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Ever get a 500mm prime lens and wish you had rather bought the 300 mm f2.8 with a 2x extender?

suejoh Plus
16 257 United Kingdom
24 May 2013 9:14PM
I am currently using the Canon 100 - 400 lens with a 1.4 extender but have recently started to go to hides more and found that most birds are a long way away.

My thought is that the 500mm with a 1.4x or 2x extender has a lot more reach. It could still do some handheld shots as on a short walk e.g. between hides.
It will give me improved quality for cropping and better focusing speed.

However will that leave me really disappointed with my trusty 100 - 400.
Should I be looking at the mid range 300 with the option of a 2x extender and will there be sufficient improved quality to crop images?

I realise that it is all quite personal but it would be good to hear other people's thoughts on this partic if they have experience of these combinations.
And i thought the question - was anyone ever disappointed with their 500mm lens - a good place to start.

justin c 17 5.1k 36 England
24 May 2013 9:23PM
The Canon 500mm f4 is a considerable step up from the 100-400mm in terms of reach and image quality.
A 1.4X extender on the zoom lens is a very poor combination. A 1.4X extender on the 500mm works superbly and any loss of quality is absolutely negligible.
Once you've got used to using a 500mm, you're unlikely to want to go back to the 100-400mm unless you need the lighter weight, smaller size and the versatility of the large focal range.

A 2X extender can give usable results on the 500mm but you'll be limited to manual focus unless you have certain high end Canon bodies. I would only use the 2X when absolutely necessary and even then it will take perfect technique and good conditions to get the best from it.

I wouldn't be overly enthusiastic about using a 2X extender on a 300mm f4 lens, the 300mm f2.8 is a different matter and a whole lot more money.
tomcat 15 6.4k 15 United Kingdom
24 May 2013 9:47PM
I recently took the plunge and purchased ( used) a Canon 300mm 2.8 IS Mk I

On it's own it is a corker

Results with both the 1.4x and the 2.0x are still as good as I wantWink

arhb 13 3.4k 68 United Kingdom
24 May 2013 9:51PM
Just get the 300mm F2.8 and the 500mm F4, and both the 1.4x and the 2x extenders - all bases covered Smile
justin c 17 5.1k 36 England
24 May 2013 10:09PM

Quote:was anyone ever disappointed with their 500mm lens

If it's the Canon 500mm f4 lens that you're referring to I think you would be very hard pushed indeed to find any unhappy users.

If you're anticipating doing a lot of bird photography from public hides then you really do want to consider going for as much focal length as you can afford. I think for that type of photography then a 500mm with a 1.4X extender would be the minimum focal length to consider and even then they'll be plenty of times you wish you had more. A 300mm lens would more often than not be way too short, other than the odd opportunity on rare occasions.

If you do decide to go for a 500mm, you might want to allow for the additional expense that is likely to accompany it, i.e. a good quality, substantial tripod, a good quality tripod head, a lens quick release plate and some sort of lens protection, i.e. a lenscoat,etc.
suejoh Plus
16 257 United Kingdom
26 May 2013 8:53AM
Thanks for the comments.
I spent yesterday at a lake taking pictures of birds and insects to decide what was important to me - and to look at the results.
Need a better handheld technique that is for sure.

Still debating.
hobbo Plus
10 1.7k 4 England
26 May 2013 9:23AM
I would like to approach this from a totally different angle if I may.......

.......First off You seem to be a little unsure whether birds or insects are your main interest, specialist lenses at both ends of the spectrum are prohibitively expensive as is the peripheral but nesserary ancillary equipment such as tripod or photo stacking rails.

Both bird/wildlife photography and Macro bug hunting get you out of doors and into the countryside.........if your not going to travel abroad the number of UK bird species are minute compared with the vast numbers of insects, bugs, spiders and crustaceans in the environment.

