Photography 101: Testing My New Wildlife Lens

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Super-telephoto Zoom Lens

1/800s @ f/5.6 ISO 125 @ 400mm Handheld

I had a chance to get my new wildlife lens out in the field this morning for a test. I attached it to my new Canon EOS 5D Mark IV full-frame digital SLR and set out to photograph some critters. I was anxious to see how it performed because in 2010 I owned the Mark I version of the lens—and it sucked (I sent it back to Canon twice for adjustment and it never did focus properly). I replaced the Mark I version with the venerable prime (non-zoom) lens: the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Super-telephoto. A superb lens relative to image quality but no image stabilization or zoom.

Shooting in the Galapagos Islands and Southern Patagonia, Argentina I would have killed for this new updated lens. There were times when I needed to dial back the focal length from a stationary position and couldn’t. With this lens problem solved. My new 5D Mark IV also comes with improved sensor resolution: 30.4 effective Megapixels. When a camera body gets in the 30 Megapixel range camera shake becomes a bigger problem. The image stabilization feature on this lens gives me four extra stops of stabilization. Always appreciated.

I photographed the little squirrel at the top of the page this morning on the Santa Rosa Plateau in Murrieta, CA. You can see he is tack-sharp with great detail in his fur. The lens locked focus immediately and gave me great results. I think I’m going to like this new 100-400mm a lot. It is much heavier than my 400mm prime lens and is just about at the limit for extended handholding (at least for me). I do appreciate the flexibility the zoom gives me as well as the image stabilization. The Galapagos Hawk on the rock and this Male Cinereous Harrier were both shot with my old prime lens.

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