Great lens with a few drawbacks
A month ago I brought a second hand Canon 100-400mm F4.5-5.6L EF USM Auto Focus lens. The lens comes complete with lens caps, hood, instruction manual and a canon tailor made carry case. The purpose of this purchase is where I have problems gaining close access to the subject, such as wildlife and sport action shots.
I've spent three days collecting info to checkout this lens and below is a summary of my finding, likes and dislikes.
The lens has a quick USM Auto Focus system with fluorite coated and UD-glass elements allowing good colour saturation with no obvious chromatic aberration. Ensuring image result remain impressive no matter what f-stop is chosen. I've been a photographer for over 40years and used many lens of this focal length (mainly Nikon, Tamron lens). Using IS (Image Stabilizer) is amazing producing high quality images. I'm very impressed with this system. It ensuring image sharpness at relative low shutter speeds for focal length used. With this lens the Image Stabilizer has two modes. The first mode one is for images where the background remains stationary and mode two is where the background is moving due to panning with the subject (e.g. capturing a bird in flight or a racing car flashing past). The results are exceptional and I have only used this lens through the winter months.
Some people may consider this lens to be a slow lens at f5.6 for 400mm, but impressive results can be obtained with practice - I've always said photography is about skill of the cameraman and not the equipment used, (Not so much skill is need with f2.8 lens). Although sharpness at 400mm is not as good as one would wish.
The lens is compatible with extenders 1.4x and 2x. I have used the 2x extender but consider the loss in quality too much in poor light conditions. I just waiting to try this out on a bright sunny spring day. I'm sure the 2x results will improve with better lighting. The 100-400mm lens is a push/pull zoom which personally I'm not a big fan of this design. To begin with, I found it hard to keep the lens stable with my eye on the viewfinder and framing the subject as I pushed and pulled. Although with a little practice, using hand and fingers on both the zoom slide and loosening the friction ring at the same time improves the situation. But note, it also allows the lens to extend and strike on the end of its travel when it is hanging. Other things to consider when using a circular polarising filter complete with lens hood produces a slight vignette at the corners for 400mm focal length. And if you have a camera with 1.6x FOVCF body sensors, the focal length changes, increasing it to 160-640mm.
The lens is a Canon L-series which I understood the "L" defined the bracket underneath for mounting to a tripod or monopod. However, other Canon users have told me the "L" series is for " Luxury". Well at a discount price, the lens costs just over £1,000.00 new. and £700 to £850 second hand, which is a luxury unless you are willing to put the lens to good use.
Overall the Canon 100-400mm F4.5-5.6L EF USM L series lens has some small drawbacks but in comparison to other lens available it is superior for value and produces excellent performance. It's a great lens, but there is no point having it doing nothing, therefore I would recommend to those who are willing to utilise it and can afford to invest a large amount of money.
22 of 22 people found this review helpful.
Superb - my favourite lens by far!
| Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
|Size / weight|
|Value for money|
I have had a Canon 100-400 L lens for 6 years now, and have finally decided to pass on my thoughts about it. I need a long lens for my hobby (aviation photography) and after trying a friend's 100-400 and being very impressed, decided to take the plunge. I have to say though, that my first results were somewhat disappointing! This was due entirely to me not handling it properly, and I suppose it took well over a year for me to learn how to get the best out of it. It is, by any standard, a big lens to handle and it is heavy: something you soon get used to but it is still a hefty bit of kit and I still find my back aching after a long day at an airshow!
The push-pull zoom is also something you get used to, and I find it brilliant when photographing aircraft landing or taking off because somehow it seems more natural than turning a zoom ring. There is a locking ring if you don't need the zoom, which is useful when you're not using the lens because it's a lot shorter at 100mm! There is no doubt that the zoom mechanism creates a vacuum effect though, and this definitely results in dust being moved around in the camera body. I keep mine on my EOS 5D MkII all the time, and no matter how clean the sensor is when I start a days shooting, there are always dust spots on the images especially at the end of the day. The spots aren't static either - there will be spots on one image that are not there on images a few frames further on.
Vignetting (with a full-frame sensor) can be very apparent especially at wide apertures, but easily dealt with in RAW using the Canon DPP software.
Image stablisation is excellent, and with practice (and skill, of course) it's possible to use surprisingly slow shutter speeds handheld and get great results - 1/100th at 400mm on a moving aeroplane should be impossible, but isn't. I stress the "with practice" bit - this is a lens that pays you back handsomely if you take the time to discover how best to treat it!
