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Canon 70-200 2.8 + 2x TC III Or 100-400?  
User currently offlineSilver1SWA From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 4738 posts, RR: 26
Posted (2 years 1 week 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 12282 times:
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Ok so I've had the 100-400L for 3 years now and I've had a real love/hate relationship with it. Now I recently got a sweet deal (trade, no $) on my dream lens, a 70-200L 2.8 IS mk1 about a month ago and I absolutely love it. Everything about it just blows the 100-400 away...everything except reach of course.

My camera bag is getting awfully crowded and I think it's time to shake up the lineup as I set my eyes on the 5Dmk3. I now look at my 100-400 and see an easy $1200 or so. I'd love to say goodbye, but I'd hate to miss it. So the alternative that would aslo still put money in my pocket is to get the new 2x mark III teleconverter. I've heard great things about this new TC, except that the mark 1 70-200 doesn't perform well with it. I rented the TC for a day and went to a local zoo and tried the combo as well as the 100-400 for comparisons. From what I could tell there wasn't a huge difference in image quality at 400mm. Both are so so, but seem useable in most situations. I never got a chance to take the TC to the airport and try it out on aviation so to finally get to my point, I was wondering if any of you have experience with both the combo and the 100-400 and give me some thoughts on what I should do. I'm basically just thinking out lout here...I've got my heart set on selling the 100-400, but I just can't pull the trigger yet. I shoot above 200mm far less these days than when I first got the 100-400, but I do on occasion.

So, do I sell the dust pump and get a teleconverter? Or keep both lenses?


ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
22 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently onlineJakTrax From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2005, 4936 posts, RR: 7
Reply 1, posted (2 years 1 week 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 12279 times:

I've not used the exact combo to which you refer but I have used a 70-200 f/4 with a 1.4x II and it wasn't even close to the 100-400 to be honest. I guess it depends on how good your copy of each lens is; but going by what you say your 100-400 doesn't sound as sharp as mine.

Going back to the combo, the 70-200 I had then (it got damaged, which is why I no longer have it) was absolutely pin-sharp, so I laid the blame on the extender. I know the latest mk.III versions are supposed to be much improved but I wouldn't imagine a 2.0x mk.III would be too much better than a 1.4x mk.II (but I could be wrong?).

Then again, that could depend on how sharp the 70-200 f/2.8 mk.I is compared to the f/4. As far as I know there's not too much in it?

One thing I've learned about this game is it's always best to get the right tool for the job. If the 70-200 + extender was really as good as the 100-400 surely they'd never sell any of the latter? The 70-200 was never really designed to be 'extended' to 400mm; much the same as the 100-400 was never designed to be a walk-around lens.

Karl


User currently offlinevikkyvik From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 9401 posts, RR: 27
Reply 2, posted (2 years 1 week 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 12276 times:
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I don't have experience with the particular lenses about which you're talking, but I will share my recent experience (similar to Karl's it appears):

I bought a 70-200 F4 (used), and a 1.4 TC a few months ago. I've had some rather major softness issues on the left side of my images. At first I thought it was the 70-200, but it actually seems to be the combo (or the 1.4); the 70-200 seems just fine on its own.

Still debating what to do, but just thought I'd throw that out there for what it's worth. Not sure if that's a common issue or not.



"Two and a Half Men" was filmed in front of a live ostrich.
User currently onlineJakTrax From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2005, 4936 posts, RR: 7
Reply 3, posted (2 years 1 week 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 12272 times:

Same here Vik, although the softness I encountered got worse towards each frame edge. In other words, the softness was uniform and not just left or right side, for example.

I couldn't really say whether it was a 'fault' of the extender as they are of such simple construction. Not a lot that can go wrong. Perhaps just an unwelcome 'feature' rather than a manufacturing blooper.

Like I say, I'm of the opinion that - if you want 400mm - buy a lens that in some way includes 400mm.

Cheers,

Karl


User currently offlineSilver1SWA From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 4738 posts, RR: 26
Reply 4, posted (2 years 1 week 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 12255 times:
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Quoting JakTrax (Reply 1):
Then again, that could depend on how sharp the 70-200 f/2.8 mk.I is compared to the f/4. As far as I know there's not too much in it?

