Canon Telephoto Lenses?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by m-dogg, Oct 10, 2006.

  1. m-dogg macrumors 65816

    m-dogg

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    Mar 15, 2004
    Location:
    Connecticut
    #1
    Hi All! I just recently made the jump to DSLR (Canon Rebel XT). I'm new to SLR's, though my fiance is experienced with them from her old film SLR days (and photog classes she took in high school/college). She will be helping to teach/explain the advanced features as we experiment with it, and we're both really excited about it.

    I know most folks say to take time to use the lens that comes with your camera before buying any additional lenses. Normally, I would follow that advice, However, we will be going on a safari trip to Southern Africa at the end of this month and want to be prepared to get nice photos of wildlife which we may or may not be able to get too close to.

    We are looking into investing in a telephoto zoom lens for this trip and I was wondering if anyone has any good recommendations? We'd ideally like to keep this under $500 since we have a ton of wedding expenses going on right now - Is that realistic for a decent lens?

    Thanks for your help!
     
  2. cube macrumors G4

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    May 10, 2004
  3. Bibulous macrumors 6502a

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    Jan 19, 2005
    #3
    I have the Canon 70-200 f/4 that is right at $550, very nice lens. However I have a hard time getting crisp shots with it hand held at 200mm (320mm with 20D) and would recommend a lens with IS, either the new f/4 or the f/2.8 version, but maybe I just drink too much coffee and have bad technique.

    Both of those are over $1000 (I have not used either one) but I would try to figure out a way to use one of those, buy used and sell it when you get back or rent one for the trip.

    A South African Honeymoon Safari - sounds pretty cool
     
  4. m-dogg thread starter macrumors 65816

    m-dogg

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    #4
    Thanks...yes, very cool - We can't wait!

    Renting...Hmmm, I didn't think about that...

    Has anyone ever rented from www.lensrentals.com?
     
  5. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #5
    With 3rd party lenses, you might be able to stay under $1000, depending on how picky you are, how much reach you need, and how early/late you'll be shooting. Generally, I tend to recommend the 100-400VR for folks who can shoot in light that's bright, but it's ~$1100, and it's darned slow for time when the light's sweet.

    I don't think I'd try to get anything slower than f/4, and I'd really want f/2.8 for early/late shots. I'd probably look for a 300mm- Sigma or Tokina are probably your best bets in your price range- and a fixed length tele will give the best quality/weight trade-off. I'd *really* recommend going to a camera store and trying them to see if they'll do the job for you. Take a beanbag for support in a Safari vehicle, and be careful of dust and get lots of extra cards.
     
  6. Grimace macrumors 68040

    Grimace

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    #6
    The 300mm f/4 IS gives a lot of reach for not a lot of $$ (but not $500.)

    70-200mm f/4 IS might be a good bet, but it's not THAT close. Remember that you can slap a 1.4x TC on some L lenses and get a little further (although that is $300 right there).
     
  7. cube macrumors G4

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    May 10, 2004
    #7
    The Sigma 100-300mm f/4 APO EX IF HSM is $800, but no OS.

    Review
     
  8. cube macrumors G4

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    May 10, 2004
    #8
    .
     
  9. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Redondo Beach, California
    #10

    $500??? Wildlife pphotography is the single most expensive genre of photography. It is even worse then shoting sports in low light. Low four digits would be a mosre relistic budget. (About four or five times your $500) What this means is that you will have to make some serious compromises.

    A $500 llens will likely be "slow" at about f/5.6. This can work in good light and with a tripod. The best phioto ops will be just after dawn and at dusk when the light is "right". Mid day in bright sunlight is never the best time to shoot.

    What you can do with a limited budget is shoot in a "photojournalist style" and record images of the people and environment and try to capture the events, people and places of the trip. Don't expect to be able to capture close ups of distant indivdual aniamals

    First off the most importent thing you could do i buy an anual membership to your local zoo. Do not try to learn this very diffecult and specialized foorm of photography while on location on S. Africa when you are in effect paying $100 a minute. Go to the zoo for three or four weekends in a row. If you can't get good photos there it will be even harder in the preserves in Africa. Of course you can get well exposed and in-focus images but thehard part is making interresting images that people will want to look at. You can't learn this on vacation. Also NEVER take new equipment with you to some place far away. Use it and learn about it near your home. Make a goal to shoot 1,000 frames before you leave. Try to make a series of photos in the photojournalist style that tell a story of "our trip to the zoo" You show the people who went, the place they went to, what thy did and some of what they saw, A story. Leave those close up shots to the pros who have $10K of equpmnt and 10+ years of experiance AND can afford to be there at the "right" time of day and year to get the images.

