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Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM

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116 273730 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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Janika
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Registered: Oct 17, 2005
Location: Canada
Posts: 367
Review Date: Aug 17, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,300.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp, Fast AF, Silent, Easy to carry around and hand-hold, Affordable price, Simple but effective design. Did I mention, It's "Sharp?!
Cons:
Minimum focusing distance is way too long, iS would be nice too

This is a no brainer, and must have birding lens. I can walk around all day with this lens and not get tired. Easy to hand hold too, even though it has no iS. It takes very sharp images, even wide open. Build quality is super and fewer glass elements mean better IQ and sharpness overall. It is sharper than my 300 f/4L iS was and much sharper than my 100-400 iS was, so it's a keeper Wink

Wish it had a shorter focus distance and iS would also be welcomed, as long as IQ and sharpness is not compromised. I am sure photogs would be willing to fork out a few hundred more for the iS version of this lens.

Highly recommend it!


Aug 17, 2009
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dirkb
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Registered: Jul 9, 2008
Location: United States
Posts: 1
Review Date: Jul 21, 2009 Recommend? | Price paid: $775.00

 
Pros: tack sharp, lightweight, fast focus, IQ
Cons:

first "L" prime i've owned, sold my 100-400 after i got it. i never used the zoom aspect, so this is fine. fast focus and IQ made the choice easy.

interestingly enough, autofocus was permanently in the "ON" position (it would still AF when MF was selected) small screwdriver and some crazy glue to hold the microswitch to the switch slider cured that, though.


Jul 21, 2009
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Lotuselite
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Registered: Feb 14, 2003
Location: Canada
Posts: 216
Review Date: Jul 17, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated

 
Pros:
Cons:

This lens and the Canon 100-400 IS, (I have both), is one of the reasons why I do not own a Nikon body. The AF of the Nikon is the over riding feature for me and I would have one in a heartbeat, but there is no equivalent of these two lenses for me, ( not to mention the Canon 70-200 F/4 ). The Nikon 80-400 seems to be optically the equal of the Canon 100-400 but even the Nikon enthusiasts are looking for an update in its autofocus performance.

The 400/5.6 is excellent value. Almost all of my bird images using my 100-400 are at the 400mm end so I use it almost exclusevely for BIF.
There is no doubt that Nikon's 200-400 F/4 is an excellent lens but it is big, expensive, and if you are at 400 for most of your bird activity the 400 F/5,6 is far and away the best value in term of cost and performance in my frugal view.


Jul 17, 2009
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dirkb
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Registered: Jul 9, 2008
Location: United States
Posts: 1
Review Date: May 20, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros:
Cons:

great IQ, fast focus, sharp as a tack. great color. i'm gonna like this...

May 20, 2009
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princeeric2
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Registered: Oct 2, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 384
Review Date: Mar 29, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,100.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Fast AF, Light Weight, Very Nice Built in Hood. Amazing colors & contrast, and blur Bokeh. SHARP, SHARP, SHARP, even with 1.4X II extender.
Cons:
I wish Canon make an Image Stabilizer version of this lens, and keep it the same price range with similar lens EF 300mm f/4L IS. I don't think why it should cost more, since the 300mm f/4L IS & 400mm 5.6L are the same in the price $1100 now.

All the good things about this lens have been said by many folks in here already. I had used 3 copies of this 400mm 5.6L and I loved them all. IMAGE ARE TACK SHARP, GOOD BOKEH, COLOR CONTRAST A+, AF IS FAST AND ACCURATE. I normally attached the 1.4X II extender on this lens for wildlifes shooting. Image still sharp even with the extender.

Mar 29, 2009
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Conrad Tan
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Registered: Dec 8, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 28401
Review Date: Mar 27, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,100.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Super sharp when in the right hands. Mine shake a bit, but I'm getting better results with a bushhawk-style monopod. Extremely accurate AF and terrific colors. Great reach for anything about the size of a duck under 40 yards.
Cons:
I suppose it could use IS for still birds (as opposed to BIF) but one can't have it all at this price!

Two weeks into bird-in-flight photography and I'm extremely impressed! My 100-400mm is dog slow compared to AF of this little gem! Its light, fast, accurate and cheap (compared to its 500mm and 600mm cousins) Highly recommended for the beginning bird/wildlife photographer.

Mar 27, 2009
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Badmono
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Registered: Mar 9, 2009
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 0
Review Date: Mar 19, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Nice user friendly lens - compact - great IQ - fast focussing - light to carry on hol's
Cons:
White - otherwise none except that the BLACK sigma APO 400 F5.6 costs a fraction of the cost and equals the canon in every respect. I sold my Canon to get the sigma, and put the surplus towards an awesome canon 400 F2.8IS :-)) which deserves to be White!!

