Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L IS Mentioned [CR1]

nc0b

5DsR
Dec 3, 2013
255
11
74
Colorado
I have both the 400mm f/5.6 and the 100-400mm II, and for BIF the prime wins hands down. If the zoom had a second minimum focus setting at 10 meters, it might be a different story. For general wildlife, however, the zoom with or without the 1.4X TC III is excellent with the 5DsR.
 

Steve Dmark2

EOS M6 Mark II
Mar 30, 2016
94
22
33
Germany
j-nord said:
300 f4 IS II that is much sharper at f4 and has the other usual updates could definitely have its place. f4 allows use of 2x with the new crop of f8 AF bodies. Further the 300 f4 IS was/is used for portrait fairly regularly. An 300 f5.6 or the 100-400ii doesnt offer the same DOF/bokeh. I think a 300 f5.6 prime is utterly pointless in the line up. If you want 300 f5.6 then pick up the 70-300L, they run under $1k used.
I would also be very happy with a 300mm 4l IS II. Because with the 1.4III i expect it also to be awesome.
Because sometimes i like having the 4.0 because of low light.
 

NancyP

EOS R
Dec 17, 2013
1,297
14
People underestimate that ancient 400 f/5.6L, but it is a hugely fun lens to use, particularly for birds in flight.
 

j-nord

Derp
Feb 16, 2016
467
4
Colorado
NancyP said:
People underestimate that ancient 400 f/5.6L, but it is a hugely fun lens to use, particularly for birds in flight.
I think the opposite. People seem to overstate the handhold-ability of the lens for general use. Mid-day BIF is where it shines or if you shoot from a tripod. Otherwise, I think it's completely lacking as a general wildlife lens or walk around lens where you really need IS.
 

johnf3f

Canon 1Dx
Oct 25, 2012
931
19
Wales
j-nord said:
NancyP said:
People underestimate that ancient 400 f/5.6L, but it is a hugely fun lens to use, particularly for birds in flight.
I think the opposite. People seem to overstate the handhold-ability of the lens for general use. Mid-day BIF is where it shines or if you shoot from a tripod. Otherwise, I think it's completely lacking as a general wildlife lens or walk around lens where you really need IS.

Why would you need IS? Normally the (bird/wildlife) subject will determine the shutter speed and that is mostly at higher shutter speeds than those where IS helps. With my Canon 300 F2.8 L IS and Canon 800 F5.6 L IS I find that all IS does is slow down AF acquisition and impair tracking. I am very far from a strong person but I don't find that I need IS at 1/250 sec with my 800mm hand held and, if I have something to lean against (tree etc) 1/50 sec with my 7D2, 100-400 Mk2 (at full extension) + a 1.4 extender isn't too much of a challenge without IS - that gives a FOV of near 900mm. So at 400mm? is IS worth it? Certainly not to me.
 

scottkinfw

Wildlife photography is my passion
CR Pro
9VIII said:
Plainsman said:
I'd much prefer a new Canon 300/4 IS with very fast AF ahead of this one.

Or even a lightweight 300/5.6 IS STM lens from that factory in Malaysia which gives us the reputedly excellent/cheap 55-250 STM - sorry for being slightly off topic!

I'll take one of each.
Actually it's a good point that a basic 300mm f5.6 Prime would cost next to nothing to make, they could probably get it on the market for $200. Add USM and IS and charge $500 and all of a sudden you have one of the best compact telephoto lenses on the market.
But then we just got a rumor for effectively that lens in a zoom. It would be just be neat to see what it would look like as a prime.
Speaking of compact, one must wonder what Canon could do with their newly perfected DO tech to cut down an already compact telephoto lens.