    All that said. I would want a few lenses with me
    (1) A wide to mild tele zoom that is at _least_ 18mm on the wide end to 50mm or 70mm on the long end. Faster is better (f/2.8 is ideal) but faster is also expensise
    (2) I'd spring for an 80-200 f/2.8 with IS if I had the bucks but a $600 used 80-200 would be good enough
    (3) a tripod if I could cary it (with two people you should be able to) or at least a monopod
    (4) polerizing filters
    (5) Possabley a 50mm f/1.4 lens for shots of people and in low light indoors with no flash
     
  10. xrays macrumors member

    xrays

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    Jan 6, 2005
    Location:
    Toronto, ON
    #11
    Personally, based on your requirements, I'd suggest the Canon 70-300 f/4-5.6 IS USM lens. It's relatively new, covers the standard telephoto ranges you'd want for outdoor wildlife and some sports, and should run around $550US (maybe less). Regardless of the statments about needing f/4 or lower to shoot, I think you'd be very happy with this lens, for just about any shooting situation - especially outdoors.

    The benefit of this lens over, say, the 70-200 f/4L is simply the extra zoom range and the IS option. Both of these will be invaluable for wildlife, especially considering the price range. The lens is very good, and for an amateur photographer on vacation, it will produce some very memorable images.

    If you feel like spending the extra money, the next step up would probably be the 70-200 f/4 IS L, or the 70-200 f/2.8 L, but each of them will run near $1000. Then there's also the 100-400 f/4-5.6 IS L, but it can be bulky for a casual shooter, especially on vacation. I spent a year shooting outdoor sports (friend's softball team) just for fun, using only a 28-135 f4-4.5 IS, and the results were very good. I don't think I ever ran into a situation where the same quality of shots would not have been attainable with the 70-300 IS.

    Basically, buy a lens you can afford, but is the best for your money at giving you what you need, not just what you want. You can spend thousands of dollars on premium lenses for wildlife photography, but what's the point if you don't take them out of the bag because they're too heavy and clumsy. One good multi-purpose lens can be invaluable when on vacation, because you won't be changing lenses every 15 minutes to get the shot you want. In a professional situation, that's not always the best solution, but for personal work, save the hassle.

    x.

    PS> Make sure you have a polarizing filter on whatever lens you buy, because it'll make all the difference when shooting outdoors!
     
  11. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #12
     
  12. m-dogg thread starter macrumors 65816

    m-dogg

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    Location:
    Connecticut
    #13
    Thanks for the feedback everyone. I think I may make some calls to look into renting a lens for the trip.

    While I don't expect to take professional quality shots or become an expert overnight, I would like to try and take the nicest photos I'm capable of in the time we're there. This trip was planned long before the new camera came along, so our focus will be on enjoying the beautiful scenery & wildlife, the lack of telephones/work/family, and having fun together.

    We will be taking morning & evening game drives while we're there, so the lighting will be better...but also more challenging. Afternoons are for hikes or lounging around camp.

    Renting may also be a good idea because then I'll have a better feel of what I want/need when I'm ready to buy in the future. Though I may look into xrays recommendation of the Canon 70-300 f/4-5.6 IS USM lens a little bit as well...
     
  13. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #14
     
  14. m-dogg thread starter macrumors 65816

    m-dogg

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2004
    Location:
    Connecticut
    #15
    Okay...I decided to rent for the trip. I talked to the guy at www.lensrentals.com and told him about the trip. He was okay with us renting and taking them to Africa, which was very cool.

    We are renting two lenses:

    Canon 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 IS L​

    Canon 10-22 f3.5-4.5 ES-F​

    Getting both for under $200 for a 2.5 week rental. Definitely fits my wedding-poor budget, and it will help give me a better idea of what I'd like to purchase down the road...
     
  15. ziwi macrumors 65816

    ziwi

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    #16
    Excellent decision - renting that is. Not a bad clip for 2.5 weeks. Enjoy the trip.
     
  16. glennp macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2006
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    #17
    The 100-400 is a great lens for your trip. Make sure you take it out before the trip and practice shooting with it to get used to the push-pull zoom. It doesn't take long to adjust. Also, remember to eat your Wheaties -- the weight of that lens will be daunting the first couple times you use it if you've only used the kit lens before.

