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Old March 20th, 2012, 08:08 PM   #1
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5D MK III lens

I picked up my new camera today was wondering what everyone suggest for wildlife lenses ? Thanks in advance.
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Old March 21st, 2012, 01:41 AM   #2
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Re: 5D MK III lens

Make sure to get IS.

The cheapest, good solution would be the 70-200/4L IS. The f/2.8 version is significantly better. You can add a 1.4x Extender. I used to own the 2x Extender II, but I don't recommend it. The 2x gets too soft. From there, you can spend more and more money for longer IS lenses.

I recommend avoiding the 70-300/4-5.6 IS. That was my first lens for the 5D2 and it doesn't come close to matching the quality of the L telephoto lenses.
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Old March 21st, 2012, 07:40 AM   #3
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Re: 5D MK III lens

The 70-200mm would be far too short for most wildlife, unless you are driving around a safari park. It would be OK for zoos and certain large mammals if you can get close enough.
A 300mm lens is good for a lot of wildlife, but 400m, 500mm and 600mm lenses are the best options, especially for smaller birds.
A 600mm f/4 or 800mm f/5.6 is best for most bird photography/filming from a tripod, and the 400mm f/5.6 is good for handheld in-flight shots.
If you cannot afford a decent 400mm f/2.8, f/4, or f/5.6 prime lens, then the 300mm f/4 + 1.4 converter will do at a pinch (I advise you to steer away from most X 2 converters).

It all depends on your budget. A decent starting lens for a low price, is the Canon 300mm f/4 L IS. The IS is OK for some handheld stills, but if you are going to mainly use it for video, then you really don't need that IS and I'd advise you to save money and go for the older non-IS lens. Use it mainly on a tripod in video mode. It is also not a problem to obtain sharp handheld stills with 300mm F/4 non IS lens. I rarely use the IS on my lenses when shooting in video mode.

If you are serious about your wildlife photography/filming, then I would suggest upping the game, but spending a lot more cash. The 500mm L f/4 or 600mm f/4 could be your main lens.

The Mark II and Mark III do allow for fairly high ISO settings in low light conditions (although still not quite as good as cameras such the Nikon D3s), so you could get away with buying cheaper and lighweight lens with smaller widest apertures - for exampe an f/4 or f/5.6 lens instead of a big and heavy f/2.8 optic. But I would advise that you buy the widest aperture that you can afford, because even with the Mk3 it will provide cleaner and higher quality results if you can keep the ISO levels at the lowest possible settings.

You could also go for a decent telephoto zoom lens, such as the Canon 28-300mm L IS, or the Sigma 100-300mm f/4 (high quality glass), or Canon 100-400mm L IS.

Another option is to buy a secondhand Nikon Nikkor lens (The older manual models with aperture ring) plus Canon to Nikon adapter. The 300mm, 400mm, 500mm, 600mm and 800mm fast prime Nikkors can be picked up for very low prices, and are superb quality for both stills & video.

Just make sure that you match that new big telephoto lens with a decent and sturdy tripod.
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Old March 21st, 2012, 08:00 AM   #4
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Re: 5D MK III lens

If that is what you do, why didn't you pick up the Nikon D800, center crop with no loss of picture quality, making your 300mm with a field of view of 480mm, sharper than Canon, just not good in low light/high ISO as Canon.
You can see picture quality here http://www.imaging-resource.com/IMCOMP/COMPS01.HTM
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Old March 21st, 2012, 07:46 PM   #5
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Re: 5D MK III lens

Tony,

Since you recommend not spending the money on IS, could you share with us your tripod gear and technique recommendations?

Having shot a speaking event with a 200mm lens with and without IS, I found IS was critically important whenever I touched the pan handle. This was on a very good tripod (Vinten 3AS with 2 stage aluminum legs and a floor spreader), though I didn't add weight, and the spreader didn't allow it to dig into the carpet. I literally held my breath for pans with that setup without IS. With IS, I could relax and concentrate on framing. The end result was that I noticed vibration in the non-IS footage, and with the IS footage, the camera motion became almost invisible to the engaged viewer.

Maybe you have an excellent tripod setup. Maybe you set up the tripod and don't touch it. If that's the case, IS may be overkill, but the question of IS really depends on the context.

And, yes, 200mm is definitely on the short side. Add the 1.4x Extender and it's more serious. The upper limit depends on budget and how big/heavy a lens you are willing to carry. :)
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Old March 22nd, 2012, 08:24 AM   #6
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Re: 5D MK III lens

John, I use a variety of Vinten and Manfrotto professional tripods, some with ball-heads for stills, and others with large and heavy fluid pan-heads for video.

