REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

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

(based on 1082 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (808)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (246)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (22)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (4)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (2)

98%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Fast / accurate auto-focus (872)
  • Strong construction (781)
  • Durable (607)
  • Consistent output (583)
  • Rugged (479)

Cons

  • Heavy (577)
  • Poor in low light (113)
  • Lens creep (65)
  • Slow focus (42)
  • Blurry focus (15)

Best Uses

  • Wildlife photos (651)
  • Sports/action (641)
  • Landscape/scenery (346)
  • Wildlife (241)
  • General purpose (78)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Photo enthusiast (413), Semi-pro photographer (192), Enthusiast (160), Semi-professional (74), Casual photographer (69)
    • Was this a gift?:
    • No (575), 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 1082 customers

Sort by

Displaying reviews 1-20

Back to top

Previous | Next »

 
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

Share this review

 
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

 
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

    (2 of 2 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

      (1 of 1 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

      (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

       
      5.0

      Excellent Lens

      By FMJ

      from Florida

      About Me Photo Enthusiast

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

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

      Cons

      • Heavy

      Best Uses

      • Sports/Action
      • Wildlife Photos

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

      I've been using this lens for a couple of weeks now and have put it through the paces shooting about 3000 frames. The clarity of the images is amazing. Images enlarged on the computer display virtually no chromatic aberration. The speed and accuracy of the auto focus than any after market lens I've ever used. The lens certainly isn't light especially when attached to a Conon DSLR equipped with a battery grip. But you can't have everything. Would I buy it again? You bet.

      • Was this a gift?:
      • No

      Share this review

      (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

       
      5.0

      Excellent lens !

      By Jerry-R

      from A little NW of Atlanta

      About Me Photo Enthusiast

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

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

      Cons

      • Heavy

      Best Uses

      • Sports/Action
      • Wildlife Photos

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

      First - I am not a professional photographer, so my standards may be a little lower. But I find the ease of use, crispness of image, and build quality to be absolutely first rate. I use this mostly for outdoor (wildlife) photos and it has not let me down. I have not found anything to knock (other than weight), yet. I would definitely recommend this lens.

      • Was this a gift?:
      • No

      Share this review

      (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

       
      5.0

      Great lens

      By Real

      from SD

      About Me Casual Photographer

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

      • Durable
      • Rugged

      Cons

      • Heavy

      Best Uses

      • Landscape/Scenery

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

      I am in real estate and I use this lens for roof shoots

      Share this review

      (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

       
      5.0

      Actually Great Lens

      By Jim

      from Atlanta

      About Me Semi-pro Photographer

      Verified Reviewer

      Pros

        Cons

          Best Uses

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

            Just returned from two (2) week safari in Tanzania. I have used this lens (rental) for testing, but got one for the safari. Two weeks in a Land Cruiser with a variety of animals in various situations and at all distances and the 100-400 was cold flat perfect. Took only two lenses (zoom and wide angle (24-70 2.8) and one camera (5D3) to minimize weight and bulk. There was really only one occasion when I wished for a 500 or 600 prime, but in all other cases these two lenses were, if not perfect, close to it. 8,000 images and very few tossed because of softness..sharp almost without exception. No problems with excess dust and getting used to push-pull lens extension took about 30 seconds. Actually preferred it since reacting to changing animal situations requires fast reaction and the PP is faster than a long twist zoom. Used wide angle for landscape, lodges, sunsets, etc., but about 90% were the 100-400. BTW, even if someone gave me a 500mm prime, I wouldn't take it..too much gear for me..too heavy, not hand held, etc. Incidentally, most shots were taken using a bean bag which again was perfect.

            • Was this a gift?:
            • No

            Share this review

            (3 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

             
            5.0

            Worth getting the 400mm for extra depth

            By 126 Photography

            from Dallas, TX

            About Me Semi-pro Photographer

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

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

            Cons

            • Difficult to Clean
            • Heavy

            Best Uses

            • Landscape/Scenery
            • Night Photography
            • Sports/Action
            • Wildlife Photos

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

            This is my first telephoto lens. I use it for sport photography, landscapes and wildlife (occasionally even portraits/weddings). I don't mind the change to a push-pull zoom technology, it was no struggle to get used to. I also really like this lens (in addition to my wide angle 50mm) for night/skyline photography. The IS and auto-focus are great, I'm glad I spent the money for the 100-400mm vs the 100-300 because a lot of times I need that extra range for stars/moon, wildlife, beach (near water), and cityscape photos. Even if you rarely go up to 400, it's worth it for those moments you don't want to regret not getting the shot.

            • Was this a gift?:
            • No

            Share this review

            (0 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

             
            5.0

            Wonderful lens

            By cubcadet11

            from Mount Pleasant Mills, PA

            About Me Photography Student

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

            • Fast / accurate auto-focus
            • Strong Construction

            Cons

            • Poor in Low Light

            Best Uses

            • Wildlife Photos

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

            I have been studying digital photography with NYIP and desire to follow a part time career photographing wildlife.
            This lens does a wonderful job within its range,
            I also use the 2X extender but am disappointed with it.....cant see where it actually 2X's
            not being able to autofocus with the extender is a shortcoming as most times wildlife doesn't hold still long and manual focus can be too slow.
            overall the lens itself is good up to about 100 yards after that it just doesn't pull in the birds/animals far enough.

