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superzoom versus SLR set-up for wildlife???
Hi all,.

Very new to this, so please forgive any blundering naivety..

I'm intending to purchase a digital camera and lens set-up primarily for wildlife photography (both ends of spectrum, birds to butterflies, spiders, etc), and have stalled at the first hurdle of whether to go for a superzoom (e.g. FZ50) with additional macro lens (raynox 150 or 250 maybe?) and perhaps a teleconverter (any ideas which most compatible/suitable?)....or....opt for an SLR (Canon 400D, Nikon 40D, etc) with appropriate (and necessarily affordable) lenses (perhaps Sigma 50-500 for tele, and some sort of macro). Whilst I'm aware of some of the advantages and disadvantages with either approach (performance, noise, price, portability, etc), does anyone out there have any advice on what may be my best options?Many thanks, Simon..

Comments (36)

I've a little experience on this subject. I have a Fuji F20, Panasonic FZ30, and Canon 300D (DSLR). I have used all of them for wildlife and for testing purposes..

I've got a small set of auxiliary lenses for these cameras..

The FZ30 has by far the most cost-effective useful distance range of these choices. The combination of Image Stabilization and Extended Zoom allows for hand-holding shots over a range of about 19X (800mm) at f/5, ISO 200. Adding an Oly TCON-17 or B-300 ($60) increases this to 32X (1350mm) at f/5*..

These images will be sharp but a little noisy so some post processing with Neat Image, Noise Ninja, Picture Cooler, etc might be required..

The Canon DSLR's images are great out of the camera over a wide range of ISO's & fast, sharp lenses are available, but one is talking really big investments to get any fast, long reach lenses. My present solution to the high lens cost is to use a good Canon 135mm f/2.8 lens with a 1.7X tcon for an effective 230mm f/2.8 lens - combined with the Canon's 1.6 crop factor this is equivalent to 360mm f/2.8 Full Frame..

The Fuji's wildlife range is limited even with stacked teleconverters (a Nikon TC-E2 (2X) + an Olympus B-300 (1.7x) increases the effective zoom range from 3X to 10.2X); however the Fuji is great to have for social occasions and to carry in your pocket "just in case" - image quality is excellent..

At the wide end of the lens length spectrum I've had good success with a Nikon WC-E68 (.68X) converter with these three cameras..

Dave.

*adding yet another such TCON lens increases the useful range by another factor of 1.7x to about 55X (2300mm) -way too far for hand-holding...

Comment #1

There are two additional accessories that I have useful for shooting wildlife with my FZ50 / TCON-17 setup, but they would be equally useful if you choose the DSLR..

The first is a shoulder stock mount such as the Bushhawk. It is obviously not as steady as a tripod, but it is a whole lot faster..

The second is a red dot sight. It is particularly useful if you want to do birds in flight. If the search function is working, try "red dot" or "rds". More info herehttp://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/bp/flight.

Joel Orlinsky.

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Comment #2

How serious you intend to get into it should have an impact. If you really want to get into it then an SLR will offer you the most long term flexibility. That will also be ALOT costlier too though and will entail a larger/longer learning curve..

I like my superzoom P&S for fun spur of the moment stuff. But for anything remotely serious, I always reach for the DSLR and appropriate lenses...

Comment #3

If you want the best quality images, you would be better off with the dSLR. If you could say more about "where" you intend to shoot wildlife, it would be a bit easier to make recommendations..

For example, shooting deer, elk, moose, in heavily wooded areas is quite different than shooting the same in relatively open areas such as Colorado or Wyoming. For heavily wooded areas where there will invariably be branches, etc., in the way, autofocus is unreliable and there is simply no way a fixed lens digicam with long zoom is going to be as useful as the dSLR..

I use a wide variety of fixed lens, long zoom digicams including Panasonic FZ10, FZ20, FZ30, Canon S3-IS, etc., as well as a number of dSLR's including Sigma SD10, SD14, Canon 1D, 1DS, 1D Mark II, D30, 10D, Nikon D2Xs..

The fixed lens cameras are really great because you have a wide zoom range and they are very useful in good light and don't need to change lenses when situations change quickly. They are not so good in early morning light or at twilight when, unfortunately, many great wildlife shots present themselves..

If your use will be mostly in open country, you may get by with one of the great zooms (the Panasonic/Lumix FZ18 really looks promising). But in reality, you would be better off with a dSLR and decent zoom. I use the Sigma 50-500 and it's a fantastic value and very good optic, but I would recommend the Sigma 80-400 OS if you plan to hand-hold. Unfortunately for wildlife, using a tripod is not always an option. Actually, it's rarely an option unless you are shooting birds at a place like Bosque Apache or Eagles in Homer, Alaska, etc. For non avian wildlife, the tripod will not be a regular part of your kit.

