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Photography Question 
Kristina L. Jacobs
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/5/2009
 

Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS vs. 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS


I went to the zoo this weekend carrying my Canon XTi and my Tamron 70-300mm telephoto lens. (A few of the images are in my gallery) I'm really disappointed in the quality of my photos and am blaming it in part on my lens. The other part is that I haven't taken Jim Zuckerman's Fundamentals of Photography Made Easy class yet (starts Wednesday) and have much to learn about using my DSLR. I have been thinking of buying a new lens and have been going back and forth between the Canon Zoom Telephoto EF 70-200mm f/4L IS and the 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS. The latter is cheaper by half. I'd really like the f/2.8L, but I can't afford it. My goal in life is not to become a professional, but more of a hobbyist/enthusiast that takes a decent photograph and to stop spending money at Olin Mills on portraits of my children and I'm afraid the closest I'll ever get to the wild animals I love so much is the zoo. Anyway... what would the recommendation be between the two lenses I'm looking at for portaits/landscapes/wild animals (via the zoo)? Or should I be looking at a different lens altogether?

I emailed my lens specs to Mr. Zuckerman and he suggested I wait until after I've taken the course to purchase a new telephoto lens... but after seeing the photographs I got yesterday at the zoo, I'm afraid the lens I have just isn't doing my photographs justice.

I know this was a long description of my dilemma and I do appreciate your time in reading and responding.

Kristina


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4/6/2009 9:26:11 AM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  Did you shoot through glass or netting? Or did you do a big crop to get a tighter image?


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4/6/2009 10:36:57 AM

 
Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
Contact Carlton
Carlton's Gallery
carltonwardphoto.com
  Hi Kristina,
You have 4 choices with the Canon 70-200mm lenses. There is the 70-200mm f/4, then another f/4 with IS, next is the f/2.8 and then the f/2.8 with IS - all are L lenses. I started with the 70-200 f/4 (less than $600) and it is a very nice lens. Because I wanted faster, I sold that one and bought the f/2.8L IS (over $1600). The f/4 IS and the f/2.8 (without IS) are in the $1100 range. Personally, I would take the f/2.8 over the f/4 IS mainly because it will perform better for portrait work.
All 4 of these lenses are winners, so its just a matter of how much $$ you have to spend and what you prefer.
One other thing to mention is that the f/4 lenses are lighter in weight than the f/2.8 lenses. Jim Zuckermans wife prefers the f/4 because of the weight and she takes fantastic photos. I had the privilege of shooting next to Jim & 10 other wonderful photographers for 10 days last summer in Europe. You will love his class - I have taken 3 of Jims classes myself.

http://www.usa.canon.com/consumer/controller?act=ProductCatIndexAct&fcategoryid=150

Good Luck,
Carlton


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4/6/2009 11:05:08 AM

 
Kristina L. Jacobs
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/5/2009
  Gregory,

I shot through wire fencing (couldn't get closer than four or five feet from the wire fence as there was a wood fencing baracade as well that I was leaning over). I did a tight crop on everything but the sea lions which I was able to get high enough to get above. I also did a major image size reduction in Photoshop CS3 to help "hide" the noise.. well, that and the gallery resizes the images as well.

Kristina


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4/6/2009 11:34:45 AM

 
Kristina L. Jacobs
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/5/2009
  Carlton,

Thank you for the indepth advice! Wow, what an honor you had shooting next to Jim in Europe! If I could, I would live with the Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my... I absolutely love Jim's wild life photographs (well, okay, all of his photographs). To be on a shoot with him... it would be like meeting one of heroes! I'm looking forward to his class, just hope it isn't all beyond me. Up until my "shoot" at the zoo yesterday, I've always been a full auto kinda gal.

Anyway... back to the lenses. You stated that they are all L lenses... is this the case even when it isn't followed by the "L"?

I think I need the IS because I do have some camera shake and have my camera on a tripod or braced in some form or everything is a blur with the Tamron lens.

Additionally, most of my photos were taken at a zoom of over 200mm due to the distance between myself and the animals. Which leads me to believe that if as close as I'm ever going to get to a real wild cat is at the zoo (short of Jim letting me tag along on one of his shoots to carry his lightboxes), the extra 100mm will be a necessity if I want closeups.

I noticed too that what I thought I was capturing wasn't necessarily true... like the feet on the tiger being cut off... is that because I am using the XTi, which isn't a full frame sensor or was that me not paying close enough attention to what was in my viewfinder?

Does Jim's wife have photos online that I can peek at? I'd like to see some images taken with the f/4.

Again, thanks for your help! I've looked at a lot of your photographs and WOW... you guys are great!

Kristina


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4/6/2009 11:55:52 AM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  Then I can't say that you necessarily have a lens that isn't good. I can't speak for the Tamron, but I do have a Canon 75-300. And while it's not at it's best at the 300mm mark, and it's not as good as a straight telephoto or L series lenses, your zoo photos have more problems with the fence you were shooting through and cropping so tightly.
I don't think a new lens is going to immediately give you the improvement that you're wanting.


