Canon 70-200 f4 L with 1.4 extender for bird photography

tony0778tony0778 Big grinsRegistered Users Posts: 54 Big grins

I shoot a 7d and am dabbling in bird photography (I've shot landscapes, flowers, and waterfalls for years). The 70-200 f4 L needs a bit of help for birding. I know this setup isn't as good as a standalone lens such as the 100-400 or the Sigma 150-500. However, the 1.4 extender is much less expensive and for a bit of birding, I'm wondering if it would be adequate. I would really be interested in hearing from anyone that has used this configuration....especially for birding.

Thanks!
Tony

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  • JeffroJeffro I'd rather be shooting... Registered Users Posts: 1,941 Major grins
    edited March 19, 2022

    EDIT: Ignore this, due to me forgetting you can't autofocus with a lens that has a minimum fstop of f8 when using a 7D, so that could change things quite a bit, especially for birds.

    If it were me, I'd look for a 2x teleconverter, that way you have yourself a 140-400mm f8 lens. I have a 70-200 f2.8 and both the 1.4 and 2.0 teleconverters. They are not as good as having a prime lens, but they are better than nothing. Having the reach of 400mm on a 7D would give you like 640mm of reach. The more reach you have with birds, is usually better. I tend to do shoot birds, well eagles, at 1/2000 @ f8. Smaller birds need a bit more speed to stop wing blur. I'd check KEH for a teleconverter, you can probably get one for 200-300 bucks or so. I have a 300 f4 and a 400 f5.6 and even those need a bit of help from a teleconverter once in awhile, as well as some cropping in post. Fair warning bird photography can become addicting, especially bald eagles.

    Always lurking, sometimes participating. :D
  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Super Moderators Posts: 22,490 moderator
    edited March 19, 2022

    I've not been happy with my 2x teleconverters, with either feathers or fur subject matter. (Yes, I have 2x converters from both Tamron [bought new] and Canon [bought used]. I do use them for simple subject matter sometimes, but not birds.) I also have 2 - 1.4x Canon teleconverters; a very old original model and a newer model III. The newer model does better in the edges and corners on my Canon EF 70-200mm f4L IS USM.

    I suggest going straight for the Canon 400mm, f5.6L, and add a decent tripod and either a gimbal head or a fluid video head.
    If you're fortunate enough to have a rural home, or know someone who has a home in the country, you might consider baiting and a bird bath to get the birds closer. Lots of folks use this approach, along with a simple "shooter's blind" to get very close to song birds and other colorful birds.

    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • JeffroJeffro I'd rather be shooting... Registered Users Posts: 1,941 Major grins

    If you want to spend more $$$ a longer prime lens or zoom lens is always going to be better than using a teleconverter. I get some pretty good images using my 300mm f4L or 400mm f5.6L with my 1.4x converter. However a 1.4x was never enough reach on my 70-200mm f2.8L, hence the reason I now have a 300 and 400 lens....lol. I'd love to have a 600mm f4L or larger lens, but it's just never going to happen. I've come to accept that I'll never have the best image quality available, as I'll never have the latest and greatest equipment. Me and my old Canon EF L series lenses are going to be together to the end of my photography days, and I don't see a mirrorless lens with bird eye tracking in my future either, so I'm going to miss more shots than the photographer who has the better lens and camera, but I won't miss them all.

    Get the equipment you can afford and get out there and take some pics!

    Always lurking, sometimes participating. :D
  • JeffroJeffro I'd rather be shooting... Registered Users Posts: 1,941 Major grins
    edited March 19, 2022

    All shots taken with my Canon 7D, on a monopod, 60ft from the bird feeders, on a monopod.


    Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L @ 200mm (180mm according to the exif) f8, 1/800, ISO 6400.


    Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L + 1.4x @ 280mm, f8, 1/800, ISO 6400.


    Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L + 2x @ 400mm, f8, 1/800, ISO 6400.


    Canon EF 300mm f/4L @ 300mm, f8, 1/800, ISO 6400.


    Canon EF 300mm f/4L + 1.4x @ 420mm, f8, 1/800, ISO 6400.


    Canon EF 300mm f/4L + 2x @ 600mm, f8, 1/800, ISO 6400. Manual Focus.


    Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L @ 400mm, f8, 1/800, ISO 4000.


    Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L +1.4x @ 560mm, f8, 1/800, ISO 6400. Manual Focus.


    Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L 2x @ 800mm, f11, 1/800, ISO 6400. Manual Focus.

    One of the things I didn't think about with the 7D it can't autofocus with a minimum f-stop of f8, so a 1.4x teleconverter would be the only converter you could put on your f4 lens and still have autofocus. My Canon 5D Mark IV allows autofocus at f8.

    But with my photos here, taken on a very gloomy, damp day, you can see what kind of reach you can get with the converters on various lenses. Yes, I was bored and yes I could have gotten sharper images with the use of a tripod, but I wasn't that bored...lol.

    Always lurking, sometimes participating. :D
  • tony0778tony0778 Big grins Registered Users Posts: 54 Big grins

    Thanks everyone for taking the time to respond (and provide extremely helpful photos)! You essentially confirmed what I was thinking.
    Thanks again!

  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Super Moderators Posts: 22,490 moderator
    edited March 20, 2022

    Jeffro,
    Bookmarked!!!

    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
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