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Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens Review

Canon Telephoto Zoom Lens

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens Review Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens Review

Rating Summary for the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens
Construction:
95/100
Price Rating:
90/100
Image Quality:
85/100
Overall Score:
90/100
This is an "A-" Quality Lens

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Lens Tech Specs

Focal Length & Maximum Aperture:

100-400mm f/4.5-5.6
Lens Construction:
17 elements in 14 groups
Diagonal Angle of View: 24° - 6° 10'
Focus Adjustment: Rear focusing system with USM
Closest Focusing Distance: 1.8m/ 5.9 ft.
Zoom System: Linear extension Type
Filter Size: 77mm
Max. Diameter x Length, Weight 3.6" x 7.4", 3.1 lbs. / 92mm x 189mm, 1,380g

Lens Review

The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens is a pretty great lens. It is a Canon L Series which dictates quality, and it covers an amazing telephoto range for the price. This is not a cheap lens but the quality you buy here is worth the price. It would be nice to have Canon create a faster telephoto zoom lens to replace this telephoto zoom, but you can’t always have everything you want.

The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens is an EF mount which means you can use it on 35mm bodies which have smaller sensors (like the Canon 30D and Canon 20D, Rebel etc…) as well as full frame sensor 35mm bodies (like the Canon 5D and Canon 1Ds Mark II). The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens is a great all-around purpose telephoto zoom lens. Please be aware the although the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens is a 100-400mm zoom on bodies like the Canon 350D, XTi, 20D and 30D bearing the 1.6x crop this lens is more of a 160-640mm which is so incredibly long you will be able to get a shot of just about anyone or anything. It is an extremely valuable lens especially when comparing it to the 600mm prime which retails at around $8000.00.

If you don’t require the focal length you will get with such a telephoto zoom like the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens. I would strongly suggest the purchase of the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS USM lens, which is extremely fast and by far one of my favorite lenses. However, you will get twice the distance with this lens which is something that can truly come in handy in many circumstances, where you just don’t have the time or the means to get closer to the subject.

The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens weighs in at a whopping 1,380g / 3.1 lbs and is quite a large telephoto zoom lens once it is fully extended. The exact measurements of the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens are 3.6"" x 7.4"" / 92mm x 189mm. The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens is also sealed for harsh conditions, so you don’t have to worry too much about the weather making it’s way inside the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens.

The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens build quality is superb, which is to be expected as it is a Canon L-Series lens. The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens is made up of 17 elements in 14 groups. The zoom and controls are just about as smooth as can be, in-fact it is almost perfect.

The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens is also equipped with full-time manual focusing, which allows you to focus manually even when the autofocus mode is turned on. You simply set the camera to ONE SHOT AF mode and then press the shutter button down halfway. While you have the shutter button down halfway you may turn the focus ring to focus manually. This function is standard on all the Canon L-series lenses which prevent the user from stripping his focus rings while trying to focus manually in the AF (autofocus) mode.

The subject distance scale comes standard on the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens, which I wish was present on every Canon lens. This allows you to gauge (to a degree) how close you are to the subject you are shooting. The closest focusing distance between you and the subject must be at least 5.9 ft. / 1.8m.

The lens hood that comes with the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens is massive and should be. The hood should take care of all your lens shading needs. The lens hood that the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens comes standard with is the ET 83C. The filter size for the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens is 77mm.

The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens also includes what is commonly termed “IS” or “Image Stabilizer”, which is a new technology Canon developed in the fairly recent past. Canon’s Image Stabilizer allows a photographer to take “hand-held” shots in almost any environment, well at least where you never thought you could take them before. The Image Stabilizer on the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens will allow you to shoot low light situations and produce a great in-focus image. You will have the ability to take a shot late in the evening at 1/8 sec (depending on the lens in use). shutter speed to produce a clear image. Canon advertises the Image Stabilizer having the ability to take a handheld shot at 3 stops less than you standard “non-IS” lens would be able to do. The Image Stabilizer in the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens actually knows when a tripod is being used, because of the decrease in amount of vibrations, but it is not recommended to have the Image Stabilizer enabled while shooting on a tripod. The image stabilizer mode can be used in either the AF (auto focus) or MF (manual focus) modes. The image stabilizer is a great addition to the f/4.5-5.6, but it will not allow you to capture motion the shutter speeds act the same as they would at any other time when it comes to movement. The Image Stabilizer function adds a great deal of value to the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens.

The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens comes standard with the powerful ring type USM (Ultrasonic Motor) drive which enables you to have lightning fast focusing, with a silent motor so you don’t scare away the wildlife. It also helps to be able to focus quickly and accurately when you don’t think conditions will permit.

As far as the appearance of vignetting on this lens is concerned it seemed to score pretty well. There was some slight vignetting at f/4.5 at 100mm and a bit at f/5.6 at 400mm, but other than that not very much to speak of. It performed really well in that regard. You can always remove or add additional vignetting in the raw editing software of any digital negative.

The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens performed good in the sharpness test. I say good, because it was not excellent, but it was really pretty good considering the range involved here. At 100mm the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens was sharpest at f/8 which is generally the sweet spot on most lenses. It was pretty much sixes (the same) at f/4.5 and f5.6 but started to get a bit soft at f/11 which is to be expected. At 200mm the sharpness on the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens started to dip which also is to be expected. At 200mm from f/5-f/11 I saw almost no change in the sharpness of the lens. It stayed pretty consistent at this focal length. At 300mm the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens dipped in sharpness at both f/5.6 and f/11, but stayed on par with 200mm in sharpness at f/8 (the sweet spot). At 400mm the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens dipped in sharpness at f/8 but stayed pretty much the same at f/5.6 and f/11. All-in-all the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens is a good sharp lens and for the money you pay and the telephoto range you get this is a great lens for sharp images.

As far as chromatic aberrations are concerned at f/4.5 and f/5 at 100-200mm you will see a bit at these settings, but for the most part it once again does a pretty good job.

All-in-all the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens is a great telephoto lens and should be considered as an additional to anyone’s collection. It is a great lens for pros as well serious amateurs alike. I would recommend this lens to anyone as a nice addition to your collection.

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