Which is the Best Under-$1500 Canon Intermediate Telephoto Lens for Me? « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Which is the Best Under-$1500 Canon Intermediate Telephoto Lens for Me?

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This Fish Crow was photographed at Merritt Island , Florida with the hand held Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Autofocus lens with the EOS-1D Mark II. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops: 1/1250 sec. at f/8. For years the 400/5.6, my beloved toy lens, was my very favorite flight and action lens.

What is the Best Under-$1500 Canon Intermediate Telephoto Lens for Me?

Rarely a week goes by when I do not get asked, “Which is the best under-$1500 Canon intermediate telephoto lens for me? In each instance, the person asking the question is looking for an everyday workhorse lens for bird photography. Last week I was asked the same question several times; this prompted me to write this post. Many of the thoughts that I will share with you here were published in The Art of Bird Photography II (ABP II: 916 pages on CD only) nearly five years ago. The more things change the more they stay the same. 🙂

For years, mostly in the days of film, the 400mm f/5.6L IS lens was my very favorite flight lens. I carried it on my shoulder whenever I was out in the field photographing birds. Then along came the Canon Telephoto EF 300mm f/4.0L IS Image Stabilizer USM Autofocus Lens, a stop faster with Image Stabilization. I bought and used one of those. That was followed soon after by the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Autofocus Lens. More reach than the 300 f/4 IS and much more versatile then either that or the 400 f/5.6. So I bought one of them. Actually several. I treat my equipment harshly and the 100-400 is not the world’s most ruggedly built lens.

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This Black Tern was photographed in Kamloops, BC, Canada with the hand held Canon Telephoto EF 300mm f/4.0L IS Image Stabilizer USM Autofocus Lens with the EOS-1D Mark II. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/1000 sec. at f/4. We got lucky just before sunset when the wind switched to the west. The 300 f/4 IS is an excellent flight lens.

The question at hand however, is not which of these three lens might be best as an auxiliary lens for me then or now (the answer to that is none of the above), but which of the three would make a good choice for beginning bird photographers looking to purchase as their first intermediate telephoto lens to use with their 40D, 50D, or 7D. If you will be working on a tripod nearly all of the time, will be buying a 1.4X teleconverter, and have good vision and are adept at focusing manually, then the older 400mm f/5.6L (non-IS) would be my recommendation. Why? It will give you the greatest reach: 400 X 1.6 for the crop factor X 1.4 for the TC = 896 mm effective focal length with 17.9X magnification. But most folks are not willing to purchase a good tripod like the Gitzo 3530 LS or the right head for the job, the Mongoose M3.6. And even fewer are willing to carry a tripod in the field. For those folks I would quickly rule out the 400mm f/5.6.

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This mayfly was photographed near my home at Indian Lake Estates, FL with the tripod-mounted Canon Telephoto EF 300mm f/4.0L IS Image Stabilizer USM Autofocus Lens with the EOS-1Ds Mark II. ISO 400. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/160 sec. at f/8. With it’s excellent close focus, the 300 f/4 IS can be used to photograph a variety of small subjects.

The next most obvious choice is the extremely popular 100-400 IS L zoom lens. It offers 400mm at the long end but will not autofocus with the 1.4X TC when used with a pro-sumer body like those mentioned above. As you can see by the two Chinstrap Penguin images, this lenses is incredibly versatile. If you like birds but also like to photograph a variety of natural history subjects then this may the best choice for you. Over the years I made a zillion quality images with this lens and sold a good many of them. It is a great blur lens at places like Bosque Del Apache. And it is the prime lens for several excellent photographers who hand hold exclusively: BPN crack Avian moderator Dan Cadieux and BPN member Aidan Briggs. Whenever I hear folks whining about how good they could be if only they could afford a long lens I send them to see the images created by Dan and Aidan with “only a 100-400.”

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This Chinstrap Penguin was photographed from a Zodiac at Coronation Island in the South Orkneys with the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Autofocus lens (hand held at 400mm) with the EOS-1Ds Mark II. ISO 400. Evaluative metering + 1 stop: 1/1600 sec. at f/11. The experience of photographing these birds was one of the best half hours of my life.

If you insist on hand holding and want a lens mainly for birds then the Canon Telephoto EF 300mm f/4.0L IS Image Stabilizer USM Autofocus Lens is the clear choice for you. You will have autofocus with the 1.4X TC and IS all the time. One of the sweet features of this lens is its extremely close focus. It is great for frogs and turtles and dragonflies and butterflies and large bugs and flowers. And it is a great flight lens as well.

