/ Canon 400mm f5.6 USM....if i buy it...

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Professor Bunsen - on 26 Jun 2013
what else will I realistically need to buy to use it? I want something for bird / wildlife photography so I guess I will be shooting mostly handheld.

I have seen guys with nice swivel type heads on their tripods that seem to be a semicircular support that attaches to the lense body rather than the camera body.
AndrewHuddart - on 26 Jun 2013
In reply to Professor Bunsen:

You'll need:

Long lens techinques
Ability to look keep both eyes open
Thorough knowledge of your camera's Af modes

Expensive gimbal head or the Manfrotto 393 Head
Strong tripod enough for the weight of the lens and the body
Monopod for when you don't want to carry the tripod with you
Bean bag for if you're close to the ground

Consider the 1.4x extender as well for when you need to go even further.

I shoot wildife with my 400 2.8 and have never hand held at all btw (e.g http://andyhphotos.com/Galleries/Wildlife/content/IMG_7357_large.html )
David Ponting on 26 Jun 2013
In reply to AndrewHuddart: I shoot with the Nikon 300/4 and permanently attached 1.4x TC - so effectively a 420/5.6...!

An emphatic yes to all the above, except for the need for a gimbal head - the huge 400/2.8 is an entirely different beast to a 400/5.6, which is easy to handhold, or you can use a standard three-way or ballhead. Monopod also very useful, but I often shoot handheld (despite the lack of IS/VR)

The other thing you probably don't need is a 1.4x TC - the 400/5.6 is already at f/5.6, so adding a TC will probably (unless Canon now have f/8 rated AF points as Nikon do) make it too dark a combination to AF.
Philip on 26 Jun 2013
I have a 120-400mm sigma with OS. At F7.1/ISO400 I've shot handheld on cloudy summer day and got good results - even though it weighs a few kg with the 60D attached.

I wouldn't waste money on an expensive Manfrotto, you can get very good tripods/monopods from people like Red Snapper.
Professor Bunsen - on 26 Jun 2013
In reply to Professor Bunsen:

Thanks I was thinking more about kit rather than skills. I hope that will come with use and practice but advice is always welcome.

I have a Manfrotto tripod with a 322RC2 head that I use for landscapes but I dont think it is mobile enough for wildlife/birds.

I was also considering the TC for that extra range but I will see how I get on without it and try to hire one or pick one up second hand to see how much difference it makes.
Tom Last - on 26 Jun 2013
In reply to Professor Bunsen:

I'd go for a monopod to start if you're worried about mobility. You should be able to shoot hand held on that but it'll be tiring and trying. I shot the Farnborough air show handheld (forgot the monopod) a few years ago with an older and heavier 400 and truth be told, I never wanted to see the thing again. Agree with both the poster who says get the converter for extra length as 400mm won't get you much on birds from say 50 yards, but also with the poster who suggests that 5.6 is a bit tight to start putting converters on and hoping for really good results. Just a thought and likely not what you're after, but I think if I was hoping to start shooting wildlife seriously but recreationally and couldn't afford the 400mm 2.8, then I'd be looking to re-invest in some old film kit. More faff, but a fraction of the price.
Adam Long - on 26 Jun 2013
In reply to David Ponting:
> (In reply to AndrewHuddart) I shoot with the Nikon 300/4 and permanently attached 1.4x TC - so effectively a 420/5.6...!

Interesting - is that the Nikon 1.4x? I have tied my 300/4 with my Sigma 1.4x TC and it's not great - soft wide open and stuttery focus. Shame as the is superb on my two Sigma lenses.

I would agree a 1.4x won't be great on a 400/5.6. On its own it should be a very usable lens though - and very compact for the reach.

Hannes on 26 Jun 2013
In reply to Professor Bunsen: Either splash on a good tripod or consider the 100-400 which sacrifices a little bit of image quality (not a lot though) but gains focal lengths 100-399 and an image stabiliser which will help a bit when it gets a bit darker.
In reply to Professor Bunsen:

I'd humbly suggest that the 300 f/4 and 1.4 TC gives a more versatile means of reaching 400mm, well worth the extra 250 or so.

Get a monopod too. Mine has added no end of use to my shooting.
The Manfrotto 290 is a mere 30.
David Ponting on 27 Jun 2013
In reply to Adam Long: It's the Nikon one - it feels like it was made for the lens; sharp wide open (though obviously even better stopped down a touch, wide open is certainly good enough) and doesn't hit the AF speed or precision much at all.

Also having it near-permanently on the lens is great for protection, since it puts some glass behind those otherwise unprotected aperture blades...

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