If you go with Canon you can use the Sigma 80-400 OS or the Canon 100-400L IS (you can usually pick up a good used one for what a new Sigma 80-400 OS would cost). The optics are about equal, but the Sigma is much slower focusing than the 100-400..

A Sigma 105mm F2.8 macro is ideal for any macro work. The Canon 100mm F2.8 is excellent too. I use both but prefer the Sigma for a bit longer working length at 1:1. Again if you use a Canon dSLR you might want to look at a good used 70-200 F2.8. You don't need the stabilized version. If you are shooting birds in flight, a stabilized lens is of less utility because you will generally be using a faster shutter speed and pan with the subject..

It's difficult to know which way to suggest but if you could discuss a bit more about the subject and environment it would be helpful in making recommendations..

Best regards,.

Lin.

SimonJA wrote:.

Hi all,.

Very new to this, so please forgive any blundering naivety..

I'm intending to purchase a digital camera and lens set-up primarilyfor wildlife photography (both ends of spectrum, birds tobutterflies, spiders, etc), and have stalled at the first hurdle ofwhether to go for a superzoom (e.g. FZ50) with additional macro lens(raynox 150 or 250 maybe?) and perhaps a teleconverter (any ideaswhich most compatible/suitable?)....or....opt for an SLR (Canon 400D,Nikon 40D, etc) with appropriate (and necessarily affordable) lenses(perhaps Sigma 50-500 for tele, and some sort of macro). Whilst I'maware of some of the advantages and disadvantages with eitherapproach (performance, noise, price, portability, etc), does anyoneout there have any advice on what may be my best options?Many thanks, Simon..

Comment #4

I'd look closely at a Fujifilm S6000fd as a good compromise camera usable with auxiliary lenses & requiring little out-of-camera work..

Or DSLR for a lot more money...

Comment #5

On the Panasonic Forum, most of our best wildlife shooters made the change to dSLR's about a year ago. Note that, without superzooms, they might not have developed their talents in wildlife shooting. While the expensive dSLR setup is the icing on the cake once you have started shooting, the impetus to shoot most likely results from owning a superzoom..

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Comment #6

Very quick to post to say many thanks to all of you who took time to share thoughts and expertise. Email access sporadic this week, but will endeavour to reply more fully to individual comments and queries at the weekend. In the meantime, am intending to photograph wide range of taxa (from butterflies and dragonflies, to spiders, beetles, ants.....all way up to birds, with perhaps an emphasis on woodland species, but also wetland species from hides). Habitats likely to vary enormously here in Australia, from suburban garden to open woodland, to marshland (with a tripod......am an ex-CP4500 digiscoper) to rainforest (likely to be least illuminated habitat I'll operate in).Will digest comments thus far and get back with any specific remarks later.Cheers, Simon..

Comment #7

Lin Evans wrote:.

A Sigma 105mm F2.8 macro is ideal for any macro work. The Canon 100mmF2.8 is excellent too. I use both but prefer the Sigma for a bitlonger working length at 1:1..

The Canon 100 mm f/2.8, which I use on a regular basis, has a working distance of 139 mm at it's minimum focusing distance of 310 mm. The Sigma 105 has a working distance of 122 mm at it's minimum focusing distance of 313 mm. So the Canon has 17 mm (14%) more working distance than the Sigma, even though the Sigma has a nominally greater focal length..

Brian A...

Comment #8

You would certainly get better results, in most cases, from a dSLR setup, but also at greater expense. Macro isnt a problem; there are plenty of excellent macro lenses at a variety of focal lengths and at reasonable prices. But telephoto lenses for SLRs are expensive..

On a 1.5 or 1.6 crop sensor, a 300 mm focal length would be a minimum for wildlife, and in reality, 400 mm would be a better minimum..

Brian A...

Comment #9

The Canon 100 mm f/2.8 has a working distance of 149 mm (not 139 mm).. The Sigma 105 has a working distance of 122 mm. So the Canon has 27 mm (22%) more working distance than the Sigma..

Brian A...

Comment #10

Hi Brian,.

I have both lenses. The Sigma does 1.1 at 12.2 inches, the Canon does 1:1 at 5.9 inches. The Sigma has over twice the working distance of the Canon..

When you are doing macro work, having a greater working distance gives you an advantage, especially with subjects which are easily frightened such as insects..

Best regards,.

Lin.

Hugowolf wrote:.

The Canon 100 mm f/2.8 has a working distance of 149 mm (not 139mm).. The Sigma 105 has a working distance of 122 mm. So the Canonhas 27 mm (22%) more working distance than the Sigma..

Brian A...

Comment #11

Lin Evans wrote:.

