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

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90% of reviewers $2,086.79
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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dustnet
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Registered: Jul 30, 2008
Location: United States
Posts: 20
Review Date: Jun 9, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,200.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Range, IS, AF, fastness to go from 100 to 400, 77mm
Cons:
No weather sealed, Image quality doesn't match 70-200 telephoto.

Hi everybody,

I've been using this lens for a period of 3 years and really loved it. I'm now using a CANON 500mm f/4 IS and a 70-200 f/4 IS, mainly because I needed a longer focal and the extra image quality.

Here is my take on this lens.

Pros:
+ Versatility. With this lens on your body, you can do pretty much everything (well, except wide shot..): landscape, wildlife, portrait and even some kind of macro.
+ Being able to go from 100mm to 400mm on the same lens allow you to get some really unusual shots, like you can work on a typical portrait, and then get a dramatic close-up, thing that you would maybe haven't done if you had to change the lens.
+ IS. I've never used this lens with a tripod. Even if it's not the best IS ever seen, it is clearly enough considering the amazing ISO performance of our body nowadays.
+ 77mm, just take the filters from your 10-22 or 17-40 and you're good to go.
+ With a X1.4 converter and a piece of tape, you can keep the AF working, you'll find more on that on the web.

Cons:
- Some say that the push/pull zoom system is gathering dust…I've never experienced the problem myself.
- Weight. I would have maybe kept this lens if it was half the weight it is. I just can't hike with the 500mm AND the 100-400L.
- Image quality is perfectible.

This lens is a must have for those who can't afford/don't want a 500mm. It is incredibly versatile and can be used in an amazing number of situations (perfect zoo lens, kayak lens…etc..).

Need real world examples ? just check my blog and gallery:
http://photography.emmanuelrondeau.com
http://blog.emmanuelrondeau.com

Thanks,
Emmanuel.


Jun 9, 2010
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capnfishy
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Registered: Dec 24, 2005
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 3
Review Date: Jun 9, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp as a very sharp thing. Built like a brick out-house.
Cons:
Older IS. It is no shrinking violet.

Can't believe some folk have sharpness issues with this lens - must be a compatibility issue with the particular copy of lens and particular copy of camera. Maybe micro-adjustment can sort that out? It is very very nearly as sharp on my 40D as the 70-200 f4 IS (the sharpest lens I have ever had). The reach on the C-size sensor is great, and 100% crops are perfectly usable providing you played your part in getting it right.

Jun 9, 2010
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aero_ub
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Registered: Aug 18, 2009
Location: United States
Posts: 684
Review Date: May 6, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,600.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Weight for the reach offered, IQ in the right conditions, IS, locks on and tracks subject well
Cons:
Needs good light, price

I do like this lens but it is at times tough to get 'great' pictures out of it. Under the right conditions and good light (fast enough shutter speed) it will take some very nice pictures. I use it on my 5D Mark II and I am pretty happy with it. It offers great reach and with the 5D II I can use higher ISO's to keep the shutter speeds up. I am happy with the size of this lens for reach that it offers but it sure will get some attention when it is extended out to 400mm with a hood on it! IS works good and so does the focus tracking.

Some examples taken with this lens and a 5D II including some birds in flight while focus tracking. Click on 'all sizes' above pic to view large:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kenclass/4532813736/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kenclass/4447211926/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kenclass/4447749701/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kenclass/4567383804/



May 6, 2010
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xevious77
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Registered: Feb 19, 2009
Location: United States
Posts: 8
Review Date: Apr 19, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,300.00 | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Weight, usability.
Cons:
Sharpness.

OK, don't laugh: I bought this for sports after I realized I couldn't stand the stiffness and reverse direction of the zoom ring on my Bigma on my old XT. The Bigma (Sigma 50-500) was just not usable without breaking my hands. This was the light alternative!

The usability is great; I love the push pull design. Problem is, I've moved on up to a 5D mk II, and suddenly my pixel peeping 100% crops ain't so hot, even in the center! (I'm used to using my old 70-200F4 IS, which was unbelievably sharp on my old XT or even my 5D II). I mean, I can live with a little corner blur at the long end, but I need player's faces in the center to have some detail.

I've also figured out that the 5D mk II is not very useful for sports. I'm gonna get a used 1D mk II to pair with this beast, and have the 100-400 serviced by Canon. I hope they can salvage it; I'd rather own one great Canon telezoom than two.

The 70-200 F4 is worlds beyond this lense except for the obvious issue of reach.


Apr 19, 2010
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nycandre
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Registered: Apr 23, 2009
Location: United States
Posts: 22
Review Date: Apr 16, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Very sharp, and not outrageously expensive Built like a tank
Cons:
Potentially - dust getting in because of the push pull system.. Heavy.. like a tank

My lens specimen is an older one, gotten from a collector. I may have been lucky or the older models were better made - in any case it focuses well enough with my 20D and my 5D. Not as fast as the 24-70 which is the only reference point I have.

