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

(based on 1105 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (825)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (251)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (22)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (5)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (2)

98%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Fast / accurate auto-focus (885)
  • Strong construction (791)
  • Durable (618)
  • Consistent output (596)
  • Easily interchangeable (484)

Cons

  • Heavy (592)
  • Poor in low light (113)
  • Lens creep (66)
  • Slow focus (43)
  • Blurry focus (15)

Best Uses

  • Wildlife photos (667)
  • Sports/action (650)
  • Landscape/scenery (357)
  • Wildlife (241)
  • General purpose (78)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Photo enthusiast (422), Semi-pro photographer (198), Enthusiast (160), Semi-professional (74), Casual photographer (71)
    • Was this a gift?:
    • No (595), 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 1105 customers

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(3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Great high quality lens

By mom6iowa

from New Hampton, IA

About Me Semi-pro Photographer

Verified Buyer

Pros

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

Cons

  • Heavy

Best Uses

  • Landscape/Scenery
  • Sports/Action
  • Weddings/Events
  • Wildlife Photos

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

I used this lens mainly for capturing my own children at sporting events as well as plan to use on family vacations for both nature and notable destinations. I like that I can lock the lens so it doesn't extend when I'm using it without a tripod and I love that it has a tripod mount for when I am using a tripod. It is a bit heavy, but worth it for the shots I've been able to take. I've always felt more confident with the seal of an L series and this compliments my most often used 24-105mm lens nicely, especially since both have 77mm

  • Was this a gift?:
  • No

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(2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Finally Got one

By Jeff

from Fawn Grove PA

About Me Photo Enthusiast

Verified Buyer

Pros

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

This is perfect for my Baseball and aircraft photography. It is more clear than anything I've ever owned

  • Was this a gift?:
  • No

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5.0

Love my new lens!

By Pic nut

from Coventry RI

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

It's a great lens and I have taken some great shots with it. The still shots are better than the action ones, but that's just me getting used to it.

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4.0

EF 100-400 by Canon

By 4huskers

from Keller, TX

About Me Photo Enthusiast

Verified Buyer

Pros

  • Fast / accurate auto-focus

Cons

  • Heavy

Best Uses

  • Wildlife Photos

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

I haven't had this lens for a long time. Although it's a little heavy I've been very pleased with it. Mainly, I've used it for bird photography and have been impressed with its sharpness and quick focus.compared to the 80-400 Tokina I was using. It's given me some great shots when combined with my flash and the Hughes Digital flash extender I got last fall.

  • Was this a gift?:
  • No

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(2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Love this lens

By Deb B

from Pleasant Shade Tn

About Me Semi-pro Photographer

Verified Buyer

Pros

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

Cons

  • Heavy

Best Uses

  • Landscape/Scenery
  • Night Photography
  • Wildlife Photos

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

I have used this lens in several places and all photos have been awesome. Love the clarity, quick to focus, so glad I made the decision to purchase

  • Was this a gift?:
  • No

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(4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Must have lens

By Wolf

from Possum Kingdom Lake, Texas

About Me Photo Enthusiast

Verified Buyer

Pros

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

Cons

  • Heavy

Best Uses

  • Wildlife Photos

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

I use the lens for pleasure. I live 1300 ft up on a hill with a valley in the back and the Red Tailed Hawks love to use the vortex it creates to float and look for prey. I wasn't able to get good pics with the lens that came with my Canon camera. I wanted to be able to see the details of the birds feathers and face, and my gosh I wasn't disappointed. Crisp, clear pics, I was even able to see the detail of one Hawks eyes, it was just amazing. I found the lens just a bit heavy but after just a little use I was able to get my hand positioned right on the end of the lens and found with the right support position it was easy to get use to. This lens is built tough so I am not so worried about being a clutz and bumping it, but just in case I bought a 2 year square insurance plan. I am incredibly happy with this lens and would deffinately recommend it. And hey, I am as big of a rookie as one can be when it comes to real photography, so if I can use it with great results so can you.

  • Was this a gift?:
  • No

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(2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Just the right size

By RLB

from Clearwater, FL

About Me Photo Enthusiast

Verified Buyer

Pros

  • Easily Interchangeable

Cons

  • Heavy

Best Uses

  • Landscape/Scenery
  • Sports/Action
  • Wildlife Photos

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

This was just what I was looking for. Wanted a lens that was more than my 55-250mm. Now I only have to carry 2 lenses (1 on the camera and 1 extra). I put the 55-250mm on the camera and if I come across something farther away I just switch to the 100-400mm. I can also slip the 18-55mm in my pocket just to cover all situations.

The only Con I have found is the weight of the lens. This may get better the more I get use to it.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking to reach out to something far away.

