100 to 400 IS L series v 400 L series

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Don, Dec 28, 2004.

  1. Don

    Don Guest


    I have the 400 L series 5.6 Lens for birding and love it. However, other
    opportunities lay ahead whereby I could see myself hoping to photograph
    other larger wildlife. With this in mind I was thinking of the 100 to 400
    zoom IS L series. The crux of the matter is that I love the quality of the
    prime and wonder how much quality loss I would have to forgo using the zoom
    (say at 400 for comparison). Looking for real world experience here so
    unless you have used these lenses don't bother responding. Look forward to
    your views and comments.

    Don, Dec 28, 2004
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  2. Don

    YoYo Guest

    I have the 100-400mm IS L lens and it is quite nice. I do not own/use the
    400mm f/5.6L but without IS and the same aperture.. well??
    I went for the 100-400 for the zoom & IS features. Having the zoom feature
    makes it much more usable for me. Oh and yea the IS does make handheld much
    more possible.
    It does come with a cost but its worth it.
    YoYo, Dec 28, 2004
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  3. Don

    Jim Guest

  4. Don

    Annika1980 Guest

    From: "Don"
    The 400 f/5.6L which you already own is sharper than the zoom. I used it
    handheld to take this one yesterday and I don't think I would've gotten as good
    a result with the zoom, even with the IS:


    A better solution would be for you to get the original 70-200 f/2.8L or the IS
    version of that lens.
    Annika1980, Dec 28, 2004
  5. Don

    Bill Hilton Guest

    From: "Don"
    Hi Don,

    I have the 100-400 IS and my wife has the 400 f/5.6 L and I get to use both of
    them ... at 400 mm wide open the zoom has a pretty noticeable light fall-off in
    the corners, especially in low contrast light, but if you can stop down one or
    1.5 stops the image quality difference isn't as noticeable between the two
    lenses. I put together a chart (just for you :) showing Canon's MTF values for
    the 400 f/2.8 L, 400 f/5.6 L and 100-400 @ 400 that shows the rapid tailing off
    of the 100-400 at the corners wide open, at least in theory. I have a shot
    from a couple of weeks ago that shows the same thing, I can send you a jpeg if
    you want to see it ... http://members.aol.com/bhilton665/ef_400mm.jpg for the
    mtf chart.

    For "larger wildlife" I'd suggest the 500 f/4 if you can handle the cost and
    weight ... if you're really keen on image quality I'd suggest keeping the 400
    f/5.6 and getting a 70-200 f/2.8 L IS with a 1.4x, then you're covering pretty
    much the same focal range as with the 100-400 but with better optics.

    Basically if we can take two lenses for this focal range we take the 70-200 and
    the fixed 400, which is especially good for birds-in-flight. If we can only
    take one because we're flying and have the 500's we often take the 100-400
    instead of the 400, especially if it will be used hand-held or from a platform
    or vehicle where we can't set up a tripod and the IS feature comes in handy.

    Bill Hilton, Dec 28, 2004
  6. Don

    Don Guest

    Folks, as always, lots of good advice. Bill, thanks for the below and also
    to the poster who sent me to luminous landscape. Decision made, staying
    with the 400 fixed.

    Don from Down Under
    Don, Dec 29, 2004
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