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Old September 16th, 2009, 09:57 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Yeo Wee Han View Post
If not then a 500/4 IS with a 1d mark iii will give u the keepers u want, with handholding possible.
I own both - the Canon EOS 1D Mark III and the Canon 500 f4 IS.
The 500 f4 is probably the best available lens for handheld bird in flight photography. I usually mount a 1.4 teleconverter so you get a fantastic device of 700mm - very sharp.
Having said that the Canon 500 f4 IS is quite heavy and expensive so another option is the Canon 400 f5.6. This is a superb lens, very sharp, not too expensive and it will give you superb results with some practice.
I won't get the Canon EOS 1D Mark 3 for this though as it has quite severe problems with its autofocus. As strange as it sounds - the previous model - the Canon EOS 1D Mark 2n is way superior in this respect.
I don't agree with the concept of short lenses for BIF. You need the target to be big in the frame for the focus to really lock on it and then follow.
I got all of the BIF shots on my website with the Canon 500 f4 and Canon EOS 1D Mark 2.
Cheers,
Ofer
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Old September 17th, 2009, 02:58 AM   #17
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Weehan

Thank you for giving me a glimpse at some possible solutions and alternatives. More of the same would be very welcome. I'll be looking into your suggestions in detail over coming week. I have a lot to learn ... but I do enjoy learning about possibilities.


Ofer

You have pushed the boundaries quite a bit ... thank you very much. More food for thought. Just what I need. Hoorah and yippee! Incidentally, please describe the difference in quality/sharpness between BIF images taken with 400 f5.6 and similar images taken with 100-400 @ f5.6 and 400 focal length?


Any thoughts about sharp handheld video of BIF?

Last edited by Brendan Marnell; September 17th, 2009 at 05:03 AM. Reason: extra question
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Old September 17th, 2009, 06:35 AM   #18
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Hi Brendan,

I am sure you can get all the information you need on a dedicated bird photography site such as Home there are great articles as well as top quality images.
The 400 f5.6 is simply a sharper lens than the 100-400 at the same focal length. You don't have the image stabilizer but over 1/1000 you don't really need it as far as I can tell.

I haven't tried getting sharp images of BIF using a video camera simply because you can't compare the quality of the single frame obtained by a dedicated still camera such as the Canon 1d Mark 2n and a video camera even as great as the RED.

I feel that the whole concept of handholding a video camera with a long telephoto lens is not a particularly good one.
Cheers,
Ofer
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Old September 17th, 2009, 07:57 AM   #19
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Ofer is right about the Canon 400mm f/5.6; it is a sharp lens and very useful for birds in-flight photography. In fact this particluar lens was used by Arthur Morris a lot and became his favourite lens to capture spectacular flight images.
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Old September 17th, 2009, 06:27 PM   #20
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I have to agree with all the other posters about the Canon 400mm f5.6 lens, it has to be the best "handheld" lens available.

Here is one example Flickr Photo Download: Black-crowned Night Heron IMG_2388xxxxxw.jpg

Bob
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Old September 18th, 2009, 12:23 PM   #21
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Very nice heron image, Bob. Did you also use a touch of flash for that shot? - (judging by the eye reflections).
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Old September 18th, 2009, 06:21 PM   #22
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Tony, Thanks for the comment. I am from the "old school" so no flash was used.

Bob
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Old September 18th, 2009, 08:03 PM   #23
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Ofer,

You are right, a 1D II is a more reliable bet than the Mark 3. I spoke to one of my PJ frens who uses a Mark 3 and he was lamenting how unreliable the AF was and wished for his old Mark 2n. Thanks for the info. :)

Brendan,

As the rest have mentioned, the 400/5.6 is in a class of its own. If you are handholding video, then this is a good lens to get but you may have too much focal length here and a zoom is so much more preferable. Hmmmm, I have a Sigma 120-300 but cant rave about its sharpness on the H1. The focal length range of the Sigma is however fantastic and a zoom for BIF is always desirable.

Cheers

Weehan
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Old October 3rd, 2009, 06:06 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Bob Thompson View Post
I have to agree with all the other posters about the Canon 400mm f5.6 lens, it has to be the best "handheld" lens available.

Here is one example Flickr Photo Download: Black-crowned Night Heron IMG_2388xxxxxw.jpg

Bob
That photo of the Night Heron is so beautiful, Bob. I'm digging out my best little bittern shot taken in Crete 2 days ago with 100-400 which does not compare (because it's not a flight shot) but may be interesting.

I've never used a fixed lens so would someone please tell me can the 400mm f5.6 be used only at a 400mm focal length? Or is it the f5.6 that's fixed?

