Is the 100-400 II Really 400mm at the Long End? The Guts of the 100-400 II/$3,500 Discount Offer & New Used Gear « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Is the 100-400 II Really 400mm at the Long End? The Guts of the 100-400 II/$3,500 Discount Offer & New Used Gear

What’s Up?

Yesterday was another swim in a slightly warmer pool, core exercises, and lots of catching up. As most of you have figured out, I have been swamped recently. I started this post on Monday but needed to get in touch with Chuck Westfall for some clarifications. I finished it on Wednesday morning. In all, it took more than 3 hours to prepare and was published at 6:29am from my home in ILE.

There is some great new used gear being offered below. Both the 1D X and the 300 II are priced to sell immediately so please do not hesitate if you are seriously interested.

Galapagos Photo-Cruise/$3,500 Discount Offer

This Just In: we signed up three folks this morning (pending the arrival of the deposit checks). If all works out, we are now in need of only 1 female roommate.

With the recent cancellation of two spots, I am in dire need of putting a few more folks on the Samba for this incredible trip. I am now offering a $3,500 discount in an effort to help defray the cost of the charter. Happy campers only. Please e-mail for the complete itinerary and Samba info. In a hurry? Call me today, Wednesday, 18 FEB at 863-692-0906. Scroll down for details.

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This image was created late on a clear day at Coronado, CA with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (at 400mm) and the Canon EOS 7D Mark II. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 as framed: 1/1600 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode was a tad under. AWB. The rig was on the Black Rapid RS-7 Strap.

Two sensors to the left and one row above the central AF point/AI Servo/Expand/Rear Focus was just below the bird’s eye and was active at the moment of exposure as is generally best when hand holding. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Important note: though the EXIF showed 400mm, the effective focal length was probably somewhere close to 380mm. See below for the explanation.

Adult Western Gull

Is the 100-400 II Really 400mm at the Long End? Sometimes….

Thanks to Gary Murray for leaving the comment below at the “Canon 100-400 II-7D II/You Can’t Handle This Versatility! 100-400 II Versatility–the 4th of a Series” blog post here.

February 13, 2015 at 3:55 pm. Is it true that the 100-400 is really more like 370mm in reality? Thanks, love your work!

I remembered having heard similar internet chatter before regarding other zoom lenses so I wrote Canon’s top notch technical advisor, Chuck Westfall (Advisor, Strategic Research & Development, Future Product & Solution Plan Division). Below is his reply. My explanation follows.

Hi, Artie:

Focal length can only be measured at infinity focus. So, are we talking about shots taken at long range or close-ups? Close-ups don’t count when measuring focal length.

I believe you’ll find that the new EF 100-400mm is within approximately 5% of its nominal focal length range for shots taken at long range. However, it is a rear focusing zoom lens: the focusing elements are internal and positioned behind the aperture diaphragm. Advantages of a rear-focus zoom lens include significant reductions in size, weight and cost compared to conventional optical formulas, like those used in the Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III Lens for instance where the whole front end of the lens moves during focusing.

Rear-focus zooms also have fast autofocusing due to the relatively light weight and short travel of their focusing components. The trade-off of a rear focusing zoom lens is that the closer the focusing distance, the shorter the effective focal length. The effect is most noticeable when a rear-focusing zoom lens is compared to a prime lens of the same focal length, for example [when comparing] the 100-400II to the the EF 400mm f/5.6L USM, EF 400mm f/4 DO USM, [or the 400mm f/2.8L IS].

The EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM is not unique in this comparison; you would get similar results comparing (for example) the EF 28-135mm zoom at 135mm to the EF 135mm f/2L, etc. You don’t get the same results with any of the EF 70-200mm lenses because they use a different kind of internal focusing system where the focusing elements are positioned ahead of the diaphragm. But those are constant aperture lenses that are far bulkier for their zoom range than a variable-aperture rear focusing design would be.

The bottom line is that the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM meets its requirements for focal length accuracy at infinity focus, and that is all it has to do to merit the [400mm distinction].

Best Regards, Chuck Westfall

My Thoughts

When photographing truly distant subjects (like the moon, for example) the effective focal length of your new 100-400mm L IS II lens will be 400mm.
When working at typical distances for bird photography, however, the new 1-4 will yield effective focal lengths of approximately 380 to 390mm even when you are working at the absolute long end of the focal length range with the lens zoomed out completely. Note: the shooting data will still indicate “400mm.” When photographing at very close range, that is anywhere near the minimum focusing distance, the effective focal lengths at “400mm” likely be in the 360-370mm range.

