Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 USM L IS - Review / Test Report - Analysis
Lens Reviews - Canon EOS (APS-C)

Distortion

Distortion is very well controlled with this lens. At 100mm there is virtually undetectable barrel distortion switching to slight pincushion distortion from 200mm and up. The effect is usually not field-relevant.

Move the mouse cursor over the focal length text marks below to observe the respective distortion
100mm 200mm 300mm 400mm

The chart above has a real-world size of about 120x80cm.

Vignetting

Thanks to the sweet spot effect the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 USM L IS showed only marginal vignetting on the EOS 350D. In the field this should be pretty much negligible.

MTF (resolution & chromatic aberrations)

Two lenses have been tested - the first one showed a rather mediocre quality whereas the second one (its results are shown below) performed pretty much according to the "consensus". The lens exhibits a very even performance throughout the zoom range. At 100mm the resolution figures are very good straight from f/4.5 and increase to excellent results by f/8. Unsurprisingly there's a slight decrease in performance towards 400mm where the quality is still on a very good level.

Below is a simplified summary of the formal findings. The chart shows line widths per picture height (LW/PH) which can be taken as a measure for sharpness. If you want to know more about the MTF50 figures you may check out the corresponding Imatest Explanations

Chromatic Aberrations (CAs)

The EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 USM L IS shows only marginal lateral CAs which are generally not field relevant. Purple fringing doesn't seem to be a problem either.

Flare can be a problem with this lens so using the supplied hood or some other kind of protection is a good idea (the hood of the EF 24-70mm L fits as well, BTW). Strong light sources within the image will usually produce some ghostings and a reduction of contrast - a complex design with several lens elements has limits here.

Due to the small max. aperture the out-of-focus blur is quite underdeveloped when facing small object magnifications. Nonetheless you can achieve a small depth-of-field using a long focal length in conjunction with a close object distance. The quality of the achievable bokeh is quite decent.




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