Wednesday, January 21, 2015

At the Zoo with the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II–Unedited Photos

New IS Mode 3 - Saves battery and nausea when shooting fast paced action
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens

I’m still reviewing the new Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens, but I must admit that I’m loving every minute of it! What a great lens!

Yes, I’d love to own the amazing Canon 200-400mm f/4L IS with 1.4X Extender, but it’s just way out of my budget. The good news is that this lens is a pretty good compromise and a hell of a lot closer in performance than I expected! Sadly the weather hasn’t cooperated, so I haven’t had an available day to shoot when the weather was nice. In fact, for this day at the zoo the weather was about as nasty as I can tolerate:

Miserable day, but still the zoo was crowded! Only in Seattle!!!

I love my readers so I endured this mess for you, but thanks to such a great lens I actually enjoyed my day out shooting animals that had no desire to be photographed – ha, ha!

Real World Shots

Compositionally speaking, I got nothing but throwaway shots for my miserable day at the zoo. However, this is a great lens and despite the high ISO’s you can get a good idea of just how sharp this lens really is. In fact, the distractions of rain, fences, and animals that were in no mood to cooperate made me appreciate the lens more than I probably would have on a more successful outing.

The full gallery of images begins here, and all are unedited in-camera JPEG’s taken HANDHELD with my Canon 1D X.  At no time was any form of support used for these shots.

Canon EOS-1D X, f/9 @ 100 mm, 1/160, ISO 3200, No Flash

There should be bears frolicking in the water, but instead it’s just a barren landscape shot. This is a heck of a lot sharper than the old 100-400mm could do!

Canon EOS-1D X, f/5.6 @ 400 mm, 1/160, ISO 3200, No Flash

Despite a pretty good rain (for Seattle), the AF worked flawlessly 99% of the time

Canon EOS-1D X, f/5 @ 300 mm, 1/125, ISO 2500, No Flash

Pay attention, this is one of only a few shots without a fence in the background – ha, ha

Canon EOS-1D X, f/5 @ 248 mm, 1/160, ISO 6400, No Flash

I probably could have shot this at 1/30 sec and in retrospect I wish I would have!
This lens is capable of very slow shutter speeds at any focal length thanks to the outstanding image stabilization (IS) performance

Canon EOS-1D X, f/5.6 @ 400 mm, 1/160, ISO 4000, No Flash

These guys were a real challenge for SIGMA 120-300mm as I just couldn’t get the AF to work very well, but the new 100-400 had no problems while they were standing. I did had trouble even with spot AF trying to get a shot like this (taken with this lens), but that was the only hiccup of the day

Canon EOS-1D X, f/5.6 @ 400 mm, 1/160, ISO 4000, No Flash

This is kinda how I felt – a real yawner of a day, but at least they were sharp boring shots with nice fence detail right? Ha, ha!

Canon EOS-1D X, f/5.6 @ 400 mm, 1/160, ISO 2000, No Flash

This is where the uncropped reach of the amazing 200-400mm earns its markup from this lens (see a comparison shot), but with cropping this isn’t half bad – especially since it is shot through a chain link fence in the rain!

Canon EOS-1D X, f/5.6 @ 227 mm, 1/160, ISO 6400, No Flash

This was taken through filthy dirty Plexiglas with lots, but aside from the color cast it wasn’t too bad straight out of the camera

Canon EOS-1D X, f/5.6 @ 400 mm, 1/160, ISO 4000, No Flash

The detail of the feathers and raindrops give you a good idea as to how sweet this lens really is

Canon EOS-1D X, f/5 @ 164 mm, 1/125, ISO 4000, No Flash

With this guy lifting his tail on such a bad day, I kept waiting for this to happen. Fortunately it didn’t!

Canon EOS-1D X, f/5 @ 234 mm, 1/160, ISO 6400, No Flash

This is how pathetic things started to get at the end of the day – I was shooting birds on the ground dead center – ha ha!

Canon EOS-1D X, f/4.5 @ 100 mm, 1/160, ISO 8000, No Flash

Like the duck, nice feather and water droplet detail made me appreciate this lens – even at ISO 8000!

See the full gallery at


I don’t shoot motorsports or much stuff that requires 300-400mm anymore, so I probably won’t buy this lens. However, I’m really lusting for it as it is so good and so darn fun to use!

It is extremely sharp and the AF performance has been excellent so far. What’s more, the IS makes you feel like a human tripod when you have stationary objects. I’m still doing testing, but I’ve pulled off shutter speeds as low as 1/15 sec at 400mm that look tripod solid without having to resort to my special handheld trick. Using that trick a few more stops would be possible with this excellent IS system, so now I’m starting to dream for Canon to make a 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III lens as my II seems outdated!!!!

Be sure to check out my article entitled First Look: Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens–The Wait Is Over!!! I give some initial impressions which still apply, but I do have one caveat – the trap door on the hood that allows you to rotate filters had a habit of getting bounced open while I was walk the zoo with my BlackRapid strap. A piece of gaffers tape is worth keeping in the bag for a rainy day like this

I should also point out, despite the lens getting soaked repeatedly – and zooming in and out – I had ZERO issues with water or dust getting in this lens so far.

Simply put, I LOVE THIS LENS so far! Donations accepted so I can buy one – ha ha!

More to come in my final review article.

Where to order

Click here to learn more or order the B&H web site.

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