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Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS USM

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42 145640 Jun 27, 2013
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93% of reviewers $4,866.61
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.80
7.19
9.3
ef400_4dois_1_

Specifications:
Canonís breakthrough multi-layer diffractive optical lens technology provides photographers with superior super-telephoto performance in a smaller and lighter design with enhanced correction for chromatic aberrations. Weíve also added our highly effective Image Stabilization system that gives the equivalent effect of a shutter speed two stops faster. And, itís built it to our professional standards with fast AF, full-time mechanical focus and dust and water-resistant construction.


 


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dauphinas365
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Registered: May 13, 2008
Location: Germany
Posts: 2
Review Date: Nov 23, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $5,600.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: light, very light, fast focus, very good build quality
Cons:
a bit softer then others in this price range, you need to be careful under certain light conditions

Have owned this lens for now about 10 months and have to say it is worth every penny. The main advantage and that is why it is unique is the weight of this lens and a good image quality which outperforms any other none L lens I know. IS is first generation but haven't had any problems handhold shooting of sport events.

One thing you need consider this lens is difficult if light is coming from the direction where you are shooting. Even some mirrored light could cause degradation of image quality. But if you get used to this you can shoot excellent pictures which would not be as easy as with the 2.8/400 as an example.

Probably I will never sell this lens and if you look there are not much used ones on the market, so there seems to be something unique with this lens.


Nov 23, 2008
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mazamabill
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Registered: May 28, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 3
Review Date: Nov 1, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $5,300.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Extremely sharp, relatively light, fantasic OS
Cons:
Cost, tight hood

This may not be the best lens for birding lens, but for the megafauna is has excellent reach, IQ, and useability. It's a fantastic lens to hand hold and enables you to get the quick shot. Plus it takeS a 1.4X TC very well. FANTASTIC ALL PURPOSE WILDLIFE LENS!


Nov 1, 2008
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photochaos
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Registered: Jan 15, 2008
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Oct 7, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: lightweight, image quality
Cons:
price

Before buying this lens I spent several weeks reading all available reviews. I was a bit hesitant because of some mixed reviews, and for a while considered whether either the 300mm f/2.8 or the 400mm f/2.8 would be better choices.

I decided against the 400mm f/2.8 because I like carrying my lenses around in city walks and mountain hikes--something almost impossible with this lens--and that I would only use this lens for some soccer shots--not worth enough to buy the 400mm f/2.8. It was a relatively easy decision.

I did consider the 300mm f/2.8 much longer. The size and weight would allow me to shoot handheld, it's one stop faster than the 400mm DO, and it has outstanding reviews. However, 300mm was not enough reach for some uses (e.g., soccer) and I knew I would end up using the 300mm with a 1.4x converter quite a bit, losing some autofocus speed, the one stop advantage, and perhaps some image quality.

I finally decided to trust the more recent reviews on the 400 DO, and I am very glad I did! I've shot several soccer games since I got this lens, and I am extremely happy with the results. Fast autofocus, outstanding image quality, good contrast, and I can handheld this lens for several soccer games in a weekend.

I look forward to hiking with this lens, as well as traveling by plane without having to ship part of my equipment.



Oct 7, 2008
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genefixer
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Registered: Jan 22, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 6419
Review Date: Jul 24, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Relatively lightweight, can be handheld with excellent results
Cons:
price of course but you get what you pay for, good quality and flexibility

I had the 400 5.6L lens and loved it but was restricted to using a tripod. I purchased this for a good price thinking if I did not like it I could turn it around without much of a loss. No way, it is a keeper. I use it mostly with the Canon 1.4x II extender and it is still very sharp. I can say that at shutter speeds below 1/320 I loose some crispness on delicate objects, e.g. those darn little lovely Goldfinches, Smile. Focuses very quickly on either my 40D or Mark III. Not considering another long lens until I can afford the nes 800mm!!

