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Old June 19th, 2007, 10:05 AM   #1
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Prime slr lens for nature ?

Hi all,
what is your experience/opinion on that issue.
To sum it .
I think it is a question of usability against performance.
Performance wise, can you really see the quality difference on SD? What about HD?
Primes are also faster, but I find it hard to use the very open apertures even on the zoom lens, because of shallow DOF.
Definitely, if the shooting is pre planed than a prime lens can be handy.
But otherwise being out there is truly waiting for the unexpected.
A distant wolf , a jumping warbler or a soaring raptor can all come up in a few minutes.
Well, I partly answered my question, so please share your experience or thoughts.
I was offered two lenses a 300/2.8 and a 500/4.5 so will appreciate if anyone can comment on those lenses.
Thanks
Sassi
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Old June 19th, 2007, 11:02 AM   #2
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more speed, mr. sulu! - take the f/2.8! the 500 will be harder to manage anyway, more weight to carry in the field and a slower lens. more reach is ALWAYS tempting, it's easy to get greedy for reach. but speed will make the better image, and a 300mm is plenty for most applications.

just an opinion...
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Old June 20th, 2007, 02:45 AM   #3
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I would have choosen the 300mm f2.8 myself.

I have worked with both, the Sigma 300mm f2.8 and Canon 500mm f4.0
Both are excellent lenses but quite heavy. You must use a rail, like Ronsrail toghether with these monster lenses!

In dawn and dusk the f2.8 will be more appropriate, during daylight I found that there are not so much difference between a f2.8 and f4 lens. I often have to use ND or CPL filters to get an appropriate dof, cause the lenses are very bright.

Recently I have also used a Canon 300mm f4.0 wich is very light compared to the others. This is also a very good and robust lens and I will highly recommend it.

To sum it up, for wildlife I found that the following package will do for the most of us:
- camcorder XLH1
- 20x HD L lens
- ef-adapter
- 70-200mm f2.8 lens
- 300mm f2.8 or f4.0 lens

Nice to have:
- 6x HD wide lens
- 500mm f4.0
- 100/150mm macro lens

For hiking I often use the 300mm f4.0 lens, it's much more lighter than the f2.8 and you don't need any rail to attached it to the camcorder. Less to carry for my old body ;-)

Attached is a picture captured from a footage shoot with XLH1 and Canon 300mm f4.0 lens. The distance to the Damselfly approx. 1.5 meter. So the 300mm is good for macro work too ;-)
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Prime slr lens for nature ?-vannymfe5.jpg  
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Old June 20th, 2007, 04:36 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Per Johan Naesje View Post
I would have choosen the 300mm f2.8 myself.

I have worked with both, the Sigma 300mm f2.8 and Canon 500mm f4.0
Both are excellent lenses but quite heavy. You must use a rail, like Ronsrail toghether with these monster lenses!

In dawn and dusk the f2.8 will be more appropriate, during daylight I found that there are not so much difference between a f2.8 and f4 lens. I often have to use ND or CPL filters to get an appropriate dof, cause the lenses are very bright.

Recently I have also used a Canon 300mm f4.0 wich is very light compared to the others. This is also a very good and robust lens and I will highly recommend it.

To sum it up, for wildlife I found that the following package will do for the most of us:
- camcorder XLH1
- 20x HD L lens
- ef-adapter
- 70-200mm f2.8 lens
- 300mm f2.8 or f4.0 lens

Nice to have:
- 6x HD wide lens
- 500mm f4.0
- 100/150mm macro lens

For hiking I often use the 300mm f4.0 lens, it's much more lighter than the f2.8 and you don't need any rail to attached it to the camcorder. Less to carry for my old body ;-)

Attached is a picture captured from a footage shoot with XLH1 and Canon 300mm f4.0 lens. The distance to the Damselfly approx. 1.5 meter. So the 300mm is good for macro work too ;-)
When Meryem and Per agree it's strong medicine ... I'll have a bottle please.
Beautiful shot of damsel fly and congrats on how well you concealed the sticky tape holding it in place, Per !
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Old June 20th, 2007, 08:07 AM   #5
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Just to add to this. I use a sigma 100-300 F4 on the XL2. This is very sharp and for me the zoom is very useful for finding your subject especially when somethings well hidden. The stock x20 takes your from wide to about 100mm equiv so you really have everything covered with 2 lenses and great quality to boot!
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Old June 20th, 2007, 10:18 AM   #6
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My 2 cents,

I think one of the biggest problem with any of the big lenses is field of view. I was using the 70-200 f2.8L, and I love the lens and the images, but I didn't have an effective sight, so 'finding' the subject in the viewfinder can be very difficult. This would only be compounded with a prime.
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Old June 20th, 2007, 03:23 PM   #7
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Get the 200mm 1.8 :-)
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Old June 20th, 2007, 11:16 PM   #8
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Sassi,

I have used some fd primes on my xl2. I broke down and got the ef adapter.
I have only used my 100/400 zoom on it and am pleased with it under most conditions.