            • Was this a gift?:
            • No

            Share this review

            (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

             
            4.0

            Heavy but a solid, great performer!

            By Star

            from Coconut Creek, FL

            About Me Photo Enthusiast

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

            • Durable
            • Easily Interchangeable
            • Easy to work with
            • Excellent Results
            • Reliable

            Cons

            • Heavy

            Best Uses

            • Landscape/Scenery
            • Wildlife Photos

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

            I bought this for wildlife photography after recommendations from other Canon camera owners and after just a couple weeks of use, I thoroughly agree with the positive comments I've read.

            Lens creep is possible, but the tightening ring will prevent it; I recommend tightening unless you plan to stay pretty stationary on the tripod.

            • Was this a gift?:
            • No

            Share this review

            (1 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

             
            5.0

            Amazing clarity & ease of focus

            By Merrill the magnificant

            from Soldotna, Alaska

            About Me Pro Photographer

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

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

            Cons

              Best Uses

              • Landscape/Scenery
              • Wildlife Photos

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

              I have a new eagles nest 300 yards out from my kitchen deck. I've set the lens on a tripod and am documenting their fledging process. The clarity and ease of focus is amazing. I've wanted this lens for awhile and with this wildlife opportunity & the seductive discount I couldn't pass it up and am glad I didn't.

              • Was this a gift?:
              • No

              Share this review

              (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

               
              4.0

              Nice Lens

              By Drew

              from Viroqua, WI

              About Me Photo Enthusiast

              Verified Buyer

              Pros

              • Durable
              • Easily Interchangeable

              Cons

              • Heavy
              • Poor in Low Light

              Best Uses

              • Landscape/Scenery
              • Wildlife Photos

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

              The lens is great for taking wildlife pictures in good light.

              • Was this a gift?:
              • No

              Share this review

              (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

               
              5.0

              Great lens for telephoto capture

              By Mel the animal enthusiast

              from Richmond, VA

              About Me Semi-pro Photographer

              Verified Buyer

              Pros

                Cons

                  Best Uses

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

                    This 100-400mm lens is a new addition to my collection. I purchased it for wildlife photography and videography and other long distance shooting. Despite the size and weight, I love it and all it is capable of. The clarity is superb and the focus is smooth. A great lens for serious wildlife and distant shooting!

                    • Was this a gift?:
                    • No

                    Share this review

                    (5 of 11 customers found this review helpful)

                     
                    3.0

                    Not what I've come to expect from an L

                    By Dothenumbers

                    from Gulf Shores, AL

                    About Me Semi-pro Photographer

                    Verified Buyer

                    Pros

                    • Fast / accurate auto-focus

                    Cons

                    • Blurry Focus
                    • Heavy

                    Best Uses

                    • Sports/Action
                    • Wildlife Photos

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

                    I must admit that I'm sadly disappointed with this lens. I also have a Canon 70-200mm L f/2.8 series which produces remarkably sharper images than this 100-400. The lens does a pretty good job, but it simply isn't as sharp as I've come to expect from a Canon L series lens. I also purchased a 1.4 extender, which I will probably be returning because there is a very noticeable reduction in image quality when using it.

                    • Was this a gift?:
                    • No

                    Share this review

                    (5 of 5 customers found this review helpful)

                     
                    4.0

                    Super Smooth Action and Super Sharp IQ

                    By soleful2001

                    from pleasant garden, nc

                    About Me Photo Enthusiast

                    Verified Reviewer

                    Pros

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

                    Cons

                      Best Uses

                      • Landscape/Scenery
                      • Wildlife Photos

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

                      I used a Sigma 150-500mm for a few years and enjoyed it, thought it was a good value. The problem was I never got consistent sharp results at 500mm. I was always shooting at 400mm to get the most out of my lens. I eventually sold it, and used my Tamron 70-200mm (a great lens by the way) and found myself desiring that additional focal length for birds and wildlife. I decided after much thought and consideration to purchase this lens the Canon 100-400. I do not regret my purchase. I love the build quality. I love the way the lens handles, even the slide zoom is great to me. Best of all I am getting excellent IQ at 400 mm wide open. This is something I could not get with my Sigma. I can shoot wide open and not worry about it when I am using my Canon L lens. The color and contrast are superior to the Sigma. And, I am not criticizing the Sigma, it is $[$]less expensive and works well but in limited apertures and focal lengths. I will say that I do not regret spending the $[$]extra on this lens. It is that good. The compact size makes it great for birding and wildlife, and I look forward to getting some great images in the future.

                      • Was this a gift?:
                      • No

                      Share this review

                      Displaying reviews 1-20

                      Back to top

                      Previous | Next »