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  • No

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(3 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

it enriched my life

By DonSanAnto

from San Antonio, TX

About Me Semi-pro Photographer

Verified Reviewer

Pros

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

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Landscape/Scenery
    • Night Photography
    • Wildlife Photos

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

    besides creating inevitable 'lens envy' among other photogs, it's an excellent lens and the price isn't shabby either.

    for the last couple of years i've been chasing whales, from puerto vallarta to cabo san lucas to san juan islands, vancouver and alaska and i've managed to take some incredible shots of four different whale types even in rolling 6ft seas in a 17ft zodiac of breaching humpbacks...

    it is fast and the pix are crisp and i enjoy the 'trombone' slide for special effects and when far objects (wildlife) move nearer quickly.

    this puppy is now my favorite lens that i lug just about everywhere despite its weight. with this lens and my usual go-to 28-250mm zoom is all i need to shoot anything, including astro objects.

    • Was this a gift?:
    • No

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    (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

     
    5.0

    The Bird Blog Lady Made Me Lens Admirer (Non-user Review)

    By Osarafian

    from 68502

    About Me Casual Photographer

    Verified Reviewer

    Pros

    • Consistent Output
    • Fast / accurate auto-focus

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Wildlife Photos

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

      Was admiring pictures on the Flickr feed of Laura Erickson, the birding expert. I despaired of the gap between her shots with this lens + EOS 70D and my shots with a Pentax500 and variety of manual tele and kit zoom lens. Erickson's bird pics are sharp and bright down to the fine barbules on feathers. Looking up the B&H price and specs for the EF 100-400 pushed me to increase my lens budget. Since, I've been using the Pen DA 200 with a teleconverter. I haven't yet made out any barbules in my own pics, but getting close.

      • Was this a gift?:
      • No

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      (8 of 10 customers found this review helpful)

       
      4.0

      Not for low light

      By Leo153

      from Lenox, MA

      About Me Pro Photographer

      Verified Reviewer

      Pros

      • Durable
      • Strong Construction

      Cons

      • Heavy
      • Slow Focus

      Best Uses

      • Landscape/Scenery
      • Wildlife Photos

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

      I like this lens, not love. My first day out with it I got some nice America Eagle shots. Out of maybe 50 pictures half were soft. I don't have the best eye sight, so getting sharp manual focus takes awhile to achieve, so I rely on auto focus much of the time. When this lens finds the focus point it's slow to lock on the image. The faster the shutter, the better it works. I have in on a C100 mkII cine camera and it look very good. On auto focus it's slow but accurate.

      • Was this a gift?:
      • No

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      (5 of 5 customers found this review helpful)

       
      4.0

      Birding Lens

      By Baekgu

      from TX

      About Me Pro Photographer

      Pros

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

      Cons

      • Heavy

      Best Uses

      • Wildlife Photos

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

      Alright, first off, it is darned heavy. It isn't often I use this lens without a tripod. It can be done thanks to IS, but keep those shutter speeds high!

      Besides the weight, there really are no cons for me. I often purposefully try to find the cons and meld them into pros for all of my equipment. For most, this lens is probably too slow. That kind of thing depends on your shooting style and the conditions you most often shoot in. Me, I don't shoot "golden hour" and I don't shoot "low light" with this lens. As such, this lens works perfectly fine for me. (Even in the golden hours, it does perfectly fine, though.)

      However, allow me to contradict myself in one sector -- possibly. I don't shoot with this lens in low light, but I do use it for astro shots. ;-) The results are fine. I use it for timed exposures.

      I use this lens with a 7D. I tend to use only one focus point across all of my lenses. This is definitely not an exception. It has issues focusing when multiple AFPs are used. Keeping it down to one though allows more than adequate speed. After throwing my camera on Servo, I've easily been able to track birds and other wildlife.

      The lens /does/ creep if you do not secure it. But, to me, that's a no-brainer due to its very design. A lens that you have to pull or push to de- or increase its focal length, by default, is prone to lens creep. However, once you get used to tightening the collar (you can do it with your thumb only, with practice), it becomes automatic habit to untighten, zoom, tighten, take the shot, untighten, rest to 100, tighten.

      This lens does have 'limitations', but they aren't extraordinary. As such, it is perfectly feasible to surmount them -- if not use them to your advantage.

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      • No

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      (4 of 15 customers found this review helpful)

       
      2.0

      Issue

      By Jojo

      from Greensboro, NC

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

      The biggest concern for this lens is that the push/pull mechanism causes suction that sucks dust into the lens body. This one of the main reasons for the creation of the series II.

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      (10 of 10 customers found this review helpful)

       
      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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      (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

       
      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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      (12 of 12 customers found this review helpful)

       
      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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      (13 of 13 customers found this review helpful)

       
      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.

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      • No

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      (5 of 5 customers found this review helpful)

       
      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!

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      • No

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      (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

       
      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.

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      • 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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      (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

       
      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

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