Great IQ - Very sharp wide open - easy to use - a typical 'L' prime lens.
Only sold it to buy a friends Sigma 400 APO which had proved it's equal for sharpness and IQ in some tests we did on both lenses.
I invested the surplus funds into my now favourite 'L' prime the awesome Canon 400 F2.8 IS
>
The 400 F5.6 is a great Birding lens for hikers because of it's light weight. Just a pity that it's white


Mar 19, 2009
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mprice
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Registered: May 25, 2008
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Feb 20, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,050.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: For the price and focal lenth and IQ it cant be beat/
Cons:
F5.6 in low light

I purchased this lens primarily for bird and sports photography. I have never once had any regrets on the purchase of this lens. It has fantastic image quality. I like to stop down to 7.1 or more where it sharpness is phenomenol. Weight, autofocus, IQ for this focal lenth and pricetag combination is second to none. The 5.6 aperature in low light situations requries high ISO and/or additional camera support.

Feb 20, 2009
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Sean Bellay
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Registered: Feb 22, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 573
Review Date: Jan 30, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,000.00

 
Pros: weight, focus speed, price, attached hood, sharp pictures
Cons:
none

I've had this lens for about a year and half along with my 30D. This is one of the best lenses ever made for birds in flight. It is light and easy to carry around. The attached hood is nice as you don't need to fuss with putting one on and taking it off. The auto focus is very fast with my 30D and spot on. If your looking for an entry lens for wildlife photography, look no further, this thing is sharp!

Jan 30, 2009
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Fulcrum
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Registered: May 23, 2008
Location: Finland
Posts: 3
Review Date: Jan 17, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Image Quality, Fast AF, Silent motor, really lightweight yet sturdy
Cons:
None, unless you count the lack of IS as one.

This is my first L series piece of equipment. I purchased this one for bird photography because of positive reviews on fredmiranda and other photo gear review sites.

The lens feels reliable and solid in build, yet it weighs amazingly little for a long tele.

The autofocus hunts very little in low light, and manages to focus on at least 8 of 10 attempts at a little bird inside a dense bush. Simply amazing.

The image quality is superb. You can see every hair on a bird´s tail feathers when the focus has scored a hit. The bokeh is awesome, and I have taken a few outdoor portraits with this one as well.

The WOW-factor of this lens is amazing. This is simply the best piece of photo equipment I have ever owned. For me, this is a keeper.

If you want to photograph anything that moves fast and are looking for a long tele, get this. You get an accurate and reliable tool for what you need.

Before buying my copy, I tested the 100-400mm IS USM zoom, and the AF on that one sucks. Terribly slow compared to this one.


Jan 17, 2009
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Perry Ge
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Registered: Jul 29, 2007
Location: N/A
Posts: 9
Review Date: Jan 15, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,100.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Superb AF, excellent handling, very nice built in hood, very sharp from corner to corner even wide open.
Cons:
Minimum focusing distance, no IS.

Wonderful lens. Lightning quick AF, great for birds in flight, light, still focuses quickly and accurately on my MKIIN even with a 1.4x TC. Very sharp, nice bokeh - and obviously you know it's f/5.6 and lacks IS when you buy it, but I haven't found either to be an issue. I love this lens, worth every penny, and the built in hood design and included tripod collar are just bonuses for what is perhaps the best bird in flight lens available.

Jan 15, 2009
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jerokaz
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Registered: Jan 14, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 50
Review Date: Nov 17, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Inexpensive compared to 400 L2.8 IQ is great, fast focus, Size compared to 2.8
Cons:
Aperture is slow, Min. Focusing distance

I've used this lens to shoot mainly youth football during the brightest part of the day. I am completely satisfied with the performance of this great lens. Although, in the early part of the day or at late afternoon and some night games, it can be difficult because for the lens speed. Min focusing distance is bothersome at times also. If you know these things up front and work around them, this is a fantastic lens. So far, it's paid for itself many times over.

Nov 17, 2008
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CampX
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Registered: Dec 20, 2005
Location: Canada
Posts: 811
Review Date: Nov 8, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Superfast focusing, really sharp images, light for its size, built-in lens hood, price
Cons:
F5.6 (but we knew that when we buy it, RIGHT!)

I bought this lens, along with a 40D body and a bunch of other goodies this summer. After much searching, reading a ton of reviews, and agonizing over the choices in buying a long lens, I decided on the 400mm F5.6L. Definitely didn't go wrong.
I have a 70-200mm F2.8L IS which I had thought about just getting a 1.4X or 2X tele-converter for, but the reviews said that the focusing speed and IQ takes a big hit when you do so. The 400mm F5.6L focuses very fast, and I'd say my keeper rate, when I have done everything right, is probably 7 or 8 out of 10.
Being used to shooting with a F2.8 lens most of the time, one has to pay attention more with this lens being a F5.6. Most of the time, it's pretty sunny where I live, so ISO 200 or 400 works great, and I usually just leave it on F5.6, as the images at F5.6 are razor sharp anyways. I still have the odd 'ooopsy' moment when taking bird photos, when I have closed down the aperture to F11 and the bird is sitting still, then the bird decides it wants to fly away......blur. As for being hand-holdable, this lens is light (compared to my 70-200 F2.8L IS), doesn't fatigue the arm at all, and so far I have not used a tripod with it.
I find that this lens is on my camera 80 per cent of the time these days, and my poor old (actually like brand new!) 70-200 F2.8 L IS spends a lot of time at home on the shelf...makes me think I should maybe be selling it. All in all, I am loving this lens, great piece of gear for the low price of it.


