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Thread: which zoom lens

  1. #1
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    which zoom lens

    Hello all
    I am new to photography therefore I need advice regarding a lens purchase. I am soon to go on a 10 day safari in africa and would like to purchase a zoom lens that will allow me to photograph wildlife.
    I have a canon eos350d and need a compatible zoom lens. I have read that 400mm is the minimum recommended zoom lens when on safari to capture the sometimes distant wildlife. The lenses in this category all seem quite heavy and I feel that without the use of a tripod (it is not poosible for me to carry a tripod around when on safari) I would struggle to hold a lens of this weight without excessive shake. I have therefore been looking at canons range of IS lens and sigmas range of OS lens. Can anyone please offer any thoughts on these lens or suggest a suitable but cheaper alternative that would allow me to hand shoot my pics and still produce sharp images at the max focal length?
    Many Thanks in advance

  2. #2
    Newest Nikon Samurai zrfraser's Avatar
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    Re: which zoom lens

    Are you doing your safari by foot or by jeep. If by foot maybe a lightweight monopod might work. If by jeep, then you could probably prop it with a bag of rice against the window or over the top of the cab. IS and OS are great, but very expensive. You will have plenty of light on safari so you should be able to shoot at a fairly fast shutter speed which will take away a lot of shake. If you have the money then I I say invest in the quality glass. If not, then by the best you can get and prop when you have to. I have propped on other peoples shoulders (they have been good friends of mine). Just remember to squeze the shutter, and you'll be fine.

    Enjoy your safari...wish I was going...need an assistant?

    Z
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Ronnoco's Avatar
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    Re: which zoom lens

    Considering the opportunity, I would pick up the handholdable small 500mm miror lens by Minolta and rent the new Sony Alpha with 10 megapixels, if it was possible in your timeframe. Then of course declare the equipment and/or rental as a business expense to save on taxes.

    Ronnoco

  4. #4
    Newest Nikon Samurai zrfraser's Avatar
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    Re: which zoom lens

    The 500mm is a great lens but has it uses and I don't think this is one of them. The bokeh would be very distaracting on these once in a lifetime images. I don't think shake is going to be much a problem with the amount of light he will be getting through the lens. Just brace and rent or buy the best lens you can buy, but I don't think the 500 is going to be a good choice in the situation.

    Z
    Hell, there are no rules here-- we're trying to accomplish something.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Ronnoco's Avatar
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    Re: which zoom lens

    Quote Originally Posted by zrfraser
    The 500mm is a great lens but has it uses and I don't think this is one of them. The bokeh would be very distaracting on these once in a lifetime images. I don't think shake is going to be much a problem with the amount of light he will be getting through the lens. Just brace and rent or buy the best lens you can buy, but I don't think the 500 is going to be a good choice in the situation.

    Z
    Well the options are rather few. What is the "smallest" longest lens that would be easiest to use in this situation? (in your opinion) The bokeh is certainly a problem as you mentioned, but not insurmountable.

    Ronnoco

  6. #6
    Newest Nikon Samurai zrfraser's Avatar
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    Re: which zoom lens

    Long lenses aren't going to be small and hand holding with high shutter speeds certainly isn't as hard as it is sometimes made out to be. I think the Sigma 50-500 would be a good choice. It covers a wide range of focal lengths and although heavy, it is still manageable if you can prop or have fast shutter speeds. A monopod is going to be needed for extended use, but I don't think it will hinder you like a tripod will.

    Z
    Hell, there are no rules here-- we're trying to accomplish something.
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    Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Ronnoco's Avatar
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    Re: which zoom lens

    Quote Originally Posted by zrfraser
    Long lenses aren't going to be small and hand holding with high shutter speeds certainly isn't as hard as it is sometimes made out to be. I think the Sigma 50-500 would be a good choice. It covers a wide range of focal lengths and although heavy, it is still manageable if you can prop or have fast shutter speeds. A monopod is going to be needed for extended use, but I don't think it will hinder you like a tripod will.

