lens spew

Oct. 23rd, 2006 12:41 pm
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well, not really a spew. I have a longer post regarding my thoughts on long term lens purchase plans, as well as an idea of 'tiers' of lenses or rounds of purchases, and where I'm at in that, and what my plan is with it (assuming the photography keeps moving forward). But work is hell and so today i'm just tossing out a simple brain dump/question.

I need a new long lens. The 75-300mm f/4.5-5.6 USM III has served me ... ok for the time i've had it, though the full frame of the 5d is brutal on the lens quality and the fact that the front lens element rotates when focusing drives me batshit (circular polarize, what?). So, i'm looking to step up.

In an ideal world, i'd probably be getting a 70-200mm f/2.8L IS with either a 1.6x or 2.0x extender to keep in the bag for that extra reach. Alas, i'd also be looking at $1800 in purchases to do that. Not quite the money there right now (and, i'm not sure that's what i'd want to spend it on if i had $1800 lying around, even - but that's part of the later tiered lenses post).

I think my budget is hovering somewhere around $500, give or take - which narrows my field down to three lenses of interest:

  • Tokina AT-X 840AF-II 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 - the cheapest of the bunch, it is also the slowest (f/4.5-5.6) the lowest rated (but still respectably so), and the heaviest of the options. Gear based focusing (e.g. not USM/HSM) and an ass long minimum focusing distance (2.5m).
  • Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM - this is roughly the same price as the other lens on my list. It also has a middle reach in terms of range, and is also faster than the tokina, but slower than the other canon below. It seems to be rated as one of canon's highest quality non-L long zoom lenses, and the addition of IS can help make up for the slow. A 1.5m minimum focusing distance is also nicer than the tokina's 2.5m. Alas, like the 75-300mm lens i'm looking to replace, the front element rotates while focusing. (I believe the tokina doesn't, and I know the next lens doesn't).
  • Canon 70-200mm f/4L USM. - i've shot with this lens before. It's a nice lens. Lightweight, best minimum focus distance (1.2m) of this set of lenses - also the fastest with a constant f/4 aperture. Alas, it's also the shortest range of the lenses in this group.

Of course, if I want to double my price, my lens options go up to a sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 that's supposed to be phenomenal qualitywise, or a sigma 80-400mm that adds image stabalization (and higher image quality over the tokina 80-400mm), or a 100-300mm f/4 from sigma which is getting some really great reviews, or I can go for insane reach with a 50-500mm lens, that is insanely slow (and probably the least likely lens that I would get). I'm not sure that I want to double my price range at the moment though.

If money were no object, i'd probably be chosing between the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS or the 70-200mm f/4L IS (why would I consider an F4 vs. F2.8 all else being equal? Weight/size. The 2.8L is a monster of a lens, and the 2.8L IS is even moreso). The 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS might be another option, but the push/pull zoom was awkward the one time i played with it (albiet briefly, in a store for a few minutes) - ditto for the 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L IS (also push pull, and normally I wouldn't consider such a long range lens - but at the level of quality of this one... I should try renting one some day - but at $2200 - it's so far out of budget it's not even funny).

So, now, the poll:

[Poll #851398]


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