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Old June 15th, 2005, 07:22 PM   #1
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Canon 100-300mm L

Hey guys
I bought a used Canon 100-300mm L and put it through it's paces. While it is unquestionably a good lens, I'm not sure if it is right for me. I'm considering selling it, and would like your opinions.

Here are my thoughts as to why it may not suit my needs:
-Unless there is enough light to shoot fast, it is hard to get a steady shot out of it at 300mm. I might be better off with an IS lens, like the 75-300mm IS, as any blurryness from motion negates the sharpness of the L series lens.

-I like to choose one lens for the day, and stick with it, as I hate carrying extra gear. The 100-300mm doesn't give much range, as compared to a 28-200mm (which isn't telephoto enough). The Canon 28-300mm L IS would be swell, but too pricey (budget $1000).

-When I need a telephoto, I need a big telephoto for most of the sports I shoot. 300mm just barely makes it. The Sigma 50-500mm would be a good range.

Well, that's what I'm thinking. Love to hear any feedback!
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Old June 15th, 2005, 08:32 PM   #2
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If you're having trouble holding the 100-300 steady, you'll have a worse time with the 50-500. IS makes a very big difference in long lenses. If I were you, I'd look to see if I could rent a 75-300 IS. Most larger cities have photo retail stores that provide equipment rentals. Then you can decide if it suits you better.

FWIW, I think you should get over the idea of trying to find a single lens that will cover all your focal length needs. What you gain in range, you give up in resolution. There's no free lunch! Changing lenses is a fact of life with SLRs. However, you should find that depending on the subject, you'll either be shooting mostly with long focal lengths, or with short focal lengths, or in normal range or whatever -- so maybe you won't have to change as often as you think.

The 100-300 is a very good lens, so it also may be that with more practice shooting with long lenses, you'll like it more. Work on your long lens technique and shoot more often from a loose ballhead. Best of luck!
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Old June 15th, 2005, 10:45 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Kennedy
If you're having trouble holding the 100-300 steady, you'll have a worse time with the 50-500. IS makes a very big difference in long lenses. If I were you, I'd look to see if I could rent a 75-300 IS. Most larger cities have photo retail stores that provide equipment rentals. Then you can decide if it suits you better.

Oop, just to clarify, the long end of the 50-500 would only be used for sports, which would have a lot of motion anyway, so an IS would be less usefull. Stuff like tracking race cars, people running, etc.. I don't find the 300mm end of the 100-300 to really be quite enough sometimes.

But, if we step back from sports, my main lens is a 28-135mm IS, which I use almost all the time. If I wasn't shooting any sports that day, I would only bring it with me. I don't really need a 28-300+ lens, thats more me just yappin. I'm mostly just wondering what is more practical for me, a 75-300mm IS with less reach but better low light use, or a 50-500mm giant piece of glass with no IS. Meh, I'll probably just use the 100-300 for a while longer, unless anyone else has any thoughts on it.

What I could use is a lens with the two stage IS, so it only dampens vertical movement and lets you pan as much as you want. Out of my budget for now though.
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Old June 17th, 2005, 10:45 AM   #4
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Dylan,

Image stabilization is a highly over rated lens feature. It works best in low light, handheld, static subject shots. For most sports shooting it is almost useless. At motor sports events I see photographers that leave it turned on all of the time, needlessly draining batteries and slowing down the AF function of the lens. Even when I shoot with the 400mm f2.8 the IS is off most of the time.

There are other posts here where I have touted the value of my old 35mm-350mm L series lens. Even though I have that entire range covered by other, faster lenses it still sees a lot of use.

I believe you would be greatly disappointed in the Sigma 50-500. Extending the range of cheap telephotos also magnifies the low quality of after market lenses.

You can see one of my racing photos here www.speedworldmagazine.com mine is the shot with Dale Earnhardt JR and Jimmy Johnson. Cannon 16mm-35mm at 16mm.