I have both lenses. The Sigma does 1.1 at 12.2 inches, the Canon does1:1 at 5.9 inches. The Sigma has over twice the working distance ofthe Canon..

If you're Sigma 105 mm does 1:1 at 12.2 inches (31 cm) then you have a very unique copy. The specified minimum focusing distance (the distance from the subject to the sensor) for this lens is 31.3cm (12.3 in). The lens is itself has a length of 9.75 cm (3.8 in) when not extended..

Http://www.sigma-photo.com/.../lenses_all_details.asp?id=3253&navigator=5.

Even the Sigma 150 mm macro lens has a working distance of only 20 cm (7.9 inches). The Canon 180 mm macro lens has a working distance of 25 cm (9.8 inches)..

When you are doing macro work, having a greater working distancegives you an advantage, especially with subjects which are easilyfrightened such as insects..

I know what working distance is, do you?.

Working distance is the distance from the subject to the front of the lens.Minimum focusing distance is measured from the subject to the sensor..

If you have both lenses and a ruler, then you can try it out. It should take all of a couple of minutes. In fact your data are approximately correct for the Canon, you just need to measure with the Sigma..

Also, here is a site that reviews both lenses. There data is very close to my measurements. http://www.the-digital-picture.com/...05mm-F-2.8-EX-DG-Macro-Lens-Review.aspx.

Brian A...

Comment #12

For birds, bugs, and the like, I use a Pentax K100D with a Tamron Adaptall 500mm reflex lens, sometimes with a 1.5x teleconverter..

Pros:* Image-stabilized lens* Usable ISOs up to 1600* Lightweight for a DSLR: camera+lens+teleconverter is 50 ounces.

* Very high magnification: the sample image was taken at about ten feet. Magnification is about twice what a superzoom can do..

Cons:* No autofocus* Manual focus is slow: you can't take pictures of birds in flight* Donut bokeh means you need to be careful about the background.

* Depth of field is very shallow: both the front and back of the butterfly are out of focus.

Sample: http://i84.photobucket.com/...lbums/k19/Carnildo/Hikes/Wildlife/butterfly.jpg..

Comment #13

Sorry about the typos. I do know the difference between youre and your, and between there and their. Some days my typing is worse than my proof reading, and on other days it is the other way around. It the end it doesnt matter, they are both pretty bad..

Brian A...

Comment #14

Hugowolf wrote:.

Lin Evans wrote:.

I have both lenses. The Sigma does 1.1 at 12.2 inches, the Canon does1:1 at 5.9 inches. The Sigma has over twice the working distance ofthe Canon..

If you're Sigma 105 mm does 1:1 at 12.2 inches (31 cm) then you havea very unique copy. The specified minimum focusing distance (thedistance from the subject to the sensor) for this lens is 31.3cm(12.3 in). The lens is itself has a length of 9.75 cm (3.8 in) whennot extended..

And your point?.

I'm well aware of the differences, I have both of them in my hand. The Sigma focus at 12.2 inches and yes that's the distance from the sensor to the subject. The Canon focuses at 5.9 inches and yes that's the distance from the subject to the sensor..

The working distance on the Sigma is much greater than on the Canon. I don't need to "test" it I use them every day..

Http://www.sigma-photo.com/.../lenses_all_details.asp?id=3253&navigator=5.

Even the Sigma 150 mm macro lens has a working distance of only 20 cm(7.9 inches). The Canon 180 mm macro lens has a working distance of25 cm (9.8 inches)..

When you are doing macro work, having a greater working distancegives you an advantage, especially with subjects which are easilyfrightened such as insects..

I know what working distance is, do you?.

I sure do.....

Working distance is the distance from the subject to the front of thelens.Minimum focusing distance is measured from the subject to the sensor..

If you have both lenses and a ruler, then you can try it out. Itshould take all of a couple of minutes. In fact your data areapproximately correct for the Canon, you just need to measure withthe Sigma..

As I said, I use them every day on multiple cameras..

Also, here is a site that reviews both lenses. There data is veryclose to my measurements..

Http://www.the-digital-picture.com/...05mm-F-2.8-EX-DG-Macro-Lens-Review.aspx.

Brian A..

Sorry Brian, when you get both lenses in you hand and try them out you will see for yourself..

Lin..

Comment #15

Either you are mistaken, or you are lying; and while I would prefer to believe in the former, you seem to be digging yourself into a deeper hole with every post. Your camera and lens claims are difficult to believe, and you posts lack credibility..

You claim to use both on multiple cameras on a everyday basis yet you obviously don't know the characteristics of either: first claiming a working distance of 12 inches then changing that to a minimum focusing distance..

