Category Archives: Equipment

Review Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM
My Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM for Insurance purposes.

On March 20, I purchased the new Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens.

I did a great deal of research be the purchase, and sweated how I was going to pay for much a lens.

Then there was the justification, and knowledge that it will probably not be replaced in the Canon lineup for at least 10 years (in theory, based on the 14 year lifespan of the previous model), and it’s safe to assume that the actual camera/sensor will only get better, and my current camera bodies are on the low-end…

Anyhow, I got it!

Four monthly later, I thought I would add my thoughts into the mix.

Amazon Review

Shortly after receiving the Len, I wrote a Review on Amazon – “Hate It! – Going to Cost me More Money!“, which was not well received, because I was a little too sarcastic…

Guess I was still a little upset after my last attempt to buy something from Canon direct… another story…

But at the same time there are points that are valid, and I will add to them in this post.

As one of the commentators suggested, I was mocking the cost of the lens, which was out of the price range of most buyers.

I agree, this lens, on a pure cost alone, is well beyond most camera owner’s budgets, but as I pointed out, I have owned Canon for nearly 40 years (film and digital); it was part of a ‘mid-life crisis’ purchase and my first L-series lens. I had ‘earned’ it, damn it!

Continuing, I said that I also opening a new insurance rider with this particular lens in mind, which adds to the cost.

As mentioned, I have been using and collecting cameras for over 40 years, starting with my first camera, a Canonet from the early 1960s.

At this point, I have six camera bodies and over a dozen different lens, filters, tripods, etc., so I was more than a little surprised when putting an insurance list together, to see how much I have invested over the years, with the 100-400mm being the single biggest line item.

I did NOT take the lens out of the box until I notified my insurance company!

One point to my Amazon Review Subject line contention. (1-0)

The next was filters.

I have several 58mm and 72mm glass filters, but the 100-400mm being 77mm. I needed to buy at least a Circular Polarizer Filter, and again in reading reviews, as some stated, ‘if you are going to spend this much money, are you really going to put cheap glass in front’, plus the lens hood is special designed with this type of filter in mind!

I will also have to upgrade my square 85mm filters to 100mm, but I should have invested in a 100mm system to begin with. My bad.

Another point to my Amazon Review Subject line contention. (2-0)

As I started to review my first images in Adobe Lightroom, using the 100-400mm on my T5i (700D), I did notice ‘things’ did appear to be crisper, and the first image I pulled up, I did say ‘Holy Sh1t!”, but since then, not in all cases.

I’ve shot in direct over-head sun, 1/1000+ at f8+ where it should be sharp, but found some softness, and other times, and I’ve gotten down to 1/30 full open aperture, and razor crisp – all hand-held!

With some of the close-up testing that I’ve done, I am seeing some fraying on some edges, that does not appear to be chromatic aberrations that I am accustomed to seeing.

I am getting the distinct feeling that the sensor (APS-C) is having problems with the resolution detail.

I bought this lens, with the knowledge that it will probably not be replaced in the Canon lineup for at least 10 years (in theory, based on the 14 year lifespan of the previous model), and it’s safe to assume that the actual camera/sensor will only get better, and my current camera bodies are on the low-end…

I will not really see the beauty of this lens without a serious upgrade to a full frame sensor camera body, or put another way, future purchase, future cost.

Point 3 for my Amazon Review Subject hypothesis.

After 4 months of Ownership

Now that I have used the 100-400mm on my T5i (700D) for the past 4 plus months, I wanted to do a follow-up Review, and change the Amazon Review from a 1 Star rating.

Auto-Focus & Ring Placement

In my original commentary on Amazon, I talked about the Auto-Focus (AF) being very fast, but I have also noticed that in fast close-up situations, it can fail very quickly while trying to track/pan with the subject, small insects in my case, carpenter bees.

During the early spring, they fight/protect their nests at high-speed dive bombing attacks, so trying to focus quickly can be difficult at best.

Okay, just switch to manual focus, and focus across on the plane.

No problem, for a shot or two.

For me, the problem is the placement of the Focusing ring, it is the inner most ring, right next to the body.