The 70-200 f/4 is supposedly sharper.

Quoting JakTrax (Reply 1):
I know the latest mk.III versions are supposed to be much improved

I've heard this as well.

Quoting JakTrax (Reply 1):
One thing I've learned about this game is it's always best to get the right tool for the job. If the 70-200 + extender was really as good as the 100-400 surely they'd never sell any of the latter? The 70-200 was never really designed to be 'extended' to 400mm; much the same as the 100-400 was never designed to be a walk-around lens.

Well not exactly, Karl. The 100-400 is a cheaper option than the 70-200 f/2.8 IS and then of couse you have to add the 2x TC. With the combo, you get one heck of a versatile lens and the ability to take it to 400mm on occasion.

I purchased the 100-400 originally because one, it was affordable (70-200 was out of my reach) and it was a tool I got specifically for aviation. I shoot far less aviation now. The 70-200 is a far more versatile lens to my photography and the combo makes it even more so...as long as quality is bearable.

I know quality drops off considerably. I did play with one as I mentioned above. However, side by side with the 100-400, I'm just trying to figure out, especially for aviation/airliners.net uploading considerations, if the 100-400 is $700 better in terms of IQ and sharpness. (I get $700 by estimating how much money I'll have left over if I sold the 100-400 and purchased the 2x extender.)

[Edited 2012-04-09 17:13:35]


ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
User currently offlinevikkyvik From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 9401 posts, RR: 27
Reply 5, posted (2 years 1 week 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 12244 times:
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Quoting Silver1SWA (Reply 4):
Quoting JakTrax (Reply 1):
I know the latest mk.III versions are supposed to be much improved

I've heard this as well.

I neglected to mention this, but my 1.4 is a MkIII. Suppose it could be a bad copy. Don't know that I'll care to replace it and find out.



"Two and a Half Men" was filmed in front of a live ostrich.
User currently offlineRotate From Switzerland, joined Feb 2003, 1488 posts, RR: 16
Reply 6, posted (2 years 1 week 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 12203 times:
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I ve tried that combo, the 2x TC does work with the 70-200 2.8 , but the quality is much worser than the 100-400. AF is also very slow ... in other words: This combo doesnt make sense.


ABC
User currently onlineJakTrax From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2005, 4936 posts, RR: 7
Reply 7, posted (2 years 1 week 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 12192 times:

Bit like if you're after a sports car - do you buy a Ferrari or a Lada with a Ferrari engine? They probably cost the same in the end and the latter will achieve the same speed but it just won't handle like the real thing; because the Ferrari was designed for and around its engine.

People may disagree but the 70-200 f/2.8 was designed for different applications to the 100-400. Unless the f/2.8 is twice as sharp as the f/4 and the Extender III twice as good as the II, I honestly can't see it beating a good copy of the 100-400.

Ryan, perhaps your 100-400 isn't a particularly reliable copy?

Karl


User currently offlineSilver1SWA From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 4738 posts, RR: 26
Reply 8, posted (2 years 1 week 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 12168 times:
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Quoting Rotate (Reply 6):
I ve tried that combo, the 2x TC does work with the 70-200 2.8 , but the quality is much worser than the 100-400. AF is also very slow ... in other words: This combo doesnt make sense.

I was hoping for more encouragement... It wouldn't even make sense financially? When I look at thethe 100-400 I see $$.

Quoting JakTrax (Reply 7):
Ryan, perhaps your 100-400 isn't a particularly reliable copy?

Maybe. I've often wondered, however I have been talked into believing it had more to do with a learning curve instead of a lens flaw. I've just considered 350-400mm to be a limitation with the 100-400 in general and since I rarely need that much zoom, I've just worked around the limitation.

Again, aviation is primarily what I shoot with the 100-400, but I no longer primarily shoot aviation.

Thanks for the feedback so far. Hoping to get a few more opinions.  



ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
User currently offlinevir380 From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2002, 621 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (2 years 1 week 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 12161 times:

Hi , i use the Canon 70-200mm f2.8 and the 1.4x II and to be honest is the best combination i have ever used for the range.

I've owned 2 x100-400's and i simply couldn't get friendly with them , the current combo is absolutely spot on quality wise , in effect 98-280 f4 ! im more than happy with the results with the converter and the results without converter are outstanding.