In digging your own grave you come up with one more falsity after another. You claim that "The Canon focuses at 5.9 inches and yes that's the distance from the subject to the sensor", but unfortunately the distance from the front element of the Canon 100 mm f/2.8 to the sensor is more than 6 inches. Your subjects are inside the lens?.

And here you are giving fake advice on the beginners forum. Shame on you..

Brian A...

Comment #16

You need to learn to "read"!! Here is my original post relevant to this discussion:.

A Sigma 105mm F2.8 macro is ideal for any macro work. The Canon 100mm F2.8 is excellent too. I use both but prefer the Sigma for a bit longer working length at 1:1. Again if you use a Canon dSLR you might want to look at a good used 70-200 F2.8. You don't need the stabilized version. If you are shooting birds in flight, a stabilized lens is of less utility because you will generally be using a faster shutter speed and pan with the subject..

There is nothing wrong with "my credibility". I've been posting here almost twice as long as you have and I'm not digging any "hole". What I'm telling you is what my lenses do on my cameras. If you choose to disagree then so be it, but it would probably be nice if you actually "had" a Sigma 105mm F2.8..

I've been a professional photographer for over 40 years and my work is here for anyone to see. I see nothing from you except talk and arguments based on what you "think" you know and what you apparently can't understand..

Now I'm finished arguing with you but I will ask you to show me some of your work which demonstrates that you really have a clue rather than simply arguing.

Endlessly and trying to put words in my mouth which I never said. So get it straight. Read my post again and then stop and think about what "you" are saying..

Lin.

Hugowolf wrote:.

Either you are mistaken, or you are lying; and while I would preferto believe in the former, you seem to be digging yourself into adeeper hole with every post. Your camera and lens claims aredifficult to believe, and you posts lack credibility..

You claim to use both on multiple cameras on a everyday basis yet youobviously don't know the characteristics of either: first claiming aworking distance of 12 inches then changing that to a minimumfocusing distance..

In digging your own grave you come up with one more falsity afteranother. You claim that "The Canon focuses at 5.9 inches and yesthat's the distance from the subject to the sensor", butunfortunately the distance from the front element of the Canon 100 mmf/2.8 to the sensor is more than 6 inches. Your subjects are insidethe lens?.

And here you are giving fake advice on the beginners forum. Shame onyou..

Brian A...

Comment #17

Lin Evans wrote:.

You need to learn to "read"!! Here is my original post relevant tothis discussion:.

Believe it or not, I can read..

A Sigma 105mm F2.8 macro is ideal for any macro work. The Canon 100mmF2.8 is excellent too. I use both but prefer the Sigma for a bitlonger working length at 1:1..

And this part was what I contended. The fact is that the Sigma 105 mm has less working distance at 1:1 than the Canon 100 mm f/2.8, not more. This is a fact, it isnt arguable. You could come up with some evidence to dispute it as a fact, but you choose not to..

There is nothing wrong with "my credibility". I've been posting herealmost twice as long as you have and I'm not digging any "hole". WhatI'm telling you is what my lenses do on my cameras. If you choose todisagree then so be it, but it would probably be nice if you actually"had" a Sigma 105mm F2.8..

Not many photographers have a need for two macro lenses of the same approximate focal length. I tried and tested the Sigma before buying the Canon. The Sigma had less working distance, an extending barrel, and awkward clutch mechanism for disengaging AF, and the build quality wasnt as good as the Canon..

(The camera that the lens goes on does not affect the minimum working distance or the minimum focusing distance.).

I've been a professional photographer for over 40 years and my workis here for anyone to see. I see nothing from you except talk andarguments based on what you "think" you know and what you apparentlycan't understand..

What does length of time have to do with it? Either the Sigma has more working distance than the Canon, or it doesnt..

Now I'm finished arguing with you but I will ask you to show me someof your work which demonstrates that you really have a clue ratherthan simply arguingendlessly.

I have posted plenty of images over the years if you search, but work has absolutely nothing to do with whether the Sigma 105 mm has a greater or lesser working distance than the Canon 100 mm f/2.8.

And trying to put words in my mouth which I never said. Soget it straight..

You said I use both but prefer the Sigma for a bit longer working length at 1:1.. These were your exact words. You have quoted them yourself, above. Im not trying to put any words into your mouth..

Read my post again and then stop and think aboutwhat "you" are saying..

I am saying that the Canon 100 mm f/2.8 macro lens has more working distance at 1:1 than the Sigma 105 mm macro lens. There really isnt much to think about, either it is true or false..

You made an assertion. I claim that it is false and provide two sources to support my assertion..

Brian A...

Comment #18

Lin Evans wrote:.

Hugowolf wrote:.

Lin Evans wrote:.

I have both lenses. The Sigma does 1.1 at 12.2 inches, the Canon does1:1 at 5.9 inches. The Sigma has over twice the working distance ofthe Canon..

