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

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264 641835 Aug 21, 2014
Recommended By Average Price
91% of reviewers $2,080.05
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.31
8.66
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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lexybeast
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Registered: Feb 11, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 482
Review Date: Aug 19, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Light weight, nice colours, actually like the push-pulll design, and the IS is fantastic!
Cons:
Dust issues, AF ever so slightly slower than the 70-200 IS

On weekends, I do a lot of shooting for youth soccer tournaments in southern CA, and my experience with this lens mostly goes towards that venture. I've found that this is just about the perfect lens for youth soccer.... the range it covers for the fields is perfect to get some nice, up close action shots.

Despite some people here complaining this lens is heavy, I found it to be very light (and I am the first to admit I am a scrawny guy). I am handholding this lens for as much as 10 hours a day on Saturdays and Sundays with no problems.

Despite it being a relatively slow lens, since soccer takes place outdoors, this has never been a problem for me. I never use the IS during the soccer tournaments so that I can save battery, but I have used it for birding, and have found it to be very impressive.

Of the problems I noted, I did say the AF is a bit slower than the 70-200IS, but not problematically so. Dust can be a problem, but not in the way I think other people have stated. I haven't had dust actually get sucked up onto the sensor, but what has happened is that dust got sucked up during a little league baseball game (dust flies everywhere when those little kids start sliding). A nasty layer of grime coated the inner part of the body- I'm not sure what else to call it, the inner body part of the lens that slides into and out of the outer body element when pushing and pulling. For weeks afterwards, the locking ring that controls the friction of the push-pull action would be stuck in the morning, only to give after receiving a good tug, and I saw that some of the grime and collected and gummed up the locking ring. Inconvenient, but didn't really affect me much during a day's shooting, and hasn't seemed to affect image quality.

All in all, remember, this is one of the lower costing telephoto L lenses. With that said, you are getting a lot of bang for your buck- up to 400mm range, pretty good sharpness and great colours and contrast, and IS to boot! Strongly recommended as a good daytime starting telephoto lens, for sports, birds, or whatever else you see fit to shoot.


Aug 19, 2005
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mbailey
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Registered: Apr 12, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 333
Review Date: Aug 19, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,390.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Great range, Solid construction, Image stabilization, Good sharpness for its range, Nice case and hood, fast focus, great contrast and bokeh.
Cons:
Nothing I did not already know... A tad soft wide open, heavy, relatively slow aperture, will not auto focus with 1.4X TC II.

This lens does exactly what I expected. It is very sharp for a zoom of this range and I feel it lives up to the L designation. It is slightly soft wide open but sharpens up immediately if you close down even a little. If you use the 1.4X TC II you will have to focus manually. The images are noticibly softer with the TC but are usable for the most part. Iam using the lens on a 1.6 crop factor camera so I dont really even need to use the TC much. Thus, this is not a significant negative to me. The focus is fast and accurate as I expected. As long as you have read the expert reviews that are out there before buying I dont think you will be disappointed with the limitations of the lens.

Aug 19, 2005
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grimmwit
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Registered: Jul 26, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jul 26, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,400.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Very happy with sharpness & contrast of the lens. Excellent reach
Cons:
Weight, size when at full zoom

I bought this lens after many night searching the web for advice. I was a little unsure, as a lot of sample posts seemed to lack contrast.

My fear was unfounded. I finally got a chance to give the lens a good workout a few days ago - it passed with flying colors (no pun intended)

I have not had any problem with the lens. I have not encountered any internal dust. To date, I am very happy with my purchase.

All these photos (except the golf cart) were taken with this lens:

http://kgrimm.smugmug.com/gallery/686270

(Full disclosure: I did add some saturation and sharpening to the photos before posting them. Nothing major)


Jul 26, 2005
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cc3chan
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Registered: Apr 28, 2005
Location: Canada
Posts: 36
Review Date: Jul 26, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: The focal length, IS, Image quality
Cons:
Quality control

I had a Sigma 70-200 F2.8 but wasn't getting the range I needed. So I sold it and got this lens instead. My first copy had a problem with the push/pull zoom. It was making a slight scratching sound and you could feel it as well. I returned it to the store and got another copy. This one is better but still makes some sound but the feel is smooth. Both copies were very sharp which was a pleasant surprise. Now I'm contemplating whether to exchange this copy and get one that doesn't make any sound but might not be as sharp. So a word of warning would be to test it out extensively first before leaving the store.

Jul 26, 2005
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pcimaging
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Registered: Jan 24, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 1166
Review Date: Jul 24, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,400.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Focal length range, Wieght, Detail, IS Works, Contrasty color, Build quality and a bit of an Awe factor
Cons:
Bulk, Requires lots of light

I bought this lens knowing it was big and heavy so for me to list the "Bulk" as a negative is just to let you all know it is so. Unlike some others I like the weight as it helps steady the camera. I find the level of sharpness to be very good. The more light you have the better the output and this lens does like light. The push pull zoom takes some practice but works just fine. I use the tighten/loosen ring often with good success. I have not noticed a "dust vacuum" effect yet. I keep this lens on my camera 90% of the time. It deserves the "L" desigbation based on build quality and output of images. NOTE: I believe Canon is guilty of being quite inconsistant in their quality control. These people who claim their copy is soft are likely tellingit like it is with their copy. My copy is sharp. Who knows about the next persons? That is a shame.

