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REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

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

(based on 1125 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (843)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (253)

  • 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 1125 customers

Displaying reviews 1-20

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5.0

Great product and service.

By MC_artist

from Undisclosed

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

Thanks B&H... I am really enjoying this lens.

 
5.0

Great lens, must have for any Photographer Enthusiast

By Joseph

from undisclosed

Verified Buyer

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

Great Lens, The glass looks top quality and the pictures came out great.
The USM motor is quick and silent and doesn't sound clunky when auto focusing.
The range is perfect 100 to 400 especially for outdoor sporting events.

 
5.0

Recommended, awesome lens.

By Mary

from undisclosed

Verified Buyer

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

Fast focus on subjects near and far (if you're on top of the switches) glad I got this instead of the prime lens, it's very versatile which saves me taking too much gear.
Good solid quality to the lens, weight isn't too much for taking quick shots without a tripod.
Chromatic aberration coupled with the correction data in my 7D MK2 is barely noticeable.
From what I've seen so far it delivers great clarity all the way out to 400.

 
5.0

Perfect Lens

By Nicole

from Undisclosed

Site Member

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

This has great crisp focus at 400. Would recommend. I take nature with it and love the detail that it can give on close ups of rocks and waves! A must buy!

 
5.0

Perfect Retirement Gift for the Mrs

By LAJ

from San Diego, CA

Verified Buyer

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

When folks ask my wife what she'll do when she retires they should prepare for an earful! My lovely partner is both an avid photographer and a fervent "birder" - out there documenting avian comings and goings, compiling her 'life list' of sightings, and in the process taking some terrific photos with her digital SLR.

My gift of the Image stabilized, 100-400mm EF lens from B&H has already delighted her to no end. The ability she now has to capture high quality, full framed, sharply detailed images of the more elusive and wary species like Peregrine falcons, Ospreys, and Belted King fishers has elevated her game significantly.

With her time her own now, and her innate talents fully supported by the high quality optics in this very lightweight and extremely user friendly zoom lens, she is already submitting shots for publication and show.
So, not only has this lens allowed a quantum leap in the quality and enjoyment of my wife's two favorite hobbies - it also made me look a "brilliant, thoughtful, gift giver"!

Thanks for helping to make it happen at a competitive price and guaranteed satisfaction and service I have come to expect from B&H. Regards, LAJ

 
5.0

Pleased with new lens

By Bobby

from Undisclosed

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

Obviously this is not a lens you are going to use every time out. The size alone makes it an occasional lens, especially for a hobbiest such as myself. That being said, I was taken back by the pictures that I actually took using this lens. I've been shooting with an EF-S 55-250 and no matter what I try, I've always come away with a hazy ring around the moon. Obviously I can zoom in much closer with the 100-400, but the clarity of the shots is incredible. I've just gotten my first taste of the difference that the luxury lens makes and that combined with the extra zoom has made this lens a blast to use. I've been a little nervous when I use it because of the weight, but a little nervous equals more careful, which is good. I have no regrets about spending the money to get this. Even though it's not an everyday lens, it has made me start seeking out new shots to use it on. I would highly recommend this lens.

 
5.0

I would recommend this product

By Brent

from undisclosed

Verified Buyer

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

Very happy with this lens. It takes amazing pictures. Worth the dollar amount

 
5.0

Perfect for the price.

By Dorothy

from undisclosed

Verified Buyer

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

Just what I wanted. Great lens for the price. I am finally taking the photos I have been wanting to take.

 
5.0

Excellent lens

By Richard

from Santa Catalina, Panama

Verified Buyer

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

Excellent lens, fast, sharp, versatile.

 
5.0

Love this lens

By Peggy

from undisclosed

Verified Buyer

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

I am thrilled with the capabilities of this lens....amazing detail compared to what I was using, which wasn't bad.

(2 of 5 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

In love with this lens

By Christy

from undisclosed

Verified Buyer

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

This lens is perfect for my distant wildlife photos. It's my first big lens purchase so I'm still learning all the cool features this lens has to offer but so far so good. I love it .

(4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Superb lens

By Ray

from Undisclosed

See all my reviews

Site Member

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

This lens delivered every thing that I hoped that it would. The combination of contrast, sharpness and depth give the images a look that is a step up from most lenses.
Canon L glass is almost magical and this is a great example.

(4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

My first L series lens - yes it was worth it.

By Thomas

from undisclosed

Verified Buyer

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

My first L series lens and it is definitely a step up. I mostly shoot landscape and wildlife and the clarity of this lens has been well worth it. I read lots of reviews and some said the focus was slow - I did not find any of that. It has been fast and precise. With the long focal range I have found a love for the image stabilizer - was very impressed with its ability to compensate for some of those spontaneous hand held shots at long distances. Overall I could not be happier with this lens - it has been worth ever penny. Next stop South Africa Safari

(6 of 6 customers found this review helpful)

 
4.0

Great lens, not a huge fan of push/pull zoom

By Sam

from Undisclosed

See all my reviews

Site Member

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

I used this lens quite a bit for outdoor sports (football, soccer, field hockey) and it works pretty well, especially on bright, sunny days. Sharpness is on par every time. IS is flawless every time I take a photo.

The build quality is good, it's not water resistant like most other L series which is a downfall. I have used this lens in the rain and it handled it very well, no issues with it. 

On the downside, I am not a big fan of push/pull zoom. It sucks in a ton of dust (the glass elements towards the front is covered in dust) which takes a slight bit of sharpness away. Not a great design on Canon's part.

(2 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

I would purchase this product again.

By Al

from Chicago, IL

Verified Buyer

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

Great sharpness and focusing speed. Image stabilizer works well, Lens tube seems to have a better finish than previous model.

(2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Great Quality Lens!

By Brian

from Undisclosed

See all my reviews

Site Member

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

This is absolutely one of my favorites for shooting video and photography. The image stays sharp and I like the push/pull feature for zooming. I highly recommend this if you're looking for a well-made telephoto lens.

(2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Awesome Lens, suited my situation perfectly

By Cooper

from Undisclosed

Site Member

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

I recently rented this lens from Borrow Lenses for Car Week in Monterey, CA. And so I didn't really have to fork over the $1300 for a focal length that isn't extremely common for me. At Car Week, my 24-105 f/4L locked up on the first day and so i was left with just my 50 f/1.8 and the 100-400 on my Canon 7D. I used it mainly for track photography and it performed expertly. I actually preferred the push-zoom feature in this situation. For around $100 for the week that I owned the lens, I loved it. So for what I needed a longer lens for, this was perfect; I would definitely recommend it.

(1 of 5 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

I would buy this again and again. But I need only one.

By Bella

from Norfolk, Virginia

Verified Buyer

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

Do you have any other suggestions?

(5 of 5 customers found this review helpful)

 
4.0

Still Formidable Highly Recommended

By Merlion

from Singapore

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

This original version of the 100-400mm L lens is an outstanding optical marvel, now with even greater price/performance ratio with the introduction of the Version II.
Center sharpness at 400mm wide open is comparable to the 400mm f5.6 L prime, lossing out only at the peripherals, but gaining extra 2 stops in hand holdable speeds due to IS, and flexibility of a zoom lens.
Excellent lens for Air Show aerial displays , birds in flight, birds in nest, and stills, where center sharpness is more critical.
Highly recommended, especially now with greater savings, as compared to the newer Version II.

 
5.0

EXCELLENT LENS FOR THE PRICE

By CHAN

from SAN DIEGO

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

THIS IS A SUPER LENS

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