Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM review

The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM breathes new life into a classic DSLR tele zoom

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM
(Image: © Canon)

Digital Camera World Verdict

The Mark II edition of Canon’s classic 100-400mm IS USM lens is an ideal choice for sports, action and wildlife photography. It ditches the dubious trombone-style push/pull zoom mechanism of the original lens, replacing it with a more conventional twist-action control ring, while retaining and an adjustable friction damper. The optical design and the autofocus and image stabilization systems are all updated and uprated, making the Mark II a solid, pro-grade performer for the digital era. It’s a really nice lens but very pricey compared to the more consumer-focus Sigma and Tamron 100-400mm alternatives.


  • +

    Powerful telephoto zoom range

  • +

    3-mode, 4-stop image stabilization

  • +

    Great handling and build quality


  • -

    Very expensive to buy

  • -

    Quite weighty

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The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM replaces the original 100-400mm IS USM, which was launched all the way back in 1998, with film cameras firmly in mind. The first version continued to be highly desirable with the advent of digital SLRs, both for full-frame and APS-C format bodies, having an effective zoom range of 160-640mm on the latter. Less popular was its trombone-style, push-pull zoom mechanism. That’s been changed to a more regular twist-action zoom ring in the Mark II, which was launched in 2014. Typical of most recent Canon L-series lenses, build quality was also improved to incorporate weather-seals.


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Matthew Richards

Matthew Richards is a photographer and journalist who has spent years using and reviewing all manner of photo gear. He is Digital Camera World's principal lens reviewer – and has tested more primes and zooms than most people have had hot dinners! 

His expertise with equipment doesn’t end there, though. He is also an encyclopedia  when it comes to all manner of cameras, camera holsters and bags, flashguns, tripods and heads, printers, papers and inks, and just about anything imaging-related. 

In an earlier life he was a broadcast engineer at the BBC, as well as a former editor of PC Guide.