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  Reviews by: PetKal  

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Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM

Review Date: Dec 27, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: The lens has met all of my key expectations.
The tripod mount foot is a poor design, the zoom ring is misplaced on the barrel.

The lens is a worthy successor to the venerable and very popular 100-400 MkI. The MkI is a sharp lens, the MkII is at least as sharp.

The AF drive control has been done particularly well, and its 4 stop IS works as specified.

On the negative side, Canon have succeeded in their effort to design the lens tripod mount foot to be even worse than traditionally useless feet for the big white lenses.

The distal positioning of the zoom ring on the lens barrel is an irritant in lens operation.

Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM 1.4x Extender

Review Date: Dec 15, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: All good.
I wish the lens was one pound lighter, i.e., similar in weight to 500 II.

The lens has prime-like performance. The ability to "instantaneously" switch from 400mm to 560mm by a flick of the TC lever is priceless.
The lens is expensive, however, it's an engineering beauty with a very broad application scope.

Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM

Review Date: Dec 14, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: All good.

Kudos to Canon for getting this DO lens right, and pricing it right relative to other MkII supertelephoto lenses.
On top of all that, the lens was released as per the target date.

Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM

Review Date: Jun 15, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: All around performas as expected, no surprises in either direction.
None of any significance

This only a tentative review as I used the lens for no more than 45 minutes, mostly for hand-held BIF shooting, courtesy of a local friend who let me use his brand new lens.

600 II behaves very similar to 500 II, in fact if it wasn't for the additional heft, I could be fooled into believing I was shooting with the 500 II.

However, some aspects of AF response are similar to 800L.

Lastly, the lens is noticeably more difficult to handle than 500 f/4 MkI and 400 MkII, although all those lenses are of similar weight. After about 1/2 hr of fairly intense swinging the lens to and fro, my back began to hurt.

Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM

Review Date: Jun 4, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Everything of importance is good.
The tripod mount foot is too massive and it is placed too far to the front of the lens.

Nice lens.

Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM

Review Date: Oct 16, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Everything

400 f/2.8 IS MkI is an excellent lens. The MkII is even excellenter. (--:

Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS USM

Review Date: Jul 22, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $4,400.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: 400 DO is all about relatively small size and low weight for its focal length and nominal aperture. That's the selling point. AF drive speed is good on long focusing distance limiter setting.
IQ is not quite as good as 400 f/5.6 and a good copy of 100-400, but it is close. For some reason, and surprisingly, IS is not as effective as in 100-400. MFD is too long. The lens is overpriced.

Canon have succeeded in having a delightfully small and light 400 f/4 lens thru DO technology.
However, IQ has ended up being a compromise. Also, some sort of a 1st generation IS is used in the lens although the 2nd generation might have been available at the time. The MFD is very long.
The lens is way too expensive for what it does.

If you want a real light, sharp and fast focusing wildlife lens for a modest price, get 400 f/5.6 or 100-400 instead.

If you want a superior performer and are prepared to put up with the weight, get 500 f/4 instead.

400 DO is a luxury lens for those folks who value its portability more than anything else and do not mind a bit of an IQ shortfall.

Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM

Review Date: Apr 12, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $7,200.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: It's all super
None of any significance.

All I wanna say here is that....

(1) 400 f/2.8 IS is probably the best performing telephoto lens by Canon.
(2) The lens is quite heavy indeed, however, it is not intended to be used hand-held at all.

Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM

Review Date: Apr 12, 2011 Recommend? | Price paid: $6,500.00

Pros: Evrything about is good to excellent
None really. If it was 2 lb lighter it would be absolutely perfect.

I am on my third copy, and it's as good as the previous two.
The lens represents a happy optimum between nominal aperture, FL, AF speed and size/weight. Excellent IQ in all its aspects.
Handholdable in moderation for a person of average strength, although I wish its weight was more like the old 500 f/4.5L.

Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM

Review Date: Apr 11, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $12,500.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: The "reach" (obviously), IS, AF drive speed when in the focusing distance ballpark, image quality.
AF drive response is poor from very defocused state, front heavy and awkward to handhold, 20m to infinity focusing distance limiter is too long.

I've had this lens for a month now and it is pretty clear what the strengths and weaknesses are. I believe this kind of a lens rating should be based on the lens intended/advertised design features, and not on each user's expectations. However, in order to make the review more useful to people considering the lens purchase, I will state my more personalized experiences/views as well.