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These Chinstrap Penguin were photographed from a Zodiac at Coronation Island in the South Orkneys with the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Autofocus lens (hand held at 180mm) with the EOS-1Ds Mark II. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 2/3 stops: 1/1600 sec. at f/8. I created this image as an afterthought as we motored away from the iceberg….

Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS Lens

For complete info on this lightweight, versatile lens, see “I Can’t Believe That I Forgot This One.”

The fact is that all of the lenses above are capable of making great images in the right hands. At this point in my life, I would not consider a lens without IS so my old toy lens is on the shelf (though it is likely that I could still use it effectively. 🙂 Unless you wish to use a tripod all the time (except when doing flight photography), your choice is between the 100-400 IS and the 300 f/4 IS. It is a tough choice. Good luck making it 🙂

Shopper’s Guide

Below is a list of the gear discussed above. Thanks a stack to all who have used the Shopper’s Guide links to purchase their gear as a thank you for all the free information that we bring you on the Blog and in the Bulletins. Before you purchase anything be sure to check out the advice in our Shopper’s Guide.

Canon 400mm f/5.6L. My beloved toy lens is still a great flight lens. Just not for me as I now rely on Image Stabilized lenses.
Canon 100-400mm IS L zoom lens. I used this lens for years with great success.
Canon 300mm f/4L IS lens. A great lens for flight, hand held bird photography, and large macro subjects.
Canon EF 1.4X III TC. This new TC is designed to work best with the new Series II super-telephoto lenses.
Canon EOS-7D. I loved my 7D but sold it so that all of my bodies would be the same. Less strain on the brain that way.

And from the BAA On-line Store:

Gitzo 3530 LS Tripod. This one will last you a lifetime.
Mongoose M3.6 Tripod Head. Right now this is the best tripod head around for use with all intermediate telephoto lenses.
Double Bubble Leve.l You will find one in my camera’s hot shoe whenever I am on a tripod and not using flash.
Delkin 32gb e-Film Pro Compact Flash Card. Fast and dependable

54 comments to Which is the Best Under-$1500 Canon Intermediate Telephoto Lens for Me?

  • avatar Nancy

    Was wondering what you think of the new 70-400G II from sony and the new 80-400 vr II? Seems like the image quality fom these lenses are close to bigger tele prime quality as far as image fidelity. Obviously a lot depends on the photog. However having used a nice 500mm f4 from canon there has always been an edge in image quality with these lenses , mostly noticeable in contrast that they can produce. Have yet to see an intermediate lens with the same quality.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Know nothing about the Sony… Have heard great things about the new 80-400 VR. Images from my 200-400mm w/Internal TC are as good as anything from my prime super-telephotos…..

  • You said Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM was your favorite bird photography lens. Well it still is my most favorite birding lens both for flight shots and still shots at high shutter speeds nullifying the need for IS. The 300 f/4L is 100mm shorter and I’m not a supporter of extenders on any lens. Many birders will be watching the new EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM due this year end. In case it’s significantly lighter than the existing one; certainly it’s worth giving it a try. Regards.

    Quazi, I said that many, many, many years ago :). I have no problem making sharp images with both the 1.4X and 2X III TCs with a variety of telephoto lenses :). I have already ordered my 500 IS II and the 600 IS II as well :). See here for weights and details. artie

  • Hi Art:

    I want to order the Mark 11 lensalign for 79.95, the shipping on your info was $13.00 but when ordering it, the shipping is 98.00$ – what is that all about. let me know



    Ken, Did you ever get this straightened out? artie

  • @Cody: I’ve produced some great results with the EOS 7D and the 4/300L IS + 1.4x II (not yet tested the III). I recommend trying that combo. It will not yield 100% sharp images (nothing ever will for BIF) but you can definitely get a lot of keepers. I had good shots with that combo with Steppe Eagles a few weeks ago in India.


  • Have you compared the Lens Align and the Spider, for lens correction.

    let us know



  • avatar Cody Covey

    Hey Artie,
    I was wonder what your experience is with the 300F4 + 1.4x with BIF. Am I losing to much speed with the TC to make it a viable BIF lens? I am debating over and over between the 300 and the 400 🙂 Thanks Artie!

