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Photography Question 
Pamela K. Barrett
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/26/2007

Prime Lens with Teleconverter or Telephoto-Zoom

I'm wanting better telephoto capabilities. I'm debating between the Canon 300mm f/4 and using with a 2x teleconverter or the Sigma 50-500mm f/4.5-6.3. What would a teleconverter do to the aperture on the 300mm lens?
My camera is a Canon 30D.

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5/24/2011 11:43:28 AM

Lynn R. Powers   First, I would not recommend the 2x on either lens. On the Sigma 50-500, you would lose autofocus and have an f/stop of 12.6. Also the Sigma, although a good lens, is very heavy. With the lighter 300mm lens, the 2X TC will also lose autofocus abilities on your camera, plus the subject will be rather soft. However, if you have the big bucks $$$$, then the 300 f2.8L IS vII with the 2x mark III, and everything will be usable with a sharp image to boot. This combo is EXPENSIVE!
I have used the 300mm f4L IS on both a Canon 20D and a 5D. I have also used it with a 1.4X TC on both cameras. With the 5D, it is a good 300mm lens. On a cropped camera - such as 20D/30D/40D/50D/60D/7D and all Rebels - the field of view is that of a 480mm lens as soon as you attach it. It will still be an f4. When adding a 1.4X, your efective f/stop becomes f5.6 which allows autofocus. With your 30D, and this combo, the crop factor gives an effective field of view of 672mm at f5.6. The only downside is that the focusing is a tad slower. It does balance better, quite well actually, without the TC but even with it on the balance is better than the 100-400mm lens.
When hand-holding, insure that shutter speed is at least 1/500" and with the TC, not recommended, 1/1000" and that is even with the IS turned on. For shorter times, a STURDY tripod is highly recommended.
I have shot birds in flight with the 5D without the TC and taken photos of the tufa at Mono Lake as well as climbers on high walls with the 1.4x TC. I have also used the 20D and the lens alone to take photos of whales 1/4 mile away with the IS turned on (the boat rocks).:=)
IMO, the 300mm f4L IS is one great lens.

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5/24/2011 12:53:57 PM

Pamela K. Barrett
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/26/2007
  How about the Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM in comparison to the Canon 300mm f/4L IS? I'm just trying to get a good telephoto but with sharpest possible image as well as being within my reasonable budget. (That's too bad about the 2X converter. I bought it for my TAMRON 100-300, then later found out it was not good for that either. If I decide on the 300mm, I will just have to buy the 1.4X and sell the 2X.)

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5/24/2011 1:51:41 PM

Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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Hi Pamela,
I have the 100-400mm lens (it's one of my very favorites) and it too loses autofocus with a 1.4 extender of my 40D and 5D Mk II. It works OK using manual focus and I have some very sharp moon shots with this combo when I can set up with a tripod and take my time. The 100-400 is fast enough and very sharp without an extender.
I like shooting at f/7.1 with the background 8-10 feet behind the subject, the subject is so sharp with a beautiful background.

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5/24/2011 2:31:57 PM

Pamela K. Barrett
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/26/2007
  Thanks Lynn & Carlton. I'm about to narrow this down. What about the Canon EF 300mm f/4.0L IS USM? Would I be OK using this with a teleconverter, or should I go with the 100-400mm, considering the fact I'm looking for
the best zoom with best image quality for the price.

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5/24/2011 2:44:37 PM

Lynn R. Powers   Pamela,

Please reread the first and last paragraph of my first post.

"...considering the fact I'm looking for the best zoom with the best image possible for the price."
The 300mm f4L IS is NOT a zoom lens. When you put it on your camera it has the FOV 480mm. If you add a 1.4TC the FOV becomes 672mm. Those are the only choices you have. With the 1.4X TC You should use a tripod. It sometimes becomes difficult to find your subject in the viewfinder with the TC on the lens. This is where the 100-400 benefits. With it you can go to a wider angle, find the subject, line the camera up and then go to full zoom.

