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FORUMS Canon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Canon EF and EF-S Lenses 
Thread started 30 Dec 2012 (Sunday) 20:01
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Just how hand-holdable is the 400 5.6 L?

 
RickFL
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Dec 30, 2012 20:01 |  #1

I plan on buying a used 400 5.6 L on Monday. I've never tried this lens before, and I'm wondering how hand holdable it is. I've read different things on this forum that a lot of people use it hand held often, but I'm just wondering if others agree. I really don't like using a tripod / monopod, so I'm hoping I can use the 400 hand held without issues.

I will be using the lens for birding / wildlife.

I'm a little hesitant to buy the 400 only because I get great results with my 70-200 + 1.4x TC. And I once told myself I would never buy anything slower than f2.8. But I'm excited to pull the trigger because of the extra reach and the fact that I'm getting a GREAT deal on it, basically too good to pass up.

Thanks for your feedback!


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FlyingPhotog
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Dec 30, 2012 20:02 |  #2

400mm f/5.6?

It's a featherweight lens.


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The ­ Fox
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Dec 30, 2012 20:09 |  #3

It is fine to hand hold. No worse then the 70-200mm F2.8 with a 2x tc on it. Though it is lighter. The lack of IS is kind of annoying but nothing too bad as it does not stop action. Just remember that you need good light to stop motion with an F5.6 lens.

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jwcdds
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Dec 30, 2012 20:09 |  #4

It'll probably feel 1/2 as heavy as your 70/200 2.8ii. :lol:


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MT ­ Stringer
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Dec 30, 2012 20:12 |  #5

jwcdds wrote in post #15425390 (external link)
It'll probably feel 1/2 as heavy as your 70/200 2.8ii. :lol:

...but longer. I found it hard to hand hold when the wind was blowing. I tried a friends for several shots during warm ups at a softball game but gave up and went back to the 300 2.8 on a monopod.

Probably just need practice. My 70-200 is easier to hand hold.


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darosk
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Dec 30, 2012 20:18 |  #6

I just took mine out for the first time this morning. Relative to it's size it felt very light to me, had no problem lugging it around for about 2 hours. I had my monopod with me but I didn't use it once.

The 5.6 wide open is something I'll have to learn and get used to, especially in conjunction with keeping shutter speeds up high. Everyone's right, you need good light for this lens to work it.


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johnandbentley
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Dec 30, 2012 20:20 |  #7

i owned one for a year. Great lens. Very handholdable. AF is awesome and as long as you got light to give you enough speed very accurate shooting BIF. I am definitely in the market to purchase this lens again.


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RickFL
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Dec 30, 2012 21:12 as a reply to  @ johnandbentley's post |  #8

I use my 70-200 ± 1.4TC and have no trouble lugging it around hand held for hours at a time. So I think I will be just fine with the 400. I hope a little extra length won't be a big deal.

Probably the biggest problem will be the f5.6. But fortunately I live in Florida so usually there should be enough light.

By the way, any good advice for inspecting this lens before buying? I plan on doing the shake test to make sure nothing sounds loose or rattles. I will test it on my body and check out the auto focus. Anything else?

First time buying used.


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chrisd999
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Dec 30, 2012 21:38 as a reply to  @ RickFL's post |  #9

I used to own it and I had no problems hand-holding this lens. The lack of IS required shutter speeds of 1/600s, or preferably 1/1000s when hand holding, which is the minimum for BIF anyway. However, I found for still subjects in shaded areas I was struggling to get decent ISO at these shutter speeds, which was one of the two reasons I sold the lens. The other is I don't do a lot of BIF, which is the real market for the lens, and I found the very long MFD was too limiting for my needs.


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amfoto1
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Dec 30, 2012 22:13 |  #10

To check out a used lens, take a small flashlight with you and inspect inside. There will likely be a few specks of dust, which will not be any problem. Just look for element separation, fungus, any flaws in the coatings, things like that. If you don't have a flashlight, you can hold it up to a bright light source and look through though a flashlight you can hold close to the lens tends to work better.

