I am planning to buy a Canon 5d mark III, for landscape, wild life and bird photography. What would be an ideal lens with a budget of 1500-2000 dollars? And specifically, what is your opinion on the Canon EF 100-400mm f/5.6?

  • I'm not gone repeat what Michael Clark and chuqui voiced out that 100-400mm is great lens. I just gone say I was in same situation as you not long ago. I took it slowly, I got my self first 100-400mm, then replaced second hand Tamron 75-300mm with 70-200mm and year later got my self 24-70mm. In 2 weeks I'm off to workshop with Ross Hoddinott and I just rented 17-40mm to see the performance. If you can rent or borough from friend before you buy then do it. It is worth it – peter_budo May 28 '13 at 14:36
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    If this is your main goal, consider a 7d. Since the cropfactor is pretty neat for long lenses. – mmumboss May 28 '13 at 18:17
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    Specifically "What is your opinion of XYZ" lens is off topic here. See our FAQ on how to ask question: photo.stackexchange.com/faq – dpollitt May 28 '13 at 19:17
  • I own a 7D and I would recommend against it compared to the 5DIII. What you gain in crop factor you lose in sharpness to noise reduction, and you can buy a lot of shutter speed with the two stops of usable ISO you gain with the 5DIII. The focus system of the 5DIII, shared with the 1D X, is far more consistent than the 7D. The 7D focus system looks good on paper and is very configurable, but none of that matters when it consistently back focuses on one frame, front focuses on the next frame and hits close to focus on the third frame of a three shot burst. – Michael C May 29 '13 at 4:38

AT 400mm, where you would use the EF 100-400mm f/4-5.6L the most, the EF 400mm f/5.6 is noticeably sharper, especially at mid frame and on the edges. It also costs about $300 less. You give up Image Stabilization (IS) and the ability to zoom out to 100mm.

For birding and wildlife, IS is not a huge consideration because you're going to need to use fairly fast shutter speeds to freeze the motion of your subjects anyway. IS only helps reduce camera motion. It does nothing for subject motion.

For most typical landscape photos, 100mm is still a little long, so you're likely going to need another lens for that role regardless of what you choose for your long telephoto birding/wildlife lens. Unfortunately, there's not a real good FF standard zoom lens for the $660 left in your budget if you were to purchase the EF 400mm f/5.6L, much less the $300 left in your budget if you purchase the EF 100-400mm f/4-5.6L IS. The closest would be the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS that runs around $1,150.

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  • the 24-105 is the wide angle zoom I use, and it's a nice partner to the 100-400. you can pick it up for $800-850 used in good condition from places like KEH. I recommend being really careful about buying a 100-400 used, because it's design makes it susceptible to bumps and bruises, but I bought my 24-105 used and it rocks. – chuqui May 28 '13 at 23:27
  • I disagree with the idea that IS isn't a huge consideration for birding and wildlife. It's the difference between handholding a 400 or 500mm lens and having it put on a tripod and gimbal. With the big (heavy) glass, it does make a significant difference in usability in many situations. – chuqui May 28 '13 at 23:29
  • You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but more members of this community seem to feel otherwise. Some of us feel that anything longer than about 300mm needs to be supported by a tripod or at the very least a monopod. Gimbal mounts aren't cheap, but I feel they give better results than hand holding a 400mm or 500mm lens, even one with IS. The 100-400 has both many fans and many detractors. Personally, I've never cared for push/pull zooms (otherwise known as dust pumps ). – Michael C May 29 '13 at 4:31

The 100-400 is a good lens to get started with and in your budget.

I've talked about this configuration in the past -- try here: What size lens is recommended for flying bird photography?

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  • thanx !! your such a detail n descriptive comments about birding photography was helpful.. – user20147 May 28 '13 at 11:14

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