Canon EF 400 F4 DO IS II USM first impressions

AdamBotond

EOS M6 Mark II
Mar 31, 2016
81
7
I thought some fellow photographers might be in similar situation like I was and might appreciate a feedback on this great lens if they are hesitant to buy or rent one.

I am interested in nature photography, mostly in mammals to be more specific, although I shoot occasionally birds, as well. I shoot stationary (hides) and scout 50-50 ratio.
I had been using Canon EF 400 F5.6 L lens on various rigs for 4 years. I consider that lens as the best value for general wildlife photography, especially if you are on a tight budget. While I still love that lens for being sharp wide open, lightweight, quick AF, I wanted to step up to a lens that has more flexibility, is faster, can be used with extenders to get some extra reach. Weight was also key, as I often do hikings or walk through swampy terrain to get closer to my subjects. I was hesitating between several lenses, including Canon EF 100-400 F4.5-5.6 IS II USM, Canon EF 300 F2.8L IS II USM (+1.4X III), Canon EF 400 F2.8 IS USM (mark I). For the criteria mentioned above, I finally decided to choose the 400 DO II, which was offered to me second hand in brand new condition and at a very reasonable price.

As I had been a 400 5.6L user, that's the lens I can compare to. I must say this DO II lens is a game changer! It is tack sharp wide, noticebly sharper than the 400 5.6L. 4 stops of IS is something that I am not used to, it is a very welcomed feature nonetheless. AF is definitely quicker. Needless to say, ergonomics and built are flawless.
One of the reasons, I picked the DO II is the fact that it takes extenders so well. Adding 2x III, makes it a hand-holdable, sharp 800mm F8 lens. I would say this compo equals the 400 5.6L in sharpness and AF speed. Being 2,1 kg in weight, it is definitely portable. The bokeh of the bare lens is smooth, I have not noticed anything wrong with OOF highlights, which was one of my concerns before I bought this DO lens. I haven't tried it in an "after-shower" scenario where those OOF highlights are dominant, though.
The Red deer rut is on the horizon here, I can't wait to go for it with that lens.

Overall, I am very happy with that lens, it is an improvement in every aspect for me. I highly recommend to buy or rent one!

(Shots were taken with the DO II+2X III.)
 

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Click

I post too Much on Here!!
Jul 29, 2012
14,177
2,435
Canada
Beautiful pictures. I really like your shots.

The 400DO gives very good results.
 

RGF

How you relate to the issue, is the issue.
Jul 13, 2012
2,820
38
very nice. The deer looks like it has moose antlers. What species? Where was it taken (my guess is somewhere in Europe).
 

AdamBotond

EOS M6 Mark II
Mar 31, 2016
81
7
RGF said:
very nice. The deer looks like it has moose antlers. What species? Where was it taken (my guess is somewhere in Europe).
Its a fallow deer, Dama dama. This species is native in most European countries. They also have shovel-shaped antlers, although they are much smaller than moose.
Thanks for your inputs!
 

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AlanF

Stay at home
CR Pro
Aug 16, 2012
8,054
9,651
AdamBotond said:
I thought some fellow photographers might be in similar situation like I was and might appreciate a feedback on this great lens if they are hesitant to buy or rent one.

I am interested in nature photography, mostly in mammals to be more specific, although I shoot occasionally birds, as well. I shoot stationary (hides) and scout 50-50 ratio.
I had been using Canon EF 400 F5.6 L lens on various rigs for 4 years. I consider that lens as the best value for general wildlife photography, especially if you are on a tight budget. While I still love that lens for being sharp wide open, lightweight, quick AF, I wanted to step up to a lens that has more flexibility, is faster, can be used with extenders to get some extra reach. Weight was also key, as I often do hikings or walk through swampy terrain to get closer to my subjects. I was hesitating between several lenses, including Canon EF 100-400 F4.5-5.6 IS II USM, Canon EF 300 F2.8L IS II USM (+1.4X III), Canon EF 400 F2.8 IS USM (mark I). For the criteria mentioned above, I finally decided to choose the 400 DO II, which was offered to me second hand in brand new condition and at a very reasonable price.

As I had been a 400 5.6L user, that's the lens I can compare to. I must say this DO II lens is a game changer! It is tack sharp wide, noticebly sharper than the 400 5.6L. 4 stops of IS is something that I am not used to, it is a very welcomed feature nonetheless. AF is definitely quicker. Needless to say, ergonomics and built are flawless.
One of the reasons, I picked the DO II is the fact that it takes extenders so well. Adding 2x III, makes it a hand-holdable, sharp 800mm F8 lens. I would say this compo equals the 400 5.6L in sharpness and AF speed. Being 2,1 kg in weight, it is definitely portable. The bokeh of the bare lens is smooth, I have not noticed anything wrong with OOF highlights, which was one of my concerns before I bought this DO lens. I haven't tried it in an "after-shower" scenario where those OOF highlights are dominant, though.
The Red deer rut is on the horizon here, I can't wait to go for it with that lens.

Overall, I am very happy with that lens, it is an improvement in every aspect for me. I highly recommend to buy or rent one!

(Shots were taken with the DO II+2X III.)

You will find many shots taken with this lens in the Bird Portraits and Birds in Flight threads as it is a favourite of several of us in CR.
 

Maximilian

The dark side - I've been there
CR Pro
Nov 7, 2013
3,376
1,998
Germany
Adam, thanks for your impressions and thank you for those really nice pictures.

Out of curiosity (if you know):
AdamBotond said:
... the 400 DO II, which was offered to me second hand in brand new condition and at a very reasonable price. ...
As this lens is quite new and well reviewed, why was the owner selling it? Didn't it feed his needs?
 
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