Canon EF 400mm f2.8L IS II USM review: Canon’s Big Gun…

By Ben Boswell - Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Lens Review
Introduction | Canon EF 400mm f2.8L IS II USM sensor performance | Canon EF 400mm f2.8L IS II USM versus competition | Conclusion
Canon EF 400mm f2.8L IS II USM review: Canon’s Big Gun…

There are only a small proportion of photographers who can really justify buying a lens that costs the same as a small car, but if you really need a 400mm f2.8 lens then the chances are that you are going to get yourself one. To stick with the motoring analogy: Canon’s EF 400mm f2.8L IS II USM is not at all like a small car, it is rather more like a Formula 1 Racing car.

The Canon EF 400mm f2.8L IS II USM is a completely uncompromising ‘Super Telephoto’ lens built to fit Canon’s full frame cameras (it will also fit its APS-C cameras, on which it has an effective focal length of 640mm).

The design consists of 16 elements in 12 groups, including some fluorite glass. There is a ‘Subwavelength Structure Coating’ to reduce flare and a fluorine coating on the front and rear elements that makes cleaning easier. There is provision for internally mounted 52mm filters and for Gelatin filters too, this is just as well since the front of the lens is 163mm across, virtually ruling out using front mounted filters. The length is 343mm and the weight is 3850g: about the same as a new born baby!

The physical specifications of the 400mm f2.8 are complements with a wide range of operational features too: Image stabilization that allows for operation in 3 modes, 4 if you include ‘off’. The variations allow you to optimize the IS for shooting still subjects or moving subjects whilst panning. There are also options in focusing: Auto, using a USM motor, or Manual plus Power Focus, a smooth powered system primarily aimed at video users. Additionally you are able to preset a focus point to which the lens will snap whenever you ask it to or you can limit the focus to narrower ranges to ensure that it works as quickly as possible.

It is evident from the high proportion of professional sports photographers using Canon cameras that Canon has made a range of ‘Super Telephoto’ lenses that address the needs of this rather demanding group.

Canon EF 400mm f2.8L IS II USM sensor performance

Canon EF 400mm f2.8L IS II USM versus competition

Conclusion