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Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM

Review Date: Dec 4, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp, sharp, sharp! Quiet, fast focusing. Handling.
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!"

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.