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01-27-2011, 09:49 PM   #1
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Comparing EF 100-400mm to DA 55-300mm

An L non-fixed aperture glass vs so called kit non-fixed aperture glass.

has anyone compared picture to picture?

01-27-2011, 11:26 PM   #2
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I've never used the DA 55-300mm. Judging from many posted pictures, and the specs, it seems like a fairly priced consumer-level zoom that provides very good images when used well.

I have used the Canon 100-400mm for sports and birds since this past summer on a 7D. I think the fairer K-mount comparison would be with the Sigma f4 100-300mm, but the differences in focal ranges make that challenging as well.

The Canon is a professional lens. IS, USM, FTM (Canon's QuickShift), supersolid build. The lens has been around since 1998 and is still very popular. Thought the IS is an older design it works fairly well. I don't use IS much anymore as the 7D is simply too quick in the AF communication and IS tends to ever-so-slightly slow performance down just enough. But I'm getting fine shots without IS so it's a non-issue.

The one major issue is that this lens is intended for outdoor use. It's too slow for the gym. The other issue is that the 100-400mm is an older push/pull zoom design like the older Vivitars. Some people claim that it sucks in dust and water, but my experience doesn't bear that out. I've taken many thousands of exposures in the rain for sporting events here in the Pacific Northwest with zero problems. I don't mind the zooming action at all.

Regarding image quality, well you are comparing a $1500 lens vs. $350 lens. More importantly for sports and birds, the lens is to a degree only as good as the attached AF system. While the K-5 has a much improved AF system that we can all feel happier about, I don't see it competing with the 7D--after all without modern telephoto lenses the Pentax body is half a solution.

I've been very happy with the L lens optics. Several wildlife photographers prefer the Canon 400mm f4 or 5.6 lenses for better image quality unsurprisingly--but for general sports shooting by a single shooter (I've worked in teams for events, so we could specialize by focal length) a zoom like this is critical.

I only wish it got a little wider, to 60-70mm-ish so near field action would be easier without switching to a second camera.

What are you considering?

M
01-28-2011, 01:33 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Miguel Quote
I've never used the DA 55-300mm. Judging from many posted pictures, and the specs, it seems like a fairly priced consumer-level zoom that provides very good images when used well.

I have used the Canon 100-400mm for sports and birds since this past summer on a 7D. I think the fairer K-mount comparison would be with the Sigma f4 100-300mm, but the differences in focal ranges make that challenging as well.

The Canon is a professional lens. IS, USM, FTM (Canon's QuickShift), supersolid build. The lens has been around since 1998 and is still very popular. Thought the IS is an older design it works fairly well. I don't use IS much anymore as the 7D is simply too quick in the AF communication and IS tends to ever-so-slightly slow performance down just enough. But I'm getting fine shots without IS so it's a non-issue.

The one major issue is that this lens is intended for outdoor use. It's too slow for the gym. The other issue is that the 100-400mm is an older push/pull zoom design like the older Vivitars. Some people claim that it sucks in dust and water, but my experience doesn't bear that out. I've taken many thousands of exposures in the rain for sporting events here in the Pacific Northwest with zero problems. I don't mind the zooming action at all.

Regarding image quality, well you are comparing a $1500 lens vs. $350 lens. More importantly for sports and birds, the lens is to a degree only as good as the attached AF system. While the K-5 has a much improved AF system that we can all feel happier about, I don't see it competing with the 7D--after all without modern telephoto lenses the Pentax body is half a solution.

I've been very happy with the L lens optics. Several wildlife photographers prefer the Canon 400mm f4 or 5.6 lenses for better image quality unsurprisingly--but for general sports shooting by a single shooter (I've worked in teams for events, so we could specialize by focal length) a zoom like this is critical.

I only wish it got a little wider, to 60-70mm-ish so near field action would be easier without switching to a second camera.

What are you considering?

