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Author Topic: Canon 400mm f4 DO lens - any users on this forum with feedback etc  (Read 5544 times)

FarQinell

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In theory this should be a wonderful lens - Canon prime, light weight, f4, IS etc., etc.
But reading user comments on fredmiranda etc and elsewhere you get mixed reactions - so it appears things ain't turned out for Canon as intended for this lens.
Shame that Canon did not simply scale up the 300 f2.8 - but that's history!
Read somewhere that later versions of the DO are better than the earlier batches - maybe just rumour.
Would like to know how well it works with a Canon 1.4x TC.
Any users out there?
« Last Edit: March 14, 2012, 10:45:43 AM by FarQinell »

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samkatz

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Re: Canon 400mm f4 DO lens - any users on this forum with feedback etc
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2012, 10:47:49 PM »
the luminouslandscape website has a pretty good review on the lens. you can check that.  I'd buy one if it wasn't so expensive...Too bad they can't produce and sell more at a lower price.  With all the aging baby boomers around with bad backs, you'd think there would be a good market for high quality but lighter weight lenses.

NiceShotSteve

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Re: Canon 400mm f4 DO lens - any users on this forum with feedback etc
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2012, 11:45:30 PM »
I think the biggest drawback is the rendering of the out-of-focus highlights. Most of the time, the "bokeh" is rendered in fine concentric circles. Other than that, it's probably a decent lens, price aside.

Thales

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Re: Canon 400mm f4 DO lens - any users on this forum with feedback etc
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2012, 01:14:29 AM »
I really enjoy the 400 F4 DO lens.  As most people would say the contrast is lower on this lens than most other primes which is the result of the DO optics but it is not all that noticeable on its own.  I have used a 400 DO on several trips in and around Yellowstone and I can attest that the light weight and relatively (everything is relative when we are talking primes of course) small size make this a killer lens for hiking and walking with for long periods while still getting decent range.  I have also used this lens extensively with a 1.4xTC II.  I have to say that in general the combination is workable but the IQ of the images does drop markedly with the 1.4x TC II.

It all depends on what you want to use this lens for... if you are hiking and/or you expect to be out and carrying the thing for relatively long periods, want to shoot 400 handheld at f/4 etc. then I strongly recommend this lens.  If on the other hand if expect you are going to need to shoot with a 1.4x TC because the 400 isn't long enough for you then I would recommend the 300 f2.8 with a 2x TC.  The IQ will be better but this package will be larger and heavier.

Flake

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Re: Canon 400mm f4 DO lens - any users on this forum with feedback etc
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2012, 07:07:39 AM »
The f / stop system used by photographers is unfortunately pretty useless, being only a simple ratio of the front element to the focal length, it was largely replaced in the film industry by  T (transimission) stops, which instead measures the amount of light a lens is able to pass through.   So a lens with an f/2.8 rating might not allow as much light through as a lens with an f/5.6 rating, but without measurement it's impossible to tell.  Dxo have done some measurements, but as yet they have not measured this lens, so there are no actual T/stop figures for it , my personal feeling is however that this lens will not have a high value due to its 'different' optics.

The 400mm f/4 weighs 2Kg which is it's main advantage, but my personal choice would be the Sigma 120 - 300mm f/2.8 OS which weighs in at 3Kg, superb image quality, but it's main advantage is that it's about 1/3 the price of the 400mm f/4 !  With teleconverters, (which it takes very well) you have a focal range from 120mm to 600mm while still retaining good image quality.

For either of these lenses I'd recommend a sturdy monopod at least, if you're wandering around.  I wish I could recommend a suitable case for walking with either of these lenses, but there seems to be very few around.

FarQinell

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Re: Canon 400mm f4 DO lens - any users on this forum with feedback etc
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2012, 07:26:17 AM »
.............  If on the other hand if expect you are going to need to shoot with a 1.4x TC because the 400 isn't long enough for you then I would recommend the 300 f2.8 with a 2x TC.  The IQ will be better but this package will be larger and heavier.

Thanks for your comments.

There seems to be a correlation between optical quality of a Canon lens and its ability to give good/fine images with a TC in particular the Canon 2x TC.

