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Thread: Art Morris says goodbye to his 800/5.6L IS

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    Senior Member neuroanatomist's Avatar
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    Art Morris says goodbye to his 800/5.6L IS

    Those of us who shoot birds know that often, you simply cannot have a long enough lens. That's why Art Morris routinely shoots with an 800/5.6L IS, often with a 1.4x TC, and why Bryan brought the 800/5.6 on his recent Florida trip.

    But recently, Art mentioned that he'll be selling his 800/5.6L IS. Why? The 600mm f/4L IS II is an all-around better choice. Art posted his rationale yesterday in a blog post. Actually, nothing surprising there... It was clear as soon as the 600/4 II became available and Bryan posted the ISO 12233 charts that the new 600 II + 1.4xIII was sharper than the bare 800 (comparison), and that the 600 II + 2xIII was slightly sharper than the 800 + 1.4xIII (comparison). That meant that the new 600 II was effectively delivering a longer focal length, plus it's significantly lighter, and cheaper than the 800/5.6 - a win/win/win in my book.

    In his review of the 600/4 II, Bryan questioned whether the 600 II makes the 800/5.6 obsolete...I think the answer is yes. I expect Canon knows that as well, and that at some point we'll see a new 800/5.6L IS II that incorporates the weight-saving improvements of the other MkII supertele lenses (remember that the original 600/4 IS was much heavier than the 800/5.6, so a new 800L would be lighter than the 600 II), and delivers better optical performance. That will mean the return of a more diffucult choice...better IQ is of more benefit than 5-7% longer focal length, and no more weight advantage...vs. the almost certainly much higher cost of an 800 II.

    But until there's an 800/5.6L IS II available (not announced...but actually available, given the long delay from announcement to availability for the current Mk II superteles), the 600 II seems to be the clear choice for someone looking to get the most reach they can.

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    Senior Member conropl's Avatar
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    Neuro:

    If I remember correctly, you came to that conclusion a while back.

    There was a firmware change on your 1DX that allows you now to AF with a f/8 lens. Is f/8 the limit, or can you go beyond that? Without going beyond the f/8 AF capability, the 2XIII extender can not be used on the 800mm. If the next generation 800mm could get to f/4, then that would be a game changer by allowing the 2X to get even more reach (even at a degraded IQ, some would bit to get the longer reach).

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    Senior Member neuroanatomist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by conropl View Post
    There was a firmware change on your 1DX that allows you now to AF with a f/8 lens. Is f/8 the limit, or can you go beyond that? Without going beyond the f/8 AF capability, the 2XIII extender can not be used on the 800mm.
    The limit with a Canon TC is f/8. I'm not sure how a Kenko 2x would do with an f/5.6 lens, but given the optical hit with the Kenko 2x (much greater IQ detriment than the Canon 2x), I'm not sure it's a good option anyway. Note that's for phase detect AF - contract detect AF works at f/11.

    Quote Originally Posted by conropl View Post
    If the next generation 800mm could get to f/4, then that would be a game changer by allowing the 2X to get even more reach (even at a degraded IQ, some would bit to get the longer reach).
    It would also be a game changer by being approximately the same size as the EF 1200mm f/5.6. I doubt we'll see such a lens...

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    Maybe Art is trying to dump his 800mm before the anouncment of the new 800mm. He does have sources the rest of us do not.

    Amazingly you do not see the "should I buy the 800mm or the 600mm II?" question often. It is usually should I buy the 500mm II or 600mm II. The 800mm seems to have been lost in the shuffle.

    Canon also jacked the price up on the 800mm pre release of the 500mm II and 600mm II. Probably because Canon marketing didn't want a longer lens to be cheaper than the 500mm II. When I bought my 500mm over four years ago the 800mm was selling under $10K. In my mind this price jump made the 800mm less desirable, it kind of felt like price manipulation.

    If and when it comes a new lighter 800mm f/5.6 with improved IQ will be all the rage with birders. Especially since the fast fps bodies seem to be going FF (1D X).

