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 The most marked change from the older version is that the push-pull design has been replaced by a standard zoom ring design.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.
This female is a success story all in herself, being born as a single cub to the Riverbank 3:3 female in early 2012.
Another leopard who originated in the Kruger National Park, he has established a large territory in the south eastern areas of Londolozi.
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.
The Mashaba female is currently Londolozi’s best-known leopard. Her relaxed nature means she is comfortable around the vehicles.
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.
Filed under Gear Review Photography
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.