you go to a 70-200. They are excellent lenses, but when you are used to zooming out to 300 you'll often feel like you're hampered by the focal length.
    I have the 75-300 that you have and it is terrible. Truly a starter lens and nothing more in my opinion. I have heard that the new 70-300 IS is much better, but I haven't used it. If you need IS and 300mm, this will likely be the most affordable way to get it (unless you go third party).
    I now have the 100-400 and I absolutely love it unless I have to carry it very far. IS works very well and image quality is superb. Only downsides are weight and f/4-5.6 max apertures.
    You definitely need to determine what you'll be shooting and in what conditions. Do you need IS? Do you need f/2.8? Do you need 300mm (or more)? Do you need light weight? All of the lenses mentioned in these posts are quite different from each other and you don't want to spend a lot of money just to find out you still can't do what you want to do.
  36. If you can find the old 80-200mm F2.8 L lens then you'll get better quality for around the same price as the lenses you're talking about.
  37. David Stephens said - I'll pile on with praising of the 70-200mm f/4L IS. I own it and use it a lot, with and without a 1.4TC. When you consider that it will AF with the TC and it has IS, it's an incredibly versatile lens for the money. I'd recommend it, plus the 1.4TC, without reservation.

    I would agree. I was a little worried about IQ when using the 1.4TC on the 70-200mm IS but it seems to be OK. I use a 7D camera and the 70-200 becomes a 156mm - 448mm when you add the 1.4 TC to the 1.6 7D body
  38. ok, so I am now about to reopen this. My sense is that 200mm is going to be too short and I have been able to increase the amount of money I can spend by selling some older equipment. I feel really happy with the lens choices that I have made so far, but I am clearly without a telephoto option. I understand that I need to know what I am going to be shooting, but to be honest it's a little early in my photography journey to clearly articulate that. I am still trying to narrow down what I will be shooting. I live the idea of macro level insects and some wildlife shooting (which to be honest will be focused around zoos). Can someone help tee up some questions that I should be asking in making a decision on this. I would be willing to spend somewhere around $1600 on the lens and again I could stretch 20-25% beyond that for a phenomenal upgrade. I want a lens that I will not outgrow anytime soon and 200m seems to me to be starting me off with a limit. Again, that in advance for your advice.
  39. Shooting wildlife around a zoo environment, an EF 70-200mm f/4L IS, plus the 1.4TC on your 50D will give you the reach you need, good IS and AF function and great sharpness, all within your budget.
    If you want to consider others, then ask, "Does it have IS" since you're not going to use a tripod and "Will it AF with a 1.4TC?" since you need that to work with animals, even slow moving animals.
    I've got this combination and the EF 400mm f/5.6L. I use the 400mm for BIF, but don't dare put the 1.4TC on it because the AF is so slow that it's useless for BIF. Perched birds and animals in a zoo are easy targets for the 70-200mm f/4L IS, with the 1.4TC attached.
  40. Thanks David. I just did some reading about the 1.4 TC and it sounds good as long as I am using a lens with at least f/4 capability - as you suggested above. Is there a downside to the 1.4 TC?
  41. Thanks David. I just did some reading about the 1.4 TC and it sounds good as long as I am using a lens with at least f/4 capability - as you suggested above. Is there a downside to the 1.4 TC?​
    Two downsides, you lose effective aperture size and the IQ will be slightly down vs. a prime lens of the same effective focal length. A 200mm lens with the 1.4TC yields a focal length of 280mm. A good f/4L will have slightly better IQ. With the 70-200mm f/4L IS and the 1.4TC you get a wide range of focal lengths up to 280mm, but you need to compare that to a 100-300mm or 100-400mm with IS for price and performance.
    You asked. I think that for your specified usage you'll be very happy with the 70-200mm, plus the 1.4TC. If later you try to wild birds in flight, then you may want more reach, but for the zoo you'll be very happy.
  42. Thanks David.

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