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Thread: Canon 500m advice

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    Default Canon 500m advice

    Hi all,

    I'm new to bird photography but with retirement coming I want to pursue this hobby. I have been a photographer for a number of years shooting family portraits, travel and events but have no experience of wildlife. Anyway,I just sold a fair amount of gear and my DSLR to buy an R5 and also bought the Canon 500mm f4L IS II lens used from a reputable dealer here in the UK. I have two weeks on the return period to test it. As I said, I'm new to this This is my first super tele lens and I'm out of my depth here. Also I don't really know the R5 well so I'm on a bit of a curve. Please excuse my ignorance.

    I very quickly tried the combo out in the garden in a spare hour at the weekend, and it seemed to give sharp images in the few shots I tried, however, I did notice on a few of the test shots I've done so far, the AF seemed to hesitate/be sluggish a few times but maybe it's my technique or maybe I chose a poor area to focus? I will need to try more carefully. I intend to give it more of a test in the next couple of days.

    I'd like some advice on how to test this lens properly. I'm not planning to set up lab conditions to define its characteristics, but I'd like advice on a basic process I can go through to make sue all is as it should be. I'm pretty much limited to my garden as we are in lockdown here. It's also dull and overcast for the foreseeable where I am but I will do my best

    My initial ideas are as follows:

    I will try the AF for responsiveness and accuracy but taking random shots here and there. Preferably some garden birds. I believe there should be no need to worry about micro-adjustment as I'm using the Canon R5 but I'm curious as to why it seemed sluggish as above.

    I will also probably photograph a wall from just over MFD at f4 and try to make sure the wall is sharp over all the image and that both sides are equally clear to check for de-centring.

    I will also try some shots at infinity to see it works there.

    I will use a tripod with low ISO at static objects with IS off. for AF testing I will crank up the ISO to get good shutter speed on moving birds, if I can avoid scaring them off. I will then process shots in C1, probably driving myself mad with some heavy-duty pixel peeping!

    I usually don't bother with all this stuff and I've only ever been unhappy with one Canon lens but i've spent so much on this lens and I'm so ignorant of the process I should use and expectations I should have I want to reassure myself.

    In addition to returning due to potential dealbreakers, the lens has a 12month warranty so if there are issues that are fixable I would like to find them out so I can get them sorted.

    Sorry for the list of anxieties, but thank you for your patience and help.

    Bill

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    Super Moderator Daniel Cadieux's Avatar
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    Hey Bill, it can be quite disconcerting getting equipment with such a price tag eh! Saying this, I don't think you need to go crazy on tests to determine if the lens performs up to par. IQ should be obvious - one session with backyard birds, or even a few tests on a couple of plush toys set at different distances, or newspaper placed on a flat wall, should do the trick real quick. AF is not as obvious as there are more variables, and user error is easier to introduce, but it should be quite "snappy" for initial acquisition. I'm not familiar with the R5's inner-workings so I can't comment on AF settings and such just yet. You are correct that no micro-adjustment is needed with mirroless bodies. The EF-to-R adapter has no impact on the lens performance, and is actually quite favorable, from all the stuff I've read.

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    Hi Daniel,

    Thanks for your reply. Yes, the £s spent certainly racks up the ante a bit. That coupled with my inexperience is what's causing me anxiety. Both the lens and camera were purchases made as my last chance to buy gear like this and after this year, it would be financially out of the question so I jumped in and want to make sure it's right.

    I will maybe dial down my approach a little and just take a few more shots to make sure I'm happy. Obviously Canon warranties the camera and the lens comes with a 12 month warranty from a reputable dealer so unless there's something that can't be put right down the road, I should be covered.

    Hopefully, my anxiety will subside in the coming weeks and I can get on with learning how to use the gear to get some decent pictures

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    Keep in mind that 500mm is a long, and a relatively heavy lens for those not used to it, and if not using proper stabilization techniques (or good sturdy tripods form many) then softness can easily get introduced (especially when handheld) even if the lens is working perfectly fine. The internal IS helps a lot and is a real marvel, but nothing beats additional techniques.

    Have fun with your new kit!!

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    Hi Will welcome to the forum

    It is very tough to diagnose your issue as there are many factors involved from operator error, bad settings etc etc. the easiest one to rule out is operator error.

    do you have the canon BIF guide? the first step is to learn the basic fundamental techniques of BIF and then take it from there to establish if your lens is defective or not.

    best
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    Wildlife Moderator Steve Kaluski's Avatar
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    Hi Bill, what was your decision for the R5 rather than the R6, based on the UK weather?
    Post Production: Itís ALL about what you do with the tools and not, which brand of tool you use.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Cadieux View Post
    Keep in mind that 500mm is a long, and a relatively heavy lens for those not used to it, and if not using proper stabilization techniques (or good sturdy tripods form many) then softness can easily get introduced (especially when handheld) even if the lens is working perfectly fine. The internal IS helps a lot and is a real marvel, but nothing beats additional techniques.

