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CanonEF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
 
4.7

(based on 326 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (235)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (80)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (9)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (1)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (1)

98%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Fast / accurate auto-focus (279)
  • Strong construction (213)
  • Consistent output (184)
  • Lightweight (175)
  • Durable (168)

Cons

  • Poor in low light (82)
  • Heavy (30)
  • Slow focus (13)
  • No image stabilization (9)
  • No IS (8)

Best Uses

  • Wildlife photos (235)
  • Sports/action (130)
  • Landscape/scenery (62)
  • Wildlife (58)
  • Night photography (7)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Photo enthusiast (150), Semi-pro photographer (61), Enthusiast (40), Pro photographer (24), Casual photographer (16)
    • Was this a gift?:
    • No (219), Yes (5)

Most Liked Positive Review

 

Excellent lens at an affordable price!

I have owned the canon 400mm f/5.6 L for about nine months now. It is super sharp and produces great results consistently. The autofocus is very fast, accurate, and quiet. The...Read complete review

I have owned the canon 400mm f/5.6 L for about nine months now. It is super sharp and produces great results consistently. The autofocus is very fast, accurate, and quiet. The build quality is great and it is lightweight when compared to other offerings in the 400mm focal length range. It is a great walk around lens and is easily handheld for longer periods of time. I primarily use this lens for bird photography and have had excellent results, mostly handholding. f/4 would be nice in lower light situations, but the huge price difference of an f/4 super telephoto is not affordable for me at this point. Although IS would be a welcome addition, it would likely increase the price significantly, as well as the weight. At larger apertures the out of focus elements (bokeh) are very pleasing. It would be nice to have a slightly closer minimum focusing distance in some cases, but with wildlife photography the animals are generally far enough away that it is not an issue. Paired with a crop body (especially he 7D mark ii), where you have a 1.6 crop factor, you can have a great start up bird photography package at effectively 640mm for a fraction of the price of a full frame body and a 500mm or 600mm lens. Super zoom offerings from Tamron and Sigma are slower (at f/6.3 on the long end) and not as sharp. I am willing to sacrifice IS and the potential versatility of a zoom for the sharpness, build quality, and excellent results from this prime lens. There is a reason this lens is still in production after over 21 years! I can assure you that you will not find a better lens for bird photography in this price range. Nothing else will touch it!

VS

Most Liked Negative Review

 

I think I would go with the 100-400

For the most part, I am finding this lens to be useable, but not very desirable. The quality is great (at times); good lighting really helps that.
I have read many...Read complete review

For the most part, I am finding this lens to be useable, but not very desirable. The quality is great (at times); good lighting really helps that.
I have read many reviews that say "IS" isn't needed, however I have shots at 1/2000 handheld that are not sharp - and I'm only 30 years old, so I'm not fatigued by holding it or shaking uncontrollably.
At times, it can be a bit on the long side if you are closer to your subject, but that's just something you learn to work with - it actually makes the shots a bit more challenging and forces you to try different compositions to get something workable (for instance at the zoo where you are close to a subject).
I have used it with my 7D and tripod and gotten mixed results; with a monopod and got seemingly better results (possibly because I was more used to it); handheld and not gotten the greatest results; and with a 1.4x III and gotten semi fuzzy results (course it's manual focus with this combo).
I also tend to find that manual focusing with any setup is better; autofocus seems to search significantly and when it finally focuses, it is focused in the wrong place (even with pinpoint focusing set). But like I said, if you can get past all that and practice with it a bit, you can produce great results. Low light focusing is terrible; if the focus is way off initially, even in good lighting it won't focus (and its my second one - I figure this is normal).
I am not 100% sure yet, but I think I may sell it and buy the 100-400 from a friend. I originally almost went that route, but I already had the 70-200 2.8L IS and figured that would do fine, but swapping lenses constantly is a bit troublesome and forces you to carry more gear.
Bottom line - try renting or borrowing it and the 100-400 if thats your budget. Or dream about the 400mm 2.8L.

Reviewed by 326 customers

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(3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Now with IS! (sort of)

By Jazzcaster

from Alexandria, Louisiana

About Me Photo Enthusiast

Verified Reviewer

Pros

  • Consistent Output
  • Durable
  • Fast / accurate auto-focus
  • Lightweight
  • Rugged
  • Strong Construction

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Birds
    • Sports/Action
    • Wildlife Photos

    Comments about Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens:

    I have owned this lens for 13 years, buying it when I was still shooting film with my Elan 7E (and I'm still waiting for eye-controlled focus to return to Canon's lineup). It has been tack sharp on every camera I have ever used. On Canon DSLR's and with the focus limiter set to 8.5 meters, focus is impossibly fast.

