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Old February 19th, 2007, 06:14 PM   #16
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In reference to the 100-400mm Canon L, I used it extensively since 2002 on a Canon XL-1s body. I am an extremely serious amateur and had the camera with me on an almost daily basis. At times I used another camcorder which didn't have interchangeable lenses which I used for wider shots and the 100-400mm remained on the XL, sometimes for months at a time.

All of these judgments are subjective, but I found the following. The 100-400mm is sharper than the 35-350mm which I used previously and still use to some extent. It is not as sharp as the 70-200mm, but is little harder to locate animals with, as the lower end magnifications are not that far apart. The 500mmF4 was sharper than the 100-400m, but of course with the obvious drawback that it is much more bulky and hard to control with no ability to zoom out, so it is seldom used. In short, the 100-400mm was my hands down favorite as it was usable reasonably early in the morning and evening and had much more reach than the 70-200mm.

I am not certain how things will shake out now that I am shooting an XL-H1 as it seems to require a wider aperture to shoot in low-light conditions, and I find myself using the 70-200m quite a bit to get acceptable exposure in low light shots.

I have never found an acceptable method to shoot from a vehicle with the long lenses. The only success I have had is with the normal lens, and that usually not zoomed completely in. This is a frustrating situation. Sometimes, if the vehicle can be positioned right, one can get out on the side away from the animals and get the tripod set up, but as you well know this is not usually the case.

I have not tried the 300mm primes, but I do not like the idea of having no control over composition other then getting further away or trying to get closer, but they may be worth the hassle of doing this. I know that is my main gripe with the 500mmf4 in still photography, but it is so superb performance wise that one doesn't mind working around this.
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Old February 20th, 2007, 09:00 AM   #17
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There must be a point where the quality of the sensor becomes the limiting factor rather than the optical performance of the lens? Has anyone found this?
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Old February 20th, 2007, 09:24 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Andrew Davies
There must be a point where the quality of the sensor becomes the limiting factor rather than the optical performance of the lens? Has anyone found this?
Yes, very much so.

The image quality of all my Nikkors are way beyond the quality of the XL1 or XL2 sensors, in fact even the XL-H1 sensor.

The biggest real problem is the amount of air and distance between the front of the lens and subject when using the incredible 7X multiply factor of the XL series of bodies.

It is also extremely difficult to obtain top image quality with lenses over 800mm on 35mm film SLRs or 16MP DSLRs, so trying to obtain anywhere near the same image quality using the same lenses boosted to way beyond 2,500mm or even 4,500mm is impossible.

Just try using the Nikkor 1200mm prime lens with a 2X converter and see how hard it is to obtain decent images on quality 35mm emulsion film...so no wonder we struggle with similar extreme telephotos pushed to the limits when they are focussed on a tiny XL2 DV sensor or HDV sensor.
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Old February 20th, 2007, 08:13 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Tony Davies-Patrick
The biggest real problem is the amount of air and distance between the front of the lens and subject when using the incredible 7X multiply factor of the XL series of bodies
Tony,
This is really the dilemma when using a lens over 300mm w/ any of the XL series. We all must have the proper setup (tripods, heads, rails, sights etc.) but when it's time to use the long lens, my main tool is the Weather Channel otherwise your only option is the magic hours. All it takes is a cloudy day (no rain, snow or fog) and I can shoot all day at 4200mm and capture incredible footage.
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Old February 20th, 2007, 11:34 PM   #20
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first,

Thank you all for the information.

1. I will lily acquire the 100 to 400 canon l series zoom. (any thoughts on the sigma 80 to 400??).

2. The idea of the 70 to 200 f 2.8 makes total sense but wonder about the focusing comments!! I have enough problems focusing the standard lens and have been thinking aboout a fu 1000. Any comment??

3. I think having a lens that can do Macro is a great idea as I also shoot the small things. So I am going to take Per's advice on the 150mm f 2.8 Macro.

I do not want to fall into the "Perpetual dissatification" that consumer marketiers perpetuate. On the other hand also want reasonably good optics I can be happy with!!

Some things are beyond the point of diminshing returns which means you pay a great deal more for the name and a bit of improvement over high quality optics. I find this most visible in Binoculars!!! They are my most used tool in the field.


thank you all again!!!
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Old February 21st, 2007, 08:05 AM   #21
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Although my experience with the Canon 100-400mm on the XL body is limited, I would make the following comments:

1. Optically excellent up to 300mm, a little soft from 300-400mm
2. I'm not a fan of the push-pull zoom action. It can act as a dust vacuum, is clunky to use, and changes the balance point of the camera

I have a Sigma 120-300mm f2.8, which seems to be excellent (my copy at least), although it's a big, heavy beast.

Generally speaking I find 300mm (i.e. 2100mm with crop factor) to be the longest focal length I can comfortably use on an XL without being locked down on a tripod. While it's perfectly possible to get good shots at much longer focal lengths, getting steady pans and good follow focus is very difficult even with experience.

As for shooting from vehicles, I find this isn't always successful with very long lenses. Even moderate winds cause some vibration, as does any movement by the operator. Cars make great blinds, but wherever possible, I try to open the door, put the sticks on the ground and shoot through the open side window.
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Old February 21st, 2007, 12:44 PM   #22
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I've had pin-sharp shots using a 500mm f/4.5 lens handheld and braced on cross-legged knees from a vehicle...but that was on a stills camera, I wouldn't even attempt the same on a DV camera with the added magnification factors involved.

The longest lens that I use on a DV Canon XL body is my 600mm ED-IF lens, and always on my heaviest tripod + heavy duty head, locked down tight and then stop/start record using the wireless remote control to avoid all tremours.

Even then I may still obtain some footage with slight blur or shake due to wind, or if I use the finger start button on the Manfrotto pan-handle control. In these circumstances it is normally only the very beginning and end of the sequence that has slight tremour, so it is quite easy to edit the extreme ends of each clip during post.
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Old February 21st, 2007, 06:21 PM   #23
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Some more thoughts on the 100-400mm. I do not mean to disagree with Duncan, but rather to look at the situation from another angle. The push pull zoom can seem clunky and it definitely changes the balance of the rig when focal length is changed yet I find this a plus to the extent that one can zoom out wide to locate a subject and then zoom back in to the desired composition much quicker than with the rotating ring on the 70-200mm, and of course one can engage the locking ring to keep the zoom from creeping when carrying, or to stabilize the lens more while shooting when it is at the desired focal length.
That being said the 70-200mm is very solidly constructed and while I usually use it with a rail support, it will function decently without one.

I have had the 100-400 since 2001 and it has seen almost daily use. Dust has not been a problem with it,nor with the 35-350 so these lens must be fairly well sealed. I did use a 170-500 Sigma for a short time and it ended up with quite a bit of dust on the inside of the front element in a short time. I also have quite a bit of dust in a 28-135 mm Canon.

Either lens is a good choice, but what can I say-it's really nice to have both. It's a deep never ending money pit.

I had shooting at mature eastern wild turkey gobblers this evening and used the standard 20x lens, the 70-200mm and the 500mm. No chance yet to look at the footage, but it will be interesting to compare how each performed on the XL-H1. I can't post any footage however as I am on dial-up yet.
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Old February 25th, 2007, 10:15 PM   #24
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turkey footage

Will,

I would love to see the footage off each of those lenses if you have an opportunity to make the clips!!
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