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Lens review

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

29 December 2009
Szymon Starczewski

4. Image resolution

When it comes to telephoto zoom lenses of higher class, we have tested only a Sigma 100-300 f/4.0 so far so, obviously, we will be comparing it to the results of the Canon 100-400 mm. It is even easier to be done as both lenses were tested using the strength of RAW files from a Canon 20D.

The picture below shows a graph of the MTF50 function values, measured by us.

Canon EF 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS USM - Image resolution

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The best results the lens presents at 200 mm, a bit weaker at 100 and 300 mm, the weakest at 400 mm. We should add straightaway that the differences between particular focal lengths are not big and, what’s very important, the maximum relative aperture performance really deservers a lot of praise – it stands out from the maximum results just slightly.

The range of 100-300 mm fares similar or a tad worse than in the case of the Sigma 100-300 mm, which even by f/4.0 gave very sharp images and for some focal length/aperture combinations significantly exceeded the level of 40 lpmm, a result unattainable for the Canon. The Sigma, although faster, doesn’t have the 400 mm focal length. Canon has it and at an excellent level, achieving significantly better results than e.g a Tokina 80-400 mm.

We can say roughly the same about the frame edge performance, which is shown in the picture below.

Canon EF 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS USM - Image resolution

We don’t observe here any records but you should take your hat off to a very nice and even behaviour at all focal lengths. What’s more, once again at the maximum aperture we get a picture quality which is difficult to fault. The performance of the Canon differs from that of the Sigma 100-300 F/4.0. The Sigma is significantly better in the 100-200 mm range but it’s slightly worse at 300 mm.

At the end we traditionally present our test chart crops as JPEG files conventionally sharpened.

Canon EF 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS USM - Image resolution