Image quality, given that this is a relatively "slow" lens with a 1:4 zoom, is nothing short of amazing and easily matching my 24-70 f2.8 L wide-angle zoom, which seems to be accepted as being as good as most prime lenses. There is a "glow" and transparency with the images (depending, of course, on the light), colour saturation is superb, and - if you get it right - pictures are razor-sharp, right the way through to 400mm. There are those who say that after about 350mm, the results are too soft to be usable. This is not my experience, at all. The majority of my flying shots are taken at full stretch, and are just as sharp as at any other focal length. (It is, of course, harder to keep the camera steady at higher zoom settings anyway.)
I have had no success at all with a 1.4x extender, even with a tripod. This is probably down to me!
If I lost this lens (or, perish the thought, had it stolen again) I'd have no hesitation in buying another one - I'd feel naked without it! So if you're thinking that it's too much money, believe me when I say that you will never regret paying out for it. I don't think there's anything out there that gets close for the money. This is a fabulous bit of kit!
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Canon EF100-400 F4.5/5.6 IS USM Lens
I've been looking for this a lens of this model for some considerable time now and have finally got one. The first few photos have yielded very satisfactory results when used with my Canon EOS350D.
I have taken a range of different subjects at focal lengths of both extremes these have included action and still subjects. Most of my photography is related to hobbies that my wife and I share; motorcycling, our narrow boat, wildlife etc. Of the shots that I have taken to date are a number of high speed motorcycling subjects so a good test for the image stabiliser which performed faultlessly in both modes. As with all of the Canon USM models the ultrasonic motor performs fast and accurately giving pin sharp focus.
From an ergonomic point of view I have found the lens an absolute joy to use, nicely balanced and the controls fall easily to hand. The adjustable friction on the zoom is a nice touch and I am finding it to be increasingly useful in both operation and as a safety device in that it prevents the barrle being extended accidentally.
As a long time fan and owner of Canon photographic products that have included lots of bodies F1, A1, EOS... and primary lens of all shapes and sizes as well as a number of shorter zooms I have to say that I'm very satisfied with this latest addition to my current collection.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful.
Canon EF 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Zoom Lens
I wanted a multi-purpose lens for photographing wildlife whilst out walking. This versatile lens fits the bill very well. The image stabilization(IS)is a great help when lighting conditions are poor. This feature allows the use of a slower shutter speed with less risk of camera shake.
The lens focuses down to about six feet making it ideal for larger butterflies and dragonflies. By attaching a 21mm extension tube it will allow much closer focus on smaller insects and also flowers.
At maximum zoom it gives a magnification of 8x making it suitable for shots of birds and distant mammals. If used on a DSLR the 1.6x "crop factor" will give the effect of even more magnification, equivalent to 12.8x. For most subjects the autofocus(AF)system works well except in poor light when the manual override comes in useful. The Ultra Sonic Motor allows near-silent focusing on sensitive subjects.
My only minor criticism is when photographing smaller birds in flight. The lens often "hunts" whilst attempting to lock focus resulting in some missed shots. There is a range limiter switch which does help achieving focus in some situations.
To sum up, this lens suits my style of photography. It is not too heavy for carrying on my shoulder over long distances. The tripod collar can be removed when not required making the lens lighter. I use it for all forms of wildlife and occasional portraiture, architecture and landscape work. In my opinion a great all-round lens.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful.
Best canon super-telephoto normal people can afford
I've tried a good few combinations of lenses and extenders over the years, hiring lenses for windsurfing events and holidays where 300mm isn't anywhere near enough, and when you get to that range image stabilisation isn't a luxury, its essential! Tripod just aren't going to work with fast moving sports.
First, the competition:
The sigma 100-300 F4 has a good reach, but has an odd filter size and no IS. The canon 70-200L F2.8 has IS and enough reach with a 2x extender and is environmentally sealed, but technical image quality is very lacking. The canon 400L F5.6 is a great lens, but no IS! I never got to try the canon 300L F4, though perhaps that might have been adequate.
The 100-400L is basically the only option left, and I'm definitely not disappointed!
- 400mm native focal length. Using extenders robs images of contrast and increases chromatic aberrations.
- Big zoom range and fast zooming let you switch subjects and search areas quickly.
- Image Stablisation. Essential at long focal lengths
- Mode 2 IS lets you create smooth panning images of moving subjects.
- No environmental sealing. Get a raincover!
- Only F4-5.6... not so good in low light, poor visibility and indoors. But good enough for sea watersports even in the winter!
Note I don't complain about it being a 'dust pump'! I've used this lens for a week in a desert and had no problems. If you swap lenses in a sandstorm, you're going to get dust in your camera regardless of their design. If you've got a big zoom with a long range, its going to suck in air whether it is a twist design or a push-pull. If you don't swap lenses in the field, and use a modern DSLR with sensor cleaning, there will be no problems. Don't believe the Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt, often spread by people who have never even used this lens.
All in all, a great lens, and £2000 cheaper than a better alternative!
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.