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Lens review

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

24 June 2015
Szymon Starczewski

8. Vignetting

Thumbnails below show the performance of the Canon 100–400L II in the category of vignetting on the smaller sensor of the EOS 50D camera.

Canon 50D, 100 mm, f/4.5 Canon 50D, 100 mm, f/5.6
Canon EF 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM - Vignetting Canon EF 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM - Vignetting
Canon 50D, 200 mm, f/5.0 Canon 50D, 200 mm, f/5.6
Canon EF 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM - Vignetting Canon EF 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM - Vignetting
Canon 50D, 300 mm, f/5.0 Canon 50D, 300 mm, f/5.6
Canon EF 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM - Vignetting Canon EF 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM - Vignetting
Canon 50D, 400 mm, f/5.6 Canon 50D, 400 mm, f/8.0
Canon EF 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM - Vignetting Canon EF 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM - Vignetting


You can notice some traces of vignetting only at longer focal lengths and our measurements confirm that. At the shortest focal length the vignetting is difficult to find even with the lens wide open as it reaches just 11% there (−0.32 EV) and it decreases to 5% (−0.16 EV) on stopping down to f/5.6.

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Equally excellent performance you can observe at 200 mm, where by f/5.0 the vignetting reaches 10% (−0.31 EV), and by f/5.6 it decreases to just 5% (−0.16 EV). A tad worse result we got at 300 mm where by f/5.0 and f/5.6 the brightness loss in the frame corners amounted to respectively 12% (−0.36 EV) and 9% (−0.28 EV).

The other increase of that aberration you see at the maximum focal length where, by f/5.6 its level can get to 14% (−0.45 EV); then by f/8.0 it decreases to an imperceptible value of 8% (−0.23 EV).

Now let’s check how the tested lens performed in this category on full frame of the Canon 5D MkIII.

Canon 5D MkIII, 100 mm, f/4.5 Canon 5D MkIII, 100 mm, f/5.6
Canon EF 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM - Vignetting Canon EF 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM - Vignetting
Canon 5D MkIII, 200 mm, f/5.0 Canon 5D MkIII, 200 mm, f/5.6
Canon EF 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM - Vignetting Canon EF 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM - Vignetting
Canon 5D MkIII, 300 mm, f/5.0 Canon 5D MkIII, 300 mm, f/8.0
Canon EF 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM - Vignetting Canon EF 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM - Vignetting
Canon 5D MkIII, 400 mm, f/5.6 Canon 5D MkIII, 400 mm, f/8.0
Canon EF 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM - Vignetting Canon EF 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM - Vignetting


In the case of shorter focal lengths there are no reasons to complain because the vignetting is moderate at most. At 100 mm and by f/4.5 that aberration reaches 23% (−0.75 EV) and it decreases to 11% (−0.32 EV) on stopping down the aperture to f/5.6. By f/8.0 the problem disappears completely (4%).

Not much worse results we got at 200 mm where, with the lens wide open, you have to take into account the light fall-off in the frame corners of 26% (−0.87 EV). The problem becomes slight already by f/5.6, where it reaches 18% (−0.57 EV) and it can be marginalized by f/8.0 where it is just 5% (−0.14 EV).

Only at 300 mm focal length you can notice the vignetting without any problems; at the maximum relative aperture it reaches 33% (−1.15 EV) and on stopping down the aperture to f/5.6 it gets slightly lower, amounting to 29% (−0.99 EV). Only by employing f/8.0 and f/11 you might enjoy an image almost vignetting-free. The values we got there were respectively: 13% (−0.39 EV) and 6% (−0.19 EV).

The highest level of that aberration can be observed at 400 mm focal length where, at the maximum relative aperture, it is 39% (−1.43 EV). You can reduce it by stopping down to f/8.0 to 19% (−0.60 EV) and after employing f/11 you see it decreasing again, this time to 11% (−0.33 EV).

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

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

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

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