I havent done systematic tests, but this lens is *very* sharp even fully open. I do get sharper photos with smaller apertures but it seems that it is more because of the wider hyperfocal range than anything else. In other words wide open it is very sharp, *but* only if the focusing is right on the nose.

It didn't really fully register in my mind how incredibly thin the depth of field is (for telephotos) until I looked up close.
But that can be put to good use too, like in this recent 5D shot

http://www.flickr.com/photos/nycandre/4525240397/

In this one (20D) I wished I'd closed down the aperture a bit more to get more of the first player sharp - or just the ball ..
http://www.flickr.com/photos/nycandre/569825782/


Apr 16, 2010
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AnderlSp
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Registered: Jan 12, 2010
Location: Germany
Posts: 0
Review Date: Apr 13, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Very good image quality with good light - not too heavy - not too expensive - great deal
Cons:
autofocus is not really fast without excellent light.

I used this lens with my EOS20D and EOS5DMkII. On both cameras I had the same pros and cons. It is a perfect lense on a sunny day. The wide range and the excellent image quality under this condition is just a dream. However, if the light is not the good, the autofocus does not really work fast, so that taking pictures of moving animals can be a bit difficult.
Knowing its cons, I love the lense, and it is always in my bag...

Samples you'll find at my web site:

http://www.reise-bilderbuch.de/
-> go to Fotographie and you will see the blog

Kind Regards
Andreas


Apr 13, 2010
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Paulspix
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Registered: Feb 23, 2009
Location: United States
Posts: 699
Review Date: Mar 8, 2010 Recommend? | Price paid: $1,360.00

 
Pros: Price, Light Weight
Cons:
Slow AF, Inaccurate Focusing in Chilly Temps and Low Contrast Subjects, Play in Camera to lens mounting, Dust inside Outer Elements.

Lens was purchased from Adorama 5/27/08 and returned to Canon, Irvine station along with EOS 40D camera on or about 12/2/08 because of autofocus problems especially on the low contrast subjects ... no improvement noted after return. Recently on several occasions in chilly WX, lens would not focus ... Period. Slow and inaccurate focusing also notable. As noted above ... outer lens elements have dust particles between them.

Other photographers seem to get good copies of the lens but I can't recommend it based on copy I got.


Mar 8, 2010
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Paulspix
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Registered: Feb 23, 2009
Location: United States
Posts: 699
Review Date: Mar 8, 2010 Recommend? no | Price paid: $1,360.00 | Rating: 5 

 
Pros: Price ... Fairly sharp at mid ranges.
Cons:
Slow AF ... Focus inaccurate especially in chilly WX or low contrast subject matter... Dust inside front elements ... has play in camera mounting

Purchase Date from
Adorama 5/27/08 ....
Returned to Canon Irvine, Ca along with 40D Eos for svg on or about DEC2, 2008 for focus problems noted above but no improvement noted ... Still prone to slow and inaccurate focus. On occasion recently lens would not focus ... period.
I got a bad copy ... good luck with yours.


Mar 8, 2010
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dueffe
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Registered: May 31, 2005
Location: Italy
Posts: 0
Review Date: Dec 27, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,540.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Best sharpness is a 400mm f/8, Is 2 stop, very light, mettalic body. With Canon 450d work at 640mm !!!
Cons:
first release 1998. Second relese...? non tropicalizzed!

If the light is good, it works very well.
I use it for travel photography. To capture the faces and situations without being intrusive.
On my last trip to Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives I made these shots: http://franzoi.eu/index.php/foto/asia/
The best performance occurs at f/8-f/11.
I used this lens for wildlife in my last trip to Nepal will be able to make some great catches
Who uses the x1,4? Works well?


Dec 27, 2009
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rego
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Registered: Nov 12, 2009
Location: Turkey
Posts: 6
Review Date: Nov 15, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: very sharp at f/8 with the 5D MK2 body especially.very usable picture at the 400mm.Solid construction.Good for body building!!if you carry with you all day :)
Cons:
Heavy!!!inside Dust Collector.if you.not very sharp image after350mm.

100-4000L is quality piece of glass.With 5D MK2 full frame camera it is dream.very sharp at F/8 till 350mm.and 400mm is very acceptable images can give.But sadly it is not good with the 7D!!.I have 5D MK2 and 7D.I don't know why it is just not giving any good results with the 7D!!even not good at the bright sunlight.
But with the 5DMK2 is hole another story.Glass is giving extreme good performence even hand hold at 350mm at the dusk!.
My friend has 7D and we try it in his camera.very bad results either.
I highly recommend every one with the full frame sensor camera.
Also 100-400 is flexible at the range.You can make wild life pictures also landscape pictures with it.You don't need all the time wide lenses for landscape photo.tyr it you will fall in love with it.especially with this price....
if you buy as a second hand look very well front glass inside.you can find incredible amounf of dust and particule!!as a negative side because it not at all weather proof or something like that.it is just a dust collector.We hate you push and pull zoom design
Good Luck..