And those who know me will tell you im always swapping & changing lenses .... not with this combination !!!

Its a keeper  thumbsup 

The 1.4 focus is crisp & fast , to be honest im not sure you'll get that with the 2.0 as the lens is in effect 5.6
is the 2.0 essential or could you go with the 1.4 ?

regards

[Edited 2012-04-10 08:31:01]

User currently onlineJakTrax From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2005, 4936 posts, RR: 7
Reply 10, posted (2 years 1 week 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 12137 times:

It seems to me that there are bad extenders and bad 100-400s, and it all depends on how good a copy of each you get. When I bought my 100-400 I was told to expect it to be much softer than my (very sharp) 70-200 f/4 - and to basically forget it at 400mm - but that has never been the case. A lens I expected to be using ONLY when I required over 200mm becomes my primary lens every winter, and it's every bit as sharp as my 70-200 f/4. Performance at 400mm is a touch softer than at 300mm but you really have to look hard to see the difference.

Like I say, when I put the 1.4x II onto my 70-200, softness away from centre-frame became a serious issue - but perhaps I just got a crappy version of the Extender.

I think it's important to determine how good a copy of the lens you have before investing in an extender. That way, if things don't work out you know which piece of equipment is at fault.

Karl


User currently offlineJRowson From United Kingdom, joined May 2004, 348 posts, RR: 12
Reply 11, posted (2 years 1 week 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 12125 times:

I'm a huge fan of the 70-200 f2.8 IS and 1.4xII combo and have shot with this for the last 6 years. It wiped my 100-400 off the planet to the point I never used it and it got sold. I also used to have the 2x II converter and to be fair it was pretty useles and never got any useable results. I've since obtained a 2x III to give it one more try as I was wanting that extra bit of reach. My initial findings are that it is an improvement over the 2x II. The AF is slow but if you read the manual it has been slowed on purpose to aid AF accuracy. The results are still a bit hit and miss though. I've had some great sharp shots from it but also a fair mix of oof/soft stuff. I'm going to keep it though as you can get good results from it and I daresay used with a mk 2 70-200 the results will be even better. For now the 1.4x will remain on the lens as it's virtually invisible and i'll get the 2x out for special occassions.


James Rowson. Canonite and lover of all things L. JAR Photography.
User currently offlineckw From UK - England, joined Aug 2010, 713 posts, RR: 16
Reply 12, posted (2 years 1 week 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 12093 times:

Quoting Silver1SWA (Reply 8):
I was hoping for more encouragement... It wouldn't even make sense financially? When I look at thethe 100-400 I see $$.

I have to say that in my experience trying to find financial short cuts with camera gear has led to short term gratification, but long term disappointment!

I went through a similar process with the 100-400 a number of years ago. I did careful comparisons with the 70-200 with both 1.4 and 2x (mk ii) convertors. My conclusion was that the 70-200 +1.4 convertor was as good as, possibly better than the 100-400, with the 2x, not so good. However, since my ambition was to get the 500 f4, I figured I could live without the 400 end of the range.

To be honest I think its asking a lot for a zoom to work well with a convertor - so many glass elements involved! - loss of sharpness AND contrast is inevitable.

Cheers,

Colin



Colin K. Work, Pixstel
User currently offlineGaryck From United Kingdom, joined May 2008, 297 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (2 years 1 week 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 12037 times:
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I've never tried to 70-200 2.8, but have the 70-200 f4.

I also though about the combi with a converter. Tried it, Hated it. I found images soft and camera slow to focus. Ended up with the 100-400mm which was a great addition to the bag. I think you may kick yourself in the long run if you parted with the 100-400.

Gary



Keep your Ladders close, but your camera closer
User currently offlineSilver1SWA From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 4738 posts, RR: 26
Reply 14, posted (2 years 1 week 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 12034 times:
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Quoting vir380 (Reply 9):
The 1.4 focus is crisp & fast , to be honest im not sure you'll get that with the 2.0 as the lens is in effect 5.6
is the 2.0 essential or could you go with the 1.4 ?

