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Is the Canon 100-400mm a sharp enough lens?

Jake
Occasional Contributor

Hello everyone,

 

My name is Jake Miille and I am photographer in California. I use a Canon Rebel XSi (Hoping to upgrade to a Canon 7D Mark ii if it comes out in January) as well as a Canon 10-22mm and a 24-105L. I shoot mainly railroads throughout the Western US and sometime 105mm just doesn't cut it. I have been hoping to upgrade my telephoto lens (I do have a kit 55-250 but it's... you know) for awhile. I have seen a few options and I was hoping I could get some of your opinions/advice.

 

The Canon 100-400 looks like a nice lens and I'm really excited about the coverage it could get me. I am not too worried about the limited aperture because railroad scenes are usually shot on f/7.1 or higher. I have heard the push/pull system can be weird but I have no doubt that I could get use to it. My one concern with this lens is the sharpness and quality. I have heard it is not the sharpest L lens out there and I was wondering how that would affect my photos. I'm a little torn/confused because the lens is Canon L series, but people have discussed it as being a little soft. Does anyone out there have experience with this lens? Is it sharp enough? Will it be worth the money?

 

If you wouldn't recommend the 100-400, what do you think about the 70-300L? If those two lenses are equal in quality, the 100-400 would give me a better range. Is the 70-300 actually a sharper lens?

 

Thanks for the help.

43 REPLIES 43

Scarecrow
New Contributor

This was taken with a 100-400 and is sharp enough for me.

 

Valentino

GlynH
Occasional Contributor

My 100-400mm is definitely a sharp lens and I have used it handheld on a 5D to capture aircraft in flight where you can count the rivets on the fuselage!

 

_MG_0524_DxO.jpg

 

This is uncropped (you can even see the nose of another Rad Arrow bottom left) & unprocessed apart from converting from RAW to jpg with a little sharpening applied.

 

Hope that helps?

 

-=Glyn=-

cicopo
Esteemed Contributor

The lens can be both very versatile & sharp BUT you'll need to learn proper technique. It's heavy at first, plus it will take a while to learn the push / pull zoom movement while being smooth Higher shutter speeds help too, but depending on what you're shooting & the light you may need to use lower speeds which again comes down to practice.

 

First sample will be the full frame followed by a tight crop.

 

VZ1Q8751c1 copy.jpg

 

VZ1Q8751c1.JPG

 

INGR3920.JPG

 

"A skill is developed through constant practice with a passion to improve, not bought."

SusanK
Occasional Contributor

I have the 100-400 and just LOVE it. The push-pull in my opinion is much faster to zoom than a twist lens. I think it's incredibly sharp.  Here's one of my shots with the lens - no complaints here:

 

115Cheetahs11.jpg

Carnac
Occasional Contributor

I just got a refurbished 100-400L from the Canon direct site. I have been very happy with getting Canon refurbished lenses - they look absolutely new, and since each is checked by a technician before sale, I think they are often better calibrated then standard new stock. On my 5D mk II using FoCal to set the MA, my refurbished lenses have been within +/- 1 or 2. As far as being sharp, I agree, good technique is essential. I've had good luck so far handheld and expect future tripod shots to be fantastic. I actually like the push-pull zoom - smooth and easy to zoom from 400 on into 100 as the subject approaches.

 

IMG_7966.jpg

This was taken handheld at 400mm and 1/1600 at the Nellis airshow last weekend (about a 50% crop)

 

IMG_7153.jpg

 

This was taken handheld at 400mm and 1/400 at Spring Mountain Motor Ranch just outside of Las Vegas, NV a few weeks back. This is about a 50% crop.

jstntym
Occasional Contributor

@SusanK wrote:

I have the 100-400 and just LOVE it. The push-pull in my opinion is much faster to zoom than a twist lens. I think it's incredibly sharp.  Here's one of my shots with the lens - no complaints here:

 

115Cheetahs11.jpg


Incredible exposure, well done!

 

Regards, Will G.

SusanK
Occasional Contributor
Thanks jstntym!

GlynH
Occasional Contributor

@SusanK wrote:

I have the 100-400 and just LOVE it. The push-pull in my opinion is much faster to zoom than a twist lens. I think it's incredibly sharp.  Here's one of my shots with the lens - no complaints here:

 

115Cheetahs11.jpg


Wow...just wow! That's a stunning picture. Do you have the story on that one to share please?

 

-=Glyn=-

jstntym
Occasional Contributor

^^^^Sure seems locked on target^^^^

 

Regards, Will G.

rddelliott
Occasional Contributor
I am in a similar situation. Since going to a full frame camera, the 70-300L is a little short for my needs but sharp as it gets. I am thinking about buying the 100-400L but having a couple of previous copies, it was never quite sharp. It was probably my technique with the 100-400 which has improved.