Why? Focal length is measured when a zoom lens is focused out to infinity. As above, the advantages of rear-focusing zoom lens include significant reductions in size, weight and cost compared to conventional optical formulas and faster initial AF acquisition.

Note: when zoomed out to shorter focal lengths similar reductions in effective focal length will exist unless you are focused to infinity.

Note: the above does not apply to the relatively heavy, bulkier constant aperture zooms like the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens and the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM lens. With either 70-200 when the shooting data indicates 200mm you were actually working at 200mm.

The Guts of the 100-400 II

Thanks to Charles M. Thompson who sent me this link. Roger Cicala and Aaron Closz of LensRental tore down (dis-assembled) a 100-400mm L IS II lens and share the photographs and their comments on the robust engineering of the new 1-4. As one who has never seen the insides of any telephoto lens I was quite intrigued (not to mention educated).


If what you have read here today or elsewhere on the blog has inspired you to purchase either the new Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens or the Canon EOS 7D Mark II please consider ordering from B&H and using our affiliate link. It will not cost you one red cent and helps support the work that I do on the blog.

Galapagos Photo-Cruise/$3,500 Discount Offer

This Just In: we signed up three folks this morning (pending the arrival of the deposit checks). If all works out, we are now in need of only 1 female roommate.

With the recent cancellation of two spots, I am in dire need of putting a few more folks on the Samba for this incredible trip. I am now offering a $3,500 discount in an effort to help defray the cost of the charter. Happy campers only. Please e-mail for the complete itinerary and Samba info. In a hurry? Call me today, Wednesday, 18 FEB at 863-692-0906. Read on for details.


Do consider joining me for a once in a lifetime trip to the Galapagos archipelago in July, 2015.

GALAPAGOS Photo Cruise of a Lifetime IPT/The Complete Galapagos Photographic Experience. July 14-28, 2015 on the boat. 13 FULL and two half-days of photography: $12,499. Limit 14 including the leader:/Openings: 4.

My two-week Galapagos Photo-Cruises are without equal. The world’s best guide, a killer itinerary, a great boat (the Samba), and the best leader with eight Galapagos cruises under his belt. Pre-trip and pre-landing location-specific gear advice. In-the-field photo instruction and guidance. Jeez, I almost forgot: fine dining at sea!

The great spots that we will visit include Tower Island (including Prince Phillips Steps and Darwin Bay), Hood Island (including Punta Suarez, the world’s only nesting site of Waved Albatross, and Gardner Bay)—each of the preceding are world class wildlife photography designations that rank right up there with Antarctica, Africa, and Midway. We will also visit Fernandina, Puerto Ayora for the tortoises, Puerto Egas—James Bay, North Seymour and Isla Lobos for nesting Blue-footed Booby (most years), South Plaza, Floreana, and Urbina Bay, all spectacular in their own right. We visit every great spot on a single trip. Plus tons more. And there will he lots of opportunities to snorkel on sunny mid-days for those like me who wish to partake.

We will be the first boat on each island in the morning and the last boat to leave each island every afternoon. If we are blessed with overcast weather, we will often spend 5-6 hours at the best sites. And as noted above, mid-day snorkeling is an option on most sunny days depending on location. Note: some of the walks are a bit strenuous. Great images are possible on all landings with a hand held 70-200mm lens and a 1.4X teleconverter. I bring a longer lens ashore on most landings as that fits my style. I generally work with either the Canon 300mm f/2.8L IS or the Canon 200-400mm f/4 L IS with Internal Extender.

Do know that there is a NatureScapes Galapagos trip: one week for $8495. Thus, my trip represents a tremendous value; why go all that way and miss half of the great photographic locations?

The Logistics

Fly to Guayaquil, Ecuador on July 12, 2015. Travel insurance/rest day: July 13 (We may or may not offer a photo outing on the 13th). Fly to the archipelago on July 14 and board the Samba. Get off the boat on July 28. Fly to Guayacil that afternoon. Fly home on the early morning of July 29 unless you are staying on or going elsewhere (or catching a red-eye flight on the evening of the 28th).

