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Thread: Which 400mm lens?

  1. #1
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    Which 400mm lens?

    I have been unhappy with the contrast and resolution of my Canon 400mm f5.6 and am looking for some alternatives.

    Whenever I use this lens, I support the camera on the R55 ballhead and the lens on a bracket attached to the leg of my Gitzo, so I always have two points of support.

    The MTF curves for the Canon 400mm f4 DO are not any better than the f5.6.

    I am considering the Leica R 4/400mm Apo-Telyt-R, but again, the MTF scores don't look any better than the Canon that I have.

    I do landscape photography and use my 400mm to produce 5-6 stitch photos that are printed 5 feet or more in length.

    Has anyone tested lenses in this category, or know of any comparisons done by others?

    Appreciate any help in this matter.

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    Re: Which 400mm lens?

    At the risk of sounding a bit over the op, have you tried (renting?) the Canon 400mm f2.8L IS ? This is not a small nor easy lens to drag around, but it may be one of the best optics you can use. The colors and bokeh from it are simply outstanding.

    You do not mention what body (sensor size) you are doing your stitched panos with. Assuming a full frame, like the 1DsMkII or III or the 5D (I or II), as any of the crop sensors will result in some significant magnification at this focal length. Just curious. You would have to be a fair distance away for most shooting. Further, the 400 f2.8 really excels at f2.8-f4 (not sure I have ever shot it stopped down more that that). But if you need/want added DOF, you need longer working distances. Just a thought ;-)

    LJ

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    Re: Which 400mm lens?

    Quote Originally Posted by LJL View Post
    At the risk of sounding a bit over the op, have you tried (renting?) the Canon 400mm f2.8L IS ? This is not a small nor easy lens to drag around, but it may be one of the best optics you can use. The colors and bokeh from it are simply outstanding.

    You do not mention what body (sensor size) you are doing your stitched panos with. Assuming a full frame, like the 1DsMkII or III or the 5D (I or II), as any of the crop sensors will result in some significant magnification at this focal length. Just curious. You would have to be a fair distance away for most shooting. Further, the 400 f2.8 really excels at f2.8-f4 (not sure I have ever shot it stopped down more that that). But if you need/want added DOF, you need longer working distances. Just a thought ;-)

    LJ
    The 2.8 is too heavy.

    I use the Canon 5D2.

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    Re: Which 400mm lens?

    I'm surprised that the 400mm f/5.6 doesn't hold up well when shot at f/8 or f/11 for stitched landscape panoramas. Looking at comparison charts at the-digital-picture.com the 400mm f/5.6 is every bit as sharp as the 400 f/2.8 when shot at f/8 or f/11. I actually think the 400 f/5.6 has better corners than the f/2.8. I'm not sure you're going to get significantly better results from anything else when shooting stopped down.

    Perhaps something is out of calibration with the lens? Maybe a trip to Canon for a clean/check/calibrate might be the first option, and the replacement lens only if that doesn't help.

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    Re: Which 400mm lens?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sheldon N View Post
    I'm surprised that the 400mm f/5.6 doesn't hold up well when shot at f/8 or f/11 for stitched landscape panoramas. Looking at comparison charts at the-digital-picture.com the 400mm f/5.6 is every bit as sharp as the 400 f/2.8 when shot at f/8 or f/11. I actually think the 400 f/5.6 has better corners than the f/2.8. I'm not sure you're going to get significantly better results from anything else when shooting stopped down.

    Perhaps something is out of calibration with the lens? Maybe a trip to Canon for a clean/check/calibrate might be the first option, and the replacement lens only if that doesn't help.
    Thank you for referring me to the-digital-picture.com I found their lens charts very useful.

    It seems from their site that the best apertures for the Canon 400mm f5.6 are between 5.6 and 8 and that contrast and resolution starts to suffer at f11.

    I compared their results with the 400 f5.6 and the Canon 200mm f2.8, 180mm macro, and 135mm f2--all of which I use. Their results confirmed that the 400mm has less contrast than these others lenses, which is one of my complaints with this lens.