Really that's where this should be headed, Canon already has the best budget birding lens on the market and that's probably never going to change, it will never be obsolete, there's no point in developing the same thing twice.
So, how much would you pay for a 400f5.6 IS DO?
Same deal for the 300f4IS, it's still great, but it certainly could be chopped down a bit.
Here's the specs of that lens compared to the recent Nikon 300f4PF comparison. They basically took 1/3 off the length.
http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/Lens-Specifications.aspx?LensComp=1040&Lens=111&Go.x=3&Go.y=17&Go=Go&Units=E

A bit off topic, but...If mirrorless ever does take over mirrored body cameras, it would be very forward thinking to come out with a full line of DO lenses.

On topic, I would love an updated 400 5.6L. Faster AF, would love IS, but doubt they would put that in it. How about a price around $1500.00? sek
 

scottkinfw

Wildlife photography is my passion
CR Pro
Don Haines said:
wsmith96 said:
This rumor has been quiet for a while now.
Yes, but I am standing by with my credit card for when it happens :)

BTW, why I would purchase this lens instead of the 100-400 II:

IQ. Given similar materials and technology, a prime is always sharper than a zoom as the design can be optimized for a single focal length.

Dust pump. This is a constant length lens. Every time you zoom a 100-400 in and out you are pumping dust and moisture through the lens.... not very good in poor conditions....

Weight. This will be a lighter lens than the 100-400.

besides, when I need a long lens, it almost always is not long enough.... this lens should play well with teleconverters and give me more reach.....

Exactly, especially the tele extenders.

sek
 

NancyP

EOS R
Dec 17, 2013
1,297
14
The old 400 f/5.6L takes practice to use handheld. A rank beginner will not have good technique at first. Its main problem is not being f/4 or f/2.8, but then again, using a 400 f/2.8 IS handheld takes some practice too, Not that I would know, but dang, I have held 10 pound barbells in "shooting position", and I at least would tire very quickly - within seconds develop a shake/wobble.
 

wsmith96

Advancing Amateur
Aug 17, 2012
949
43
Texas
j-nord said:
300 f4 IS II that is much sharper at f4 and has the other usual updates could definitely have its place. f

+1 Now if Canon would update the 300 F/4 IS and make it as sharp as the F2.8 version, I would be very interested in that lens. I do some youth sports shooting on the side with most games in the day with sufficient light and I could use a lens like that. It would also work well for me shooting birds in my backyard.
 

j-nord

Derp
Feb 16, 2016
467
4
Colorado
johnf3f said:
j-nord said:
NancyP said:
People underestimate that ancient 400 f/5.6L, but it is a hugely fun lens to use, particularly for birds in flight.
I think the opposite. People seem to overstate the handhold-ability of the lens for general use. Mid-day BIF is where it shines or if you shoot from a tripod. Otherwise, I think it's completely lacking as a general wildlife lens or walk around lens where you really need IS.

Why would you need IS? Normally the (bird/wildlife) subject will determine the shutter speed and that is mostly at higher shutter speeds than those where IS helps. With my Canon 300 F2.8 L IS and Canon 800 F5.6 L IS I find that all IS does is slow down AF acquisition and impair tracking. I am very far from a strong person but I don't find that I need IS at 1/250 sec with my 800mm hand held and, if I have something to lean against (tree etc) 1/50 sec with my 7D2, 100-400 Mk2 (at full extension) + a 1.4 extender isn't too much of a challenge without IS - that gives a FOV of near 900mm. So at 400mm? is IS worth it? Certainly not to me.
Different needs, you are describing ideal handheld shooting conditions. I do most of my shooting above 6000ft while hiking. IS is mandatory for me even at wide focal lengths. Further, pumping up your shutter speed isn't an option when shooting shaded wildlife in the early morning or evening (when and where you find most wildlife).
 

johnf3f

Canon 1Dx
Oct 25, 2012
931
19
Wales
j-nord said:
johnf3f said:
j-nord said:
NancyP said:
People underestimate that ancient 400 f/5.6L, but it is a hugely fun lens to use, particularly for birds in flight.
I think the opposite. People seem to overstate the handhold-ability of the lens for general use. Mid-day BIF is where it shines or if you shoot from a tripod. Otherwise, I think it's completely lacking as a general wildlife lens or walk around lens where you really need IS.