I can't justify spending $499 on an extra 80mm... I do use up to 400mm...just not that often. There will be times I will miss it if I get rid of the 100-400 which is why I'm looking at the cheaper alternative. I KNOW quality goes down with the 2x teleconverter. But by how much? As long as shots are usable, I'm happy. I know this is Airliners.net and it's all about getting the highest quality, but I'm trying to think in practical terms. Do I really NEED both lenses?

Quoting JakTrax (Reply 10):
A lens I expected to be using ONLY when I required over 200mm becomes my primary lens every winter, and it's every bit as sharp as my 70-200 f/4. Performance at 400mm is a touch softer than at 300mm but you really have to look hard to see the difference.

99% of my aviation photography is here at SAN. 99% of the time at SAN, there is too much heat haze to really use 400mm. And with my access, I only really need the 70-200 range anyway. I use the 100-400 for visiting other airports (rare), airshows (once a year) or when I photograph wildlife at local parks or at the zoo (occasional). But even when I use the 100-400, 99% of the time I am in the 150-250mm region.

Quoting JakTrax (Reply 10):
I think it's important to determine how good a copy of the lens you have before investing in an extender. That way, if things don't work out you know which piece of equipment is at fault.

This 70-200 f/2.8 IS that I just got my hands on is amazingly sharp. Wide open it's softER, but still very sharp. f/4 and up, razor sharp.

Quoting ckw (Reply 12):
I have to say that in my experience trying to find financial short cuts with camera gear has led to short term gratification, but long term disappointment!

But the short term financial short cut would make putting a 5D3 in my hands a possible reality. I would need to make some changes to my gear line-up by getting rid of some of it in order to make that a possibility. I'm the kind of person who NEVER gets rid of anything. I have never sold a lens I purchased...it's time for that to change, but it's not coming easy for me which is why I started this thread. BTW, the 5D3 is far more important to me than the occasional 400mm needs. But there will be times when I want/need to shoot at 400mm. So that's my dilema...

Quoting Garyck (Reply 13):
I've never tried to 70-200 2.8, but have the 70-200 f4.

I also though about the combi with a converter. Tried it, Hated it. I found images soft and camera slow to focus. Ended up with the 100-400mm which was a great addition to the bag. I think you may kick yourself in the long run if you parted with the 100-400.

Thanks Gary. Dang, and I was ready to do this...until I started this thread. Now I'm not so sure! lol



ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
User currently offlineckw From UK - England, joined Aug 2010, 713 posts, RR: 16
Reply 15, posted (2 years 1 week 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 12014 times:

Quoting Silver1SWA (Reply 14):
But the short term financial short cut would make putting a 5D3 in my hands a possible reality.

Well that's certainly something worth sacrificing for - I promise you its worth it   But what I meant by taking shortcuts is thinking you can get the same quality for less (it was a general remark, not directed at anyone in particular).

But here's a thought - why bother with the convertor which I think we all agree will not be good (and be honest, if you KNOW its not up to standard, will you really be happy using it). Instead, for those rare occasions when you need the extra reach, why not rent a lens ... maybe even a big prime (the 5D3 will love it).

Cheers,

Colin



Colin K. Work, Pixstel
User currently onlineJakTrax From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2005, 4936 posts, RR: 7
Reply 16, posted (2 years 1 week 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 12013 times:

Ryan, it sounds to me like you have little need for the 100-400 and are only hanging on to it because you feel you need to (for whatever reason). When I bought my 100-400 I was becoming increasingly limited by 200mm and found myself more and more in situations demanding better reach. Quite what I'd do now without it every winter I don't know but if I suddenly stopped requiring 400mm I would offload it and perhaps buy something else.

Living in southern California has its problems and I can see heat haze and air quality being two of them. Perhaps if your 100-400 was to be used in northern Europe during winter you'd see a difference.

Have you looked at the 70-300L? Cheaper than the 100-400, supposedly a little sharper and more compact. Sounds like 300mm would be more than enough for what you're currently doing.

Karl


User currently offlineJRowson From United Kingdom, joined May 2004, 348 posts, RR: 12
Reply 17, posted (2 years 1 week 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 11959 times:

Quoting Garyck (Reply 13):
I also though about the combi with a converter. Tried it, Hated it. I found images soft and camera slow to focus. Ended up with the 100-400mm which was a great addition to the bag. I think you may kick yourself in the long run if you parted with the 100-400.