On second reading I'm beginning to think that Weehan has answered half my question?
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Old October 3rd, 2009, 06:43 AM   #25
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A fixed lens is known as a 'prime' lens and has the same aperture ranges as zoom lenses.

Most prime lenses have less moving internal glass elements and often offer faster maximum apertures when compared to zoom lenses. Most lens companies offer a 400mm f/2.8 prime (fixed) lens for example, but none offer a 200-400mm zooom lens with an f/2.8 maximum aperture (because it would cost the same as a house and weigh as much as a truck!).

The 'fixed' aspect of a prime lens refers to the focal length remaining the same, so a 200mm remains at 200mm and a 400mm will stay at 400mm; but a 200-400mm zoom will offer all focal lengths between 200mm to 400mm.

Some top pro zooms remain at the widest aperture (such as f/4) throughout their zoom range, but the majority of zoom lenses do not hold that widest aperture setting, and close down slightly between wide and telephoto.

So your 400mm f/5.6 will have a full range of aperture settings between f/5.6 to f/16 or f/22, but will always reamain at 400mm focal length.
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Old October 3rd, 2009, 07:32 AM   #26
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but none offer a 200-400mm zooom lens with an f/2.8 maximum aperture (because it would cost the same as a house and weigh as much as a truck!).
.
Although of course there is the Sigma 200-500 f2.8, that's an interesting piece of kit and doesn't quite weigh as much as a house, though not far off!
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Old October 3rd, 2009, 10:37 AM   #27
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Although of course there is the Sigma 200-500 f2.8, that's an interesting piece of kit and doesn't quite weigh as much as a house, though not far off!
Steve
Oops! Yes, I forgot about the bemoth Sigma lens! It 'only' weighs 35lb... :) It also comes with its own 400mm-1000mm converter!

Sigma 200-500mm f/2.8 – eclecticism

PMA Tradeshow Blog - PhotographyREVIEW.com

A nice chunk of glass if you've got a spare $20,000 to spend! :)
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Old October 3rd, 2009, 12:55 PM   #28
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Thank you for combing out that piece of wool over my eyes, Tony. Once a prime 400 always a 400.

On the Sigma + converter, I'll pass, 'cos I'd surely be pulled over for exposing myself again if i stuck that out of my porsche window ... sorry for bragging and all that; no, not about my ferrari; oh, never mind ...
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Old October 4th, 2009, 10:02 AM   #29
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You guys are forgetting about the Canon 400 f4 DO. Shorter than the 400 5.6 and 4x the price. I believe that's what Arthur Morris now uses handheld.

Thinking about this more, I expect high speed capture may be the way to get good video and sharp stills. Say 120p. Use a high shutter speed. Then use After Effects to average the 120p to 30p.

In the real world of today, I suggest the 400 5.6 on a 7D. With one push the shutter button stops the video, takes a still photo, and restarts the video. Seems to take a couple of seconds total.
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Old October 9th, 2009, 07:42 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by Tony Davies-Patrick View Post
A fixed lens is known as a 'prime' lens and has the same aperture ranges as zoom lenses.

Most prime lenses have less moving internal glass elements and often offer faster maximum apertures when compared to zoom lenses. Most lens companies offer a 400mm f/2.8 prime (fixed) lens for example, but none offer a 200-400mm zooom lens with an f/2.8 maximum aperture (because it would cost the same as a house and weigh as much as a truck!).

The 'fixed' aspect of a prime lens refers to the focal length remaining the same, so a 200mm remains at 200mm and a 400mm will stay at 400mm; but a 200-400mm zoom will offer all focal lengths between 200mm to 400mm.

Some top pro zooms remain at the widest aperture (such as f/4) throughout their zoom range, but the majority of zoom lenses do not hold that widest aperture setting, and close down slightly between wide and telephoto.

So your 400mm f/5.6 will have a full range of aperture settings between f/5.6 to f/16 or f/22, but will always reamain at 400mm focal length.
Thank you all for your thoughts about lens for BIF.

I can now redefine my lens problem in terms of my usage ... 90% of my BIF stills are of birds with wingspan that would be clipped at 400 zoom ... some of my sharpest images with 100-400mm are of vultures that flew so close that I clipped thier wings at 200 focal length. So 400 fixed might be perfect for a kingfisher shot but it will be a few more years before I get tired chasing & enjoying images of underwing patterns of big raptors, herons and gulls.

For that purpose, what zoom lens would you recommend for sharp BIF details, on 40D or 7D, handheld most of the time?
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