Why would you need IS? Normally the (bird/wildlife) subject will determine the shutter speed and that is mostly at higher shutter speeds than those where IS helps. With my Canon 300 F2.8 L IS and Canon 800 F5.6 L IS I find that all IS does is slow down AF acquisition and impair tracking. I am very far from a strong person but I don't find that I need IS at 1/250 sec with my 800mm hand held and, if I have something to lean against (tree etc) 1/50 sec with my 7D2, 100-400 Mk2 (at full extension) + a 1.4 extender isn't too much of a challenge without IS - that gives a FOV of near 900mm. So at 400mm? is IS worth it? Certainly not to me.
Different needs, you are describing ideal handheld shooting conditions. I do most of my shooting above 6000ft while hiking. IS is mandatory for me even at wide focal lengths. Further, pumping up your shutter speed isn't an option when shooting shaded wildlife in the early morning or evening (when and where you find most wildlife).

Ideal hand held conditions? I live in South Wales! You can guess how often we get ideal conditions for anything!
Is hand holding a Canon 800mm in light so bad that I can only get 1/250 sec on a 1DX and keep the ISO reasonable "pumping up your shutter speed"?
 

applecider

EOS RP
May 20, 2012
489
43
Portland Oregon, Cape Cod
Ncob you say the 400 prime wins hands down over the new 100-400....
In what particular do you find that so? Handling focus, other?

I was using the 70-200 w 2x ext for zoomed birding, finally broke down and got the new100-400 on one of the sales and I'm happy as a clamer at low tide. With the 1.4 ext acquiring focus can be dicey as only the center points are available, but the bare lens performs very well imho.

The only way I could see the prime being better is to have an f4 but that lens is already being made in DO in apparently small quantities.
 

scyrene

EOS R6
Dec 4, 2013
2,885
1,033
UK
www.flickr.com
johnf3f said:
j-nord said:
johnf3f said:
j-nord said:
NancyP said:
People underestimate that ancient 400 f/5.6L, but it is a hugely fun lens to use, particularly for birds in flight.
I think the opposite. People seem to overstate the handhold-ability of the lens for general use. Mid-day BIF is where it shines or if you shoot from a tripod. Otherwise, I think it's completely lacking as a general wildlife lens or walk around lens where you really need IS.

Why would you need IS? Normally the (bird/wildlife) subject will determine the shutter speed and that is mostly at higher shutter speeds than those where IS helps. With my Canon 300 F2.8 L IS and Canon 800 F5.6 L IS I find that all IS does is slow down AF acquisition and impair tracking. I am very far from a strong person but I don't find that I need IS at 1/250 sec with my 800mm hand held and, if I have something to lean against (tree etc) 1/50 sec with my 7D2, 100-400 Mk2 (at full extension) + a 1.4 extender isn't too much of a challenge without IS - that gives a FOV of near 900mm. So at 400mm? is IS worth it? Certainly not to me.
Different needs, you are describing ideal handheld shooting conditions. I do most of my shooting above 6000ft while hiking. IS is mandatory for me even at wide focal lengths. Further, pumping up your shutter speed isn't an option when shooting shaded wildlife in the early morning or evening (when and where you find most wildlife).

Ideal hand held conditions? I live in South Wales! You can guess how often we get ideal conditions for anything!
Is hand holding a Canon 800mm in light so bad that I can only get 1/250 sec on a 1DX and keep the ISO reasonable "pumping up your shutter speed"?

I think we've disagreed on the usefulness of IS before John, and I respect your experience, but I still think its usefulness outweighs any disadvantage (and I've not found it impinges on AF acquisition etc, but admit I've done no empirical testing of that).

Hand holding the 800L is quite a feat, and I can only respect your being able to - I only know one other photographer who does that regularly. 1/250 is good - I shoot at 1/250 at 1000mm regularly, but the 500L+2x extender amounts to a smaller package. In any case, these are quibbles between people operating at an extreme, as I think we are.

