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Prime Lens: Super Telephoto

Lesson 38 from: Canon Lenses: The Complete Guide

John Greengo

Prime Lens: Super Telephoto

Lesson 38 from: Canon Lenses: The Complete Guide

John Greengo

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Lesson Info

38. Prime Lens: Super Telephoto


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Canon Lens Basics


Focal Length: Angle of View


Focal Length: Normal Lenses


Focal Length: Wide Angle Lenses


Focal Length: Telephoto Lens


Focal Length Rule of Thumb


Field of View


Aperture Basics


Aperture: Maximum Aperture


Aperture: Equivalent Focal Length


Aperture: Depth of Field


Aperture: Maximum Sharpness


Aperture: Starburst Effect


Aperture: Flare


Aperture: Hyperfocal Distance


Camera Mount System


Canon Lens Compatibility


Canon Lens Design


Canon Lens Composition


Canon Lens Shape


Canon Lens Coating


Canon Lens Focusing


Lens Autofocus


Canon Lens Image Stabilization


Canon L Lenses


Image Quality


Canon Zoom Lenses: Standard


Canon Super Zooms


Canon Wide Zooms


Canon Telephoto Zooms


Prime Lens: Normal Lenses


Prime Lens: Moderate Wide


Prime Lens: Wide Angle


Prime Lens: Ultra-Wide


Prime Lens: Short Telephoto


Prime Lens: Medium Telephoto


Prime Lens: Super Telephoto


3rd Party Lenses Overview


3rd Party Prime Lenses


3rd Party Zoom Lenses


Lens Accessories: Filters


Lens Accessories: Lens Hoods


Lens Accessories: Tripod Mount


Lens Accessories: Extension Tubes


Lens Accessories: Extenders


Macro Lens: Reproduction Ratio


Macro Lens: Technique and Choices


Fisheye: Technique and Choices


Tilt Shift: Techniques and Choices


Make a Lens System Choice


Choosing A Portrait Lens


Choosing A Sports Lens


Choosing A Landscape Lens


Best Lenses for You


Lens Maintenance


Buying and Selling Lens


What is John Greengo's Favorite Lens?


Lesson Info

Prime Lens: Super Telephoto

all right, we're getting up to the very top end, the super telephoto lenses. So we're talking about professional sports photography, the big field type sports, wildlife photography and maybe extreme action surfing or skiing shooting from another hilltop, perhaps. So in this we're going to start off first, looking at the subgroup of just 400 millimeter lenses. Canon. I love it when they do this because they providing a focal length and a variety of price options, depending on our needs. 56 NF four and enough to eight. And my guess is that between the size and the price difference of these lenses, there's not gonna be much question as to which one you're gonna choose. Just very few people are gonna be. Well, I'm not sure if I should get the four or 56 There's just so many differences between them. It's pretty clear, and it's nice to have lenses that fits so many different categories. Now this 405 6 is an older lens. It's a 1993 lens, so it's been around a while, but it has proven its wor...

