REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

by PowerReviews
CanonEF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens
 
4.7

(based on 1094 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (817)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (249)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (22)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (4)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (2)

98%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Fast / accurate auto-focus (877)
  • Strong construction (785)
  • Durable (613)
  • Consistent output (590)
  • Rugged (481)

Cons

  • Heavy (585)
  • Poor in low light (113)
  • Lens creep (66)
  • Slow focus (42)
  • Blurry focus (15)

Best Uses

  • Wildlife photos (658)
  • Sports/action (647)
  • Landscape/scenery (351)
  • Wildlife (241)
  • General purpose (78)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Photo enthusiast (418), Semi-pro photographer (196), Enthusiast (160), Semi-professional (74), Casual photographer (70)
    • Was this a gift?:
    • No (586), Yes (37)

Most Liked Positive Review

 

Excellent lens, but learn how to use it

I use this lens for wild life and distance shooting. I have wanted this lens for some time, and recently raised the funds to buy it on sale from B&H. Read complete review

I use this lens for wild life and distance shooting. I have wanted this lens for some time, and recently raised the funds to buy it on sale from B&H.

I had researched this item a great deal before pulling the (rather costly) trigger, and had seen a number of posts about "soft copies" and bad copies of the lens.

After using this for about 1500 shots, I think I can say; there are no soft copies but, with respect, perhaps just soft users....Any telephoto lens requires learning how to use it. A tiny tremor at the camera translates into blurred images at distance, so if you're shooting out to 400mm, you'll need to develop new skills to get sharp images.

Imagine holding a laser pointer, pointed at a wall a foot away; the laser dot seems stable; point at a wall 50 yards away, and the dot is dancing all over the place, because a small movement at the source becomes more amplified with distance. What does this mean for users of this lens?

When shooting wildlife or air shows or whatnot out to 400mm, three practices are critical:

1. Tripod, or at least monopod the lens. Stability is key. Tripod all the time, not just night time.
2. Fast shutter speeds. Whether you shoot on shutter priority or in manual, make sure the shutter speeds are as fast as you can get with the available light, without cranking the ISO too high. Fast shutters mean less blur, but high ISOs mean noise and unpleasing images. Find your sweet spot.
3. There are a number of things you need to do for accurate focus (setting the focus to AI Servo for moving targets, setting the proper parameters in CF Menu Settings for auto focus). Make sure you research the correct settings for what you plan to shoot (birds in flight require different settings than static objects, which you can nail by going into Live View, zooming, focusing on the static subject with the autofocus on, then turning off the Live View and turning off the auto focus on the lens; now, your static object--owl chicks in a nest--that don't move much will be tack sharp, a technique for static targets that beats through the lens focusing at times). Moving targets require a whole other bunch of skills, and the tips are out there in camera clubs and online.

Anyways, the more I shoot, the more I learn that technique is KEY with this lens.

As I wrote earlier, there are no soft copies......just soft users. Practice with this lens to get the results you want.

Other than that, this is a strong, solidly-made lens. I like the push-pull zoom. The tightening ring is a must to use when walking to avoid lens creep or worse, sudden extensions of the lens that can damage the body.

Its a heavy, solid piece that will produce great shots if you learn how to use it. It produces amazing bokeh, and will produce tack-sharp or soft images, depending on how you use it.

Its also not the fastest lens, but you know that before you bought it, right? And its not a flat-50, light and easy to walk around with all day, but you knew that before your bought it, right?

Listen, this is a great lens. Its not going to get you grains of dust on the lunar surface at 400 mm, but it will give you really nice shots in daylight for sports and wild life if you use the proper shutter speeds, ISO settings and overall technique. Research tips and suggestions that are available to make you use the lens to its potential.

If you expect plug and play, that is to say, amazing National Geographic images without practice or technique, you'll be disappointed. If you learn how to use this tool, you'll find its a high end, excellent tool that will produce excellent results when used properly.

