Does the Canon 100-400mm inhale dust?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by bill_todd|1, Jan 1, 2012.

  1. I am an amateur. My current kit consists of a 60D, EF-S 15-85mm, EF-S 55-250mm and 100mm f2.8 USM macro. My subjects are mainly landscape, wildlife and macro. I am generally happy with my 55-250mm but there have been quite a few times when I wanted more reach. I am considering buying the 100-400mm f4.5/5.6L or, possibly, the 70-300mm f4/5.6L. The 70-300mm is smaller, lighter, has better optical quality and better IS but only gives me a 20% increase in focal length. The 100-400mm is bigger and weights more but provides a 60% increase in focal length over the 55-250mm. I was not planning to make this decision now but B&H has the 100-400mm for $1439 through January 7th and, from what I can tell, that seems like a very good price.
    My big concern is that I have read a small number of comments that the 100-400mm lens inhales dust since the joint where the lens extends when zoomed is not sealed. I have had no dust problems with my 55-250mm or my 15-85mm. I did have an EF-S 17-55mm and it seemed like every time I took the lens out of my bag it had another spec of dust on the back surface of the front element. I won't touch the 100-400mm L if I am going to have a dust problem even close to the problem I had with the 17-55mm.
    Have others had problems with dust in the 100-400mm lens? Any other comments or suggestions would be welcome. By the way I am going to rent the 100-400mm for a day at the zoo before I make a decision so I will get some experience with the size and weight and the push-pull zoom. Thanks.
  2. Yes. Or no.
    Depends on who you ask.
    I'm in the "no" camp, myself - had my 100-400mm since 2006, shoot on windy, sandy, coal-dust covered beaches a lot, and haven't had a single problem with dust in the lens.
  3. In theory, yes. Since it changes length when you zoom the internal volume changes, so it has to displace air in and out.
    Does this cause a problem? Depends. Some people say yes, some people have no problems.
    BTW internal dust in a lens rarely if ever causes any problems. Theoretically it might, if there is a LOT of it, affect flare or contrast, though it will not affect resolution. Most of the time it has absolutely no effect on the image. In fact people generally do more damage by cleaning and trying to keep elements pristine then the dust would if they left it alone.
    Personally, I wouldn't give the dust issue a second thought if I needed a 100-400 zoom.
    Your alternatives are to go 3rd party, the 300/4L IS with a 1.4x TC or the 400/5.6L. All of them have disadvantages too like no IS, or no zoom, or lower overall quality.
  4. Lens can be had for $30 less (free shipping) by doing a search - if $30 makes any difference to you.
  5. Rather pay $30 more and support a great company personally. ;-)
    As to the OP's post, I never had a noticeable problem from the 100-400.
    I'm curious if the terrible dust from the 17-55 ever actually impacted your imagery. Very curious. I've never had a picture ruined (or even quantifyably impacted) by dust on any of the internal elements, and ALL my lenses have dust to a lesser or greater degree. (Including EF, EF-S, L, & 3rd party)
    Frankly, whether or not to buy a 100-400 is a valid discussion question for many of the points you raised (love/hate push pull zoom, optical performance @ the long end, IS performance, speed, relevant FL, etc.), but dust isn't a one of them. Sacrificing your capability primarily because your lens might get dusty? kind of silly IMHO.
  6. Mine is from 2003 and no dust problems yet!
  7. Not a problem on the 100-400 I've owned for several years. See some important info about the lens in my review:
    I purposely removed the direct link since ads a "no-follow" tag to outgoing links which can hurt SE ranking.
  8. Thanks to everyone for the information, particularly regarding the minimal impact of internal dust. FWIW, I did not abandon the 17-55mm due to the dust. I just found that for every situation where I needed the F2.8 speed there were 15 situations where I needed more reach so for me the 15-85mm has been much more useful.
    Now all I have to decide is whether the 70-300mm or the 100-400mm will be the best choice. If anyone has any comments on that decision I welcome them but I suspect the only way to make the decision is try them both and see which one feels right. Thanks again.
  9. If you want more reach than 250, 400 makes more sense than 300 to me.
  10. If birds are a substantial portion of your wildlife shots, you can never get enough reach when shooting birds...100-400MM.
  11. vbi