Steve
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Old June 17th, 2005, 03:49 PM   #5
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Dylan, if you are wondering why you got two such different opinions about IS from Steve and I, it is because of what we shoot. I could not disagree more with Steve about the usefulness of IS on Canon's long teles, but that's because he shoots sports and I shoot wildlife. My needs are different -- my shutter speeds can be relatively slow with a lot of focal length (e.g., 1/125" at 1200mm f/8). In that situation, the only way to get the shot is with IS, even with excellent long lens technique. Prior to IS, almost nobody was taking that kind of shot because it was too much of a crapshoot. With IS, the image will be sharp nearly every time.

OTOH, for shooting sports, focal lengths are a little shorter and the shutter is faster. Guys like Steve shoot with the 300/2.8 and 400/2.8, while wildlife shooters use the slower 500/4 and 600/4 -- and we typically throw converters on top of them and end up at f/5.6 or f/8 wide open. The result is typically slower shutter speeds for us.

In any event, Steve is right that if your only need for a long focal length is to shoot sports, IS is not necessary. You can get by with a monopod from the sidelines.

Also, I disagree that you won't like the 50-500. I admit I've never used one, but I've heard from others who have and have seen online samples -- I didn't expect much from a 10x zoom, but it impressed me. In that price range, you might also consider a Canon 300/4 or 400/5.6, or a third-party or used 300/2.8, all of which should outperform the 50-500. But again, I suspect the 50-500 on a monopod would suit you fine.
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Old June 17th, 2005, 05:21 PM   #6
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Brian,

I donít think we disagree much at all about IS. The wildlife scenario you describe is exactly when it will save you and get the shot. My point is to use it when it is necessary and turn it off when itís not. In the feature rich world of photography (and video) I see guys using a lot of features ďjust because they have themĒ. Just because you have IS does not mean you are going to shoot sharp pans all day long like some people think. I see guys shooting in aperture priority at 1/2000 sec in afternoon daylight with IS turned on. That is an inappropriate use of the function and may actually keep them from getting a high speed action shot. I am not suggesting that you or Dylan do that, but it is worth mentioning here because it is a common misconception.

Sigma? There is no inexpensive way to manufacture quality glass. When it comes to lenses you get what you pay for.

Steve
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Old June 17th, 2005, 08:25 PM   #7
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Steve - Thanks for the clarification. I reread your post, and I read it wrong the first time. I agree IS is sometimes used needlessly "just because it's there." For those of us shooting wildlife, birds in flight is a good example of where you should shut off IS. It takes a split second more to AF with it on, and you aren't gaining anything with it in that case. Also, as you said, you notice the difference in battery life with it on -- especially on the long lenses. For more static long lens shots, though, it can be a real lifesaver.

Also, while I agree that there's no inexpensive way to a quality lens, especially a quality long lens, what I meant was that those I've seen post about the 50-500 seem happy. For those on a limited budget, I generally recommend the Canon 300/4 IS or older non-IS, or the 400/5.6. They aren't the best choices for sports, but they are well-built and sharp (IMO, it's tough to pick out the 300/4 shot from a handful of 300/2.8 shots, or vice versa). For serious sports shooting, Dylan would really need to increase his budget and get one of the f/2.8 lenses, but I figured that was a little more than he was looking for.

Nice shot on Speed World, BTW!
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Old June 17th, 2005, 11:00 PM   #8
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FWIW, here's the review page on the Sigma 50-500 f/4-6.3 lens at Fred Miranda:
http://www.fredmiranda.com/reviews/s...&cat=37&page=1

Quite a few opinions. I've never used the lens but my own collection of, and experimentation with, lenses has lead me to agree with Stephen concerning price/quality relationships. Most (but not all) of the best lenses carry weighty prices for non-arbitrary reasons. (I've also long suspected that profit margins on the best and most costly lenses are much slimmer than margins on lesser lenses.) I am also suspicious of the many compromises that Sigma must have made to produce a lens with such an enormous focal length range.

