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Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM

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Reviews Views Date of last review
116 271946 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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pcd72
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Registered: Jul 30, 2003
Location: France
Posts: 950
Review Date: Jan 17, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $810.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Amazingly sharp, very fasct focus, lightweight, good build quality, built-in sliding hood.
Cons:
No IS, minimum focus distance 3.5m.

Had a chance to get a mint used copy for a good price. The focus is incredibly fast in good light. Pictures are super sharp.
In low light it is advisable to bump up the ISO or use a tripod (if possible). Works quite well with my Canon 1.4x extender.
With IS this lens would be a dream come true but I doubt Canon will ever release an IS version. If you absolutely want IS then go for the 400/4 DO IS but a 5 times the price.
If you want faster/longer glass then you have to pay 4-6 times as much so this is a good compromise for budget minded photographers.
Highly recommended.


Jan 17, 2005
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daniella
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Registered: Oct 26, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 17
Review Date: Jan 9, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $920.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: very sharp even wide open, fast focusing. Works very well with a Tamron 1.4x and still AF with that TC on my 300d.
Cons:
minimum focusing distance of 11 feet. Primes are a bit limiting in flexibility due to lack of zoom, especialy for large birds in flight.

This is one sharp lens. I did some tests and it is as sharp wide open as stopped down so now I only use it wide open unless I want more DOF. The lens is very sharp with the Tamron 1.4x teleconverter even wide open and I can't really see image degradation when using the TC. I do see image degradation when using a 2x Kenko pro and I do loose AF with the 2x. AF with the 1.4x teleconverter still is quite good, even if my camera is not geared to AF at F8.

the colours and contrast is really good and the photos have a nice pop to them. When you use that lens, sharpness of the images will be one thing you will stop to worry about.

The lens is quite small (relatively) and light and can be brought on long hikes unlike some more heavy lenses. The lack of IS does not bother me much as I have a very light monopod and use it for shutter speeds lower than 1/400s. When the hood is extended, the lens look a bit long and tiny, but I get a lot of "wow, nice lens!" when I go out so it probably is not all that bad Smile









Jan 9, 2005
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Paulyoly
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Registered: Sep 26, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 59
Review Date: Dec 11, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,089.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: low cost, low weight, sharp, focuses faster than any other lens under $2,000
Cons:
they've been covered

Everything has been said about this lens. It focuses so fast that it actually jerks in your hand. It's like a dog always wanting to please, I can almost here it saying "I can focus faster".

the only con for me is the minimum focus distance of 3.5m, but since it excells in every other area I overlooked this and gave it an excellent.

Can you tell I love this lens?

You can see some pics taken with this lens and the digital rebel or canon 20d at my pbase site.
http://www.pbase.com/paulyoly/


Dec 11, 2004
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GeneO
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Registered: Jul 10, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 9098
Review Date: Dec 6, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,099.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp wide open as any other aperature, great contrast, fast AF, lightweight, realtively inexpensive
Cons:
Not the greatest bokeh, No IS, f5.6, 11ft miimum focusing distance

This is an excellent buy for wildlife photgraphy. It is sharp as a tack wide open, and as sharp wide open as any other aperature. You'll only want to stop down for DOF - sign of an excellent lens.

It is light and slim and the AF is fast which combine to make it a great hand-held flight lens. This also makes it easier to hand-hold for stills as well. I'd say compared to the 100-400 IS which I also own, the prime's sharpness wide open and its weight and slimness combine to beat down the 2 stop IS advantage to one stop or less.

The only nitpick I have about it is the bokeh could be better, but it isn't too bad, comparable to any other lens at this focal length and price. The minimum focus doesn't affect me too much.

Here is a sample gallery (birds) with 100% crops from this lens, mostly wide open, for your perusal:

http://www.pbase.com/gaocus/40056_sampler_gallery

Gene Oleynik


Dec 6, 2004
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markyboy
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Registered: May 31, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 5041
Review Date: Dec 3, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,100.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Amazingly sharp! Extremely fast AF! Lightweight! Good build! Built-in hood!
Cons:
Long minimum focusing distance (but make AF faster)

Great Lens period.

This is my first L lens and it is amazingly sharp. I thought about getting the 100-400mm instead, but when I saw the results side by side I knew the prime was for me. AF is very fast, and with the focus limiter switch set to 8.5 meters (I believe that is what it is) the AF is amazing. The build is top-notch and is lightweight. This lens has a very convenient slide out hood, and comes with a decent case. I would highly recommend this for someone who is starting out with bird shots (in flight or on ground).






Dec 3, 2004
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Ray Soemarsono
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Registered: Jul 27, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 3883
Review Date: Oct 21, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $950.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Amazing sharpness, lightweight, removable tripod collar.
Cons:
No IS.