  • avatar Nate

    Apologies if this has been covered, but I was wondering if any of these $1500 and under lenses match any of the super tele’s (300 f/2.8 up to 800 f/5.6) in image quality alone? That is probably asking too much isn’t it. I gotta admit I am in love with the contrast and the overall creaminess of the super tele’s.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Nate, The lenses mentioned will produce images of extremely high quality, images suitable for publication (assuming that the person holding the lens knows how to use it :)) That said folks with super-sharp eyes might be able to discern that images form the old 300 f/2.8L and the current 800mm f/5.6 are slightly sharper than images created with the intermediate telephoto lenses mentioned. And the Series II super-telephotos will surely be slightly sharper than anything out there today. Do note however that most lenses are a lot sharper than most photographers 🙂 And no matter how much you spend on a camera or lens you will not make sharp images unless you know what you are doing…..

  • @Artie: When I used the 2x with the 4/300L IS + 7D I used a tripod and a Noveflex Magicball. I don’t own a 2x (probably will get the new 2x III some day) but borrowed it from a friend a few times.
    So far results where very good, also with 4/500 + 2x. I still wish the 7D would allow AF (real AF, not the Life View AF) at f8. Maybe a 7D Mark II will 🙂
    I expect the new 4/500L IS II and the 2x III to yield even better results. I won’t get the 4/500L IS II though. Too expensive. I rather make a few trips with that money. But I admit that both the new 4/500 and the new 4/600 are very interesting and tempting. A 4/600L IS II + 2x III with a 7D that has AF at f8 would be a bird photographers dream combo. Maybe someone at Canon is reading this 🙂


  • avatar Ken

    I guess I better proof read my own work before hitting the submit comment – some of it is pretty bad – my typing isn’t great either.

  • avatar Leonard Malkin

    Artie, I’m sure you can take sharp photos with the 400 5.6 but my question was how is it compared to the 100-400 in terms of IQ and AF tracking.

  • avatar Ken

    from Clear Ken – You are the first person who cannot read what I type – actually I get the comment all of the time – In high school when I wrote essays – I lost marks for my grammar, for my speeling, for my sentence structure for my verb agreements etc. Whatever was the most marks a person could lose on a written assignment that was me, so instead of writing a story out of 100, I would start at 70 and if I got 50%, my marks would be 35 to 45, sometimes maybe 50 – However that said – I do have my masters in education, taught for 35 years and taught english to my grade 7 to 9 students – every time I had an essay to hand in during one of my university classes, I had about 5 english major students proof read it and after rewriting it and handing it in I still was criticize for non verb agreement – In short I write the way I talk, and even that is not the best – However – being a visual learner, photography became my way of expressing myself, and I enjoy doing documentaries. That said, I bought the Really Right Stuff carbon tripod with the Panoramic head before I thought about the Winberley system. I really like the one I choose but the Wimberley is a great system as well – I guess it becomes a personal preferences – try them both, talk to your friends, then decide – I appologize for my writing skills – but you have to blame that on my mother, she is worse than I am – believe it your not –

    I tend to be a perfectionist as in having the eyes absolutely sharp with a hightlight in them and to have the colour well balance and acurate – but when it comes to my writing it has a lot of imperfections that even photoshop can help! Keep up the great work –

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Thanks Loren for the info and the offer. I will not be at Venice till next year at the earliest….

  • avatar Jay Abrams

    Artie, thanks. Following up – I use the cable release on my 50D to eliminate all possible shaking of the camera. Should I give it up? I mostly go to Green Cay and surrounding places.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Jay, I find that I make sharper images with telephoto lenses by pressing my face against the back of the camera and using the advanced sharpness techniques described in ABP II than I do when using a cable release. Strange but true…. In addition I like to make small last second changes in composition by taking advantage of the play in the mount that is present with all tripod heads. You cannot do that when using a cable release. For me using a cable release for bird photography is cumbersome and limiting. You need to do what is best for you 🙂

  • Artie –

    The 70-300 L is twist zoom extending. Great IQ, fantastic sharpness, great size for traveling (length), although wide diameter for it’s length. It is not compatible with Canon’s teleconverters, BUT, it does work pretty well with the Kenko Pro 300 DGX in good light…can be kinda iffy in twilight type conditions. I haven’t tried it yet using Live View focusing; I’ve heard it’s better in that mode.

    If you’re coming over to Venice in the next couple of months (before I head north), give me a shout and you can try mine 🙂


  • avatar Jay Abrams

    Artie: I use the 400 5.6 with Mongoose 2.3 on 055cxpro3 Manfrotto tripod with cable release. I don’t have steady hands and use the tripod exclusively. If I don’t plan on buying another lens in this category, will the Series II 1.4 extender work for me, or do you suggest only the new Series III? The price difference is substantial. I have an old Kenko 1.5 and I found it to be rubbish. Thanks.