I love buyng from B&H; fast shipping, delicate items packed to withstand thermonuclear blasts, quick communications....and the best prices out there by and by. B&H is one reliabe and solid retailer, which is why I have spent the equivalent of a child's college tuition in purchases....oh, the humanity!

VS

Most Liked Negative Review

 

Disappointed For the Price

As a professional, I usually shoot landscapes but I have recently started to get more into wildlife. After much research, I pulled the trigger and bought this.

Right out of...Read complete review

As a professional, I usually shoot landscapes but I have recently started to get more into wildlife. After much research, I pulled the trigger and bought this.

Right out of the box the lens feels well built and heavy. I was surprised at the size of the lens. It is smaller then the 70-200mm f/2.8 when zoomed out and only looks truely impressive in size with the lens cap on. It it not weathered sealed so using it in damp or dusty environments is out (which was not a problem for me).

The f/5.6 at the 400 end is not fast but is not overly slow either. A monopod or tripod is required to get shots in shadow or overcast situations. Unless using a flash, even wide open with IS on, don't think about using this indoors. Images looked sharp at 25% but at 100% lens blur could be seen even with IS on. Pixel peepers will be even more disappointed - but again this is not an indoor lens at f/4-f/5.6. If you do use this indoors without a flash, you will need a tripod and a stationary subject.

Overall the optical quality was not impressive. My copy didn't suffer from bad chromatic aberration or purple fringing but there was some vignetting zoomed in. Since it is a telephoto, I didn't see any barrel distortion.

The resolution and sharpness, however, left much to be desired. While shooting in bright noon sunlight photos taken at all focal lengths were not tack sharp. (I realize that every person has their own perspective of what tack sharp is and some will say what I call soft to be tack sharp. So let me help: I define tack sharp as the ability to see the black parts of a dragon fly's wings or individual pieces (quills) of a bird's feathers with little to no blur on them - this lens certainty does not produce sharpness to that level especially at 400mm)

It seemed that 200mm was the sharpest falling off slightly to 300mm. At 300mm or more the lens got softer and was softest at 400mm. The softness of the lens was the biggest disappointment. It was much softer then my cheaper 300mm non-canon non-IS lens. Even stopped down to f/8 (which seemed to be the sweet spot for my copy) the images were still much too blurry for professional printing or sale.

While shooting some sharpness tests to determine the quality of my copy, I noticed that even when setup under bright light on a tripod and using the same settings, the lens seemed to have an 80% fail rate for usable sharp images. Only two out of ten images I shot were acceptably sharp and all the others suffered from softness - often badly. This was an unacceptable failure rate for me.

The IS is noisy and jittery which is to be expected since this lens uses Canon's first generation Image Stabilization system developed back in the 1980's. I found that on my copy I was only able to get mildly acceptable results at one f-stop lower... not the 2 or 3 they advertise. I found the IS function useless unless I was to hand hold the lens at 100mm in bright noon nunlight. Besides no one should be handholding a 400mm lens if they want sharp images anyway.

The lens performed much better with IS off and on a monopod thus I found the IS function to be a waste and not worth the extra money for the feature.

On positive notes the focus was fast and the lens was comfortable on a monopod. Tracking BIF (birds in flight) was easy and I did get some amazing shots (although they were still too soft for the price of the lens). The lens hood was nice as well but it would have looked better white.

I did notice that like all white L glass, there is an issue with scaring wildlife and I did on several occasion, not being able to get as close as I could with my black lenses. (They do sell lens covers for this but they still will not hide 60% of the white parts when zoomed in since this is a push / pull design.)

All in all I found the build quality to be good but the optical resolution (sharpness) to be much to soft for my needs. I also didn't need the 100-200 range and didn't find the Image Stabilization to be useful since a tripod or monopod will result in sharper, more professional images. I ended up returning this lens based on the softness issues.

I have decided to either go for the 400mm f/5.6L prime or save up for the 500mm prime. The 400mm is actually cheaper then this lens by a couple hundred bucks and it is the same wide open aperture. The 400mm prime does not have IS but again I didn't find it helpful. Additionally as a prime, the 400 should be sharper then the 100-400 and research I have done on the lens suggest that it in fact is.