If you're Sigma 105 mm does 1:1 at 12.2 inches (31 cm) then you havea very unique copy. The specified minimum focusing distance (thedistance from the subject to the sensor) for this lens is 31.3cm(12.3 in). The lens is itself has a length of 9.75 cm (3.8 in) whennot extended..

And your point?.

I'm well aware of the differences, I have both of them in my hand.The Sigma focus at 12.2 inches and yes that's the distance from thesensor to the subject. The Canon focuses at 5.9 inches and yes that'sthe distance from the subject to the sensor..

From Canon's own website (http://www.usa.canon.com/...ModelInfoAct&fcategoryid=155&modelid=7400):.

Closest focus distance: 0.31m / 1 ft. (film plane to subject).

AndInner focusing affords a long working distance of 5.9in..

So I think you're comparing apples (Sigma's MFD) to oranges (Canon's working distance). As to which has more working distance, the only spec for the Sigma I see is the one Brian quoted, but you're clearly mixing up one cameras working distance with another cameras MFD above..

- DennisGallery at http://kingofthebeasts.smugmug.com..

Comment #19

If you have the cash I would go DSLR but as your new to this maybe a budget oneDSLRs come into their own at higher iso's where bridge or superzooms become virtually unusuable at over 400iso. Many are very noisy at around 200isoI have a macro set up on my Olympus E500 which cost only 85.00 and takes great pics and also goes to around 3 x lifesisze. My wildlife setup is incomplete as I need to get a 1.4 teleconverter but my lens only cost 100 Tokina 100 - 300 F4 (600mm equiv on Olympus)This is only manual focus though. Olympus have a new auto focus ZD 70 - 300 (140 - 600) coming out next month though..

There isn't much to choose between Nikon, Canon , Pentax and Olympus at the bottom / middle end of the market so I would look at all of them ..

I had a Sony H1 superzoom which was good for both but not in the same league as a DSLR and as soon as you hit iso 200/400 you hit big noise issues!.

Regards.

Tim Hugheshttp://www.artwanted.com/timhughes..

Comment #20

SimonJA wrote:.

Hi all,.

Very new to this, so please forgive any blundering naivety..

I'm intending to purchase a digital camera and lens set-up primarilyfor wildlife photography (both ends of spectrum, birds tobutterflies, spiders, etc), and have stalled at the first hurdle ofwhether to go for a superzoom (e.g. FZ50) with additional macro lens(raynox 150 or 250 maybe?) and perhaps a teleconverter (any ideaswhich most compatible/suitable?)....or....opt for an SLR (Canon 400D,Nikon 40D, etc) with appropriate (and necessarily affordable) lenses(perhaps Sigma 50-500 for tele, and some sort of macro). Whilst I'maware of some of the advantages and disadvantages with eitherapproach (performance, noise, price, portability, etc), does anyoneout there have any advice on what may be my best options?Many thanks, Simon.

Capturing wildlife requires speed and flexibility..

My choice was the Sony A100 and the Sigma 50-500mm. I chose Sony because it's SSS made the Sigma image-stabilized..

I chose the 50-500mm because I like to fill the sensor with the image I want, and filling the sensor often requires that kind of a range. Changing lenses in the field often means losing the shot..

The other comment I'd make on wildlife is that you can't rely on being able to use a tripod to steady your shots. It's bulky to carry and time-consuming to set up..

I don't do macros, so can't offer any advice..

Fiat Lux..

Comment #21

If you're new to photography, go budget and the easy, comfortable way. Go for the compact superzoom. You get all in one, that is, no lens-switchings..

You have IS, you have very fast lens, long zoom, and with a snap-on closeup lens you'll get incredible macros.....after some practise..

Here are some samples of what a much cheaper superzoom can do (the old Canon S3). If the quality looks enough for you, it might be the best choise..

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Http://sebastianfoto.se/..

Comment #22

Superzoom is a fine choice as long as you are not going to use over iso 200 that is the big question you need to ask yourself plus overall quality and veratilityInterchangeable lenses really are far more versatile!.

Regards Tim..

Comment #23

This is a beginner. No need to spend 2-3 times the money on something you dont know is for you..

ISO 200 often ain't needed when you can shoot at F/3.5 with IS gaining another 2-3 stops..

No need to change and carry lenses can make it easier and more fun to shoot, and later on if the need raises he can upgrade to a DSLR..

I think he needs different opinions, I just gave him mine, it's up to him to make the final decision based on his needs..

Timhughes666 wrote:.

Superzoom is a fine choice as long as you are not going to use overiso 200 that is the big question you need to ask yourself plusoverall quality and veratilityInterchangeable lenses really arefar more versatile!.

Regards Tim.

Http://sebastianfoto.se/..

