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Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM

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Reviews Views Date of last review
120 312035 Feb 5, 2022
Recommended By Average Price
95% of reviewers $1,071.57
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.74
9.56
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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phreeky82
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Registered: Aug 22, 2005
Location: Australia
Posts: 0
Review Date: Sep 29, 2009 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

 
Pros: Sharpness, contrast, colours, AF speed, well built, inbuilt hood is fantastic.
Cons:
Tripod collar foot could be a little bigger.

Extremely sharp and great looking results from this, even wide open. Amazingly useful results even with a 2x other than useless AF (even with a non-reporting TC) on a 20D. MF is very smooth and nice to use though.

The AF speed makes this a very enjoyable lens to use for both airshows and birds.

The inbuilt hood is a fantastic design, and gives a lens that is not only very easy to set up and use in a hurry, but also makes it compact enough to fit in a backpack without much trouble.

I'd like the tripod collar foot to be a big larger, for gripping onto it - instead I leave a large QR plate attached, makes hand holding a bit more comfortable.


Sep 29, 2009
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phreeky82
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Registered: Aug 22, 2005
Location: Australia
Posts: 0
Review Date: Sep 24, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Stupidly sharp, great colour and contrast, well built, and surprisingly hand-holdable a lot of the time. OOF areas look very nice. Best hood design ever!
Cons:
A longer foot on the tripod collar would have been nice.

The sharp images you get from this wide open is amazing, with the very slightest of improvements when stopped down (mostly in contrast I've found).

Throwing a 2x behind it, despite losing AF usefulness (even with pins taped), made me very surprised indeed. No they're not perfect, but still better than most cheap long lenses without a TC. 1.4x not yet tried.

Have found that the shutter speed needed to stop bird movement motion blur means the lack of IS isn't such an issue as it wouldn't help anyway. Can't really fix the F/5.6 aspect without a whole lot of $$$ and/or weight.

Buy a monopod+tripod, use them, and get amazing results.


Sep 24, 2009
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nickjohnson
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Registered: Sep 15, 2009
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 1850
Review Date: Sep 19, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: fantastic IQ when used properly, fine build, light weight / good handling, very good value
Cons:
none when used by those who understand and accept it for what it is.

Common to all reports

This is my attempt to give something back to the forum members who have provided this wonderful resource. I found much here that helped with my lens selection. So over the last 1 to 2 years here is what I used – all on a pair of 5D bodies. (My comments will be subjective and personal. I will try to avoid saying anything that cannot be read in the spec sheets).

17-40 L
24-105 L IS
70-200 f4 L IS
180 L Macro
400 f5.6 L
50 f1.8 mkII
Sigma 50 f2.8 Macro EX

400 f5.6 L
Comment
This is an old lens in design terms, but recent DSLR high ISO performance gains make it ever more applicable to today's photography. Mine has done more to improve my technique than all the other lenses put together. If I just point and shoot I get what I deserve – fuzzy nothings. But if I put the ISO high enough to ensure a proper shutter speed, shoot properly, and give it just a sniff of sweet light …... bang – knock-out images which are not possible with anything else at less than three times the price.

Used hand held for wildlife, BIF, landscapes.

IQ is fabulous if I do my bit. Heavy cropping to make up for lack of reach no problem.




Sep 19, 2009
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maiaibing
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Registered: Jun 25, 2009
Location: Afghanistan
Posts: 12
Review Date: Aug 29, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Cheap, light (comparably), durable, fast focus, very sharp, great colors, built-in hood, tripod mount included.
Cons:
No IS, f/5.6 is slow if you like to shoot hand held.

For pure optical performance it does not get better than this.

If you are looking for the best 400mm on a budget or for a light weight alternative to the 400L f/2.8 this is the lens to get. No compromises in sharpness, color or clarity. It is an amazing lens for its price point.

The downside is no IS, no zoom and f/5.6. Thus there is a very real difference shooting with the 2.8 and the 5.6, just as you will not get the flexibility of a zoom like the 100-400mm, which is also excellent lens and comes with IS.

Canon has so many great choices for 400mm. Use the one that fits your situation the best.

(Remember to check your lens for front/back focus, my sample needed -8 to be on spot with my 5Dii. It makes a visible difference even @ f/5.6.)


Aug 29, 2009
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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: 432
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: 387
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: 28406
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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Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
120 312035 Feb 5, 2022
Recommended By Average Price
95% of reviewers $1,071.57
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.74
9.56
9.5
ef400mmf_56_1_


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