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4/6/2009 11:55:59 AM

 
Kristina L. Jacobs
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/5/2009
  Thanks Gregory! I guess I should just wait until after I learn a bit more about shooting out of full-auto before I invest in a new lens. I would be totally bummed if I bought a new lens thinking that was a big part of it and it is just my lack of knowledge and fencing! Unless someone lets a bengal tiger loose in my back yard, fencing is what I will have to deal with! ~laughing~

I appreciate your insight!

Kristina


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4/6/2009 12:02:01 PM

 
Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
Contact Carlton
Carlton's Gallery
carltonwardphoto.com
  Hi Kristina,
Greg made some great observations (as he usually does) and I agree that you shouldn't rush out to buy anything just yet. Jims class looks like a perfect one for getting you familiar with the many aspects of photography. He excells at teaching proper exposure and this is most important IMO for a good foundation & understanding how everything works together. He also teaches a few Photoshop classes and I used to double up on classes taking a techniques (learning to get the capture) class along with a Photoshop class. I was stuck in Fresno, Ca at that time and had nothing better to do than pour myself into Photography, so I took several classes in a short amount of time.

I now do live with the bears, elk & mountain lions in North Bend, Wa (30 miles east of Seattle. I watched an adult Mountain Lion cross my street about 50 feet from me a couple of weeks ago. It stared at me and I bolted inside to grab my camera and luckily I had my 100-400mm lens mounted but kitty took off and I didn't get a shot of it. Its the 2nd one I've seen near my house in the last month.
BTW, the Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS lens is one of my favorites and my recent shots in Carltons Gallery of the Parrot & the EMU (with bad hair) were done with that lens. I know its sweet spot is at about f/7.1 and if I can keep it in the 175mm to 350mm range, it is really fantastic. Just a very slight levels/curves adjustment was done in Photoshop so you can really see what this lens can do.

Jims wife (Indiana) does have a site here at Better Photo - http://www.indianazuckerman.com
She used the 70-200mm f/4 and a wide angle lens on a Canon 5D (full frame)most of the time but she also had access to Jims lenses. She is amazing at finding unique angles to shoot from and has an incredible eye for finding the scene within a scene.

The "L" lenses are Canons top of the line and they have a red stripe on the end of the lens. EF-S lenses will only work on APS-C sensored camera's like the 20D, 50D type cameras & these sensors have a 1.6 crop factor which means my 17-40mm EF lens is actually more like a 26-50mm lens on my 40D. I am not getting the wide angle I would like on my 40D but I do get more reach with my long lenses. On the 5D & 1Ds series (with full frame sensors 24x36mm) the lens is a 17-40mm. So if you think you may want to go to a full frame camera sometime, you might want to stick with the EF lenses. The Canon 10-22mm EFS lens will work on my 40D but not a 5D.
You will probably get some of this info in class but you will at least be somewhat familiar when you get into it.
Hope this helps. You are in for a fun learning adventure Kristina and your skills will grow & develop quickly.
Cheers, Carlton


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4/6/2009 1:56:19 PM

 
Kristina L. Jacobs
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/5/2009
  Carlton,

Again, thanks for the information! I'll definitely check out Jim's wife's photos!

Wow, that missed shot makes you want to make your camera a part of your daily wardrobe, eh? That bites! I missed a great shot yesterday at the zoo... the sea lion falling off his rock while he was barking.

I'm sure I'll be taking more of Jim's classes as Photoshop is another of the things I love to play with. I've read so much about aperture and shutter speed, ISO and Manual mode that my mind is a clutter of information right now... getting everything confused! I had conversation with Jim today regarding my zoo photos and he said that I need to increase my shutter speed and/or use a tripod to help with the sharpness and reduce my ISO to help with the noise... so now I need to head back to the zoo and try again.

Yes, I do eventually want to get a full fram camera so am going to only buy EF lenses. That will take a lot of saving though, they are really expensive!

Of course, I want everything yesterday... I never realized how much knowledge was involved in taking great photos. I can see this is going to be a long term learning curve... hence the reason people actually go to college for photography!

Again, thank you for everything!

Kristina


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4/6/2009 3:29:21 PM

 
Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
Contact Carlton
Carlton's Gallery
carltonwardphoto.com
  One more piece of information Kristina,
When shooting from a tripod, make sure you turn IS OFF as the IS is designed to counter camera shake and it will actually cause slight movement & subsequent blur when mounted on a tripod. Canon states you can leave IS on with a tripod but myself and many others have found this not to be true.
My Parrot & EMU photos were both mounted on a tripod with IS turned OFF.
Carlton


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4/6/2009 3:52:45 PM

 
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