Jul 24, 2008
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wfr2
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Registered: May 14, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 1323
Review Date: Jul 4, 2008 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: supplement: works well with 2x teleconverter
Cons:

Just a short update now that I bought a Canon 2x teleconverter. This lens worked so well with the 1.4xTC that I decided to buy another 2x after selling my previous one last year. Works very well with this lens. Not quite as sharp as with 1.4x as should be expected but stilll very good. I even tried hand holding it with success.

Jul 4, 2008
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wfr2
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Registered: May 14, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 1323
Review Date: May 8, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: lightweight, SHARP and good contrast, fast and accurate focus, can be had 2d hand at a big discount, IS works well, Handholdable
Cons:
checkered reputation (undeserved IMO), does not hold its value well, costly

I hesitated for almost 2 years to buy this lens because of all the bad reviews. I tried a 400f5.6 and could not live w/o IS so there was no alternative but to buy it. I bought it used and required test images. Wish I had not waited. This is a great lens. I shoot only RAW and convert in ACR and have not seen any problems with clarity or contrast. This lens is tack sharp and is good contrast. Because of its checkered reputation, used ones can be bought at a signigigant discount.

May 8, 2008
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jrokovich
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Registered: Mar 8, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 1
Review Date: Apr 11, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp, light weight, fast focus
Cons:
$$$

If you can afford the price, this is a great wildlife lens with high image quality... and no loss of sharpness or focusing with 1.4 x teleconverter

The real advantage is getting remarkable images at distance in a relatively small and light weight body. This is a lens that you can put into a backpack for a few miles.

Build quality is first rate.

With all of the considerations combined this my favorite long lens for wilderness trips and local wildlife.


Apr 11, 2008
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willis
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Registered: Jul 23, 2005
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 472
Review Date: Apr 4, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharpness, compactness, weight, very fast focus even with 1.4 extender, image quality with extenders.
Cons:
Price, but you get what you pay for. Lower contrast than fluorite superteles.

This was really the only option for me as a hand holdable wildlife lens. The 300 2.8 with extenders seems much heavier because of its weight distribution. It's very sharp contrary to internet rumour, a good performer even with my sigma 2x extender, with a 1.4x it's difficult to tell if an extender was used. Images do need a slight boost in contrast at times but otherwise its perfect for my needs and I'd not swap it for any other canon lens of similar price.

Apr 4, 2008
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FAU4U
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Registered: Sep 4, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 15
Review Date: Oct 28, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Light Weight 4.3# Compact size 10" length Excellent image quality and color Quick accurate focus,
Cons:
No functional issues known. Yes would like this lens to less costly We paid $5300 recently. Serial Number 51xx

For those that know me, I've been complaining on dpreview about the weight of the 400mm 2.8L IS at 12#. Add a 4# camera and a 1# monopod for a 5 hour event like football... and I fount this lens staying in the cabinet too often; so I sold it to a fellow in Canada.

I tested Serial No 41xx 6 months ago and liked it. We recently bought this lens NEW, and am very pleased with the quick focus and tracking, mounted on the 1D3. This light weight lens is superb.
I'll be looking forward to acquiring Canon's new 200mm F2L IS next year when its released.

I've got some action sportsshots on our site, lots of other examples:
http://www.416-1100.com/gallery/3725002#214003218-XL-LB
http://www.416-1100.com/photos/214003218-XL.jpg

JimW


Oct 28, 2007
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Ric Grupe
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Registered: Jan 15, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 43
Review Date: Aug 12, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $5,300.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Just light enough for prolonged use while hiking.
Cons:
$$$$$

This was my only alternative in my mind for on the go shooting afield. So glad I didn't get the 300 2.8 for that extra size and weight. Handheld shots at ISO 200 and f/5.6 with the 1.4 tc are easily accomplished.

I've heard complaints about contrast and this lens...so far I can't see any problem in this area.

Quick focus and lovely color...a great lens.

The price is ridiculous...but if you want to play...


