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Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM

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Reviews Views Date of last review
116 271181 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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foxbat
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Registered: Mar 11, 2005
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 344
Review Date: Jan 25, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: AF speed, weight (or lack thereof), sharpness, price
Cons:
none

I've had this lens for over a year now and it still surprises me with its results. Sharpness is beyond criticism and the size and weight means you can easily carry it on location. It fits easily in my Lowepro Microtrekker 200 with lots of other lenses and a camera body.

I go out of my way to use a tripod even in great light and I can regularly get sharp shots down to 1/30s (as long as the subject is co-operative of course). AF speed is extremely fast, you can almost feel the lens buck in your hands as the motor zips into position.

Others have criticised the relatively slow maximum aperture and the lack of IS but I don't believe that's fair. You don't buy this lens and then b*tch about what it doesn't have. You assess it against your needs and then buy it or leave it. Criticism should be levelled against the features that a lens claims to deliver and then falls short. Everything that the 400mm f/5.6L claims to do it delivers in spades. If it fits your requirements then I believe you will be very happy with your purchase.


Jan 25, 2006
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luckyjon
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Registered: Sep 30, 2004
Location: Qatar
Posts: 330
Review Date: Jan 21, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,064.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Very fast focus, Light enough for handheld shots, Good results when used with a EF1.4x II reasonabley priced
Cons:
f5.6/8 need good light for birding

Can give very sharpe photos.





Jan 21, 2006
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uz2work
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Registered: Mar 3, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 11684
Review Date: Jan 5, 2006 Recommend? no | Price paid: $1,100.00 | Rating: 3 

Pros: Capable of very sharp images, small and light weight for a long lens, ability to focus fast.
Cons:
lack of IS, slow 5.6 maximum aperture.

While the 400/5.6 is potentially capable of very sharp images (just a notch below some of the big ticket long glass, such as the 300/2.8 and 500/4), that potential may not always be realized in real world shooting, depending on the type of shooting one does. For birds in flight with great light, you can't, for $1100, do any better. However, if your shooting style calls for a lot of hand held shooting in less than great light, the lack of IS on this lens severly restricts its use. As I wildlife shooter whose best shot opportunities come right after sunrise or before sunset when the light is not the strongest and whose shooting is mostly hand held, I find the lens to be virtually useless without IS. While I've gotten nice shots with the lens, I haven't gotten any shots that would not have been just as good with one of my other long lenses with IS, and I know that I've missed many great shot opportunities because I didn't have the light to get the shutter speeds that I needed to use the lens without IS.
While I'm sure that it is a great lens for shooting in great light or for someone who always uses a tripod, it is the only lens that I own that I would not buy again if I had it to do over again.


Jan 5, 2006
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autzig
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Registered: Dec 10, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 94
Review Date: Dec 14, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,099.95 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very sharp digital images right out of the camera. Fast autofocus.
Cons:
With f5.6 being wide open, it is difficult to use fast shutter speeds.

This is an outstanding lens for the money. The quality and sharpness of the photos I have taken with this lens are truly amazing. It is solidly built and comes with a built-in lens hood. The auto focus is very fast. For a faster lens you have to pay thousands of dollars of dollars more. For this price the quality is unmatched.

Dec 14, 2005
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jmraso
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Registered: May 25, 2004
Location: Spain
Posts: 2441
Review Date: Nov 26, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Great lens. very sharp and fast focusing. Afforable price compare with its brothers.
Cons:
No IS for handheld shots.

Since I got it I hardly use the 100 400 IS when I go birding.

Pretty nice images when printing.

Im very happy.

Jaime
www.jmraso.com


Nov 26, 2005
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Gino02GT
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Registered: Aug 4, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 1122
Review Date: Oct 13, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,100.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Absolutely tack sharp, lightning fast (and silent) autofocus
Cons:
None

A simply amazing lens to get you into the supertelephoto focal lengths at a reasonable price. The next step for more millimeters from Canon is going to cost you over $4,000 more.

The only reason I stop this lens down is for more depth of field. Sharpness is never an issue when shooting with this lens, keep it wide open and fire away.

