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Canon's brilliant budget tele lens

Updated on October 6, 2013

If you shoot a Canon DSLR camera and want a long focal length lens for wildlife and sports photography,, that is affordable, you can’t go wrong with the Canon EF100 – 400L IS USM lens.

The 100 – 400 is a zoom lens with a focal length of 100mm at the wide end and 400mm at the long end. If you shoot a Canon dslr with a cropped sensor, such as a 7d this equates to an effective focal length of 160mm - 640mm, which is simply awesome.

The first thing you will notice about the Canon 100 – 400 is its size and weight. It is a beast of a lens that is heavy, and after a day of lugging it around you will feel it, although this is not such a bad thing as it will help you build up your muscles! The Canon 100 – 400 is supplied with a tripod collar (free of charge!) so you can always use it on a tripod, or better still, a monopod to take some of the weight.

The build quality of the 100 – 400 is second to none, which is to be expected given it is a Canon L grade, i.e. professional lens. This lens is tough, durable and built to last. It is a lens designed for outdoor use and it is tough enough to withstand anything you care to throw at it, and this is helped by the weather sealing. I have given my 100 – 400 some real hard over the last three years and it has never let me down. Sure, it has picked up a few war wounds along the way, but it still works as good today as it did when I first picked it up.

The Canon 100 – 400 has a maximum aperture of f4.5 at the wide end and f5.6 at the long end, which isn’t particularly fast but given it is designed for outdoor use this should not create too many problems, unless it is real dark outside. The good thing about tele lenses is that wider apertures, i.e. f4.5 and 5.6, can still throw the background nicely out of focus, which means you can capture tack sharp subjects against a blurred out background. If you do start to struggle with shutter speed because of the apertures you will have to compensate by pushing the ISO, which isn’t such a bad thing because modern day Canon dslr cameras can cope with higher ISOs very well.

The Canon 100 – 400 has push/pull focusing, rather than the conventional twist system. Although this takes a bit of getting used to at first, the push/pull is way faster than the twist system which means it is possible to zoom in and out very quickly, which is essential when photographing racing cars or motorcycles and the like. To stop the lens from extending accidentally there is a ‘stop’ ring you twist to lock the lens in place. Some people think the push/pull system acts like a vacuum and sucks up dust, although I have never found this to be a problem and I have used my Canon 100 – 400 in some pretty dusty places I can tell you.

One of the best things about the Canon 100 – 400 is the image stabilisation feature, which works very well. Canon claim it is four stop image stabilisation, i.e. you can reduce the shutter speed by four stops and still achieve tack sharp focus, although I think it is more like two stops. Regardless, the image stabilisation is an excellent feature and ensures you get tack sharp shots each and every time and don’t get plagued by camera shake.

The Canon 100 – 400 is by no means cheap, after all you will have to pay over a thousand bucks, but it is great value for money. I mean, if you want a 400mm lens from other manufacturers you would be forking out a substantial amount of money.

So would I recommend the Canon 100 – 400 lens? Most definitely without a doubt, I would. I use my 100 – 400 for bird photography, wildlife photography and sports photography and I have had no problems with it at all. The image quality is awesome, I can only describe the build quality as bullet proof and it is also affordable. The canon 100 – 400 lens is, without a doubt, one of my favourite Canon L lenses of all time.

One of the most important accessories for the Canon 100 - 400 is a lens filter. The Canon 100 - 400 is designed for outdoor use, therefore is is susceptible to dirt and debris. Because of this it is important to protect the front element of the lens, and a screw in UV filter is the best way to do this.

In addition to a lens filter I also have a lens jacket for mine, just to keep it looking like new. I know a lens jacket isn't essential but I am a bit precious about my Canon photography equipment and like to keep it pristine.

B+W 77mm Clear UV Haze with Multi-Resistant Coating (010M)
B+W 77mm Clear UV Haze with Multi-Resistant Coating (010M)

I only use B+W UV filters on my Canon 100 - 400. B+W aren't the cheapest filters but they are excellent quality and I think the Canon 100 - 400 deserves the best.

LensCoat Lens Cover for Canon 100-400 Lens Cover camouflage neoprene camera lens protection sleeve (Real tree Max4)
LensCoat Lens Cover for Canon 100-400 Lens Cover camouflage neoprene camera lens protection sleeve (Real tree Max4)

If you want your Canon 100 - 400 lens to keep hidden and blend in with the background (essential for wildlife photography) this Real tree design is awesome. I have this lens jacket and I can honestly say the fit is superb. A must have accessory, in my eyes.


If you are still not convinced the Canon 100 - 400 lens is for you may I suggest you take a look at the following review, courtesy of Youtube? Out of all the Canon 100 - 400 reviews I have seen, and trust e I have seen plenty of them, the following is by far the best I have found.

Any questions, queries or comments about the Canon 100 - 400 please note here.

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    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 4 years ago from United States

      Wow! It sounds like a dynamic, must-have lens! Thanks for the introduction.