I would have kept this lens if it had been $500 less but this lens had too many negatives to justify the price.

I am checking that "I am not recommending this to a friend" but here is a side not to that:

If you are just using this lens for a hobby and will not be selling your photos and need the extra 100-200mm range then this lens might make sense to you. But if you are a professional looking to get extra reach and also demand sharpness, save up and go with the 500mm or 400mm f/2.8 or save some money and get the 400mm f/5.6 prime.

Reviewed by 1094 customers

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5.0

Know Your Lens

By Sailrnav

from Dayton, OH

About Me Photo Enthusiast

Pros

  • Consistent Output
  • Durable

Cons

  • Heavy

Best Uses

  • Wildlife Photos

Comments about Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens:

Push-Pull is very quick, just takes time to get used to it. I have had this lens for 3 years. After a year if use I thought this lens was soft on focus. I sent it back to Canon for cleaning and adjustment. They replaced the forward optic lenses and recommended that I change UV filter and micro adjust the lens. I bought a B+W UV filter and completed the micro adjust process. Since then my results have been spectacular. This lens is tack sharp from 6' to infinity.

  • Was this a gift?:
  • No

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5.0

Love it!

By Kiki

from Seattle, WA

About Me Photo Enthusiast

Verified Buyer

Pros

  • Durable
  • Easily Interchangeable
  • Fast / accurate auto-focus

Cons

  • Heavy

Best Uses

  • Wildlife Photos

Comments about Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens:

Excellent lens -- great, clear photos with powerful zoom capabilities. Not so big that you have to use a tripod.

  • Was this a gift?:
  • No

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4.0

Excellent Results with Lens

By amcan

from Sarasota Florida

About Me Photo Enthusiast

Verified Buyer

Pros

  • Consistent Output
  • Fast / accurate auto-focus

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Lens Creep
  • Thin Strap On Case

Best Uses

  • Landscape/Scenery
  • Wildlife Photos

Comments about Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens:

I have had this lens for 10 days and though had a sore forearm for the first two days - since I prefer to shoot "hand-held" - I seem to have found a way to hold camera to my advantage - no sore arm. While my hand shakes a little when focusing, due to the heavy weight of this lens - the Image Stabilizer feature ensures sharp results. Since this lens offers such clarity I am able to crop photos and still see detail. I photograph wildlife - mostly birds - and so far am having great success with this lens, over my other 55-250mm lens. I post my nature photos onto 3 separate Nature Groups and get compliments on my shots.

  • Was this a gift?:
  • No

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5.0

Welcome to the pros

By Virginia Rick

from Manassas, VA

About Me Semi-pro Photographer

Verified Buyer

Pros

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

Cons

  • Heavy

Best Uses

  • Landscape/Scenery
  • Sports/Action
  • Video
  • Wildlife Photos

Comments about Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens:

I wasn't sure at first if the price of this lens was worth it until I compared it to my other telephoto zoom. I have a 100-300 Canon that's in the $+ range and have used it for several years. The photos taken were pretty sharp and I was pretty happy with it, until I tried out the 100-400. I shot duplicate photos with both lenses using the Canon 70D. Shot for shot the 100-400 photos were clearer and crisper. I enlarge my pictures to 16 x 20 and panorama up to 16 x 36, and they're displayed in a couple of galleries. Consequently, I need them to be exceedingly sharp. This lens delivers.

  • Was this a gift?:
  • No

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5.0

Great lens.

By Rick

from Ft. Myers, Fl.

About Me Semi-pro Photographer

Verified Buyer

Pros

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

Cons

  • Heavy

Best Uses

  • Landscape/Scenery
  • Sports/Action
  • Wildlife Photos

Comments about Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens:

I just bought this lens again after having mine stolen in Europe. I take this lens where ever I travel. With my trusty 24-105 and this 100 to 400, I have a huge focal range to cover just about any situation. Its a must have for me!