    One final thought, you may even want to bring along a 1.4x extender to give yourself just a little more reach with the 100-400. It's not a petting zoo and sometimes you just can't physically get close. Happy hunting :)
     
  17. -hh macrumors 68020

    -hh

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2001
    Location:
    NJ Highlands, Earth
    #18
    These are pretty much my thoughts too; I just went through a similar "what to get" decision around a year ago, and took a Canon 20D w/ 1.4x and the EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS on a two week long safari to Tanzania this past summer.

    This combination is effectively a 98-280mm f/4 before the crop body's 1.6x, which takes it to a 35mm equivalent of 150-450mm.

    FWIW, the reason I chose this combo over the 100-400 IS is because I was concerned for low light conditions and wanted to be able to drop the 1.4x to get to 200mm @ f/2.8 In reality, I was reluctant to pull the lens off in the field (dust) and our low light conditions weren't all that common: I compensated by jakcing the ISO and using a sandbag. However, since the 100-400 is f/5.6, this would have been 'one more stop' and I do think that I would have lost a couple of interesting shots...probably not that many to really cry about, though, and I would have benefitted from the increased reach more frequently IMO.

    BTW, I came home with around 4500 images, so work out your digital storage plan too; for me, I realized around 35GB (shooting in JPEG+RAW) worth of digital media consumption.


    The lighting will be marginal at times, but not necessarily 'all that horrible', for the dSLR's are quite acceptable at ISO 400, which helps offset lens limitations, and IMO, losing 1 stop in glass while picking up IS ("worth" 2-3 stops) is generally worth the trade-off.

    Generally speaking, for the game drives we went out on (Tanzania), we had a morning and an afteroon game drive. The normal daily routine was:

    1. Wake before dawn, went to breakfast at right around dawn, then loaded up in the jeep around 60-90 minutes later. As such, light levels for the morning game drive weren't really a problem.

    2. Cleanup, have lunch, rest, clean photo gear, "saddle up" at ~3pm; be out until sunset - sometimes earlier, sometimes later: some parks technically probibit you from being out after sunset, although from what we saw, it seems that they generally expect guides to run late, either because they stopped for animals, or because they were at a scenic overlook for the sunset. As it gets darker, crank the dSLR up to ISO 1600. If you have room (weight budget), an external strobe with a "better beemer" works pretty well.

    I'll try to pick through my images this weekend to find & upload some illustrations (we also had a P&S with us and did "double-shoot" some subjects under marginal lighting).

    BTW, before I forget, game drives will be dusty - put a 'skylight' or equivalent lens filter to protect your lens and take a "rocket" bulb with you - - out in the Jeep - - to be able to blow dust off the lens during the ~4 hours that you'll be in the Jeep for the game drive. The roads can get quite dust-choked at times (particularly in areas with other vehicles passing by) and your lens surface can get dusted up surprisingly fast. In one particularly dusty park, I got to the point of keeping my lens cap *ON* at most times an still took the Rocket to it every half hour or so.


    From a hardware perspective, I was generally surprised with how many tourists simply had a little P&S to use instead of an SLR/dSLR, although in balance, we were a bit early on season and didn't encounter any other Americans. From those that had (d)SLR's, most weren't what I'd consider to be "L" glass class, although everyone with an SLR did have at least 200mm worth of telephoto reach.

    IIRC, the former's less than $1K and the latter's closer to $1600, but in either case, pairing it with a 1.4x teleconverter to get it up to 280mm will add another $300.

    Its not significantly heavier/bulkier than the 70-200 f/2.8 IS L, particularly with a 1.4x. When you're riding around in a jeep on a game drive, camera weight really isn't too much of an issue. Also, because subjects can be at any quadrant, I felt that I made the right decision to not take a tripod. I'm sure it makes a difference for those photographers with the huge 500mm lenses, but in their case, they're probably also paying to have a vehicle completely to themselves, so they have 'elbow room' as well as no other tourists to have to negotiate with for the best spot. I did take a Kenesis U-fill-it sandbag, but the jeeps had their own sandbag that I was able to use when I (infrequently) needed it. Probably worth taking a fill-it-there type of sandbag along, since they're relatively cheap and weightless, which then allows you to adjust on the fly based on the conditions you find.

    I'd say "make sure you bring one", but it will depend on lighting conditions as to the decision to use it or not, for a standard polarizer costs another stop.


    -hh
     

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