Today an infamous hot spot froze over. I have a total different opinion than Carlton of the 100-400. At 100mm the only thing sharper than mine was the 100mm f2.8 Macro. and not by much. Beyond 320mm it was soft and with a 1.4 TC at 400mm was just short of unuseable. My 300mm f4 IS was just as sharp and clean as you could hope to get even with the 1.4TC.
Now I purchased the 100-400 lens in 2006 and that was the code date on the lens. Since then I have HEARD that Canon had straightened up their act with quality control and supposedly all of the newer ones are coming out to be as good as Carlton's. Then it was a crap shoot. It is possible that what I HEARD is true. If I were to buy one today I would purchase it from B&H or another store with a good return policy if I found it lacking in quality. And I would test it thoroughly and immediately. But I would use it on the 5D not the 40D because the balance was cumbersome with the smaller camera. I did use one on a 1DMarkII and the balance was fine with the larger, heavier camera.

Peter Burien mentioned troubles with soft focus also in a post dated 8/1//10.

I really doubt that I will ever own that lens again.


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5/24/2011 7:50:20 PM

Pamela K. Barrett
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/26/2007
  Thank you Lynn. Sorry to be repetitious. I've reread all of our previous comments & will still consider the 300mm. The only thing keeping me from that particular prime lens is I would like larger telephoto; but don't want to lose image quality. What can you or anyone else tell me about the Canon 400mm f/5.6L? I've always heard primes are better than zooms, but I've seen that cost is about $300 more on the 100-400mm. Also, consider that I will eventually upgrade my camera to probably a 5D Mark II.

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5/25/2011 5:10:33 AM

Lynn R. Powers  

This creates an easier selection with a better camera for what you want.

I do not own nor have I used the 400 f5.6L. But I have READ on the Fred Miranda forum, Canon Mount threads, about it. Those that have it love it and they post photos to show that it is indeed a good lens at a reasonable price. They also love the light weight.

The main cons I have read is that it is a fixed focal length lens and does not have IS nor will it accept a TC and the limits of the f5.6 max aperture.(these people are very hard to please and the ones that make these remarks don't own one.) They prefer the 100-400mm.

IF Canon has truly improved their quality control and the photos taken at 400mm are as sharp as Carlton's and mine at 100mm I would find it a better purchase. But the lens is heavy. However it will balance out nicely with the 5D Mark II. It will give you much more versatility. You will also be able to use f4.5 at the wider zoom range if desired.

Me? I am going to go with the 300mm f4L IS on my 5D(not a Mark II). I can put on a 1.4 TC to reach to 420mm @f5.6 and come out with a decent photo. With the TC attached the combo will weigh approx. 12 ounces more than the 400mm f5.6L. Also it balances well on the 40D. Please remember that this is MY preference and may not meet your desires.

I wish I could afford the 5D Mark II but life keeps getting in the way and my money has to go elsewhere.

Best of Luck.

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5/25/2011 2:42:02 PM

Rex Vogel   I have a 100-400 lens and use it with my 30D. I find the result adequate but rather slow to focus. However, I would not consider using even a 1.4 t.c. with this lens. I use it mainly for birding and in particular in RGV of Texas. As usual lens selection is a trade-off. I can hand-hold it and it doesn't weigh a ton to lug around, plus you don't have to take out a mortgage to purchase.

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6/14/2011 8:16:24 AM

Pamela K. Barrett
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/26/2007
  I've been researching several lens reviews & am leaning toward the 300mm f/4 prime. With the 30D it will actually be a 480mm as Lynn has stated. Will also purchase a 1.4X Teleconverter to go along with it. The 400mm sounds nice except for the 11.5 ft minimum focus range and no IS. The 300mm f2.8 would be excellent, but not in my price range for a telephoto.

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6/14/2011 9:22:35 AM

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