I have big hands and fingers, so while I am trying to focus, I can not easily steady the lens, the balance is off.

Not that it is going to make any difference, but I would have preferred the Focusing ring closer to the front of the lens to help with stability, with the Zoom ring in the middle and the Zoom touch adjustment ring in the rear.

By the way, I’m not a big fan of the Zoom touch adjustment ring.

Seems like too much real estate on the barrel for too little function, for me.

Lens Envy

I shot event photography, and the range on the 100-400mm is great!

But at the same time, it attracts attention.

I don’t mind, occasionally chatting with folks at an event, but how many times do you really want to hear “That is a big lens!” or “I have Lens Envy”.

This being my first off-white, L-series lens, I guess it might come with the territory…

Conclusions, so far…

The easiest answer is Yes, if you can afford it.

As I have hopefully illustrated, there can be more expenditures beyond the base price, and depending on how you have purchased your older equipment, the amount will be a variable.

My two biggest mistakes up front –

1) I should have had insurance earlier. Thankfully, in 35+ years, I have only ‘killed’ one camera (Canon A-1 (film)) and one Lens (70-300mm f4-5.6). I’ve been VERY lucky!

2) Filters – When I was looking into square filter systems, I thought long and hard about 85mm vs 100mm filter systems, and finally bought a 85mm system, and now I’m kicking myself…

Looking into the future, I can’t wait to pay off this puppy and get a new camera body!

Would I buy this lens again?

I hope not…

I LOVE the one I got!

- Andrew
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A Work in Progress

I recently had a chance to photograph a friend of mine, as she slowly adds more ink to the various works of art that cover her body – A Work in Progress.

These were done in the studio with two Alien Bee B800s with Fotodiox Pro (32″ x 48″) Softboxes at about half power – 1/200 (sync) at f16 iso 100 – Canon EOS T5i & EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6

There are plans to do some more images in the future…

If you are interested in doing some studio work, please let me know.

- Andrew
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Lens Hoods

One of my biggest gripes, when it comes to Canon cameras, is that they charge you extra for lens hoods, which are incredibly marked up in price.

What really set me off recently, was when I replaced my 70-300mm USM IS  with a 75-300mm III.  I thought the lens hoods and filters would be the same.

I was only half right. My filters are fine, but it appears I have to buy a completely new lens hood for my new lens instead of being able to use the old one.

To be technical, the 70-300mm IS USM requires a ET-65B lens hood, which can be purchased through Canon at $55.00 USD.

Canon ET-65B Lens Hood
Canon ET-65B Lens Hood

On the other hand, my new 70-300mm III requires a ET-60 lens hood, which is a little cheaper at $29.00 USD.

Canon ET-60 Lens Hood
Canon ET-60 Lens Hood

Now I am no expert, but there does appear to be a slight difference in the tapering of the hood, but $26.00 worth?

It just seems a little bit extreme not to have a tad bit more compatibility during engineering. I still do not understand how these black cylinders of plastic cost so much and are not included with the purchase of a lens worth several hundred dollars.

Needless to say, I’m off to Amazon to purchase a Fotodiox ET-60 lens hood for $6.95 USD, and with the money I saved, I can start thinking about another lens and hood!

- Andrew
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Moving Computers – Lightroom

Adobe Lightroom Icon
Adobe Lightroom Icon

It is always a pain to move to a new computer because there are so many files and settings that need to be redone for the user to really get productive again.

With this idea in mind I offer the following tips and advice in regards to moving an Adobe Lightroom User from one machine to another.

This guide is geared towards people who are technically proficient on the Windows operating system, but should be able to serve as a guide to those working in a Macintosh environment.

If you have any other ideas or tips please feel free to send them my way!

Transferring the Data

As any User of Lightroom knows, the Catalog and Image files are the heart of your work and business, and if you are moving to a new machine, you need to consider what to do with them as you move forward.

On the “C:” drive of Old Machine –

There are several of options available to you, if your original catalogs and Images are still on the main “c:\” hard drive of your old machine.

Transfer files across the Network

If both machines are still attached to a network, you can easily transfer the catalogs across, but that is going to take time, and chew up various network resources.