    Have fun with your new kit!!
    Thanks Daniel. I have a Gtizo 3530LS and Katana Jr Gimbal so I should be all right with the stability but for sure, I'm taking all precautions to make the set up solid.

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    Quote Originally Posted by arash_hazeghi View Post
    Hi Will welcome to the forum

    It is very tough to diagnose your issue as there are many factors involved from operator error, bad settings etc etc. the easiest one to rule out is operator error.

    do you have the canon BIF guide? the first step is to learn the basic fundamental techniques of BIF and then take it from there to establish if your lens is defective or not.

    best

    Hi Arash, Thank you for your welcome. Yes I got a hold of the guide a while back when I was considering giving birds a go. It was a really useful. I was inspired by the photographs in it. Mind you It was one of the reasons I went for the 500mm f4 lens so it turned out to be a more expensive purchase than I initially thought

    I suspect it is likely to be me just me not knowing what I was doing and needing to practice techniques. I had another, more measured, trial yesterday and everything seemed to be fine. I also was able to add a series of walls, dustbins and views of our garden shed to my portfolio. I'm hoping to get a picture of an actual bird one day!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Kaluski View Post
    Hi Bill, what was your decision for the R5 rather than the R6, based on the UK weather?
    Hi Steve,

    I originally ordered the R6 and hummed and hawed for weeks while waiting to receive it. During this time i changed my mind several times but I saw a comparison of noise between the two which suggested to me that the difference wasn't particularly significant in real life situations. I figured I could downsize to get cleaner results if needed but couldn't upsize the R6.

    Also, as I have an interest in landscape and studio portraits. In addition I thought the extra pixels might be useful for cropping bird images so I thought the R5 resolution might be a better fit for me.

    I really liked the top setting screen and I also thought the weather sealing and build on the R5 was a bit better.

    It wasn't an easy decision and I'm guessing either would have done me nicely. In the end I thought the R5 was more versatile. Was it the right decision? I don't really know

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    I figured I could downsize to get cleaner results if needed but couldn't upsize the R6.
    Is it just 'Social Media' that you post on, or do your print, upload to Stock libraries, sell prints?

    Also, as I have an interest in landscape and studio portraits. In addition I thought the extra pixels might be useful for cropping bird images so I thought the R5 resolution might be a better fit for me.
    I can see the benefit of more pixels for landscape/portraits, it's the bird/wildlife aspect because you may occasionally need to push the ISO due to the weather, plus you may need to up the SS to avoid pixel blur with the R5????


    I really liked the top setting screen and I also thought the weather sealing and build on the R5 was a bit better.
    Yes, I like the top screen because I'm used to them, ditto travel a lot (used too Svalbard to Africa/India...), so the camera needs to be robust from the elements, but if you are more 'fair weather' do you need it?

    Was it the right decision?
    Difficult, but the ideal scenario have the R5 & R6 in the bag.

    They are both fantastic cameras delivering awesome results, you just need to workout what suits your needs and not get swayed by hype.
    Post Production: Itís ALL about what you do with the tools and not, which brand of tool you use.

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    Hi Steve,

    Yes both would be nice

    I used to photograph weddings and families so was selling prints. With a career change in March, I plan go back to that next year. I was looking for a camera that would do that well and so I suppose that was an important consideration. I doubt I will ever sell a wildlife print so that's purely a hobby. I am not convinced there is much of an actual noise advantage in the R6.

    I had a 5Ds and a 5DIV series before so I guess I could have kept the 5DIV for wildlife but I felt that once I got the R5, it would sit doing nothing and so I sold it while the price was holding. (I also thought about Sony, but in the end stuck with Canon. I couldn't have got a used Sony 600mm f4 as easily as the 500mm f4.)

    I do like to travel, though not much of that at the moment, but I've had to cancel trips to Cyprus, and a couple of other European countries including one to northern Norway in the coming winter for the Aurora so I'd appreciate a bit of weathersealing both from dust and rain.

    All in all its always a balancing act and no right ( or wrong ) decisions and for me the R5 won out.

    I'm happy with my camera choice, but .....



    I do need to get to grips with this lens

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    Hi Will, yes I think you did make the right choice based on the future requirements, just make sure it's correctly set up. Doubt you will ever need to go beyond ISO2500 and for weddings the extra pixels will be nice. I would get the battery grip if you haven't already and when not in use take the batteries out. Not sure what you need to get to grips with re the 500, other than Mode 1 for everything except..., Mode 2 for panning left to right. Enjoy, both cameras are fun to play with.
    Post Production: Itís ALL about what you do with the tools and not, which brand of tool you use.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Kaluski View Post
    Hi Will, yes I think you did make the right choice based on the future requirements, just make sure it's correctly set up. Doubt you will ever need to go beyond ISO2500 and for weddings the extra pixels will be nice. I would get the battery grip if you haven't already and when not in use take the batteries out. Not sure what you need to get to grips with re the 500, other than Mode 1 for everything except..., Mode 2 for panning left to right. Enjoy, both cameras are fun to play with.
    Thanks, Steve. The grip is certainly on my list. Re getting to grips with the lens, I just feel that learning to get comfortable with the lens and getting to know how to get the best of it as well as developing good technique will take me a little while.

