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

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262 631835 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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davepotter
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Registered: Jun 1, 2006
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 0
Review Date: Aug 7, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Pin Sharp, Fast Autofocus, Versitility, Perfect For Aviation Photography If You Are Not That Close to Action.
Cons:
Price.

Owned this lens now for over a year and it has never failed to produce fantastic shots. It works well in all kinds of light although it seemingly loves the sun as on my copy the sharpness when shooting F/9 ISO 100 is second to none.

The fast autofocus and the versitility this lens supports makes everytime I shoot with it a pleasure.

The con I have put is the only thing I can think of as I wish it didnt make a massive hole in my pocket where my wallet formally was.

This lens in the past year has been on my camera 95% of the time when heading into the field and I'm sure it will stay their for the forseable future. I have only recently purchased the 24-105L IS that could take this len's place especially when I am close too the action and the 100mm is just too close.

However for anything where the aircraft are flying and I can move back this will be the lens I will be using.


Aug 7, 2006
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gwhitegeog
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Registered: Jun 16, 2005
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 4
Review Date: Jul 20, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Good optical quality, useful zoom range, well built, sharp and good edge-to-edge even when just stopped down by 1/2 stop
Cons:
Reports of long-term issues with heavy use (e.g. zoom mechanism, locking collar), slightly overpriced, physically very long extension at long end.

A nice lens, with a good range and 400mm at f5.6 is quite useful at the long end. See my website:

http://www.garywhite-photography.com/photo_272265.html

The push-pull zoom mechanism is slow, awkward and a bit antiquated and acts as a dust pump. I have heard reports of build quality / quality control issues but mine is fine - well made, tight and optically perfect. The IS works well and even with its bulk, I would rather carry this around than a 75-300 - this is far more useful. Another good point is that the lens works with a 1.4x extender, though you may have to focus manually.

Probably not in Canon's premier league of L lenses but a nice lens. I have heard rumours of a mark II version on the horizon. A good lens and I'd be tempted to go for a second hand copy that hasn't been hammered rather than a new one.


Jul 20, 2006
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perspective
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Registered: Oct 10, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 589
Review Date: Jul 20, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,350.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Great for sports. I love this lens for action photography.
Cons:
It's not prime-sharp, but what zoom really is? Why is the focus ring so close to the traction ring? That messes me up if I'm not careful.

I think this lens really hits the spot for action photography. In low-light the AF can be a tad slow for action shots but the focal lengths are ideal I use it a lot for my daughter's baseball games. I can catch a shot of an outfielder grabbing a pop-fly and still zoom out to capture the pitcher in mid-pitch. I've stopped many baseballs in flight right over the plate with this lens. In decent light I love how the pictures turn out, really eye-popping. I've had a few here and there that came out blurry, but I'm not blaming that on the lens itself but more the mechanics, I probably just flubbed the focus (easy to do since it's so damn close to where you hands want to naturally go when you grab the lens while shooting.

People poo-poo the push-pull zoom of this lens. I got used to it in about 5 shots folks and I'm kind of a klutz by nature. If I can use this lens without any major difficulty and get used to it, you can too. I suppose there are some people who are so set in their ways they won't get used to it and if that is your nature, well you might want to look elsewhere. The other 99.99% of you will find the push-pull zoom natural feeling after just a few shots. Does it suck up dust? Yeah, probably. Just send it back to Canon if it gets too dusty inside. If you can afford the lens, you can afford to have Canon clean it when it's dirty. All lenses are built with some compromises so you just need to understand what those compromises are with this lens.

This lens is about the same size as the 70-200 f/2.8L IS lens. It's a tad fatter. Almost exactly the same weight. If you can deal with the 70-200 f/2.8L you won't have any trouble with the size and weight of this guy. Put a 1.4x or 2x extender on this lens and wow, you've got a 560mm or 800mm zoom on a full-frame body and up to 1280mm on a 20D or 30D I don't know how the pictures would look because I haven't tried it yet. I imagine you're going to give up some quality with the 2x extender though as that much extra magnification has got to cause degradation.

The IS on this lens works great. This lens just seems to have all the right stuff for action work. If you're a bird watcher I think it's good enough for that too if you don't have a 400mm or bigger prime and most of us don't. I'm just really glad I bought this lens and I can't speak highly enough about how good it is for sports.

