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

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262 632214 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_

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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aladyforty
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Registered: Feb 3, 2006
Location: Australia
Posts: 1630
Review Date: Aug 31, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: sharp, great focal range, build quality, IS
Cons:
Heavy, Hood is a pain

I have only had this lens about three weeks but already have grown to love it. I had the 400 F5.6 L and that was a great lens but I felt restricted which is the reason I sold it and purchased this lens. The IS seems to work quite well. I actually like the push pull zoom and find it very easy to use. The images seem very sharp at 400 if stopped down to 6.3 and reasonably sharp wide open. The lens is very versatile. The only things I find annoying are the hood, its hard to get on and off and the lens is heavy. After about 25 minutes I need to rest my arm. But overall I'm glad I got it.

Aug 31, 2009
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Lance Couture
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Registered: Aug 7, 2007
Location: Canada
Posts: 2159
Review Date: Aug 12, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Wonderful IQ, build quality, light weight
Cons:
Focus/friction ring, slow aperture

I bought this lens to cover a large dog trial event. Each of the 4 days went from approx 5 AM to 12 AM, so I was able to shoot with this lens from dusk until dark every day.

Coupled with my 1D Mark II, it was an outstanding combination for daytime shooting. I would not recommend this lens for shooting fast-moving subjects around dusk or dawn. f/5.6 is deathly slow for shooting when the sun is going down, and even under stadium flood lights. If you are shooting with a camera which can do 3200 ISO an above cleanly (1D3, 1Ds3, 5D2), then you should be able to mitigate this somewhat.

The push/pull aspect is absolutely nothing to get used to. I was immediately comfortable with it, and I can honestly say, for shoots fast-moving subject which are travelling in many directions, I actually prefer it now to twist zoom.

The thing which I do not like about this lens, is the focus ring and zoom friction adjustment ring are back-to-back. A couple of times, I had wanted to adjust the friction, ended up moving the focus ring, which was enough to put the AF too far out of whack before it could re-adjust, and I lost the shot.

So, I ended up just loosening the ring all the way, and quickly tightening it if I needed to move place.

The IQ on this lens is great. It's in the same ball park as my 70-200/2.8. I have a very late model one (May 09 date code), so that may have something to do with it. Colour/contrast are very good, and it is *sharp*.

This lens is much lighter to use than my 70-200/2.8 as well, which made it very easy to use hand-held. I used it 80% of the time on a monopod though. The IS worked very, very well too.

I have even tried some macro with it as well, coupled with my 500D close up lens, which turned out far better than I expected.

Personally, I wouldnt mind if this lens was a little bigger if it meant some increased speed at the long-end, but that would most likely alter the price quite severely.

Overall, this lens is a bargain at its price. I highly recommend it.

If you wish to see shots taken with this lens, you can go here:

http://rainforestphoto.ca/Sports/850976


Aug 12, 2009
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Paragon
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Registered: Aug 11, 2008
Location: Germany
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jul 31, 2009 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: sharp, versatile, build quality
Cons:
focus ring has a little too much slackness

I have now used this lens for over a year. Before buying it, I read many forum postings, reviews, discussions, and experience reports. Most were positive but some complained about various issues. Here is a list of my personal comments based on my experience but with special regard to these reoccurring issues.

1. Push-pull zoom: It does take some getting used to but is not an issue after that. In fact, if you use FTM regularly this is much better than a twist-zoom.

2. Any lens that changes length can potentially blow dust into the camera. Dust sealing is near perfect with this lens though and I haven't had any problems. I think changing lenses is more of a cause for dust entry than changing the focal length of a lens. And since this lens is so versatile, you will not change lenses all too often any more Wink. But still: a 70-200 2.8 IS has better dust sealing and doesnít change its length when zoomed. So, if thatís what you want and you donít need 400mm... But then, you wouldnít be reading this review... would you?

3. Mine is so sharp wide open at 400mm that it clearly outperforms the camera sensor's resolution (20D, 8MP, Bayer sensor). It is absolutely tack sharp at all settings. The only blur I ever got was due to camera shake. Probably, over the years, a perfect production process was developed here.

4. I don't think the lens is outdated. It is still the most versatile tele zoom offered by Canon and possibly some coatings and the IS system were updated in the meantime.

5. Maybe the IS system is not as good as the system in the 70-200 f4 IS but 3 f-stops is realistic here, too. Don't forget that this is a 400 mm lens. It is absolutely incredible what the IS can do.

6. Vignetting wide open: negligible on a 'crop' sensor.

7. Price: Sometimes you pay for what you get. The cheaper Sigmas were reported to have decentering issues, but quality control issues were reported for the Canon, too. I have had three Sigma lenses, two bad and one fairly good, two Tamron lenses, one mediocre and one very good indeed, and four Canon lenses, all of which were excellent. I decided never to buy a Sigma lens again. But please, do try this out yourself, many have had a different experience with Sigma.

8. The white finish may be too obtrusive for some people or some situations. I bought a lens coat that gives some protection, too.