Comment #24

I have had two superzooms prior to owning a dslrIf I gave advice to a beginner saying you won't need iso 200 or over much then I woulldn't be helping at allSuperzooms are excellent but do have limitations , some beginners get the impression that because they have image stabilisation and f3.5 - 4.5 they wont need above iso 100 , which is true if you shoot outside in decent light or never point your camera at a dimly lit scene ot take pictures in the evening etc etc..

I would just advise that with a DSLR you have room to grow and if you buy a budget one it won't cost much more than a superzoom anyway. My Olympus E500 with two excellent kit lenses cost 360 in rip off UK so not too bad!!.

Once you realise the limitations as I did of superzooms you will want to upgrade anywayI previously owned a DSC H1 (good) and H5 (ok but poor handing ).

Regards.

Tim Hugheshttp://www.artwanted.com/timhughes..

Comment #25

Here are some Olympus E500 samplesiso 500.

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Iso 320 with built in flash.

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Crop.

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3 x lifesixe (approx).

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Some Sony H1 Samplesiso 100.

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Iso 64/100?.

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Regards Tim Hugheshttp://www.artwanted.com/timhughes..

Comment #26

Timhughes666 wrote:.

Some Sony H1 Samplesiso 100.

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Lovely colour and great detail. Nice shot..

Fiat Lux..

Comment #27

Sorry to resurrect this but it still doesn't seem to have been answered properly. Jump to the end if you can't be bothered with all the detail, the answer is there..

I have neither lens so I can at least claim that I have no axe to grind! I do however have the EF100/2.8 MkI, and I do understand the issues here..

First, the focusing distance (i.e. film plane to subject) at 1:1 is *always* four times the focal length. Different lens designs make no difference, this is a hard-and-fast rule of optics. However, the stated focal length of photographic lenses is always measured when focused at infinity, and the focal length of our complex, multiple element lenses can vary significantly with focusing distance. In the case of my 100/2.8 MkI, the focusing distance at 1:1 is 307 mm - so the focal length must be only 77 mm. I seem to have lost 23 mm of my focal length, I want a refund!.

Knowing this, we can immediately predict that two 1:1 macro lenses of similar focal length and similar overall length (when focused) will have similar working distances. But we need some actual numbers....

The distance from the film plane to the front of my lens when focused at 1:1 is 195 mm*, leaving a working distance of 112 mm (or about 4 1/2 inches)..

(* of which 44 mm is the distance from the film plane to the mount, and 151 mm is from the mount to the front of the lens).

Now for the lenses under discussion. For the EF100/2.8 USM:.

Minimum focus (which is at 1:1) is quoted as 0.31 m. Unfortunately Canon doesn't give the third decimal place so we will have to assume 310 mm..

The lens is 119 mm long, and internal focusing so that doesn't change, plus the EF mount distance is 44 mm. Subtract both of these from the minimum focusing distance and we get 147 mm. Canon in fact quotes a working distance of 149 mm so we have a discrepancy of 2 mm - I'm guessing that means the focusing distance at 1:1 is actually 312 mm but it's not worth fretting about 2 mm..

Finally the Sigma 105 mm macro:.

Minimum focus is 313 mm according to Sigma's own specs. (You will note that this means the "105 mm" Sigma has a true focal length at 1:1 of 79 mm - which is comparable with the Canon lenses.).

Overall length is quoted on Sigma's web site as 97.5 mm, but this is not an internal focusing lens so it extends as it focuses closer. As far as I can ascertain from reading reviews (as I said earlier, I don't have one) the overall length when focused at 1:1 is 146 mm..

Therefore working distance is 313 - 146 - 44 = 123 mm. Brian quoted 122 mm, so we are in close agreement..

So there you have it:.

Canon EF100/2.8 MkI - 112 mmCanon EF100/2.8 MkII USM - 149 mmSigma 105 Macro - 123 mm.

Lin Evans wrote:.

Hi Brian,.

I have both lenses. The Sigma does 1.1 at 12.2 inches, the Canon does1:1 at 5.9 inches. The Sigma has over twice the working distance ofthe Canon..

When you are doing macro work, having a greater working distancegives you an advantage, especially with subjects which are easilyfrightened such as insects..

Best regards,.

Lin.

Hugowolf wrote:.

The Canon 100 mm f/2.8 has a working distance of 149 mm (not 139mm).. The Sigma 105 has a working distance of 122 mm. So the Canonhas 27 mm (22%) more working distance than the Sigma..

Brian A...

Comment #28

Steve Balcombe wrote:.

Sorry to resurrect this but it still doesn't seem to have beenanswered properly. Jump to the end if you can't be bothered with allthe detail, the answer is there..

I do however have the EF100/2.8 MkI, and I do understand theissues here..