th. In that time. It has really become a very favorite for the weekend birder or wildlife photographer, somebody who wants to go down to the local nature park and photograph wildlife. This is gonna be a great lens because it's not too much money and it's not a back breaker. And I think we have one of those over here and so looks very much like the 300 F four that we just had out here. And so this is not an incredibly heavy lands would have £2.8. It's something that is going to give you a reasonably good reach out there at 405 6 is not the fastest aperture in the world, but to go beyond this just requires a tremendous amount of money and wait in size. And so for a lot of people, it's just a very good bye in that regard. And so a great little lens for that. And so we wish that it was newer and had image stabilization. It doesn't have any weather ceiling, but the most important thing is that it is sharp and that's the first and most important thing. That's nice toe have and so good for that purpose. Next up is there d o remember we talked about the DIO technology in the Features and Technology section, and so this is unusual because it is actually very small in size, short in length and fairly lightweight. So it's not that much bigger than this. The price is tremendously different. You pay for this technology that you get. But if you were a pretty serious wildlife photographer who really like to get out there and hike like, I know some fairly young wildlife photographers that are going to take this on a 50 mile backpacking trip and they want to get out way out in the woods and photograph wildlife, this would be the lightest way to get a really long lens out there. And so it's a very portable leads. Anybody who does a lot of travelling is gonna appreciate that it is so much lighter than what would be in any other case. And so the one downside with this is because of that dio technology that we talked about. The out of focus areas sometimes are not quite a smooth and creamy as the rest of the lenses, and so you have to do a little testing on your own to see how much of a problem that is. My guess is that it is. It's not that big of a problem, and it's not really going to be an issue unless you are incredibly picky about the out of focus areas of your photograph. The 400 to 8 is an incredible ants. It's like the three. It's like the Big Brother to the 300 to 8 who I thought was so perfect. These lenses traditionally were incredibly heavy, and this is something that you would never hand hold this something you would always have on a tripod. It is the longest lens that Canon makes that is a 2.8 aperture. And for sports photography, 2.8 is really a great place to be, to be nice, to be faster. But the problem was shooting something faster than this, like the 200 F two or one or in 85 1.2 is that when you're shooting sports, if you have too shallow depth of field, it's really hard to nail focus on your subject on a consistent basis because it might be just a little bit off because of their movements. And so to wait. Is this happy medium enough light coming in so that you can get a fast shutter speed and just enough depth of field so you have a little margin of air when your camera focuses. And so when you watch a football game soccer match baseball game, you see that pit of photographers that they have to work in a pit. That's where they're photographing. This is the most popular lens. This is the standard tool of the trade for those big field sports. And so the image quality on this absolute top line same with all the mechanical workings of it. Now it is heavy, and it's still heavy, even though it has recently gone toe weight loss and has lost £3.4 with its new lens technology. Remember, in the Features and Technology section, we're talking about the floor right lenses being able to replace multiple normal glass lenses. And so they have been reducing the weight, and it's become much where this used to be. Back when I was shooting, uh, with this type of lens, it was about 12 to £13 now they reduced it all the way down £8.5 which is not like wait, but is a lot better than it used to be. So those are our four hundreds and price wise, we have a fairly steep set of stairs as we move up the ladder here. So it's about seven grand right now. Or actually, excuse me, Did I may? I may have this off. I may have this chart a little bit off because the 400 to 8 I'm actually reading at $10,000 the make sure I get this correct. The 400 F four d o lens is $7000. So this actually was supposed to be $10, right there. So, uh, says 10,000 for the 28 7000 for this one. And then for the 56 this one is going to be about $1200 on that. So there's a pretty big price difference that I think will single people out very quickly with ones which one they're interested in. Getting beyond 400 is getting into very rare territory. The 500 F four has been a favorite lands for the wildlife photographer. The pretty serious wildlife photographer 500 is a fairly long lens. There is going to be a 600 F four that we're going to talk about. But the 500 traditionally has been noticeably lighter weight than the 600 which is while the wildlife photographer preferred it. The sports photographer doesn't really care about the weight because their camera is usually on a mono pod. And when you're shooting sports, to be honest with you, you're not moving around that much. I mean, if you're on the football field, yeah, you might go up and down the pitch a little bit, but you're not hiking. For miles, the wildlife photographer is usually much more portable, having to carry their lens in a backpack much further. And so the weight has been the key issue here that has won this over for the wildlife group. It's incredible quality leads. All of these lenses in this high in category are just incredible quality in the construction and in the optics. There have been some people who've had this lens that felt like the tripod collar was a little bit funky and they didn't quite like the way it was shaped in the way it was positioned and If that's the worst thing that you can say about the lens, it's probably a pretty, incredibly good lance. The 600 F four, in my mind is very similar to the 400 to 8, but with a tele convertir on it. And so this is a this is This is for the wildlife photographer who says, I don't care about the weight. I really want that extra little reach. There is very small difference between five and 600 in the angle of view that you were going to see. But it's subtle enough that some people are very picky about it. Heavy lands. This is where we're talking about a great wildlife, especially for a little bit smaller objects like birds or smaller mammals. Very good autofocus system. And it's recently been upgraded and lost £3.2 in weight. And it used to be a huge difference between the five and 600. And so for the wildlife photographer, they pick up a 500 they pick up a 600. And it's like just makes a lot more sense, because that's a big weight difference. Nowadays, that choice is a little bit tougher because the five and 600 it's going well. I guess there's a little bit of weight difference and there's a little bit of size difference. And so a lot of those wildlife photographers who shot with the 500 are moving up to the 600 because the weight difference is not that big because they've dropped so much weight on these new versions. And then finally, there is the giant 800. We looked at this a little bit yesterday. This is for those who really want the absolute longest lens. It's a big, heavy lens. It's frankly, it's very challenging for most people to use photographing birds, surfing from the shoreline, extreme sports. It's the longest lens in their lineup. We do have it over here. It is a nice big gun here. It's very much like a F four with the tele converter. We're gonna talk more about Tele converters in an upcoming section and not a lens. You want a handhold beautiful manual focus ring here. Nice. That's the size of manual focusing, and I like to see on there. We have a full set of controls over here. We're we talked about some of these in the features in the technology section, and I've used in 800 a few times. It's you get a really have particular subjects in a need for us for something like this. But, you know, as I was mentioning yesterday about renting a lens that's different than you own if you own a 400 you know, maybe once in a while rent the 800 just on some special project that you would find it useful. It's fun to take one of these out because you can use this on any of the canon cameras and you throw one of the little rebels on here. It makes for an interesting sight. It's just you got two ounces back here and £8 up here. But yeah, if you can put one those rebels on it, it becomes something like a 12 or 1300 millimeter lands really powerful. Shoot some photos of the full moon with that one, and that is their biggest lens. And so let's take a look at their big lands lineup, and what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna throw in the 200 to 400 because that's we talked about that back in the zooms, but it kind of belongs in this category, even though it's not a prime. This is one of the choices that the big lens photographers would choose. So 404 the wildlife photographer who does a lot of moving around traveling 400 to professional sports Big field sports 200 to 400. I would think like a safari that be the perfect safari lens 500 F four is gonna be kind of for your traditional wildlife photographer moving around a bit, setting this up on a tripod 600 F four also big field sports and a little bit of wildlife 800. But we just talked about that one surfing and birds and you can see all of these are in the highly expensive 6 to $15, price range and so neat collection of lenses. And you know what? They don't sell this one anymore, but I thought I talked about it. It deserves a little No, this is the biggest lens that Canon has ever made. It's a 1205 6 and for those of you who get nit picky on things. It's not the biggest lens that Canon has ever made, but it's the biggest Lenz they have made for their E F system, which is what we're talking about in this class. So this is their large, the longest focal auto focus lens ever made. It's a 1205 6 It was designed and built in, first used in 1984 for the Olympics in Los Angeles. And there's an interesting story behind it in Japan. They actually designed and built this lens for, Ah, high school baseball tournament. There's a very popular high school baseball tournament, and they determined that to shoot the pitcher and batter from center field, you would need a 1200 millimeter lens. Now, if you wanted to shoot just the batter, you would need about a 1700 millimeter lens. So what they did in the original versions of this lens is they built in a 1.4 tele converter that you could drop in place like the 200 to 400 that we talked about. That has the drop in for the slight, intelligent and so the original versions had this so the press photographers could shoot the picture and the batter together. And then just the batter hitting from center field for a high school baseball tournament in Japan and then, ah, number of places. Apparently, Sports Illustrated bought a couple. I think the sodas Associated Press had some Reuters might have had some a number of places that end in the word agency used these that worked with the government for a variety of reasons, apparently, had these s O. You're not likely to see these. Every once in a while, you will see them pop up used, which is kind of interesting. And so they eventually modified it and took off the 1.4 converter, and they sold it throughout the late eighties and nineties and was unsure as to when it was discontinued. It is a manual focus fly by wise wire system. So there's electron ICS. You're not directly turning the focusing of the lands. You're turning motors, which are turning the lands, and you might see this for sale at auction. The last one that I found at auction was $180,000 now, at the time it was knew it was about $90,000 you would pay $90, then they would say, OK, we will build you a lens and 18 months later you would be delivered a very large package and it apparently, uh, is very challenging to use it. It helps if you have a small entourage to help you cart this thing around, because if you'll notice the weight of it, it's £36 OK, so don't think about hand holding that one at all.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

