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Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM

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Reviews Views Date of last review
116 270128 Aug 19, 2014
Recommended By Average Price
95% of reviewers $1,058.59
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.73
9.54
9.5
ef400mmf_56_1_

Specifications:
This high-performance lens was designed with portability and handling ease in mind. One super UD-glass element, whose characteristics are similar to fluorite, and one UD-glass element result in sharp pictures from corner-to-corner. The lens also has a built-in hood and a detachable tripod mount.


 


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gazzajagman
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Registered: Apr 26, 2006
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 172
Review Date: Jun 8, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very sharp wide open. Very fast AF. Integrated lens hood...a very nice feature. Quite reasonable price. Solid L build.
Cons:
Tripod collar isn't so nice to use. Erm, that's about it. IS would be nice but not essential. monopodding is fine. Very poor min focus distance. 3.5m???

I love this lens. It's AF speed and "lock on" ability is quite astounding. Many shots that I have got were grab shots and I didn't expect this lens to lock on so well. Birds in Flight ect are easily shot, assuming you have a good pan technique.

The retractable hood is a really neat feature too and I like the way it turns the AF ring like it's an extension of the AF ring.
f5.6 is a bit dim, but it's has 2 distinct advantages here.
Firstly, the images from this lens wide open at f5.6 seem very bright compared to the darker 100-400 IS L images, which leads me to suspect that the zoom isn't really an f5.6 lens.

The croppability of this lens is also impressive. The IQ at 100% shames a lot of good zooms. Optically it's a gem and has simular sharpness charectoristics with the 135L wide open.
Often I see shots from 400mm f2.8 and 400mm f4 DO lenses that are stopped down to f5.6 to get a deeper DOF. So why not just jump straight for the lighter and cheaper version and shoot wide open for a simular result?
The redition of the out of focus areas are very pleasent too. The images I get near the Min focus distance have a 100mm macro look about them. Which brings me onto the min focus distance...
3.5m isn't very close at all, especially if I try to shoot some large sized flowers with this lens. Both the 300mm f4 and the 100-400mm IS seem to be able to focus a lot closer, so why not this lens? I have used extension tubes, which work well. But forget the 12mm tube, it hardly does a thing. Go straight for a 25mm to really improve the min focus distance.

I have used this lens on a 5D and it's produces great results, but where this lens really shines is on a 40D. The extra reach, fast AF system and faster FPS really give this lens what it needs.

This is my first big white that I've bought and owned, but I have used a 100-400mm IS L, a 300mm f4 IS L and a 300mm f2.8 IS L and 70-200mm f2.8 IS L on occasions.


Jun 8, 2008
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rxgolf
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Registered: Aug 25, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 1333
Review Date: May 21, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp, light, and fast to lock on
Cons:
None for my use

This lens is the reason I switched back to Canon! I am using it on a MarkIII and am very, very pleased with this combo. I was using a Nikon D3 with their 200-400f4, and just found the combo to be way to heavy for me to enjoyably use for long periods of time. And, I feel that at 400mm, the Canon combo is giving me results with wildlife better than the much more expensive Nikon combo just because of the ease in handling. Please note I am not saying one setup is better than the other, just that one fits my shooting style better.

May 21, 2008
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natalia.atkins
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Registered: Mar 24, 2008
Location: Australia
Posts: 65
Review Date: May 20, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Very sharp, Versatile, Light, Excellent for locking onto moving objects, well built, and great value for money
Cons:
Minimum focusing distance of 3.5m sometimes limiting, but can be corrected using extension tubes

This is a really terrific lens for its price range (around 900 US dollars). Its light enough to carry around my neck hiking all day, and a lot of fun to use.

I mostly use it for hand-held bird photography, which is probably not its strength but it does surprisingly well , especially in sunny conditions where shutter speeds are typicaly 1/1000 - 1/3200 and above. Like most owners of this lens I am blown away by its sharpness wide open and its motion-tracking capabilities. The Lens really locks onto the subject and keeps it's focus, which opens up so many great possibilities for taking wonderful pictures of birds flying, landing, and taking off.

Overall, its a wonderful addition to the kit and highly recommended.

















May 20, 2008
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Spock lonewolf
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Registered: May 8, 2008
Location: Czech Republic
Posts: 10
Review Date: May 8, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very sharp even wide open, not as heavy as faster lenses, quick focus, built-in hood, nice bokeh. Yes and perfectly sharp all the time.
Cons:

Perfect fo hiking through the forrest for shooting wildlife and birds. It's not as heavy as faster lenses, so your hand is not going to fall off after a while.