    Before purchasing this lens, and since, I have tried a number of different 400mm lenses and, honestly, nothing comes close to the quality of this lens in this price range.

    When I moved to Micro Four Thirds, it was a natural bird lens at an 800mm equivalent fov. Even on the smaller sensor, it is pixel-sharp. The lack of IS had always been a bit of a minus, but with Olympus m43 bodies having in-body IS, auto-focus became the acceptable trade off. Not anymore. With the Metabones adapter to an Olympus, it now functions with IS, reasonably fast auto-focus and electronic aperture control and is the perfect, reasonably-sized birding lens.

    • Was this a gift?:
    • No

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    5.0

    Excellent!

    By Randy

    from Hamburg, NJ

    About Me Casual Photographer

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

    • Fast / accurate auto-focus
    • Lightweight
    • Nice Bokeh
    • Strong Construction

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Wildlife Photos

      Comments about Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens:

      Great sharpness, light enough to carry all day, extremely well built!

      • Was this a gift?:
      • No

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      (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

       
      5.0

      Amazing lens

      By Jeffo

      from Simi Valley, California

      Comments about Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens:

      I've owned this lens for over a year now and it's always with me. I live in California and photograph a lot of humming birds, surfers and sunsets, always handheld on my cropped sensor Canon 70d, thus turning this lens into a 640 mm f 5.6 (Usually 1250 sec.1250 Iso) with very little noise. Yes it's light enough to carry and well balanced with attached battery grip.
      This superb prime lens quietly focuses immediately on whatever you point it at and is tack sharp with beautiful color.
      I've shopped thru BnH photo since the mid 70's and consider this an exceptional buy for such an unbelievable piece of glass.

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      5.0

      Nice workhorse lense

      By Brian

      from Arlington, VA

      About Me Semi-pro Photographer

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

      • Consistent Output

      Cons

        Best Uses

        • Wildlife Photos

        Comments about Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens:

        I have used this now in a couple of photo excursions and have gotten very good results. Photos are very sharp and I haven't missed faster glass or vibration reduction. Excellent for the price point so far.

        • Was this a gift?:
        • No

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        4.0

        An old go-to lens

        By Joe

        from Massachusetts

        About Me Photo Enthusiast

        Verified Buyer

        Pros

        • Fast / accurate auto-focus
        • Lightweight
        • Rugged

        Cons

          Best Uses

          • Wildlife Photos

          Comments about Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens:

          I use it mostly for birding. Very good for birds in flight. Would love to see Canon make this lens with IS.

          • Was this a gift?:
          • No

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          (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

           
          4.0

          No frills, lightweight, sharp as a tack performance.

          By Jim E.

          from Macon, Georgia

          About Me Semi-pro Photographer

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

          • Fast / accurate auto-focus
          • Lightweight
          • Price

          Cons

          • No Image Stabilization
          • Poor in Low Light

          Best Uses

          • Wildlife Photos

          Comments about Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens:

          I bought this lens for the sole purpose of improving my bird photo flight shots. I have a longer focal length lens with bigger glass, but the weight of hand holding became a factor. This is a lens that I can handhold all day provided the light is good. The autofocus acquires the birds in flight quickly and combined with a 7d body locks in and easily tracks the bird. I was using a 300 mm f4 L IS lens for flight photography, but needed the 1.4x extender to get good results. Using the extender slowed down acquisition and tracking, although I do like the IS function missing in the 400mm 5.6L. I realize there is a trade off to adding IS to the 400mm in that the weight increases. I am getting sharp images without IS however and am happy with the performance. As a bonus, used on a tripod, this lens would be a great starter lens for bird photographers on a budget.
          Positives: price, weight, target acquisition and tracking, sharpness
          Negatives: no IS, so low light will require a monopod or tripod
          Overall, I like the lens and would buy it again.

          • Was this a gift?:
          • No

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          (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

           
          4.0

          Perfect tele lens for BIF

          By AL

          from mELBOURNE, FLORIDA

          About Me Photo Enthusiast

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

          • Consistent Output
          • Durable
          • Fast / accurate auto-focus
          • Lightweight
          • Nice Bokeh
          • Rugged
          • Strong Construction

          Cons

          • Poor in Low Light

          Best Uses

          • Wildlife Photos

          Comments about Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens:

          I use this lens for Bird Photography. I find it has fast focusing and is light enough so your are not tired when shoot BIF.

