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100-400 on aps-C Magnification query

Discussion in 'Lens Matters' started by pixelpuffin, May 8, 2020.

  1. pixelpuffin

    pixelpuffin Well-Known Member

    I think I’m about to pull the trigger on a used canon ef 100-400ii. I’ve completely dismissed the earlier version due to softness, limited IS and trombone zoom action.

    Due to lockdown sons soccer has been cancelled until next season

    My garden project is now completed 3yrs after starting!! I’m attracting birds but I’ve fallen for the crows and ravens - absolutely stunning.

    I’ve been watching them from a covered deck area with both binoculars and small spotting scope. 10x and 25x respectively

    I now want to photograph them, get use out of my unused photo gear and practice, practice practice.

    Would I be correct in thinking the 100-400 at max zoom on aps-C with a 1.4x extender will give roughly 30x magnification, due to the fact the standard lens for aps-c is more 30mm than 50mm then factoring both teleconverter and 1.6 crop??

    it’s a huge amount of money and I’ve just started using my 70-300L with the kenko 1.4x pro 300 dgx - they pair together very well. But I want more reach.
  2. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    You’ll get 400/300 more than you have at the moment. You can assess the effect by cropping one of your existing images to 3/4 .

    It is difficult (for me at least) to say what magnification a lens gives. if I’m birding and using 8x binoculars I reckon the view of a bird isn’t that far off what I get through the camera which is APS-H (x1.3 crop) with a 500 mm attached. But it is comparing apples and pears because with bins I’m watching the bird , with the camera I’m concentrating on holding it on target and focussing.
  3. IvorETower

    IvorETower Little Buttercup

    If you are already using a 70-300 with a 1.4x converter, a 400mm lens will not give you that much more "magnification".
    On the assumption that 50mm gives approximately the view of the human eye, 400mm is only 8x, with a 1.4x converter 560mm and if you think the APS-C sensor effectively gives a further 1.5 magnification, 840mm if my maths is correct, or just under 17x magnification.

    I suspect that it may be time to look at a 150 - 600mm lens from Sigma or Tamron...
    This is the best lens angle-of-view simulator I can find with a quick google:
  4. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    That’s the calculation I started to make. The reference focal length to start with could equally be 40 mm. However, in practice it never seems “enough”. Getting closer is the trick. I’m no good at it!

    A sigma or tamron 600 mm zoom might give better AF performance and quality over using a converter with a shorter lens. It won’t much affect the range as I doubt they themselves work well with a TC, the focal length at full stretch is nearly F8.
  5. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    There is a NSPB reserve a few miles from where I live, and when I've been there trying to get some shots with my ancient Tokina 80-400 (first generation autofocus from the 1990s) that I use with a Pentax APS-C DSLR, I always meet the really serious (and wealthier) photographers who use 500 mm F 4.5 or 600 mm F 4 lenses. If you really want 'more reach', moving from a 300 mm plus 1.4 extender to a 400 mm with the same extender may be a disappointment (and hence an expensive mistake) because the difference will be less than you expect.

    You haven't said what you will be paying for a used Canon 100-400 image stabilised, but I found this example at £1,079

    The same retailer has a used older model 500 F4.5 image stabilised at £2,989

    And a used older model 600 F4 image stabilised at £3,299, which is probably what you will need for that 'extra reach'

    Would you consider saving for longer to get a used 500 mm or 600 mm, or looking at a used Sigma or Tamron zoom that reaches 600 mm? When spending this kind of money, mistakes can be very expensive. Also, don't forget how large and heavy the camera body and lens combination will be - look carefully at size and weight data.

    The 'magnification' approach can be confusing - try thinking in terms of angle of view and distance from the subject, and its size.
    Other forum members have recommended this website (below), and I found the page that covers this subject. The calculator for focal length to fill the frame with a subject will also show why 400 mm plus 1.4 extender may not be enough for you. I tried 10 metres distance for a subject 0.25 metres 'wide' and using a DSLR with a 1.6 'crop factor', and the calculation suggested a focal length of 825 mm.

  6. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    A 500 F4 is about the limit for handholding. The latest 600 F4, although lighter than its predecessors, is still probably a bit heavy, excluding that some people are very strong*.

    * I needed a new car battery and watched in amazement as the guy held it out, one-handed at shoulder height, full arm-stretch, while he moved the cables out of the way and arranged the mounting plate with his other hand. The battery fits in the middle and back of the engine compartment, tucks in under the valence holding the wipers. It’s a big one too.
  7. ChrisNewman

    ChrisNewman Well-Known Member

    I’m afraid you’re double-counting (or rather double-multiplying). It’s the 1.6 crop that makes 30mm a standard lens for aps-c.

