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

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262 632200 Apr 4, 2013
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90% of reviewers $2,086.79
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.31
8.68
9.1
ef100_400l_1_

Specifications:
L-series super telephoto zoom lens equipped with an Image Stabilizer. The fluorite and Super UD-glass elements largely eliminate secondary spectrum. The floating system also ensures high picture quality at all focal lengths. The Image Stabilizer has two modes and it is compatible with Extenders 1.4x II and 2x II.


 


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vgopalk
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Registered: Mar 2, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 1
Review Date: Mar 8, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated

 
Pros:
Cons:

Maybe I am missing something here. How can DUST get through to the CCD sensor because of the lens?

Be it a film or a digital camera, shouldn't the light rays be the only ones to pass through the lens and reach the focal plane containing the film or the sensor?

I can understand that dust will collect between the outer and inner cylinders of the lens (whether the lens is a rotating zoom or a push-pull zoom). How will it reach the sensors? (unless the user decides to CHANGE the lens during a dust storm!)

I realize that this is not a review per-se, but more to understand what the reviewers are talking about.

For those interested in corresponding to me directly, the address is vgopalk@hotmail.com

Thank You


Mar 8, 2006
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mfurtman
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Registered: May 8, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 53
Review Date: Mar 4, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,495.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Relatively compact and lightweight; excellent image quality; rugged build; versatile zoom range; fast autofocus; Image Stabilization.
Cons:
Relatively slow aperture (not a problem for digital shooters); the push-pull design, though excellent for wildlife and bird photography, does suck dust into the unit.

It used to be that, for serious wildlife photography, you needed a lens with at least an f/4 aperture. With the excellent high ISO settings Canon has developed for their cameras, this f/5.6 lens is up to the job in just about all light conditions. In order to maintain a high shutter speed for action photography, one just needs to "pump up" the ISO.

As a full-time, freelance photographer and writer, I find that this is my "go to" lens most of the time. If your shooting style is to sit by the roadside with all the other photographers in Yellowstone or other locations where wildlife gathers, the big primes are great, since you can use a tripod.

I prefer to get off the road and stalk wildlife. I also do a great deal of on-the-wing bird photography. Both styles of shooting are greatly aided by a hand-holdable, image stabilized lens, and the 100-400 is ideal for both. Some consider this lens heavy. Heavy compared to what? At just a tad over 3 pounds, I consider this lens light and compact.

Image quality is outstanding, especially with APS-C sized senors. Bokeh is fabulous. There's really not much wrong with this lens except that the push-pull design does act as a bellows and inhales dust at times. On the other hand, the push-pull design is much faster and more intuitive when tracking subjects moving toward you than a twist-type zoom function.

If you're curious about the quality of images this lens can produce, please visit my wildlife galleries at www.michaelfurtman.com. The vast majority of those images were taken with this lens. You'll also find a link to a longer review I've written of this lens on the Digital News and Views page of my site.

You can use a 1.4x telextender with this lens if you use the old "tape the pins" trick. However, you will find it greatly slows the autofocus. For stationary or slow moving subjects, the extender works fine, but will not yield consistent results on fast moving subjects. The 2x will not work at all, except as a manual focus lens.

In the days of film, this lens would have been too slow for serious wildlife work. With digital, it is an excellent choice. I've sold many, many images taken with this lens shot, when the light requires, at 800 and even 1600 ISO. After a little noise reduction in Photoshop, they are beautiful. Samples of such are in the review at my website, as well as sample images demonstrating lens sharpness.

A great lens at a very good price! Could it be better? Well, if it were a constant f/4 throughout its focal length, the 1.4x telextender would probably not slow the autofocus down nearly as much. On the other hand, the lens would have to be considerably bigger and heavier. The Nikon 200-400 f/4 weights in at 8 pounds and costs $5000.00, so I imagine any Canon counterpart, if ever released, will probably be quite similar in weight and price!


