Finally! The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens Announced!

by | Nov 11, 2014 | Announcement, Gear, Promotion | 11 comments

Eleven years ago, if you’d asked me which was my favourite lens, without hesitation I would have told you the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L lens. It was versatile, with a huge zoom range, and light—a very hand-holdable lens. But that was back when cameras had 6 megapixels, and weren’t very demanding on our glass.

Then, the pixel count started increasing, and by 2006, as our cameras passed around 10 megapixels, we out-resolved the 100-400mm. It became soft, first at the long end, anything over 300mm, then as we hit 12 and higher megapixels, it pretty much became unusable. I eventually sold mine in 2008, but I’ve missed this lens dearly since.

Well, it looks like I am set to fall in love all over again, as Canon have just announced the 100-400mm Mark II lens! My order is in, and I’m now waiting impatiently for the end of December for my Christmas present!

You can order yours too from B&H here -> Note that this is an affiliate link, so you will be supporting the Podcast by clicking through. Thank you!

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens

Canon’s Description

A long-reaching telephoto zoom characterized by a sophisticated optical design and advanced image stabilization technologies, the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens is part of the esteemed L-series developed for full-frame EOS DSLRs. One fluorite element and one Super UD element have been incorporated into the lens’ constriction, and both help to reduce aberrations and distortions throughout the zoom range in order to deliver notable clarity, image sharpness, and faithful color reproduction. An Air Sphere Coating has also been applied to lens elements in order to reduce lens flare and ghosting for more contrast-rich imagery. Benefitting the optical components of the lens, a four-stop effective Optical Image Stabilizer helps to minimize the appearance of camera shake and can be dedicated to different styles of shooting. Furthermore, a redeveloped rotation-type zoom ring pairs with an internal focusing mechanism, and an Ultrasonic Motor, to deliver quick and intuitive handling to benefit handheld shooting. Positioned as a versatile option for sports and wildlife photographers, this lens’ list of attributes make it a viable telephoto zoom for a variety of shooting applications.

Housed within a weather-resistant barrel, this lens also features fluorine coatings on the front and rear elements for protection against fingerprints and smudges from affecting image quality. Zoom control is complemented by a dedicated tension ring for adjusting zoom torque. Additionally, other refined design elements include a tripod collar that can be attached or detached with the lens mounted to the camera and an included lens hood that permits easy control over specialty filters with the hood in place.

  • IMG_437728Telephoto zoom 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 lens is compatible with full-frame EOS DSLRs, as well as APS-C sized sensors where it will provide a 35mm-equivalent focal length of 160-640mm.
  • One fluorite element and one Super UD (Ultra Low Dispersion) element help to correct chromatic aberrations throughout the zoom range for a high degree of sharpness, clarity, and color accuracy.
  • An Air Sphere Coating (ASC) has been applied to lens elements to reduce backlit flaring and ghosting for maintained light transmission and high contrast in strong lighting conditions.
  • An Optical Image Stabilizer helps to minimize the appearance of camera shake by up to four shutter speed stops to better enable working in low-light conditions and with slower shutter speeds. Additionally, three dedicated image stabilization modes are available-Standard, Panning, and During Exposure Only-and can be selectively employed to suit a variety of types of shooting.
  • An Ultrasonic Motor (USM), along with an internal focusing system, high-speed CPU, and optimized AF algorithms, are employed to deliver fast, precise, and near-silent autofocus performance.
  • The rotation-type zoom ring offers precise adjustment between zoom positions, especially when shooting handheld, and a zoom torque adjustment ring enables easy setting of the zoom tension for personalized control.
  • A weather-resistant design protects the lens from dust and moisture to enable its use in inclement conditions. Additionally, fluorine coatings have also been applied to the front and rear lens elements for further protection against fingerprints and smudging.
  • Nine rounded diaphragm blades contribute to a pleasing out of focus quality that benefits the use of shallow depth of field and selective focus techniques.
  • A redeveloped tripod collar can be attached or detached from the lens without having to remove the lens from the camera.
  • The included ET-83D lens hood incorporates a side window for easier adjustment of rotating filters with the hood in place.


Once again, you can get your Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens from B&H with this link!

What About my 200-400mm!?

I know that some of you will be wondering what this means for my 200-400mm, of which I speak so highly. Well, that is not going anywhere. The ability to just flick in that 1.4X extender, increasing the range to 560mm is priceless, and the sharpness is second to none. Better than most prime lenses.

But, it’s heavy, and really not that hand-holdable for any length of time. Two hours on a boat shooting Sea Eagles is about as much as is possible, and even that’s with lots of rests. With the 100-400mm, you can simply keep the camera to your eye for longer. It will be my lens of choice for wildlife while hand-holding, and I’ll still use the 200-400mm whenever I need that bit of extra reach, or when I can use a tripod.