My experience is the complete opposite to this. Mind you I'm using the 2.8 IS version of the 70-200 rather than the 1.4x you used to describe your experience, and you don't say which convertor you were using.
Using the Canon 1.4x on my 70-200 has lead to hardly and quality drop at all, it's virtually undetectable in normal upload situations. The AF is slowed by the tiniest amount but again it's virtually undectectable in normal day to day aviation use. The 2x III is a different story but still you can work around it and get very acceptable results. At 400mm using the 2x III I'm getting some pretty sharp results compared to what I remember from my 100-400 at 400mm.
For me the 70-200 and 1.4x has been the greatest addition to my kit bag and loosing the dust pumping 100-400 was the best thing I did. The times where I actually need the 400mm are very fewand you could always borrow or hire something longer for a few days if needed.



James Rowson. Canonite and lover of all things L. JAR Photography.
User currently offlineRotate From Switzerland, joined Feb 2003, 1488 posts, RR: 16
Reply 18, posted (2 years 1 week 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 11953 times:
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Quoting JRowson (Reply 17):
The 2x III is a different story but still you can work around it and get very acceptable results.

Care to show us some examples? I got images which you could hardly call images ... Super super soft in case I got the pic as I missed a couple of shots due to slow AF.
Though it was not the 2x TC III , but the II on a Pro Canon Body.



ABC
User currently offlineckw From UK - England, joined Aug 2010, 713 posts, RR: 16
Reply 19, posted (2 years 1 week 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 11949 times:

Quoting JRowson (Reply 17):
Using the Canon 1.4x on my 70-200 has lead to hardly and quality drop at all, it's virtually undetectable in normal upload situations.


Agreed - but I think we are talking primarily about the 2x convertor here. I use my 1.4 on a 70-200 f4 and 500 f4 all the time - when looking at old shots I sometimes have to check the exif data to see what I was using! The 2x on the other hand is sitting in a drawer gathering dust.

I have to say though I did get some decent shots with it if the conditions were ideal - even some ok shots with the 1.4 and 2x stacked together on a 300 f4. I'll risk a link to an example - apologies if this upsets anyone

http://www.pixstel.com/qantas-boeing-747-400_urlb3100.php

But that was a while back, and I think in general the standard of what is acceptable in terms of detail and sharpness has risen somewhat.

Cheers,

Colin



Colin K. Work, Pixstel
User currently offlineJRowson From United Kingdom, joined May 2004, 348 posts, RR: 12
Reply 20, posted (2 years 1 week 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 11918 times:

Quoting Rotate (Reply 18):
Care to show us some examples? I got images which you could hardly call images ... Super super soft in case I got the pic as I missed a couple of shots due to slow AF.

I'd love to but they are on another site and i'd most likely be banned if i tried linking them here   Might try and stick one on photobucket though.



James Rowson. Canonite and lover of all things L. JAR Photography.
User currently offlineSilver1SWA From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 4738 posts, RR: 26
Reply 21, posted (2 years 1 week 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 11896 times:
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Ok well, since I did rent the converter to test the combo and the 100-400, I'll post an example.

Here are two shots, both taken of the same subject from the same distance.

Here is the shot with the 70-200 f/2.8L IS + 2x TC III combo.


100% crop..


And here is the shot with the 100-400L


100% crop...


There is a difference, but not as much as I had expected given all the negative things I heard about the combo. And by tweaking the sharpness parameters in ACR, I can get the first shot to look as sharp as the second.

Both shots taken at 400mm at f/9. For whatever reason, I selected a different shutter speed. But I think they are a good real-world demonstration.



ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
User currently onlineJakTrax From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2005, 4936 posts, RR: 7
Reply 22, posted (2 years 1 week 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 11891 times:

Not bad at all on the part of the extender combo. With the 100% crops it becomes clearer that the 100-400 has retained more detail but like you say, not as bad as I would have expected, given my experience with extenders. One thing I have noticed is slightly more noise in the second image, but one can't really attribute that to the lenses.

I would imagine that the 'star' of this demonstration is the Extender III, as I really can't see the mk.II performing this well.


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