Having said that, however, I must also remark that mid-price/mid-quality lenses from a good name aftermarket manufacturer such as Sigma often represent excellent compromises for non-professional photographers on a budget. In the final analysis the core quality of any image lies mostly with the photographer's skill.
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Old June 18th, 2005, 05:39 AM   #9
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I shoot both sports and wildlife and agree about the IS

IS is not of much use at all with sports and i generally have it off except if i am shooting with the 300 or 400 2.8 at lower light. If you shoot with the 400 on a 1D series body you are shooting at an effective focal length of 520 which would normally require about 1/500 shutter speed. With nighttime sports we dont always have that luxury so IS is sometimes of help. Even more so of course if you start adding TC's.

When shooting nature i either use the 300, 400 or the 500 and for static shots the IS is wondeful but for action shots (birds in flight and such) the IS doesnt help actually it can ruin your pics by working against your motion trying to compensate.

As far as lenses it is tough. IMO the 50-500 is only ok if you shoot at good light all the time. A very slow lens (6.3 on the long end). Also it doesnt focus nearly as fast as other lenses.

Problem with sports is that often you end up shooting in low light and needing those 2.8 lenses or faster.

We generally shoot with the 70-200 2.8 on one body and then a 300 2.8 or 400 2.8 or soemtimes a 500 or 600 (for polo for example) on another body.

The 70-200 2.8 non IS with a 1.4 extender might be another option. You'd still have to change but you get an awesome 2.8 lens and with the extender some more reach.

You can pick up a used mint condition 70-200 2.8 non IS for about $800
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Old June 19th, 2005, 01:44 AM   #10
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I'd like to add something to the IS discussion.

Some stabilizers offer two operating modes: one for static shots and one for pan or tilt movements. In the second mode the IS detects the motion of the camera and compensates only vibrations perpendicular to that motion. Very handy!
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Old July 8th, 2005, 09:23 AM   #11
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Ok, I've done a lot of wallet searching, and some other stuff has come up.
First, I might be going to Africa next month for a gig, and would love to do some wildlife shooting, and will possibly be shooting an XL2 with an EF adapter for video wildlife.
Secondly, I've come up with a budget of about $900-$1100 to purchase a telephoto lens (assuming I sell my 100-300 L to cover part of it).
And finally, I'm going to buy a monopod for shooting any of these long lenses.
I'm still considering the SIgma 50-500mm. I'm not the king pimp of wildlife/action photographers, and it is within my budget (used). No IS is a bummer, but hopefully the monopod will fix that somewhat. It will also leave me money to buy a tele-extender for wildlife. After reading reviews, I think it is a fair compromise for the price.
I'm also now considering the Canon 100-400L IS. The two stage IS makes me smile, and I've seen used ones around $1100. One concern is do I have to buy the more expensive white tele-extenders to use with this lens, or will any EF tele-extender work?

As much as I'd like to, I'm not really considering the prime telephotos, just because I need different lengths for different things, and can only afford one, plus most of the 2.8 glass is over my budget. The 70-200mm doesn't have the reach I want, although I may add it for it's versatility later.
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Old August 6th, 2005, 10:08 PM   #12
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Update:

I bought a Sigma 50-500mm. So far so good, but haven't put it through any real paces yet.
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Old October 12th, 2005, 10:34 AM   #13
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Well, the Sigma 50-500 has the range I'm looking for, so I'm putting the 100-300 L up for sale here. Check it:
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=52606
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Old October 18th, 2005, 12:38 PM   #14
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Dylan

Just curious what your opinions are on the "Bigma"?
I have been intrigued by this lens for a long time.
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Old October 28th, 2005, 05:42 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Toogood
Dylan

Just curious what your opinions are on the "Bigma"?
I have been intrigued by this lens for a long time.
I really like it so far. No complaints, except the zoom can be overly stiff. Smooth, quiet, sharp (sharp enough for me). Plus, it's sexy as hell! Want to meet women in a coffee shop without doing any work? Simply place it on the table as you sip your drink and wait... It's perfect bait.
Some people use it for taking photos too though.... I picked it based on the reviews on Fredmiranda, so you should probably check those out rather than taking my opinion. Unless you want to know more about picking up women with cameras... :)
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