I chose this in the end over the 300/4L IS because of the focal length, and VERY glad that I did. 300 wouldn't even be close to the reach I need for wildlife. On a related note, this lens performs wonderfully with my 1.4x extender, which I frequently use with it. No perceptible loss in quality with my copies.

Without the IS, this lens does take a little practice when long lenses are completely new to you. A good tripod is a must.

You can go on about how fast the autofocus is with this lens, but you still won't be able to fully describe how great it is. Definately something one has to experience.

If you're looking for a lot of reach and are shooting in conditions where good light won't be a problem, this lens is for you.


Oct 13, 2005
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tanglefoot47
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Registered: Oct 12, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 14826
Review Date: Oct 12, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,069.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp, great color and contrast, fast focus, light weight
Cons:
11 ft minium focus distance

One of the best lenses for the buck. This lens is tack sharp and fast to focus I love it.

Oct 12, 2005
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M.Sears
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Registered: Jun 12, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 92
Review Date: Oct 1, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,095.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Lightweight, compact, very sharp with good contrast. Fast focus speed. Works well with a 1.4 extender on pro-bodies like the 1DMKII.
Cons:
F -5.6 but of course thats why we get the compact and lightweight. No IS which would really put it over the top.

I love this lens for any 400mm aplication that is not in dim light. In those cases you have to lug the 400 2.8 IS which is a world beater, but just so heavy you cant move around much. For fast moving news assignments and daylight sports this lens is just excellent. Great lens for wildlife in action as well. The freedom of movement it allows is incredible and I dont think other than being an F-stop faster the new 400 F-4 DO canon lens has any sharpness advantage over it either. The 400 2.8 is a bit sharper at 2.8 than this lens at 5.6, but not all that much. Build quality is excellent. Very very hand holdable. Just keep the shutter speed at or above 1000th. Not that I have not used it much lower on occasion, but its best to stick at least to a 500th hand held. It works with the 1.4x converter on pro-bodies and you lose very little in auto focus speed. Still very sharp.
It is not super close focusing, so if you want to photograph small birds closeup, the shorter Canon extension tube makes that easy, while still maintaining the ability to focus at middle distances. Since buying it the mobility this lens allows has got me several really nice photos, in situations where I would not have had this focal length along otherwise.
Makes a great daylight lens for covering golf as well. With the low noise levels of the EOS 1DMKII maximum aperature of 5.6 is not much of a handicap. 400 ISO and 800 ISO are very usable.


Oct 1, 2005
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Venus
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Registered: Aug 15, 2005
Location: N/A
Posts: 620
Review Date: Sep 8, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,500.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros:
Cons:

I have never owned a telephoto lens I love so much. End of story.

Sep 8, 2005
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ctranter
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Registered: May 31, 2005
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 197
Review Date: Sep 8, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Razor sharp, lightweight, not too bulky, super fast AF
Cons:
Long minimum focal distance

My first L lens, and also my breakthough into the longer line-up of lenses. The quality of this lens just blows me away. The build quality is great, the AF is soo fast and silent and it is unbelievably sharp.

I can whole-heartedly recommend this to anyone who is interested in wildlife/bird photography. I can handhold birds in flight with ease due to its low weight and fast AF. When used with the 1.4x extender on my 300d you get an effective length of 896mm, with no loss in quality! Definately my favorite lens.

People say its too slow, sure go for the 400mm f/2.8, if you can afford it. But this still is an amazing lens for the price.

One warning once you get into things you'll want longer..... Oh why is the 500mm so expensive :P





Sep 8, 2005
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RikWriter
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Registered: Jun 22, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 2502
Review Date: Aug 10, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $850.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp as a razor, great color rendition, light enough to use handheld.
Cons:
A bit slow, but if you want a 400mm f4 you gotta pay a heck of a lot more for it.

This is the red-headed stepchild of long L lenses...people overlook it for the 100-400L. I almost did...but I found a hellaciously good deal on a barely-used 400 f5.6L and man, what a lens this is. Just tack sharp, as sharp as any lens I've used, with awesome colors and good contrast. I am amazed at how good this lens is for the price.

Aug 10, 2005
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bret
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Registered: Nov 11, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 72
Review Date: Aug 3, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,100.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: It produces sharp and contrasty photos. It is fine for handheld use. The built-in hood is good.
Cons:
None that I know.