    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Jay, It’s a shame that they discontinued the M2.3…. I never use a cable release for bird photography…. You will be fine with the 2X II TC. Thanks for stopping by.

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Yes to both. The main thing that I missed with the 70-200/2X combo is the ability to go to 640 while hand holding. I often need to do that when taking a walk without the big lens….

  • Q: What it the only thing (besides speed) that I lose with the 70-200 2.8L IS II with both converters as compared to the 400 DO?

    Artie, 70-200f/2.8 + 2X will make it a 400 f5.6 at the long end..so you lose a stop compared to the 400 f/4. And I am not sure how the IQ of 70-200f2.8 holds up by stacking TCs..compared to 400 without stacking…so may be that is something you might lose when you want to go beyond 400mm.

    The one thing you gain though is the min focussing distance..which is much shorter on the 70-200 than the 400. Adding TCs does not change MFD.

  • I trust you and will have to add the Mongoose to my wishlist. As for your question on the 70-200+converters vs. 400DO – I guess the answer is that you lose the ability to go beyond 400mm, which you can do by adding a converter to give you a 640 f/5.6 or 800 f/8 with the 400DO.

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Leonard, As I think that I said, I am pretty sure that I could still make sharp images of birds in flight with the 400 f/5.6. But, I bugs the heck out of me when I try to frame a static subject and the image is shaking all over the place…. And also as I said, many folks are looking for something to hand hold as their main bird photography lens. They need IS. Lastly, I quit using the 400 5.6 when I bought the 400 DO. A stop faster with IS albeit much heavier. But imminently hand holdable for most folks.

    Here is a question for the group. What it the only thing (besides speed) that I lose with the 70-200 2.8L IS II with the 2X converter when compared to the 400 DO?

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Loren, Funny, I wrote the exact same words about the 300 f/4 about 7 years ago. I have heard good things about the 70-300 L. Is that a twist or a push-pull? Can you use it with a 1.4X TC?

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Thanks for the heads up Dennis. Not only have I never used it I have never heard of it:) I am sure that it is plenty sharp but I love the intermediate zoom lenses for their versatility…

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Ian, Making good images with the gear that you have and can afford it what it is all about. That said, lots of folks think the their set-ups are “OK” until they try a Mongoose. Then they wonder why they have been wasting their time for so many years and buy one on the spot…

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Markus, We are on the same page. Are you on a tripod witth the 300 f/4-2X? Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Clear Ken, You need to take a writing course; I cannot understand most of what you have written. Which 600? I have seen the RRS system. It is insanely expensive and complicated…. If you have an old 600 why not a Wimberley?

  • avatar Dennis Pritchett

    Artie, you misread my post, I’m talking about the 200mm f2.8L prime; and I read all your bulletins, and I’ll say again, I have never seen mention of this lens.

    It’s black, Artie, not white. Smilie.


  • I had a couple of other points to make on my use of the 400 f/5.6L – the first is a modified tip Artie covered before – the idea of using LiveView to focus when using an extender. When I find a reasonably static subject, I’ll go into my menu and switch the autofocus back to the shutter (I always use back button focus), line up my shot, switch to LiveView, select my focus area, zoom in to 5x or 10x, and then use the shutter button on my cable release to do the final autofocus. This avoids any shake that might occur from touching the camera and gives me perfect focus lock and photos that are as sharp as possible.

    Also, I admin that I would probably be one of the 96+ that would instantly switch to a Mongoose, but have used my Manfotto 055XPROB and 484RC2 ballhead (recently ugpraded to the hydrostatic 468MGRC2) without any issues. Sure it’s not ideal, but neither is the T2i / 400 f/5.6 combo 🙂 I’m just trying to make the best of what I have while I learn and build up my portfolio. Someday I’ll have my 1D Mk6(?)/800 f/5.6L/Gitzo/etc. rig, but for now, I’m getting good results with what I’ve got and love getting out there to shoot.

  • I agree. The 4/300L IS rocks. When at a local park I often use it with the 7D as a flight lens and my 40D + 4/500 + 1.4 for swimming ducks and gulls.
    The AF of the 4/300L IS + 7D is great, even with the 1.4x. And it is razor sharp. The combo 7D + 4/300L IS + 1.4x is a great start for bird photographers and especially for birds in flight.
    With the 7D + 4/300 + 2x you get very good results when focusing manually. Using Live View for perched birds with that combo will give great results.