My verdict: If you have been thinking about buying this lens, do it. There is no better choice IMHO and you won't regret it. Checking a lens' performance is easy nowadays and one should think that manufacturers cannot afford to produce bad copies. If you feel uneasy without checking (as I did), then do it. But don't forget to enjoy taking photos. And don't worry about the weight. It is well worth carrying. Every time I take it on a hike, I return with several stunning photos.


Jul 31, 2009
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vic066
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Registered: Feb 8, 2009
Location: United States
Posts: 4
Review Date: Jul 27, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Image quality, range
Cons:
Heavy/bulky if using it all day

Purchased this lens for a trip to Yellowstone and paired it with a 5D mark II. Worked great for shooting wildlife. I have a 70-200 but it wasn't long enough. I ended up keeping it on the camera when ever I was driving so it was ready for anything we saw. The quality of the images were excellent. Good contrast, sharpe, and nice detail. There were a few times when I wish it was faster but with the 5D I was able to up the ISO and still get great shots.

Jul 27, 2009
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cmosbum
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Registered: Dec 12, 2002
Location: United States
Posts: 1
Review Date: Jun 29, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,399.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharper than my 300 f4L Works well with a 1.4X TC from 1 stop down to about 3 stops down Balances fairly well with a 5D Mark II
Cons:
Heavy after a little while and physically long at 400mm Should be priced a bit less expensive at this point in its product life



Jun 29, 2009
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fairtex
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Registered: Jun 28, 2009
Location: Germany
Posts: 65
Review Date: Jun 29, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,250.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: sharp, versatile, great IS, 400mm, good price for value
Cons:
a bit bulky

This is a great lens. The newer ones are very sharp even when not stepped-down, IQ and built quality are very good, the focal range is great - for that price, it's an excellent lens.

You'll get used to the push-zoom quite quickly and although I'd sometimes wish this lens would be a bit faster (like F4) it's a perfectly good lens well worth the money.


Jun 29, 2009
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Dreamliner
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Registered: Jul 11, 2007
Location: Greece
Posts: 320
Review Date: May 14, 2009 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: Just wonderfull !
Cons:
Absolutely nothing, except maybe the first days of usage when you must get used to the push-pull zooming.After that is more easy to use it than twisting zooms of the same category.

I feel sorry for all the bad luck that some guys have with this lens -it happened to a friend also- but most copies that I have ever tried ( more than 5 ), including mine, are marvellous ! Maybe for some, is an AF microadjustment that is needed to show their full potential on the camera, but the only decentered copy that I have ever seen -and needed lens realignement by the service- was bought by a friend. By the way I have seen more 70-200's with centering problems, than 100-400's. I have to say also, that after a year of use I can't see any evidence of dust sucking by the push-pull mechanism of this zoom.

May 14, 2009
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JRKO
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Registered: Jan 12, 2009
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 5
Review Date: Apr 6, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: The slide zoom makes tracking really easy. Let the camera do the focusing and you can track pretty much anything moving whilst changing you zoom length - image stabilizer - If some posts are to be believed I got a tack sharp one - and no it does not suck in loads of dust
Cons:
heavy - obvious

tack sharp and great for candid shots (if they don't spot the jumbo white canon pointing at them!)

Seriously easy to track and zoom with. Way easier than a twist zoom. I tracked this seagull flying all over the place whilst on a cliff in Spain. Finally got him away from the bright sky and brought up the colour of the sea a bit.

http://jrko.zenfolio.com/p922298177/h9c090bd#h37f9d15

Also fab for detail shots as can be seen here. Yes I have sharpened it up a bit but its also a crop of the original.

http://jrko.zenfolio.com/p922298177/h9c090bd#h9c090bd


Apr 6, 2009
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Badmono
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Registered: Mar 9, 2009
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 0
Review Date: Mar 20, 2009 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 3 

Pros: None
Cons:
A truly awful lens - soft - difficult to use the push/pull system - but worst of all the things an air pump - dusty dusty 'Dusty Bin' it ought to be called - did I mention the lack of IQ and the soft focus images - the worst Canon lens I've ever owned - though the 70-200F2.8 IS comes a close 2nd.

A complete waste of money:-
Soft
Awful Bokeh
Terrible zoom action, reminds me of some awful 1970's zooms I once owned.
A dust Pump
A disgrace to Canon's Famous 'L' lens series
>
Just avoid the temptation to buy one - get a 400 F5.6 'L' and a 135 F2 'L' instead
>
Only plus point I sold mine for a good price on ebay, check ebay out there's plenty of this lens for sale, so obviously other owners don't like 'em either.


Mar 20, 2009
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poodlelvr
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Registered: Aug 25, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 507
Review Date: Mar 14, 2009 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: A wonderful range; works with 1.4 TC well; outstanding color, outstanding for everything from eagles to flowers. I actually use this more often than the 70-200 f2.8 that I have. Highly recommend.
Cons:
big, white and somewhat heavy.