  • Was this a gift?:
  • No

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4.0

Amazing focus, great quality pictures!!

By Miguel

from Miami, Fl.

About Me Photo Enthusiast

Verified Reviewer

Pros

  • Rugged
  • Strong Construction

Cons

  • Heavy

Best Uses

  • Landscape/Scenery
  • Wildlife Photos

Comments about Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens:

I use this lens for pictures of rocket launches at Cape Canaveral, Fl. and wild life photography at Everglades National Park I use it at night time and day time, very good pictures if placed on a tripod for shots at 400 mm with a Canon 7D.

  • Was this a gift?:
  • No

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(1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Great lens

By jim

from Richmond Va

Comments about Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens:

Just bought this to use on an couple upcoming trips. This lens is very well built. It took a few minutes to adjust to using a slide zoom versus a twist type but it works well. Excellent optics.

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5.0

Great Lens, first picture was perfect

By Pistolero Jim

from Prairie City, Oregon

About Me Photo Enthusiast

Verified Buyer

Pros

  • Durable
  • Nice Bokeh

Cons

    Best Uses

      Comments about Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens:

      I will use this lens for wildlife and landscapes.The first picture I took was perfect.

      • Was this a gift?:
      • No

      Share this review

       
      5.0

      Great

      By Andres

      from Palm Beach Florida

      About Me Semi-pro Photographer

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

      • Consistent Output
      • Durable
      • Easily Interchangeable
      • Nice Bokeh
      • Strong Construction

      Cons

      • Tough To Attach

      Best Uses

      • Landscape/Scenery
      • Macro Photography
      • Sports/Action
      • Video
      • Weddings/Events
      • Wildlife Photos

      Comments about Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens:

      I am using this for a documentary I am working on. They are great lens

      • Was this a gift?:
      • No

      Share this review

       
      5.0

      Perfect for Sports

      By Mr. Brent

      from Sumter, SC

      About Me Pro Photographer

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

      • Consistent Output
      • Fast / accurate auto-focus

      Cons

      • Heavy

      Best Uses

      • Sports/Action

      Comments about Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens:

      Purchased this lens for football season and in the games that I have photographed so far this season, this is just what the doctor ordered. Brings you right into the action and is fast enough for most of the fields you will photograph at.

      • Was this a gift?:
      • No

      Share this review

       
      4.0

      On my second lens in 14 years

      By Jim the Runner

      from San Jose, CA

      About Me Semi-pro Photographer

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

      • Consistent Output

      Cons

      • Heavy

      Best Uses

      • Sports/Action

      Comments about Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens:

      I use the lens for automotive photography and video. Stabilization is good and the lens is probably capable of far better shots than I produce. I try to be gentle with it and handle it with care. Every time I send it in to CPS for cleaning, it seems to need several hundred dollars worth of repairs (over $ last time). The velcro latch on the pouch broke, as did one of the zippers. Even though I've requested they be repaired by CPS, they never have done it.

      • Was this a gift?:
      • No

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      (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

       
      5.0

      Canon 100-400 Lens

      By Mary

      from Illinois

      About Me Casual Photographer

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

      • Durable
      • Easily Interchangeable

      Cons

        Best Uses

        • Sports/Action

        Comments about Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens:

        Pictures with this lens were crystal clear.

        • Was this a gift?:
        • No

        Share this review

        (7 of 7 customers found this review helpful)

         
        5.0

        OMG-This lens gets me close to my birds

        By Ronnie

        from Chicago

        About Me Photo Enthusiast

        Verified Buyer

        Pros

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

        Cons

        • Heavy

        Best Uses

        • Landscape/Scenery
        • Sports/Action
        • Wildlife Photos

        Comments about Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens:

        Huge differences in results when zoomed at 200-300 mm at 6 ft compared to 400mm. (DOF issue)

        I have been using this lens to photograph my backyard birds. One very important leason learned is about sharpness of the photo and how shallow the Depth of Field can be when zoomed at 400mm at 6 ft from my birds.
        *** Don't confuse DOF issues with Sharpness.