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  1. E-Nonymouse A

    What do think about the impending 150-600 lense from Sigma, they have been turning a lot of heads lately with their primes. 35mm Art, 50mm Art etc.

    • Martin Bailey

      It looks like a great lens. I’ve been recommending it in the absence of the 100-400mm from Canon, but I generally prefer my Canon glass to third party.

    • Matt Cuda

      Tamron’s 150-600 is a great lens which fits the budget of many, but I have not heard of the sigma variant of this. I am a big fan of Tamron and own the 70-300 SP VC which is a very sharp lens indeed, but lately I have been looking at “L” glass from Canon. In specific, the 400mm 5.6L and the 300mm F4. I would have no problem recommending the Tamron 70-300 SP VC to anyone on a tight budget.

    • Matt Cuda

      Hmmm, just looking at that Sigma. Looks like it might be a nice lens! I had not heard of it at all until you posted this. I think there are times where you need the 600mm and nothing else will do and spending 10K on something from canon isn’t in the cards. On the Tamron, have a look at Kristopher Rowe. He shoot that lens exclusively for birds these days.

    • Martin Bailey

      For sure Matt, the really long Canon lenses can set you back a bit, and the Tamron and Sigma offerings are very good. Personally, I like my Canon glass, but I can certainly see the attraction as an alternative.

  2. Justin Lee

    This lens has also caught my eye. The MTF charts look very strong indeed.

    I’m a big stuck however, as this throws a kink in my original plan. I was originally going to get the 200-400 1.4x upon my return to Canada this December, as I could really use the versatility. This lens is also a dream for video, which I also do a lot of.

    The only worry for me is reach, which would be particularly useful for birding and shy critters (although difficult for video, as I would have to nail the composition exactly – not much cropping to be done in the video world, I’m afraid). I’m now thinking a 100-400 II and a 500 II combo might be a possible substitute for the 200-400 1.4x alone. My worry with this setup though is the weight of carrying an extra lens and I’m also sacrificing the versatility of the 200-400. I hike a lot when photographing, so the 600 II is simply too heavy and bulky to consider.

    I know you are a big fan of the 200-400 1.4x, but are there times when you miss the longer primes?

    Also, if you had to make a choice between the 100-400 II and 500 II combo vs the 200-400 1.4x alone, which setup would you choose?

    Thanks as always for the blog and podcast post, and keep them coming! 🙂

    • Martin Bailey

      Hi Justin,

      I don’t miss my 600mm one bit. Firstly, it’s only 40mm longer, and the 200-400mm is much sharper, and the ability to zoom is totally liberating after shooting with long primes for 10 years.

      I honestly can’t see the point in buying a 500mm over the 200-400mm at this point. Of course, the price is a huge factor, but if the 200-400mm is within reach, it’s definitely the way to go.

      As for hiking with the gear, if I was going to hike and needed reach, I’d without doubt go for the new 100-400mm. On a 5D3, 1D X or 7D2 you also have autofocus with the centre focus point with a 1.4X extender, if you need a little more reach.

      I’ve actually also got a 7D Mark II on order, which will probably be used with the new 100-400mm a lot, giving me 160-700mm, which is going to be nice for hand-held shooting.

      I hope this helps!


    • Justin Lee

      Yes, thanks Martin it does help a bunch!

      I agree that the new 7D2 is very tempting as well, especially since its the first crop body with f8 autofocus capability. Hmmm lots to think about.

      I will still likely rent the 2 big lenses for a bit before I make my final decision, but its always helpful to hear other peoples’ opinions. 🙂

      • Alexis

        I would want to thank you Martin for your work ! Justin Lee, i faced the same dilemna. It would be very helpfull if you give us your feedback 😉 As Martin said, 100-400mm + 7d II + 1dx or 5D3 could be an other great combination…

        Thanks !!

  3. scottyrwarren

    Question – If you could only purchase one lens that would be used on 5D3 for weddings, portraits etc would you recommend the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM or the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM?

    • Martin Bailey

      Hi Scotty,

      I would definitely lean towards the 70-200mm f/2.8 II for weddings and portraits, but it’s possibly not that clear-cut.

      If you use Lightroom, sort your wedding and portrait images and use the metadata filter to see what percentage of them are made below f/4 and between 70 and 100mm. If there are a lot, and you feel your work would suffer without those photos, then probably the 70-200mm.

      On the other hand, the 100-400mm is sharper than the 70-200mm, and gives you twice the reach. As you zoom of course, the depth of field also decreases, so might be shallow enough, although you’d obviously magnify the subject too, and if you move further away, the DoF increases again.

      Tough decision for sure. For wildlife and even landscape it’s a no-brainer, but for wedding and portraits. Hmmm….



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