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

Jake
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

My first 100-400L was not that sharp, & I sold it several years ago. However I recently took a chance & bought another one . This one is very sharp(I've been told exceptionly so by some) & it is super convenient for wildlife hunting while hiking back country or shooting from the car on back country roads. I really like it lot!
Leon

I am very unhappy with my 100-400.  Nothing is sharp.  I even sent it out for calibration and it isn't any better.  I am beginning to think it is back or front focusing although I am not knowledgeable enough to know how to test and fix it myself.  I have ruined several shots with it.

Thank you GlynH! I work as an animal keeper at the Animal Ark wildlife sanctuary north of Reno, Nevada. We have three cheetahs that run once a week or so for exercise. This year we added photo blinds in addition to the spectator seating. Becoming very popular with photographers!


@SusanK wrote:
Thank you GlynH! I work as an animal keeper at the Animal Ark wildlife sanctuary north of Reno, Nevada. We have three cheetahs that run once a week or so for exercise. This year we added photo blinds in addition to the spectator seating. Becoming very popular with photographers!

I thought this guy was running for breakfast/lunch or something? I would be worried he was looking straight at me! 🙂

 

Can I ask what body/lens/settings did you use for this shot?

 

Thanks & kind regards,

-=Glyn=-

EXIF is intact.

 

5D mark II

1/2000

f/5.6

 

Wow.  Hopefully he was not coming for you and your 100-400!

Scott

Canon 5d mk 4, Canon 6D, EF 70-200mm L f/2.8 IS mk2; EF 16-35 f/2.8 L mk. III; Sigma 35mm f/1.4 "Art" EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro; EF 85mm f/1.8; EF 1.4x extender mk. 3; EF 24-105 f/4 L; EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS; 3x Phottix Mitros+ speedlites

Why do so many people say "FER-tographer"? Do they take "fertographs"?

Lulu, this link might help.

 

http://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthread.php?t=857871

 

However having had a 40D which wasn't quite right here's the easy test BUT you must use a tripod & set it up correctly. You'll need 3 targets that are the same (preferable) such as soft drink cans. Set them up at so that they are staggered apart & front to rear but that all 3 can be seen from the camera position. Place the one on the left 1 foot further back than the one in the middle, & the one on the right 1 foot closer than the one in the middle. (You'll need some distance from camera to targets) Set the camera to center AF point only & the camera to Av & select f5.6. (wide open) & use 400 mm. Lock the AF on the middle target & take a few shots but pause in between them to let the camera settle.Move the outer targets further forward & backward but don't move the middle one. Shoot more samples. Download & examine. The center target should always be in focus but the others should be a bit soft, but if one of them is more in focus than the center one you have a camera problem  Repeat as necessary to determine if it actually focusing in front or behind where it says it is.

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

Lieonel
Apprentice

Owned it, it isn't all that sharp compared to others in the range.

 

The reason to go with it is if you need 400mm.

I would prefer the 70-200 f/2.8 L II myself, next would be the 70-300mm L.

If you know what length you need one of the L primes would be even better.

David
Enthusiast

Excellent photo by the way.

What David said. Thanks for the compliments! Anyway, I love my 100-400 lens!

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