Mar 4, 2006
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canonlight
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Registered: Feb 26, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 42
Review Date: Feb 27, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Very good image quality, Excellent resolving power and stunning contrast, "IS" is a tremendous boon, USM/FTM makes AF fast and silent, Solid "L" build, Takes 1.4xTC very well.
Cons:
Not a fast aperture lens, Push-pull zoom takes getting used to, "Dust Trombone" nickname isn't reassuring, Could use the next generation IS unit, Pricy.
Feb 27, 2006
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Undercurrent
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Registered: Feb 16, 2006
Location: Australia
Posts: 0
Review Date: Feb 16, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Build quality, sharpness, IS, USM speed and quietness, robustness, versatility (big plus)
Cons:
Dimensions, Linear zoom, friction ring design.

First of all, my photographic style and habits.

I take my camera everywhere I go so in order to be practical all of my equipment has to fit into a small diagonal single strap bag on my back. To make life even worse, I like to shoot macro, extreme wide angle and 400mm+ zoom as well as mid focal range stuff. Plus i've never used, let alone bothered to lug around, a tripod.

Because of these requirements i'm pretty much limited to three lenses at the most, so they all have to be zoom types. This is where this lens really shines; full coverage from 100 to 400mm (160 - 640 @1.6x) with IS, accurate USM focus and optics you would expect from an L class zoom. It's not as sharp as a good prime, but then again, it's not a prime is it? If you really need that sharpness that covers this focal range then have fun hauling all that prime glass about the countryside.

In practical usage i've found the lens to be quite a good performer, but it's not something you can expect to pick up and start taking top quality pictures with straight away. It takes a fair bit of time to understand how it behaves in different conditions. Some people tend to complain about poor quality control and them getting a bad lens because of this. Maybe this was their first 400mm lense and haven't learnt to appreciate the magnitude that aperture has at these focal lengths and getting bad DOF control. When you start to make settings that take this into true consideration you really start to appreciate the IS.

Although it weighs a fraction of the primes or smaller focal range lenses it replaces, its still a tank. The weight is signifigant. I don't find it a problem personally, but this will be something you need to consider. To make it easier to handle I fabricated a stainless steel handgrip that bolts to the tripod ring mount on the lens itself.

The dimensions of the lens in longer zooms with the hood on makes it stick out like a sore thumb and draws alot of attention (sometimes unwanted).

I found it took me some time to put more faith in the IS's capability to offset the slower apertures and learn to use slower shutter speeds. It always amazes me how well pictures turn out with what I would think to be stupidly slow shutter speeds.

I've seen people often remark that the lens is too slow, but to get 2.8@400mm, you would end up with a lens with diabolical proportions I would imagine. Good for some perhaps, but not something I could be bothered to lump around all the time.

Without the hood its prone to light scattering on the front element if the sun isn't behind you.

The linear zoom is a good thing to me. Although I don't hate it, I would prefer a twist zoom. The push/pull is faster if you need to reef the zoom in or out to track something moving fast, but if you don't shoot fast moving subjects then maybe its unwarrented. As far as being a dust pump then it obvious that its got that potential, but if you cycle any lenses zoom fast enough it will become a pump, it's just that the linear zoom makes it easier for you to do this. I've taken this lens to some very dusty places and when there I take care not treat the zoom like a pump-action shotgun. No dust inside so far.




Feb 16, 2006
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M.Sears
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Registered: Jun 12, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 92
Review Date: Feb 15, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Very Sharp! Any difference between this and my 400 5.6L is very small indeed and the IS on the Zoom more than makes up for it. I was shocked just how good it is after hearing all the moaning about it. This lens give you a great variety of options on subjects that you can not predict what will happen or where. It is an outdoor only lens of course.
Cons:
None

The only reason more photojournalists dont use it is its size and the requirement it can only be used outside. Also the price.

Feb 15, 2006
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vmar
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Registered: Nov 9, 2004
Location: Greece
Posts: 19
Review Date: Feb 1, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,410.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Built quality, sharpness even wide open, IS, contrast, colour rendition. Very fast AF if light is good.
Cons:
A little heavy, slow AF in low light.

It's a real pleasure to work with this lense if light is good. It performs very well and it is very versatile.
Learning curve is required. Don't expect great results from the very first date.


