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Thread: R5 100-500 vs 1DX3 500 f/4

  1. #1
    Senior Member Jonathan Huyer's Avatar
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    R5 100-500 vs 1DX3 500 f/4

    It's not too often I photograph the very same scene with two different camera / lens combinations, but when we came across this Tiger Heron I had the chance to do exactly that. I first reached for the R5 with the 100-500 attached, since it's the fastest way to photograph a bird. After firing a few shots and seeing that it wasn't going anywhere, I then reached for the 1DX3 with the 500 f/4, to see the difference that a couple extra stops would do. I did minimal post-processing, just enough to match the images as closely as possible.

    R5, 100-500 lens, 1/500 sec @ f/7.1, ISO 2500 (shot at 400 mm then cropped to match the other image)




    1DX3, 500 f/4 lens, 1/640 sec @ f/4, ISO 800 (this was underexposed a bit, so I boosted it in post)



    The improvement in bokeh is dramatically obvious with the f/4 lens, and while the 100-500 f/7.1 lens is no slouch there is clearly no substitute for big glass. Another interesting result is that the 1DX3 did a much better job at choosing the white balance than the R5. I changed the R5 white balance in Lightroom to match the 1DX3 auto setting, because the 1DX3 image came out so much better.

    I ran both images through Topaz Denoise to clean them up. But in the raw version, the 1DX3 file has much more detail thanks largely to the lower ISO. I'm sure if I had the 500 f/4 on the R5 body, it would have given an equally impressive result. But I sure love the 1DX3, and it won't be leaving my kit anytime soon.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    Nice comparison! It certainly highlights the advantages of the bigger lens (more light = lower ISO/less noise and better bokeh). But, I also have to say, while I prefer the shot with the 500 f/4, both are good pictures.

    I remember coming across a video (can't seem to find it again) talking about how to optimize a smaller aperture lenses with perched birds. You can't do anything about the ISO/noise, but you can work on distance of your background behind the subject. This could be side to side adjustments, but often an easy way to do that is to get low as that at least changes the angle on background, elongating the distance, but sometimes even pulls the sky in. A second point I recall from the video was that having a smaller setup allowed the photographer to be more mobile, work to get more creative shots. But, that wouldn't help when you are on a boat or can't alter where you take your shot from (which can be the case).

    Anyway, thanks for sharing....

  3. #3
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    A very small difference and great comparison.

    What I would say is that if I were just making a comparison from this set I would say that both are very good.
    What the comparison doesn't tell you is that in less than ideal conditions the pictures might not be as close.
    As you loose light and ISO goes up the 100-500 the gap in IQ will become larger.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Jonathan Huyer's Avatar
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    I really liked the versatility of the 100-500, and the ease of handholding. When you're in a hurry, it can make all the difference. But if you happen to have a bit more time, then shooting with a big lens at f/4 makes for much better photos. Even if you have lots of light and the lower ISO makes no difference at all, just being able to blur the background a bit can sure make the subject pop out.

    1DX3 with 500 f/4, 1/1600 sec @ f/4, ISO 1000
    Pantanal, Brazil

    Last edited by Jonathan Huyer; 11-13-2022 at 04:57 PM.

  5. #5
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    Wish I had the budget allocation to pick up an f4 500/600.

    Wonder if canon is going to update the R5 for the better white balance grab?
    If you see me with a wrench, call 911

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