Nov 8, 2008
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Povilas
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Registered: Aug 23, 2007
Location: Lithuania
Posts: 2
Review Date: Aug 10, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,000.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Image quality, color rendering, superfast and accurate autofocus, superb handling, build quality, compactness
Cons:
Minimum focusing distance 3.5m

There are many reviews concerning the quality and performance of this lens, go along and read them. I will try to add a different, more practical perspective. Please note that I am an amateur photographer and some of my findings might not be the fault of the lens, but lack of my skills.

I cultivate kite boarding (water sport) and specialize photographing kiteboarders, windsurfers and surfers. I have been challenged to make good pictures because usually the subjects are quite far in the see (or the ocean).

I have been using Canon EF 100-400 3.5-5.6L for those purposes for a year but have never been satisfied. The autofocus and subject tracing were very poor, most of the time, because of the autofocus errors the subject was blurred most of the time. Manual focus was no good because it went from infinity to the closest distance too fast; the accurate results were difficult to obtain. The contrast has always been the same story. Not always you can choose the direction of the sun vs. the shore and sometimes you have to shoot almost against the sun (sun in front but out of the picture). In those cases 100-400 produced just black silhouettes. The size and the weight of this lens was also challenging. It was very difficult to handhold the lens for when it is extended it is huge and has a lot of weight in the front.

So I have read the reviews here and decided that I need this lens. Guess what? Everything that was listed as 100-400 negative aspects where solved with 400 5.6L lens! The autofocus speed is simply brilliant, with EOS 20D (handhold) it traces the subject without any hesitation and makes crystal clear pictures. Manual focus is not needed but it is much better balanced that in the zoom cousin. Now I can shoot against the sun and the slightest nuances of color can be spotted on the subject. The contrast is superb. Moreover, with this lens the tripod is not needed! It is easy to handhold this lens and 9/10 pictures are crystal sharp. The weight is distributed much better with this lens and it is lighter by 200g so tripod is not needed.

Concerning the two disadvantages that most people list – IS and 5.6 aperture I have my own findings. Neither of those are disadvantages in water sport shooting. In the sunny conditions (with small clouds) in my country (LTU) I set the shutter at 800 (which is more than enough to get sharp images) and ISO at 200. Aperture varies from 7.1 to 11. If the sky is covered with thin/medium clouds the ISO needs to be raised to 400 to achieve the same results. In the evening with cloudy conditions I leave ISO400 and aperture drops to 5.6 (which, as you know produces excellent sharpness results on this lens) and sometimes shutter automatically drops to 640 (which is the lowest recommended shutter speed for 400mm lens (x1.6 crop factor) handheld). The results are that 9/10 pictures are crystal sharp and no ISO noise whatsoever.
As you can see, for the purposes that I use this lens it is just perfect. If you need a lens for outdoor sports – buy this lens without any hesitation.
HIHGLY RECCOMENDED.


Aug 10, 2008
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EOSMIKE
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Registered: Jun 14, 2003
Location: Canada
Posts: 2081
Review Date: Jul 2, 2008 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

 
Pros: very hi IQ, sharp as a tack, easy to hand-hold & carry, focuses well, monopod/tripod mount & lens hood included, worthy of "L" status, weight is only 2.75lbs. (~1.25kg)
Cons:
no IS version (in 2008, that's a minus), suitable for daytime outdoors use only (with few exceptions), minimum focusing distance of 11.5ft / 3.5m,

The 400mm f/5.6 is a lens that anyone with long telephoto requirements should consider. This lens will more than fully please many, including photojournalists with long lens requirements (i.e. situations such accidents, spot news, stake-outs where getting anywhere within close proximity is problematic), daytime sports (baseball, football, rugby, surfing, soccer etc.), and wildlife shooters (i.e. birds and animals)

Thought this lens is relatively slow, it has the advantages of extreme portability (case is included) ++ hand-hold-ability that more than make up for the slower maximum aperture.

This combo is cheaper, better and more desirable than a 70-200 f/2.8 with a 2x extender on due to obvious IQ-robbing that combo consumes. (but obviously not quite as flexible when it comes to focal length)

For instance, when using a two body system, pairing this 400mm with a 70-200mm zoom (with or without a 1.4x) on the other would be considered a very ideal set-up by many shooters.

happy shooting!


Jul 2, 2008
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BERTPIX
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Registered: Jun 7, 2008
Location: Belgium
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jun 11, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: fast AF, sharp wide open, solid, cheap, great IQ
Cons:
none !

This is a fantastic lens for the money. From the first day it was delivered I enjoyed this piece of equipment and it will stay with me forever.
It's tack sharp wide open, great IQ, great colors, light to handhold, L-quality and one of the best lenses on the market to shoot birds in flight.
Don't hesitate : this is a WOW-lens !


Jun 11, 2008
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Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
116 273730 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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