    As others have said, with the same camera and TC, switching from a maximum 300mm to 400mm will give you 3:4 more, magnification of 1⅓ beyond what you can get at present.

    Magnification isn’t a very helpful concept for photography. I have a Sigma 150-500mm, and birds almost always look too small through it. I started with an APS-C, 12 MPx Nikon D90. I then got a D800, full frame but 36 MPx. So although subjects fill less of the frame of the D800 than the D90, cropping the D800 shots would give more detail if I got an excellent lens like Nikon’s recent 500mm f/5.6, but I couldn’t justify the cost. The Sigma is rather soft at 500mm, so I get much the same detail from the D800 or the D90 (but it’s easier to find subjects in the D800’s wider field of view). I’ve just bought the new Nikkor 70-300 mm, and being sharper, I think it picks up nearly as much detail as the Sigma, at a fraction of the weight. But I think the Sigma and Tamron 150-600mm lenses that have replaced my 150-500 are better at maximum telephoto (although I doubt whether a TC would give much extra detail if your body has a decent pixel count). Those are also lenses I’d seriously consider as a replacement for my 150-500mm if I used it enough to justify a replacement.

  8. pixelpuffin

    pixelpuffin Well-Known Member

    Thanks for all the replies
    @ ChrisNewman “I’m afraid you’re double-counting (or rather double-multiplying). It’s the 1.6 crop that makes 30mm a standard lens for aps-c.”

    Yes, I realised that later - wishful thinking on my part maybe.

    I’ve never done BIF before, really difficult. As yet I haven’t managed to get a single sharp image. Need more practice clearly.
    I tried the 70-300L with kenko 1.4x whilst AF seems fine, the weight isn’t. I was sat on a deck chair on my covered deck area with the church bang infront of me (live next door to it). I’m specifically trying to get Crows/Ravens in flight as they swoop down off the church weather vane into my garden - but they are so smart they keep me waiting, yet they won’t allow any other birds to feast as they swoop down to scare them away. Never realised just how stunningly beautiful crows are.

    The 70-300L was way too uncomfortable so I tried my canon 200/2.8 prime with the same converter not much success and still heavy. This morning I decided to use my last resort my humble cheap ef-s 55-250 IS STM... what an eye opener. Light (ridiculously so) super fast plus silent and with IS!!

    The crows wouldn’t oblige but the little black bird who visits every year decided to pose. Yes images are smaller than I like but I just tried the in camera crop tool and.....well I’m pleasantly surprised.

    Besides the cost (looking at £1250 minimum) for a used 100-400ii my other main concern is the weight. The 70-300L wasn’t comfortable at all and the 100-400ii weighs even more!!

    I think I need to have a serious discussion with myself.
  9. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    Birds in flight are difficult. The Canon 400 F5.6 L is often recommended. it is reasonably light, excellent wide open and fast focussing. It doesn’t have IS. People also use the 300 F2.8 with a converter but I’ve no experience using one.
  10. pixelpuffin

    pixelpuffin Well-Known Member

    what a coincidence, those are the two lenses I was contemplating this morning for exactly the same reasons you gave. I had my heart set on the 100-400ii but it’s main use would be sons soccer - however the 100mm which equates to 160mm field of view on aps-c would be way too narrow. Some of my favourite pictures are those taken of pitchside Action at 70mm on my 70-300L...and even then I often curse 70mm for being too tight.

    If I had buckets of cash I’d buy the 100/400ii just for the hell of it - it sounds an amazing lens.

    however back to reality... the 400mm is without IS
    The 300/2.8 IS supposedly takes the 1.4 & 2x converters extremely well which would give 600/5.6 IS

    For my needs that sounds better plus being 300/2.8 would be perfect for floodlit soccer during winter.

    However even used that’s a huge amount of money for something that will see very little use. My go to set up is the 40mm pancake and 70-300L - those two have seen me through the past 3yrs and both still look new.
  11. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    The 100-400 ii is a very good lens but very heavy. I use it with a monopod if I'm shooting events. The 300 F2.8 is a niche lens. One came up s/h at a reasonable price (for one of those) in my local shop but I stayed away until it was sold lest the temptation prove too much.