May 8, 2008
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Breitling65
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Registered: May 31, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 5221
Review Date: Apr 30, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,099.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Relatively light and not as big. Fastest AF among any other EOS I own/tried. Color/Contrast/Sharpness very good as well.
Cons:
Bit slow aperture, I would prefer F4 instead (no IS!!!). Useless with 1.4tc since dramatic loss in IQ.

Got this lens for mine 40D/birding and air shows needs. AF not working with 1.4tc on 40D, even with taped pins. Same works on 5D fine, I guess simply 40D issue with AF.
Amazing AF speed, very good for birds in flight. Bit sticky hood but this is minor to me. I like old desigh for tripod colar and overal lens not as heavy and long.
First shots amazed me much more than my 300/F4L IS with 1.4tc.


Apr 30, 2008
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scottleslie
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Registered: Oct 30, 2004
Location: Canada
Posts: 283
Review Date: Apr 29, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $900.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp. Light. Fast AF. Build quality.
Cons:
Minimum focus distance (not a big problem)

I have just three words for this lens: superb, superb, superb.

Apr 29, 2008
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Brian Kersey
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Registered: Feb 12, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 1261
Review Date: Apr 16, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $925.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: very fast autofocus great image quality excellent sharpness wide open price not much digital darkroom required
Cons:
rather large minimum focusing distance not too versatile I wish they made an IS version

I purchased this lens to replace my 100-400L due to the slower focusing speed of the zoom and the requirement to stop down. My primary use for this lens is for birding and sports and in these two fields, this lens has truly shined. My favorite feature of this lens is it's fast AF, locking onto moving targets and maintaining focus is Child's Play while using this lens in conjunction with a 1-series. It is remarkably easy to make consistently sharp flight shots of birds or of sports action. Equally as important as fast AF is it's ability to
be shot with wide-open and not lose any sharpness even when stopped down to f/8. Both these qualities are immensely important to Nature photographers. Since I have purchased this lens, I have additionally noticed that I am spending less and less time in photoshop as this lens just delivers L quality results consistently.
In future editions of this lens though, I would like to see and IS version due to the difficulty of steadying the lens handheld for long periods of time, especially when photographing static birds in less than desirable lighting situations. I mostly use a tripod though so it really doesn't bother me THAT much. Overall, I believe this to be one of Canon's great lenses truly worthy of the "L" label. I would recommend it any day of the week.


Apr 16, 2008
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lextalionis
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Registered: Jul 28, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 1076
Review Date: Apr 16, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,050.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: For the reach and IQ, very affordable.
Cons:
Well, lack of IS, but heck...then it wouldn't be affordable.

WOW! Want to emerse yourself into bird or sport photography and not break the bank?

Great lens all-around. Thanks to Hung Tran for these sample shots:

Canon EF 400mm f/5.6 L USM Sample Photos

-Roy


Apr 16, 2008
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Peter Kirk
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Registered: Sep 25, 2004
Location: Australia
Posts: 309
Review Date: Mar 30, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,460.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: WOW, this lens is sharp and quick to focus
Cons:
could do with IS.

Apart from an IS update on this lens, all I have to say about it is 10 out of 10.
Beautiful background rendition for a 5.6 minimum aperture. I am well impressed.
I keep this lens on my 1DmkIIN all day with or without the 1.4xII and it sings like a bird. The simple things in life are often the best and this lens proves that a simple design can go a long long way indeed.


Mar 30, 2008
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Peter Kotsa
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Registered: Nov 1, 2007
Location: Australia
Posts: 267
Review Date: Mar 30, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,400.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: weighs next to nothing, SHARP as a tac, fast focusing
Cons:
no image stabilizer

an amazing lens indeed. I use it for sports mainly and it can keep up just as good as the 300 2.8 does. For versatility and ease of use it is an excellent choice.
Did I mention that this lens is SHARP, oops I almost cut myself again..lol



Mar 30, 2008
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chalford
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Registered: Mar 1, 2008
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Mar 24, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,100.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Easy to hand-hold, inexpensive. Sharp sharp sharp!
Cons:
Lack of I.S. and slow (f/5.6)

This is a fantastic lens. I read a lot of reviews before purchasing it, and I wasn't unhappy.
I used this for my son's soccer games and got amazingly crisp shots. I've recently picked up the 400mm f/4 DO, and will post some comparisons.

A problem I had with this lens and the x2 converter was related to loss of AF and loss of more sharpness than I wanted. However this may be due to the x2 converter and not the lens itself. The x1.4 might have been better for the job, but AF is still lost.