    The Canon 400mm f4 actually seems worse than the 5.6, which is what Canon's MTF scores would indicate.

    As I mentioned before, the 2.8 is too heavy and I do not need that wide of an aperture.

    I hope someone can refer me to a site that has tested other brands of 400mm lenses in comparison to the one that I have.

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    Re: Which 400mm lens?

    I've always shot my 400/5.6L with great results.

    "The market wants a Leica to be a Leica: the inheritor of tradition, the subject of lore, and indisputably a mark of status to own."
    Mike Johnston


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    Re: Which 400mm lens?

    Quote Originally Posted by johnastovall View Post
    I've always shot my 400/5.6L with great results.
    I'm glad to hear you are happy with your lens.

    My OP was asking for anyone who knows of tests comparing this lens to other 400mm teles.

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    Re: Which 400mm lens?

    Link to a web page that test a lot of long lens.

    http://www.juzaphoto.com/eng/articles.htm

    The 400/5.6L at f8 and 9.5 is about as good as the more expensive
    2.8 lens the same f-stop. Have shot with both lens
    You are correct the 5d2 has problems with diffraction at about f11
    The 300/2.8 is extremely nice with better contrast if you give up 100mm, and money.
    All long telephoto lens, shooting at a distance do not have the contrast/snap that
    shorter lens can produce.
    Other issues, vibration, air quality, dust, heat waves, etc
    add to lower resolution and contrast in real life photography.
    It is hard to compare a 400mm lens and a 135L

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    Re: Which 400mm lens?

    I am considering the Leica R 4/400mm Apo-Telyt-R, but again, the MTF scores don't look any better than the Canon that I have.

    I assume you are speaking of the Leica R 280/2.8 head with the 1.4X module=leica r 400/4. (not the extender but the module system configured for a 400/4). I have and use this lens on a DMR..it is by far ...I mean not close the best telephoto I ve ever seen. For comparison consider the R 100APO generally accepted as one of the elite lenses. The 400/4 is right there with it . I can assure you the Canon you have is at least two notches below the apo telyt . With that said its a lot of $$$ for a manual focus solution.

    A lot depends on what you will be shooting and your physical capabilities. IQ look at the canon 400/2.8 but heavy beyond useful for most people.

    Only look at the Leica glass if you are happy with manual focus and stopped down viewing.

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    Re: Which 400mm lens?

    I can not contribute anything about picture quality, however, theres the Contax N 400 F4 also. Have seen them on ebay occasionally, seems to be nothing there now...

    Heres one EF converted, http://en.conurus.com/converted.php
    Some info/photos, 2 pages http://support.conurus.com/viewtopic.php?t=171

    Announcement of lens: http://americas.kyocera.com/news/new...il.cfm?key=816

    Info: http://www.contaxcameras.co.uk/digit...otessar400.asp
    A PDF with MTF here, which I have admit, can not read..... lol...
    http://www.contaxcameras.co.uk/asset...e_09-09-02.pdf

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    Re: Which 400mm lens?

    I've owned the 400/5.6, 400/4 DO and a 400/2.8. I was not impressed with the 400/5.6 either -- not that it was bad, just not overly impressive. The DO is a bit more L like, sharp but not quite as high contrast and still not full L on look. Probably not what you want to hear, but the 400/2.8 was maybe the best long Canon tele I ever used. My impression is it was sharper -- or at least had more contrast -- than my 300/2.8, 500/4 or 600/4, which is saying something. That particular lens also worked extremely well with either converter, and was surprisingly good with BOTH converters!
    Jack
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  12. #12
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    Re: Which 400mm lens?

    If the 400 2.8 is too heavy I would go for a 300 2.8 with an extender. I would rent one and a 1.4 extender and make sure but for me it has worked well. I also own a 400 2.8 and think it is very close as too which is sharper. I am talking about the is 300 2.8 L IS and not the first model.

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