I have used primes for many years and a good prime is a real asset. BUT, I very much like to use the zoom to crop & compose with the camera. this is particularly true on wildlife that is difficult to get reasonably close to!! with the prime I have to move the camera to do those things and often that causes the loss of the shot.

I think Per Johan's kit suggestion is dead on!!! Bundle that into one purchase and I will get indegestion to be sure.
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Old June 21st, 2007, 03:32 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Diewert View Post
My 2 cents,

I think one of the biggest problem with any of the big lenses is field of view. I was using the 70-200 f2.8L, and I love the lens and the images, but I didn't have an effective sight, so 'finding' the subject in the viewfinder can be very difficult. This would only be compounded with a prime.
I corroborate what Ken say. Using those huge lenses definitive require much practise and a aiming point sight as well. But with extensive use you get used to this and I often find the target relative quickly without using the aiming point even with the 300mm!
Note that this applies to birds and animals which not are in any movement. To shoot footage av moving targets like birds in flight you need more practise to accomplish this with prime lenses 200mm and above.
In bird sanctuary you can sit and practise a lot to improve your skills. This will be about developing your own skill, nothing beat the feeling when you manage to track that bird with a 300mm for some seconds in a razor sharp footage to your library of proud ;-)
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Old June 21st, 2007, 04:42 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Per Johan Naesje View Post
.... To shoot footage of moving targets like birds in flight you need more practise to accomplish this with prime lenses 200mm and above.
In bird sanctuary you can sit and practise a lot to improve your skills. This will be about developing your own skill, nothing beat the feeling when you manage to track that bird with a 300mm for some seconds in a razor sharp footage to your library of proud ;-)
Please tell me Per, are you always thinking in terms of "manual focus" and "tripod" when you try "To shoot footage of moving targets like birds in flight" even with the standard XLH1 lens?
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Old June 21st, 2007, 08:19 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Ray Bell View Post
Get the 200mm 1.8 :-)
...and a membership to the gym to help you carry it...and a second mortgage to help pay for it...
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Old June 22nd, 2007, 09:04 AM   #12
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28/300

After using my 100 to 400, primarily on birds, I have done a lot of thinking.
even at 100, which is a 750, to pick up birds in flight freehand or supported is almost impossible.

It would appear to me that the Canon 28/300 would be a great asset in this regard. even if the low end of 28 is not up to standard it would definitely make grabbing the bird in flight and then pulling it in a possibility.

I have read that this a a good lens but there are some aberations at 28 when compared to a standard 28 or wa lens.

Has anyone actually used this lens??? Theory is always interesting, but reality is always different.

what do you all think??
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Old July 8th, 2007, 12:13 AM   #13
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Thanks

Thank you all for sharing.

For my style of shooting a zoom lens is a real asset.
I am actually a birder taking video of birds meaning I am wandering around with the camera ready to shoot.

I am using a sigma 50-500 zoom , I think most of the shots are taken on the 500 mm and of the zoom and I feel fairly comfortable with those magnifications.

Ken, an aiming device is a must and with it, there is no problem catching an active warbler on a tree top or a soaring raptor, and that's instantly!
More than that with the small birds I actually follow the birds with the red dot.

For a very active bird or a flying bird I usually zoom out a bit to avoid loosing it.

No matter prime or zoom the focusing ring must be perfect to allow follow focus, so better avoid cheap zooms.

Contra to most (repliers) I prefer to use the 300-400 mm range for birds in flight, I think it is much easier.

To Dale question about the 28-300 lens I would remind that the xl cameras use only the central portion of the lens so the mentioned aberrations on the 28 mm range are of no relevance.

Per John, Awesome matiral !!!

On the days I used still cameras I preferred prime lenses, as most of the time there was a quality difference.
From the replies here I still can not conclude if one can see quality difference
when using a good zoom lens like the Canon 100-400 or a prime lens and if the difference is greater when using HD, so if you can answer this even theoretically it would be nice.

I did some thinking and concluded that I can and will use a 500 mm prime lens on some occasions , so now I have a Canon FD 500/4.5 ready to use.
Tried it on my backyard and it seamed more 'stable' than the zoom.
Hopefully will try it next weekend on some desert birds.
I will post a sample clip as soon as I can.

BTW I am starting a new thread with bird videos.

Thanks again,
Sassi
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Old August 16th, 2007, 12:01 PM   #14
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Sassi,

I just got back to this thread. I am curious what adapter you are using on your 500mm fd lens.

I have a 500 fd lens but I think it is held back by my mount, it just is not as snug as it should be, which can change the focal point on the lens (if that is the correct term).

how is that lens holding up for you as far as expectations go??
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