Canon 400mm f5.6 L

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Canon 400mm f5.6 L

Postby royraiden » Mon May 30, 2011 6:56 pm

Hi guys!Today I decided to write a little review of the Canon 400mm f5.6 L which I bought 2 days ago for $650(a steal for this amazing lens).Lets start with a few shots of the lens itself.
Here's the lens with its lens hood retracted:
Another with the built-in hood extended:
And here it is mounted on my 40D(shot with cellphone,sorry for the quality):

Build Quality
Being part of the L series of Canon lenses,the build quality is exceptional.This is my first L lens,so I had never held one in my hands until now.From the moment I picked it up I was amazed at how solid it felt.It surely feels like a tank even though it is slim compared to its faster aperture cousins.Even though it is relatively slim,it sure is heavy compared to general use lenses.Even my Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 which is quite big and heavy,feels quite light when compared to the 400mm.Because it is a prime lens it only has a manual focus ring,which I honestly havent used,but the movement alone is really smooth.The lens features a built-in tripod mount ring which is really useful to balance the camera when mounted on a tripod or monopod,plus you can loosen the ring screw to be able to change the camera and lens from horizontal to vertical with ease.It also has a built-in lens hood which you just push to extend and pull back to retract.The filter thread is 77mm.
Auto-focus Speed
I had read countless reviews stating how fast this lens was with AF but I just didnt know until I put it to the test yesterday.In the paintball tournament I tested the lens, there were lots of players with a lot of obstacles at different distances between them,changing from player to player,running and jogging,crawling and peeking out of the objects rapidly,this lens had no problem keeping them focused all the time.Out of 180 pictures only 2 came out blurry and Im almost sure I just focused on the wrong place,probably because of the situation I was in,getting shot at from almost everywhere,I was dodging paintballs from the moment it started and got hit in the neck and directly on the front of the mask I was wearing.Add to that trying to compose a shot while viewing through the viewfinder with that mask on.
Optical Quality
Once again,I had read plenty reviews stating how sharp this lens was and I just found out while testing it.I shot the entire match at f5.6 and the sharpness is amazing.I did a few shots at f6.3 before the match and would say they were even sharper but I could not tell how much without examining similar shots.Before buying the lens I doubted that f5.6 would produce a nice bokeh,but at 400mm it sure does.You can for sure isolate your subjects with a nicely blurred background.So far I have not seen any chromatic aberration,but to be honest I have only used it for one day, and that is not enough to make a statement about it.

Sample shots
All pictures were shot with the lens mounted on a monopod and using 800 ISO in aperture priority at f5.6
The whole sky was covered with clouds,so even in less than ideal situations this lens performs superbly for outdoor events.Most photographers use this lens for bird photography but after seeing the results I had,I will use it confidently for outdoor sports(specially football) since its almost sunny all-year long where I live.So if you are in need of this focal length for outdoor uses, dont be afraid of the small aperture,you can surely achieve great pictures with it.My only con is that it aint 100% weather sealed,and arguably that it doesnt have IS, for me it aint a must but I can totally understand that others might find it critical for their uses.
You can see more and bigger photos of this event with this lens here:
Last edited by royraiden on Mon Jun 06, 2011 12:48 pm, edited 6 times in total.

Postby jameswilby5 » Mon May 30, 2011 7:33 pm

Thanks for the review royraiden. This lens has always interested me and one day I will get one :D It is very surprising how sharp it is wide open.
Camera: Canon 550D with battery grip
Lenses: Canon 24-105mm f/4L, Canon 50mm f1.4, Canon 18-55mm, Tamron 70-300mm,
Accessories: Manfrotto 055XPROB with 808RC4 head, Canon 430ex II speedlite, Lowepro Nova 180AW and Lowepro Pro Runner 450AW

Oh that is so lame, every hot girl who can aim a camera thinks she’s a photographer -Stewie Griffin
Posts: 861
Joined: Sun Aug 29, 2010 11:52 am
Location: Surrey, UK

Postby royraiden » Mon May 30, 2011 7:48 pm

Thank you for reading.Im still amazed by its sharpness too.

Postby denstock » Fri Jul 15, 2011 7:20 am

good review. you bought it for 650$? i only saw it for no less than 700$
Last edited by denstock on Sun Jul 17, 2011 8:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

Postby royraiden » Fri Jul 15, 2011 1:06 pm

Yup, found a great deal locally.

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