Jul 24, 2005
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racer67
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Registered: Dec 22, 2004
Location: Canada
Posts: 275
Review Date: Jul 7, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Zoom Range, IS, Sharpness and Solid construction
Cons:
Expensive, original Image Stablization that doesn't work on a tripod

I debated this purchase for a while. This is currently the most expensive lens I own, yet it is the slowest and least sharp! However, the 100-400L zoom seems like the best choice in terms of versatility vs. quality. Yes, a 300 f4L or 400 f4L would be nice, but I coudn't afford both. A 300 f2.8 totally out of my budget. The relative compact size of the 100-400L is a bonus for packing around. Though I have to say it isn't a lightweight. On my first outing with the lens I found the push/pull zoom took a bit to get used to, but I easily adapted. With a little practice handholding at 400mm it is not only possible, but you can aquire very sharp results with IS on. This lens is comparable to the 70-200 f4L in terms of color and contrast. I'm impressed with the sharpness even at 400mm - it is sharper than I expected. I think good handholding technique is something that you have to develop to get the most from this lens. A tripod, MLU and remote shutter even better. The more time I spend with the lens the better the images get. Regardless of some of negative comments I have heard this is an impressive lens that deserves the L designation. If it fits your shooting style, budget and are willing to lose that tiny bit of sharpness that you would get with the f4 prime telephotos wide open the 100-400L f4.5-5.6 IS USM is a great choice.

Jul 7, 2005
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challaday
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Registered: Jun 12, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 26
Review Date: Jul 4, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,500.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: IS, Sharpness, USM
Cons:
The Price

This is a great image quality lens. Photos have that "3D" look to them that just pop off the paper! I haven't been disappointed at 400mm like some others.

IS works well. It buys me about 2 stops, but it does have its limits, so as with most things, it isn't magic potion.

Overall, I'm not giving it up soon.


Jul 4, 2005
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littleflurry
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Registered: Dec 11, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 1339
Review Date: Jun 8, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,400.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: sharpness, IS, weight, range
Cons:
price when I first looked at one was 1000.00 and have went up quite a bit after the 300D came out.

Wish I had bought this first. I had bought a Bigma but the weight was just too much. The sharpness and IS make this a fabulous lens. Great range. I like the push pull and tightness ring. With extension tubes it makes a great macro workable lens. It is very quiet and focuses very fast. Definitely a keeper. Most used lens in my bag. Color kind of freaks people out.

Jun 8, 2005
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Tristan
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Registered: Apr 18, 2005
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 264
Review Date: May 15, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 6 

 
Pros: Good reach, Versatility as a lens, Push Pull zoom,
Cons:
Not very sharp at 400mm, Not fast enough for action shots in dull weather.

A great all round lens. It is not a prime, so don't expect the image quality at 400mm to be particularly sharp (on my copy anyway) If you get a particularly sharp copy, like some previous reviewers have, it will be a great all round lens that will be glued to the front of your camera.

I am personally going to be getting a longer prime as 400mm is not quite long enough for capturing smaller birds.


May 15, 2005
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FIXITMAN
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Registered: Mar 29, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 1475
Review Date: May 13, 2005 Recommend? no | Price paid: $1,500.00 | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Size, weight, zoom range
Cons:
push pull zoom, f5.6, soft focus

This is a good average lens in my opinion. Personaly I do not think it deserves the L rating that canon has given it. If I put a 1.4 teleconverter on my 70-200 .. the 70-200 is sharper that the 100-400 zoomed to the same focal length, The 100-400 is softest at the 400 setting which is where most of us need it to be sharpest. After I did the test comparing it to the 70-200 with the 1.4 on it. I imediatly sold the 100-400 and my 70-200 non IS and went out and purchased a 70-200 IS and a 1.4 teleconverter. I will have to eventualy buy a 400, but I am much happier with the qulaity of this current combination. So there is my two cents worth .. hope it helps.
Randy


May 13, 2005
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MikeBinOKlahom
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Registered: Sep 16, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 653
Review Date: Apr 19, 2005 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

 
Pros: Flexible, tolerable image quality (awesome quality on a 1.6 crop body), luggable
Cons:
Klugey push-pull zoom and locking ring, softens up a bit at 400mm and f/5.6, autofocus isn't the fastest

This lens was practically glued onto the front of my D60 when I first took up serious nature photography. I still like the lens, but don't adore it as I did back then. Image quality is good even on a 1Ds if I back off slightly from 400mm and stop down a bit (preferably to f/8).

The only reason I carry the lens nowadays is if flexibility is all-important. I love it on the rare occasions I get to go whalewatching. If I want a one-lens solution to take on a hike, it sometimes comes out (you can even use it for macro if you screw a Canon 500D on the front). I don't use it a lot, but I can't bear to part with it, so I keep it around. An expensive lens to use a few times a year, but when it is useful, it excels! Still gets an overall 10 for flexibilty and (relative) affordability.

