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Thread: Ultimate Supertelephoto for Travel

  1. #41
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    Some other things to think about with the 500 vs the 600.

    You gain 20% of reach, for instance to get the same framing with the 500 at 100' you will be at 120' with the 600.

    The 600mm weighs 22.9% more.

    The 600mm mfd is 21.6% farther away.

    At B&H the 600mm will cost you 27.7% more.

    It might sound silly, but in all those areas you loose ground to gain the 20%.

    MFD would be important if you were liked to take pictures of birds in the back yard where you can control the distance to your perch, or in the wild if you are able to get to the MFD. To me there I see no advantage to the 600mm, and to the contrary you the 500mm would be the better tool. Primarly because of Bokeh, if you are closer to the subject it increases the ratio that your background is from you and the lens can do a better job with the blurr.

    Of course the 500mm is better for packing and carrying because of its size and weight.

    With the 600mm in the field if you are shooting birds and you can not control distance, the 600mm rules over the 500mm.

    So really I think it comes down to use, both are excellent lenses.
    From my point of view it boils down to this.
    If birds in the field are your thing the 600mm is the way to go.
    If big game and general wildlife is your thing then I give the advantage to the 500mm.


    But if I were you I would not buy either one. It is such a tough decision maybe you should wait for the 800mm II to come out .

  2. #42
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    I'm sure I'm not the only one who appreciates your detailed comparisons, so thanks from all of us.

    In terms of resolution increase though, I don't think you want to think in linear terms, but area, so you need to square the increase. 600/500 = 120% per axis, horizontal and vertical. 1.2*1.2 = 1.44 = 144% of the resolution. Similarly, 8% is likely 1.08*1.08 = 1.1664 or and additional 16.64%.
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  3. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by HDNitehawk View Post
    Some other things to think about with the 500 vs the 600.

    You gain 20% of reach, for instance to get the same framing with the 500 at 100' you will be at 120' with the 600.

    The 600mm weighs 22.9% more.

    The 600mm mfd is 21.6% farther away.

    At B&H the 600mm will cost you 27.7% more.

    It might sound silly, but in all those areas you loose ground to gain the 20%.
    Ha....seems like Canon has it dialed in....20% difference in every way including the budget.


    Quote Originally Posted by HDNitehawk View Post
    But if I were you I would not buy either one. It is such a tough decision maybe you should wait for the 800mm II to come out
    Quote Originally Posted by HDNitehawk View Post
    .


    You probably would be surprised that the rumors of the next gen 500/600 mm lenses (possibly with DO) did give me pause.....but....my delay is more about work than anything like that. Its a good year, but that means a busy year.

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidEccleston View Post
    I'm sure I'm not the only one who appreciates your detailed comparisons, so thanks from all of us.

    In terms of resolution increase though, I don't think you want to think in linear terms, but area, so you need to square the increase. 600/500 = 120% per axis, horizontal and vertical. 1.2*1.2 = 1.44 = 144% of the resolution. Similarly, 8% is likely 1.08*1.08 = 1.1664 or and additional 16.64%.
    Thanks. I'll link to a Art Wolf article soon. He made the same point, it is more about area than linear resolution. But, I've also heard the argument that it is about linear resolution.....


    I can see it both ways, and, of course, they are related. But, doing some actual shots at my birdfeeder today....Still need to look at them more closely, but I think the 16% more area on sensor (or 8% linear resolution) is noticeable.

    ___________
    Ok....just soliciting thoughts, all the ancillary gear, does this sound about right:

    Tripod: RRS TVC-34 Mk 2
    Gimble: RRS PG-02
    Ballhead: RRS BH-55
    Leveling base: RRS universal (should I get the hook?)
    52mm drop in CPL (any other filters for a big white?)
    RRS LCF foot to replace the one from Canon
    Traveling pack-Mindshift Firstlight 40L (actually already bought this)

    Already have the 1.4xTC, 2xTC and Storm 2500 case.

    Anything else you would recommend to support a big white? A lens coat maybe?


    Thanks,
    Brant
    Last edited by Kayaker72; 06-08-2018 at 01:15 AM.

