Canon 400mm f/5.6 Review

Canon 400mm f/5.6
  • Editor Rating
  • Rated 5 stars
$950 to $1250
  • 100%

  • Canon 400mm f/5.6
  • Reviewed by:
  • Published on:
  • Last modified: October 18, 2017
  • Usability
    Editor: 80%
  • Image Quality
    Editor: 90%
  • Speed
    Editor: 60%
  • Accessories

Canon 400mm f/5.6   We love this lens for wildlife. We’ve had every Canon wildlife lens, and we still choose this lens constantly. Here’s a listing of what we’ve tested:

  • Canon 100-400 L IS
  • Canon 100-400 L IS II
  • Tamron 150-600
  • Sigma 150-600 Contemporary
  • Canon 70-200 f/2.8 with a 2x teleconverter
  • Canon 400mm f/2.8
  • Canon 500mm f/4
  • Canon 600mm f/4

…yet, we still recommend the 400mm f/5.6 prime to all new wildlife photographers. Even if a photographers is using a Nikon, Sony, Panasonic, Olympus, Pentax, Fuji, whatever, we tell them to buy a used Canon 7D just so they can attach a copy of this lens to it. Yes, it’s so good you should buy a different body if you need to. There’s no comparable alternative, not from any manufacturer. There’s a problem, though–it sounds terrible on paper. It doesn’t have the reach of the 150-600mm lenses. It doesn’t have IS like them, either, nor the Canon 100-400. But it’s sharper–far sharper. You can crop it from 400mm to 600mm, and it’s sharper than the 150-600mm lenses. It’s also faster, better built, and easier to hand-hold. It doesn’t have IS, and we wish it did. However, IS isn’t a factor when shooting moving subjects, because your shutter speed will need to be higher, anyway. For still subjects, we regularly hand-hold this lens at 1/250th (on a 1.4x body) and get sharp results. Because it’s so light and small, it’s easier to hand-hold. If you’re interested in wildlife photography, stop reading reviews and order a used copy of this lens. Then, start shooting. You’ll thank me like hundreds of other photographers who made the same choice. Here’s another comparison test with this lens:  


  • Far less expensive than other sharp telephoto primes
  • So sharp you can crop it to 700mm
  • Almost indestructible
  • Light weight makes it easy to hand-hold and hike with


  • No image stabilization
  • No zoom