M
Miguel,
I don't know, but would the DA 60-250 be a fairer comparison in its FL??
01-28-2011, 02:02 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by philbaum Quote
would the DA 60-250 be a fairer comparison in its FL??
Hi Phil,
You know, I had that lens in my original response but replaced the reference with the Sigma. Both would not be quite fair enough in my mind. The difference in focal length between 250mm and 400mm is tremendous, especially for sports and birds. For soccer that would be about a 50 yard delta of reasonable coverage.

On the wide side, 60mm is a lot more useful on closer action from the sidelines than 100mm is. That said, the solution--a second camera with a 28-75mm on it, is far more achievable than conjuring up that extra 150mm on the long end. As I'm sure you'd agree, most bird and sports shooters are insatiable when it comes to longer focal length

M

01-28-2011, 02:40 AM   #5
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so supposing at 200mm/400mm at F/5.6 or even F/8, there is an obvious difference in the pictures taken?
01-28-2011, 08:09 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Reportage Quote
there is an obvious difference in the pictures taken
While I'm tempted to only say "of course," it probably depends some on your context of use.
Why don't you articulate your requirements?

M
01-28-2011, 09:23 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Miguel Quote
While I'm tempted to only say "of course," it probably depends some on your context of use.
Why don't you articulate your requirements?

M
either 4r or smaller column size or possibly magazine full page. Still too early to consider my work as front page or even center fold quality in my opinion.
01-28-2011, 10:03 AM   #8
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How 'bout shooting requirements? What sports, environments are targeted for this particular lens?

M

01-28-2011, 10:48 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Miguel Quote
How 'bout shooting requirements? What sports, environments are targeted for this particular lens?

M
Outdoor marathons, motorsports and so on. have tried the 70-300 and 75-300 but the CA is too much work to handle + the contrast needs a lot of work. Have tried the 150-500 as well but i find i need f/8 most of the time to get it right.

Just looking for something lighter.
01-28-2011, 11:29 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Reportage Quote
there is an obvious difference in the pictures taken?
Yes, but it depends on the particular event, and the image delivery requirements. The ideal goal is to have the subject fill the frame about 75%. For field sports like soccer and football the extra 150mm will get you an extra 50 yards or so. That may not matter that much with motorsports but it should with track events.

You can crop down a 250mm lens to provide a FOV close to 400mm, but the image will be less sharp and your enlargement potential is less.

For field sports it is best to shoot as wide open as possible to minimize DOF and allow the facial expressions and body language to be more isolated from ugly backgrounds. Maybe this matters less with motorsports which I don't shoot. But the ability of a longer lens to isolate the subject will be most noticeable.

I assume you are using a Sigma 150-500mm? On a Pentax especially this is an underwhelming solution. I shot with a Bigma on a K20D: slow, dodgy AF, and average optics. I eventually outgrew its capabilities, but in retrospect I shoulda gotten a Canon/Nikon and one of their lenses a couple years earlier.

QuoteOriginally posted by Reportage Quote
Just looking for something lighter.
Lots of luck there. That's like saying you want to pay less taxes and receive more services. Pro-level lenses are heavier for good reasons meaning superior output.

If you are shooting mostly motor sports or even marathons where the action is very predictable and constrained, consider a single fast telephoto like a Canon 300 f4 + a 1.4x extender. I'd suggest you rent a few permutations and see what works.

If you require light weight then shoot pure video.

M
01-28-2011, 11:37 AM   #11
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so how would the DA 55-300 fare when up against the EF 100-400 optically for my requirements.
01-28-2011, 11:54 AM   #12
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My best guess is that the DA 55-300mm would probably work well enough for more predictable action, but I would suggest renting or borrowing one to test against reality. What camera body(ies) do you use?

Or course you could well be limiting your ability to effectively cover field sports etc. but if that's out of scope then, cool.

Perhaps I'm mistaken, but it feels like you are at a crossroads here, deciding whether to stay with the more limited Pentax solutions or use something else. If sports shooting is your future (and it's only a limited subset of what I do), use the tools that are considered standard for the trade. You have checked out SportsShooter? 99.8% of everyone making a living at this either uses Nikon or Canon.

M
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