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Canon Telephoto Lens Options

Mon Dec 09, 2013 9:25 pm

So, my current telephoto lens for my T1i is a Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm lens. Fun fact #1 - It was $20. Fun fact #2 - It's a Pentax-K mount, and I currently use an adapter. Fun fact #3 - It does an awful job with reflective/brightly lit surfaces. When a surface is lit from behind, even with fairly diffused lighting, there is horrendous purple fringing, as show in the photo below. Sorry about how out-of-focus it is, my hands weren't all that steady and the focus screen on my T1i is having some issues.

(click for link)

It also lacks autofocus, which isn't a big deal, except that I'd like to use it for sports, where I can't always focus fast enough.
I've done a bit of reading, and decided that I might spring for the Canon 70-200mm f/4L lens.
I've decided this based on reading about how poor the EF 75-300mm is, and by wanting to go with an EF mount lens, as I'll probably try to go FF with my next camera purchase, though that likely won't be for a while. According to Amazon, the 70-200 f4/L is only ~$60 more than the 70-300 f/4-5.6 IS USM, which is worth it to me for the difference in image quality.
Unfortunately, I'm not really in the know about 3rd-party lenses (Sigma, Tamron, et. al.), and since this is a pretty big decision, I'd like to get a bit more input first.
If others think my choice is appropriate, how much do you think I'd regret not paying for the IS version. Obviously I was a bit shaky on the above shot, though I really should have grabbed my monopod, but to save $600, I think I could manage to carry my monopod or tripod with me more often.
I'll try and test the best options before I buy, but I'd like to narrow the field a bit first.

I'll be able to report how this lens handles on a film camera soon; just need to finish up my first roll of film there and get it developed.

EDIT - As noted by JAE, I got my Canon lenses confused. I've fixed that in my post but wanted to give some context for his response, as it was quite handy.
Last edited by lonleyppl on Mon Dec 09, 2013 11:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Canon Telephoto Lens Options

Mon Dec 09, 2013 9:37 pm

You're mixing up your 300mm Canon telephoto zoom lenses.

EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III - crappy
EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III USM - just as crappy
You'd be better off with the EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM which resolves much more detail at 250mm than those junkers can at 300mm.
EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM - not bad, especially on a crop body, which uses the "sweet spot" in the middle of the lens. I sold mine when I got the 100-400L.
EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS USM - Expensive and compact, but not as good as you'd hope for the price
EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM - Very good, but very expensive, too.

I suggest reading the reviews here: ... views.aspx

The EF 70-200mm f/4L USM is a frequently-recommended lens. You can even pair it with an Extender EF 1.4X III for a bit more reach.
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Re: Canon Telephoto Lens Options

Tue Dec 10, 2013 12:07 am

JAE has the list- here's my take:

I own the 70-300/4-5.6 IS USM, non-L; it disappoints beyond ~200mm, but it can be had for closer to $350 refurbished if you watch the sales (what I paid). It's light, which is nice, but it's also old and uses pseudo-USM where the front element rotates when focusing, which is bad for using circular polarizers outside (which you should!).

That's where the 55-250/4-5.6 IS STM comes in. It's also light, and the front element doesn't rotate with focusing. Negatives are primarily that it's EF-S, so crop body only when full-frame cameras are decreasing in price, STM isn't lightening fast like USM for focusing on fast moving subjects though it's just as accurate, and that it has a plastic mount.

The T1i was my first camera, and was passed on to a sibling along with a 55-250/4-5.6 IS II, the last generation of said lens series. That lens was fairly effective next to my 70-300, so I'd recommend the newer STM version if you're planning on staying with the T1i or only upgrading to cropped sensor cameras like a newer Rebel or 70D.

Another option between the 55-250 and the 70-200/4L is Tamron's 70-300/4-5.6 VC. Less expensive than the Canon 70-300 when at retail prices, much newer stabilization, but you have to be aware of copy variation- good copies are supposed to be as nearly as sharp as Canon's 70-300L JAE mentioned above, but that's not what most review houses, including the above-mentioned TDP, seemed to have gotten their hands on.

Now, why not the 70-200/4L? Well, for one, no 'IS'. That's fine if you're shooting sports where AF speed and accuracy count and shutter speeds are high enough to stop action (assuming good technique), but not so much in lower light when shutter speeds get lower to keep ISO low enough to avoid excessively noisy shots. Essentially, it's a daylight/poor sports photographer's/studio shooter's lens, which makes it limiting as an all-around telephoto. It's definitely not a bad choice, but it's also a much better choice for full-frame sensor users that can afford to push their ISO speeds higher. As a T1i shooter, high ISO speeds (>1600) are the bane of photography :).
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Re: Canon Telephoto Lens Options

Tue Dec 10, 2013 12:42 am

While I don't shoot Canon, I did own a Tamron 70-300 USD. It was a great lens I sold to fund a 70-400 purchase. It was prerty sharp as long as it was stable enough. I didn't ave the VC because Sony owns part of Tamron and they think IBIS is good enough on long lenses (it isn't). However, the USD was top notch. I wish it had a focus limiter, but with a $100 rebate (which I recievved in a week), it was all of $349 and it has a 6 year warranty. Its a great bang for the buck telezoom. It performs far above its price point.
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Re: Canon Telephoto Lens Options

Tue Dec 10, 2013 7:25 am

I have the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM paired with a 7D body. I think you should seriously consider this lens. It's a gem. When I got it, I had the choice of getting the 70-200 f/4L. I used both. There's no denying that the 70-200 f/4L feels like gold in my hands and its image quality is superb, but for roughly the same amount of light, it falls significantly short on zoom reach while being only a little bit clearer.

In the seven or so years I've used the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM I've gotten pictures that are vivid and sharp. There are shots that I simply could not have gotten without the extra 100mm of zoom, and the resulting beautiful pictures make me proud of the 70-300, not long for the 70-200. L glass is definitely clearer, but the 70-300 is no slouch.

In my mind, the question is whether you want better image quality (then go with the 70-200) or better zoom reach (go with the 70-300).
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