          I use this lens more than my Tamron 150-600 lens.

          • Was this a gift?:
          • No

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          4.0

          Old but still good

          By Jon

          from Tulsa, OK

          About Me Semi-pro Photographer

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

          • Consistent Output
          • Easily Interchangeable
          • Fast / accurate auto-focus
          • Nice Bokeh
          • Rugged
          • Strong Construction

          Cons

          • Poor in Low Light

          Best Uses

          • Landscape/Scenery
          • Sports/Action
          • Wildlife Photos

          Comments about Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens:

          Very good lens. I just wish it had IS. As old as this lens is I can't believe they haven't updated it yet. I don't want the 100-400 zoom as I already have a 70-300 and I want a fixed lens above the 300mm. Can't afford the 500!

          • Was this a gift?:
          • No

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          5.0

          EF 400mm

          By skip

          from auburn Wa.

          About Me Semi-pro Photographer

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

            Cons

            • Poor in Low Light

            Best Uses

            • Landscape/Scenery

            Comments about Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens:

            Best 400mm for the price

            • Was this a gift?:
            • No

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            (6 of 6 customers found this review helpful)

             
            5.0

            Great value for money

            By z1hou

            from Katy,TX

            About Me Photo Enthusiast

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

            • Consistent Output
            • Easily Interchangeable
            • Fast / accurate auto-focus
            • Lightweight
            • Nice Bokeh
            • Rugged
            • Strong Construction

            Cons

              Best Uses

              • Wildlife Photos

              Comments about Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens:

              I do a fair amount of bird photography and have so far managed with the Canon 200mm f2.8. I wanted the extra reach and after reviewing a lot of examples shot by expert photographers decided that since I use the tripod/monopod most of the time, that this lens should be good enough for me, even though it does not have IS. The pictures are sharp, colors are vibrant and the bokeh is more than acceptable for a f5.6. I am very happy with this lens.

              • Was this a gift?:
              • No

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              (9 of 10 customers found this review helpful)

               
              5.0

              JUST A SIMPLE WOW FOR THIS LENS...

              By ANDREAS B.

              from PALM HARBOR FL

              About Me Semi-pro Photographer

              Verified Reviewer

              Pros

              • Consistent Output
              • Durable
              • Easily Interchangeable
              • Fast / accurate auto-focus
              • Lightweight
              • Nice Bokeh
              • Rugged
              • Strong Construction

              Cons

                Best Uses

                • Landscape/Scenery
                • Sports/Action
                • Wildlife Photos

                Comments about Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens:

                I HAVE A 7D MARKII AND THIS IS MY PERFECT WILDLIFE LENS THAT I HAVE EVER HAD, I RETURNED THE 150-600 SIGMA C TO GET THIS ONE, CAUSE IT IS SO MUCH BETTER AND SHARPER, AND FASTER...
                YOU WILL NOT LOOSE WITH THIS LENS, JUST MAKE SURE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE GETTING IN TO BEFORE YOU BUY IT..

                I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS FOR NEWBIES...

                • Was this a gift?:
                • No

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                (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

                 
                5.0

                Impressive Lens

                By USAntigoon

                from Rochester Hills, MI

                About Me Photo Enthusiast

                Verified Reviewer

                Pros

                • Consistent Output
                • Nice Bokeh
                • Strong Construction

                Cons

                  Best Uses

                  • Night Photography
                  • Wildlife Photos

                  Comments about Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens:

                  The sweet spots are f/8 and f/11 ..With a Canon 6D you can increase the ISO settings without too much noise. I had spectacular razor sharp results with speeds 1/1000 and above..
                  This is my first experience with this super telelens and there is indeed a learning curve. Keep in mind the distance between you and the subject/object is very important as well. The farther/further the target, you have to keep in mind the AF will have some issues, use the MF instead. I haven't tried moonshots yet, this will be next on the "tryout" list.
                  Conclusion: definitely a winner and to be honest, I am sold on "prime" lenses..

                  • Was this a gift?:
                  • No

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                  (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

                   
                  5.0

                  Great lens

                  By RCOC

                  from SW Florida

                  About Me Semi-pro Photographer

                  Verified Reviewer

                  Pros

                  • Durable
                  • Fast / accurate auto-focus
                  • Rugged
                  • Strong Construction

                  Cons

                  • Heavy
                  • Poor in Low Light

                  Best Uses

                  • Wildlife Photos

                  Comments about Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens:

                  Wildlife photography in South America. I usually mount it on a lightweight Gitzo carbon fiber traveler's tripod and get excellent results.