I did find the lack of IS on the 400 f/5.6 a problem, but that was a long time ago. However, I suspect I'd miss it now, even so. I personally like IS on all my lenses - you can always turn it off. A new 400 would have IS anyhow - I can't see Canon releasing a telephoto lens without it nowadays.
 

nc0b

5DsR
Dec 3, 2013
255
11
74
Colorado
Hi applecider. Thanks for the chance to expand on the two lenses since I own both. If you are talking perched birds, the zoom wins due to IS. If you are talking raptors in flight, which I shoot almost every weekend while they are in Colorado, the zoom would be better if I could set a focal length limit of 8.5 meters or even 10 meters. If the prime loses focus, I can still see or locate the subject in the viewfinder. When the zoom gets lost, trying to focus clear down to 3 meters, I cannot see anything. I have to manually reset the focus near infinity. Can this happen with the 400mm f/5.6? Yes, but infrequently. The same issue existed with the 70-200mm f/2.8 II and the 2X TC III. For perched birds, that zoom with TC was plenty sharp in the center, but once the raptor took off, I was usually dead in the water within seconds. I have drastically better success with my FF bodies than crop as far as being able to keep the raptor in the viewfinder, particularly when the subject is within a 100 to 300 feet. No I have never used a 7D II, so I cannot comment on it.

As for small birds at close range, 20 to 60 feet, I do use the 100-400mm II with the 1.4X TC III and the 5DsR with good success. I'll post a killdeer later that was in my driveway last weekend. All I am saying is when I am in my 10-acre yard, with raptors wildly flying all around at all angles, the prime is my best choice in that case.
 

johnf3f

Canon 1Dx
Oct 25, 2012
931
19
Wales
scyrene said:
I think we've disagreed on the usefulness of IS before John, and I respect your experience, but I still think its usefulness outweighs any disadvantage (and I've not found it impinges on AF acquisition etc, but admit I've done no empirical testing of that).

Hand holding the 800L is quite a feat, and I can only respect your being able to - I only know one other photographer who does that regularly. 1/250 is good - I shoot at 1/250 at 1000mm regularly, but the 500L+2x extender amounts to a smaller package. In any case, these are quibbles between people operating at an extreme, as I think we are.

I did find the lack of IS on the 400 f/5.6 a problem, but that was a long time ago. However, I suspect I'd miss it now, even so. I personally like IS on all my lenses - you can always turn it off. A new 400 would have IS anyhow - I can't see Canon releasing a telephoto lens without it nowadays.

Yes we have, but we all have different experiences and priorities.IS works well for many (most?) photographers. My problem with IS is that it hinders AF on moving subjects and since I stopped using IS my "Keeper" rate has improved without any losses on static subjects.
I believe that you are quite correct when you state that Canon is not going to release a telephoto lens without IS - I would be very surprised (but glad) if they did. Canon has the very best IS system available, at present, and I cannot see them turning down the marketing opportunities that it offers.

Having said that I have found that Canon IS lenses perform better with IS off and can only speculate that they would be better still if it wasn't fitted in the first place - unfortunately there are no direct comparisons to prove/disprove this as they are not made. We have to work with what lenses are available and the majority have IS whether I like it or not. As such I would suggest/encourage users to try turning IS off and see what happens. In my (and quite a few other) cases this has resulted in better results. If users don't like it they can always turn it back on - there are no fixed rules here, it's just what works best.

Incidentally you say "Hand holding the 800L is quite a feat, and I can only respect your being able to" deserves no respect (but thanks for the thought!) it is quite easy - but only for a few seconds! My arms look like matchsticks so it isn't going to stay on target long! I can do it and have had some nice results but I struggle with IS as by the time I have finally achieved AF lock I am struggling and tracking is getting iffy or has failed - like my arms! Without IS it locks and tracks better/faster so I have a sporting chance.

