I am planning to upgrade from my Canon 35-350 3.5-5.6L USM which Canon doesn't make any more to the new 100-400 4.5-5.6L IS, is this last one sharper/better/faster/heavier/better/ for bird photography?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by jcvpictures, Aug 9, 2007.

  1. I am planning to upgrade from my Canon 35-350 3.5-5.6L USM which Canon doesn't
    make any more to the new 100-400 4.5-5.6L IS, is this last one
    sharper/better/faster/heavier/better/ for bird photography?
     
  2. If birds are your primary subject, buy a lighter weight, sharper prime. My two cents. BTW, I own the 100-400L.

    When I'm shooting birds with my 100-400, I find I'm almost always zoomed to the max.
     
  3. You may want to consider the Tamron 200-500.
     
  4. It wouldn't be much of an upgrade. All you'd really get is 50 extra mm and IS. Any optical differences will be rather insignificant.
     
  5. I stalk birds on foot. I ran into about eighty wild swans not too long ago. I have a 100-400. I would not have gotten the picture that is posted in my gallery at 400. I was too close. It was shot at about 150mm. For me a zoom is important. Also if you use it for sports there are times when I got very close to football action where I would have lost the picture with a fixed focus lens. I don't know much about the 35-350 but the 100-400 has IS. That helped with the Baltimore Oriole in my gallery. It is quite sharp at 13x19. That was slightly cropped at 400mm. I really like the push-pull zoom. I really wanted the 35-350 about 15 years ago. I bet it's still a pretty damn good lens.
     
  6. This just an assumption on my part but the IQ of the 100-400 is probably better at 350 than your current lens but I don't know how much and whether the exchange would be worth it. The 100-400 design is about seven or eight years old and the IS is of that vintage. It does a tracking mode. You really need to compare IMO the differences in sharpness,color and AF speed. The color on the 100-400 is really great. Some say the 100-400 is a little soft at 400 when wide open. If you look at the Oriole though it's a very sharp picture when enlarged at full resolution. I believe it was about F8. I gave up on third party lenses because of slow AF. I also use a Tamron F 1.4 extender very occasionally and I get full AF with it without hunting in decent light. That is not true with my Canon 2X. It is manual only. With the 400 I rarely use either extender except to play around with it.
     
  7. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    I have not used the 35-350 3.5-5.6L USM, but have used the 100-400 4.5-5.6L IS.

    So my comment should be regarded as `experienced but with only a gut feeling`.

    My inclination would be that supplementing your existing lens with a 400mm Prime and a x1.4MkII would be a better move.

    Yes I understand the extra $, but I think the idea has much merit.

    WW
     
  8. is this last one sharper/better/faster/heavier/better/ for bird photography?
    The 100-400 is (or can be) a lot better than the 35-350 at the long end, according to fairly extensive reviews on the Photozone site. Provided you get a good copy; apparently there is sample variation in the 100-400. My copy is reasonably good at the 400 mm setting: a little bit soft wide open but much better stopped down a bit.
    What do you mean by 'faster'? Optically they are the same speed: f5.6 at the long end.
    Weights are practically identical for the two lenses.
    Yes, the 100-400 is better for bird photography simply because it is longer, and in bird photography, you usually need all the focal length you can get and more. According to Photozone it's also substantially sharper (again, provided you get a good one).
    I'd second the recommendations of several posters to consider adding a 400/5.6 and keeping the 35-350, but if you want only one telezoom the 100-400 is definitely the better of the two for bird photography in nearly all circumstances.
     
  9. prime lens is way sharper then zoom. For birds shootings you need min 400mm - 600mm. YOu don't have too many choices with canon. Low cost is the 400mm f5.6 + extender and light weight compare to the 400 f2.8 or 600 f4. For zoom, 100-400mm is the only choice unless you go 3rd party like sigma 50-500mm.
     
  10. For birds shootings you need min 400mm - 600mm.
    You don't NEED lenses that long, although they will make bird photography much easier. Check out the work of Judd Patterson to see what can be done with a good eye, a 300 mm f4, and a 1.4X. Judd must have sold a bunch of photos as he recently got a 500mm lens, but most of his bird and wildlife images were done with a 300 mm.
    YOu don't have too many choices with canon. Low cost is the 400mm f5.6 + extender and light weight compare to the 400 f2.8 or 600 f4.
    Or the 500/4. Or the 400/4 DO.
     