I posted some sample shots of the lunar eclipse a few weeks ago. They are OK, but not great.

http://web.mac.com/halfordchris/

The important thing about this lens is that it has great reach and is very easy to handle without a tripod. I prefer more opportunistic shooting, so needing a tripod isn't always a good thing for me. I like this lens for the freedom and quality you get with it.


Mar 24, 2008
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edelsolar
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Registered: Aug 16, 2005
Location: N/A
Posts: 13
Review Date: Mar 21, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,100.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Best entry level birding lens in the market, sharp, very light, quick AF.
Cons:
Not the best under low light such as heavy canopies, rain forest. Not a real close focusing lens, close up tubes can be added

Got this lens a couple of years ago, supra sweet lens. Sharp wide open, reasonably priced, great with 1.6X back. Toy lens that truly delivers.

IF F5.6 is too slow for you, the F2.8 is a better option for an extra $5,000, minor detail I guess. :-)


Mar 21, 2008
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hsk06
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Registered: Feb 1, 2008
Location: United States
Posts: 1071
Review Date: Feb 22, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,099.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: sharp, contract, bokeh, color are excellent. handle very well
Cons:
NONE given you already know what you are getting.

Just add this wonderfull lens to my collection and couldn't happier. I am glad that I went for the 400mm f5.6L prime instead of the 100-400 zoom.

sharpness, contract, bokeh, color are excellent and the lens handle very well. Most of my subjects are moving, so I don't miss IS as I thought I would.

This quickly becomes my walk around lens while my 17-55, 70-200 and 50 prime stay in the bag so you go figure out how much I love this baby.


Feb 22, 2008
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roberto1979
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Registered: Dec 29, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 1368
Review Date: Dec 31, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $900.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: So sharp my photos actually cut me!
Cons:
For the price, nothing. If you wanted to pay more, IS might be nice.

WOW!!! I bought this and a 40D for an incredible, but not budget busting wildlife setup. I had a Bigma before, and the results were always average at best. The sharpness of this lens wide open is just amazing. It equals all my other L lenses when they're stopped down to f/8.

Pros: Did I mention this lens is sharp? Lightweight. I don't mind carrying it handheld for miles. Focus is amazingly fast. Built in hood is very very nice. Everyone that sees it looks at me like I'm a pro. It's cheap!!! I paid $900 for a perfect used copy that was only 1 year old.

Cons: It's not the fastest lens, but with 300 days of sun in Colorado, sunlight is rarely an issue. I guess if you shot in less light IS might be nice, but I can't imagine the price would stay the same. I personally wouldn't pay more to have IS. The biggest con to this lens though is now that I've finally gotten some really impressive eagle shots, I'd love to have a 600mm lens for just a bit more reach, because the quality of the pictures this lens produces are addicting!


Dec 31, 2007
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albertino
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Registered: Dec 22, 2007
Location: Italy
Posts: 0
Review Date: Dec 23, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: leggero ed economico-immagini nitide e contrastate
Cons:
manca la stabilizzazione

Grazie alla sua leggerezza puoi condurlo tranquillamente per ore.
Prima di acquistarlo ho meditato tantissimo in quanto temevo risultati mediocri. Provandolo ho dovuto ricredermi e posso affermare che il suo stato un ottimo acquisto.


Dec 23, 2007
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Hungtran10
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Registered: Nov 19, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 3101
Review Date: Dec 14, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,023.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: - extremely sharp lens - with the focus limiter, the autofocus speed is crazy fast. i have no problems shooting birds in flight - sharp wide open - handholdable - beautiful color and contrasty images - did i mention how sharp this lens is?
Cons:
nothing really. this lens is a work of art.

For wildlife photography, this lens will give you the most bang for your buck. I shoot birds in flight with this lens handheld. No problems. Some people say that for a 400mm lens without IS that you need to use a tripod. I would have to strongly disagree. With good lens holding technique and practice, this lens is easily handholdable. Since it is so sharp wide open, this allows for fast shutter speeds. The only time I stop down is for more depth of field when I am shooting insects or small birds.

Add a 36mm kenko autofocus extension tube for semi macro photography. I shoot larged sized insects (wasps, butterflies, dragonflies, praying mantis) or small birds with amazing sharpness and depth of field. This combo makes for a great backyard lens. I also go hiking with it at the local wildlife sanctuary without any problems. If you enjoy birding photography, this is THE lens to get.

Yes you can get the 500mm f4 but you are going to need a sturdy tripod and you are gonna need a really fat wallet because that lens is crazy expensive.


Dec 14, 2007
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Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
116 270128 Aug 19, 2014
Recommended By Average Price
95% of reviewers $1,058.59
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.73
9.54
9.5
ef400mmf_56_1_


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