  4. #44
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    "Anything else you would recommend to support a big white? A lens coat maybe?"

    Yes get a lens coat.

    I am not sure why you want the ball head. One should be careful, lens flop with a big white could be expensive. Occasionaly I have used the Acra that I have, but would never use it for an extended period.

    You missed what I consider the most important support item.

    I use the shortest heavy duty Gitzo, it has been years since I bought it so I am not sure what model it is. But if I had to pick again I would get the shortest one when folded provided it is tall enough. I also use the big foot.

    I use the monopod probably 95% of the time when I need support. You can leave it on and carry it like it is a handle. Easier to cast over your shoulder than your tripod. Sets up faster. Generally the monopod's support is more than adequate. The tripod only gets used when I am sitting up at a spot for an extended period. I would buy the monopod before I bought any of the gear you listed.

    I do not know anybody else's thoughts, but I have never liked the 52mm drop in CPL's results. I own it, and think I wasted my money.

    I also have these items, and a few other Wimberly bars that I can configure:

    https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...oto_Combo.html

    And This

    https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...mera_Shoe.html

    Together they get your flash off the shoe and on top of your telephoto.

    Finally, you need a new 1Dx II. I do not have one myself, however if you get one and all the gear listed so far you can shoot anything from birds at the back yard bird feeder to the Superbowl.

  5. #45
    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    Canon should totally give me a sideline pass to the Superbowl for all this gear

    Ok....I'll post a bunch more background soon, but I think I am there.

    Ranking the lenses for my anticipated uses (sadly, not the superbowl):


    • Backyard birding. This is not something I do much of but would like to get into a bit more. My stands and bird feeders sit about 30 to 35 ft away from where I would primarily set up. And about 20-25 ft away from a secondary set up. Lens rankings
      • 600 f/4 IS II
      • 500 f/4 IS II
      • Distant....150-600S
      • A 400 mm lens




    • Loons and other wildlife while kayaking. Usually two trips a year, the 150-600S gives me just about enough reach, but more would be better. It is all hand holding while sitting in a kayak. I tend to rotate 45-60 degrees to either side, so some of the handholding can be awkward. Rankings:
      • 400 DO II
      • 500 f/4 IS II
      • 150-600S
      • 100-400 II plus TC


    While I can handhold the 600II, I am not liking the idea from my kayak, especially going side to side. It would probably work, but I found the 150-600S awkward, the 600 II would be another 34% in weight, and more difficult to stow. The 500 II w/ hood reversed will fit into my set up I have for the 150-600S w/ hood in position (both ~15 inches). So, I'll have to deal with the hood, but it can work.

    • Supertele (>400mm) for travel. I'll almost certainly have a zoom with me to augment, but this is where the majority of my shots with the 150-600S have come from. Trips could include birding in FL and Idaho (eagles), Yellowstone, I hope to someday do a safari, bears, elk, deer, puffins, etc. Lens rankings would actual vary for each one of these depending on location and subject, but traveling by air to potentially remote locations in general, I would rank:
      • 500 f/4 II
      • 600 f/4 II (I can get the math to work with it fitting in an overhead bin, but I am still worried about smaller planes)
      • 400 DO II


    So, somewhat interesting, each lens took first depending on the category. But, both the 400 DO II (backyard birding-want more reach) and the 600 II (from a kayak) each fell out of a category whereas I would rank the 500 II placed first or second in each.

    I think we have the winner.

  6. #46
    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    Ultimate Supertelephoto for Travel

    The 500 f/4 II and a few odds and ends are purchased as of earlier today. I'll try to add a bit more of the research and analysis I did for those that are interested.

    But, as an important point when purchasing major gear, I ended up making this purchase directly through TDP and Bryan. In addition to this thread, I've been emailing Bryan about this now and again. Toward the end of last week, he reminded me how major purchases can be made through him.

    I was pleasantly surpised today when it all came together and the deal through Bryan was the best deal I found (honestly, after he made the offer to look into it I was going to go through him if he was close...and he ended up lowest).

