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Canon EF 400mm f2.8 IS lens versus EF 600mm f4 IS lens

Michael Lescord , Jan 30, 2006; 10:31 p.m.

Which one? Similar price, similar weight. Is the extra speed worth the sacrifice in focal length?

Neither lens can live without a tripod, is the Gitzo 1348 enough?

Leaning towards the 600, comments appreciated.


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Bob Atkins , Jan 30, 2006; 10:36 p.m.

What are you going to do with it? Surprisingly enough, it matters.

Typically sports shooters like the extra speed of the 400, Nature Photographers like the extra length of the 600.

Why not the 500/4?

Mark Chappell , Jan 30, 2006; 11:49 p.m.

Indeed.... what ae you going to use it for?

Ocean Physics , Jan 31, 2006; 01:30 a.m.

I'd recommend the 400 over the 600 as a doorstop, due to the lower center of gravity when stood upright.

Yakim Peled , Jan 31, 2006; 01:47 a.m.

>> What are you going to do with it? Surprisingly enough, it matters.

LOL :-)

>> Why not the 500/4?

An excellent compromise. It also weigh less.

Happy shooting, Yakim.

Ian Gillett , Jan 31, 2006; 03:52 a.m.

Dear Michael,

I have been musing over this - just planning what to do if my Lottery numbers ever come up. If you get the 400 you get an f2.8 lens which is better for low light, you could then add a 1.4x Extender and still get your 600 mm f4. Using the 2x Extender would get you out to 800 mm. Other people have reported on using two Extenders stacked together so you could get out to 1600 mm.

Some years ago when I did have some money available I did think about buying the 400 or the 600 but ended up buying the 500 mm and I am very pleased with my choice. For me the 400 mm was too heavy if I was just going to have one supertelephoto. Michael Reichman has a review of the different options on his Lumnous Landscape website and it was his review that most influenced my decision.

Best Wishes


Mike Smith , Jan 31, 2006; 04:00 a.m.

1348 is only Ok when used with top 1 of the 3 legs extented, even then you are pushing your luck. 5 series G Mountaineer is the standard recommendation for these lenses.

Choice of head is more critical, both lenses need gimbal head support, the full Wimberly or new Kirk Cobra with bottom mounting clamps are safest for mount/dismount, ie try to avoid side mounting jaw gimbals due to physical weight of the lenses will try to pull the lens out of jaw clamp, if any slack in the rig it can end in tears.

Mike Smith

John Crowe , Jan 31, 2006; 08:06 a.m.

This is a generalization with assumptions but if you are thinking in terms of using a tripod (nature) then the 600/4, if you are thinking in terms of a monopod (sports) then the 400/2.8 with an optional 1.4x.

I use an old manual focus 400/2.8 and it performs brilliantly with a 1.4x, not so brilliantly with a 2x. I sold the 2x and opted to crop from the 400/1.4x combo if required.

Michael Lescord , Jan 31, 2006; 03:44 p.m.

Strictly nature photography is my purpose. I haven't looked closely at the 500, (but will considering these responses). I still am leaning towards the 600, even further now. Big purchase though, it nearly matches my 1Ds Mark II.

I understood the Wimberly head is important, and probably will wind up with another tripod purchase just for the super-tele. I might just balance the 1348 very carefully at lowest level for a while.

Thanks. Much to research with these comments.

John MacPherson , Feb 01, 2006; 04:35 a.m.

My friend has only one arm - his left, and uses a EOS1Dmk2 and 400 2.8 IS on a monopod for nature work. He has perfected holding the camera almost upside down. He's not big, but is reasonably strong. His work appears regularly in magazines and advertising, and is sharp and professional. My feeling is that there's more versatility in a 400 than a 500 or 600. The wider aperture gives a lot of advantages. The converter works with minimal quality loss, even the 2x gives superb results. I chose a 300 f2.8IS, and the flexibility of the 300 focal length plus converters suits me. If I needed more lens I would consider the 400. YMMV!

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