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Tuesday, 11 July 2017


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Correct me if I'm missing something in this conversation. if we used a 300mm-e (and I like that reference) and I put it on a 24 mp camera, All that I use which. I can crop the image 50% and have a 600mm-e image at 12 mp-e.

[Yes, and of course many FF cameras, pro cameras especially, have crop modes. This also enables the use of APS-C lenses on FF cameras. --Mike]

"To date, Canon has sold eleven of them.*"

You jest of course, but I hope your flame retardant suit is handy and checked over, just the same! Wondering who the 'eleven' might be I followed your link to B&H to see that in fact there are over forty posted customer reviews, three quarters of which are 'verified buyers'. (So there!) Most of the buyers seem to be amateur bird photographers, one of whom got it for his wife. But if you have the money, why not? For comparison, I checked the reviewer numbers for the Leica M bodies and found to my surprise that the M 240 only has about the same number of reviews. (A no-brainer purchase in my book, and it's only half the price of the Canon lens!)

When I come across facts like this, I am reminded that photography is a big tent. I just sit in a different corner to the customers for this lens, but more power to them.

P.S. Come to think of it, this lens might make a good spotter scope for a sniper rifle, so you should probably be wearing your bullet-proof vest as well.

All kidding aside, I'll bet when law enforcement and other governmental agencies, the uber rich and a few others are factored in you might have to revise that number up significantly. I've been to nature events where photographers outnumber the elk, bison, birds and other critters and have seen an amazing amount of them. You can often tell the owners of these beasts by the way they carry themselves and look down at the others with mere 500mm and 600mm lenses. Guess size still matters to some.

OK Mike, that's enough on OIS and IBIS for a while. More importantly, do you think the Cubs still have a chance to win the pennant again this year?

Of course, the speed advantage of the 800/5.6 goes beyond aperture ... the wildlife shooter trying to get fast shutter speeds in iffy lighting conditions doesn't care whether he gets faster shutter speeds through the bigger relative aperture or the bigger sensor (i.e. higher ISO).

As a counterpoint, consider a favorite kit of some birders: the Nikon 1 70-300 on whatever the last/greatest body was. Slightly over 800mm equivalent, max aperture of f/5.6 in an even smaller and cheaper kit that's known for excellent AF.

I used to shoot nature more than I do now. I always thought zooms were most useful at the WA end ! I carried 50, 100, 200, 400 and a 21-35. My rationale was that at the long end, you're often looking at subjects more than scenes, and your concerns is the degree to which you're filling the frame. The background is likely OOF (though I do enjoy teles for landscape) and there's a fair chance that your longest lens still isn't as long as you'd like much of the time. And if you're shooting sports or wildlife, the speed of a prime can be helpful (though more so in film days). OTOH, at the WA end, there's a big difference between 21 & 24mm and that's not something you overcome by moving a few feet. While I can get by with a 200 and a 400 with nothing in between, I'd probably want 21, 24, 28 and 35, so a 21-35 replaces 4 lenses. And I don't need the speed of a prime because I'm typically shooting WA's stopped down.
The 100-400 on m43 is pretty nice. But Nikon offers the excellent 200-500 which gives you about the same reach on APS-C. It's f/5.6 instead of f/6.3 and on a slightly bigger sensor (a state of the art 24MP sensor on a modest $1000 body that has excellent autofocus). Between the two, it could be a tough call, but that lens offers a pretty compelling reason for anyone shooting Nikon (and interested in reach) to stick with the system.

I remember years ago wishing for something longer than 300mm. The obvious choices were a Sigma 400/5.6 (which was pretty good, kinda big and kinda pricey) or a Tokina 400/5.6 (which was not that great, but fairly compact and pretty cheap). I shot Minolta and had the relatively affordable option of a 400/4.5 for "only" $1900 (20 years ago, that was even more money than it is not, but it was still cheap for "big glass"). I shot ISO 100 and 400 slide film and the lens was fast enough to have fun as a hobbyist. Nowadays, we're really spoilt for choice, with the options mentioned so far plus the Sigma and Tamron 150-600s. Even my daughter's little Panasonic FZ200 (with a 600mm equivalent f/2.8 lens) does okay on the tiny f/2.8 sensor. It can even shoot raw, which is what I'd do if I used it, but the jpegs that come out of it in reasonable light are good enough for modest prints.

Just as a point of information all the latest Canon super tele's have a "Tripod Aware' function for IS. And all high end cameras after the 5Ds have the fully motorized mirror to eliminate mirror slap.
I completely agree though, that even if you own a bunch of Canon or Nikon Super telephotos a D500 or 7D mk 2 are great options for extending reach with no penalty.
I don't personally use any of the really long super tele's myself.
My Personal kit goes up to an infrequently used 300mm f/4 (which is a fantastic lens) It can be used with my 1.4 converter for 420mm f.5.6
---and with my 7d mk II for 480/ 4.0 or 670mm /5.6
Thats a lot of reach for not a lot of money.

