Tag Archives: 400mm

Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM – Almost

Last week I had an opportunity to purchase a second-hand Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM at a very cheap price.

The big 500 is a lens I have long wanted, and it is an ideal lens and focal length for wildlife photography.

I decided to have a look at it, and I spent a fair bit of time with it.

It works fine, but it is not in the greatest condition.

A portion of the AF switch had been snapped off, which exposed the inside of the barrel — at least, the section below the switch panel.  That was concerning to me, as water could easily ingress the barrel.

Also, the front rim was in quite bad shape. It had copped a lot of bumps into hard objects.

I was told that it belonged to a paparazzo who used it on a motorbike.

Clearly it had collided with poles, walls, cars, the bike itself and heaven knows what else.

Despite a few paint scratches, the hood was in great shape.  I would expect that if it had been used much, it would have been well and truly trashed; I suspect it did not spend much time on the lens.

Even for the very cheap price I was offered, it was a risky and uncomfortable situation, and the lens would need to be serviced by Canon to address the damage, which could have been an expensive exercise.

The lens was in good condition relative to how it had been used; but a condition not good enough for my comfort level.

I decided not to proceed.

The following day, I began to think about the Canon EF 200mm f/2L IS USM.  I tried that lens at PMA Australia in 2008 when it was new.  It is a stunning lens, and having recently shot a few times with the long-discontinued and rare Canon EF 200mm f/1.8L USM, I would be very happy with a fast (faster than f/2.8) 200mm lens.

When I conducted some critical analysis, the truth is that I do not need a 500mm lens, as I can already achieve the 560mm focal length at f/4 by attaching my Canon Extender EF 1.4x II to my Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM.

What the 500mm prime has in its favour is lighter weight (enormously beneficial when travelling: 3.87kg vs. 5.37kg), and a sharper, native focal length of 500mm.  Having said that, of the three longest focal lengths I had in Kenya, 400mm was used most, followed by 800mm and 560mm.

What I cannot currently achieve is  f/2) at 200mm.  It has been a dream of mine for a number of years to replace my Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM with a Canon EF 200mm f/2L IS USM, as not only would the latter give me a brighter aperture at the 200mm focal length and a stunningly sharp lens, but it would switch me to a 100% prime lens rig.  I am a fan of fast primes, and presently I only have one zoom — one of the finest zoom lenses Canon has produced, incidentally.

I have asked my regular supplier (who has always given me good deals) for a price on a Canon EF 200mm f/2L IS USM.  If I can land a good price, I might just finally do this, and turn another lens replacement dream into a reality.

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Latest Acquisition: Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM

I’ve just come home with my latest lens (and the first lens purchase in over six years): a Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM.

When out shopping in the city yesterday, I visited a few camera stores, one of which happened to have one available for sale at a very good price.

For a few years I have wanted a Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM (either the original or the lighter, newer mark II) for wildlife photography in Africa.

The 400/2.8L IS is a lens after which I have lusted for nine years, but one I never really expected or planned to buy.

When I discovered this one yesterday, it was too good to pass up.

With my Canon Extender EF 1.4x II and Canon Extender EF 2x II,  I will achieve 560mm at f/4 and 800mm at f/5.6 respectively, which should cover our next African photography safari quite nicely, allowing me to achieve tighter, more selectively-focused images of the incredible wildlife there.

Last time I took my Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM, and achieved longer focal lengths of 420mm at f/4 and 600mm at f/5.6.

I’m looking forward to exploiting the 400/2.8L IS’s well-documented capabilities, and landing images with the signature look this lens provides.