  11. I've lost count of the number of bird pictures I've got *only* because I was able to zoom my 100-400mm.

    And I've yet to see any pictures from other lenses to convince me that my 100-400 gives up anything in IQ to any other lens - even the "big guns".

    In any Real World context the 100-400mm is as good as it gets for usability, versatility, IQ and VFM.

    It's also excellent with a 1.4x TC in my experience.
     
  12. And I've yet to see any pictures from other lenses to convince me that my 100-400 gives up anything in IQ to any other lens - even the "big guns".
    I have a 100-400 and a 500/4 IS. There's no question that image quality from the prime greatly exceeds that possible with the zoom, although at f11 or so the difference is reduced. And of course if shooting conditions aren't ideal (heat waves, haze, etc.) the dramatically better IQ from the prime doesn't matter.
     
  13. For bird photography my personal choice would be the 400/5.6 + 1.4X TC.

    Happy shooting,
    Yakim.
     
  14. I absolutely love my 35-350. It's not perfect (10x zoom - completely expected) but I love to use it at around f8 and get razor sharp shots. For motorsports, I have found no better lens (on a 1.6 crop). I can catch a wide enough shot to see several racers in a turn or zoom all the way in to single out one. I think selling this lens now to get an extra 50mm is a waste.

    Now the 100-400 does take an extender but from my experience, the sharpness suffers a little. The 400 f/5.6 is a way better solution as with an extender it suffers little and would give you way better shots IMO.

    It's really in what you need. I have a 35-350 and a set of primes I'm working on. I rarely need fast zooms because the low light stuff I shoot is too low light for even a 2.8 zoom at 3200. To me the 35-350 right now is not expendable. I love it for it's range that none of my primes have yet. I'll probably sell this once it's no longer servicable but until that day, It'll be in my bag.
     
  15. The 400 f/5.6 is a way better solution as with an extender it suffers little and would give you way better shots IMO.
    But, alas, the 400/5.6L lacks stabilization, which is a very valuable feature on a long lens. The 400L prime may be sharper than the 100-400, but that avails you little if camera shake trashes your image. At very high shutter speeds, or if you always use a tripod, stabilization doesn't matter, but in other situations common in the real world, it's very useful.
    You pays your money, you takes your choice.
     
  16. Juan,

    Are you using a crop factor camera or a full frame camera?

    Bird photography covers a lot of ground. The 500mm and 600mm lenses and the third party Sigma and Tamron 500+mm zooms really need to be used with support. Are you a tripod user?

    The 400/5.6 is considered by some to be "the" lens for handheld photography of birds in flight basically for its autofocus speed and ease of handling. I understand that the 400/5.6 has a slight optical advantage (especially on full frame) over the 300/4 + 1.4x extender which has a slight advantage over the 100-400/4.5-5.6. I use the 300/4 + 1.4x extender and you can get shots of birds in flight but getting an initial AF lock is an exercise in frustration. The 300/4 + 1.4x extender is sharp enough for me to use wide open though it does get sharper if you stop it down 1 stop. Assuming you get good samples I would be happy with the optical performance of any of these lenses.

    The 100-400 is much more flexible than the primes and the 300/4 IS is quite a bit more flexible than the 400/5.6 (IS + use with extender + close focusing distance). I use a 70-200/4 and 1.4x extender and only carry the 300/4 on specific outings. If you are used to carrying around the 35-350 then the weight of the 100-400 is probably not an issue.

    The 400/5.6 does work with a 1.4x extender but unless you are using a 1 series camera or an EOS 3 film camera you will lose autofocus unless you tape pins. I have enough trouble with photographing birds in flight without adding manual focus to the problem.

    The 100-400 is lighter than your 35-350 beast and definitely sharper wide open at the long end - it is certainly a better lens for birding - and a worse lens for photojournalism.
     
  17. Dear Alistair, yes, I am a tripod user and I am using a 30D which has the crop factor, I think that I will have to buy the 100-400 one of these days, thank you for your advise. jc
     

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