I listed several small negatives above, but the only one that is really serious is that autofocus is a bit slow--I don't have much success with bird flight shots, and I suspect a sports shooter wouldn't be happy with this lens.

Image quality of the bare lens is decent, but I've never had satisfactory results shooting it with a teleconverter.


Apr 19, 2005
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iGary
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Registered: Jun 24, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 234
Review Date: Apr 19, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,349.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Built like an Abrams tank, smooth push-pull action, excellent range, good sharpness up to about 300mm, and nice enough sharpness when stopped down past 300mm.
Cons:
There is no myth about "dust sucking." I take immaculate care of my camera and my image sensor is dirty after every outing with this lens, as is the mirror. A week's worth of work with my 24-70L produces no such problems with dust.

I bought this lens for use on the water with sailboat and general boating photography, along with some wildlife photography. Sailboat races, fishing, boating etc.

A few notes:

1. It's a big lens, and it's heavy - it should be.

2. I reccomend using this lens with a monopod on land for best results. Even with IS in proper mode and adequately fast shutter speeds, my arm fatigues holding this lens, and I get shaky. Just something to consider. A monopod makes things easier.

3. There is a definite learning curve to find out what settings to use on the camera given the conditions present and the capabilities of this lens. Once you master those, this lens gives stunning, sharp, saturated images - just what you'd expect from an "L" lens.

4. Once you get used to the push-pull, and the friction adjustment ring, you can get deadly accurate with the zoom.

5. The autofocus on mine searches a bit wide open, especially when targeting birds on a confusing background, but so do some of my other lenses.

All in all, if you plan on exclusively doing wildlife, get the 400mm prime (I find myself always using this lens wide open when taking wildlife shots, but needed the flexibility of a zoom, which, as we all know, has drawbacks.)

I haven't used this with the 1.4 or 2.0 x converters as others have, but plan on getting the 1.4.

Enjoy - best lens in this range for the money.


Apr 19, 2005
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rd4tile
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Registered: Mar 22, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 2218
Review Date: Apr 11, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,549.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Range, Sharpness, relatively compact at 100mm, IS, L build quality, good quality with 1.4X TC.
Cons:
IS not as effective as newer versions, a slow lens (f4 would be heaven but there would go the size)

I just love the range of this lens and it's relative size when not extended. The IS is effective although not as fast as newer versions like that on the 300 f2.8. It shines in good light at higher shutter speeds but requires some long lens technique when one starts using speeds under a 400th (at least for me). My copy is capable of excellent images even wide open but it's not automatic like it was with the 300 f2.8. I'll use it mostly for airshows, auto racing, wakeboard and occasional wildlife shooting. I got used to the pump zoom very quickly and haven't noticed any more dust issues then normal.

Apr 11, 2005
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pmaartense
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Registered: Jan 2, 2005
Location: Austria
Posts: 2
Review Date: Apr 7, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Range, L-Quality, PP Zoom, IS
Cons:
Weight, PP Zoom, Price, positions of switches,

I bought this lens as used, and am very happy with it, shooting at Wildlife and other dirtant abject is a feast with this lens, even with low light conditions, this lens still manages well thanks to IS,

sometimes the switches manage to switch to other positions, you have to check them every now and then.

the PP zoom design has pros in versality, I can zoom fast from 100 to 400 and back. the con is the fact that air is sucked in, you will need to clean the lens every now and then.

overall It is a good lens that is sharp but not as sharp as a Prime or a 70-200 F4 or 70-200 F2.8, but still a good buy






Apr 7, 2005
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chrislocksley
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Registered: Apr 6, 2005
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 0
Review Date: Apr 6, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Wonderful focus, IS is perfect for wildlife
Cons:
Better off attaching a vacuum cleaner to you camera and putting the other end in some dirt

Well if we lived in a dust free world with no gravity this lens is perfect. However it is enough to give some people arm ache, and when attached to a Canon 350D it makes up about 90% of the weight of the combined equipment.
I took out my 20D and this lens to shoot some wild birds. After returning home I took a couple of pictures of some pidgeons in flight. As I reviewed the photos on the camera I noticed the evil tell-tale signs - black dots in the sky!

Back home I took a test shot against a light box and loaded the picture into Photoshop and set the auto-levels. This is a good test to see what state your CCD is in. Holy *#@*!!! is all I can say!!! It looked like a photograhic negative of a star constellation!! Such a wide and long lens is basically a powerful vacuum cleaner when you zoom in and out.

The picture quality cannot be faulted, but in terms of your CCD you are going to be ordering lots of swabs and Eclipse from your dealer!


Apr 6, 2005
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Lalfer
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Registered: Feb 15, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 542
Review Date: Apr 6, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,200.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Everything...........WOWWWWWWW
Cons:
none!

Bought it at FM Buy & sell from first class seller!
I'm speechless... after three 400 5.6 primes this is the best of all.

Tack sharp wide open at 400mm, talk about candid shots.

I love it.


Apr 6, 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
264 641835 Aug 21, 2014
Recommended By Average Price
91% of reviewers $2,080.05
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.31
8.66
9.1
ef100_400l_1_


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