    I was trying to find BIF taken with the 400 F5.6 and 1Div (crop factor 1.3)

    Some mallard - they go pretty quick - this is a light crop
    [​IMG]BV9R0131.jpg by Pete, on Flickr

    and some Redshank - they go fast too. This is quite a hard crop
    [​IMG]BV9R3022.jpg by Pete, on Flickr
  12. Bazarchie

    Bazarchie Well-Known Member

    Which camera are you using for BIF and which settings?
  13. pixelpuffin

    pixelpuffin Well-Known Member

    I’m using the 80d simply because I don’t care for it. The incredibly annoying click on the handgrip every time it’s picked up has left me not caring for it in the slightest ( for a supposedly £1000 camera the build quality totally sucks - Shame on you canon - rant over)

    back to topic.....

    I tried similar settings to those I shoot football
    Usually F5.6 but tried f8 for more DOF
    I’ve also tweaked the expo comp depending on weather.
    Also selected ALL focus points active - that’s a first for me. I usually only use centre spot but for BIF it was a none starter

    Just missed out on 400/5.6 L
    It went for more than I was prepared to spend.

    I still keep hankering back to the 100-400ii.

    It’s a shame canon can’t release a ef-s version with IS STM. The step up from 55-250mm is a huge financial jump. Everything almost trebles in price!!

    Also I try to tell myself how did people obtain such pictures before the advent of AF?? I have a old book on Praktica which has a few bird in flight photos, granted they are grainy but still very sharp and a completely different league as to my attempts - respect, especially given they probably only got 36 chances!!
    Last edited: May 10, 2020
  14. Bazarchie

    Bazarchie Well-Known Member

    As others have said BIF are difficult, even static birds are tricky. I mainly use my 7Dii as the crop factor allows extra reach. I have a Sigma 150-600 C, a Canon 300L IS f4 and a Canon 400L f5.6, the latter is a recent acquisition and has had limited use.

    I find it difficult to spot a bird, lift the camera to my eye and then see it through the viewfinder. Technique is important as is understanding the likely flight path.

    The Sigma gets the most use, never with a converter. It needs decent light and after being returned to Sigma, the AF is good but not as fast as the top lenses. The 300L is an old lens but it is a fine lens and I do use it with a 1.4 converter. The 400L is lighter and probably has quicker AF, but I am still testing. It is also an old lens but has a good reputation.

    The 300L IS f2.8 is lot more expensive and is quite heavy.

    I use AF point expansion, zone AF and large zone AF. Also BBF.

    Bird photography is an expensive branch of photography.
  15. pixelpuffin

    pixelpuffin Well-Known Member

    Cheers Bazarchie
    I read your reply as I sit outside hiding behind deck chairs!! My 80d and 70-300L at the ready!!
    The raven/crow are very smart. As soon as I go inside they come to eat, yet I’m sat hiding in big coat, hood up behind chairs I’ve stacked under a tree!! Yet they still know I’m here

    it’s a battle of wits I tell ya!!
  16. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    Try two of you going into hiding then one leaving.
  17. pixelpuffin

    pixelpuffin Well-Known Member

    Well I just truly screwed up
    Came in because I was freezing and removed card to view on laptop

    Partner rushed in “”quick quick, it’s got something” quickly extracted card shoved it in camera and rushed to see
    Sure enough, the raven was on a rooftop chomping through a pigeon!!

    it was almost done I just hit the shutter without checking any settings!!

    40 blurry pics later (camera on 7FPS) it flew off

    Typical, spent 3 days actually geared up and waiting, then when something presented itself I wasn’t ready!!

    I’ll upload the pics I have
  18. pixelpuffin

    pixelpuffin Well-Known Member

    5D4F5B0B-2719-4BDE-AD02-289B13C5B584.png A26A9523-6ECC-4F41-A907-6DFE5AB9CDC2.png 6D7B09D5-1F33-4ADD-AFCA-B54A5C54C74C.png Couple of pics
    First attempt...
  19. ChrisNewman

    ChrisNewman Well-Known Member

    I only make occasional, and usually disappointing, attempts at bird photography, and this is rather repeating what I wrote earlier, but with a powerful telephoto (or even binoculars) I also find a bird I’ve spotted with the naked eye is difficult to find in the viewfinder. However, if you’re going to crop an image anyway, it’s pixel density, not sensor size, that limits the detail you can capture through a good lens. I find the full-frame view through my D800 makes it easier to find birds than my APC-S D90. (In the current Canon line-up, I think the latest APS-C bodies have a much higher pixel density than any of their full-frame models, but Nikon and Sony offer FF bodies with high pixel densities.)

  20. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    It is a trade-off between field of view and focussing but the trick is to be able to put the centre focus point exactly on what you see. Trying to locate the subject in the viewfinder is a dead loss for BIF or any fast action. I think that must be where the analogy with “shooting” must come from. You see it, you hit it, the aiming process becomes automatic, a reflex.

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