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Should I keep my 400mm f/5.6L lens?
  
 
cameron12x
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Should I keep my 400mm f/5.6L lens?


I have owned the 400mm f/5.6L lens for 14 years. My copy still works well and has never let me down, as long as I shoot within its limitations. I currently own the 6D, 70D, 7D2, and a refurbished 5D4 body will arrive this week. For fun, I shoot sports, wildlife, and also do some astrophotography (will be doing more astro stuff this year).

At this writing, I can't justify the cost of a 400mm f/4 DO II, but the original version I lens is intriguing to me for (4) reasons: aperture, 2-stop IS, relative weight, and used cost (about $2K?).

The one-stop aperture advantage over the f/5.6L lens is potentially large, since I am planning to do more astrophotography going forward. Having said that, I've seen many folks do beautiful astrophotography with the f/5.6L lens (they just need more exposure time). Has anyone here done any astrophotography with the 400mm f/4 DO (Version 1)? If so, what was your experience?

For traditional shooting, the 2-stop IS is obviously an advantage over the f/5.6L lens. The f/4 DO is heavier than the f/5.6L lens, but that is to be expected. But what about image sharpness and AF? How do these two lenses compare in those two areas? How do they handle TCs (Versions II & III).

How would the original 400mm f/4 DO lens pair with higher density sensors such as the 5D4 and 7D2? Would those sensors out-resolve the lens? Or would any technical shortcoming be mostly negligible in real-world shooting? (I understand the original DO lens sometimes exhibited a lack of contrast, but that this could mostly be addressed in post.) I fully understand that Version II will totally out-class it, but I can't justify the cost for what I shoot.

Should I keep my 400mm f/5.6L lens? Or try find a sharp copy of the original 400mm f/4 DO lens? Or is there an alternative suggestion? (I can already hear the drum roll for the 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L II IS lens.)
Lots to digest here!

TIA!



Oct 30, 2017 at 02:42 AM
Liquidstone
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Should I keep my 400mm f/5.6L lens?


If the 400 DO II is beyond budget, I'd pass on the 400 DO (V1) and look for a 500 f4 L IS (V1). The older version of the 500 is bullet-proof, has proven optics and not that heavy, even if the version II is even lighter.


Oct 30, 2017 at 04:49 AM
RogerZoul
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Should I keep my 400mm f/5.6L lens?


Have you considered a refurb for the 400 DO 2? Or Canon Pricewatch? There are some great deals to be had if you consider other than brand new from a Canon authorized dealer.

As for keeping your 400 f/5.6L...hmm...I am keeping mine because it is lightweight, sharp, and fast. It is backup to backups for me. I may have become too dependent on IS to use it well now, but back in the day I could make sharp shots on with handheld. For use on a tripod, it is nice and easy to carry around.



Oct 30, 2017 at 09:50 AM
jcolwell
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Should I keep my 400mm f/5.6L lens?


Rolling the drums...


Oct 30, 2017 at 10:39 AM
ggreene
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Should I keep my 400mm f/5.6L lens?


RogerZoul wrote:
Have you considered a refurb for the 400 DO 2? Or Canon Pricewatch? There are some great deals to be had if you consider other than brand new from a Canon authorized dealer.


I've got a price watch notification on the 400DO II and they have not been in stock for quite some time. In fact, none of the more expensive primes have been in stock for a while. They used to pop up occasionally but Canon seems to have run dry lately.





Oct 30, 2017 at 11:09 AM
cameron12x
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Should I keep my 400mm f/5.6L lens?


Thanks for all of the input from everyone... very much appreciated.

One option I didn't consider (but it's viable) is to simply keep the slow (but very reliable and competent) 400mm f/5.6L lens as well as considering other purchase options. It's so darn light and portable and none of the other options would give me that specifically. And in good light, it doesn't give up too much at that FL.

Romy--what do good used copies of the the 500mm f/4L V1 go for these days? I remember borrowing one while on safari back in 2004 and was very impressed. I'd need to consider its weight on my CG-5 equatorial mount for astrophotography. I like the fact that it's apparently bullet-proof (and I assume provides 2-stops of IS). It would certainly be a step-up from my trusty 400mm f/5.6L lens.

A used 400mm f/4 DO V2 (w/4 stops of IS) would be ideal and awesome, but that lens is so good that even used ones are probably price prohibitive for me in the short-term; it would still represent a premium (owners apparently don't want to give them up). Longer-term, all bets are off for both the lens and me.



Oct 30, 2017 at 01:35 PM
jcolwell
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Should I keep my 400mm f/5.6L lens?


cameron12x wrote:
...--what do good used copies of the the 500mm f/4L V1 go for these days?