Just my experiences, if you and others find my suggestions to be wrong then that's fine - use what works best for you. I don't have the answers - just suggestions that work for me and some others.

That was a bit of a long post - I need a break!
 

scyrene

EOS R6
Dec 4, 2013
2,885
1,033
UK
www.flickr.com
johnf3f said:
scyrene said:
I think we've disagreed on the usefulness of IS before John, and I respect your experience, but I still think its usefulness outweighs any disadvantage (and I've not found it impinges on AF acquisition etc, but admit I've done no empirical testing of that).

Hand holding the 800L is quite a feat, and I can only respect your being able to - I only know one other photographer who does that regularly. 1/250 is good - I shoot at 1/250 at 1000mm regularly, but the 500L+2x extender amounts to a smaller package. In any case, these are quibbles between people operating at an extreme, as I think we are.

I did find the lack of IS on the 400 f/5.6 a problem, but that was a long time ago. However, I suspect I'd miss it now, even so. I personally like IS on all my lenses - you can always turn it off. A new 400 would have IS anyhow - I can't see Canon releasing a telephoto lens without it nowadays.

Yes we have, but we all have different experiences and priorities.IS works well for many (most?) photographers. My problem with IS is that it hinders AF on moving subjects and since I stopped using IS my "Keeper" rate has improved without any losses on static subjects.
I believe that you are quite correct when you state that Canon is not going to release a telephoto lens without IS - I would be very surprised (but glad) if they did. Canon has the very best IS system available, at present, and I cannot see them turning down the marketing opportunities that it offers.

Having said that I have found that Canon IS lenses perform better with IS off and can only speculate that they would be better still if it wasn't fitted in the first place - unfortunately there are no direct comparisons to prove/disprove this as they are not made. We have to work with what lenses are available and the majority have IS whether I like it or not. As such I would suggest/encourage users to try turning IS off and see what happens. In my (and quite a few other) cases this has resulted in better results. If users don't like it they can always turn it back on - there are no fixed rules here, it's just what works best.

Incidentally you say "Hand holding the 800L is quite a feat, and I can only respect your being able to" deserves no respect (but thanks for the thought!) it is quite easy - but only for a few seconds! My arms look like matchsticks so it isn't going to stay on target long! I can do it and have had some nice results but I struggle with IS as by the time I have finally achieved AF lock I am struggling and tracking is getting iffy or has failed - like my arms! Without IS it locks and tracks better/faster so I have a sporting chance.

Just my experiences, if you and others find my suggestions to be wrong then that's fine - use what works best for you. I don't have the answers - just suggestions that work for me and some others.

That was a bit of a long post - I need a break!

Heh :) Actually, I probably should remember to turn off IS on the rare occasions I try to shoot birds in flight - I agree with you that anything extra taxing the system that isn't helping should be removed - and IS isn't going to make any positive contribution to most shots in that situation. Maybe I've mellowed! I must try swifts again this summer before they fly off, anyhow.

Yeah, I've found the type of shooting makes a big difference to stamina - and my arms are weedy too :) I can carry the 500L around for hours, doing bursts of shooting, but holding it up, aimed at a static target - or following birds round the sky - I can only manage for a few minutes, maybe ten or fifteen at most, before it gets too painful.
 

johnf3f

Canon 1Dx
Oct 25, 2012
931
19
Wales
scyrene said:
Heh :) Actually, I probably should remember to turn off IS on the rare occasions I try to shoot birds in flight - I agree with you that - aanything extra taxing the system that isn't helping should be removed nd IS isn't going to make any positive contribution to most shots in that situation. Maybe I've mellowed! I must try swifts again this summer before they fly off, anyhow.

Yeah, I've found the type of shooting makes a big difference to stamina - and my arms are weedy too :) I can carry the 500L around for hours, doing bursts of shooting, but holding it up, aimed at a static target - or following birds round the sky - I can only manage for a few minutes, maybe ten or fifteen at most, before it gets too painful.

