I have wanted to get my hands on the 400mm F/5.6 to review for a while now. It has a good reputation as a great lens for wildlife, and general day shooting where you may need a 400mm – a HS baseball game, for example. Being as sports and wildlife are probably two of my favorite ways to enjoy photography, this lens has always intrigued me.

Well, I have finally got my hands on one, and I am actually comparing it to its larger and more expensive F/2.8L cousin. A more in-depth review and comparison between the two lenses will come later, but today I wanted to share some of my initial thoughts on this Canon 400mm F/5.6L.


Disclaimer: Again, this is not meant to be a full review of this lens. These are just some initial thoughts that I have had on the lens since I received it. My full review will include sample images from different apertures and in different situations. 

Initial Thoughts on the Canon 400mm F/5.6L

I am actually quite impressed with both the build quality and the weight of this lens. It’s similar in size and weight to a 300mm F/4, which is another great “day shooting” lens. The tradeoff for the easily manageable size, weight, and extra reach, is the relatively low F/5.6 max aperture.

Still, after having had it for a little over a week now, I am very happy with what this lens is capable of, and how it compares to the 400mm F/2.8L in a standard day shooting environment.


Quick Build Quality Thoughts

This is a Canon L lens, so you can be sure that the build quality is top notch. I have been happy with every aspect of this lens so far, with only a few minor exceptions.

  • The hood is built onto the body. In theory this is awesome, but in practice it is more annoying than it is awesome. The hood stays tight now, while the lens is still new, but I can definitely see the hood getting looser and looser as the lens ages. Eventually it would not surprise me to see a loose hood on the end of your lens that moves around freely and causes more harm than good. Canon_400mm_F5-6-4158 Canon_400mm_F5-6-4159
  • No “clicks” on the tripod collar. On other Canon L lenses that I have used in the past that require the use of a tripod collar they have had clicks at certain points along the rotation. This makes it easy to spin the lens on the collar, and know if you are perfectly vertical or horizontal. On this lens, you basically have to guess and hope that you got it close enough.Canon_400mm_F5-6-4156

Those are my only two real complaints so far. But, I have it for a month and will have plenty more opportunities to test it out in a variety of situations, including more wildlife, and on the sideline of a professional soccer match. So stay tuned for the full review and full comparison between this, and the Canon 400mm F/2.8L.

5 Quick Sample Images From the 400mm F/5.6L

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.

I used both my Canon EOS-M and Canon 6D, to demonstrate what this lens is capable of in a situation it is likely to be used for. The EOS-M is APS-C and the 6D is full frame, so you can see how the lens performs on both Canon sensor sizes.

Canon EOS-M, F/5.6, ISO 1000, 1/1000thCanon_400mm_F5-6-3751


Canon EOS-M, F/5.6, ISO 800, 1/1000thCanon_400mm_F5-6-3883


Canon 6D, F/5.6, ISO 1000, 1/1000thCanon_400mm_F5-6-4064

Canon 6D, F/5.6, ISO 1600, 1/1000thCanon_400mm_F5-6-4105

Canon 6D, F/5.6, ISO 1250, 1/1000thCanon_400mm_F5-6-4136

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