  • avatar Ken

    Hi Art: I guess I am the wrong Ken but thought it was nice to have an emailed address to Ken, even if it is the other Ken – In fact in one of my photo sports, there are two Ken’s, the other Ken is called Fuzzy, not a good name for a photographer – fortunately they call me clear Ken – which don’t know if that is any better or not – but as with ball heads – I don’t use them anymore, haven’t for a long time, I use the Really Right Stuff Pg -02 LR Package that allows you to pan as well as go vertical – that was with the smaller lens, with the 600 I am hoping it arrivers shortly – I upgraded it to a piece so that it appears like a gimbo type head but you can move the vertical bar so that the camera can be centered to the tripod – The 600 is just too heavy I thought for a side mount – but anyone that can afford a gimbo head or really right stuff package – the final result are significant – at least I think so.

  • avatar Leonard Malkin

    Artie, you seem to downgrade the 400 5.6 because it lacks IS. But if one is primarily interested in BIF and uses a fast shutter speed, IS is not so important. In fact, I shut IS off (or just use number 2) for BIF with my 100-400. My question is would IQ be much improved with the 400 vs the 100-400 and would AF tracking also improve?

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Yes, ballheads are a huge pain with telephotos…. It sounds to me as if you should own one of the IS lenses….

  • avatar Ian Cassell

    Artie, sometimes. I admit that the majority of my images are handheld. I don’t really work well with the ball head and am still saving for a gimbal.

  • avatar Ian Cassell

    I bought my 400/5.6 last year after months of debating between that and the 1-4 and have been happy with the purchase (although I do wish it had IS). Artie, I was wondering if you have had the opportunity to try the new 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS and, if so, what you think of it (it is just about $1500 on Amazon)?

  • avatar Ken

    the 70-200 2.8 is by the sharpest and fastest lens of the bunch with what I haveused. I don’t really use TC – but I did use the 1.4 with the 70-200 at the Calgary stampede and it worked really well – I did not like the 100-400 not because of the less sharpness around the edges, but I just didn’t like it. You can hand hold the 100-400 with the right shutter speeds though

    The best wide angle lens I liked was the 16 to 35 – very sharp , very fast

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Hey Bill, You and I are on the same page 🙂

  • avatar Bill Richardson

    I have had all 3 lenses and strongly vote for the 300f4 for an economical telephoto. I need IS in my old age so the 400f5.6 was never good for me and the two 100-400s I had were not sharp enough over 300mm. (One back focused badly and Chuck Westfall told me to send it back after Canon repair said it was within specs! I sold the second one before getting a camera with micro adjustable focus so that may have been a problem with the second one too) I bought a used 300f4 and it was deadly sharp w/o any adjustments. I sold it only after getting the new 70-200f2.8II which is now my favorite lens at any price. It is extremely sharp even with the old 1.4TC.

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Ian, Images made with any TC will never be as sharp as images made with the prime lens alone. But todays killer sharp glass and TCs allow us to make professionally sharp images on a consistent basis (with good technique) 🙂

  • Hi Artie,

    Great summary about these lenses which many of us have never even seen musch less used. My question relates to the use of the Mongoose head. Can you comment on the use of the Mongoose head with the 100-400 lens. My only experience is with a traditional ball head.


    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Ken, If you used a Mongoose for two minutes you would throw your ballhead in the lake. I have loaned a Mongoose to 97 people who were using ballheads. 096 of them purchased a Mongoose on the spot. The other one could not afford it. With a side-mounting gimbal head the lens is weightless and there is no ballhead flop. Lens handing is 1000 times more efficient.

  • Artie,

    I didn’t mean that the photos aren’t sharp, but they aren’t quite as sharp as the raw lens and technique becomes ever more critical. I am very curious about how it would do with the 2x extender for the kingfishers and red-cockaded woodpeckers that are so small and shy, especially as the stronger summer light arrives here in Florida.

  • I think I would throw the budget out the window and get the 70-200 2.8 II and the EF 2x III TC. From what I see Artie doing with that combo that really sounds like a sweet combo.

  • avatar Ken

    The black tern are my kind of photos – a lot of bird photographers take photos of birds in a stationary position – generally speaking – I like to catch them in flight and because of that need faster lens with auto focus and a good frames per second – needless to say a good buffer for raw files – Birds not just stretched but partially – as long as the photos are pleasing – if one shoots just stationary birds – you are doing what likely 80% or more are doing, Be the 20% and try something different.

