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Posts: 4
Registered: ‎02-28-2017

100-400 USM II artifacts

I'm a wildlife photographer with an emphasis on rare birds and other species.  Over the past 40 years, I've used Leica, Ricoh, Sony Alpha, Lumix and Nikon systems but decided to switch to Canon when I got more serious about wildlife photography.

 

I purchased one of the early 100-400 USM II for my 7D Mk II from a Canon dealer.  Within the first few months I found lens would often not autofocus unless the lens was fully retracted, particularly with the 1.4x attached.  In addition, many pictures were showing echo-like artifacts when there were branches, narrow leaves, long blades of grass or other linear features in the background or foreground.  By "echo" I mean these kinds of narrow features would often show up doubled or tripled in the image.  Some sample photos showing the problem are provided below.

 

Last year I sent the 100-400 and 7D-II back to Canon for evaluation.  After a month or so, Canon sent the camera system back and said the echo artifacts in the photos I had sent were from chromatic aberration which was normal for this lens.  I've seen chromatic aberration in other lenses, but never like this.  

 

I then showed some of the same photos to two experienced wildlife photographers who were also using the 100-400 II, and both said they had not seen these kinds of artifacts in their images.

 

The artifacts are so distracting that they have ruined many otherwise nice shots.  Even when there are no obvious echoes, the bokeh is often so bad that it also spoils the photo.  I assume this from the same cause.

 

When there are no linear features in the background or foreground, the 7D-II + 100-400-II combination has provided me with some exceptional photos.  Unfortunately, because I spend a lot of time photographing in forested and brushy habitats, most of my photos end up degraded by the artifacts.  It's been disappointing and frustrating.  Many of the subject animals were very difficult to locate and get well framed.  Some of them are so rare and difficult to locate that I will never have another chance to photograph them. 

 

I'm posting this to ask if other photographers using the 100-400-II have experienced these kinds of artifacts ... or whether I should send the lens back to Canon again for further evaluation and repair.  If any of you have experienced these kinds of artifacts, did you find a way to prevent them and ensure good bokeh?  My artifacts and bokeh problems seem to show up at any aperture, focal length, or shutter speed settings.   

 

 

Apache-Goshawk.jpegGround-Doves.jpegArizona-Brown-Thrasher.jpegWhite-tipped-Doves.jpegElegant-Trogon.jpegRufous-backed-Robin.jpegCooper's-Hawk.jpegSmooth-billed-Ani.jpegRose-Throated-Becard.jpegCalifornia-Quail.jpegBobcat.jpegRed-naped-Sapsucker.jpeg

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 3,808
Registered: ‎06-25-2014

Re: 100-400 USM II artifacts

I'd guess maybe a misaligned lens element. Was the lens ever dropped? Is the 1.4 extender a Canon or a third-party?

Bob
Boston, Massachusetts USA
Honored Contributor
Posts: 5,627
Registered: ‎08-13-2015

Re: 100-400 USM II artifacts

[ Edited ]

Those are otherwise magnificent shots.  I like them all.

 

I have seen something similar in different lenses, a 150-500mm and a 150-600mm "C" by Sigma.  I have had a couple of shots with my EF 100-400mm USM II show similar distortion in a few shots.  Never have I had it as bad a your posted shots, though. 

 

Over time, and experimenting with different combinations of lens and camera settings, I reached the uncertain conclusion that I would occasionally get the perfect storm of settings and shooting scenario to cause it.  A combination of settings were causing it under certain shooting conditions.  

 

I immediately noticed, on the Sigma lenses most particularly, that using AI Servo mode could have a noticeable negative effect when shooting subjects that were relatively stationary, which all of your shots show.  I switched to One Shot for relatively stationary subjects, and the effect was reduced.