                  • Was this a gift?:
                  • No

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                  (12 of 12 customers found this review helpful)

                   
                  5.0

                  Old faithful

                  By Elliott

                  from Canberra, Australia

                  About Me Semi-pro Photographer

                  Pros

                  • cheap
                  • Extremely Sharp
                  • Fast / accurate auto-focus
                  • Lightweight
                  • Strong Construction

                  Cons

                  • Poor in Low Light

                  Best Uses

                  • Bird photography
                  • Candid Street
                  • Daytime Outdoor Sport
                  • Wildlife Photos

                  Comments about Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens:

                  Basically, in good light shooting wildlife there is nothing sharper than this lens at this price range. It's not easy to use well handheld, but once you get the hang of it persistently good results are achieved. It is really lightweight due to the lack of IS which makes for an extremely well balanced lens. It is a lot easier to handhold than than its slightly faster/zoom competitors. The other lenses are also very 'top heavy' with the IS. That problem doesn't exist here.
                  Fast auto-focus, but will start searching on small birds in branch-heavy backgrounds (unless you are using a set autofocus point and have very steady hands).
                  Awesome on a wimberley head.
                  As long as I keep using Canon bodies with EF mounts, I will own this lens.

                  • Was this a gift?:
                  • No

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                  (3 of 20 customers found this review helpful)

                   
                  5.0

                  PRIME

                  By Douglas

                  from Russell Springs Ky.

                  About Me Pro Photographer

                  Verified Buyer

                  Pros

                  • Fast / accurate auto-focus
                  • Nice Bokeh
                  • Rugged
                  • Strong Construction

                  Cons

                    Best Uses

                    • Wildlife Photos

                    Comments about Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens:

                    I bought this lens way over a year ago, and I'm just now posting a review because I thought I should use the lens first.

                    • Was this a gift?:
                    • No

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                    (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

                     
                    5.0

                    Great lens for birders!

                    By Johnny Questionable

                    from Hollis, Queens, NY

                    About Me Photo Enthusiast

                    Verified Reviewer

                    Pros

                    • Consistent Output
                    • Durable
                    • Fast / accurate auto-focus
                    • Lightweight
                    • Rugged

                    Cons

                    • Poor in Low Light

                    Best Uses

                    • Sports/Action
                    • Wildlife Photos

                    Comments about Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens:

                    I bought this lens used from B&H and could not be more pleased. I chose it over the Sigma & Tamron 150-600mm zooms because of better image quality and highly positive reviews. Add mine to the list. I'm new to bird photography and have had two outings with the 400. Its autofocus is fast and accurate. Shots are tack sharp. Surprisingly hand-holdable, but for best images, use a tripod. I also got the EF 1.4X extender, which really brings the birds in close. At only f/5.6 max aperture, you'll need bright light and/or a high ISO setting. Nikon doesn't have a 400mm in this price range! For the money, as good a lens as any I've owned. I can't wait 'til my next outing.

                    • Was this a gift?:
                    • No

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                    (30 of 31 customers found this review helpful)

                     
                    5.0

                    Excellent lens at an affordable price!

                    By Brian

                    from Huntigton Beach, CA

                    About Me Photo Enthusiast

                    Pros

                    • Consistent Output
                    • Durable
                    • Fast / accurate auto-focus
                    • Lightweight
                    • Nice Bokeh
                    • Strong Construction

                    Cons

                    • Poor in Low Light

                    Best Uses

                    • Wildlife Photos

                    Comments about Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens:

                    I have owned the canon 400mm f/5.6 L for about nine months now. It is super sharp and produces great results consistently. The autofocus is very fast, accurate, and quiet. The build quality is great and it is lightweight when compared to other offerings in the 400mm focal length range. It is a great walk around lens and is easily handheld for longer periods of time. I primarily use this lens for bird photography and have had excellent results, mostly handholding. f/4 would be nice in lower light situations, but the huge price difference of an f/4 super telephoto is not affordable for me at this point. Although IS would be a welcome addition, it would likely increase the price significantly, as well as the weight. At larger apertures the out of focus elements (bokeh) are very pleasing. It would be nice to have a slightly closer minimum focusing distance in some cases, but with wildlife photography the animals are generally far enough away that it is not an issue. Paired with a crop body (especially he 7D mark ii), where you have a 1.6 crop factor, you can have a great start up bird photography package at effectively 640mm for a fraction of the price of a full frame body and a 500mm or 600mm lens. Super zoom offerings from Tamron and Sigma are slower (at f/6.3 on the long end) and not as sharp. I am willing to sacrifice IS and the potential versatility of a zoom for the sharpness, build quality, and excellent results from this prime lens. There is a reason this lens is still in production after over 21 years! I can assure you that you will not find a better lens for bird photography in this price range. Nothing else will touch it!