    As far as lenses under $1500.00, get the lens that will do the job, Canon make great lenses but buy for your need – the better the lens the better your photo as long as you have a camera to meet your needs as well. – if you are a hobbiest get the 24 to 400 or 500 lens, but if you are shooting for $, get the lens to give you the sharpest from edge to edge and everything else to ensure a great file – go to http://www.dpreview.com and http://www.robgarbraith.com and http://www.sportshooter.com just to see the different reviews out there to help you make a decision. If you are a serious photographer and want pro results, be sure to get the pro lenses there is a big difference in quality as well as prices but the investment is well worth it. You can always resell a pro lens and get a good return on your investment if you decide that’s not the lens for you.

    I really like birds in flight – with the right lighting and the highlight in their eyes, the photo will speak for itself.

  • I didn’t realize you would be writing this post so soon, but this is great advice and a nice update to the 300 vs 400 and 100-400 vs 400 posts I read when deciding to purchase the 400 f/5.6L. In the end, I went for length and sharpness above all else. I did find it hard to shoot with at first, having used the 70-300IS (non-L) and 70-200 + 1.4xII combos, but taking a tripod along took care of things. I consider it like my 1 iron golf club – yes, it’s hard to use, yes, it’s old school, but when you nail a shot with it, you feel kind of proud. Would I prefer a longer and/or faster super telephoto with IS, of course, but I don’t have the money right now. Someday.

    Also, on using the 400 with the 1.4x – I don’t find it gives me enough reach in 90% of cases to justify the loss of image quality and speed/light. The manual focus works well, especially with the shallow DOF, but the actual increase in focal length just doesn’t do it for me.

    While I’m just a novice, if you want to see what can be done with a little patience, most of the bird photos on my website were shot with the 400.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Ian, If you are not making sharp images on the tripod with the 400 5.6 and the 1.4X I would look to operator error… What camera body are you using?

  • avatar Chris W

    Hi Artie,
    I’m sorry to hear that you sold your 7D; I got your first 7D user guide when I got my 7D which got me started and then your update gave me some more tips that I didn’t know about. I was hoping for more reports but I understand the confusion going between different camera bodies. My wife and I just went on Todd Gustafson’s Tanzania trip and she used my older Rebel. I had a hard time remembering everything even between those simpler bodies. That trip has gotten me excited for more than the landscape photography that I had done for years. It started with an article you wrote in” Nature Photographer”, that got me to your blog where you mentioned Todd and your experience going to Africa with him, which led to our trip this year with Todd. Along the way I’ve gotten your ABP I and II ,kept up with your blogs, and realize that I have a lot to learn. Turning 65 this month and everything I’ve mentioned helps to make life fun and exciting! Sorry about the long reply but I wanted you to know that you were a big part in this with your willingness to share your thoughts. As to lenses I have the 100-400, but I think the 70-200 f2.8 II with the 1.4 and 2.0 extenders will be next for me. My wife liked the 1-4 and and I will definitely rent a longer lens for big trips. I’m looking forward to someday going on one of your IPTs. Thanks again.

  • avatar C G Gustavsson

    Can you convince Canon to build the 4-step stabilizer also into the 400/5.6?

  • I owned both until recently; I sold the 300 and kept the 100-400, mainly because I really like the flexibility of the zoom. That said, it was a very difficult decision; the 300 is a superb lens, both in terms of IQ and handling. The main reason I sold it was to fund the new 70-300L, because it’s much easier to travel with than the 100-400 (travel where photography is not the main purpose…family stuff, etc); I still prefer the 1-4 for bird photography.

  • avatar DM Images / Rob

    Great article! I’d pick the 100-400 just for the great versatility. It is good for mammals too. Keep it up…. Great stuff!

  • avatar Dennis Pritchett

    Hi Artie, a very timely bulletin indeed. However, now I’m back in the undecided group as a result. I had looked at the lenses you discussed, and was suitably impressed, but after much research, I thought I had found a winner in the Canon EF 200mm f2.8L II USM; now I’m in doubt again. I know the 200mm prime is a fast, sharp lens, and works great with a 1.4 extender; and it’s small and light, and not likely to draw attention if I do a bit of street photography. I have never seen any mention of this lens on your site. Have you used it?


    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Dennis, If you have never seen any mention of the 70-200 f/2.8L IS II you have simply not been reading either the blog posts or the Bulletins. I have been raving about my favorite new lens for well more than six months. I did not include it here because of the price. And then throw in the cost of the two TCs… Please get to work reading the back issues….