 

The worse shots were when I was using a tripod with IS turned on, OS in the case of the Sigmas, that I would get ugly bokeh. Although, some combinations of a Canon body and lens can supposedly determine the camera is on a tripod, and self disable the IS systems.  I was using a 6D.  My shutter speed was sufficiently high that I didn't really need IS, so I turned off IS when I was not panning, and my images improved. 

 

I think I was probably imagining things, but I noticed the effect seemed more noticeable at certain shutter speeds than others.  It didn't help my investigations that I would shoot most of my shots on a sunny day at the same shutter speed.  So, I began changing shutter speeds and reshooting the same shot.  I noticed that the effect was seemingly worse at certain shutter speeds than others, especially when I had IS or AI Servo enabled with "tracking priority" selected, instead of "focus priority".

 

Now things were really confusing me.  So, I decided to reduce the number of variables and unknowns.  I began taking manuallly focused shots in One Shot mode from a tripod, with no IS, using only the center AF point.  I would focus the camera at a point, switch the lens to MF and take the shot.  I also began using Back Button Focus, so that when I depressed the shutter in AF mode, the camera would not try to refocus,  

 

Suddenly, the issue seemed to have gone elsewhere.  I no longer had ugly backgrounds.  I am not sure what happened, but I had turned off all of the focusing and tracking aids, and all was well.  Remember, I was using a 6D.  I tried a 7D Mark II and a 1D Mark IV, but could never reproduce the effect to the degree that I had seen with the 6D, which is not to say that I didn't see it.  I began turning all of the auto focusing aids and modes back on, while observing some the traps and pitfalls that I "discovered", like not using AI Servo with a stationary camera and a stationary subject, or turning off IS when the camera is relatively still, especially with the Sigma lenses.

 

I concluded that the biggest contributing factors were IS, AI Servo, and shutter speed, when shooting a relatively stationary subject.  I would suggest experimenting with different settings when shooting still subjects like the shots that you have posted.

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"I don't rent software. I use Photoshop CS6, ACR 9.8 and Lightroom 6.8 ."
Honored Contributor
Posts: 5,627
Registered: ‎08-13-2015

Re: 100-400 USM II artifacts

[ Edited ]

Same camera and lens combination, 6D and Sigma 150-600mm, but dramatically different settings.

 

IMG_4913.jpg

 

The above shot was taken with AI Servo, IS, tracking priority, keep focusing when focus has been lost, and a host of other stuff that I cannot think of as I type this reply.  The shot below was focused with AF, but using BBF and One Shot mode, and I used the 100-400.

 

CT7D2016_06_240535.jpg

 

Below is one of the first shots that I ever took with the Sigma, before the Robin, using One Shot mode.  It was this shot that made me realize that I didn't always have this ugly background problem, and it could be a settings related issue.

 

IMG_2331.Cropped_050.JPG

 

The better looking shot of the seagull used no filter, while the out-of-focus shot of the robin used a cheap filter, BTW.  The shot with the 100-400mm used a B&W Clear MRC Nano filter.  Filters can make a difference, too.

 

Hope this helps.

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"I don't rent software. I use Photoshop CS6, ACR 9.8 and Lightroom 6.8 ."
VIP
Posts: 8,252
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: 100-400 USM II artifacts

[ Edited ]

The ugly bokeh is typical of this lens. I also saw it with the first version. It is not obvious all the time, but will show at times with high contrast backgrounds.  The converter makes it worse and if you have a filter on it makes it worse too.  Hot or even warmer humid days will make it worse.

My suggestion, lose any filter.  Stop using the tele converter or get the new Canon version III if you must.  Turn off the IS. Use One shot, never AI-Servo.  If you did any focus adjustment put it back to zero.

A lot of Canon stuff. Along with, a lot of other stuff.
Reputable Contributor
Posts: 891
Registered: ‎02-06-2013

Re: 100-400 USM II artifacts

I also think it is normal for this lens too - many other lenses too not just this one. The trick is to avoid busy backgrounds. I have a few pictures that look like yours so I don't think there's anything wrong with your lens in particular.
================================================
Diverhank's photos on Flickr
VIP
Posts: 8,252
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: 100-400 USM II artifacts

"The trick is to avoid busy backgrounds."