My one real gripe about this lens is the layout of the rings. it has three of them and in order from the outer part of the lens to the inner part they are as follows: Ring one does nothing, it's just there for you to grab onto. Ring two is the focusing ring. Ring three controls the smoothness of the push-pull. So I find myself constantly grabbing the focus ring instead of the outer ring where Canon intended me to grab to steady the lens. Every time I want to adjust the smoothness of the push-pull it turns the focus ring and I have to hold the focus ring and turn the smoothness ring seperately. It's just kind of klunky. I have trained myself to steady the thing by holding onto the tripod collar plate isntead of trying to grab the lens itself.

When you attach the hood this lens really sticks out there a ways. I turned around at a recent baseball game and gave my 5 year old son a good whack on the noggin with it. These lenses are long enough without the hood that you should put the hood on it. The reason why is to protect that big piece of front glass. I'm always bumping into things and the hood is where you want it to hit, not on that precious glass.

I think the price is really fair for what you get. At around $1350 new you get a very versatile lens that is better than all consumer lenses in this range that I've seen over the years for DSLRs and easily deserves its designation as an L lens.


Jul 20, 2006
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jonbrach
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Registered: Dec 22, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 896
Review Date: Jul 14, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: i had this lens previously and liked the convenience and the quality of the build as well as the IS but i found it soft at the long end...my new copy solves that problem and is a gem...sharp throughout with all of the assets this lens brings to the table...imagine covering 100-400 with a sharp lens that has IS
Cons:
slow,heavy



Jul 14, 2006
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vme1959
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Registered: Jun 12, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 2
Review Date: Jul 3, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,399.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Image stabilization is incredible, focusing fast, great length, sharp images except at 400.
Cons:
Heavy. Pull-Push zoom okay as long as you remember to lock the zoom.

Just tested this lens out in the wilds of British Columbia and wasn't dissappointed. As a novice I wanted to be sure I had all the help I could get and that means the image stabilizer. I use a Canon SLR, hand held on a rocky boat and my images are all sharp. My sister also brought this lens to use with her Canon Digital 30D and it didn't work as well for her-but that could have been her. The lens is heavy and tough to shlep around all day in the wild and harder to hold for long periods. Must remember to tighten the zoom or it slips. Other than that I am amazed at how sharp my images came out and the focal length is great.

Jul 3, 2006
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ctantra
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Registered: Jun 21, 2006
Location: Indonesia
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jun 29, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,400.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Excellent Length Range, IS, Fast Focusing, Bokeh
Cons:
Slow Aperture (I hope it's f/4)

This is my second L lens and I love it so much. My copy is very sharp at 400mm f/6.3.
The IS allow me to take photos at 400mm hand holding, and the result is very sharp.


Jun 29, 2006
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RikWriter
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Registered: Jun 22, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 2470
Review Date: May 29, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,150.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Versatile, compact, fairly light.
Cons:
Push-pull zoom is awkward, friction ring is balky, lens isn't as sharp as I'd like at 400.

I bought this lens as a replacement for my 400 f5.6L prime, because I felt I needed the versatility of the zoom, and because the 100-400 was compact enough to carry with me while hiking. Many times, however, I have wished I had the prime back. The 100-400 is just not as sharp at 400 as the prime and the IS doesn't make up for it IMHO. I don't find the IS that useful for wildlife shots, actually, as while the IS can allow you to hand-hold at slower shutter speeds, it can't make the animals hold still while you're doing it.
Still, if I had gone directly to this lens from the Sigma 50-500 rather than stopping at the superb Canon 400 5.6 prime along the way, I would be crazy about it. It's light, versatile and reasonably sharp and very compact for a 400mm.


May 29, 2006
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Alistair Watson
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Registered: Mar 21, 2005
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 5848
Review Date: May 15, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Range, Cost, IS
Cons:
Fast but not incredibly fast / sharp but not incredibly sharp!

I needed a sub 1500 GBP longer telephoto lens and decided on the 100-400. I looked at the EF400 f5.6 but it didnt have IS, not essential but nice to have given that I wanted this for wildlife/motorsport/airshows. Ideally I want an EF500mm F4 L but don't have the budget for it at the moment.