Feb 1, 2006
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Simon S
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Registered: May 20, 2005
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 1
Review Date: Feb 1, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Built like a tank Fast focus Sharp under the right conditions IS a bonus if you have a steady hand. Attracts a lot of attention
Cons:
Dust pump! pust pull focus takes some getting used too. Heavy. Not a lens you can master in a day. You DO need a tripod for best results. Attracts a lot of attention

This is the lens most Canon users state as being the best in it's Class. The Canon 100-400L has two modes of image stabilization for hand held use and panning. My first experience of the lens where promising. Good sharpness wide open at 400mm with good light. However, if the light is less than ideal, the lens produces soft images whatever the aperture and shutter speed. This lens take a lot of getting used to and you may find the images you get are at first only average.
Give it light and a tripod with the aperture at f8 and it is a great performer. Just don't expect miracles straight away.
Oh and yes it is a dust pump!


Feb 1, 2006
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Perdu
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Registered: Aug 1, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 1657
Review Date: Feb 1, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,360.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Verstility, build, push/pull zoom, color rendition, relative sharpness, overall value
Cons:
Dust over the mirror, focusing screen and sensor

This lens is great except for the dust it creates in the camera. That said, I have not noticed any in the lens. If you hold the camera end of the lens and use the zoom you can feel the air blowing over your hand.

But. . .the push/pull zoom is a great feature. When I orderd the lens I forgot about all the feedback on this zoom system, but when the lens arrived I used the push/pull intuitively. It allows you to zoom while holding and using the focusing ring at the same time - a great feature. I prefer that to using two rings with one hand. It also helps balance the lens.

For a zoom of this range it is sharp, high contrast and resolves detail well. Mine does this best at 400mm where it is very very good. At 300mm it can't resolve as well my 300 f4 IS, but this is easily fixed in photoshop.

I have noticed the quality of results depends on the available light. To get the best out of this lens you need bright conditions. Here my 300 f4 IS also does better, which is what I would expect.

Without the hood you can get some horrible glare. (no surpise here either)

Considering the zoom range this is a very nice piece of glass. I like it a lot and although it's expensive, it's good value for money.


Feb 1, 2006
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judhi
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Registered: Feb 9, 2005
Location: Singapore
Posts: 0
Review Date: Feb 1, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Long range, dual IS (vertical & horizontal), value for money, compact
Cons:
dark at f/5.6 , push pull zoom inconvenience

My first L lens, finally I bought second hand from a good friend after trying it for months Smile

Excellent build quality. Very good for shooting surfers, birds, even portrait.

Not very good for shooting in low light but my EOS 20D's ISO1600-3200 save the night. Here's some sample from last year Chingay festival in Singapore -> http://www.pbase.com/judhi/chingay_2005


Feb 1, 2006
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jmraso
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Registered: May 25, 2004
Location: Spain
Posts: 2232
Review Date: Jan 23, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Walk around lens, built and color rendition.
Cons:
the zoom system.

Not as sharp as the 400 5.6 but it is very versatile though.
When there is plenty of light (Summer, sunny winter ...) this lens is quite sharp, but when light falls youīd better put it back in the bag.
Jaime wrote.
www.jmraso.com


Jan 23, 2006
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sapro
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Registered: Jan 14, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 2929
Review Date: Jan 5, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,050.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp, sharp and sharp, push-pull zoom makes it very easy to carry and store.
Cons:
It's a little pricy for a not-so-fast lens like this, but considering IS and fluorite element, it may be worthy it



Jan 5, 2006
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jamesjr934
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Registered: Sep 6, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 265
Review Date: Dec 21, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,200.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Sharp, good color and contrast Great telephoto zoom for handheld work (when IS works correctly)
Cons:
Locks up (ERR 01) mounted to a 1DMKII while in AI Servo w/ IS on; must be sent to Canon for repair.



Dec 21, 2005
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Canis
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Registered: Apr 19, 2005
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 232
Review Date: Dec 11, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Good Value, Excellent Build, Versatile, Very Good Optical Quality
Cons:
AF hunts in poor light.

I owned this lens for several months and used it with increasing frequency.
Value for money this an excellent lens and capable of taking excellent pictures. It is not fast but you know that when you buy it and it delivers a very well priced versatile 400mm.

I have seen several unfavourable reviews of this lens but the problem seems to be that as a lens favoured very much by the consumer end of the market it gets blamed for what is mainly poor user technique. Front / Back focus problems and "poor copies" are seldom experienced by pros but invariably dog the less experienced who having spent Ģ1000 on a lens expect it to take perfect pictures inspite of their technique (or lack of..).