    So, as a reminder, for major purchases, it is worth the time to email Bryan at info@the-digital-picture.com to see what type of price he can get you.
    Last edited by Kayaker72; 06-12-2018 at 01:55 AM.

  7. #47
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    I would hope that you came to this realization through the process.
    After climbing the mountain to get enlightenment the answer to the question:
    What is the "Ultimate Supertelephoto for Travel"?

    You would now come to the realization that when it comes to the big white lenses there is no universal answer for all.
    The white lenses are all the "Ultimate" and the right one is the one that fits your needs the best.


    On another note, I hope you do not tip over often in your kayak. If it were me in a kayak I would be looking for floaties for that 500mm.

  8. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by HDNitehawk View Post
    I would hope that you came to this realization through the process.
    After climbing the mountain to get enlightenment the answer to the question:
    What is the "Ultimate Supertelephoto for Travel"?

    You would now come to the realization that when it comes to the big white lenses there is no universal answer for all.
    The white lenses are all the "Ultimate" and the right one is the one that fits your needs the best.
    Yeah, but wouldn't it have been great if there was a single "ultimate lens?"

    This has been a fun project. I will actually miss it. Basically as I've traveled or if my wife picked something I did not care to watch on TV, I would read different things. I'd actually say there has been a lot of enlightenment along the way. But not just with the Big Whites, which are remarkable, but in general lens usage.

    So, I am going to try to summarize everything in a couple more posts for those that find this interesting or may be picking up a Big White lens at some point and time. But, in reading reviews, evaluating which lenses are being used for different subjects, and making this very complex, I did come to a few very obvious (my favorite type) conclusions:

    • Any lens can be a wildlife lens
    • Nothing beats distance to subject. Get as close as possible as safely as possible.
    • Because of that, my profound love for National Parks is heighted.
    • Birds, you need all the reach you can get, but there is such a thing as enough.
    • Lenses really just capture a given amount light for a given field of view. They are tools with a certain size and weight. This is a draconian admission from someone how likes to think certain lenses have a bit of magic.
    • But, there are details, sharpness, bokeh, contrast, AF speed etc that can certain make some lenses special.


    So, I have done a bunch of research and a more analysis of different focal lengths that I would like to present. But Rick's comment fit nicely with the research part, so I will focus on that first, and the additional analysis in another post when I have time.

    Big Whites can be used to photograph anything, of course, but in looking at it, really people use them to photograph sporting events, wildlife, and aviation. I am still interested in those tickets to the superbowl, but for me, the niche really would be wildlife.

    So, in focusing on that, I quickly realized that all sorts of lenses were used by professionals for wildlife. It all depended on distance to subject and what composition the photographer was attempting to capture. The next harsh realization: Most of my favorite wildlife images were taken with something other than a supertelephoto lens.

    That still stings a little. Especially considering what is waiting for me on my credit card.

    So, I think the best way to arrange this is by lens or focal length. My impressions after much review as well as links that I hope are interesting.

    BTW, at times I will link various reviews. I assume that, as this forum is part of TDP, that you will be able to easily find those reviews.

    UWA or General Purpose Focal Lengths

    Absolutely used for wildlife. Matter of fact, may be some of the most common lenses for wildlife fall into this range. I did not observe a trend toward a specific lens (other than the 16-35 f/2.8 II), but more that every wildlife photographers had UWA and general purpose lenses of f/2.8 or f/4 varieties. Probably a slight preference for the true UWA lenses, which tells you how close the animals were to the photographers.

    In general, these images were typically wildlife set in their environment, and here you can see the convergence of landscape/wildlife photographers, at least to me, landscapes with wildlife is more interesting. But some people also were getting very creative, especially with remote triggers.
    Will Burrard-Lucas has some good stuff:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8rtkgvEqGE
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eu8gG1ioMjc

    Mac Stone has also used UWA/General purpose focal lengths for wildlife. One example:
    https://www.audubon.org/news/-how-ph...burrowing-owls

    Mid-Telephoto Lenses (70-200 mm)

    Looking through images, I think a lot of my favorite wildlife shots were taken with mid-range telephoto lenses. I've always loved this image of Jonathan's, which I recall being taken with a 70-200 II:
    https://www.huyerperspectives.com/Na...rs/i-hqtXG6w/A

    Especially for mammals, I probably read more about low light than I did about reach. One of the great benefits of this range of glass is that wide apertures are more affordable and practical.