    Z
    Well the Minolta 500mm is autofocus, about 1/4 of the weight and a lot shorter than the the just over one foot long Sigma lens. The Minolta is easily handholdable where according to the reviews, the Sigma is a problem at 300mm and beyond.

    Most important is that the Minolta lens is 1/4 of the price on ebay of the $1,000 sigma lens.

    Ronnoco

  8. #8
    Newest Nikon Samurai zrfraser's Avatar
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    Re: which zoom lens

    I agree that the 500mm is one of the better mirror lenses out and its auto focus to boot. But, you are stuck with 500mm which is great when you need it, but what about when you don't? When you don't need the reach you have to change lenses and it will be in a dusty environment, which as we know is horrible for digital sensors. I like the 50-500 because you can keep it on there for the most part. You also talked of renting a new alpha body or older Maxxum body. You have to think he has to rent this body for 10 days. I remember from an earlier post that renting (a D70) was something like 300 a week. I don't remember the actual price but was very high considering you could buy one for what it would take to rent one for a few weeks.

    Z
    Hell, there are no rules here-- we're trying to accomplish something.
    Thomas A. Edison

    Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
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  9. #9
    Nature/Wildlife Forum Co-Moderator Loupey's Avatar
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    Re: which zoom lens

    For a trip-of-a-lifetime trip, you need:

    1) portability
    2) quality glass
    3) tripod
    4) versatility

    Based on this, mrshabbs, and having an intimate knowledge of Canon's product lines and prices, I would highly recommend the following simple recipe:

    Canon 300mm f/4L IS (reduces the need for #3 while having #1 & #2)
    Canon 1.4 x or 2x II Teleconverter (gives you #4)
    Extension Tube Set (also gives you #4)

    Other than one other lens (wide to normal zoom for landscapes, sunsets, and people shots), I feel that that would be all you need hardware wise. Not overly expensive, very portable, great image quality, ability to shoot at 300mm for relatively close wildlife and 420mm/600mm for farther stuff.

    As for mirror lenses, yes they are light and inexpensive. I used one in the past. I couldn't get past the crazy doughnut shaped out-of-focus points. I wouldn't use them in a park down the street. Let alone use them on the other side of world where you would find pro dealers nowhere to be found after you discovered you hated that mirror lens.
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  10. #10
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    Re: which zoom lens

    Thanks all for your replies. I have come across two Lens that I feel I could justify purchasing:. Any suggestions on which?

    1) canon EF 70-300mm f4.5/f5.6 IS USM

    I have been offered this Lens new for 390 and is in stock in the UK.

    The lens was purchased in the US - does this make a difference to warranty/compatibility?

    I have read that there is a manufacturers problem with this lens and this is the reason it is very difficult (or impossible) to source in the UK at present. Can anyone comment?


    2) canon 100-400mm EF f4.5/f5.6 L IS USM.

    Many Thanks
    Mr Shabbs

  11. #11
    Nature/Wildlife Forum Co-Moderator Loupey's Avatar
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    Re: which zoom lens

    Since you have listed both lenses here, I'm assuming that price is not the whole issue. That said, comparing these two is like comparing a Chevy Camaro verses the Corvette (apologies for using a US car analogy - I don't know what's common in the UK ) In other words, no comparison. Go for the 100-400mm.

    I have played around with that 70-300mm. For your upcoming trip, I wouldn't trust that build quality for such a photo-oriented excursion. The 100-400 is built for Pro use.

    Keep in mind that the 300mm f/4L IS + 1.4x or 2x TC will cost about the same as the 100-400mm.

    To confuse you even more, I just played around with the 200mm f/2.8L. I believe it is one the cheapest "L" prime lens that Canon makes and it is fast, light, and sharp. Put a 2x TC on that you have a sharper 400mm f/5.6 than the zoom version. The cost of this lens plus the TC will be about the same as the 300mm alone. However, no IS
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  12. #12
    Liz
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    Re: which zoom lens

    I have played around with that 70-300mm. For your upcoming trip, I wouldn't trust that build quality for such a photo-oriented excursion. The 100-400 is built for Pro use.