This lens is easy to use if you take the time to bond with it. The pull push zoom is easy to use, if someone can't use it that is down to an inadequacy in them not in the lens.
The lens is sharp, most of the unsharp images I see are taken at too low a shutter speed for a 400mm focal length lens and suffer from camera shake.

The lens is hugely versatile, if I don't know what to expect at a shoot I always pack this lens, it has never let me down.

Built like a tank.

Users have to be realistic, 100-400 is big range and no zoom covering that will match the shorter zoom ranges or a prime for sharpness.
At 400mm even with IS you need reasonable light - this is not a low light lens, the AF hunts in poor light and at f5.6 and 400 you need to bump up the ISO to get a decent shutter speed for anything that is not stationary.

That said IS has meant that I can shoot at 1/125 at 400mm on a moving subject and still nail the shot.

All is all this is a great lens but not foolproof.


Dec 11, 2005
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alabandon
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Registered: Nov 29, 2005
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 0
Review Date: Nov 29, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Build quality, sharp optics, colour rendition, IS, FTMF, tripod mount well placed, focus delimiter.
Cons:
Slow aperture, slowish focussing at 300m and beyond, attracts dust, weight may be problematic, but it doesn't bother me.

This lens produces very sharp, high contrast results on an EOS 3 using Velvia. My copy has excellent optical quality - one can see all the hairs on a squirrel and a rabbit in great detail, tack sharp, even at f/5.6. Prints can be enlarged to 12 x 8 without degradation.

The build quality stands up to abuse - I advise one keeps the lens hood attached because of the risk the lens might be dropped face down. The lens hood is of average quality, and if you do drop it, it will break. But at least the lens will be safe.

I noticed after my first field trip, the lens built-up dust internally. This does not seem to degrade image quality, at the moment. I need to find some method of cleaning the internal structure, otherwise it's second-hand value could be reduced, in the unlikely event I should sell it.

The USM focussing is not fast enough for flight photography at longer focal lengths. Many frames are wasted attempting to track moving subjects. I use the central focussing point to avoid trouble at longer focal lengths.

Overall, in terms of optical and build quality, this lens measures up to the L series standards. The focussing is slowish, as is the aperture, but this is to be expected with a wide-range zoom. The image stabilizer is a boon, and permits speeds of 1/60th second handheld. Canon should have incorporated dust-proofing, which I believe is a feature on other L series lenses.

Well done, Canon, overall, for another fine addition to the L series. A practical and high quality tool for photographers requiring flexibility, sharp optics and maximised with the incorporation of an image stabilizer.



Nov 29, 2005
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dehowie
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Registered: Oct 21, 2004
Location: Australia
Posts: 966
Review Date: Nov 22, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Excellent all around lens.
Cons:
Lens hood.

I've used this lens for over 2 years now and still find it usefull and good quality even up against my big primes.
My sample is exceptionally sharp aound the 300mm mark and takes wonderful shots in both good and poor light.
IS plays up when panning across the sun but this is a pretty well known problem with the 100-400 but really is not a major limitation.
Overall i have been happy since day 1 and am still happy today.
Excellent lens.
Darren Howie


Nov 22, 2005
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egalon
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Registered: Oct 2, 2005
Location: Spain
Posts: 0
Review Date: Nov 19, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Incredible sharp, even wide open, from 100 to 350. The most versatile lens i own.
Cons:
None at all

I bought this lens after read the previous reviews to complement my, in the way, 24-105 IS.

After my firsts shots iīm really impressed with the lens. Itīs as sharp as my 300/4 IS and very far from my 70-200 IS. I really think itīs my best buy in Canon lenses. I still prefer the the 300/4 plus 1,4X for focal 400, itīs more sharp, but the 100-400 is much more versatile.

I own a 135/2, 14-70/4, 24-70/2.8, 70-200 2.8 IS, 300/4 IS...
and i think the 100-400 itīs my best lens.

Highly recommended.

Please, excuse my bad english.


Nov 19, 2005
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Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
262 632200 Apr 4, 2013
Recommended By Average Price
90% of reviewers $2,086.79
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.31
8.68
9.1
ef100_400l_1_


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