Regarding using IS for panning...I rarely ever have IS enabled during a pan when the camera is on a tripod. This not only applies to working with DSLR cameras in video mode, but also with camcorders such as the XL2 or XL-H1 with IS lenses.

With a DSLR on a tripod, as soon as you begin to pan from left to right or visa versa, the IS mechanism within the lens begins working against that pan action in an effort to stop it. Some of the IS/VR lenses do allow seperate settings for tripod use, but I have not found them much use, especially for panning, so it is always better to leave it switched off.

There are the odd times when I am not locked-down on the tripod and leave the head a single notch or two off tightest setting. This allows me to smoothly follow an irratic subject, such as small bird hopping to different branches, and then to tighten again (using pan handle twist) once the subject is stationary again. The IS can be left on in such situations, however, even then I find I'm better able to leave the IS switched off. Not only does a non-IS lens provide smoother movements when the camera is on a tripod, but I'm more able to record clean ambient sound without interferance from IS 'whirring' noises.

The best tripods for any large lenses are the heaviest (and often most expensive) models, or mid-range heads like the Vison 5VLF or SD models, but a fairly cheap pan head, such as the Vinten Pro 5 or Manfrotto 501, will allow very smooth motion throughout the slow pans.

It does take practice to make completely smooth horizontal or vertical pans on a tripod, but practice make perfect. A great and ultra-cheap tool to aid in smoother pans, is to fit a small rubber band over the pan handle and then to pull the camera through the pan-arc by ONLY holding the rubber band. It works very well and can greatly improve the smoothness of your video panning.

The only time that I sometimes use IS, is for occasional handheld video sequences with medium to long telephoto lenses. Even then, handheld never matches the stability of a tripod mounted sequence. But there are of course times or places where you just can't use a tripod.

A great post editing tool to correct unstable footage is ProDad Mercalli, proDAD Mercalli V2 - 3D image stabilizer, rolling shutter removal, zoom optimisation, pan shot optimisation which works great to save unstable DSLR footage that would normally head for the waste bin.

All of the above relates to shooting with telephoto lenses in video mode.

With wide-angle lenses in the 15mm-35mm range, I do not need to use IS because it is very easy to obtain very steady and smooth handheld video footage, as long as the DSLR is braced correctly (either with the LCD Viewfinder Loupe against the eye, or with a shoulder/waist mount, or fitted to a steadicam/glide-cam).

These are the methods that I trust to provide me with steady footage. It is what works for me, but if you feel that you prefer to have IS switched on in most situations, even when the camera is on a tripod, then stick with what works best for you. Trial and effort plus experience is the only true way to learn the best methods for your chosen video subject.

I am not against IS, because it certainly helps in many handheld situations; but I try to only use it when I feel it will improve my video results...and for me at least, this rarely applies when a DSLR is planted firmly on a sturdy tripod.
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Old March 22nd, 2012, 09:52 AM   #7
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Re: 5D MK III lens

Since the OP was about wildlife lens I thought I might add my 2 cents. I really like the 4-5.6 Canon L lens (the white one) for wildlife on the T3i because of the 1.6 crop factor and the 3x sensor crop feature. It gives you a lot of reach! 70-300 on the T3i = 112mm-480mm and the 3X crop (Not sure if it's actually 3X, looks a little less) gets you around 1400mm.

I think I paid as much for my 70-200 2.8 II alone as I paid for the T3i and 70-300 lens together and it's a compact package that I carry with me on a daily basis. Cost was about $2200 and is probably the best bang for the buck for someone who needs the reach. The 70-200 2.8 is a great lens but it sure is heavy!

I was REALLY hoping that the new 5d had this crop feature but it doesn't. I did a quick video this morning showing the T3i and 70-300 lens. I measured the 75 feet and shot at 70mm and 300mm without the 3X crop and at 300mm with the 3x crop and 6X crop so you can get an idea about this feature. Nothing was done in post with the footage. I also turn off the IS because with this much zoom, breathing makes the camera shake.

https://vimeo.com/38984623
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Old March 22nd, 2012, 10:31 AM   #8
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Re: 5D MK III lens

Interesting Crop comparison, David.

I too wish that the Mk3 had an inbuilt crop mode, like the GH2, T3i/600D, D800 etc.

The 6X crop begins to break down the T3i image, especially with the 70-300mm lens (the 300mm f/4 or 2.8 L primes would perform slightly better), but the 3 X would be usuable for short takes.