Check the Lens Price Database, Lens$db, http://tinyurl.com/jcolwell-lensdb



Oct 30, 2017 at 02:13 PM
cameron12x
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Should I keep my 400mm f/5.6L lens?


jcolwell wrote:
Check the Lens Price Database, Lens$db, http://tinyurl.com/jcolwell-lensdb


Jim--thanks for sharing this Excel spreadsheet database. Most helpful!

More than that--many thanks for the service you provide to everyone for maintaining it. It appears that the spreadsheet can be shared freely with others?

Since a large reason for my consideration of purchase of a lens in the 300-500mm FL range is based on aperture, it appears that another candidate may have emerged from this search: a used Canon 300mm f/2.8 (non-IS) V1. But I already have a sharp copy of the excellent Canon 200mm f/2.8L (non-IS) lens. Would the 50% reach advantage be worth $2.5-3.5K?

Given the pixel density and cropping ability of the 6D, 5D4 and 7D2, a longer FL lens may not be required for the DSOs I would be attempting to image. I'm mostly interested in reducing the amount of time needed to image in order to get adequate signal (with quality optics). I would need to consider how often I would use such a lens for normal shooting; that, in turn, would determine whether I want/need IS. Big difference in pricing.



Edited on Oct 30, 2017 at 02:43 PM · View previous versions



Oct 30, 2017 at 02:35 PM
rattlebonez
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Should I keep my 400mm f/5.6L lens?


I think the Canon 100-400 IS II would be a consideration
I get great results wide open at F 5.6 and it works well with the 1.4X III

That would get you 4 stop IS at the same F5.6




Oct 30, 2017 at 02:37 PM
riokid
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Should I keep my 400mm f/5.6L lens?


ggreene wrote:
I've got a price watch notification on the 400DO II and they have not been in stock for quite some time. In fact, none of the more expensive primes have been in stock for a while. They used to pop up occasionally but Canon seems to have run dry lately.


I have been watching for a 400 DO II as well. CPW has not had one for 37 weeks and at $5500, by the time I add tax, it will be about $5900

Fairly clean and known good copies of the 400 DO VI can be had for about $2500. Concievably you could buy one and use it for a couple of months. If does not live up to your expectations, you can sell it back on the board for about the same amount. I see this as a "cheaper" way of renting and testing equipment


Edited on Oct 30, 2017 at 02:41 PM · View previous versions



Oct 30, 2017 at 02:40 PM
 

Search in Used Dept. 



cameron12x
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Should I keep my 400mm f/5.6L lens?


rattlebonez wrote:
I think the Canon 100-400 IS II would be a consideration
I get great results wide open at F 5.6 and it works well with the 1.4X III

That would get you 4 stop IS at the same F5.6


I knew this superb lens would come up and enter the discussion at some point!

Absolute aperture vs. flexibility and IS. Two key decision points. Still rationalizing how I would use the lens.



Oct 30, 2017 at 02:40 PM
cameron12x
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Should I keep my 400mm f/5.6L lens?


riokid wrote:
Fairly clean and known good copies of the 400 DO VI can be had for about $2500. Concievably you could buy one and use it for a couple of months. If does not live up to your expectations, you can sell it back on the board for about the same amount. I see this as a "cheaper" way of renting and testing equipment

This is a good point, and it has been circulating in the back of my mind.



Oct 30, 2017 at 02:47 PM
OntheRez
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Should I keep my 400mm f/5.6L lens?


I shot my 400mm f/5.6L for ≈ 8 years. If I had the light, it was as good or better than newer, faster lenses. I let go of it and purchased the 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II. This was part of the decision to completely switch from primes to zooms. Frankly the "Holy Trinity" and the 100-400 were as good as nearly all primes. The major drawback is that the 100-400 is an unwieldy beast compared to the 300 and 400. Still flexibility trumped handling.

I would love to buy a 400 DO II or better yet the 400mm f/2.8. Not going to happen as both cost more than my pickup.



Oct 30, 2017 at 04:21 PM
alundeb
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Should I keep my 400mm f/5.6L lens?


I would just make a guess that first gen DO is not well suited for astro because the low contrast would be very visible with point light sources against black.

If I wasn't going to use teleconverters I would get the new Sigma 500 hands down. Extremely even field and low CA.
Center sharpness falls apart with 2x TC though, unlike Canon gen 2 superteles.



Oct 30, 2017 at 06:58 PM
cameron12x
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Should I keep my 400mm f/5.6L lens?


alundeb wrote:
I would just make a guess that first gen DO is not well suited for astro because the low contrast would be very visible with point light sources against black.