        Much happerier now that I know.

        • Was this a gift?:
        • No

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        (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

         
        5.0

        Impressed so far

        By Ronnie

        from Chicago

        About Me Photo Enthusiast

        Verified Reviewer

        Pros

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

        Cons

        • Heavy

        Best Uses

        • Wildlife Photos

        Comments about Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens:

        Just got my lens today. Took a good shot of a nesting house wren in my back yard. Used my 7D with a pair of speedlites.

        • Was this a gift?:
        • No

        Share this review

        (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

         
        5.0

        I wish I bought sooner.

        By Herman

        from Florida

        About Me Photo Enthusiast

        Verified Buyer

        Pros

        • Durable
        • Rugged
        • Strong Construction

        Cons

        • Heavy

        Best Uses

        • Indoors/Low Light
        • Landscape/Scenery
        • Sports/Action

        Comments about Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens:

        It was Excellent, make sure you got a matching body, I start with canon 6d(iso up to 102400). Plan to get the Canon 5d in the future.

        • Was this a gift?:
        • No

        Share this review

         
        5.0

        impressive lens

        By greco

        from wisconsin

        About Me Photo Enthusiast

        Verified Buyer

        Pros

        • Durable
        • Easily Interchangeable
        • Strong Construction

        Cons

          Best Uses

          • Landscape/Scenery

          Comments about Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens:

          expensive but well built and smooth
          seems worth the hefty price

          • Was this a gift?:
          • No

          Share this review

          (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

           
          5.0

          Versatile and great pix

          By Montana Mountain/Wildlife Lover

          from Missoula, MT

          About Me Photo Enthusiast

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

          • Consistent Output
          • Easily Interchangeable
          • Fast / accurate auto-focus

          Cons

          • Heavy

          Best Uses

          • Landscape/Scenery
          • Wildlife Photos

          Comments about Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens:

          I love the zoom for framing my wildlife subject!

          • Was this a gift?:
          • No

          Share this review

          (5 of 5 customers found this review helpful)

           
          5.0

          Excellent Air Show Lens

          By TnGAP

          from San Francisco, CA

          About Me Semi-pro Photographer

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

          • Consistent Output
          • Fast / accurate auto-focus
          • PushPull Zoom
          • Rugged
          • Strong Construction

          Cons

            Best Uses

            • Sports/Action

            Comments about Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens:

            This was a present from my wife, upgrading me from a 70-300mm EF. The extra 100mm really makes a difference for those more distant subjects, and the optical quality is world's better. I love the push/pull zoom, which leaves the lens well-balanced in my hand, and the IS makes a huge difference in my pan shots. Would not hesitate to recommend this to anyone.

            • Was this a gift?:
            • Yes

            Share this review

            (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

             
            4.0

            Decent Lens

            By Senoch

            from Pittsburg, KS

            About Me Semi-pro Photographer

            Verified Reviewer

            Pros

            • Consistent Output
            • Durable
            • Strong Construction

            Cons

            • Heavy
            • Poor in Low Light
            • Slow Focus

            Best Uses

            • Landscape/Scenery
            • Sports/Action
            • Wildlife Photos

            Comments about Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens:

            I use this mainly for wildlife and outdoor sports. It is a pretty good lens. Not as sharp as I might like. I have gotten some pretty good shots out of it though. I do have to admit that I tend to shoot hand held quite a bit and the IS handles it pretty well, even at 400mm. I kind of like the push-pull action and find that I am able to adjust pretty quickly with it.

            • Was this a gift?:
            • No

            Share this review

             
            5.0

            Finally own after renting many times

            By GDH

            from Rochester, MN

            About Me Photo Enthusiast

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

            • Easily Interchangeable

            Cons

            • Heavy

            Best Uses

            • Sports/Action
            • Wildlife Photos

            Comments about Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens:

            I use this lens for wildlife and outdoor sports photography. The push-pull took just a few minutes to get used to. While I wish the lens was faster, for outdoor use it works just fine.

            • Was this a gift?:
            • No

            Share this review

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