 

Amen!

A lot of Canon stuff. Along with, a lot of other stuff.
Respected Contributor
Posts: 1,838
Registered: ‎02-26-2015

Re: 100-400 USM II artifacts

[ Edited ]

JeffD wrote:

I'm a wildlife photographer with an emphasis on rare birds and other species.  Over the past 40 years, I've used Leica, Ricoh, Sony Alpha, Lumix and Nikon systems but decided to switch to Canon when I got more serious about wildlife photography.

 

I purchased one of the early 100-400 USM II for my 7D Mk II from a Canon dealer.  Within the first few months I found lens would often not autofocus unless the lens was fully retracted, particularly with the 1.4x attached.  In addition, many pictures were showing echo-like artifacts when there were branches, narrow leaves, long blades of grass or other linear features in the background or foreground.  By "echo" I mean these kinds of narrow features would often show up doubled or tripled in the image.  Some sample photos showing the problem are provided below.

 

Last year I sent the 100-400 and 7D-II back to Canon for evaluation.  After a month or so, Canon sent the camera system back and said the echo artifacts in the photos I had sent were from chromatic aberration which was normal for this lens.  I've seen chromatic aberration in other lenses, but never like this.  

 

I then showed some of the same photos to two experienced wildlife photographers who were also using the 100-400 II, and both said they had not seen these kinds of artifacts in their images.

 

The artifacts are so distracting that they have ruined many otherwise nice shots.  Even when there are no obvious echoes, the bokeh is often so bad that it also spoils the photo.  I assume this from the same cause.

 

When there are no linear features in the background or foreground, the 7D-II + 100-400-II combination has provided me with some exceptional photos.  Unfortunately, because I spend a lot of time photographing in forested and brushy habitats, most of my photos end up degraded by the artifacts.  It's been disappointing and frustrating.  Many of the subject animals were very difficult to locate and get well framed.  Some of them are so rare and difficult to locate that I will never have another chance to photograph them. 

 

I'm posting this to ask if other photographers using the 100-400-II have experienced these kinds of artifacts ... or whether I should send the lens back to Canon again for further evaluation and repair.  If any of you have experienced these kinds of artifacts, did you find a way to prevent them and ensure good bokeh?  My artifacts and bokeh problems seem to show up at any aperture, focal length, or shutter speed settings.   

 

 


Looks like oversharpening in post processing, if that is not it, yes, something is not right with the lens.

 

A00A8938.jpg

A00A1697-3.jpg

A00A5858-2.jpgA00A6106.jpg

 

Top two photos are with a 1.4X TC which I almost always use now, the bottom two are without a TC.

Respected Contributor
Posts: 1,838
Registered: ‎02-26-2015

Re: 100-400 USM II artifacts

[ Edited ]

EOS 7D Mk II - EF 100-400 L IS II w/ 1.4X TC III - No lens correction applied

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Naples, FL - Florida's Special Places: Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

A00A1668-3.jpg

560mm, 1/800 f/8 ISO 12800  

Honored Contributor
Posts: 5,627
Registered: ‎08-13-2015

Re: 100-400 USM II artifacts


TTMartin wrote:

EOS 7D Mk II - EF 100-400 L IS II w/ 1.4X TC III - No lens correction applied

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Naples, FL - Florida's Special Places: Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

A00A1668-3.jpg

560mm, 1/800 f/8 ISO 12800  


Tom, what sort of lens filter do you use, if any, on the 100-400?  In addition to changing some settings, I replaced the UV filter with a less costly B+W clear filter, and now all of my backgrounds are beautiful.  The lens has a learning curve, IMHO.

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"I don't rent software. I use Photoshop CS6, ACR 9.8 and Lightroom 6.8 ."
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