If I wasn't going to use teleconverters I would get the new Sigma 500 hands down. Extremely even field and low CA.
Center sharpness falls apart with 2x TC though, unlike Canon gen 2 superteles.

Yeah, but isn't the new Sigma a $6K lens? Not in the budget.

I would tend to agree with you about the lower contrast potentially being a problem with star fields. Probably would not be an issue for all of the diffuse nebula targets, etc. The fact that I haven't seen many (Google) references to it with respect to astrophotography, however, might also be a sign that it's not a good pairing.



Oct 30, 2017 at 07:06 PM
Mike Bons
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Should I keep my 400mm f/5.6L lens?


I just sold my 400 5.6L this week. There may or may not have been a tear shed. Part of my decision to sell was that I had upgraded to a 500 II and I was looking for another lens to compliment the 500. So i bought a 100-400 II. At 400mm it is equal in sharpness to the prime, but being able to shoot at 400mm at .98m and at 1/20s (thanks to the IS) and have tack sharp images opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for me. I think given your wide variety of interests, the zoom is worth consideration due to it's versatility.
FWIW, I tried a 400 DO II and although the AF was blazingly quick, the IQ did not meet my expectations given the cost.



Oct 30, 2017 at 07:45 PM
alundeb
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Should I keep my 400mm f/5.6L lens?




cameron12x wrote:
Yeah, but isn't the new Sigma a $6K lens? Not in the budget.

I would tend to agree with you about the lower contrast potentially being a problem with star fields. Probably would not be an issue for all of the diffuse nebula targets, etc. The fact that I haven't seen many (Google) references to it with respect to astrophotography, however, might also be a sign that it's not a good pairing.

I forgot the Sigma was that expensive, in my head it was a 4K lens.
If it doesn't have to be 400 mm, a 300 2.8 L IS (version 1) is the next step up from an excellent 400 5.6.



Oct 30, 2017 at 08:48 PM
cameron12x
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Should I keep my 400mm f/5.6L lens?


Mike Bons wrote:
I just sold my 400 5.6L this week. There may or may not have been a tear shed. Part of my decision to sell was that I had upgraded to a 500 II and I was looking for another lens to compliment the 500. So i bought a 100-400 II. At 400mm it is equal in sharpness to the prime, but being able to shoot at 400mm at .98m and at 1/20s (thanks to the IS) and have tack sharp images opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for me. I think given your wide variety of interests,
...Show more

I have to admit, I do think about the Canon 100-400mm V2 zoom. From what I have read, it's more like 380mm at the long end, but that's close enough. It's versatility is excellent due to the zoom and the 4-stop IS. Not doubting your experience, but is it really as sharp as the prime at the long end? It absolutely MUST BE for my use case.

V2 of both the 400mm f/4 DO and 500mm f/4 are out of budget at this time.




Oct 30, 2017 at 10:07 PM
jcolwell
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Should I keep my 400mm f/5.6L lens?


cameron12x wrote:
I have to admit, I do think about the Canon 100-400mm V2 zoom. From what I have read, it's more like 380mm at the long end, but that's close enough. It's versatility is excellent due to the zoom and the 4-stop IS. Not doubting your experience, but is it really as sharp as the prime at the long end? It absolutely MUST BE for my use case.


I haven't used the EF 400/5.6L, but I can tell you the 100-400 L IS II is stupid sharp. For example, at 300mm, it's almost as sharp as the EF 300/2.8 L IS (at f/8 and near infinity). At 400mm, the Mk II zoom is sharper than the EF 300/2.8L IS + 1.4x III (which surprised me).



Oct 30, 2017 at 10:50 PM
Mike Bons
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Should I keep my 400mm f/5.6L lens?


cameron12x wrote:
I have to admit, I do think about the Canon 100-400mm V2 zoom. From what I have read, it's more like 380mm at the long end, but that's close enough. It's versatility is excellent due to the zoom and the 4-stop IS. Not doubting your experience, but is it really as sharp as the prime at the long end? It absolutely MUST BE for my use case.

V2 of both the 400mm f/4 DO and 500mm f/4 are out of budget at this time.



I never did test them side by side and I have extremely limited experience with the zoom ( i just got it this week).From my previous testing using my friends lens for one evening, I did not notice a decrease in sharpness or AF speed which for me said a lot. I did however notice that it is not as comfortable to handhold and swing with for BIF but I am sure I will get use to it.
An example from the one outing with my friends 100-400 II.








Oct 30, 2017 at 10:52 PM
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