The lenses that could come into this category are very few, I think?

Let's start with these two:

Canon 300/2.8
Canon 200/2

Any other contenders?


Flake

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Re: Canon 400mm f4 DO lens - any users on this forum with feedback etc
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2012, 08:01:41 AM »
Yes the Sigma 120 - 300mm f/2.8 OS !

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Re: Canon 400mm f4 DO lens - any users on this forum with feedback etc
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2012, 08:01:41 AM »

smirkypants

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Re: Canon 400mm f4 DO lens - any users on this forum with feedback etc
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2012, 08:17:42 AM »
Yes the Sigma 120 - 300mm f/2.8 OS !
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Kiboko

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Re: Canon 400mm f4 DO lens - any users on this forum with feedback etc
« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2012, 09:30:37 AM »
I can answer with direct experience. I started my wildlife photography with a Sigma 400mm f5.6 lens back in 1989. I exchanged it for a Canon 400mm f5.6L. Being what I can only now describe as "indoctrinated by the views of other photographers" I felt I just HAD to get an f2.8L - when I exhanged the f5.6L for the f2.8L I found the impractibility of travelling with such a large heavy lens completely cancelled out any perceived advantages. When I used it wide open at f2.8 I found that the depth of field was so limited I had to shut down to f4 or f5.6  to get an acceptable d. of f. Eventually after a couple of trips to Kenya and India with the 400mm f2.8L I exchanged it for a 400mm f4 DO lens at a cost of several thousands of £££'s. My hopes that I'd found my dream lens were dashed however when I discovered after buying it that it was still extremely heavy, (light? - don't make me laugh)! unacceptably bulky, and the lens hood, (as was the f2.8's), resembled a waste-paper bin. I then exchanged it for a 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L zoom lens, this was smaller. lighter, and more versatile. I have no issues as to the quality of the images any of these lenses provide, other than my original Sigma which wasn't so good, - I will be keeping my 100-400 with a view to exchanging it for a new improved version as soon as one appears. I'd also be interested in a new 400mm f5.6L with IS if they ever brought one out. I've also bought the recent 70-300mm f4-5.6L which is a cracking lens and in my view a new 100-400mm should simply be a slightly larger version. In the days when I was using the Sigma, 400mm f5.6L and f2.8L lenses, I was using a film camera at 100ISO. Now with a 400mm focal length on a 7D body I'm getting the equivalent of 640mm on auto ISO which at say, 400 ISO, is indistinguishable in image quality, taking into account IS which the other lenses didn't have. To anyone thinking of the 400mm DO lens I'd say, wait and see what Canon does this year before spending so much on an f4 lens, which, however attractive it might sound, I'd suggest most people don't really need. They think they do!

AnselA

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Re: Canon 400mm f4 DO lens - any users on this forum with feedback etc
« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2012, 10:25:16 AM »
$$$

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Re: Canon 400mm f4 DO lens - any users on this forum with feedback etc
« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2012, 10:39:45 AM »
I just got the 400 DO and so far I'm very impressed with it. Unfortunately I haven't taken it out for a serious shoot yet, but I will soon.

It's sharp, the contrast is fine. It does hunt a bit in low contrast situations. It's built well, and beautifully light.

I wish I had some great images to show you that were made with it, but those will have to wait a bit.


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photorockies

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Re: Canon 400mm f4 DO lens - any users on this forum with feedback etc
« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2012, 11:17:19 AM »
I use this lens for sports and wildlife.  It is a very sharp lens which does loose some contrast but only when pointed into the sun.  I have to be careful and choose my sideline accordingly when using it at football games.  In direct or side light, it is great.  It is short and compact for a telephoto.  You don;t just stick it in an ordinary camera bag and lug it around.  I traded my 400 2.8 non IS for it  and my shoulder has thanked me.  I occassionally miss the 2.8 (night football) but otherwise am happy with it.  Buy this lens if daylight shooting is your norm.   It is much sharper than a 100-400 or 400 5.6.   As for teleconverters, focus is slow with a 1.4x.  I'm hoping the new cross sensors for f4 lenses will help this out some on the new models. 

