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Photography Question 
Brett Dolsen
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/9/2007

Telephoto Lenses

Just looking for a few thoughts on choice of lenses for surfing and action with budget restrictions.

The camera will be a Canon 7D and will most likely be used with a 2by extension when rquired for greater focal lengths.

(1) Canon EF 70-200 mm f2.8L IS USM
(2) Canon EF 100-400F/4.5-5.6L IS USM
(3) Canon 400 mm Prime Lense L series

Image quality will be the priority.
I have been getting some reasonable results in the past with a 70-300 kit lense and Canon 400D but more than often I havnt been able to get close enough. Often the best shots and surf conditions are early morning or late when surf conditions are best and often low light also.

I have done a fair bit of web research but unable to draw a conclusion as yet.
Hoping someone may have some experience.

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3/28/2011 8:18:20 PM

Eric Highfield
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/16/2003
  I'm not a Canon shooter, but do have some experience with telephoto lenses and can make the following observations:

You'll lose 2 stops with a 2x extender. I don't see buying #1 with an extender as practical if you are buying for solely maximum reach, it would be cheaper to buy #2 without the extender. However, the advantage of this option plus extender is it provides versatility for many types of photography (on and off the beach) as it would be 70-200mm 2.8 without extender and a 140-400mm f5.6 (equiv) with extender. That covers a broad range! If that flexibility appeals to you, it might be worth the extra dollars.

#2 with an extender would be slow, likely manual focus only, and require good light. If you go this route I'd consider skipping the extender, or get something in a 1.4x instead to minimize the f-stop impact. This lens without the extender appears to be more economical than the 70-200mm with the extender, and seems to be the best "dollars to reach" ratio of the three.

#3 The 400mm 2.8 will give you the reach and is fast enough to use the extender, you lose the zoom of course, so will be shooting a 400mm or 800mm (not factoring crop factor), but the price tag is staggering!

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3/28/2011 9:38:55 PM

Eric Highfield
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/16/2003
  Just realized you were probably referring to the canon 400mm 5.6 and not the 400mm 2.8 (we can all dream, right)! You will have the same extender limitations as #2, but appears that the 400mm 5.6 without extender is least expensive of the three, but also the least versatile (but maybe as a prime it makes up for it in image quality???).

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3/28/2011 10:02:30 PM

Lynn R. Powers   Leave the extenders at home. Both the 100-400 and the 400 f5.6 will have to be manually focused when using them.

For best clarity the 400mm f5.6 will be better. With the camera that you are using the Field of View (FOV) will be equivalent of 640mm. That should be enough.

Also take a tripod or monopod. Raise your ISO if necessary to get higher shutter speeds of 1/500" minimum.

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3/29/2011 5:34:49 PM

Usman M. Bajwa
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/11/2006
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  Brett, I think what you are interested to shoot is something like David W. Orias type surf shoots. Here is one example below,

Suggest you get in touch with him, as he is an expert in catching light on waves and panning and uses more than 600mm focal lengths usually.


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3/29/2011 10:12:18 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  To echo what others have stated, you should not need the 2X T/C for shooting surfers since you can just move in closer to the beach to get fuller frames.
Personally, I prefer fast prime telephoto lenses over zooms but the costs can be prohibitive unless you can find a good deal on a used one.

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3/30/2011 3:02:21 AM

Brett Dolsen
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/9/2007
  Hello and thankyou Eric,Lynn,Usman and Bob.

All great advice and helped me to make the decision on the 400mm Prime Lense without extension.This will get me a little closer than the 300mm kit lense and something to really look forward to after five years.
I havnt seen too many images as yet with this lense but have seen some good reviews.
Thankyou again everyone and I look forward to posting some images and thoughts on this lense.

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3/30/2011 4:35:16 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  If you shoot from the beach, where the waves break will determine if just a 400 will be enough. You may need an extender. Also depends on the image size you're willing to settle for.

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3/30/2011 1:10:59 PM

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