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Canon 300F4 IS or Canon 100-400mm?

Jeroen Gense , Feb 03, 2000; 05:27 a.m.

Hi I already have a Canon 500mmF4.5 for birdphotography and I want to buy a smaller/short focus lens for flight shots from birds . I do not know what to buy : the 300mm F4 or the 100-400 mm from Canon. Who can give me some advise?

Thanks in advance

Jeroen Gense

Responses


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Matthew Smith , Feb 03, 2000; 06:26 a.m.

I believe Mr. Arthur Morris answers these questions admirably at:

http://www.birdsasart.com/faq_4f56or3is.html http://www.birdsasart.com/faq_1-4isor4f56.html

Matt

Jeff Hallett , Feb 03, 2000; 06:43 a.m.

Having owned and used both lenses for flight shots, IMO, they are both excellent and super sharp, but the 100-400IS is much more versatile.

Ross Geredien , Feb 03, 2000; 05:19 p.m.

I would agree that Art Morris's website is a good resource to consult on this one. I own the 300mm f/4 IS, and thus far I am finding it a great lens. It works very well with the 1.4x teleconverter, giving full autofocus at f/5.6. My take is that this lens is better for birds and wildlife, whereas the 100-400mm zoom is a more versatile lens for shooting a variety of nature subjects. Sharpness is supposed to be comparable.

Ross Geredien

Karl Lehmann , Feb 03, 2000; 07:11 p.m.

I have both. I had planned to keep the best one and sell the other, but I'm having trouble parting with either...

The 300/4 IS is sharper, an exquisite lens, and nearly a stop faster at 300mm. At 420 (with the 1.4 TC) the quality is similar to the 100-400 at 400mm. I love the built-in hood too.

The 100-400 is obviously more versatile, I just wish it was sharper. For flight shots it's probably the better choice. I have missed shots with the 300mm because I couldn't zoom out. It is far sharper than those horrible 75-300 zooms Canon puts out.

Whatever you do, don't buy both. Your bag will be too heavy because you won't want to leave either one behind.

rene de heer , Feb 04, 2000; 02:19 p.m.

Jeroen, you know what i think. I think the 100-400 is a better buy. Its longer, you can still use 1.4 converter and have AF funcionality with EOS3. For hide work, and especially in Europe where, in my opinion, wildlife and birds are more shy than in the States, the extra reach of the 100-400 is a big plus. You will regret the 300!

Concerning sharpness: i dont agree with the respons that the lens is not as sharp. Its at least on par!

For your information Jeroen: there was a big test of long range zooms in the UK and the Canon came out top. The conclusion of the Canon 100-400 was: a lens from a different planet!! Maybe a bit over the top but everyone is enthousiastic about it. For your info: a lot of the nature photographers overhere are swapping their 4/300 for a 100-400! If you really want a 300 IS..i might be able to help!

Arthur Morris BIRDS AS ART , Feb 04, 2000; 10:06 p.m.

Several comments: 1-Don't forget that the 300 f/4 IS is a superb macro lens with it's amazing close focus. 2-Reports that the 100-400 IS zoom is "less than sharp" are totally ridiculous. I have been carrying and using the 1-4 more and more every day and have been making razor sharp images at all focal lengths with wide open to moderately stopped down apertures. In addition, I have it used it wide open, handheld with the 1.4X tele-converter with excellent results (with static subjects). For bird photography its versatility is unmatched; I find myself making images that I would never even have thought of before--groups of birds in their surroundings among others. Though heavier than the 400 f/5.6L, it is a superb flight lens. At Bosque Del Apache NWR late this fall, I used it on a tripod before sunrise for "bird-scapes" and then again almost exclusivley for the spectacular blast-offs. I only wish that the zoom was a bit smoother. I too am thinking of getting rid of one of my intermediate telephotos: my beloved "toy lens," the aforementioned 400 f/5.6 L (and keeping my 300 f/4 IS and the 1-4). Never thought that I'd ever say that when the 1-4 first came out! Best, and great picture making, Arthur Morris. P.S. If you'd like to receive BIRDS AS ART On-Line Bulletins, e-mail birdsasart@att.net and request same.

Karl Lehmann , Feb 04, 2000; 10:21 p.m.

Sounds like Arthur got a better sample of the 100-400 (or a worse one of the 300/4 IS) than I did. On the light table, with an 8x loupe, I can sure see the difference! But it may not matter in the real world, the 100-400 is still good. I doubt you would ever see a difference if you use ISO 200 film. And if Arthur Morris says it's a good flight lens I would tend to believe him!

Clive Culverwell , Feb 05, 2000; 07:26 a.m.

The 300 f4 IS with a 1.4x TC is about the same as the 100-400mm at 400mm. You will probably be using it at 400mm most of the time for birds. The bare 300 IS is better optically than the 100-400mm at 300mm which is probably close to the optical performace of your 500 F4.5. Tough choice. If your more concerned about optics go for the 300 IS and don't use a TC. If a slight reduction in optics (you get this with moving subjects anyway) isn't such a concern, then get the 100-400mm. If you're rich enough then get the 100-400mm and a cheap used old 300mm F4 (non IS) and you won't have to worry about it anymore!!!!

Eric Ness , Feb 05, 2000; 11:07 a.m.

In January I tested the two 300's and the results wide open definitely favored the one without IS, but I bought the 100-400 anyway because the sharpness difference was negligable in A4 prints and it felt like I was taking better pictures with it. Usually its best to go with what feels right. In Stockholm it wasn't too difficult to rent and test all three and I'd imagine its at least as easy in the states. With this trio you really can't make a bad choice!


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