I need some telephoto zoom lens advice

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Scarlet Fever, Jul 1, 2008.

  1. Scarlet Fever macrumors 68040

    Scarlet Fever

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    #1
    I currently have a 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 Tamron lens and a 50mm f/1.8 Canon lens mated to a 40D, and I'm finding the lack of range a problem. I've had a look on the canon website, and found these four lenses;

    1. The 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM at $1099 AU RRP
    2. The 70-200mm f/4L USM at $1349 AU RRP
    3. The 70-200mm f/4L IS USM at $1619 AU RRP
    4. The 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS USM at $1674 AU RRP.

    I am a student who doesn't earn a whole lot of money, but at the same time, I don't want to be buying a lens and wishing I spent the extra few hundred to get something better a few years down the track. I am willing to pay the extra ~$300 for #2 instead of #1, and I would pay more if #3 or #4 are really worth it. So my questions to the readers are;

    -Is is worth spending the extra money to get #2 instead of the #1 despite missing out on the IS?
    -If so, is the IS worth the extra money again for #3?
    -Would I be missing out on too much range if I got a 200mm instead of a 300mm lens?
    -Are there any comparable lenses from 3rd party manufacturers I should be looking at?

    Also, if anyone has any first-hand experience with any of these lenses, I'd love to hear some opinions.

    Cheers
     
  2. Techguy172 macrumors 68000

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    #2
    What are you shooting? This would help us all help you.
     
  3. Lovesong macrumors 65816

    Lovesong

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    #3
    In the Canon lineup, the best (meaning sharpest, having the best contrast, color, and least amount of aberrations) zoom lenses are the 70-200 L lenses. There are basically 2 options- either an f/4 or f/2.8, and with or without IS. In my experience, there is little need for the IS short of 300mm (take that with a grain of salt, as I shoot FF, and have fairly steady hands). I currently own the non-IS f/2.8, and it is about as sharp as prime. I chose the f/2.8 over the f/4 for the extra stop of light, and for the fact it gave me more DOF play. It costs about as much as the f/4 with IS. In my opinion, once you have handled an f/2.8 constant aperture lens, and experienced it's AF advantage (especially in low light), there is no going back. On the other hand, if you are a struggling student, trying to make ends meet, you sure can do worse than the f/4 non-IS. :)
     
  4. pooky macrumors 6502

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    #4
    I used the 70-300 IS for a while. It was good, especially for the price, but not great. It is a little soft, especially at 300mm. Don't waste your money on the DO version, as it is (I hear) VERY soft.

    I haven't used the 200mm L lenses, but they are excellent, I'm told. I would recommend the IS, as at f/4, you may need it. Or, do what the previous poster recommended, and spring for the f/2.8. If you have the money, are willing to spend it, and don't care about the extra reach of a 300mm lens, that is your best bet.
     
  5. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #5
    You should have a look at Tokina, Sigma and Tamron.
    Since I don't know what you will use the lens for, you may not even need 200 mm, Tokina and Sigma make 2.8/50-135/150 lenses which correspond to approximately 80-200 mm on film or full frame sensors. If you want to use it indoors for portraits, I suggest you have a look at them.

    Other than that, both Sigma and Tamron make 2.8/70-200 lenses (Tokina has since discontinued its 2.8/80-200 lens). All of these lenses will run circles around Canon's cheap zooms, but they're much cheaper. Tamron's recently released 70-200 has received high praise from dpreview. Sigma's telezoom has received a very favorable review on photozone.

    In terms of build quality, Tokina has the reputation of having the best built quality, they build lenses like tanks. From my own experience (with professional Nikkors and Tokinas), they are on par, mostly metal, well damped, a joy to use, especially with the new AF-MF clutch. So if you're short on cash, I suggest you have a serious look at third-party manufacturers.
     
  6. JNB macrumors 604

    JNB

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    #6
    Of the four 70-200L's, I'd say that--if my budget allowed--I'd go for the 2.8 non-IS, definitely. Fastest of the range, and has been previously noted, IS is of marginal value unless you're always at 200 or above and have a perpetually bad case of jitters (in which case you'd already be using a mono- or tripod, anyway).

    As it is, I have the 70-200 f/4 non-IS, and not in the least unhappy with it.
     
  7. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

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    #7
    As do I. I am also very happy with it, although occasionally in doors I've wanted the f/2.8 version. Bought second-hand off eBay. These things are really well built so make a good second-hand buy...
     
  8. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #8
    What subjects are you shooting? All of those lenses are good, but good for different things. Which to buy depends on what you intend to point it at. Are we talking about birds in flight, baseball games or studio portraits?

    If money is an issue look at used lenses. You can get much better glass for the same price as a new medium quality lens. Unlike a DSLR body a lens lasts a long time.

    The classic "all around" telephoto zoom is the 70-200 f/2.8. I'd much rather have a used version of this then any of the lenses in your list. f/2.8 is just so much more useful than any f/5.6 or f/4 lens.
     
  9. apearlman macrumors regular

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    #10
  10. Scarlet Fever thread starter macrumors 68040

    Scarlet Fever

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    #11
    Thanks a lot for the responses. I'm new to the world of SLR photography, so I still haven't really found my style. It's still a hobby to me, but I plan on shooting for bands and in a magazine, so while I don't want to spend a lot of money, I'm prepared to spend it if it means I get noticeably better image quality.

    My intention with the longer range was to use it for various sports, such as surfing or car racing, and maybe for portraiture. I won't be using it much in low light, and when I do, I'll have a tripod on me, or I'll be shooting for an occasion where the extra noise of a higher ISO isn't a problem.