    But, a bit more specific.

    70-200 f/2.8 II
    I saw this recommended on a lot of safari sites. In fact, Art Wolf calls the 16-35 II and 70-200 f/2.8 II his "workhorse lenses."
    https://artwolfe.com/gear/

    All I can say is that this is the second lens I would own if I could only own two lenses. It is amazing. If the field of view fits your composition, the optics and the f/2.8 will give good light in a lot of situations.

    EF 200 f/2.0
    I thought this was interesting. If you read the article, the photographer simply wanted to create unique images in an area where they knew they could get close to wildlife (Yellowstone). So, 200/2 on a crop body to maximize bokeh.

    https://thephotonaturalist.com/2017/06/05/yellowstone-2017-2-wildlife-photography-with-the-canon-200mm-f2-lens/

    Tele/SuperTele Zooms

    100-400 II
    Not sure what more there is to say than this was in 5 of 5 "Wildlife" Explorer of Light's bag. This actually may be the "ultimate travel supertele." It takes the 1.4xTC well. If I was limited to 3 or 4 lenses, this would be #3 or 4 (tough competition against the 16-35 f/4 IS). But, better photographers than I seem to like it a lot:
    https://blog.parkcameras.com/2017/06/andy-rouses-essential-lens-canon-ef-100.html

    It also gets ranked as the best zoom at 400 mm:
    https://www.lensrentals.com/blog/201...00mm-shootout/
    And is apparently built pretty darn well:
    https://www.lensrentals.com/blog/201...ilt-lens-ever/

    Sigma 120-300 f/2.8 Sport
    I think there is a natural inclination to think that the 200-400 f/4 TC as premier telephoto zoom. But, especially for safari recommendations, I probably saw this recommended more often than the 200-400 f/4 TC. A side note, I first became interested in the 150-600S while on a whale watch with a photographer that turned out to be from the Wildlife Federation. He was shooting with the 120-30S and it was his goto lens. Usually with TCs, thus he was interested in the, at the time, rumored 150-600S. And I've checked, DXOmark rates the T-Stop just fine.
    https://www.slrlounge.com/sigma-120-...2-8-dg-os-hsm/
    https://www.dxomark.com/Lenses/Sigma...urements__1009

    Sigma 150-600 Sport

    I have owned this lens since it first came out. I have taken many photos that I really do love with this lens. Since the contemporary version came out, it seems to be a bit of a forgotten lens, and for all intents and purposes, it does seem like the contemporary is optically equivalent. I still think bokeh is better on the sport and the sport is just a bit better at 600 mm, which is where I tend to use this lens. I have found having a zoom critical. As a quick example, on a whale watch, I figured the whales would all be at distances. Nope, I was between 200-500 mm the entire time. Had I brought a fixed lens, I would have missed many shots. Instead, I have these:

    Small-5957 by kayaker72, on Flickr

    Small-6265 by kayaker72, on Flickr

    Same boat ride, I was shooting puffins and wanted 20,000 mm focal length. Same trip, I was shooting bears almost exclusively at 600 mm. Yet, I've read 600 mm is too much for Brooks Falls. Bottom line, this is a good, useful lens. The T-stop issue I discuss earlier is a concern. But for an enthusiast photographer, it is a good lens. I suspect I am replacing it with two lenses, the 100-400 II and 500 f/4 II.