As mentioned, the main thing is you'll have to keep your shutter speeds up when shooting handheld. On your crop cameras you should probably go for 1/640 minimum, 1/1000 would be even better if you can mantain it. You may need to bump up your ISO to 1600 to get fast enough shutter speed. If/when you need to shoot slower shutter speeds, try a monopod and/or a tripod... and learn to do mirror loskup for really slow speeds. A long tele exaggerates even the slightest movement.

If forced to use a slower shutter speed and there's nothing at hand to help steady your shot, set your camera to its highest frame rate and take extra shots, plan that some of them will show some camera shake. It's also possible to make a "poor man's tripod" with a five or six foot long piece of 1/4" or 3/8" rope and a 1/4 x 20 bolt. Tie the bolt in one end of the rope, screw it into the tripod mount of the lens, let the rope drop to the ground, step on it with one foot so that the rope is nice and taut. You can usually get a couple stops slower shutter speed with the extra stability from that. Plus you can wad up the rope and stick it in a pocket.

With your camera, I think you'll be limited to the center AF point only with an f5.6 lens.

It's too bad the 400/5.6 doesn't have IS, but that would add another $400 to $600 to the price, plus a bit of size and weight I'm sure.

The image below was shot handheld on an moderately overcast day with my 300/4 IS with 1.4X (420/5.6 effectively) on a 7D, at f5.6, ISO 400, 1/400 shutter speed, but that lens has IS. I should have used a higher ISO to get a faster shutter, but was shooting fast and didn't really have time to change the ISO. It's a wee bit soft in larger sizes, but that might be due to the teleconverter as much as the 1/400 shutter speed...

IMAGE: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8338/8189467894_488a03323c_b.jpg

Same lens and teleconverter, except on a 5D Mark II at ISO 1600, f8, 1/250 shutter speed... and I might have used a monopod:

IMAGE: http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6081/6107916074_ba823a6922_z.jpg

Shouldn't be any problem lugging the lens around, it's not much bigger or heavier than your 70-200/2.8 with the 1.4X on it. IQ with the 400/5.6 alone will likely be better than your zoom + 1.4X or my 300/4 + 1.4X. You will probably find the built-in lens hood convenient, too.

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kin2son
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Dec 30, 2012 22:24 |  #11
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Personally I find IS invaluable. I have no problem handholding my Gripped 5D3 + 70-200II + 2xIII TC.

Shot below wouldn't be possible without IS - f8, ISO500, 400mm and 1/80s

IMAGE: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8215/8327803539_2423f7fdf0_c.jpg
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phreeky
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Dec 31, 2012 08:42 |  #12

kin2son wrote in post #15425826 (external link)
Personally I find IS invaluable. I have no problem handholding my Gripped 5D3 + 70-200II + 2xIII TC.

Shot below wouldn't be possible without IS - f8, ISO500, 400mm and 1/80s

Sort of. @ ISO1600 and F/5.6 it would have been possible. Or with a monopod. And would have been ready to track the Kookaburra when he/she flew off in a way a 70-200+2x could only dream of.

For me personally, on a 7D, I consider 1/800s a safe shutter speed, 1/500s is a ~50% keeper rate shutter speed, and if I'm stuck for light and take a burst I can often get single sharp shot out of 10 @ 1/125s.




  
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n1as
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Dec 31, 2012 08:48 |  #13

When hand-holding the 400 f/5.6 I found I had some issues with blurry shots (camera motion). Once I was on the monopod, all those issues went away and it was a great lens.

I eventually replaced it with the 100-400L. The zoom is not as sharp but it has IS an is a zoom so it fits my sports needs better.


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bobbyz
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Dec 31, 2012 10:38 |  #14

For BIFs, your ss is going to be high so IS or no IS doesn't matter. For stationary bird shots, better to have a tripod or even a monopod. HH, I used to be at 1/500 or higher, more like 1/640. The lens is very light.


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E.J. ­ Peiker
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Dec 31, 2012 11:13 |  #15

It's all about shutter speed. Keep it fast, say 1/500 or faster with very good hand holding technique and the lens will reward you. Like any long lens, sloppy technique and no IS to save you and you will disappointed.




  
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Just how hand-holdable is the 400 5.6 L?
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