    At the prices on the page Abstract linked to, the 70-200mm f/4 is looking good at $780, but then again, if I get the 70-200mm f/2.8 at $1450 and I find the range isn't as long as I want, I could afford to get a 1.4x or 2x extension tube and not worry about the 1 or 2 stop increase in aperture.

    I'm not planning on buying it for a while, so I have plenty of time to take advice and save money. Thanks again for all your responses :)
     
  11. Ja Di ksw macrumors 65816

    Ja Di ksw

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    #12
    Have you considered a non-zoom lens to get your range? I know zoom can be handy, but it really just takes a second to take off one lens and pop on another, and prime glass (ie, fixed focal length) will give you sharper images. I got canon's 300mm and I'm very happy with it. I fully admit it's a little slow (f/4), but that doesn't bother me too much as I mainly shoot outdoors with it, and during the day. For the occasional shot in dim indoors, I'm grabbing a flash with a better beamer (as was just recommended to me in this forum :D).

    All in all, though, I'd suggest using prime lenses. Right now you have the 50mm, which might not seem like it's *that* much better than a zooming lens, but that's because it's an $80 lens. It's very good for what you paid for (I have one and definitely like it!), but it's still a cheap lens. If you're thinking of getting some L series lens like you mentioned in the OP, I would stick with prime.
     
  12. Scarlet Fever thread starter macrumors 68040

    Scarlet Fever

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    #13
    I went into a camera shop the other day to try out some of these lenses. One of the salespeople showed me how IS works, and after that demo, I'm not buying a lens without IS! I've decided to aim for the 70-200 f/4L IS USM, because the difference in range (200mm vs 300mm) isn't huge, and I reckon the image quality and constant aperture are worth the extra ~$400. If I come into a lot of money, I'll bump that up to the f/2.8L IS USM.

    I have, but from what I've read, the 70-200mm f/4L isn't that far off the quality of primes. When I have more money and storage, I'll fill my kit with primes.
     
  13. srf4real macrumors 68030

    srf4real

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    #14
    I can tell you that there is a big difference between field of view at 200mm to 300mm. You should determine what length your shooting requires and if it is more than 200mm you will end up shelling out more dough for a longer lens later or a tele converter that dampens the image quality of the shorter lens you've chosen and makes it slower by a stop or two. If all you need is 200mm, go for it!! If you need 300mm, keep saving and get a good lens that will cover both ranges with decent speed and IQ.;)

    For surfing, you are going to need at least 600mm equivalent range in old school terms... unless you like to do a lot of cropping or you have a friend that likes to haul you around in the surf on a waverunner. My favorite lens is a Olympus 70-300mm f/4-5.6 which gets me there affordably, with a 2x digital sensor factor on my system. The next lens on up, a faster 300mm/ 2.8 prime, runs around $6500.:eek:
     
  14. AlaskaMoose macrumors 65816

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    #15
    A 70-200mm f/2.8 can be used with a kenko 1.4x "Teleplus Pro 300" teleconverter. With the 1.6x crop factor of the 40D and the lens used at 200mm, it's much like a 280mm f/4 zoom.

    You may also want to consider some primes. In average, primes are sharper, and sometimes cheaper than zoom lenses.
     
  15. Scarlet Fever thread starter macrumors 68040

    Scarlet Fever

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    #16
    I know the thread is 6 months old; this post is purely for conclusion in case any one else is in a similar situation.

    I managed to find a second hand 70-200 f/4L IS going for $900, so I leapt on that. It had a faulty focusing ring, so I took it to Canon Repairs, and they fixed it for $300, bringing the total to $1200, which is still about $400 below the retail price at the time (it's gone up considerably since then).

    I cannot speak highly enough of this lens. It is weighted perfectly, the controls glide smoothly, the IS is amazing (sharp handheld shots @ 320mm (35mm equivalent), f/4, ISO 100 and 1/50!), and the image quality is brilliant, even compared to some primes. Sharp from corner to corner across the whole range. This lens truly does deserve the badge of L.
     
  16. JFreak macrumors 68040

    JFreak

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  17. wheelhot macrumors 68020

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    #18
    Congrats on your choice Scarlet Fever.

    I tried a person 70-200 f/2.8 lens before and eventhough its heavy and I have difficulty balancing it due to not use with the weight and my camera body is light, I love the lens! It feels and looks good (well the one I used was kinda beaten up guessing that he use it for a lot of occasion, at a variety of conditions and I wonder how old was it). I was surprised that he let me to use it on my own camera body (I was at a yearly walk event). Sadly, during that time I dont know how to use the lens properly so the pictures taken doesn look as good as it should be.

    Glad to hear that it is as sharp as a prime lens.

    Too bad Canon DO lens is slow and not as sharp as its superb 70-200 zoom lens. I like the size of DO lens :eek:
     
  18. Scarlet Fever thread starter macrumors 68040

    Scarlet Fever

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    #19
    The f/4s are about half the weight of the f/2.8s. Have a play of the f/4 IS; i almost guarantee you will fall in love :D
     
  19. wheelhot macrumors 68020

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    #20
    True true, even its lens diameter is much smaller then f/2.8. Maybe I give it a try but I would prefer a f/2.8 lens cause I spend about 70% shooting indoors and 30% shooting outdoors. (Im sure after using it for a couple of months, weight wouldn't be a problem) and f/4 would force me to crank up the ISO which Im not too happy about.
     

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