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Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L USM IS
Reviews Views Date of last review
6 10071 Thu January 8, 2009
Recommended By Average Price Average Rating
100% of reviewers 879.00 8.8

Description: An L-series super telephoto zoom lens equipped with an Image Stabilizer. The fluorite and Super UD-glass elements largely eliminate secondary spectrum. The floating system also ensure high picture quality at all focal lengths. The Image Stabilizer has two modes and it is compatible with Extenders 1.4x and 2x.

Key Features

* 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 / 6ft
* Zoom system: Linear extension type
* Filter size: 77mm
Keywords: Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L USM IS Image Stabilisation lens

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Retired Crew

Registered: October 2005
Location: N. Ireland
Posts: 7479
Review Date: Thu June 8, 2006 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: 730.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Image stabilization, Build quality, Zoom range, Contrast. Push-pull design.
Cons: Slightly soft at 400mm wide open. Dust issues, Push-pull design.

I purchased this 2nd hand 2-3 months ago and have been overjoyed at the results it's given me.

The Image Stabilization really is a huge bonus on a lens this length, giving you 2-3 stops more than you'd normally have, this means you can get sharp shots handheld down to 1/100 sec.

Build quality is very good, only slightly let down by the fact that it isn't completely weather sealed, but my camera isn't either so I don't shoot in the rain anyway.

Picture results all through the range are very good, sharp, lots of contrast, with only a slight loss of sharpness at 400mm wide open... but this is cured by stopping down to f/6.3.

The push-pull design has put off many not willing to give it a chance, I got used to it quite quickly and now find using it second nature and alot better, it allows for very fast zoom changes which is great when shooting fast moving objects (e.g. wildlife, planes etc.). The only downside is that it does blow quite a bit of air back into the camera, all lenses do this but because of the ability to zoom in and out quicker than regular zoom lenses the air gets moved around quicker, which can cause a bit more dust on the sensor than normal.

These small problems are easily forgivable though when you see the quality of the pictures you now get... Highly Reccommended!
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Pixalo Crew

Registered: January 2005
Posts: 19253
Review Date: Thu June 15, 2006 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: 1,100.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Good range, Small size and weight for range covered, excellent IS
Cons: Push pull zoom doesn't suit everyone, no weather sealing, dust pump

Another all round performer from Canon, the good range of this lens and its relative compact size and weight for a 400mm zoom makes it one of the more versatile lenses Canon produce. Add in that is it equipped with Image Stabilisation to give you as much as 2-3 stops more latitude and you will quickly realise why, even give its cost, it is a widely used and popular lens. Its a great all round medium zoom, picture quality is not quite up to that of the primes but for a zoom it is certainly one of the best. The IS has dual function to allow for vertical correction while panning horizontally (great for tracking motor sport)

The downsides are that the zoom is a push/pull design and not everyone finds this easy to adjust to, plus this system also has the side effect of introducing dust into your camera body and ultimately onto the sensor. There is a friction ring on the lens that allows you to adjust how much resistance the push/pull action takes to move the lens or alternatively it can be locked at any zoom length. Its also a shame that this lens is not weather sealed.
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Rob Barron
Loves the place

Registered: September 2006
Location: Poole, Dorset
Posts: 7227
Review Date: Thu October 19, 2006 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: 700.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: 2 mode IS system, optical quality
Cons: Not light!

I bought this lens second-hand on Ebay and it has definitely not disappointed in any way. Having prviously bought the 17-40mm f4, I was hooked on L series but this lens is a whole new ball game.

It has all the build quality you would expect of an L series lens and optically it is superb. AF is sharp as a button and you can set the AF range to full or to 6m and over which is useful when you know you are taking shots at a distance where you won't be using the low end range so the lens is able to refocus for different distances very quickly.

400mm is a heck of a telephoto on a 1.6x equivalence camera such as the 40D which I now use mostly. It gives you an effective 640mm at f5.6 and the twin IS gyros deal with any shake even at that extent. The two IS systems are standard on this type of lens in the Canon range, one for vertical and the other for horizontal tracking. Irnically, when using on a tripod it is best to turn them both off as they try to do things even when it isn't necessary! This is actually fairly normal for IS systems.