What's in the Frame? HD
What's in the Frame? LOW
Field of View HD
Field of View LOW
Lens Keynote Parts 1-4
Lens Keynote Parts 5-8
Canon® Lens Data

Ratings and Reviews


I so appreciate what a good teacher John is. I wish I would have known this much about lenses when I first started out buying my lenses. It was hard finding information about lenses. I didn't want to spend money on a lens I wouldn't use. The better understanding we have about our gear the better photographers we will be. I have never seen a class like this. Invaluable...yes I bought the class! I am really impressed with the high quality photography classes available on Creative Live!

Tami Miller

Have loved the other John Greengo classes I've watched & purchased - and this is another winner! Having been a high school/college science teacher, it is refreshing to take a course with someone who not only is extremely experienced, seems to be a computer having stored so much knowledge, but is equally concerned about making the information truly understandable to different levels. And he shares the information using every tool he can: slides, video, interactive presentations, and great quizzes. I learned so much about my Canon lenses - and lenses in general with their many components. I am excited about testing each of mine to see what macro ratio they handle, and especially appreciated the tutorial on testing each for their specific quirk that affects super sharpness. This class is great whether you own Canon lenses or not. Thanks John Greengo!


This was a great class not just about the lenses that Canon offers but also how each lens works. As usual, John's slides are alway informative and entertaining. There is a phrase: John has a slide for that! I am not even a Canon user and found this class to have great information for the use of each specific lens. Great work John! Thank you Creative Live for another great class!

Student Work