"The Canon 100 - 400L IS lens - Check out below for the pros and cons of this awesome lens"
If you want a versatile and affordable super zoom lens for your Canon camera there is only one lens you should be looking at, and that is the canon 100-400L IS lens. I bought this lens to have a go at motor sports photography however as I started in dabbling in, and having a crack at photographing other subjects I also use my 100 – 400 for bird photography and wildlife photography too.
Choosing to buy the Canon 100 – 400 was an easy decision for me. Basically I wanted a 400mm lens for motor sports photography, it had to be Canon branded (call me a brand snob but I know Canon equipment is good quality and will last) and I wanted a zoom lens (because a fixed focal length prime would be too restrictive). With my list of requirements there was only one choice the Canon 100 – 400L IS lens.
Now I have owned and used my Canon 100 – 400 lens for a few years now I thought it was about time I shared what I consider the pros and cons of this lens.
Pros of the Canon 100 – 400L IS lens
1) It’s an L series lens. Being an L series lens the Canon 100 – 400 is made from the best quality materials and uses superior optics.
It’s tough. The Canon 100 – 400 is tough, durable and pretty much “bomb proof”. All Canon L series lenses are well made and strong, but out of all the L series lenses I own the Canon 100 – 400 seems to be tougher than the others. Maybe it’s because it is so big and heavy? I don’t know, but this is one sturdy lens that will never let you down. The Canon 100 – 400 is also weather sealed, which considering it is an outdoor lens is a good thing. You can use this lens in ocean spray, in dusty deserts and in damp conditions and not have to worry too much.
2) It has image stabilisation. The Canon 100 – 400 has 4 stop image stabilisation to help alleviate the effects of camera shake and all ow tack sharp hand held photos at slower shutter speeds. I don’t think the image stabilisation is 4 stops, well I can’t get that much, but it gives a 2 stop advantage every time and I have managed to get 3 stops, although I can’t get that consistently.
3) It’s versatile. With the 100mm – 400mm (effective 160mm – 640mm on a crop sensor camera) the Canon 100 – 400 is a versatile lens. With this amount of zoom I can sit on the side of a race track and zoom in for frame filling shots of the driver in the cockpit or pull right back and get two or three cars jostling for position, and all without having to physically move. A zoom lens is crucial at those events where you’re confined to a seat or location and unable to move closer to or further away from the action and this lens fits the bill perfectly.
4) It has a push/pull zoom. The push/pull zoom enables super quick zooming to make sure I can capture all the action as it unfolds. The push/pull zoom does take a bit of getting used to, but once you get the hang of it you’ll find it quicker than the more popular twist zoom lenses. I have read reports about photographers claiming the push/pull mechanism sucks in dust however I have never had this problem, and I have used my 100 – 400 in very dusty locations, so if this lens “sucking in dust” is something stopping you from buying one, please don’t let it because you won’t have any issues at all.
5) It’s affordable. The Canon 100 – 400 isn’t a cheap lens, and you are going to have to dig pretty deep to buy one, but compared to other 400mm lenses it is affordable. All things considered the Canon 100 – 400 lens is great value for money and you get a lot of bang for your buck.
Cons of the Canon 100 – 400L IS lens
1) It’s not particularly fast. One of the biggest problems with the canon 100 – 400 is the maximum wide aperture of f4.5 at the 100mm end that increases to f5.6 at the 400mm end. If light levels are good you shouldn’t have too many problems keeping shutter speeds fast enough to get sharp shots, but when the light starts to fade you are going to have to start working around the issue, and start pushing the ISO. The other problem with a narrower aperture is the ability to blur out the background diminishes. The telephoto effect obviously eases this problem but you may also have to work around this too, like when photographing birds.
2) It’s big and heavy. The canon 100 – 400 lens is a beast of a lens. It is big, it is heavy and you will start to feel it after a few hours shooting. I find a monopod is an essential bit of kit and I always have one with me when using my Canon 100 – 400 as it takes the weight a bit.
3) It’s not discreet. Because the 100 – 400 is so big, and it is also white, it is a bit of a “look at me lens” that is not discreet in any way. The 100 – 400 attracts a lot of attention, much of which is unwanted.
The Canon 100 – 400 is an awesome lens and I wouldn’t be without it. Personally, I think it is an essential lens for any photographer who wants a zoom lens longer than 200mm (where 200mm is the limit the Canon 70 – 200 lens would be a better choice) and wants to have a go at capturing sports, wildlife and birds. I also use my Canon 100 – 400 to take photos of dragonflies and butterflies and I have managed to get some really cool close up shots (although not macro shots) without spooking the insets and scaring them away. If you are thinking of buying the Canon 100 – 400 all I can say is do it, and I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
The Canon 100 - 400 isn't cheap however there are always great deals on used and Canon 100 - 400L IS lenses on eBay - Try the search box below for yourself and see if you can grab yourself a bargain.
If you found the above useful/informative below are some other posts detailing the pros and cons (from my personal experience) of other Canon lenses that may be of interest to you. Please do feel free to take a look.
“PROS AND CONS OF THE CANON 8 – 15 FISHEYE LENS” Since this lens can capture diagonal fisheye photos and full circular fisheye photos it is effectively two fish eye lenses in one, and without a doubt the best fisheye lens on the market for Canon cameras. It really is a cool lens.
“PROS AND CONS OF THE CANON 70 – 200 F4L IS LENS” This is not Canon’s top end flag ship 70 – 200 zoom lens however it is the best value for money and gives the biggest bang for the buck. If you want a 70 – 200 zoom lens and can live without the f2.8 aperture this is the lens for you. A truly excellent lens.
“PROS AND CONS OF THE CANON 16 – 35 F4L IS LENS” This lens is, without a doubt, the best wide angle lens for Canon cameras. It is cheaper than the f2.8 version, it is smaller than the f2.8L version and the image quality is better than the f2.8L version. If you want a wide angle lens for you Canon camera look no further than this.
“PROS AND CONS OF THE CANON 100 F2.8L IS MACRO LENS” This is Canon’s flagship macro lens and when you see it, feel it and use it you will soon see why. If macro and close up are your thing you need this lens. If products and still life subjects are your thing this is your lens. This is the sharpest lens I own and when I use it I have to watch my fingers.
“PROS AND CONS OF THE CANON 28 – 300L IS F3.5 – 5.6 LENS” Many photographers give this lens a hard time and I struggle to see why. Okay, it is expensive but you get an L series lens that is bullet proof, has image stabiliszation, has excellent build quality and has the ability to capture a huge range of different shots. This is the perfect walkabout and travel lens, and one I carry around on my 6d all the time.
“PROS AND CONS OF THE CANON 35MM F2 IS LENS” If you want an affordable 35mm prime lens that is as good as a Canon L series lens (but doesn’t carry the red ring) this is the lens for you. The image quality is great, the build quality is good and the image stabilization technology is superb. All in all this is a cracking lens and one every photographer should have in their collection.
“PROS AND CONS OF THE CANON 24 – 70 F2.8L LENS” This is, without a doubt, one of the best portrait lenses of all time. This lens has been my workhorse for many years now and I wouldn’t be without it. I love this lens, and I am sure you would too.
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.