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"superzoom " lenses

John Hopkins , Oct 14, 2007; 04:51 p.m.


I normally use a Canon 20D with Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS USM but I am finding that as I get older ( and my pursuit of birds and other wildlife takes me on ever longer and more arduous hikes) , there are days when I would like to carry a lighter outfit. I did consider the ''bridge '' cameras, but it seems a shame not to use my excellent 20D so I have been considering a lighter 'superzoom' lens to go with it. I realise that the results will not be as good as with my 100-400, but I think they should still be far superior to a 'bridge'. I have arrived at a short list of three lenses.......Tamron 18- 250mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II Macro, Tamron AF18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 XR Di II and the Sigma 18-200 mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS lens. Has anyone had experience of all three, or can help me decide which one to purchase? Are they all brilliant?...or all terrible?!Sharpness is clearly important, and the lens needs to be easy to use with manual focussing as well as A/F as I do a fair bit of bird photography. Or does anyone have an even better suggestion that I've missed ?!

Many thanks, John


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George Mazzetti , Oct 14, 2007; 05:07 p.m.

Tamron is coming out with a 28-300IS zoom. I own the Sigma 18-200 os and love it very much. It is super sharp and the image stabilization work. It automatically sets the IS if you are panning. The review in Pop Photography is spot on.


Richard "Dick" Tope , Oct 14, 2007; 05:35 p.m.

Shooting birds and wildlife it seems to me that you'll be giving up a lot of opportunities by going with a shorter focal length. My own experience with that subject matter is 'longer is better'. If it were me, I'd set the 100-400 to 200mm or 250mm and leave it there and see if it works for your photography before making a commitment for the shorter lens.

Personally, I'll be reluctant to get anything shorter than 300mm for any type of wildlife.

Frank Mueller , Oct 14, 2007; 05:55 p.m.

I would also be concerned that you are giving up too much on the long end compared to your 100-400, but if you are willing to restrict yourself to shorter focal length, there is no need to go get a super zoom. I recently followed the advice of people on this forum and bought an older Canon EF 70-210 3.5-4.5 USM lens. That's a VERY compact lens compared to your 100-400mm and I am very happy with it - apart from the zoom creep, but that's a small quibble.

Maybe an even better option would be the Canon EF 100-300 4.5-5.6 USM, which I have not used personally. For more info on both lenses see this article: http://emedia.leeward.hawaii.edu/frary/toolbox3.htm

DeLoyd Huenink , Oct 14, 2007; 06:31 p.m.

a 200 mm lens just is not long enough for birds. Try the 75-300 f4-5.6 IS. It has great reviews. While I do not have that lens, I shoot with several that do. It seems to be very fast and very sharp. Even smaller is my 70-300 DO, and while many have said it is not so great, I have shot many excellent bird shots with it. It is also small and very light. A bit expensive, perhaps, but it will do a good job for you. When I travel, I take that and my 17-40 L and have a quality, light weight set-up. Most of the Florida bird shots (as well as many others) on my web site http://www.photodiscoveries.com are with the DO lens.

Sitthivet Santikarn , Oct 14, 2007; 08:18 p.m.

Canon 70-300 IS is a good light weight tlel lens. Take the standard 17-55 lens that came with the camera (or buy the new 18-55 IS) and you have a light weight combination that will give you much better quality than the super-zooms (most of them have small max aperture, and no IS). If you want to save some more weight you can switch to the 400D.

William W , Oct 14, 2007; 08:27 p.m.

>>> pursuit of birds and other wildlife takes me on ever longer and more arduous hikes) , there are days when I would like to carry a lighter outfit. <<<

Not withstanding the 70 to 300 idea, but for more lens speed and arguably better IQ

1. 300mm prime and x1.4MkII tele converter and 50mm F1.8 or 35mm F2 in your pocket.


2. 70 to 200F4IS and x1.4MkII tele converter and ditto prime selection above.


Jim Strutz - Anchorage, AK , Oct 14, 2007; 10:25 p.m.

With the crop factor of the 20D the 200mm lens effectively shoots like 320mm. A 300mm lens, like a 480mm. A 400mm like 640mm. Depending on what you're shooting 200mm might be long enough for you, but with birds & wildlife, longer is almost always better. The new Tamron 18-300 IS could be a killer one lens solution -- or not, depending on quality.

I would get a lens with IS/OS/VR though. Long lenses with small apertures are often hopeless without it.

I do like the cheap 18-55 plus 70-300 IS idea though. It's a little larger & heavier than the one lens solution, but it isn't bad at all.

I bought a Panasonic FZ5 for lightweight superzoom use. It's not perfect, and isn't worth much at high ISO, but I still think it's a good solution. The new FZ18 would be even better.

Steve Byland , Oct 14, 2007; 11:01 p.m.

I also use the 100-400 a lot, but my next choice would be a 300mm f/4 IS (it's smaller, lighter and very sharp) with a Canon 1.4 Teleconverter. This gets you to 420mm f5/6 with autofocus. A lot of people will tell you that you'll get sharper photos than with the 100-400.

Johannes Borgström , Oct 15, 2007; 12:46 a.m.

I would avoid the Tamron 18-200, its upgrade (the 18-250) beats it in every regard. I am happy with the image quality of the 18-250, but it needs good light. To take pictures in the shade at 1/500th at f/11 (for best sharpness) you're already maxing out the ISO on the XTi. Oh, and its focus throw is very short, so I think manual focus might be touchy.

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