Aug 12, 2007
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William Popw
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Registered: May 24, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 9
Review Date: May 24, 2007 Recommend? no | Price paid: $5,200.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Good to very good optics; Ability to hand hold
Cons:
Lack of sharpness and contrast relative to other options, and way too expensive

I'm not a "pro", but I tested this lens extensively against a rented 300 2.8 IS and my 100-400 5.6 zoom. It is very comfortable to hand hold and should be a great "walkaround" lens for birders.

However, on a tripod I found it to be less sharp and less contrasty at all apertures than the 300 2.8 + 1.4X TC, but especially at larger apertures. In fact, at 5.6 it was barely better than the 100-400 (@ 400). Sharpness and contrast got better as the lens was stopped down, but it was never as good as the 300+TC. In fact, the 400 DO + 1.4X TC was only about as good as the 300 + 2X TC. So for less money you get a razor sharp 300mm lens, a better 420mm lens, and an equivalent 600mm lens.

The 400 DO did a little better, relatively speaking, when hand held. I would say sharpness was about as good as the 300 2.8 + 1.4X TC. I'm not sure whether the IS is better or it's easier to hold (at about 2 lbs less). So if you need a big lens that you hand hold most of the time, the 400DO may make sense for you. (However, I would opt for the 300+TC and do some pushups instead.)

I'll be returning the 400DO.


May 24, 2007
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uz2work
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Registered: Mar 3, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 11682
Review Date: May 5, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: image quality, size and weight, performance with 1.4x
Cons:
price, perhaps

I haven't posted on FM in over a year, but I still maintain contact with many FMers, and I often get emails asking my opinion about various lenses. So, for my fellow long lens users, I thought I'd post a review of the 400DO.

I had thought about buying a 400DO for a couple of years. The mixed reviews, however, had always discouraged me from doing so. Even though I'm a big fan of my 500/4, I was looking for a smaller, lighter long lens to use when the situation warranted it. I had thought of getting a 300/2.8, but I knew that I'd be using it virtually all the time with a 1.4x, and the weight seemed too close to that of the 500 (a little over 2 pounds difference) to make it worth sacrificing 200mm.
So, my plan was to try out a 400DO first. I figured that I'd give it a good workout for a week or so, and, if its image quality or performance didn't hold up in any way, I was prepared to return it and, get a 300/2.8, and live with the extra weight and shorter length of the 300/2.8.

Some of the reviews talk about how the 400DO doesn't do so well, especially in the area of contrast, in less than ideal light. Also, speculation is that more recent copies are better than those from the time when the lens was first introduced. I have no idea whether Canon
"made some things better", but I do know that the 400DO that I bought about 2 months ago has exceeded any expectations that I might have. It doesn't lose a thing, in terms of image quality, to my 500/4. My judgment is that it is every bit as sharp as my 500/4, and, if it isn't, it has to be so close that the difference would be neglible. With regard to performance in less than perfect light, again, it performs just as well as my 500/4. Sharpness, contrast, color, etc. are excellent.

And the lens is a joy to use for hand-held shooting. I've enjoyed using my 100-400 for the flexibility of the zoom and its size. I could never warm up to my 400/5.6 (which I recently sold). Even though it was capable of extremely sharp images, because of the lack of IS, the percentage of shots that got thrown away was just too much for me to accept. While the 400DO weighs a pound or so more than either the 100-400 or the 400/5.6, I think that it actually balances better and feels more comfortable for hand-held shooting than either of the other two lenses. In fact, with its size and weight and with an excellent IS system (even though it is not of the most recent generation), I feel like I'm ending up with sharper hand held shots, even if I need more cropping than with, say my 500, just because it is so easy to hold steady. And, like my 500, the 400DO loses virtually nothing with a 1.4x, except for, of course, the stop of light. I haven't really tried it with a 2x because, when I start to need that much length, that's when the 500 will come out for sure. AF with the lens is quite fast, as long as the limiter switch is set to limit the range. With the limiter switch set to use the full range, AF does slow down quite a bit and there is quite a bit of hunting. With a 1.4x, AF is only marginally slower.