    I have the new 70-300 IS lens and love it. However, Loupey is right. Since there is a glitch/defect that Canon has promised a resolution for at the end of June, I wouldn't get this lens now. The "glitch/defect" has to do with the build so I wouldn't trust it. The quality of the images is awesome, but for a trip like yours, forget it.

    Go for the 100-400mm.

    I think Loupey has some great points and I would take his suggestions seriously. He knows what he's talking about.

    Liz

  13. #13
    Powder River Imaging EOSThree's Avatar
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    Re: which zoom lens

    You don't mention what lenses you already have, but I will assume you have some shorter focal lengths already, such as the kit lens.
    The first lens I though of when you said safari was the Canon 100-400 f.4.5-5.6L IS which is a great versatile lens and would be my first choice. As long as I had something in the middle already. It is rather costly but is of true pro build and pretty darn sharp although not that fast.
    The Sigma 50-500 f/4-6.3 HSM APO EX is very highly reguarded by quite a few and will give you quite a range with one lens. You don't have IS but in good light and with some support IS isn't necessary.
    A very fine lens is the Sigma 120-300 f/2.8 HSM APO. It is Sharp Sharp SHARP but also very heavy and bulky and is fairly costly.
    The new Canon 70-300 f/4-5.6 IS is a big improvement over it's predessors(3 different 75-300's) and performs pretty well over it's entire zoom range. Its build quality is only OK though and I would worry a little about it's durability, although it should be fine if you are careful with it.
    If the lens you choose ends up with 300mm being the long end, then you will want to pick up a 1.4x teleconverter, I have been very happy with my Kenko Teleplus pro 300.
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  14. #14
    Nature/Wildlife Forum Co-Moderator Loupey's Avatar
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    Re: which zoom lens

    Quote Originally Posted by EOSThree
    The Sigma 50-500 f/4-6.3 HSM APO EX is very highly reguarded by quite a few and will give you quite a range with one lens. You don't have IS but in good light and with some support IS isn't necessary.
    All good points EOSThree. As for the IS, at least for me (and everyone has different shooting styles), the IS has changed my world. Most people do associate IS with low light work but that is only half of it. For nature and wildlife, one is often using long telephotos (by adding converters) and/or trying to maximize depth of field to encompass the subject. These two points are not complimentary and often leads to blurry images due to camera shake. In the case of the 50-500 Sigma, one would need a very heavy tripod especially in light of the additional crop factor of the Canon body.

    My 70-200mm f/2.8L IS has become an indispensible tool for field work coupled to a 2x converter or extension tubes. The IS is a BIG factor for that.

    That's why, this past Wednesday, I passed up the opportunity to buy Canon's 180 f/3.5L macro, 200 f/2.8L prime, or 400 f/5.6L prime and instead purchased the said 300mm f/4L IS. The other three lenses are all sharper, faster, and longer (respectively), but for me at least, the IS will overcome the shortcomings of that lens and negate the apparent advantages of the other lenses. I have many new sample pictures already with the 300mm that I will post in my gallery very soon as examples.
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  15. #15
    Panarus biarmicus Moderator (Sports) SmartWombat's Avatar
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    Re: which zoom lens

    I would get the "L" 100-400 lens, the quality of the L lenses is worth it.
    It's not much different form the Sigma 80-400 except
    push-pull zoom, not twist
    zoom lock at any length
    faster AF
    whote not black , so less heat absorption
    less reflection on night car racing (so internal reflecitons better controlled)
    less star pattern flare from diaphragm on night car racing

    I think for me it was worth the extra money.

    But for the trip of a lifetiime?
    I'd go with Canon "L" prime lenses if I could possibly afford it.
    PAul

    Scroll down to the Sports Forum and post your sports pictures !

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