Bought this lens used awhile back; took awhile to get used to it but now that I have learned to use and appreciate it I must say that I almost always have it with me for everything from landscapes to wildlife. (Only birds I shoot are eagles--)

Mar 14, 2009
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upn cumming
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Registered: Sep 6, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 189
Review Date: Mar 12, 2009 Recommend? no | Price paid: $1,150.00 | Rating: 3 

Pros: Great at 100mm
Cons:
Loose as a goose and soft as a baby's butt at 400mm....

Well, I must have gotten the SOFTEST copy at 400mm that was ever produced (from B&H), because my images are really weak at that zoom level of 400mm. In fact I was just in Irvine, CA and dropped off the lens at the Canon Service Center for calibration at 400mm. To be honest, at 100mm the lens is tack sharp, but at 400mm, it is as if I am shooting with a softening filter. I am very disappointed in this copy of the lens.

Oh, and to be clear, I shoot with a 1DS Mark II, and my images through a 16-35mm or a 24-70mm are tack sharp with good clarity. My particular 100-400mm is garbage, and I hope that Canon either fixes it or replaces it under warranty!!!

Oh, and if I hold the camera facing downward, the lens will extend immediately to 400mm without any delay. It is loose as all get out too.

Understand that I love Canon products, but this copy of the 100-400mm is a lemon. It makes me pucker..... Will Canon fix it? We'll see what happens. Wish me good luck.


Mar 12, 2009
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baumgarten0712
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Registered: Oct 12, 2008
Location: United States
Posts: 736
Review Date: Mar 10, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,000.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: 100-400, IS, Light, Build Quality, Sharp!
Cons:
Slow AF

This is my 3rd copy of this lens. My previous two were very good, but I read reviews saying some were as sharp as their 400 5.6 primes. Third time is the charm. I finally have one that is TACK sharp at 400 5.6 (I can compare to my 300 2.8 IS). The zoom range is awesome and is great for wildlife. If you need one telephoto lens to do the job, this is it. I wish the AF could be a little faster, but there is a lot of glass to move. I use my 300 2.8 for speed.

My previous two copies were still very sharp up through 350mm, but had to be stopped down 2/3rds to gain optimal sharpness. Highly recommend!

Karl


Mar 10, 2009
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franzoi
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Registered: Aug 30, 2008
Location: Italy
Posts: 0
Review Date: Feb 13, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Best sharpness is a 400mm f/8, Is 2 stop, very light, mettalic body.
Cons:
Non tropicalized.

For me it is very professional and easy to use!!


I had the new Sigma 120-400 but the canon is far superior in clarity, weight and construction.
The lens is metal but it is very light and handy.
the IS with 2 stop working very well, better than the 4 stop the Sigma. The best sharpness is a 400mm f / 8.


For first photo with Canon 100-400


http://www.franzoi.eu/index.php/foto/various/BIRDS1/index


Feb 13, 2009
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Raymond Reimer
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Registered: Feb 1, 2007
Location: Canada
Posts: 255
Review Date: Jan 25, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Excellent sharpness throughout the range on my 40D. The Range!
Cons:
Push pull dust issues, although only in theory I haven't had any issues

If I can get back far enough this is my go to lens for portraits and action shots. The range of 100-400 is amazing. As long as you have enough light this lens performs.

Jan 25, 2009
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poodlelvr
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Registered: Aug 25, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 507
Review Date: Jan 22, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very fast AF, clear, crisp images, excellent color, great range. An outstanding lens
Cons:
Heavy for me - I need to use monopod at long end; I have shoulder problems. Big white color pretty obtrusive.

I bought this lens for a specific trip and expected to sell it. After a week of use it is here to stay. Although big, for most people it is well within handholding ability. When I extend it to 350 and above I need a monopod but have no complaints about that. Quite frankly I was astonished at the quality of images this lens produces. WIth minor sharpening they are outstanding. I expected to use primarily for zoo shots, marine mammals, etc, but instead this lens does anything I ask. Very reasonably priced for such a useful lens. I highly recommend it, and find I use a lot.

Jan 22, 2009
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cdryall
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Registered: Mar 19, 2005
Location: South Africa
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jan 22, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,400.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Excellent image quality across the range, fast AF in good light, versatility, build quality, not too bulky to carry, can take a 1.4 TC with a 1 series with not too much effect, IS although older version still invaluable.
Cons:
Heavy, only 5.6 at long end but thats what you pay having the size / veratility mix, friction ring to close to manual focus

I took a while to decide whether to get this or the 400 5.6 prime as really want to use it most of the time at max length. Well to be honest for me the IS and image quality across the range in hindsight made this very much the right choice for the money.

The push pull is very convenient except fot the friction ring, the IQ at 380 - 400mm is still excellent. The one thing I have noticed is that it cannot be used with a UV filter as this seriously degrades the IQ.

I have other L lenses that produce slightly better quality results especially in lower light levels (70-200 2.8; 300 2.8) but strangely enough if I had to get rid of all my equipment this would most probably be the very last lens to go - its that good a mix.


Jan 22, 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
262 632214 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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