    A review:
    https://www.kruger-2-kalahari.com/si...ns-review.html

    EF 200-400 f/4 1.4TC

    As I said, there a lot of general support for the 200-400 f/4 + 1.4TC:
    https://www.outdoorphotographer.com/...e-photography/


    Of course, that is pretty general, but many pros are using this lens. It is one of the lenses in Bryan's bag, and one that I tend to see a lot of pictures.
    https://www.the-digital-picture.com/...?Equipment=764

    Also interesting to me, I see several serious pros where they have the 100-400 II and the 200-400 f/4 TC. That is it. No 500 mm f/4, no 600 mm f/4. As one example, I cam across Richard Bernabe because I found several references to him and the 500 f/4 II....well, that isn't what is in his bag anymore:
    https://www.richardbernabe.com/photo-equipment/


    Super Telephoto Lenses (>300 mm)
    When you look at guides for wildlife, they almost always recommend getting something >300 mm. Whether it be a safari, a trip to Yellowstone, or just general guides, get something with at least 300 mm. And, I think that it is a very valid point. But, at least I find it a bit funny, but as you dive into a subject your perspective changes. As I mention above, as I looked through different images, many of my favorite shots were shot <300 mm and some professional wildlife photographers do not have anything beyond 400 mm.

    EF 300 f/2.8

    200/2 on crop? Well, on a FF the 300 f/2.8 would give you even better bokeh for similar framing as the 200/2 on a cropped sensor. Lots of mentions of people loving this lens overall. Many using it as a goto wildlife lens, but I also saw several mentions of moving off of it both for wildlife and BIF.

    EF 400 f/5.6
    As I am trying to get to the 500 vs 600, I can't dwell on each lens. The pictures that Stuart takes with his copy were enough for me to evaluate further. There is a lot of love out there for this lens. I even found several references to people that own several other lenses that cover the 400 mm range but still own this lens. Why? Well, if you want light weight and f/5.6 is enough, do not need IS, it is hard to beat this lens.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/94381946@N07/38865959664/in/dateposted/

    EF 400 f/4 DO II
    This was the first lens that I was able to test. I have been interested in it since it's release. Great lens. I had a lot of fun shooting it. Being able to so easily walk, hop in an out of a car, and use a supertele was great. It performed really well as a 560 f/5.6. This lens seems to be very vogue, with a ton of reviews out there, which is not common for the superteles. But I get it. A few that I found interesting:
    Ari Hazeghi is very vocal in a couple of forums I found, works with Art Morris, and has been a strong advocate for this lens for BIF, granted, he just shifted to Nikon:
    http://arihazeghiphotography.com/blo...-light-lenses/
    http://arihazeghiphotography.com/blo...-400-do-is-ii/

    I also like Grant's review:
    https://www.grantatkinson.com/blog/c...m-field-review


    EF 400 f/2.8 II
    There is just not much out there on this lens. I found maybe two people using it. I would think others would be all over it for the bokeh. I can only think the thin DoF comes into play, but I've played with some numbers, they seem to work. Maybe there are just better options?

    EDIT: So, Craig from CR seems to have gravitated to the 400 f/2.8 II for the dof/bokeh. And this makes a lot of sense to me, really, at the end of a shoot, it is really a handful of the "best" images that we are after, right?

    https://www.canonrumors.com/when-i-g...my-camera-bag/

    EF 500 f/4 II or EF 600 f/4 II

    I think I will talk about these in comparison to each other, as that seems to be a pretty common decision point. I was able to use both, first and foremost, I have to say they are more alike than different. I think this is critical. These are both amazing supertelephoto lenses. When I reviewed the Canon "Wildlife" photographers for USA and EU, it was really split with half having the 500 f/4, and the other having "more reach" either as the 600 f/4 or 800 f/5.6. As Rick pointed out, you get 20% more reach with the 600 for 20% higher cost/weight/size. And 20% is something, but also, it is only 20%. Going through this, I had focused on 20% more reach (or 44% more area), which can be offset with your feet. Bryan made a good point and had me focus on bokeh...and I have to agree, I can see a bokeh difference with the 600 mm, as you'd expect.