I love this lens. I will probably use it mostly at the beach for surf pictures, I don't know why I would need anything faster. I have no complaints at all.
I did get the hood stuck a little when I first got it.


Aug 3, 2005
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AJ Montgomery
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Registered: Apr 13, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 1481
Review Date: Jun 14, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,059.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Easily handholdable, extremely fast AF, sharp at all apertures, built in hood
Cons:
None given the specs of this lens.

Within the restraints of this lens being an F/5.6 aperture, it has all the glitz of L quality, superior sharpness and color and is small/light enough to handhold for an extensive period of time.

I bought this lens as a resonably priced means to shoot bird photos and for a trip to Alaska. On both accounts the lens performs/ed flawlessly. I get sharp, high quality images with this lens on my 20D and find that even as a F/5.6 lens, there are many times in quality daylight that I can shoot at ISO-200 and maintain a shutter speed above 1/800th. For typical cloudy days in the Pacific Northwest, where I live, I shoot at 400 ISO so as to keep shutter speed high. With the high ISO performance of todays cameras, F/5.6 is not so much a hinderance as perhaps perceived.

Prior to purchasing this lens, I read and studied details of the 100-400 L, the 300/4 L IS, the Sigma 80-400 and the Sigma 50-500 (Bigma). Once thoroughly compared, the 400/5.6 was the optimum choice for me. I can honestly say that I am in no way disappointed, nor would I change for one of the other lenses given the opportunity to do so.

At this point, the only lens that I would consider in lieu of this one is the 500/4 or 600/4 and that is one gigantic leap forward.

I highly recommend this lens to anyone with a 20D and likely any other modern Canon body who desires a relatively inexpensive 400mm for birding and wildlife.

Here are some links to see some photos with the 20D and the 400/5.6:
http://www.kajmonty.com/gallery/fowl
http://www.kajmonty.com/gallery/alaska_animals


Jun 14, 2005
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goering
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Registered: Nov 22, 2003
Location: Benin
Posts: 138
Review Date: May 22, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,000.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Godly AF speed. Great price - most affordable 400mm lens that is L quality. Superb image quality
Cons:
No IS

This is by far Canon's most affordable 400mm prime lens that is L quality. Compared to Nikon, if you wish to reach 400mm, you have no choice but to purchase the ultra expensive 400mm/2.8 or use third party lenses.

So in effect, Canon users are lucky we have three 400mm primes -with the 400/5.6L being very affordable. Image qulaity is superb, but what I like most is the godly AF speed. For this reason, I very much prefer this lens to the 300/4L IS with a 1.4X TC - which many people have agonised over

While the lack of IS is sorely missed, don't forget that Nikonians have mostly been shooting telephotos without IS or VR and they are doing fine - so I don't find the lack of IS such a big issue especially since the 400/5.6 is priced so affordably



May 22, 2005
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baharr
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Registered: Oct 7, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 81
Review Date: Apr 15, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 1 

Pros: well it's slow,built bad,the hood falls off!!! arghhhh!!!!
Cons:
it's white light and full of might

Yes I've had this piece of madness for little over a year. It's too slow for most photograhy

Apr 15, 2005
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Mlr8081
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Registered: Feb 22, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 6
Review Date: Feb 22, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,069.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Incredible image quality, small size, precise almost instantaneous focus.
Cons:
This lens may be too slow if you shoot film. Perfect for digital user.

Solidly built and good looking lens. The focus if fast and precise (almost instantaneous). Sturdy, useful built in lens hood and tripod collar. Very compact compared to other 400mm lenses of this quality.

I'm primarily using this lens on a Canon 20D with fantastic results shooting wildlife in the Greater Yellowstone Area. The maximum 5.6 apeture is not a problem with this combination, just bump up the iso to 400 and shoot away. I can't see any visible difference in prints between iso 100 and 400 as long as proper sharpening techniques are used. This lens replaced a Sigma 500 f4.5 APO. I can't believe the difference in sharpess and color rendition. This is everything you expect of a Canon L lens.


Feb 22, 2005
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Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
116 271181 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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