    But what is more interesting is which direction will the 7D go? Will the next version be a big step up in performance, with a crop sensor and body that competes and compares with the full frame 1D series body for wildlife dollars? Or will the next version of the 7D be aimed at the pro-sumer market, and just not reach the level of performance of the 1D's. Or possibly now that there is enough processing power to fuel fast FF bodies, and sensor cost is not as much as it once was, will crop sensors be used solely in the consumer bodies.

    The question may soon be which is better? A 600mm with a 1D X and 1.4x extender, the 800mm with a 1D X or a 500mm II with a 22mp, 10fps 7D II with a 1D type AF system. But probably not, if Canon only makes FF camera bodies with the 1D features it forces wildlife photogs to buy longer and longer lenses.

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    Quote Originally Posted by neuroanatomist View Post

    It would also be a game changer by being approximately the same size as the EF 1200mm f/5.6. I doubt we'll see such a lens...
    Such a lens would indeed be a beast. I doubt it would cost under $40K, but what do I know?

    Still, it is fun to day dream...

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    An 800mm f/4.0 already does exist. It's Pentax 67 mount (which can easily be adapted to EF), weighs 17kg, is Manual Focus only, over 30 years old, and would probably go for a few grand if you ever managed to see one second hand. And from what i've heard, it's an absolutely crap lens anyway, CA and LOCA is ridiculous on film, i'd hate to think what it would do on a digital (where CA is a lot easier to see).

    But hey, if canon pull one off with AF and 4-stop IS and keep it under 10kg, it'll probably be priced north of $20k.
    For them to bring out an 800mm f/5.6 II, it would still have to beat a 600mm II + 1.4x III to justify any increase in price over the 600 II.
    An awful lot of electrons were terribly inconvenienced in the making of this post.
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    When Canon announces a 45mpx fullframe camera I will get rid of my 500 and use the 400 f/5.6.

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    Senior Member FastGass's Avatar
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    Just to be fair we only have one sample of the 800mm and if you compare the it to the first sample of the 600mm II it is such a mixed bag you can hardly draw a conclusive choice.

    BUT, with the second sample it is the same or or better (sighlty worse is some extender/aperture combinations) but given the extra versatility of a 600mm f/4 it's well worth it. A superb lens to be sure.

    My only real reservation with the 600mm II is AF speed with extenders, to me an in focus picture slightly softer is much better than the other way around! I basically would never use the 600mm focal length and the 1120/1200mm range would be use very frequently and the 1600mm end with manual focus (I'm pretty good at that anyway) is a big plus for me. But I guess I am the minority?

    Any-how I can't afford one right now anyway but am saving hard for one,

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    Amateurs worry about gear, pros about the pay, masters about the light, and I just take pictures!

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    One factor in favor of the 600II + 1.4XIII not mentioned so far is the MFD. This shot was with that combo and the 1DX cropped to image size 2865x2166 taken just outside the MFD but too close for the 800mm. For small perching birds and hummers, if you can get close the MFD plays a 'big' role in the image size and final quality. Maybe the 800 II would address this to some degree by having a closer MFD than version I, but not likely to get close to the MFD of the 600II. I guess if you can't get this close then the longer lens will be the best choice. Look forward to the 800mm II f4 - just need the antigrav unit to carry it around.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HDNitehawk View Post

    Amazingly you do not see the "should I buy the 800mm or the 600mm II?" question often. It is usually should I buy the 500mm II or 600mm II.
    Need to distract myself for a bit so I'm browsing the forums and kicking off the dust on a couple of topics. A few years ago, I realized that it became easier to think (dream?) about the big white guns by focusing on the hundreds digit. The odds (300/2.8 and 500/4, and you could perhaps lump the 135/2 in here as well) were the starter lenses, stellar in their own right and versatile with a 1.4x TC. The evens (200/2, 400/2.8, 600/4, and 800/5.6) were the premium lenses, in focal length per aperture, weight, and price. Each of them offers more focal length than their next-lower "odd" brother while maintaining the same aperture. Granted, that does perhaps leave the 800 floating in the "evens" group, even though it logically belongs in the "odd" group alongside the 1200/5.6...

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