I can't quite understand why companies leave out so many useful aspects of a camera design that are present in a lower-priced model. Yes, a professional requires highest quality, so no need for 'auto-pilot' modes on the dial and as much Manual controls as possible... but if the frame crop maintains the stills & video image at usuable levels it should not have been left out during the upgrade from Mk2 to Mk3.
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Old March 22nd, 2012, 01:32 PM   #9
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Re: 5D MK III lens

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Davies-Patrick View Post
I can't quite understand why companies leave out so many useful aspects of a camera design that are present in a lower-priced model. Yes, a professional requires highest quality, so no need for 'auto-pilot' modes on the dial and as much Manual controls as possible... but if the frame crop maintains the stills & video image at usuable levels it should not have been left out during the upgrade from Mk2 to Mk3.
Interestingly the 5D3 now has an A+ Auto-everything stills mode that works really well. We have always struggled with trying to combine shooting stills & shooting video when doing events. In fact we normally can only manage one or the other but I have found that with the dedicated video/stills switch & A+ mode I can now quite easily switch from shooting some video to snpping of a few stills & then back to shooting video.
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Old March 22nd, 2012, 01:34 PM   #10
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Re: 5D MK III lens

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Originally Posted by Tony Davies-Patrick View Post
Interesting Crop comparison, David.

I too wish that the Mk3 had an inbuilt crop mode, like the GH2, T3i/600D, D800 etc.

The 6X crop begins to break down the T3i image, especially with the 70-300mm lens (the 300mm f/4 or 2.8 L primes would perform slightly better), but the 3 X would be usuable for short takes.
3X uses the central 1980x1080 pixels of the sensor which is why it works well & incidentally avoids aliasing & moire seen with line skipping on the full sensor. 6X takes that 1920x1080 & digitally zooms in & is my opinion worthless as you may as well shoot wider then zoom in post if you really need to.
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Old March 22nd, 2012, 02:19 PM   #11
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Re: 5D MK III lens

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Originally Posted by Nigel Barker View Post
Interestingly the 5D3 now has an A+ Auto-everything stills mode that works really well. We have always struggled with trying to combine shooting stills & shooting video when doing events. In fact we normally can only manage one or the other but I have found that with the dedicated video/stills switch & A+ mode I can now quite easily switch from shooting some video to snpping of a few stills & then back to shooting video.
I don't find it so much as a struggle with the 5D Mark II as I did when I used to film with a Canon XL2 and shoot stills with a Nikon F5...and then have to put one down and pick the other up just to change from video to stills.
This was often made worse due to me standing in a lake or the swirling currents of a river, and needed to wade back to shore to change cameras. Carrying both camcorder and stills cameras while trying to shoot both at the same was sometimes a nightmare!

I often use the 'stills' mode during video with the Mk2 (just press the shutter button). This produces a full resolution stills image and then the video continues to roll. The short break in video as the camera takes each stills image can be added as an enhancement to the final video clip by adding a camera shutter sound on top of the stills image in post.
I also need many high rez photos to illustrate my books, calendars, adverts and magazine articles, so having this facility is a bonus. I of course switch off video for normal photogaphy, but having the option to take a stills frame at full 21.1MP during video mode is very useful.
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Old March 22nd, 2012, 02:39 PM   #12
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Re: 5D MK III lens

I don't find taking a still photo in video mode very useful as you lose a second or two of video & are stuck with 1/50 shutter plus aperture & ISO at whatever you have set for video mode.
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Old March 22nd, 2012, 02:56 PM   #13
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Re: 5D MK III lens

That is why we all must purchase our tools to fit the job, and our own way of working.

If I'm shooting a still image within a video sequence, I more often want that image to match the video sequence closely, so if I'm filming at 1/50 @ f/8 or 1/50 @ f/2 or whatever, then I want the still image at the same DOF. Still images taken outside of the actual video sequence can be entirely different, depending on your requirements.

I've said it often, and will say it again, rules in photography and video are not set in stone, they are there merely to guide you. Break them at will, as often as you want, as long as the end results fit your inner vision.
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Old March 22nd, 2012, 03:33 PM   #14
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Re: 5D MK III lens

Well put Tony
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Old March 22nd, 2012, 05:24 PM   #15
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Re: 5D MK III lens

I've just realised that when the shutter button (on the grip) is used for stop & start of video function on the 5D Mark III by pressing 5th tab inside recording Menu (this tab is constantly visible on the 1D X), then it PREVENTS you from taking stills while in video mode... Oh dear, that is a big downer.

The shutter button-for-video function must be used to engage the ability to use simple and cheap remotes (or Canon's own RS-80N3 and TC 80N3), but in this mode it kills the option to take full resolution stills during video.

Hopefully I'm wrong and there is some other hidden option in the inner menus of the Mark III, but I can't find it. Can anybody confirm?
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