First, the focusing distance (i.e. film plane to subject) at 1:1 is*always* four times the focal length. Different lens designs make nodifference, this is a hard-and-fast rule of optics. However, thestated focal length of photographic lenses is always measured whenfocused at infinity, and the focal length of our complex, multipleelement lenses can vary significantly with focusing distance. In thecase of my 100/2.8 MkI, the focusing distance at 1:1 is 307 mm - sothe focal length must be only 77 mm. I seem to have lost 23 mm of myfocal length, I want a refund!.

And the Canon 100 mm f/2.8 USM works out at a whopping 1 mm extra at a focal length of 78 mm, but that extra mm gives a gain of more than an inch in minimum working distance..

Now for the lenses under discussion. For the EF100/2.8 USM:.

Minimum focus (which is at 1:1) is quoted as 0.31 m. UnfortunatelyCanon doesn't give the third decimal place so we will have to assume310 mm..

The lens is 119 mm long, and internal focusing so that doesn'tchange, plus the EF mount distance is 44 mm. Subtract both of thesefrom the minimum focusing distance and we get 147 mm. Canon in factquotes a working distance of 149 mm so we have a discrepancy of 2 mm- I'm guessing that means the focusing distance at 1:1 is actually312 mm but it's not worth fretting about 2 mm..

I totally agree with your figures, and measuring the minimum working distance of my Canon 100 mm f/2.8 USM I get 148 mm, which pretty much agrees with Canons figures. I am 1 mm off their 149 mm, but my measuring equipment (macro focusing rail and vernier caliper) could easily account for 1 mm and my copy of the lens seems to do slightly more than 1:1..

Finally the Sigma 105 mm macro:.

Minimum focus is 313 mm according to Sigma's own specs. (You willnote that this means the "105 mm" Sigma has a true focal length at1:1 of 79 mm - which is comparable with the Canon lenses.).

Overall length is quoted on Sigma's web site as 97.5 mm, but this isnot an internal focusing lens so it extends as it focuses closer. Asfar as I can ascertain from reading reviews (as I said earlier, Idon't have one) the overall length when focused at 1:1 is 146 mm..

Therefore working distance is 313 - 146 - 44 = 123 mm. Brian quoted122 mm, so we are in close agreement..

So there you have it:.

Canon EF100/2.8 MkI - 112 mmCanon EF100/2.8 MkII USM - 149 mmSigma 105 Macro - 123 mm.

With the Tamron 90 mm macro coming in at 96-97 mm; less than a centimeter working distance advantage over the Canon EF-S 60 mm macro..

Brian A...

Comment #29

Hugowolf wrote:.

Steve Balcombe wrote:.

... In thecase of my 100/2.8 MkI, the focusing distance at 1:1 is 307 mm - sothe focal length must be only 77 mm. I seem to have lost 23 mm of myfocal length, I want a refund!.

And the Canon 100 mm f/2.8 USM works out at a whopping 1 mm extra ata focal length of 78 mm, but that extra mm gives a gain of more thanan inch in minimum working distance..

Most of the extra working distance comes from the fact that the MkII is significantly shorter than the MkI - fully 32 mm shorter when both are focused at 1:1..

For some time it's been in my mind to upgrade to the USM version, but lately I've been flirting with the idea of a Sigma 150 macro. Now that really does have a great working distance - somewhere around 200 mm I believe - as well as HSM focusing, and tripod collar and lens hood thrown in. Oh yes, and excellent optics of course. But I have a slightly longer term plan for a 300 f/4L for which I would almost certainly buy a 500D, knocking everything else into a cocked hat, working distance-wise. So maybe I'm better sticking with the 100 macro and just doing the inexpensive upgrade to the USM version.....

Comment #30

There is always something better, albeit with the usual trade offs of size and weight. The Canon 180 mm macro has a min working distance of 250 mm..

With the 300 mm and the +2 dioptre 500D you would have a working distance of 500 mm at what was infinity. Do you have any idea what the working distance would be at it's maximum magnification and what that magnification would be?.

Brian A...

Comment #31

Hugowolf wrote:.

There is always something better, albeit with the usual trade offs ofsize and weight. The Canon 180 mm macro has a min working distance of250 mm..

Yes, but I can't afford the Canon 180. Also, whereas the Sigma 150 will fit into the space in my bag where the Canon 100 currently lives, the Canon 180 is a bit of a monster..

With the 300 mm and the +2 dioptre 500D you would have a workingdistance of 500 mm at what was infinity. Do you have any idea whatthe working distance would be at it's maximum magnification and whatthat magnification would be?.

Although I commented on the working distance, the main motivation is that I will hopefully have the 300/4 anyway, and having seen what it can do with a 500D attached it seems silly not to invest in one..