If able, then go for the best lenses and equipment you can afford in both areas, or choose one......the one that appeals most considering not only the photographs you produce but the people you might meet up with ......birding usually means lots of other enthusiasts, sometimes tucked in Hides with much hefty equipment, plus lots of driving......Macro, on the other hand can be as solitary as you want to make it, the heavy equipment and outlay are left at home as aids to producing the finished stack or enhanced shot, you can discover millions of creepy crawlies within a few hundred yards of your back door.

Like any major Hobby, Photography can prove very expensive indeed, I advise a little sitting and thinking time before rushing out to buy.....explore this amazing Forum and the other ones specialising in Bird and Macro Photography, so you get a clear idea of where you want to go....or do both of courseWink

I wish you well whichever path you take.

thewilliam 12 6.1k
26 May 2013 10:26AM
For a while, I had a Nikon 500mm cat.

They're compact and light with reasonable image quality but the measly f8 fixed aperture frustrated me.
thewilliam 12 6.1k
26 May 2013 12:58PM
Several non-professional friends have bought big lenses which have been so heavy that they have stayed in the safe, or at best in the boot of the car.

If you're doing a particular task, like bird-watching from a hide, then the weight of a long lens is tolerable. But otherwise?
suejoh Plus
16 257 United Kingdom
26 May 2013 2:06PM
We have just started going to hides. OH has got a scope and has always been a keen bird watcher. This started the longer lens debate as most birds are dots frm the hides.
Generally I have been an opportunist (amateur) photographer so versatile lenses that can be carried and hand held have been the best. But I have this opportunity to buy a top class lens and they all seem to be a lot heavier than I have.
It is great to hear the various opinions but must also go out and see if I can or would want to use my tripod and monopod.
Thx everyone
tomcat 15 6.4k 15 United Kingdom
27 May 2013 7:23PM

Quote:This started the longer lens debate as most birds are dots from the hides.

Most hides are for the benefit of "twitchers" & not for photographers
Hence the usually long distance from hide to subject

I refer back to my comment re the 300mm 2.8 with converters, but still a heavy beast to cart around
Ian-Jones 17 133 2 United Kingdom
30 May 2013 4:27PM
Hi Sue. Why not hire before you take the plunge? I rent from Calumet, but there are plenty of other companies to choose from. The hire cost isn't peanuts, but immeasurably cheaper than forking out several thousand for one of your own. Also, you'll be able to judge whether handheld is a viable option for you. As to the results, I've got to say the 500mm is a great lens and if it didn't perform that was down to operator error Smile

30 May 2013 8:00PM
Hello Sue,

Even I have 500mm I sometimes wished that it had more reach. However it really depending on what type of birds you photograph and how close you could get to them. Photography in the hide to be honest I find my 500mm + 1.4x sometimes is not long enough. But why choosing 500mm is you compromise the weight for the IQ and for me it is well worth it. Think about it, aren't we always sitting in the hide or by the fen and hoping the birds arrive near the hide/area you wish to photograph? Birds such as warblers aren't as tame and showing close as you wish of, with more reach from 500mm you could get the shot many could not. Another option of lugging the big lenses, why not use a buggy and push it around? I have several birder friends who carry them on a buggy, well I am not (still young and strong Wink )

thewilliam 12 6.1k
30 May 2013 8:08PM
I've taken pix with a 500mm Nikon cat with a 2x converter. Great for the reach but f16 isn't a good viewing aperture!
suejoh Plus
16 257 United Kingdom
31 May 2013 1:48PM
I am still thinking that the 500 mm is the best option as that is where I have the gap. However the process of considering has resulted in a lot of thought on what I take and how I take it. I have also gone back to check the quality and focal length of my photos.
I have read SO many reviews, read the the excellent advice here, have reviewed portfolios and the focal length used. Also read up on handheld techniques and practised with my tripod.
The result of this is that each piece of gear comes with good points and challenges. Superb photos are produced by photographers. Seen great photos with all equipment variations. It is up to you to make the most of your equipments good points and to make a plan to counter the challenges. Maybe a lens that makes you plan and think can improve what you do generally.
And, Ian, I shld loan first. That is a really sensible suggestion.
Thanks everyone

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