70-200mm Just Isn’t Enough

My Canon 70-200mm f/4 L USM IS lens sounded like the cats meow. The bees knees. The must-have lens for my beginning kit. Oh, and don’t get me wrong. It’s a very fine lens. Solidly built. Buttery smooth operation. Plenty of light gathering ability. You know….a great lens.

Today I ventured back to the park and tried taking more pictures of the very lovely cardinals. It was a beautifully bright, sunny and clear morning; just perfect. I donned my medium-height winter boots (the ground is completely soaked from all the melting snow), grabbed my lovely Canon 40D and mounted the extraordinary 70-200mm lens.

Sure. It takes great pictures. But there is a flaw. The flaw isn’t with the lens, per se, but with me and my decision making process. From imperfect knowledge one can only make an imperfect decision. And while I wouldn’t EVER say that the purchase of my exceptionally wonderful 70-200mm was a mistake, I have discovered an issue.

I need more zoom for wildlife photography.

I had thought that the 70-200mm would have been very capable, especially considering the 1.6-multiplication factor due to the camera’s less than full-size image sensor. Yet I consistently found that I was unable to bring the birds as close as I would like. If I moved closer to them they had this tendency to disappear and then reappear further away. Clever little things, aren’t they? I know that I can crop and zoom the images once I get home and I tried this earlier this evening, but the results were mixed. In some instances a hint of pixelation would occur once I had zoomed to a point where I was satisfied with the image.

So if anyone wants to help me out of this situation and purchase for me something like the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L USM IS it will be appreciated. I’ll even mention your name in this blog space!

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16 thoughts on “70-200mm Just Isn’t Enough

  1. Ah yes, the inconsiderate birds… and squirrels and all sorts of other wildlife. I’ve run into the same problem myself, on more than one occasion.
    And, far as I understand, just cropping and zooming is basically equivalent to the digital zoom facility on point & shoots… in other words, a definite no-no.

    So if you stumble across a donor of the 100-400mm lens be sure to put in a word for me as well please.

    On a more serious note, had you considered a teleconverter as an interim measure? (Not sure it would do the job but from what I’ve read of them it seems possible… if I’m understanding correctly what I read!)

  2. Yes. Very inconsiderate wildlife. And spot on for relating crop/zoom with digital zoom. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but you’re exactly right.

    Funny you mention it…..this weekend is mine and my wife’s 12 anniversary. She called my camera shop and spoke with the sales person who has been so very helpful these past few months. She told him that I had been making noise about the need for a “….100 to 400 something…”

    He asked if she were sitting down and then explained how my ‘need’ came with a USD 1,500 price tag. My poor wife didn’t know that lenses could be so expensive (if you really call that expensive when compared to some others).

  3. Re the crop/zoom issue… reason I’m so against it is as a residual effect of my days in the printing/graphics trade where the golden rule was that “camera-ready artwork” had either to be s/s (“size for size” i.e., 100%) or larger so that one reduced down from the original (and the preference was always for larger, especially if images [as opposed to text] were involved). Enlarging anything at all was undesirable simply because any defects are enlarged as well, whereas reducing tends to have the effect of sharpening things up (cleaner lines etc). Mentally translating “defects” into “pixels” was dead easy for me so unless circumstances demand otherwise (which they rarely do) I keep cropping to an absolute minimum.

    I s’pose in a sense this goes back to the debate about whether one endeavours to get the shot “right” in-camera or relies upon post-processing to remedy deficiencies in framing etc.
    My preference, obviously, is for the former, so I suppose in a sense this makes me a sort of “purist”, even though I’m a relative newcomer to the whole photography caper.

  4. See? I told you all that graphics stuff would be a big benefit to you. You have the advantage of knowledge that will definitely help you with the processing end of the photographic process.

    Regarding getting pictures right to begin with….maybe we’re less purists and simply anal retentive?

    So…..you wanna go in together and buy that 1200mm lens? I have an anniversary coming up tomorrow and the wife doesn’t have anything for me……

  5. Hi forkboy,
    Even a 400mm may not be long enough unless big birds like geese, try an 800 for smaller birds, or learn to stalk, quietly and slowly

    ! am not up on Canon lenses but they must do a 70-200 f2.8 or near to it!The 200 f2.8 is the bit you need for this option, adding a 2x converter will give you a 400mm f5.6 times that by 1.5 for the cropprd sensor and you have err…600mm at f5.6 for very little cost ish.

    But this kit is very nice, collapasble long lens that has uses for shorter stuff as well. The 200mm is often used by wildlife togs in very heavy woods where there is plenty of cover, but not much light

    I have no idea on how much canons lenses are either, but should be the cheapest option
    all the best on your aniversary (we are at 24 yrs this year, soon to be released :))

  6. Well yes and no fotdmike, the problem with teleconverters is they rob light from the lens which means forkboy’s f4 will now be f8 which is probably too slow for hand held use and would mean investing in a lightwieght ti tripod. However if he had the f2.8, with a 2x converter (doubler’s as we used to call them) he would be shooting at f5.6

  7. I did look at the 70-200mm f/2.8L USM IS from Canon, but it came with a 50% premium over the f/4.0. In addition, every review I read said the same thing: the f/4.0 was a better lens in every manner and was the better choice unless you had to have the f/2.8’s light gathering abilities.

    My problem was that I wasn’t thinking at all about wildlife photography when I put together my wish list for my beginner’s kit. And being woefully unemployed the 50% savings was too good to pass up.

    There is always next year though where I hope to purchase something more interesting. And I think you’re right LifeSpy: 800mm would be a better choice, but it will likely come down to a question of dollars and cents (pounds and pence for you lot).

  8. Well forkboy, all I can sugest is crawl, either to the birds in a way they don’t notice you or to the misuss! lol

    Buying an 800mm is quite a serious challange in the pocket, plus you need a tripod to use it, so get closer or photograph bigger birds, better yet get the birds to come to you by putting food out or other things they need (water, bedding) but be responsable and don’t let them become dependant on you

  9. Thanks Ichxian. If you take a look at some more recent postings on my WP site you’ll see that you and I are now kindred spirits in ownership of the awesome 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Canon lens!

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