CANON EF 100-400MM F4.5-5.6L IS II USM
The Mark II edition is a worthy upgrade with a radical rethink in design
the original edition of Canon’s 100-400mm Is usM lens went on sale at the end of the last century and was well received by the 35mm film fraternity. one thing that split opinion, however, was its trombone-style zoom mechanism with its push-pull action. that was replaced by a more traditional zoom ring in the current Mk II, which was launched four years ago. perhaps surprisingly, the new lens retains the adjustable friction damper of the earlier design, but this helps to avoid zoom creep.
upgrades in the Mk II include a more complex optical path that incorporates four additional elements. Canon’s finest fluorite and super uD (ultra-low Dispersion) elements are featured, along with hightech AsC (Air sphere Coating) and fluorine coatings on both the front and rear elements. unlike the original lens, the Mk II is also weather-sealed.
Further tweaks include a redesigned hood with a sliding panel to enable filter rotation, and a tripod collar that can be removed without detaching the lens from a camera body. A new triple-mode image stabiliser offers static and panning options, plus a third setting that only applies stabilisation during the actual exposure. this makes it easier to track erratically moving objects through the viewfinder. the stabiliser has a four-stop rating, compared with just 1.5 stops in the original lens. Autofocus is also quicker but no faster than in other lenses on test.
Image quality is very good overall. sharpness and contrast are excellent at short to mid-zoom settings, even when shooting wide open. However, sharpness drops away at longer zoom settings. Back at the short end, colour fringing and barrel distortion are slightly worse than from any other lens on test, but still fairly negligible.
RightMeet the white elephant the Canon is the weightiest lens in the group. the triple-mode stabiliser works well but there are no dual AF modes with auto/ manual priority override options
Right top100mm at f4.5 things start off very well at the short end of the zoom range, with great sharpness and contrast
RIght bottom 400mm at f5.6 sharpness drops off at long zoom settings more than with any of the other lenses in this test group