If this lens has IS for a little bit more money, it would've been perfect. The sharpness, even when coupled with 1.4X extender is awesome.

http://www.pbase.com/zeroscan/image/34394562/original.jpg
http://www.pbase.com/zeroscan/image/34394621/original.jpg


Oct 21, 2004
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mrycar
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Registered: Jun 13, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 258
Review Date: Aug 24, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,100.00 | Rating: 6 

Pros: Low price, light weight, relatively small foorprint, simple design, L-Glass, works well with a 1.4x and 2x extenders
Cons:
Non-IS, no macro mode, f5.6, no Autofocus when using 1.4x or 2x extenders on 10d

A good introduction to 400mm and beyond. Works well in a backpack, camera pack, and photovest due to its nice relatively compact size.

It gets the shots and does well with birds as long as you are willing to bump up the iso.

It is an excellent bang for the buck, but makes you want faster glass. A curse to you Canon for taughting me and making me buy more expensive glass!


Aug 24, 2004
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Edward Rotberg
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Registered: Dec 22, 2002
Location: United States
Posts: 3460
Review Date: May 29, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,100.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: light, blazing fast focus, extremely sharp and contrasty at all apertures, ruggedly built, easily removable tripod collar
Cons:
No IS, long minimum focusing distance, f/5.6

Sure I listed a lot of cons here, but I'm trying to be fair. I can't think of a lens that does not have some significant "cons". But not all the pros/cons are really black and white.

For instance, take the long minimum focusing distance. This means you can't get very close to a subject (I think about 12 feet) before you can no longer focus on it without the use of light-robbing extension tubes. However, for 95% of this lens' uses, this is a blessing in disguise. Why? Because of the resricted focusing range, when the distance limiter switch is in the "long" position, the lens focusing speed is increcibly quick. If it doesn't have to hunt close, the "throw" required to cover its range is fairly small, and it leaps to focus as fast as any lens I've ever used. If you ar shooting wildlife, this is a huge plus.

This lens is wonderful to handhold - when there is enough light for fast enough shutter speeds. Thankfully my 10D offers good noise levels at high ISO's so I can usually attain the necessary shutter speeds. In these cases, the lack of IS becomes insignificant. However, having IS would allow the use of the lens in more cases as well as lower ISO in many circumstances.

Even in light of this, I rated this lens at 5/5. Why? Because its optical quality is simply magnificent. Sharp as a tack corner to corner. Contrasty and neutral in color cast. I couldn't ask for more from an f/5.6 400mm lens.

I've had this lens for about 4 months now, and it rarely leaves my camera. I recently completed a six week study of Anna's Hummingbirds (ambient light!) where I used this lens for probably 1000+ images. I learned a lot about its close-focusing weaknesses and its many strengths in this time. If you are working at more realistic distances than 7-8 feet, this lens is simply marvelous.

Highly recommended!


May 29, 2004
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gregdhumphreys
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Registered: Aug 23, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 11
Review Date: Apr 28, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,135.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp, good contrast, light for a 400mm, takes 77mm filters.
Cons:
For the price paid, none.

Where do I start with the 400 f/5.6L, except I have wanted a 400mm lens for a long time, and for me, Canon's f/5.6L does not disappoint.

The lens is classic Canon white with the telltale red ring that designates it as an L-series lens. The lens is 10.1 inches long and weighs 2.8 pounds, which is small and light for a 400mm lens. It has a built-in lens hood that locks into place both when extended and retracted. The lens hood has a rubber ring around the back of it, and when retracted, the entire hood rotates with the focusing ring (with the rubber ring, you can actually focus the lens with the lens hood when the hood is retracted). The lens is well built and feels very solid. It comes with Canon's tripod mount ring A(W), which is the same tripod ring that is used on the 70-200 f/4L and the 300 f/4L (non IS). This tripod ring is well designed, easy to adjust, and it installs and removes easily. If you have the 70-200 f/4L and have not sprung for a tripod collar, you can use the tripod collar from the 400 f/5.6L for both lenses.

The 400 f/5.6L takes 77mm filters, which is the same size as other popular lenses such as the 70-200 f/2.8L (both the IS and non IS versions), the 16-35 f/2.8L, the 17-40 f/4L, and the 24-70 f/2.8L. If you already own one of these lenses, then any filters you have purchased to use on those lenses will fit the 400 f/5.6L.

The 400 f/5.6L feels well balanced on a 10D, auto focuses fast, and has a very nice, well-damped manual focus feel. The lens is sharp even wide-open, has good contrast, and to me has pleasing bokeh.

I had a difficult time choosing between the 400 f/5.6L and the 300 f/4L IS. I ended up purchasing the 400 f/5.6L for these reasons: I use a tripod 99 percent of the time, so IS is not that important to me; I already have the 70-200 f/4L, and it seemed to me that the jump from 200mm to 400mm would be more useful than the jump from 200mm to 300mmonly time will tell if my thinking is correct on that one; the 400 is a simple design optically (7 elements in 6 groups), and something about that appeals to me; and finally, I read a lot of comments from people who buy a 300mm f/4 lens and then immediately glue it to a 1.4 TC, making a 420mm f/5.6I figured I would be one of those people and just decided to go straight to 400mm.