Your Post reminded me that Michael Reichman always had a soft spot for small sensor super zoom cameras.

Re how many 800mm Canon sells, it is not 11, but neither is it a very high number. Personally I think we should be grateful when companies make low volume specialty lenses that some photographers really need. (weather or not we personally use them)

@David Zivic: your math is a bit hazy. A 50% crop to 600mm-e will cut your height AND width in half, so you end up with only 1/4 of the original mp, or 6 mp-e.

I don't have a lot of experience with OIS lenses (I've only used a few from Panasonic and Sony), but I've used a lot of different Minolta, Sony and Olympus IBIS cameras.

One thing I've noticed, that isn't often discussed, is that the IBIS systems seems to turn on instantly, but OIS lenses take a second or two to stabilize.

I've had lots of shots that show motion blur from the OIS lenses when I didn't wait long enough. I always turn OIS off when using high shutter speeds or on a tripod. I've never had this problem with any IBIS camera (except the IBIS in the early Olympus EPL-1 which didn't really work very well in general).

I keep reading that OIS works better with long lenses than IBIS. I had a Panasonic 35-200 zoom that I used on a Panasonic G1 which activated the OIS and on an Olympus EM-5 that activated the IBIS. I always thought the Olympus managed the shake better than the Panasonic. This is probably more of an indication of the effectiveness of the Olympus system vs. Panasonic's rather than OIS vs. IBIS. A great implementation of anti shake is better than a merely good implementation and is more important than which type it is.

Sorry if this has been mentioned in an earlier post, but in the case of long tele(zoom)lenses, OIS is almost mandatory off tripod to be able to *see* the subject at all, not just for taking sharp pictures. Think stabilized binoculars.

This weekend I was processing a picture of two eagles fighting over a salmon taken from across the Hoh River with the Panasonic 100-400 and GX8. The hand-held shot brings me joy. That is enough for me.

Your caption under the 100-400 is apt: it does border on science fiction. Who would have ever thought there would exist a hand-holdable 800mm-e lens? And this thing seems to defy optical laws as well. At its maximum apertures, it should be well into diffraction territory on a sensor this small. And yet the images are sharp and snappy, allowing use without care even wide open. There's definitely some magic at work here!

"how could you not go crazy over something like the ...? ...That would have absolutely been the stuff of science-fiction fantasy when I was..."

I still want to pinch myself over the photos produced from what is now modest, modern camera gear. I recently was on the beach waiting for a rocket launch from Kennedy Space Center. A helicopter used to keep the skies clear until launch flew by before I had switched to a telephoto, but I shot the 'copter with my Fuji zoom anyway. The later heavily cropped image of the 'copter was amazing and resulted in a photo where you can't help but look at for a bit, examining details of the machine and the men inside, in flight.

I still run a few rolls of film through all my old film rangefinders and slrs, but I feel like I'm living a fantasy with a late-model Fuji and a couple of decent lenses when compared to "the olden days." I couldn't have imagined the high ISO performance and image stabilization twenty five years ago.

And my modern stuff only has lens based image stabilization. I'd probably pass out using a sweet camera with IBIS AND Lens stabilization at the same time.

Or, for a bit more money, go for the Sigma 200-500 f/2.8!

And f/6.3 is a severe disadvantage when the top 400mm (actual) lenses are at f/2.8. Two and a half stops is a HUGE drop.

Canon should be given credit for making these super telephoto lens. It's a tremendous investment, which most companies would not/could not spend the R&D on. It's certainly shows Canon's commitment to their system and I imagine their payback is keeping the serious sports and wildlife photographers in their camp. Regarding the price, I was told years ago (when I used a 600 f/4.0 IS for surf photography) that in essence you're buying two lenses since the yield on the assembled optics to meet QC standards was 50%.

I have the Panasonic 100-400 on a GX8, and love its optical quality. I do find it a bit slow to zoom from 100 to 400, which means I sometimes miss fast-moving targets. Practice, I suppose. I never had (or could afford) a full-frame equivalent.

"film cameras"

What is film?

"At the very least, if you were into teles you'd pick a D500 over a D750, any day of the week and twice on Sundays. I mean APS-C over FF."

Precisely why I chose the D750 -- so I could use the sweet and compact Nikon 1.8 35mm and 24mm lenses.