Just for reference I struggle to carry my 300 F2.8 around for hours and can only hand hold my 800 for a few seconds!
I think that you have hit the nail on the head when you say "anything extra taxing the system that isn't helping should be removed and IS isn't going to make any positive contribution to most shots in that situation".
What I found was that not using IS improved performance in the "other" situations where one would normally expect IS to be an advantage?!? Obviously if conditions are at the extreme end of things and you simply must get that shot of the Greater spotted pink bungadoo then IS can be handy.

I would only suggest that you try shooting with IS off as the default setting and then turn it on when needed. I suspect that you will quickly find that results are better and that you rarely, if ever, turn IS on. Naturally if you find otherwise then turn IS back on - at worst you will have improved your confidence in the IS system, though I suspect you will only turn IS back on to check it still works! :-X
 
Mar 31, 2014
1,014
101
71
Center of my universe
Canon Rumors said:
<p>It’s been a long time since anyone gave a mention to a replacement for the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L, one of Canon’s best optical performers. We were told a few years ago that Canon was going to be replacing all of the 400mm lenses in their lineup. The EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II was first and then the EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II, which caught us a bit by surprise. Soon after we got the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II, which is as highly regarded as we thought it would be. That leaves one of the best kept secrets in Canon’s lens lineup, the EF 400mm f/5.6L.</p>
<p>We’re now told that an IS version of this prime is in the works and if things go to plan, we’ll see it some time in 2016. Canon does recognize a need for such a lens, especially for birders who like the lower weight and price when compared to the faster primes and the zoom.</p>
<p>More to come…</p>

Any updates on this? I really do not like how the 70-200 II performs with a 2X III, and I can't justify the outlay for a big white.
 

CanonFanBoy

Purple
CR Pro
Jan 28, 2015
5,659
4,086
Irving, Texas
j-nord said:
johnf3f said:
j-nord said:
NancyP said:
People underestimate that ancient 400 f/5.6L, but it is a hugely fun lens to use, particularly for birds in flight.
I think the opposite. People seem to overstate the handhold-ability of the lens for general use. Mid-day BIF is where it shines or if you shoot from a tripod. Otherwise, I think it's completely lacking as a general wildlife lens or walk around lens where you really need IS.

Why would you need IS? Normally the (bird/wildlife) subject will determine the shutter speed and that is mostly at higher shutter speeds than those where IS helps. With my Canon 300 F2.8 L IS and Canon 800 F5.6 L IS I find that all IS does is slow down AF acquisition and impair tracking. I am very far from a strong person but I don't find that I need IS at 1/250 sec with my 800mm hand held and, if I have something to lean against (tree etc) 1/50 sec with my 7D2, 100-400 Mk2 (at full extension) + a 1.4 extender isn't too much of a challenge without IS - that gives a FOV of near 900mm. So at 400mm? is IS worth it? Certainly not to me.
Different needs, you are describing ideal handheld shooting conditions. I do most of my shooting above 6000ft while hiking. IS is mandatory for me even at wide focal lengths. Further, pumping up your shutter speed isn't an option when shooting shaded wildlife in the early morning or evening (when and where you find most wildlife).

Thank you. My sentiments exactly and why I sold my 400 f/5.6. It is a sharp lens. No doubt about that. It is a great lens. It is just too slow for those softer light situations that make a photo (in my opinion) pop. That is just my opinion and experience.

IS would be fantastic for this lens, a huge improvement. But I'm still going to save my pennies for a 400 f/2.8 or a 600 f/4.

It was the 400 f/5.6L that made me decide I don't want a lens narrower than f/2.8... except for maybe a Great White at f/4. (Yeah, I know the Tamron I have is actually an f/3.2? That's okay. If the new EF 16-35mm f/2.8L IS turns out to be a winner... I'll get one, someday, maybe. I hope so anyway. :)