I didn't think that any lens could ever replace my 500/4 as "my favorite lens", but, in just a couple of months of using the 400DO, it has become my favorite lens. If I'm going out and can get by with 400mm, I use the 400DO. If I need a little over 500mm and the light allows me to lose a stop of light, I'll use the 400DO and a 1.4x. Only when I can't afford the loss of a stop or need 700mm or more, have I been using the 500. And, as someone who has used the 500 for tens of thousands of shots and not minded the size and weight, I would not be using the DO now if I felt that it compromised the quality of the images in any way. I might also add that it is proving to be an outstanding lens for use in wildlife shooting from a vehicle. While I've often wrestled with getting my 500 aiming out the window, it is just so much easier with the size and weight of the DO.

And I find that I'm not missing the 100 mm of the 500 much, if any, at all. There may be an occasional time when I can't get a head shot with the 400DO and I could have with the 500, but I found, with the 500, that there were just as many times when I had too much length as there were when I didn't have enough, and, as my shooting has evolved, I've found that I prefer cropping somewhat looser than I once did. While we, as photographers, fall in love with the tightly cropped shots when we get a long lens, for my taste, a shot that is cropped a bit looser and includes a bit more of the environment is more asthetically pleasing. So, 400mm has fit my needs very well.

Again, I have no idea how early copies of this lens perform, but I'd highly recommend a current copy for any looking for a long prime, but especially for those looking for one that is smaller, lighter, and more portable, without sacrificing image quality or a relatively wide aperture. The only downside, to me, of the 400DO is the price. However, when I think about it, if I could buy a 500mm lens that performs as well as the 500/4, but that weighed 2 pounds less, I'd be willing to pay a $1500-2000 premium for that size and weight savings. That's what I figure the premium is for the 400DO over what a 400/4 with traditional design would likely cost.

If anyone has any questions or would like samples of shots from the 400DO, you can email me through the link in my website.
www.wildlifeimagesbyles.net


May 5, 2007
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Ralph Hope
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Registered: Apr 28, 2007
Location: United Kingdom
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Review Date: Apr 28, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $8,000.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Weight, Size, Image Quality
Cons:
Price

The price above is given in USD but was acutally bought in the UK for about £4000 (gbp) - 2:1 exachange rate at time of writing.

I do a lot of walking and end up taking a lot my photos hand held, so i wanted something light and easy to carry up a mountain along with camping gear (already 40+lbs for a 3 or 4 day hike) without breaking my back, with IS and around the 400mm mark.

Camera bodies are similar price in the UK and US, but the big primes seem to be about 60% more expensive here at the moment (no idea why), so I agonised for ages over buying this lens due to the frankly ludicrious cost of it here.

I'd been using the 100-400mm IS for a couple of years due to it's light weight, but was never happy with the sharpness or (at times) contrast. Maybe i have a bad copy, but it just had to go - i took some lovely shots with it over the years, but i always lamented the lack of sharpness in them compared to my other lenses.

I thought about the 300mm 2.8, but i knew from having to add my 1.4 to my 100-400 plenty of times that i'd end up buying a 2x teleconverter and be no better off (quality wise) than i was before.

All the mixed reviews about this lens made it really hard to decide - it's a LOT of money to gamble when some have said the 400 DO is no sharper than the 100-400.

Well I eventually bit the bullet and bought one... and oh my god. It's like night and day. Going from my 100-400 to this thing is probably more of a 'wow' than when i upgraded from a 300D to a 1D Mk 2.

The sharpness is absolutely excellent (including with my 1.4 teleconverter) and so far the contrast and colour has been spot on as well.

The AF is also much, much faster than the 100-400 and the extra f stop over the 100-400 (at 400) makes a difference too. Getting up to 1/1500th of a second at iso 100 (in april in england!) certainly puts a big smile on my face.

I don't know what QC problems canon had with this lens when it first launched but if my copy is anything to go by they're gone.

