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REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

by PowerReviews
CanonEF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
 
4.7

(based on 336 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (243)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (81)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (9)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (2)

  • 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 336 customers

Displaying reviews 1-20

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5.0

Wonderful surprise shooting live performance

By Mark

from Undisclosed

Site Member

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

Added this lens to my recent photoshoot of Katie Noonan and Karyn Schaupp at Garden of Unearthly delights at Adelaide Festival Fringe Festival, 2017.

Supporting the camera on a makeshift support afforded by extending the rollaway I brought containing various bodies and lenses.
Been photographing Music, Dance and Theatre for 45 years, never happier than capturing this shot of Katie. Canon 5DS Canon 400 f5.6, 
ISO 4000; -0.67 exposure compensation; 1/250 f5.6

 
5.0

Very Sharp, Nice Weight, Terrific Lens

By Skimmer

from Michigan

Verified Buyer

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

Great lens typical of Canon. Focus is fast and precise. Quite too. Pictures are very sharp. Nice balance with tripod collar. Can also be hand held if you are steady. Weight, which I thought might be an issue, is not. After shooting with it for two weekends, very happy with purchase.

 
2.0

Great if you want to use on tripod

By Tommy

from undisclosed

Verified Buyer

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

Sent back couldn't handhold unless you could keep up the shutter speed because not IS

 
5.0

MY 400mm WITH 1.4 EXTENDER

By Jack

from Undisclosed

See all my reviews

Site Member

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

I've just gotten a used 1.4 Canon Extender ii from B&H that I'm very happy with on my 400mm.  Attached is an uncropped photo.  On a tripod in mirror lock-up mode with cable release.

 
5.0

Surf Photography

By David

from undisclosed

Verified Buyer

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

I purchased this for surf photography but now I bring it everywhere.

(13 of 13 customers found this review helpful)

 
4.0

A well deserved reputation

By Jerry

from undisclosed

Verified Buyer

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

I'll preface this by saying that I also have the 100-400 mm V2 lens as well and it is also a very good lens. However, it isn't quite as sharp as the 400 mm f/5.6L lens is, nor is it truly a 400 mm lens as this prime lens is. The 400 mm prime gets a little closer to the subject.

I gave this lens 4 stars, because it doesn't have Image Stabilization, although I think that's one of the things that makes this lens so sharp, fewer layers of glass for the light to go through. I also marked it down due to it's long minimum focusing distance of just over 11 feet. That makes it impossible to get close to small birds at times.

But, this lens is incredibly sharp when I have good light or use a tripod, especially for birds in flight. I can get sharper images of birds in flight with this lens than I could get of perched birds using another brand of lens or the Canon 300 mm f/4L lens that I have. Image quality with this lens is spectacular, not only the sharpness, but also the color and contrast as well.

I also use this lens with both the 1.4 X and 2 X tele-converters with surprisingly good results. There's almost no drop off in image quality using the 1.4 X extender, and so little drop off with the 2 X that it's better than I could get by cropping an image.

Since I have the 100-400 mm lens, I use it in low light situations because it has IS, and as my main wildlife lens when hiking due to its versatility. However, whenever I can use the 400 mm f/5.6 for birds and wildlife, because of its superior image quality.

The 400 mm f/5.6 L lens is much lighter than my other long lenses which makes it easier to carry, and to follow the motion of birds in flight. Overall, I'd say that the 400 mm f/5.6L lens is a specialized lens for times when there's good light, and you're looking for the ultimate in image quality.

(2 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Very Sharp Lens

By John

from Undisclosed

See all my reviews

Site Member

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

Very Sharp Lens, Careful, if you use a Teleconverter on a Canon Body, I have found on both my 1D XII, and on my 5D mrk III, attaching a EF 1.4 III teleconverter, my cameras will only recognize the Canon TC, I tried another Brand and get an error message of communication to lens

(8 of 8 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

I am really pleased with this lens.

By BJ

from Tolland, CT

Verified Buyer

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

In my first outing I was fortunate to find a cooperative Osprey. The attached photo was taken early morning (6:48 AM) handheld from my kayak. Used with my 7D and it's crop factor I hope to have many more successful outings with this lens.

(1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Very Satisfied

By flybob

from Maryland

Verified Buyer

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

Lens arrived in excellent condition and performed as expected. Perfect addition to my 7DMKII for wildlife shots. B&H excellent service as usual.

 
5.0

Excellent glass!

By Sugar Mountain

from Fayetteville, AR

Verified Buyer

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

This lens is light for its size. Unbelievably sharp. Exactly what I hoped it would be. Looking forward to having it next week in Yellowstone!

(12 of 12 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

    (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

     
    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

      (8 of 8 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.

       
      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
         
        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

          (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

          (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

          (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

           
          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

          (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

           
          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

            (9 of 9 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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