    I have used my 100-400 for 4 years now (mostly shooting wildlife at various South African game reserves) with now problem, and contrary to popular rumours the later versions are quite sharp wide open, so much so that I now mostly shoot at F5.6 at 400mm on my 5D Mk2.
    You can expect better results on an APSC camera.
  12. I have never quite understood why this 'sucking in dust' business is mentioned so much about the 100-400. Most zoom lenses change length when they are zoomed including many Canon 'L' lenses. For example the 24-70, the 70-300 L, the 28-350 L. Some don't change length - such as the 70-200 L series. But you never see people mentioning about dust with the other lenses which change length. Obviously they change in internal volume and so air muust go in and out. Maybe it is to do with the push-pull zooming that makes it different and odd. I would not worry about it.
  13. I hate to disagree but I am afraid I will. The problem isn't the dust effecting the optics, it seems there is a problem with the ring that tightens and loosens the push/pull function. I have a friend who has had to send his in to Canon twice now and I am beginning to experience the same with mine. I have had it for about two years now and it is noticeably more difficult to push and pull. The ring doesn't move nearly as much as it used to. I don't know what the cause is and I am keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn't get worse.
  14. It really depends on what you need. If you need 400mm then get the 100-400. If you do not then I would personally buy the 70-300 as it is a much more modern design. It has the latest 4 stop IS and I believe higher image quality. I have personally never been a fan of the 100-400 simply because I do not like push / pull zoom handling or variable aperture zooms. I suspect that the 100-400 will soon be due for an update as it is one of the oldest zooms in EF line up.
    The digital picture reviews may help
  15. I really like my 100-400 L, just a great lens. I bought mine used from a local camera shop, it was their rental/demo I believe. I've been using it for a couple years now and I have seen no dust issues or problems with sticking rings, but I do take reasonable precautions not laying it in mud puddles or rolling around with it in the cement factory or coal mine.
    If I ever have an issue, shipping it to Canon repair would be the route I would go and feel it would be well worth the expense to clean a lens of this caliber as the images you will get from this lens out weigh the expense to have it professionally cleaned some time in the future (IMHO).
  16. I suspect that you are absolutely right about trying them both. However, if the 15-85 already frequently graces your camera's mount, I suspect you'll find the added 100mm FL more of an advantage than you will find yourself missing the gap between 85 & 100.
  17. No dust problems with my 100-400. No sticking locking ring. It just works like it should. Many consider this lens the minimum for shooting small birds; I would agree.
    The new 70-300L is a true gem. Super sharp and the IS is terrific. I can handhold shots at 1/10 second and get sharp results. Can't do that with my 100-400.
    Bottom line - if you are mostly interested in shooting wildlife, go for focal length and get the 100-400. If you want a nice focal range and plan to only occasionally shoot smaller wildlife, the 70-300L has excellent optics and great IS.
  18. I've used my 100-400 for about 3 years and with a variety of cameras; I've have had no problem with dust that could be attributed to the lens.
  19. The predecessor of all these trombone Canons was the 35-350L which I bought new more than a dozen years ago, and still own. Its been used in desert conditions and arctic conditions, it's been soaked in torrential rain and dried out on a radiator, and shot literally tens of thousands of images, and it functions as well now as it did when new. And it has no sand dunes inside it. I briefly owned a 100-400 - great lens, sharp and flexible (sold it only to buy a 300 f2.8 to get the wider aperture). Buy with confidence.
  20. Have others had problems with dust in the 100-400mm lens?​
    No, not in my experience with the 100-400.
    I've owned mine since 2005, and have used it on the Elan 7e, EOS3 and currently on a 50D.
    I used a "push-pull" design zoom in the Vivitar Series 1, 70-210mm in the Canon FD days from the mid to late 1970's up through the late 90's and didn't encounter any dust or function problems either. Other's experience and mileage may vary.
    I do find however, that I obtain the "sharpest" shots with the 100-400 around the 300mm mark on the long end of the zoom range, and I have better results with the "zoom lock ring" reasonably tightened with the lens extended to the 300mm mark. About the same when coupled with the 1.4X TC.
    I think the idea of "renting" for a test drive is a wise decision, especially since the 100-400 appears to be readily available by most all the Lens Rental facilities.
  21. I've never used a 100-400, but I do remember shooting a horse running around me in circles with my brand new 5D and 24-105. I would zoom slowly from tele to wide each time as the horse approached and passed me. New dust would appear on the sensor with every several frames. I would be surprised if the 100-400 weren't far worse, as it telescopes much further. Since then, I won't shoot in dusty environments with any zoom lens with telescoping barrels, whether they telescope with a twist or a push/pull.
    Oh, FAIW, blowing air in and out the side of the lens (and getting dust on the internal optical surfaces) is probably far preferable to blowing air in and out through the mirror chamber, via the base of the lens. I suspect the 100-400 does both.
  22. My Canon 100-400 wheezes a bit when it inhales. Could be a touch of asthma. (jk)
    No dust problems with mine.
  23. I've had mine for 4 years and no dust problems despite 2 African safaris with it plus a bit of use around Australia.
    I have had the zoom barrel siezing problem. I think this started with keeping it in a bag with all my gears. When getting it out it naturally slides out to 400mm and at this focal length there is not much to resist the bending as it comes out of the bag. The problem started with the locking ring getting looser, then it tightened up to the point of almost becoming a prime. Extending it out to 400mm and jiggling the focus helped free it a little. The repair cost me $700. If you have a 100-400L where there is a noticable difference in the locking ring feel I would get it checked before it causes other damage. I wasn't near a canon repair facility when mine went bung.
  24. been to many dusty places, with normal care my 100-400 mm is still as performing as well as new
  25. I have my 100-400L for about a year and haven't noticed any dust problems. It's a nice lens, and you would have to pay a lot of money to get a Canon lens with a greater focal length. Renting the lens for a day is a good idea since it will get you familiar with the push-pull design.
    Enjoy the 100-400!
  26. I use the 100-400mm L IS lens all the time for wildlife shooting. Dust has never been a problem but cold weather can be a small issue below 20 degrees F or -7 degrees C. It takes about 10 minutes for the lens to adjust to the outside temperature when coming from indoors or a warm car. If I do not wait long enough, the lens will fog up on the inside when it is extended because it sucks air into itself. This clears up quickly once the lens cools down to the outside temperature. There has never been any kind of long term effect from this issue as far as I can tell. My copy of the 100-400mm lens has always taken fantastic photos and I have used it very frequently over the lest three years.

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