Remember, depending on the number of Images you have, your catalog directory could easily reach several gigabytes worth of data,in my case: Catalog: 12.7 GBs & Images: 261 GBs

Remove the old hard drive –

If you remove the hard drive, you have two basic options, but before you begin, backup your files on the old machine in your normal manner.

Install in new computer –

By simply taking the hard drive out of the old machine, and installing it into your new machine, is most certainly the easiest of the options, and also gives you a second HD spindle when dealing with I/O operations in Lightroom.

But before you remove the hard drive, be sure to check the compatibility of data interfaces on your new machine – Can the new machine deal with the older IDE interface?

An example I can give, is my new machines, that is based on the Asus Z87-Pro motherboard, which does not have any IDE connections.

Also keep in mind, that if you connect the old “C:” drive, and it wants to reinitialize for whatever reason, and you have not backed up your data…

External case –

This is another good alternative, and does give you the flexibility to move to different environments with little issue, and also gives you the additional spindle speed during I/O, but is subject to the port speed when you plug-in, assuming that the chipset on the external drive is the faster of the two.

Backups

There are three critical areas that need to be transferred to your new machine for it to work in a fashion that you are used to: Images, Catalogs and Preferences.

Images –

Do I really need to say more?

Catalogs –

As mentioned earlier, catalogs can easily reach several gigabytes worth of data, but does all that data need to be transferred to the new computer?

Again Users of Lightroom know, and unless they have change the default settings, the program will prompt you to do backups, which are located in a sub-directory of the main catalog directory.

c:\My.Adobe.Lightroom.Catalog\Backups\

By simply looking into the backup directory, one could easily save time and the amount of data that needs to be transferred, by simply cleaning out old unnecessary files, but this is completely user based.

Just check to see which “Date – Time” named directories really need to be moved.

Preferences –

Since this is most likely a new software install, none of your preferences will be in place, so where are those files located?

Like all other User preferences, they are stored in the operating system’s Users profile directory, that is hidden through the normal interface, that can be easily accessed with a little forethought.

C:\Users\%userprofile%\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Lightroom

Once you are inside Adobe Lightroom directory, it should be very easy to recognize which directories are most important to you.

In my case I transferred files from these directories onto my new machine:

Adobe\Lightroom\Export Presets
Adobe\Lightroom\Filename Templates
Adobe\Lightroom\Import Presets
Adobe\Lightroom\Keyword Sets
Adobe\Lightroom\Locations
Adobe\Lightroom\Metadata Presets
Adobe\Lightroom\Smart Collection Templates
Adobe\Lightroom\Watermarks

Once installed in the new directories, Lightroom should have no issue accessing the “.lrtemplate” files. (BTW – If you really want to be geeky, you can open up these files in a text editor and play with them to your heart’s content)

Conclusion

When I moved to my new machine, I used a combination of techniques described above.

On my old machine, the Lightroom catalogs and images were already located on an internal secondary SATA hard drive, so I just removed the old hard drive, and installed it into the new machine.

From there, I copied the images and catalogs (approx 275 GBs) to the root directory of my new machine, creating a new backup of the files.

Even across the SATA III bus, this still took several hours, and I could smell hard drive smoke. (just kidding!)

When I got to my preferences, I connected to my old machine across the network and simply copied the files into the associated directories.

From there, I reconnected the Lightroom catalogs to the local main image directory, now located on the root of my main “c:\” drive.

Finally, I rewrote my old robocopy script to include the additional external hard drive, that I added for redundancy in my backup solution.

  • HDD1 (1.0 TB) – Enhanced (WDC Black) (Live Data)
  • HDD2 (1.5 TB) – Seagate Barracuda 7200 – Backup 01 (Internal)
  • HDD3 (2.0 TB) – WDC Green – Backup 02 (External)

Some may argue, that having all my data on the “c:\” will produce bottlenecks, while I would agree in theory, I also have to wonder with my usage of Intel’s RST technology, reduces this as an issue.

I have also, set the cache files of both Lightroom and Photoshop, to the extra space left over on my Solid State drive, as mentioned in another post.

If you have any thoughts or ideas I’d be very interested in hearing from you.

Good luck!

- Andrew
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