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Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM

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115 268517 Nov 23, 2012
Recommended By Average Price
95% of reviewers $1,058.82
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.74
9.53
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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John Abbey
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Registered: Jan 6, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jan 6, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,100.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: The lens gives very sharp images and is lightweight for a 400mm lens.
Cons:
5.6 may be too slow for some people, lack of IS.

I sold this lens to finance the Canon EF 100-400mm L lens, but wish I still had it. I sold the 400 5.6 because I needed the image stabilizer and the versatility of the zoom. If you like to use a tripod or have very steady arms, the 400mm prime is a great lens that produces outstanding images. The 400mm 5.6 prime is quite a bit sharper than my new 100-400 zoom lens. The lens is also not very heavy and has a very nice built in lens hood.

Here are some moon pictures I shot with it:

http://www.johnsfilm.com/html/9-2-06.html


Jan 6, 2007
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Leviathor
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Registered: Dec 19, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 189
Review Date: Dec 4, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp, sharp, sharp! Quiet, fast focusing. Handling.
Cons:
No IS. f/5.6. Teleconverter inconveniences.

This lens does require a fair amount of light and thoughtful technique, but its results are excellent, especially considering the saved greenbacks compared to anything in the same range with a bigger aperture.

Handling is amazing on a 20D, the lens has that wonderful feel of balance--that confidence-inducing feel. With a good amount of available light, this lens won't disappoint. I love using this outdoors for wildlife, but have no experience shooting sports; I could imagine that ample light would give great stop-action results, but night games or indoor lighting probably wouldn't give sufficient results without a high ISO sacrifice.

IQ is great. Images are sharp and colorful. Given close proximity and/or sufficient subject-background separation, the bokeh is complimentary in aiding subject "pop!"

http://www.flickr.com/photos/leviathor/216304760/

The reach of the 400 is great (20D body). If you own a zoom or a bag of primes in the neighborhood of 100-200, the 400 prime will please far more than the 100-400L. I have never found the gap between 200 and 400 to be a hindrance, ymmv.

A neutral point is the minimum focusing distance is mildly far, which reduces magnification, but speeds autofocus.

The only disappointments I can think of are the slow aperture, the lack of autofocus with teleconverters, and the lack of. IS is the biggest issue, but also a price point. Canon would probably sell a ton of these if they had IS, but the lens would cost half-again as much. Forced manual focusing with the teleconverters is a pain, and the extra stops of light are pretty valuable with f/5.6 at the wide end sans TC. Again, sufficient light would cures the light issue, so TC inconveniences and IS considerations are the negative points to consider.

For the price, this is probably the best super telephoto on the market.


Dec 4, 2006
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alfieri
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Registered: Feb 25, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 175
Review Date: Dec 3, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,060.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: very sharp at f/5.6; amazing value in this price range; very lightweight
Cons:
would like IS; would like f/4 for nearly same weight and price (if possible)

sample images and ramblings are here:

http://www.alfieri.smugmug.com/gallery/1655672


Dec 3, 2006
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CountryBob
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Registered: Oct 3, 2006
Location: Australia
Posts: 244
Review Date: Nov 19, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp images.......very sharp, fast AF, light in weight and affordable.
Cons:
None really.

I have had this lens for nearly a month now and have taken quite a few "birding" shots with good results. In the beginning I procrastinated on whether to get the 100-400 or this lens and in the end I bought the 400. Well I am very happy I did.
I was attracted to the 100-400 due to its good reputation and versatility, but the image quality from the 400 prime was just that bit better and it won me over.
The lens works great on a sunny day or when using a tripod. Yes I would prefer that it had IS and was a bit faster, but I would have a lot slimmer wallet if it did.
All in all I am very happy and recommend the lens to anyone considering it.


Nov 19, 2006
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Thomas Ware
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Registered: Nov 17, 2006
Location: Finland
Posts: 0
Review Date: Nov 17, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp even wide open, colour, weight
Cons:
None for the price

I use this lens for birds in flight and comparable situations. For the price, this lens is excellent. Apparently it does not matter if this lens is stopped down or not. In any case, the results are excellent. In my opinion, stopping the lens down does only affect the DOF. Even wide open the lens is sharp. With 20/30D, i suppose that this lens is the most excellent "budget" nature photography kit. Do not know, however, so far I have won two regional nature photography competitions with this lens and 20D.

Nov 17, 2006
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sigbusyff
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Registered: Oct 21, 2005
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 3
Review Date: Oct 26, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Very sharp, light, fast AF.
Cons:
None.

This is a fantastically sharp lens, even wide open. In fact, I can't tell a difference in sharpness when stopping down, so in practise, I don't bother. Worth remembering that f/5.6 doesn't give an awful lot of depth-of-field at 400mm, though.

The lens has a number of neat touches - in particular, the integral, metal hood, and the tripod ring which you can take off without removing the lens from the camera. AF is very quick - noticeably quicker than my 70-200mm f/2.8L.