jjlpdx

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Re: Canon 400mm f4 DO lens - any users on this forum with feedback etc
« Reply #12 on: June 21, 2012, 01:55:14 PM »
Hi there... I just got the 400mm f4 DO. Some thoughts:
  • I got this to get as much reach as I could and still hand-hold without killing my back... The thought being that I'm much more likely to actually use the lens and get shots if I can hand-hold it. So far, so good...
  • It's a pretty sharp lens (sharp enough anyway - the lens corners simply don't matter - with a lens like this the images are such that the corners are always OOF anyway, so who cares? I haven't done any checking on that - maybe the corners are sharp? I don't know...)
  • The IS on this lens is helpful, but it's old technology - noticeably not as good as the IS on newer lenses (it's also louder).
  • haven't noticed any oddities with the OOF highlights. This maybe only occurs in very specific situations
  • I'm using it with a 1.4xII TC... the focus doesn't seem to be super accurate with this combo on my 5DMII- especially if the subject is backlit. I'm thinking of upgrading to a 1.4xIIITC to see if that helps. As it is, I've had to adjust the microfocus detail to +10 on my 5DMII for this lens combo. That does seem to help, but it's not a perfect fix.
  • Question: Can anyone recommend a soft bag to hold/protect this lens+camera when I"m walking around with it? I don't particularly like walking around with the whole setup in the open, and want the thing "readily accessible".. some kind of sling bag or big holster? I'm still searching around.

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Re: Canon 400mm f4 DO lens - any users on this forum with feedback etc
« Reply #12 on: June 21, 2012, 01:55:14 PM »

degies

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Re: Canon 400mm f4 DO lens - any users on this forum with feedback etc
« Reply #13 on: June 22, 2012, 05:31:15 PM »
Quote
Question: Can anyone recommend a soft bag to hold/protect this lens+camera when I"m walking around with it? I don't particularly like walking around with the whole setup in the open, and want the thing "readily accessible".. some kind of sling bag or big holster? I'm still searching around.

I got the LowePro AW400 Stealth reporter ( http://products.lowepro.com/product/Stealth-Reporter-D400-AW,2047,20.htm ) some time ago specifically for day walks or quick outings. It fits almost everything my AW450 Roller does and I find it quite handy in moving between crowds, sport events and so on. You get them in different sizes as well. I have added some of the BlackRapid Joey's to it so it almost got that photographer's utility belt look!  ;D 

Back to the topic of this lens! I think I will wait for the So-Called / Rumored new 100-400 since I kind of read in this thread that the DO is not really that great considering the price. Suppose that's why you wait for the Red Rings!  Problem is I have been holding back on that 24-70 for two freaking years and it is still not on a shelf somewhere ! :'(
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jjlpdx

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Re: Canon 400mm f4 DO lens - any users on this forum with feedback etc
« Reply #14 on: June 22, 2012, 06:16:54 PM »
Thanks for the reply... I might try a bunch of bags & see what works best.

btw, I do have the current 100-400 - and have had it for years. It's a good lens too, but I found that I was almost always using it at 400mm, and couldn't use the 1.4 extender with it... you lose autofocus (you can use the pin-taping trick, but the autofocus is dreadfully slow and bad when doing that.)

So, in a sense you could say that I paid an outrageous amount of $ for 1.4x magnification. I'm also planning to get whatever they replace the 7D with, which will effectively give me somewhere between 1.4-1.6x more reach, as the pixels will likely be more dense. But, from my perspective, I was comparing the 400DO to the new 500f4 lens... which was another $4k for an extra 100mm of reach... and weighed 3 pounds more.

Anyway, the "green ring" on the 400DO is every bit as high-quality as the "red ring" on the rest of my lenses. I don't know why they went with green instead of red. It is just an older design though - the 400DO was conceived about 10 years ago, and hasn't really been upgraded since. The glass is about as good as it's going to get, but I do wish the IS was newer. Oh well... if you always wait for a bigger wave, you'll never actually get out surfing! Some times you just have go for it.

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Re: Canon 400mm f4 DO lens - any users on this forum with feedback etc
« Reply #14 on: June 22, 2012, 06:16:54 PM »