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Frequent Contributor
Posts: 57
Registered: ‎01-04-2013

Canon 100-400 mm zoom reliability

Much has been written on this popular lens, but the experience of Arthur Morris, a Canon contract photographer, has me most concerned about a purchase.  In the first chapter of his book on bird photography (viewable on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology site),  he talks about his own experience with this lens, and says that, of the people he has contact with through his seminars and such, about one-half of owners have needed to send this lens back to Canon for repair.

 

I am wondering what is the experience of people on this forum who have owned this lens.  I would appreciate hearing both good and bad tales.  The lens has just a wonderful focal-length range for wildlife photography.

 

Thanks!

 

Edward1064

 

 

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 2,344
Registered: ‎11-14-2012

Re: Canon 100-400 mm zoom reliability

If the article is on line can you post a link? If it's not when was it copyrighted? QC has improved over the years & I haven't read many complaints that fit your description of their quality. I bought mine used 6 or 7 years ago & it's seen a lot of use & still performs perfectly with one exception which is that it's a bit tight when the lock is first released. AF, sharpness & IS work perfectly & it's heavily used during the summer shooting R/C events. I do however know someone doing the same events who had to have his repaired (as any zoom may eventually need done) when the lens wouldn't zoom. I think it's caused when the ball bearings or whatever style of bearing it floats on wear out. 

 

"A skill is developed through constant practice with a passion to improve, not bought."
Frequent Contributor
Posts: 57
Registered: ‎01-04-2013

Re: Canon 100-400 mm zoom reliability

http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/bp/pdfs/spreads.pdf

Thank you for your reply, cicopo. Check out the link above, which should allow you to download the first chapter of the book as a pdf.
Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 2,344
Registered: ‎11-14-2012

Re: Canon 100-400 mm zoom reliability

Unfortunately I'm unable to download it which isn't a surprise. I'm in a rural area & have to rely on a less than perfect wireless system but it's way better than dial up was. The real question regarding those remarks is are they based on recent complaints or from several years ago? I have been an active member at Fredmiranda.com & photographyon thenet.com for several years & haven't heard anything similar plus own one that has served me well. We've had a few discussions on that specific lens & so far the only really negative review I've seen was 10 years old which is why I'd like to know when your info was published. 

 

"A skill is developed through constant practice with a passion to improve, not bought."
Frequent Contributor
Posts: 57
Registered: ‎01-04-2013

Re: Canon 100-400 mm zoom reliability

It appears that the book's comments date from 2004 or 2005. There is also a later book edition, which is on CD. Thank you for your comments and experience, cicopo, I appreciate them.
Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 2,344
Registered: ‎11-14-2012

Re: Canon 100-400 mm zoom reliability

In that case I'd dismiss the info as relavent today. It however does support the opinion here but again it is very dated.

 

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/lenses/forgotten-400.shtmlnot being

 

 

 

"A skill is developed through constant practice with a passion to improve, not bought."
VIP
Posts: 11,664
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: Canon 100-400 mm zoom reliability

I have owned one for 5+ years now and it, also, has worked perfectly. I am a person that equipment has to do the job. In the course of that, it must endure whatever it needs to. Now, yes, this is an expensive lens and I do take pretty good care of it, but if it doesn't do what I want, why have it? That kind of serves on how I use my stuff. The lens has been stellar.

I used to have the 400mm f5.6 prime. I sold it to get the 100-400mm. My reasoning is this, most zoom lens' get used at the long end of their ranges far more than they do in small or middle ranges. I am no exception and find I am at 400mm most of the time. The advantage is that, maybe the few times, you want or need shorter focal lengths, it's there. Who buys a 100 mm f4.5 anyway? Nobody unless it comes attached to a 400mm zoom!

Some complain with the push-pull design but I have had no issues with mine. I can recommend it without hesitation.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!
Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 2,344
Registered: ‎11-14-2012

Re: Canon 100-400 mm zoom reliability

I'll assume you're thinking about buying one for birding so I'll give you my view based on shooting R/C events which is similar enough to get where I'm going. I've owned the older Sigma 80-400 OS, 50-500 non OS, Canon 100-400 L IS & 300 f4 L IS and all at the same time. The AF on the 100-400 has a limit switch so it doen't hunt for omne end of it's travel to the other every time it's trying to re focus & that is VERY important shooting small things in motion. Both Sigma's were excellent lenses until I tried to shoot moving targets so they got sold. From what I've read the newer versions are better but not on par with the 100-400 so if you're shopping for a zoom rather than either the 300 or 400 primes it's the one to buy. It's one of the most common zoom lenses at air shows & for nature work. It's versatility is second to none in it's price range. 

"A skill is developed through constant practice with a passion to improve, not bought."
Frequent Contributor
Posts: 57
Registered: ‎01-04-2013

Re: Canon 100-400 mm zoom reliability

Thank you very much for taking the time to give me your thoughts and experience. You make a good case for the zoom.
Frequent Contributor
Posts: 57
Registered: ‎01-04-2013

Re: Canon 100-400 mm zoom reliability

This applies to ebiggs1. Thanks also to you,cicopo, for details on the operation of the 100-400!
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