Of course, it doesn't have a fast maximum aperture and it doesn't have IS; but on a sunny day, you can handhold it and it's light enough for you to do that all day. Highly recommended.


Oct 26, 2006
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Ross T.
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Registered: Dec 14, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 191
Review Date: Oct 11, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Light...Super SHARP!!!
Cons:
None

I've had mine for over 10 yrs now....Love it....SO SHARP.....Light weight....Hoping Canon comes out with an Image Stabilized Version though.....But this is a GREAT LENS!!! :^)

Oct 11, 2006
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isogood
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Registered: Sep 19, 2005
Location: France
Posts: 405
Review Date: Jun 12, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: sharpness, great natural colors and saturation, light but solid, fast AF, good hood, tripod collar, beautiful look.
Cons:
Bokeh of a 5.6 (don't dream for 2.8 bokeh...), no autofocus with 1,4 X

I work with this lens since 9 months now, on a 20D, and always very satisfied.
I shot most often sports outside, like golf, often under the sun, so I got no problem with the slow 5.6 aperture, even used with the 1,4x extender.
With the 1,4X the autofocus doesn't work on the 20D, but it is not a big problem.
The lens is beautiful, a pleasure to watch and hold, nice piece of glass...

I use it always on a monopod, and get pictures often very sharp. I don't like to shot handhold with a 400 (really a 560...) Shutter speed is always over 800, often at ISO 200.

If I compare with my Canon 100-400 IS (I have sell it), I can say that the difference in terms of image quality is very important at 400 mm. The prime surclasses the zomm in sharpness, color rendition, contrast and saturation. The image is clearly better.
(But I have to say honestly that the 100-400 is very good in the range 100-300)

I shoot most often at 400 mm, because on golf tournaments, I must stay maximum far away the players, not to disturb them vith CLICKS !
I have also with this prime, a slighly better and faster autofocus, essential for sports.

I have tried also a 80-400 Sigma, but was not satisfied at all, with the color rendition and the curious focusing...

So the choice between this lens and the zoom was very quickly done.
Only problem, I have not the comfort of a zoom, and must anticipate the placement before shooting, or move back quickly with my legs...

A perfect lens in this range of price for outside sunny shots, as sports or animals.

some samples on my Pbase gallery

http://www.pbase.com/isogood/canon_400_l_56

Patrick


Jun 12, 2006
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daktarz
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Registered: Jul 18, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 7
Review Date: Jun 8, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Relatively lightweight and has excellent balance (with 30D). Quick and quiet AF. Sharp, sharp, sharp images, excellent color.
Cons:
Minor nit is the placement of the manual/auto focus button. Not as bad as on the 200 f2.8 but I'd still prefer it be lower down on the barrel. Not enough of a concern to alter the 10 to a 9.

OUCH! These pictures are sharp! Recently purchased it for birding and it is just amazing. I'd been using the 200 f2.8 with a 1.4x extender (which is quite excellent) but this gives me more reach and actually feels a bit more comfortable, strange to say. I was a bit surprised that AF didn't work with the 1.4x but I guess I shouldn't have been if I'd been paying attention at Canon school. However, AF with 400 and MF with 560 will still be more than good enough to keep me very happy.

Jun 8, 2006
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F6F-5
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Registered: May 23, 2006
Location: Brazil
Posts: 0
Review Date: May 23, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1.06 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Light, USM is amazingly fast, sharpness, contrast
Cons:
None until now

I have bought this lens a forthnight ago with the intention of replacing my Sigma 50-500EX, whose sharpness I was no longer satisfied with. After a few months of research, coupled with my experience shooting airshows, I felt I needed a long prime to obtain a level of sharpness and contrast I could live with. I thought about the 100-400L and the 300 4L + 1.4x converter, but these were all compromises. The 100-400L, which Iīve used in the past, is not sharp at 400mm. And the 300 with the converter isnīt as sharp or fast to focus. So I went and bought the 400 5.6L.

Am I happy? You bet I am. If youīre shooting airshows in the US, for example, 400mm is the range most displays will fall into. Rarely youīll need to change your lens. And the 400mm is so light (compared o the Sigma, at least), itīs a joy to use it all day. Of course itīs not as fast as many would like, and it doesnīt have IS, but Iīm a daylight shooter. F/5.6 means a shutter speed, using ISO 200, of 1/2000 or faster. Add the 1.4x converter (a Canon, in my case), and you have a 560mm F/8 which will beat a 100-400L anyday without one! AF? I use the tape trick, so itīs no problem, although the AF will hunt sometimes.

And the quality of my shots now is much improved. Compare them with anybody using a 500mm 4.0 and you will hardly see any difference, except the subject will be a little further away. I know - Iīve done that already.

Highly recommended if you like airshows.


May 23, 2006
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clivemilk
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Registered: Nov 30, 2005
Location: China
Posts: 14
Review Date: May 9, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,083.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: light, fast focus, very sharp at wide open(F5.6) and even with 1.4x(F8)
Cons:
F5.6

Just bought it two days ago but i can feel it is completely upgraded from my perivous combo 300 4L IS + 1.4x or 400 4 DO IS (this one is bad copy, produce at 2002).

