Is artie Nuts? Why Would He Spend $11,499 (plus 7% sales tax and shipping) On a Lens He Has Preached Against for More Than Two Decades?
Am I nuts? It very well could be but I do not think so. Here’s the story:
I am flying to Miami on 28 DEC and continuing on overnight to Buenos Aires, Argentina and then flying late afternoon on the 29th to Ushuaia, Argentina to meet the ship and the group for the Falklands/South Georgia/Antarctica voyage that I have signed up for (on my own dime). I had long been planning to purchase the Canon 500mm f/4L IS II lens (7.04 pounds) for this nearly month-long trip and have had one pre-ordered with B&H for many months. Then life intervened. The “sometime in December” release date for the 500 II (and the 600 II as well) was pushed back indefinitely:
Canon U.S.A. Provides Updates On EF Lens Availability
LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y., November 16, 2011 – Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, today announced updated availability information for three of its EF lenses:
Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM lens availability yet to be determined
Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens availability yet to be determined
Additional information regarding the shipping date of each lens will be made available as soon as possible.
You can read the entire press release here.
Well, there went that idea. I would not have a 500 IS II for the trip. What are the options:
Take the 800mm f/5.6L IS (9.86 pounds). Too slow at f/5.6. And a bad idea with such tame birds…. Not enough focal length flexibility.
Borrow a 500 f/4 L IS (8.54 pounds) from Canon Professional Services. Great focal length flexibility (with both the 1.4X and the 2X TCs) but I really want to see how one of the new Series II Super-telephotos perform with the Series III teleconverters.
Borrow a 600 f/4L IS (11.83 pounds) from Canon Professional Services. What are you nuts? My shoulders are killing me!
Get my hands on a 300mm f/2.8L IS II (5.19 pounds). Relatively light in weight with lots of focal length flexibility. Long enough for most folks but not for me with a maximum reach of 300 times the 2X TC times the 1.3 MIV crop factor = 780mm.
Borrow a 400mm f/2.8L IS II (8.49 pounds)from Canon Professional Services. Sorry, too new. Not available for loan.
Borrow a 400mm f/2.8L IS II (8.49 pounds) through the B&H affiliate program. Sorry, that item exceeds the $10,000 limit on affiliate loans.
Buy a new 400mm f/2.8L IS II (8.49 pounds). Great focal length flexibility (with both the 1.4XIII and the 2XIII TCs) with a nice reach: 400 times the 2X III TC times the 1.3 MIV crop factor = 1040mm. Not shabby. And I would get to see how one of the new Series II lenses works with the Series III TCs. Did you say “buy”?
Is the new Canon 400mm f/2.8L IS II Super-telephoto lens just what artie needs for his Southern Oceans trip?
Yeah. I’m the guy who wrote, For bird photography it is always better to choose a longer slower lens than a shorter faster one. And wrote this too, The 400 f/2.8L lenses are simply not a good choice for most bird photographers unless you live out west, also do lots of big mammals in low light, and/or routinely photograph birds at very close range such as at a feeder or another type of set-up.”
But those things were written when the 400 f/2.8s weighed 13 or 14 pounds….
Consider: on a tripod it will give me 400mm, 560mm, and 800mm (all with the the Mark IV’s 1.3X crop factor in addition. It will be mesh perfectly with my 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II. It weighs a fraction less than the old 500mm (that I was able to hand hold for short periods of time. And it weighs more than 1 1/4 pounds less than the 800 f/5.6. It features the amazing 4-stop Image Stabilization system so I should be able to hand hold it (at least for short periods) on Zodiac rides when I need the reach. And I should be able to hand hold it with the 1.4X III TC for flight photography from the ship.
After much thought, and realizing that you only live once, I ordered a brand new 400mm f/2.8L IS II lens through Canon’s Explorers of Light program. In all likelihood I will be selling it after the voyage. Unless I fall in love with it. Heck, it would be great on the Galapagos too….