Nov 15, 2009
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prion
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Registered: Aug 21, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Nov 10, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Versatility, weight compared to other 400mm IS lenses, price
Cons:
None as yet

I use this lens mostly for nature shots (mostly birds). Great nature travel lens. This year I visited the Galapagos and was very happy with the pictures taken with this lens. Have not had any dust problems. It is the lightest 400mm lens (with IS) that Canon makes. I have hiked 5-6 miles with it no problem. I have not tried the 1.4X teleconverter because my 50D does not autofocus with it ;(

I have some comparison shots with other telephoto lenses at (Figs. 11-12):
http://www.pbase.com/juliom/testing
Bird pics from recent trips:
http://www.pbase.com/juliom/image/109182571
http://www.pbase.com/juliom/image/118537518
Landscape
http://www.pbase.com/juliom/image/110349219


Nov 10, 2009
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Goldenspark
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Registered: Jul 24, 2009
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 44
Review Date: Nov 2, 2009 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

 
Pros:
Cons:
Maybe needs regular TLC? (Servicing)

Update regarding the Zoom Lock.
I repaired mine so here is a tip;
The zoom lock does wear over time, and becomes progressively looser. It is a very simple procedure to re-adjust, so it is worth sending it in before it goes too far. Eventually it wears so far that the ball bearings inside can escape and jam the mechanism. Canon then charge to replace the zoom lock assembly - they don't try and repair it like I did (those 500+ little balls are interesting to re-assemble!).
It is possible that once worn Canon will decide the components need replacing, but having re-assembled and adjusted mine it seems to be back working fine again.


Nov 2, 2009
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jdouglass
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Registered: Oct 30, 2009
Location: United States
Posts: 1
Review Date: Oct 30, 2009 Recommend? | Price paid: $1,400.00

 
Pros: Push-pull zoom, IS, silent motor and IS, fast focus, versatility
Cons:
Need to use manual focus with a teleconverter, soft focus under 5.6

I have been using this lens for 1.5 years and this was my first "L" lens. My goal in buying this lens was to enable me to take much higher quality sports and nature images.

First Impressions:
The push-pull style felt a bit awkward and odd at the store, but the price for a 400mm zoom and the FM reviews sold me. I also managed to buy this a week before the Canon prices jumped in May 08. I was astounded by the super fast focusing, silenced motor, quality and the "beef of this lens. (I now also own a Canon 70-200mm 2.8 IS L and both lenses feel like they are the same weight).

Results:
During my first sporting event, I fell in love with this lens! The push-pull zoom was absolutely outstanding allowing me to instantly frame and lock onto my soccer subjects. One technique I quickly developed was to leave a bit of tension on the tightening ring and to use my thumb on the backside of the ring. This provides friction and prevents the zoom from sliding when I achieved focus lock. This works real slick and is second nature now. I never shoot my sports on a monopod since a mono slows me down and I miss some shots that I could have made handheld. That being said, I do not notice the weight when shooting single events, but after a looong day my shoulder muscles ache! I have shot all kinds of events with this lens including basketball and volleyball without flash. I do not recommend it for indoors, but did enjoy pushing its limits. Here is a link to my recent baseball images shot without teleconverter: http://www.shutterfingerphotography.com/Sports/High-School-Baseball-09 .

The IS on this lens is fantastic allowing one to shoot close to dusk. One con is that this is a bit soft under 5.6, but for the speed that this provides outdoor action shooters with, I don't think this is much of a con given the subject. I do tend run into the softness factor when I shoot wildlife early and late in the day. I also strongly wish this lens could use a teleconverter on autofocus, but for now I will have to settle on MF.

Nature and teleconverter:
I have been able to take some fantastic images of songbirds with a teleconverter the past couple of months that have been due to practice and experience. The following galleries were shot with Canon 5D, Lens in review, 1.4x teleconverter, monopod, manual focus, and about f8.
Here is a link to proof the quality: http://www.shutterfingerphotography.com/Nature/Birds/Song-Birds/10114674_t9qeo#688509875_9DAJP .
Turtle images: http://www.shutterfingerphotography.com/Nature/Animals/Nature-Hike-10-21-09/10046842_qLg95#688506462_muTXA

Summary:
I love the versatility that this lens adds to my bag and even given the slower shutter speeds, this is never out of reach. I plan on owning this lens for a long time.