The lens comes with a lens hood and, very importantly, a ring mount so that you attach the camera to a tripod from a point down the lens rather than under the camera. If it didn't, the weight of this lens would put a strain on the mount and make it difficult to hold. I use a monopod a lot and having it mounted this way means the camera always feels very nicely balanced. The ring mount also means that even when tripod or monopod mounted, you can switch between landscape and portrait modes by simply turning the camera, no need to play around with locking levers or ballhead sockets here.

In terms of picture quality, you really will struggle to fault this lens. Chromatic aberation is virtually non-existent, the clarity of the image and the depth of colour shows the excellent resolving power that we have come to expect of L series quality optics.

This lens is now available for under 800 on the internet and it is worth every penny without a shadow of a doubt. You'll be buying this lens once and won't be replacing it for a very long time if at all so it should be considered an investment into your future photography career/hobby.

I have seen other lenses come and go but this one stays with me..... FOREVER!

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Gary Bagshawe
Rep Point Winner 07

Registered: April 2005
Location: Sheffield UK
Posts: 2746
Review Date: Tue March 27, 2007 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: 1,150.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Great range, sharp, IS,
Cons: Heavy,

I purchased this lens after much consideration as it is not cheap but my old 75-300 had seen better days and as im supposed to be a pro I thought I better look the part,
The first thing that I noticed was the weight of this lens, it is heavy and when its been slung round ya neck for 8 hours you do know about it.
On first testing of the lens I found that the images were very sharp and had great contrast straight out of the camera and the IS does a fantastic job, I got some cracking shots of the lunar eclipse with this lens both hand held and on a tripod.
It's not the 1st choice of lens I would go for to take landscapes but I have to admit I have done a few and the results are impressive, the 400 mm reach of this lens enables me to stand well back out of the action when I have to and am currently utilising this facility on a certain celebrity doing things they are not supposed too (watch this forum) and will also be great for the world superbikes and moto gp racing.
All in all I wish I had purchased this lens sooner, at times I do have to take it off the camera body and use another lens but this lens now lives on the camera body, all in all a big
Just to add to this review:- I went to the WSBK racing at Donninton at the weekend and gave this lens a proper outing, I cannot get my breath, the images are pin sharp out of the camera with no need for any sharpening, this lens really is worth every penny I paid for it and I can't reccomend it enough. It has allowed me to take my photography to a whole other level.
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Pixalo Crew

Registered: July 2005
Posts: 18309
Review Date: Tue July 8, 2008 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: 715.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Great focal range, IS, Image quality, build quality
Cons: HEavy, but what do you expect ;)

Welcome to the Dr Doolittle zoom, "Push me Pull me" . Like marmite you either hate it or love it. For me it works fine

Great focal range & with the IS you are able to handhold at 400mm. which is amazing

Recently used this at a wedding where this lens was excellent at taking shots from a distance, thus not interfering with the guests. Plenty of tight crop headshots, with a smooth creamy out of focus background ... perfect.

Built like a tank, if you ever lose a hammer, just use this

Good contrast, smooth tones & sharp optics make this a good addition to the kit bag. Can't wait to try out some wildlife shots plus the inevitable motor sports
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New here

Registered: January 2009
Location: Tasmania
Posts: 30
Review Date: Thu January 8, 2009 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: range, IS, so flexible
Cons: build issues, soft at 400mm

I really love my 100-400, but it is moderately soft at 400mm, and after about 14months of light use, bits of grey paper started coming out from under the zoom lock ring, and now it wont lock anymore. Pretty sad for a $2000 Aus lens. Anyhow, it gives brilliant colours and contrast under 400mm. I really like using it for portraits and landscapes- the compression you get from it is awesome. This lens is a lot more versatile than a lot of people credit- it's not just a wildlife and bird lens! Given an 8/10 for softness after around 350mm and the grey paper, which I shall not talk about due to blood pressure issues.
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