The Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens is our most popular Canon lens to rent here at Londolozi, and so I thought it would only be fitting to explain why this is so…

The new Canon 100-400mm lens (which Canon has been re-working for the last ten years) has been improved massively from its previous version. I am fortunate enough to own this lens myself and have been putting it to the test over the last couple of months.

In terms of the quality of the build of the lens compared to the previous model,  it is impossible to fault. The lens is built like a tank with an all-metal body and is weather sealed, which is hugely beneficial in the often wet and dusty conditions out here. Surprisingly, the lens is very light and compact, user friendly and is easy to manage hand held. The most marked change from the older version is that the push-pull design has been replaced by a standard zoom ring design. I have found this new design far smoother and easier to manage as the camera moves about less and is easier to hold when zooming in or out. This is particularly beneficial when filming, as zooming in and out of subjects or creating a focus pull is noticeably smoother and easier. The new design also has a feature on the lens where you can adjust the ring to be smoother or tighter. On first try, I found the ring to be a but too tight but with a bit of use the zoom ring has loosened and feels perfectly smooth.

In terms of the optical performance of the lens, I personally cannot fault it at all. Each time I have used the lens I am in awe of how sharp the images it produces are and I am very impressed with the way it performs. In my opinion (and I am willing to put this to the test) at its widest aperture the Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens is as sharp as the legendary Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM lens wide open at f/2.8.

The Ndzanzeni female’s youngster perches in the treetops. Incredibly enough this leopard’s mother as well as the Inyatini male leopard were in this tree at the same time. Shot at 1/40 Sec at f/5.6. ISO 125, 321mm.

This female is a success story all in herself, being born as a single cub to the Dudley Riverbank female in early 2012.

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Ndzanzeni 4:3 Female

Lineage
Mother Leopard
Identification
markings
Timeline
11 stories
Territory
maps
Parents
2 known
Litters
1 known
Offspring
known
Siblings
known
Videos
playlist
9
Inyathini 3:3 Male
2008 - present

Another leopard who originated in the Kruger National Park, he has established a large territory in the south eastern areas of Londolozi.

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Inyathini 3:3 Male

Lineage
Unknown
Identification
markings
Timeline
15 stories
Territory
maps
Parents
0 known
Litters
1 known
Offspring
known
Siblings
known
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When fully zoomed in to 400mm, the lens produces excellent images where the subject is extremely sharp and the background is out of focus. Ideally as a wildlife photographer, this is often what we aim to achieve, especially when the backgrounds are messy and therefore distracting from the subject.

A wild dog pauses momentarily, allowing me the opportunity to capture this portrait. We followed this pack all afternoon as they hunted impala through the clearings north of the river. Shot at 1/320 Sec f/7.1. ISO 640, 400mm.

The tailless lioness’ threatening stare from high up in the trees after having stolen a kill from the Mashaba female leopard. Shot at 1/1600 Sec at f/7.1. ISO 800, 400mm.

9
Mashaba 3:3 Female
2008 - present

The Mashaba female is currently Londolozi’s best known leopard. Her relaxed nature means she is comfortable around the camps and vehicles.

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Mashaba 3:3 Female

Lineage
Sunsetbend
Identification
markings
Timeline
31 stories
Territory
maps
Parents
2 known
Litters
3 known
Offspring
known
Siblings
known
Videos
playlist

The Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens has three different stabilisation modes and claims 4-stops of stabilization. The first stabilises the image on all axis, the second is designed to work when panning horizontally, and the third mode only engages stabilisation when the shutter is released. In less technical speak, this is extremely handy when one shoots hand held, at the full extent of the 400mm zoom, and here in the bush where there may be some movement on the vehicle.

The autofocus of the lens is extremely fast and accurate. The autofocus also tracks movement very well, which is ideal for wildlife photography, as one is often tracking animals such as leopards or lions on the move or birds in flight. From the research out there and from my own personal experience, I can see why this lens is proving to be such a hit amongst our guests too. If you’re wanting to use a lens whilst on safari and are not keen to lug one all the way from home or want to test drive this new and improved Canon model, visit our photography rental site here for more information.

Involved Leopards

Mashaba 3:3 Female

Mashaba 3:3 Female

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Inyathini 3:3 Male

Inyathini 3:3 Male

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Ndzanzeni 4:3 Female

Ndzanzeni 4:3 Female

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About the Author

Kylie Jones

Studio

Being someone who loves the bush, people and photography Kylie has found her way to her dream job in the Londolozi Studio. Despite completing her Humanities Degree, she felt unsatisfied and found herself drawn to doing a wildlife photography course. Being both creative ...

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11 Comments

on Review of Our Most Popular Lens

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Denise Vouri

Interesting article. I’m a Nikon user but found similarities between the two brands in using long focal length lens. While in Sabi Sands in February I primarily used a 70-200mm lens and had great results. It helped that the animals weren’t shy and were almost too close. Thank you for the camera settings.

Kylie Jones

Hi Denise. The 70-200mm lens is also a great lens as it is incredibly sharp and produces amazing images with a very low depth of field of F/2.8. We are very lucky here that we are able to get close to the animals and so sure does help with capturing a good shot.

Darlene Knott

I agree 100%, Kylie. I also own this lens and it is my ‘go to’ lens on safari. Its fast focusing ability is crucial in photographing the action you often see in the bush. I use a wide angle for close up animal sightings, but this is the lens I have in my hands 90% of the time.

Kylie Jones

Hi Darlene, the fast focusing ability is just amazing and sure does help out a lot when tracking a leopard or lion on the move. It is always great to have more than one lens at hand, what wide angle do you use?

Darlene Knott

Hi Kylie, I have the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens as my wide angle. I often carry my Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens for early morning, late evening. It is heavy, so I hesitate, but it comes in so handy for those brief moments! Thanks for asking!

Michael Klauber

Kylie, We couldn’t agree more about the lens. Huge difference from the older one and it was perfect for our wildlife photos at Londolozi. Thanks for your coaching while we were there. Can’t wait to head back!

Kylie Jones

Thanks so much Michael! The new 100-400mm is the perfect go to lens for Canon users here at Londolozi, as I know you are well aware, the light weight, the fast autofocus, and it produces extremely sharp photographs, it is one of Canon’s best current value-for-money lenses. I look forward to seeing you here on your next visit.

Jeff Rodgers

I have been struggling with the ‘right lens’ for years. I currently have a Tamron 150-600mm. I’ve had a Nikon 100-400mm but wanted more reach. The Tamron does that but in a trade-off for more weight. Maybe the 100-400mm with a 1.4x extender?? I’d welcome your thoughts. Thanks.

Kylie Jones

Hi Jeff, The 100-400mm with a 1.4x extender would be the perfect option for you as you will get that further zoom that you would get on your 150-600mm. The image quality of the 100-400mm stumps the 150-600mm in my opinion, and so I would definitely advise purchasing the new 100-400mm lens. If you have any further questions about the 100-400mm lens, I am more than happy to help.

Eulalia Angédu

Beautiful pictures Kylie.Am always waiting in anticipation for your articles and texts.Good work

Amanda Ritchie

Thanks so much for sharing this info, Kylie. I agree that the 100-400mm lens is super sharp, and so easy to use. When I first used it, I thought it was going to feel too big and bulky, but it actually took a very short amount of time to get used to, and is incredibly versatile. It really is a great lens, and one that I would highly recommend for any safari-goer, whether they are first timers or experienced. Thanks for the great post!

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