The 100-400 is a good lens, the push-pull design does take a little getting used to, as does the variable aperture according to focal length, the IS is also pretty effective. This lens loves alot of light, focus is fast, quite accurate and sharp. In lower light, suffice to say, I am being patient! Focus is naturally a little slower - even on a 1D Mark II N - but I am trying to find the best technique. For the cost this lens represents a good investment with a useful focal length however it is a pity there is no Canon equivalent to the Nikon 200-400 F4 VR, but then the cost would be closer to 4K GBP!!


May 15, 2006
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Review Date: May 10, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: optics, well balanced, great range, great image quality, zoom design, IS
Cons:
cost, the colour attracts attention, if you're used to f2.8 it can be a disapointment having f5.6 but the lens is better than a 70-200 with 2x converter. size is a bit awkward for my bag but keeping the lens hood on solved that one

The canon 100-400 L gives the user a wide focal range. I use this lens for general shots in the garden and for motorsports. from 100-350ish it is very good wide open and its only beyond 350 does it get a bit soft but nothing you really see unless you go to 100%. using it at f6.4 @ 400mm restores the previous great sharpness you have 100-350mm. it works very well with a 500D close up lens attached fo r macro shots but I have not got round to using my extention tubes yet. I mostly use this lens for motorsports where the push pull soom excels (as in other situations) as it is very fast. the IS works well also but it the generation 1 type so don;t expect to hand hold 1/20 @ 400mm all the time lol there is no dust issue with this lens like you may read the problem is if you alreay have dust in the chamber then the push pull will agitate this so best give it a clean before you fit it. the lens it's self is very very well balnced on my 20D compared to my sigma 70-200 f2.8which is very top heavy. it is not that heavy either and the nice balance the lens has means you don;t notice the weight. colour and contrast is everything you'd expect from an L lens and the buld quality is very good also. the lens is also not as big as I though either which was a nice suprise. personally I would not even consider the sigma 80-400 over this lens. if you want the range save and get the L. the push pull, the optics, the USM make it so much better than the sigma version.


May 10, 2006
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Review Date: Apr 26, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,300.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Solid feel. Great optical quality. Sharp pictures
Cons:
A tad heavy for handholding.

It takes a while to get used to the weight but it sure feels solid. The picture quality is sharp once you get the right settings. Even at 400mm the picture quality is great!
i used it with the 1.4x canon and the 3x kenko extenders. Picture quality is sacrificed. Also with the extenders you will need a very solid tripod with a remote.

The lens, if used as it is, is absolutely fantastic. I would recommend it for outdoor photography with good light conditions.

I took out a pic at 400mm with a shutter speed of 1/50 at F6.3
Quite nice. would like comments.

http://web.mac.com/hash2000/iWeb/Site/Blog/110BC3C3-338B-4154-8BEC-6F19A99E3D8F.html


Apr 26, 2006
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Liquidpics
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Registered: Jun 14, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 1107
Review Date: Apr 22, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Excellent picture quality To be able to obtain a sharp picture hand held at 400mm at 1/15 is amazing! That IS really works! The lens is built very very solidly. A must have for wildlife!!!
Cons:
nothing so far

I was contimplating getting the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS and went with this lens because of the overall range. I can still track/shoot sports because the AF is plenty fast and be able to zoom in on an elusive bird all in one lens!

Apr 22, 2006
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PokGuy
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Registered: Mar 17, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 2
Review Date: Apr 20, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,400.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Is. 100-400 Push Pull, usm L lense Chicks dig big things. :0)
Cons:
it might be a little slow indoor so get out! none what so ever!

This is my 1st L lense, Very happy with my purchase love thise lense, it is so crisp and clear from 100-400. All i hve to say is if you want the reach and the quality this is the lense to get, AWSOME lense. I almost bailed and got the sigma, 70-200 2.8. So glad I didnt. This is the lense to get if you want to do all around shooting wildlife, airplanes, cars, paning on this lense is great. IMO the best 1400 bucks ive spent.

Apr 20, 2006
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akronzip
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Registered: Feb 26, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 12
Review Date: Apr 10, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,388.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros:
Cons:

I purchased this lens to photograph lions in southern Africa. First night, as the sun set over Chobe National Park, we found lions from a boat on the river. Low light, bouncing boat, lions out of range even at 560mm. (400 x 1.6 for Rebel XT). I was disheartened.