Finally i have the lens i'd hoped my 100-400 would be when i bought it years ago - light enough to hike with and hand hold and fantasic images without having to sharpen them to death in PS afterwards - i just had to pay 4x as much for it and loose the zoom!


Apr 28, 2007
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Carel Schilder
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Registered: Feb 11, 2007
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 0
Review Date: Feb 12, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $4,000.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: weight/size
Cons:
maybe its price, but its lightweight is worth it to me!!!

Bought it second hand, not even a year old!
In a lot of forums it is bashed for a lot of things.
Because i like to take it with me on hikes this 400 D0 was the only option for me.
I am pleasantly surpised with its sharpness and build quality.




Feb 12, 2007
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mervifwdc
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Registered: May 18, 2005
Location: Ireland
Posts: 2095
Review Date: Oct 16, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $5,100.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Size, Weight
Cons:
cost

I've only owned this lens for a few weeks, but have fallen in love with it. It's way sharper than the 35-350L, or 70-200+2x

It feels quite balanced handheld or on a monopod with a 1d.

Nice sharp images. Very pleased with it.
Merv.


Oct 16, 2006
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stanj
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Registered: Aug 5, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 9679
Review Date: Mar 5, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $5,000.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Great performer optically. It's light and short. Has excellent IS. You definitely can take it on a hike with you, and you can hand hold it for hours on.
Cons:
Very expensive given the focal length and speed. Somewhat low contrast in flat light. Not quite as sharp as the 300/2.8LIS with a 1.4x TC. This lens is not something for pixel peepers.

I've had a long, mixed relationship with this lens. I first encountered it in November 2002 when it was handed to me on a 1D body. Maybe you know the feeling: you are about to grab something that has a familiarity to you. Your muscles instinctively prepare for a certain mass, but surprisingly the object is much lighter or heavier than expected. In my case, the 400DO+1D pretty much flew into the air, it was so much lighter than I anticipated. That moment I knew I needed to have one.

I shoot wildlife occasionally. I don't really care for birds except for owls, so I don't need extremely long lenses. I have found a 300mm lens to be too short for my needs, as I used to own the 300/4LIS, and I rented the 300/2.8L quite often. On the other hand, I found the 300/2.8 to be too heavy, esp. with the 1.4x TC attached. Once I knew about the DO lens, I knew it was right for me. It had the right focal length, aperture, IS, and size/weight - like no other lens out there.

I managed to borrow one and found it to be a wee bit less sharp than a 300/2.8 + 1.4x TC, but it was better with the 1.4x TC than the 300 with the 2.0x, and it's a better 800 than the 300/2.8 ever will be. I bought a "demo" copy of the lens, but displayed buyer's remorse and reluctantly returned it for a full refund a week later.

After that I rented the 300/2.8 a few more times, but found that it stayed behind too often because of its size and weight. Eventually I bought a new one, and been in love with it ever since. I don't really have a reason to justify owning such an expensive lens since I use it only occasionally, but it's about as big as I am willing ever to carry around, and you can't rent it anywhere.

http://rescomp.stanford.edu/~stanj/Travel/Owls/0008.html

To illustrate the usefulness of this lens: in December 04 I went shoot Great Grey owls with a birder friend. He came equipped with the 600/4LIS, while I came with the 400DO + 1.4x TC. There's no doubt that by the end of the day, he had the superior images, in part because of his lens and in part due to experience. However, I had at least an order of magnitude more pictures than he did, simply because I could point the lens out of the car when I needed to, while he had to set up a big tripod before firing a single shot - by that time, the owl was often gone. In this respect, I'd rather take a handful of excellent images over one razor sharp one. Your mileage may vary.

I have used three different copies of the lens over the years and personally haven't seen much of a variation, but there are reports to the contrary.


Mar 5, 2006
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Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS USM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
42 145640 Jun 27, 2013
Recommended By Average Price
93% of reviewers $4,866.61
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.80
7.19
9.3
ef400_4dois_1_


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