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                    (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

                     
                    5.0

                    SuperbTelephoto That is Lightweight

                    By Ezra

                    from NYC

                    Pros

                    • Durable
                    • Fast / accurate auto-focus
                    • Lightweight

                    Cons

                    • AF

                    Best Uses

                    • Landscape/Scenery
                    • Sports/Action
                    • Wildlife Photos

                    Comments about Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens:

                    The Canon EF 400mm (Prime) is a true delight. This is my first Super Telephoto lens from Canon (And most affordable Canon Super Telephoto version) I absolutely love this lens. I will never sell this bad boy because it is really that good.

                    1) The build quality is absolutely superb and built like a mini tank. Extremely durable. The white/cream, black and red line color scheme looks like a space aged telescope; very impressive design. Absolutely no slack, every screw and mechanism is tight and right. The built-in lens hood is very convenient for a lens of this magnitude, which extends outward even further making the EF 400mm look like a 'rifle scope' of sorts.

                    2) The AF is very fast but can get 'confused' if you have multiple subjects like branches and trees for wildlife photography. I just switch it to MF mode, piece of cake.

                    3) Shots come out very clean and crisp even at F/5.6 and with no IS

                    4) I even have the 2x tele-converter (Not Canon), despite losing two stops of light, dealing with now F/11.2 (or 12) and managing camera shake, shots still come out very good, not the best, but really good at now 800mm!!! You can use a tripod for more stability.

                    5) Compared to other Super Telephoto lenses, this is very lightweight, but may still cause some neck strain with camera strap. I tend to hold both camera and lenses with one hand.

                    What more can I say, if you interested in getting a Canon Super Telephoto lens for about $1,000 used and plan on using it consistently, I say go for it.

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                    • No

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                    (5 of 5 customers found this review helpful)

                     
                    5.0

                    Classic Glass Lives Up to Its Reputation

                    By Bird Lover

                    from Missoula, MT, USA

                    About Me Semi-pro Photographer

                    Verified Buyer

                    Pros

                    • Consistent Output
                    • Durable
                    • Easily Interchangeable
                    • Fast / accurate auto-focus
                    • Lightweight
                    • Nice Bokeh
                    • Rugged
                    • Strong Construction

                    Cons

                    • Poor in Low Light

                    Best Uses

                    • Birds in flight
                    • Sports/Action

                    Comments about Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens:

                    My main subject for photography is avian life. I've gone to this lens after using the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM for 4 years in the field. If you're shooting at high enough shutter speed in good light the lack of IS isn't really noticeable. I enjoy the light weight and easy handling of this lens, it's noticeable compared to my former go-to. The AF is extremely fast.

                    • Was this a gift?:
                    • No

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                    (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

                     
                    5.0

                    Fantastic affordable super telephoto

                    By newsphotographer

                    from Chicago, IL

                    About Me Pro Photographer

                    Verified Buyer

                    Pros

                    • Consistent Output
                    • Fast / accurate auto-focus
                    • Lightweight
                    • Nice Bokeh
                    • Strong Construction

                    Cons

                      Best Uses

                      • Landscape/Scenery
                      • Sports/Action
                      • Stuff That's Far Away
                      • Wildlife Photos

                      Comments about Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens:

                      All the rave reviews of this lens are accurate. This had been on my want-list for a while. For it's price, it's hard to beat and there's nothing in this focal length with the quality and price point to compete. With todays high-ISO performing cameras this lens is even more versatile and hand-holding without image stabilization is not as much an issue as it was when this lens was originally released. The focus is incredibly fast, on par with the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II. I also own the 300mm f/4L IS, and after only a few days of shooting with this lens I already love this 400mm and know it's a great addition. With the combination of image quality, light weight, fast autofocus, great reach and affordability there is no wonder it has been around for so long.

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                      • No

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