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Gear Reviews

Some Initial Thoughts on the Canon 400mm F/2.8L IS II

By Anthony Thurston on April 21st 2014

As I mentioned in my previous comparison and initial thoughts on the Canon 400mm f/5.6L, I also have the Canon 400mm F/2.8L IS II in for review and today I wanted to share some of my initial thoughts on this monster of a lens.

Before I get started though, you can find my initial look at both of these lenses here, and you can read my initial thoughts on the 400mm F/5.6L lens here.


Canon 400mm F/2.8L IS II Initial Thoughts

Well, my initial impression of this lens had nothing to do with the lens itself, but with how it was shipped. Let me tell you, they do not mess around when they are sending a $11,000 lens in the mail. They packaged up this lens like Inception, a box within a box, within a box, within a hard pelican case. They could have airdropped this lens and it would have been fine – no joke.

Ok, now on to what you are all really here to hear about, the lens itself. For a lens that costs more than both of my family’s vehicles combined, it delivers on almost every level with regards to image and build quality that one could ask for.


The lens really only has two downsides to it, and that is its incredible weight (which is luckily much less that the original 400mm F/2.8), and its incredible price.

One of the key problems with the Canon 400mm f/5.6L is that since it does not have any image stabilization, it can be difficult to hand hold and get the results you would like. The 2.8L IS II has three different settings for its stabilizer, but due to its massive size and weight, hand holding for more than just a few shots is not possible for most people.


The Canon 400mm F/2.8L also comes with a slew of other top of the line telephoto lens features, like focus presets, x3 focus limiter settings, and a drop in 52mm filter. I will go more in depth on these various features in my full review, but safe to say I am very impressed with this lens.


Canon 400mm F/2.8L IS II Sample Shots

Before I let you go, I am sure you may be interested in some sample images from this guy and I am happy to oblige. Below you will find some sample images from a recent trip to the local wildlife refuge, as well as practice for the Portland Thorns.

Canon 6D, F/2.8, ISO 2500, 1/5th

Canon 6D, F/2.8, ISO 400, 1/1250th Canon_400mm_F2-8L-3489

Canon 6D, F/2.8, ISO 500, 1/1000th Canon_400mm_F2-8L-3619

Canon EOS M, F/2.8, ISO 320, 1/1000thCanon_400mm_F2-8L-3783

Canon EOS M, F/2.8, ISO 250, 1/1000thCanon_400mm_F2-8L-3799

Canon 6D, F/3.2, ISO 400, 1/1000th Canon_400mm_F2-8L-3994

If you are considering this lens and/or have any questions about it, leave a comment below and I will make sure to try and answer your questions in my full review.

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Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Jeff Morrison

    another good read from ANTHONY THURSTON.

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  2. Jack Arent

    If you don’t shoot large field sports on a regular basis I would advise you to save your money and go with a 300. The lens wow factor will wear off and you will wish you had the extra 7 to 8K in your pocket. The DOF of the 300 looks the same as the 400. I shoot pro basketball and other sports for a living and I hate the fact that my 400 bruises my shoulder and makes my lower back hurt after using it for a day. I have a non IS 400 series II (& a 300) and it pisses me off that Canon won’t service this lens if it decides to go out on me, their suggestion is to upgrade to the latest 400. Before I buy a new 400 I’d buy a second car, a sports car, say like a ’91 Iroc convertible and drive down to the Canon repair shop and……. The point is it’s bull Canon won’t service older long glass.

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  3. Jimmy Schaefer

    Hey Anthony,

    I’m looking at buying a Canon 300mm F2.8 IS I USM how does this lens compare to the 400.. There is a major price jump but I’ve seen these 300mm F2.8 with IS on the market for around 3000-4000. I’m mainly looking to shoot concerts and sports.

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  4. Rick Ohnsman

    An $11K lens to get these shots? Really? Not impressed. Sorry…

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    • Anthony Thurston

      To be fair they are sample shots, not really supposed to wow you. Ill have this lens on the sideline of a pro soccer match this weekend and at least one other time before the full review comes out. Thanks for the comment.

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