Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS USM lens review: Still a good all-round choiceBy Kevin Carter - Tuesday January 28 2014 Lens Review
A favorite of wildlife and action photographers, Canon’s EF100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS USM is a well-specified and versatile model. However, as it approaches sixteen years in production, is it still capable of competing with more modern offerings? Read on to find out.
Before last year’s introduction of the Canon EF200-400mm f4L IS USM x1.4 Extender this model was the only telephoto zoom in the range with a focal length over 300mm. Introduced in 1998 this L-series lens was made to a high specification that still stands today. As well as a two-stop image stabilizer the EF100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS USM has a fast, quiet ultrasonic AF motor. Like all Canon L-series lenses, it’s made to a high standard but it doesn’t feature environmental sealing – though just how effective that is in zoom is It also has a push-pull zoom mechanism (with a collar for adjusting resistance), which although once common is unusual today.
The optical construction is impressive, consisting of 17 elements arranged in 14 groups and includes fluorite and super low-dispersion glass elements to reduce chromatic aberration. It has a ‘floating’ system for improved image quality and close range, and a minimum focusing distance of 5.9 ft. (1.8m) and a maximum magnification of 1:5. With a 77mm filter attachment thread and measuring 7.4 x 3.6” (189 x 92mm) it’s compact (at least at 100mm), and at 48 oz (1,380g) it’s of reasonable weight (in fact slightly lighter than the firm’s EF70-200mm f2.8 IS II USM).
Please note that we’ve yet to complete our assessment of the promising new SP 150-600mm f5-6.3 Di VC USD from Tamron, which was unveiled in November last year at $1,999 (though already available at around $999). However, our review will be posted soon.