Oct 30, 2009
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jdouglass
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Registered: Oct 30, 2009
Location: United States
Posts: 1
Review Date: Oct 30, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,400.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Fast focus, Push-pull style is very fast for action, Solid build, great price for a 400mm lens with L quality
Cons:
Have to use MF with a teleconverter, focus is a bit soft under 5.6

I have been using this lens for 1.5 years and this was my first "L" lens. My goal in buying this lens was to enable me to take much higher quality sports and nature images.

First Impressions:
The push-pull style felt a bit awkward and odd at the store, but the price for a 400mm zoom and the FM reviews sold me. I also managed to buy this a week before the Canon prices jumped in May 08. I was astounded by the super fast focusing, silenced motor, quality and the "beef of this lens. (I now also own a Canon 70-200mm 2.8 IS L and both lenses feel like they are the same weight).

Results:
During my first sporting event, I fell in love with this lens! The push-pull zoom was absolutely outstanding allowing me to instantly frame and lock onto my soccer subjects. One technique I quickly developed was to leave a bit of tension on the tightening ring and to use my thumb on the backside of the ring. This provides friction and prevents the zoom from sliding when I achieved focus lock. This works real slick and is second nature now. I never shoot my sports on a monopod since a mono slows me down and I miss some shots that I could have made handheld. That being said, I do not notice the weight when shooting single events, but after a looong day my shoulder muscles ache! I have shot all kinds of events with this lens including basketball and volleyball without flash. I do not recommend it for indoors, but did enjoy pushing its limits. Here is a link to my recent baseball images shot without teleconverter: http://www.shutterfingerphotography.com/Sports/High-School-Baseball-09 .

The IS on this lens is fantastic allowing one to shoot close to dusk. One con is that this is a bit soft under 5.6, but for the speed that this provides outdoor action shooters with, I don't think this is much of a con given the subject. I do tend run into the softness factor when I shoot wildlife early and late in the day. I also strongly wish this lens could use a teleconverter on autofocus, but for now I will have to settle on MF.

Nature and teleconverter:
I have been able to take some fantastic images of songbirds with a teleconverter the past couple of months that have been due to practice and experience. The following galleries were shot with Canon 5D, Lens in review, 1.4x teleconverter, monopod, manual focus, and about f8.
Here is a link to proof the quality: http://www.shutterfingerphotography.com/Nature/Birds/Song-Birds/10114674_t9qeo#688509875_9DAJP .
Turtle images: http://www.shutterfingerphotography.com/Nature/Animals/Nature-Hike-10-21-09/10046842_qLg95#688506462_muTXA

Summary:
I love the versatility that this lens adds to my bag and even given the slower shutter speeds, this is never out of reach. I plan on owning this lens for a long time.


Oct 30, 2009
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Goldenspark
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Registered: Jul 24, 2009
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 44
Review Date: Oct 23, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: A good solid x-400 zoom with IS. Excellent IQ although really good examples 400mm @ f/5.6 seem rare. Very good stopped down f/8-f/11.
Cons:
Push-pull zoom mechanism has a tendency to bind up over time - maybe not all, but maybe a bit of a design flaw?

I got mine cheap as quite an old example, so I can't be too surprised I suppose. The zoom mechanism has a locking collar which you rotate against the focus ring to loosen or tighten the zoom action. Mine slowly got prgressively tight until now the locking collar only rotates about 10-20 degrees, and the zoom is always stiff. Aparently there is a ring of material on the inside of the zoom barrel (to stop dust getting in) that can come loose and jam the mechanism.
There is some suggestion that this affects the IQ slightly as well.
This copy has signs of wear that suggest a lot of use so
don't let the zoom exprience put you off. The lens is otherwise excellent. The IQ is great, particularly at the short end. A pity that some others claim their 100-400 is as sharp wide open at the ong end as stopped down. One or two show evidence to this effect but I suspect many are like mine -a little soft. F/8-F/11 is excellent, but this (and f/5.6 WO) does make it a good light only lens.


Oct 23, 2009
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CousinMadness
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Registered: Oct 12, 2009
Location: Canada
Posts: 40
Review Date: Oct 12, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: L glass, push pull is fast, relatively small in size for a 400 mm. USM is very quiet.
Cons:
Push pull can suck in dust to the camera body. Cheesy cheap plastic lens hood. Forget using a Canon brand converter with it, auto focus is lost and IQ suffers badly.

This was my first L lens and I have had amazing results with it rivalling prime lenses. I know others have not had such fortuitous results having been stuck with a bad copy.

http://www.photosports.ca/aircraftgallery_large_168.html
http://www.klickthis.com/gallery-nature-england-large-79.html

Used with both crop and full frame bodies.


Cousin.


Oct 12, 2009
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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
263 637807 Jun 16, 2014
Recommended By Average Price
90% of reviewers $2,086.79
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.31
8.66
9.1
ef100_400l_1_


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