The lens gave me great pictues of crocs, birds, elephants, zebra, hippos from parked vehicles and boats. For most of the mamals, I took head shots with such detail that you know where their fur is the softest. I a shot of croc that a dentist could use to find cavities. I love my bird shots, until this lens, I never even considered trying to take pictures of them.

All of the good shots where due to this lens, and any bad ones I took were becuase I didn't know my equipment well enough.

On the final day - I got my lions. Big head shots with long wiskers and fluffy fur. Even a couple months later, I find it hard to imagine that I took some of those images.

I posted a couple hundred up on a company server, and our Art Director commented on how sharp they all were and enquired what I had used to take them.

Subsequently, I have taken more birds in the marshes surrounding San Francisco Bay, and I used it to capture candid shots of Girls Scouts for my daughter's troop.

Build is superb. I haven't seen any issue with the push pull, and since one of the early zooms I had for my Pentax bodies 20 years ago what a push pull it seems natural to me. Its heavy but even my 9 year old can hand hold it. I bought a monopod just in case.

Lens was recomended by several photo safari web sites and they were right on. Its the perfect safari lens


Apr 10, 2006
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bgaesser
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Registered: Apr 2, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Apr 3, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,350.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Excellent clarity of photos, even at 400mm
Cons:
n/a

Ok, I'm just a novice, but here's a couple of my observations about this lense. Colors look great, and the auto focus seems to snap in quickly, and on the money every time so far. Here is my big revelation about the dust thing. Because I have read so much about this being a problem, I was very, very meticulus when I first received the lense. I had ordered it through that big on-line buying store, and I examined the camera thoroughly when I received it, to make sure I wasn't getting a reconditioned lense, or one that had been previously returned. Though one corner of the canon box arrived a little crushed, I slowly and nervously unpacked the lense. It sure looked like a new lense, with no visible smudges, hairs, or fingerprints, etc. I proceeded in removing the lenses from the carrying case, taking it out of the inside plastic bag, and then slid the hood off the lense (which they had conveniently turned backwards to protect the lense housing). I then was shocked to notice hundreds of tiny black specs statically stuck to the metal. I swiped my finger across the metal, and my finger looked like it had charcoal on it (from the solid black fuzz). I wiped off as much as possible before trying out the lense. It was obvious the fuzz had originated from the felt on the inside of the hood. I had to wonder if this could be causing the dust problem. The fuzz, though not immediately visable when I first looked at the lense, was noticed after examining it closer with my overly critical inspection. I would bet that if these "statically charged" fuzz specs got inside the lense via the push/pull design, they would be almost impossible to completely remove, hence the constant contaminating problem of the sensor. Anybody else find the same problem?

Apr 3, 2006
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MLFLY
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Registered: Jul 22, 2002
Location: United States
Posts: 38
Review Date: Mar 22, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,400.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: THis is a beautiful lens for handholding and casual bird/wildlife photography - probably more than casual on in-flight shots.
Cons:
My first one just went back. There was an "S" shaped piece of felt inside the lens. Lens hood is too big for digital cameras. To ensure full coverage with film, it's probably necessary but the 1.6x cameras do not need the same coverage and a smaller hood could be used easily.

The poor build quality rating is deserved as the first one went back with a piece of "S" shaped felt floating around inside the lens. If the replacement is the quality I expect, like all the Canon L lenses, it would rate excellent. As much as I'd like to just go ahead and rate it like the second probably will be, what a hassle to exchange a lens they built poorly. I had to pay for the second lens to get it shipped in time for a trip and won't receive credit until the original one is sent back. Understandable but no less aggravating. I look forward to a good copy and suspect it will serve well for a long time to come.

Mar 22, 2006
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gliphix
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Registered: Jan 9, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Mar 10, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,410.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: sharpness, IS, versatility, cost, compact and powerful
Cons:
no AF with the EF 2X II, MF is a pain in the @$$, push -n pull zoom.

The lens is not that heavy, you can hand hold it for awhile, you can pack it in a lowpro mini trekker, it does attract attention even from pros who are stationary.

Add an 1.4x Extender and you have a 560mm L quality on your hands for about 1/3 of the cost of a Canon EF 500mm L.

This is one of my best shots I took with lens:<br>
www.pbase.com/gliphix/image/55753426

Here is another:<br>
www.pbase.com/gliphix/image/55993098



Mar 10, 2006
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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 631835 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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