    Honestly, part of me still is niggled with the feeling that spending so much on a hobby lens is a bit daft and maybe I should settle for the 100-500 zoom, but the f7.1 puts me off that. Also something like the 400mm f5.6L is cheap and light but other than in my garden not so helpful. I anticipate most of my photography will be in Kent marshes and reserves where the birds are a fair bit away and I feel trying with that 400mm would be an exercise in frustration - and sticking an extender and going for f8 would be pretty limiting. I will just need to get over my Scottish tendencies and accept the outlay ;-)

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    Honestly, part of me still is niggled with the feeling that spending so much on a hobby lens is a bit daft and maybe I should settle for the 100-500 zoom, but the f7.1 puts me off that.
    Will, think of it as an investment, the only issue is that the investment tends to grow over time!!!! Imagine the 'Green Fees' at Glen Eagles, or St Andrews, plus Membership and then look at what you have.... You have done the right thing, you will get great enjoyment from both the garden and doing the Wedding side, plus joining here you will find camaraderie and likeminded folk with the same passions and folk like Danial have a wealth of knowledge you can tap into.

    If you haven't already, then I would think about a 1.4 extender, 2x can wait, but the 1.4 is very handy. Try to frame in camera and although you have the pixels, try not to crop too hard and so maximise you IQ. Plus think how you wish to portray the capture, landscape or portrait and again, try to avoid shooting landscape and cropping to portrait

    I will just need to get over my Scottish tendencies and accept the outlay
    Take it slowly and steadily and so any 'pain' can be spread and if it gets too much, pour yourself a wee dram, purely for medicinal purposes of course.
    Post Production: Itís ALL about what you do with the tools and not, which brand of tool you use.

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    Hee Hee! You make a very good point about the Green Fees. I don't smoke or drink and I don't dress like Beau Brummell and you can't take it with you !

    I actually picked up a used 1.4EX II and I'm trying that out at the moment.

    Next on my list is setting up a bit of a hide and getting some twigs etc sorted in the garden to get these birds to pose nicely. I'm also planning to be off to Oare Marshes near Faversham, or Stodmarsh near Canterbury and see how I fare, though that might have to wait until after lockdown

    And yes, it's really great to have this resource where so many knowledgeable people are happy to pass on their experience.

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    I actually picked up a used 1.4EX II and I'm trying that out at the moment.
    The MK3 is what you wanted Will, especially if you are using the 500 MK2.
    Post Production: Itís ALL about what you do with the tools and not, which brand of tool you use.

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    Ah! Thanks for the heads up. I will return it and see if I can pick up a Mk III.

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    I would, plus... remember to swop from Animal AF to People AF, as you don't want to shoot a wedding set on Animal AF
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Kaluski View Post
    I would, plus... remember to swop from Animal AF to People AF, as you don't want to shoot a wedding set on Animal AF
    An interesting thought

    Right. I've returned the Mk II and ordered a used Mk III which should arrive tomorrow. It seems now I've decided on the lens, I've thrown caution to the wind and just keeping on spending !!

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    It seems now I've decided on the lens, I've thrown caution to the wind and just keeping on spending !!
    AHHA, you left the Sporran at home, a wise move!
    Post Production: Itís ALL about what you do with the tools and not, which brand of tool you use.

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    The first thing I thought of when you stated that the AF seemed sluggish was -What do you have set as your "distance limiter" on the lens?
    If you have it set to "Full" it will take a millisecond longer to focus that if you have it set at "16m to infinity".
    There could be many other reasons for your observation. The 500 v 2 is an awesome lens and you will learn to love it,
    Gail

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    Hi Gail. Subsequent use hasn't shown sluggish AF so it might have been a setting which was "wrong" or at least sub-optimal, somewhere. I'm new to the camera as well as the lens, so there's a raft of possibilities. It certainly seems snappy enough now. As long as it keeps going as it now is, I will be happy.

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    Will, never known the 500, or any other EF lens to be sluggish, so agree it’s perhaps a camera setting. Remember the R5 & 6 offer a few more customisations, so don’t just rely on Animal AF, as there will be times where it will catch you out and so understanding the camera and ‘customising’ the body will deliver the results for that particular situation, but it may just take a little time.

    I could say set this to this and this to that when this happens and in the event this happens hit this, but exploring and making errors is the best way to learn, plus we all set our cameras up differently, but for sure the R5 & 6 have some neat tricks.
    Post Production: Itís ALL about what you do with the tools and not, which brand of tool you use.

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    Yes, I'm pretty sure it was operator error with a camera setting. Lot to explore with this camera.

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