I've been using that Panasonic-Leica lens for over a year, and am pretty happy. My Canon 500mm f/4 stays at home a lot more than it used to, and my back is grateful. One additional feature of many of the Micro 4/3 teles is that they have very good close focusing ability. This particular lens will focus down to just over 4 feet, yielding a magnification of 0.25x. That's big enough for macro guys to get reasonable images of larger insects, etc. (I know, Mike, you hate insect photography.) Here's a ladybug larva photographed hand-held on a windy day shortly after I bought the 100-400. https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B-jxZjfjcgH3ZG84TnU1dGdLN3M By way of comparison, that 5-figure Canon 800mm lens gives a maximum magnification of 1/7. Even on an APS-C sensor, there would be a lot fewer image pixels with the Canon lens.

Shooting animals with a telephoto lens is low-class. The best animal photographer, David Yarrow, uses a 35mm lens.

What is the difference between an image made with the same 400 mm lens on a half size 20 mp sensor and on a full size 40 mp sensor but cropped to half size?

Olympus claims that their IBIS corrects for camera movement caused by depressing the shutter. They also state that this is impossible to correct with in lens IS.

Additional lens "reach" with a small sensor is B.S., as you and your readers know. So tell me, and this is an honest question, is a small-sensor uncropped image superior in any way to a cropped large-sensor image when both images show the same field of view? Is it that the small-sensor image may pack more pixels (although smaller ones)into the image area?

[It's not BS at all unless one is just talking theory from the armchair. Using real cameras, the whole system will be scaled to the size of the sensor, making smaller-sensor cameras much more practical and inexpensive. The example of the Panasonic 100-400 and the Canon 800mm was meant to illustrate that.

As to the pixel density, I don't know, but I'll ask for some help.... --Mike]

m4/3 sensors have more noise. Birds are fast moving, often hopping between dark spaces between branches, you need 1/1000 sec speed at least, so you have to use iso 1600 (or more) most of the time for this. That is not in favor of smaller sensors ...

A couple of points, as a Canon to m43 convert ... yes, the ability to get more pixels on the subject is a big plus for birders and the like, but I'm afraid there is still a performance gap when it comes to continuous focus and tracking when comparing m43 and DSLRs, so the decision is not quite as clear-cut as you might think.

OIS vs IBIS - I think OIS comes into its own as the lens gets longer, simply because the amount of movement required of the sensor increases with focal length. Another plus of OIS prior to EVF is that you could see the effect it was having. Now with EVF cameras, IBIS is a much more attractive proposition, but as evidenced by the 100-400 and Oly's 300f4 which also has OIS, the makers clearly don't think IBIS alone is up to the task.

On the 800mm - of course with an adaptor you could mount it on m43 giving you an effective 1600mm - plus it takes the 2x converter for a potential 3200mm at f11

For David: to change from 300 to 600 mm-e you have to crop a factor two linearly, so you'll go from 24 to 6 MP... Not 12. Or am I wrong?

Tele lenses used on smaller sensors also have the side benefit of greater DOF, because less focal length is required for a specific narrow angle of view. I know it's fashionable to seek the narrowest DOF and most bokeh, but some of us lean the other way.

My Pentax K-1 gives me the best of both worlds. That camera's true genius move is the handy third dial that gives me quick access to an APS-C crop, AND the square format, which I dearly love. So my longest lens, a 300/4, becomes a 450/4 illuminating 18 megapixels.

For the occasional, non-pro tele user, you could do a lot worse than an all-in-one superzoom from the likes of Panasonic or Sony.

The PLeica 100-400 is a "died and gone to heaven" lens for me.

The Oly 75-300 is a better lens than most think, esp. if one knows how to use it and how to post process the Raw files. (I'm at 12,500+ shots with it.) But the 100-400 really ups the long game, in both reach and IQ.
I took several shots on my first serious outing with it, on E-M5 II, duplicating with each form of IS. I didn't take notes, and didn't always do it in the same order.

As I couldn't tell which was which at home, I concluded OIS vs. IBIS is a toss-up with this lens. I imagine E-M1 II IBIS will be better.
The Oly 300/4 Pro in undoubtedly a better lens, if one happens to need only 300 mm. Whaddya do when you need 250 mm, and can't move relative to the subject? As you say, happens a lot with long lenses.

For subject that can fill the frame on neither, will the 300 mm shot, cropped to match the 400 mm shot, still have better IQ?
People seem to assume such a long lens is for large, distant creatures and things. Well, sure, but it's also good for smaller, closer things.

I was standing about 6' away from this smallish creature, front of the lens at ~5.5'. This is a 100% crop.

This is the whole creature.

Yes, I know, Mike, flowers, who needs images of them, right? Ah well, some of us do.

Some landscapes only work @ 800mm-e.

As do some other subjects. Here, can't get close without a boat, which would ruin the water stillness.

All of the above are lens alone. With Nikon 5T or Pentax T132 achromatic close up lenses, it also does wonderful much closer work, but with lots of working distance.

These are all tools. Choose the ones that allow you to create what you want.

actually Canon has a 1200 mm lens

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