The lens succeeds as the ultimate FL instrument. Good image quality similar to 500 f/4 IS, very fast AF (only) on largely prefocused targets, good tracking performance when the target is large and it doesn't change focusing distance too fast, or in a major way, or too erratically. The subject isolation is also very high on distant targets, with fine background blur. Needless to say, 4 stop IS is very capable: this lens can produce blur free images of stationary/slow moving targets at surprisingly low shutter speeed values, when hand held.

However, my view is that 800L is not a suitable lens for generic wildlife photography where sudden and fast movement needs to be captured, or where a greatly variable focusing distance is encountered. Its AF behaviour is similar to a macro lens such as 180L on its full focusing distance range. That is probably an inherent design limitation of such a long lens with an extremely high defocus range. The lens being very nose heavy combined with a very narrow field of view aggravate the lens use for fast response photography hand-held.

People who always seem to be FL starved will probably be happy with 800L. Others moght find that 500 f/4 is a more flexible and more responsive wildlife lens available at significantly less money. In addition, the new 600 f/4 MkII merits a very close look too before plonking $12k+ on a new 800L.
800L is a very specialized long "reach" tool. Its high price doesn't make it the best tool, or even a good tool, for all wildlife photography applications.

Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM

Review Date: Nov 27, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $5,800.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: IQ is top notch, AF drive speed, while not exceptional, is adequate.
Heavy and clumsy for extended handholding. Expensive like most good productes by Canon.

I got my 2nd 500 f/4 lens a couple of months ago because that's the longest & fastest supertelephoto lens available that I can still use hand-held in moderation.

The lens IQ is beyond least as good as that of 300 f/2.8 IS.
AF drive speed is moderately fast. Quite a bit better than my 500 f/4.5L, but not as good as 300 f/2.8 IS. However, to me that is of secondary importance because the lens will not be used for fast action photography.

IMO the lens is really meant to be used on a pod, Walking around with 500 f/4 in my arms and shooting extensively gets to be quite onerous very quickly. In situations where neither IS nor f/4 aperture would benefit my pictures, I tend to reach for 500 f/4.5L lens because of its much lower weight and very similar IQ.

It is easy to see the direction in which Canon will improve this lens: trim some weight off, provide with the current generation IS and speed up the AF drive. Unfortunately those upgrades will likely result in a further major price increase on top of an already very expensive lens. That's the reason I decided to get the current generation 500 f/4 now which I could still somehow justify despite my limited use of it.

Canon EF 200mm f/2L IS USM

Review Date: Sep 25, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $5,300.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Ergonomics/handling features improved relative to 200 f/1.8. The IS may well be about 4 stops worth. AF drive is also faster. IQ is in the EF 300 f/2.8 league.
I can see no technical/performance reasons why the lens should cost much more than the 300 f/2.8 IS. Hopefully the price will come down closer to that level eventually.

A good way to look at the lens is relative to the 200 f/1.8 and 300 f/2.8 IS.

When it comes to lens IQ, construction, AF drive and IS effectiveness, the lens compares to or surpasses the 300 f/2.8.

The difference may not be big, but my 200 f/1.8 resolves detail a bit fact that's the only performance parameter (other than f/1.8) where the older lens is peerless.
That's why I plan on keeping both lenses.

The reason I gave the 200 f/2 IS an overall rating of 9 is that at this time I consider it overpriced for what it generally offers. Obviously, the lens is not a collectors item (yet) and its availability is not limited to a few offerings here and there by private sellers....those were the very factors which escalated the 200 f/1.8 price since its production demise.

Canon EF 200mm f/1.8L USM

Review Date: Jul 13, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Obviously f1.8, subject isolation, superb OoF rendering and bokeh, sharpness 2nd to none amongst telephotos, no aberrations of any sort.
Pod mount design/placement results in awkward handholding, lens strap lug position is very poor, the hood too massive, lens servicing could be a problem.

This is optically a surprisingly good lens. Its resolving power is superior to the 300 f/2.8's, EF 500 f/4 IS and EF 500 f/4.5 I have owned. The general IQ is simply excellent although the image colours seem just a shade flatter than what the current supertelephotos yield.
The AF is very precise and accurate on my lens, and the AF drive speed compares to the EF 500 f/4.5 which is not quite as fast as the EF 300 f/2.8 IS. However, that should be fast enough for most applications, I'd say.

Any time I use it, the results often turn out to be special regardless of how banal the photography contents might be.

It is fortunate for many folks that a well preserved copy of the lens could be had for less than $4k today. However, one should not be swayed by the cosmetic condition alone. Ensure that the lens is also fully functional, sharp and focus-calibrated. Like any other Canon lenses, even the new ones out of factory, not all 200 f/1.8 copies are performing equally.