But to answer your question - I'm not sure. From previous research I seem to recall about 300 mm working distance at maximum magnification which is slightly less than 1:1, but I wouldn't want to be quoted on that. Somewhere I have a copy of an early edition of EF Lens Works but right now I can't seem to find it. When it turns up, I expect it has a compatibility table in it which should give all the data..

The downside of all this is the hours I will spend waiting for dragonflies to fly into that narrow window between 300 mm and 500 mm from the front of the lens.....

Comment #32

Steve Balcombe wrote:.

But to answer your question - I'm not sure. From previous research Iseem to recall about 300 mm working distance at maximum magnificationwhich is slightly less than 1:1, but I wouldn't want to be quoted onthat. Somewhere I have a copy of an early edition of EF Lens Worksbut right now I can't seem to find it. When it turns up, I expect ithas a compatibility table in it which should give all the data..

Instead I looked in the current edition, which I downloaded recently from http://www.canon-europe.com/...tal_slr_educational_tools/ef_lens_work_iii.asp - everyone should have a copy! Unfortunately it doesn't give data for the close-up lenses but it did remind me of another stat - the 300 f/4L IS with a 1.4x TC manages a magnification of 0.33x at a distance of 1.5 metres. That could be very useful...

Comment #33

Hi everyone,.

Apologies for slow response to everyone's posts, but thanks to all for takling time to share views in often lively debate : ).

Thanks also for excellent example images of what can be acheived with various options..

Still undecided on choice, but much more informed. Will spend a day in local camera store and comapre various set-ups..

Thanks again,Cheers, Simon..

Comment #34

If you are shooting wildlife in locations that do not allow getting as close as you want (ignoring animal skittishness for a minute), then I think a 35mm-equiv of 300mm is the bare minimum (or 200mm with a 1.4 teleconverter is needed)..

I use a Canon 20D with a 70-200/2.8 IS with 1.4 TC, so I'm at 200mm * 1.4 * 1.6 = 448mm and sometimes that's not enough to fill the frame with the subject..

When I shoot from the boardwalk at Wakodahatchee Wetlands or Corkscrew Swamp in FL, I can't get beyond the boardwalk railing, and I usually use my 70-200/2.8 with or without a 1.4 TC..

When shooting from greater distances (and light allows), say from banks of canals at Loxahatchee NWR or Ding Darling in FL, I sometimes use the Sigma 50-500, racked out to 500mm (x 1.6 = 800mm), as the working distances can be significantly greater, so I need more reach..

If Canon would upgrade the 400/5.6 L to add IS, I would probably trade the Sigma 50-500 for that. Otherwise, I'll wait for a big bonus check and spend it on a Canon 400/2.8 IS (to use with my 1.4x) or a 500/4 ISGalleries: http://www.dheller.net..

Comment #35

SimonJA wrote:Still undecided on choice, but much more informed. Will spend a dayin local camera store and comapre various set-ups.Thanks again,Cheers, Simon.

Simon-.

Except for the off topic macro banter, your original quandry/question appears to have been somewhat beat around in being answered..

A lot of the answer has to do with your budget, shooting opportunities and desires. I started digital with the intent/desire for Bald Eagle imaging which meant large subject distances. I wasn't experienced enough and didn't have the budget for going the dSLR route initially so I went the Pany superzoom route started with the FZ5 then to the FZ30..

If your experience in long distance digital is marginal and your budget is tight, the Pany superzooms would be a good option. The experience and techniques learned from this approach will be very valuable for your future progression..

In my case, it led me to my D50 and Bigma but it was only after I had reached the limits of the superzoom capabilities and had the budget. To match/exceed the long end IQ of the superzooms, IMHO, you're looking at probably at least $1K in body and long glass..

As I believe a previous poster pointed out, a lot of the long term Panasonic forum posters have all progressed from the Pany superzooms to dSLRs+good, long glass. I'm one of them and I'd venture to say that most, if not all of us, would agree that the value of owning our Pany superzooms served us well for it's 'entry price'..

There are valid arguments for both camps superzoom and progress to dSLRs or start out with a dSLR and 'grow' your lens collection as the budget allows. Both approaches have their pros & cons and frustration/learning curves. In the end, it's your money but I'd point out that most, again if not all, Pany superzoom owners still have our Panys and our dSLR systems...Telecorder (Dave)FZee30+RD-S+OlyTC1.7XDee50+Nikon 35mm F2.0D-AF+Nikkor18-70DX+Tam70-300L+BIGMA 50-500 EX HSMMy Image Galleries.

Http://www.nikonians-images.com/...hp?cat=500&ppuser=121399&password=.

Http://Telecorder.smugmug.com/.

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window..

Comment #36

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.

 

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