My only reservation with buying this lens is that I thought I might not get enough use out of it to justify spending around $1100 for itI was wrong with that thought. Now that I have the lens, I am starting to use it more and more. Im very pleased with the purchase of this lens, and I would buy it again.


Apr 28, 2004
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Dito
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Registered: Apr 1, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 99
Review Date: Apr 3, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: lightweight, fits in backpack
Cons:
no autofocus at >F5.6 unless you use the "tape" method, which is slow autofocus

I usually use this lens in daylight so F stop is not a problem unless I want to add the 1.4TC. When I do that, I lose the quick autofocus while using the "tape" method on the TC. I still think it's a great lens. A lot less expensive than the 400 2.8 as well as lighter (10lbs? not including the case). Crisp clear photos from corner to corner. I don't regret buying it.

Apr 3, 2004
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etherman
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Registered: Sep 4, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 13
Review Date: Mar 1, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,099.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharpness, good combination with the 2x extender, price
Cons:
f/5.6-bring your tripod, loss of AF with extender

I just purchased this lens last week (Feb. 2004). It is impressively sharp (with my 10D). It performs best in good light, but with a tripod and remote switch, I can obtain excellent low light photos on slow moving or stationary subjects.

What has impressed me most is it's performance with the Canon 2x II extender. That extender is a disaster with my 70-200mm 2.8L IS, but with the 400mm 5.6L, the results are excellent. Yes, widest aperature is only f11 and you lose AF (quick manual focus takes some practice) with the extender, but the 800mm photos remain surprisingly sharp for the money. You have to work harder because of the aperture "limitation", but I enjoy the challenge. So with this lens and the extender I have a affordable 800mm (albeit slow). I'm suprised others haven't discovered this combination.

Overall, I'm impressed with the 400/5.6L and feel it is a bargain, especially combined with the 2x extender. I would recommend it without reservation.

TL, March 1, 2004


Mar 1, 2004
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bobk
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Registered: Feb 24, 2002
Location: N/A
Posts: 53
Review Date: Feb 10, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,069.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Amazing quality for the price, nice slide-out hood, and very easy to handle.
Cons:
none.

I had overlooked this lens and used a 100-400 IS for a couple of years, and thought it was great as a single-lens solution. But eventually, I decided I needed something sharper and faster focusing, and this was the answer. The fact that it's lighter was originally a secondary consideration, but after using it, I wonder why I wrestled that 100-400 around for so long.

Fanatstic for shooting birds in flight, especially if you remove the tripod mount. The slide-out lens hood is very convenient, especially when used with a polarizer. There's probably no better 400 for handheld shooting. The only caveat is that you don't have IS, so you need to keep the shutter speeds up. And of course, it's only f5.6, but that's why it's so nimble.


Feb 10, 2004
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Daniel
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Registered: Jan 3, 2002
Location: United States
Posts: 109
Review Date: Jan 25, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,000.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Fast focusing, VERY sharp, even with 1.4 TC...
Cons:
Only f5.6

This lens is very fast and sharp. Much sharper than the 100-400IS version at 400mm. I use this lens with a 1.4 TC. The price is good. The lens collar is very easy to remove. I recommend this lens for 400mm on a budget.

Jan 25, 2004
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ed woo
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Registered: Oct 28, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 1003
Review Date: Nov 16, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharpness, weight, price, built-in lens hood
Cons:
f5.6 & not f4, no alignment mark on lens barrel when rotating lens (on the tripod collar) for a vertical shot

A good lens for a sunny day. Sharp images (when the operator doesn't screw-up).

Nov 16, 2003
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socratease
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Registered: May 8, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 8
Review Date: Jul 1, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,000.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Light weight. Sharp. Reasonable price. Nifty support ring.
Cons:
Slow for evening or night shots. Requires steady hand or tripod.

This is a wonderful lens to take backpacking for nature shots. It's light in weight, rugged, has a built-in telescoping shield, and a nifty support ring you can detach without taking the lens off the body. (I wish my 70-200 f/2.8L had one!) Maybe not long enough for small birds, or fast enough for twilight pictures. But if you're working in daylight and the priority is on portability then this is your lens. Very sharp images with good colors.

Jul 1, 2003
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tzrider
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Registered: Jun 17, 2003
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 5
Review Date: Jun 17, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,400.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Light, VERY sharp, nice colours, no IS, build quality
Cons:

I bought a second hand one a year ago, combined it with the D60 and sold it because I found it hard to use without monopod or tripod. After I bought the 10d and found out how good this camera is at ISO 800 and even 1600 I realised the 400 5.6 is now much more useable, even at dark conditions. The lens is extremely sharp and comes very close
to the 300 2.8 IS I am also using. I nearly always use it at ISO 400.

I think the lack of IS is in reality an advantage for this lens. Canon was able to constuct it with only 7 pieces of glass in 6 groups. It is very interesting to know that for example the good old 300 4.0 scores MUCH better in test then the current 300 4.0 IS. Less is more here.

I payed 1400 Euro for it (prices over here are higher then in the USA).

http://home.planet.nl/~baack000/honden/index.htm


Jun 17, 2003
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Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
116 271946 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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