Which would you choose and why? Canon 300mm f/4 L or Canon 400mm f/5.6 L?

Discussion in 'Nature' started by stephen_ratzlaff, Sep 13, 2001.

  1. Which would you choose and why? Canon 300mm f/4 L or Canon 400mm f/5.6

    A local shop has one of the old 300mm f/4 L's brand new in box, never
    been owned before, and of course also the 400mm f/5.6 L new.

    I have the 70-200 f/4L and also the 200mm f/2.8 L II and want
    something with a bit more reach.

    I've read many good things about the old 300mm f/4L, but haven't seen
    much on the 400mm f/5.6L. Seen a couple of users's reviews on the
    400mm, but not the same amount of data out there as the 300mm f/4.

    Which of these lenses (300mm and 400mm) focuses closer? Is one greatly
    sharper than the other? How does the 400mm f/5.6 perform with the 1.4x

  2. In particular, what kinds of stuff do you shoot the most?
  3. Hi Stephen, I have both the lenses you are talking about, The 300 focuses at 2.5m and the 400 at 3.5m. The 400 is an great lens with the 1.4 converter sharp as a razor but you need good light for the f8 or the speeds are slow. To shoot birds you have to get near 3.5m or they do not fill the frame they can hear the shutter of my 1V and fly off bit of a bummer. I would like a 500 or 600 but they are out of my reach price wise. I am going to use the 300 to shoot my boys playing Rugby , I now use my 70-200 f2.8 for this . If I can help any more E mail me.
    Yours Roy Ames Manchester UK
  4. I would go with the 300 F4L. The reason is because if you have both TCs, the 300 can be used as 420 f5.6 and 600 f8 (which will still AF with EOS 3 and 1V), whereas the 400 5.6 makes 560 f8 and 800 f11 (which is really rather slow....), so you get a more useful combination of available lengths, which will fit well with what you have.

    I have the same 70-200 F4L, and I have a 300 F4L IS, and the 1.4X TC. I will get the 2x mk II when I have an F8 AF body (prob an EOS 3).

    Basically, both lenses are very good. What are you aiming for? I'd say get the 1.4X TC, and then see...that would give you a good 280 F4, which would then make the 300 f4 unecessary. That would then suggest that the 400 F5.6 would be the one to go for. Maybe the new 400 F4 DO is also worth waiting for.
  5. As others have suggested, the 300 f/4 L might be slightly more versatile due to its larger maximum aperture and its ability to work well, particularly on the EOS 3, w/ both 1.4X and 2X TC's. However, faced with this same desicion I went with the EF 400 5.6L, because I wanted to use the lens primarily for birds. The 400 5.6 is very sharp, and I'm also very impressed with color rendition. As a flight lens handheld, it's unmatched. I wasn't sure I'd get fast enough shutter speeds for ISO 100 film, but on a sunny day, they are plenty fast for sharp images handheld. Of course, on a my tripod, sharpness is superb. Images crisper with better edge sharpness than my 100-300 5.6L and just as or a hair sharper than my EF 100 2.8 Macro lens(non-USM). I've always wanted the EF 300 f/4 L, but I felt that my intended subjects where I live required a bit more reach.
    But as another poster suggested, your desicion is largely going to be based on what you want to photograph.
    You might not need 400mm. If you want a beginning bird lens, a good discussion of both lenses, can be found here.
  6. If you're buying it new, don't forget to take into account how the
    IS would be useful for you (which is only available on the 300/4).
  7. I like the 300mm-plus-converter combo. It's often useful to have that extra stop of light at 300mm f/4 that wouldn't be possible with a 400mm f/5.6.
  8. This topic was covered here years ago, look for it in the archive.
    There is a detailed comparision from Bob Atkins about these lenses
    too, it can help you. Of course the answer depends on what you want
    to shot.
    As a had to make the same decision I decided for the 4.0/300L
    for more flexibility, using it with and without the 1.4 TC.
    It is an excellent lense, very good with the 1.4 TC too.
    The one more stop it has against the 400mm was important for
    me for dynamic shots.
  9. Hi,

    I had to make the same decision a year ago. My main goal was and is bird photography. I choose for the 400/5.6. With a 1.4 converter it is still very sharp if your object isn't to far away. The 300/4 IS on the other hand is very nice because of the IS. I have overlooked it when I choose, or it wasn't there yet... I don't know. Perhaps I would do this. Concidering you also have the 200/2.8 I'd go for the 400 if you don't want IS.

    Hopes this helps a little.


    Does anybody knows anything about a 400/4 or /5.6 with IS, excluding the DO lens?
  10. You have the 200 f/2.8? With a 1.4X Extender, you have a 280mm f/4. That's just about the same as the 300mm f/4.

    I am a firm believer in the old muscle car adage from the 1960's: "there's no substitute for cubic inches". The photographic equivalency is, "there's no substitute for focal length." I chose the 400mm f/5.6L lens. It's the longest focal length Canon lens which is still truly portable--weighs about the same as my 70-200 f/2.8L.

    The fact is, I felt if I bought the 300mm f/4 I would never remove the 1.4X Extender. I already own the 100-300mm f/4.5-5.6 and, with the 1.4X, my 70-200 is 98-280mm f/4.

    With the 1.4X, the 400mm is a very sharp 560mm f/8. With Provia 400F, it's a great bird and wildlife lens. I don't use it with the 2X extender but I suppose it would be at least of average sharpness for an 800mm f/11. That's pretty damn slow, however.

    In short, the 400mm is a serious telephoto lens. With so many zooms going to 300mm, I don't really see the need for another 300mm lens in most folks' kit.

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