In compare with 300 4L IS + 1.4x,
I can keep more flying shoot and thanks for the focus limiter (8.5m to infinity) it really helpful to reduce the focusing time.
And the contrast and sharpness are much higher than 300 combo.

In compare with 400 4 DO IS,
I can suffer from low contrast image but can't withstand non sharpness, may be i get a earlier BAD copy (produce at 2002).
400 5.6L is win in all aspect.

I don't feel it is difficult to handheld and the balance is just fit for my 20D. May be i already used to 400 4 DO IS. I very happy with this len at all.



May 9, 2006
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coburnd
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Registered: Mar 31, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 28
Review Date: Mar 31, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Very Sharp, Lightweight-great for handheld shooting under optimal lighting conditions, Awesome contrast and color rendition. Awesome price.
Cons:
F/5.6 is slow. Not a great choice for indoor stop-motion/sports photography.

Great for outdoor wildlife photography. Great hand-held telephoto lens under good lighting conditions. I use this lens on a tri-pod with a remote shutter-release under low-light conditions and it works great as long as your subject isn't moving.

View Samples
http://www.danielwcoburn.com
http://www.pbase.com/danielwcoburn/the_silver_portfolio


Mar 31, 2006
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mickahael
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Registered: Mar 24, 2006
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 0
Review Date: Mar 24, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Portable.Great bulid quality. Lightening fast. Razor sharp. Easy handhold lens.
Cons:
None

When you get this lens, remove the tripod bush and put it back in the box. You won't be needing it. This is just a brilliant lens to leave on your camera body and have slung over your shoulder when you are out birding. When the opportunity presents itself ie: nice light, obliging bird, close fly by, just point and shoot away.
In other words the perfect travelling companion. By the way it doesn't have IS.....who needs it !!


Mar 24, 2006
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EOSMIKE
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Registered: Jun 14, 2003
Location: Canada
Posts: 2081
Review Date: Feb 3, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: An affordable 'L' lens, that's light, sharp and well-built. This lens can be hand-held if needbe, and is very versatile. (birds, sports, stakeouts!). Came with it's very own CANON case.
Cons:
Obviously, the speed is a major problem (for all but outdoors applications) If used indoors (i.e. for static objects) a monopod/tripod is greatly recommended. If subject is not moving, or moving very slowly, using a highspeed motordrive (i.e. EOS1) burst will also enhance the probability of getting at least one sharp image in a sequence. Can only use centre AF with 1.4x (EOS1)

A lens that is perfect for those walking, hiking, or just plain hauling around all their needed (and required) equipment. After dark, however, it becomes virtually useless, at least compared to your f/2.8 lenses.
Anyone who shoots any outdoor sports:
(esp. baseball/football/soccer) or wildlife (animals/birds)
will definitely want to have this lens at their disposal.

NOTE: on a 1.6x crop factor camera body
(D30D/D60/10D/20D)
this lens has a effective focal length of 640mm

NOTE: on a 1.3x crop factor camera body
(1D/1DMkII/1DMkIIn)
this lens has a effective focal length of 520mm

NOTE: on a FF camera body
(1Ds/1DsII/5D) this lens has a effective focal length of 400mm


Feb 3, 2006
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johnastovall
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Registered: Apr 7, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 1332
Review Date: Jan 30, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,070.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Very, very sharp, light and easy to handhold and shot with.
Cons:
None

I got this lense for landscapes and wildlife. It is razor sharp and can be hand held very well and panned just fine. It is a lense which you need to understand it's limitations and it's strong points and work within those. Some complain about the f/5.6 but with Canon's low noise at high ISO in the 20D, I don't find it a problem and accepting there are some early morning or late evening shots I can't make. But there it takes far more "WOW" shots than it can't.




Jan 30, 2006
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foxbat
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Registered: Mar 11, 2005
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 344
Review Date: Jan 25, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: AF speed, weight (or lack thereof), sharpness, price
Cons:
none

I've had this lens for over a year now and it still surprises me with its results. Sharpness is beyond criticism and the size and weight means you can easily carry it on location. It fits easily in my Lowepro Microtrekker 200 with lots of other lenses and a camera body.

I go out of my way to use a tripod even in great light and I can regularly get sharp shots down to 1/30s (as long as the subject is co-operative of course). AF speed is extremely fast, you can almost feel the lens buck in your hands as the motor zips into position.

Others have criticised the relatively slow maximum aperture and the lack of IS but I don't believe that's fair. You don't buy this lens and then b*tch about what it doesn't have. You assess it against your needs and then buy it or leave it. Criticism should be levelled against the features that a lens claims to deliver and then falls short. Everything that the 400mm f/5.6L claims to do it delivers in spades. If it fits your requirements then I believe you will be very happy with your purchase.


Jan 25, 2006
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Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
115 268517 Nov 23, 2012
Recommended By Average Price
95% of reviewers $1,058.82
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.74
9.53
9.5
ef400mmf_56_1_


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