    Two great write ups comparing the two both come down to---get the 600 mm:

    https://www.the-digital-picture.com/...spx?News=20151
    http://www.birdsasart-blog.com/2013/...0mm-f4l-is-ii/

    I get a kick out of these reviews, as they both lay out about many categories, the 500 mm is best in all but one of the categories, but then recommend the 600 mm because reach/bokeh is the most important. And there is truth to there as gathering light from a given field of view is the primary function of a lens. if you want a long lens, you want the best/longest. Then there are these again in favor of the 600 mm:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IQIh5FIi6g
    http://arihazeghiphotography.com/blog/ef600ii_review/

    But, then there is a lot of sentiment in general threads in favor of the 500 f/4 II. I read through several, but generally, I found it very interesting that whatever people had, they loved. A few people sold the 600 mm because of size/weight. Most seemed to think it was just fine. A few people sold the 500 mm f/4 because they wanted more reach, but generally 500 f/4 or 700 f/5.6 was enough. I wouldn't even say this was definitive, but those wanting more tended to be birders, those content with the 500 f/4 tended to be birders and maybe focus on larger mammals. A few examples:
    https://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/4224133
    http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1547697/0


    In terms of kit construction, there is something to be said for setting an extreme with something like the EF 600 f/4 II for reach and bokeh. I almost went with the EF 600. But, for me, it came down to the earlier post of comparing what was best for my intended uses (BTW, Bryan travels with his 600 mm in big and small planes, for what it is worth) and also I think a good rule of thumb would be for my travel kit to fit in one bag. I like to be organized. I recently purchased the Firstlight 40L, and I am pretty sure I can fit my 5DIV, 16-35, 24-70, either the 100-400 or 70-200 (probably not both), and a 500 mm lens in it as well as an odd/end here or there. I might be able to fit something close to that in with the 600 mm f/4 II, but suspect I would lose at least a lens if not two. Given that I want to travel with that kit in one bag, and given the fact that I very much appreciate other lenses usefulness for wildlife, that was another factor. Finally, I did use both. Scrolling through my images, the 500 f/4 II did what I wanted it too. Usually with a 1.4tc attached, but it did it. Will it in the future? We'll see.

    https://www.the-digital-picture.com/...Light-40L.aspx


    A few more links that may be of interest:
    A similar look at different canon lenses and how used for wildlife:
    https://www.picturecorrect.com/tips/...e-photography/

    Lenses, cameras and gear recommended for wildlife photography:
    https://shuttermuse.com/essential-wi...tography-gear/
    https://www.outdoorphotographer.com/photography-gear/photo-accessories/gear-for-wildlife-photography/
    http://www.goynp.com/gear.php

    Pictures of Yellowstone and general info on each:
    https://photographylife.com/a-day-in-yellowstone

    Quote Originally Posted by HDNitehawk View Post
    On another note, I hope you do not tip over often in your kayak. If it were me in a kayak I would be looking for floaties for that 500mm.


    I've already used the 150-600S for years and it really isn't a problem. Only 0.5 lbs more. Believe me, if something happens, I'll save the lens first.
    Last edited by Kayaker72; 08-08-2018 at 09:41 PM.

  9. #49
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    Very detailed and nicely done, Bryan would be wise to take your research and post it in a linked page in his review section.

    So what will the be your next task? Possibly finding the "Ultimate DSLR Wildlife Body"?

    There is so much discussion about bodies and their specs, but once you make the leap to the big white lenses the camera body becomes an accessory to your glass.
    Right now the the bodies I own have a value of about 20% of the cost of all my lenses.

    I found the 5Ds R put the resolution of the new 500mm to the test.
    The 7D II with its speed was not as quick as a 1 series AF.
    The AF drive of the 1 series will make the 500mm quick, but you do not have the resolution of the 500mm.
    And one shouldn't forget the high speed frame rate of the 1D series and when it matters.
    At day break and sunset noise becomes an issue. With some bodies you have a few stops extra to play with. About 8 minutes a stop is what I have found in the morning and evening. So many variables. Where does it end.

    Researching this since 2009, at some point my solution was to go with multiple bodies. For the most part with what I shoot I leave the 5Ds R on the 500mm.

  10. #50
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    Thanks a lot for this Brant! I've been reading this thread as you went along even though I didn't have much to add I did find it very interesting. I've considered getting a supertele at various points but end up not being able to justify the cost for my anticipated usage. Right now I'm content with the 100-400 II but maybe someday I'll pull the trigger.... Until then I'll live vicariously through you, so make sure you post lots of pictures and a follow up review once you've settled in with your new baby!

    Stephen

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