$12,499 includes just about everything: all transfers, guide and park fees, all food on the boat, transfers and ground transportation, your flights to the archipelago, and three nights (double occupancy) in a top notch hotel in Guayacil. If you are good to go, a non-refundable deposit of $5,000 per person is due immediately. The second payment of $4,000 is not due until 11/1/14. The final payment of $3449 per person will be due on 2/1/15. A $200 discount will be applied to each of the balances for couples or friends who register at the same time.

Purchasing travel insurance within 2 weeks of our cashing your deposit check is strongly recommended. On my past two cruises a total of 5 folks were forced to cancel less than one week prior to the trip. My family and I use Travel Insurance Services and strongly recommend that you do the same.

Not included: your round trip airfare from your home to and from Guayacil, beverages on the boat, phone calls, your meals in Guayacil, personal items, and a $600/person cash tip for the crew and the guide—this works out to roughly $40/day to be shared by the 7 folks who will be waiting on us hand and foot every day for two weeks. The service is so wonderful that many folks choose to tip extra.

Please e-mail for the complete itinerary and for additional info and images. Please cut and paste “Galapagos 2015 Info Please) into the Subject line.

IPT Updates

Would you like to visit some of the great bird photography locations on the planet? Would you like to learn from the best? Click here and join us.

Used Photo Gear

You can see all the current listings by clicking here.

New Listings/More coming soon…

Used Canon EOS-1D X

Gary Meyer is offering a used Canon EOS-1D X in mint condition for $4,950.00. The sale includes an extra battery, the front cap, the original box and packaging along with all manuals, cords and CDs. Also included is insured shipping via UPS Ground. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made. Paypal OK.

Please contact Gary by e-mail or by phone at 612-221-0150 (8am to 10pm Central time).

I currently own two EOS-1D X bodies and will not be selling either one soon. Super-fast frame rate, full frame body, high quality image files, high ISO performance, and the world’s best AF system. The world’s best flight photographers choose and use the 1D X. artie

Used Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens

Jacques Bouvier is offering a used Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens in very good condition with clean glass for $4999 US. The sale includes the ET-120 Lens Hood, the Hard Case 300B, Lens Cap E-145C, Rear lens cap, and the wide Lens Strap B. Also included is insured shipping to US addresses via UPS Ground.

You can contact Jacques via e-mail or by phone at 613-524-1154 (home) or 613-677-5140 (cell)–eastern time zone.

The 300 f/2.8L IS II IS is a super-sharp, versatile lens that can be hand held easily by most folks. I use it often with both the 1.4X or 2X Series III teleconverters. It served as my big lens on the recently concluded Southern Ocean trip. In addition I have used it a ton in Japan and at Fort DeSoto. This one is priced to sell instantly.

Swarovski ATS 65 HD Spotting Scope with 20-60x eyepiece

Darren Curtis is offering a used Swarovski ATS 65 HD Spotting Scope with 20-60x eyepiece in excellent condition for $1400. The sale includes the hardcase and strap, front and rear lens covers and the eyepiece covers. This scope features fluoride HD lenses that minimize color fringing (chromatic aberration). It is easy to handle and extremely light due to its slender ergonomic design. It has an ergonomic focus ring that provides quick, precise focusing. It is also dust proof and watertight with protective armoring.

Interested folks can contact Darren by phone at +1 206-218-8772 or via e-mail.


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18 comments to Is the 100-400 II Really 400mm at the Long End? The Guts of the 100-400 II/$3,500 Discount Offer & New Used Gear

  • avatar David Policansky

    Thanks, Artie. I think the world of Roger Cicala and I’m not only educated but elated that his report on the lens’s engineering is so positive. Perhaps that makes it a bit easier to accept that the lens is so heavy. As wtlloyd mentioned, Roger Cicala said the 7DII is the best weather-sealed camera he has ever seen. And he has seen one or two. 🙂 I certainly find the 7D2/1-4 v II combination by far the best I’ve ever had for birds; I have NO excuse for making bad images (although I still do sometimes).

  • avatar Bill Richardson

    Did you ever get the stiff zoom problem resolved?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      It was repaired on Tuesday and sent here via FedEx but is currently stuck in Memphis due to the bad weather. I am counting on having it here by Friday for the Hooptie/DeSoto IPT.


  • avatar wtlloyd

    LensRentals did a teardown of the 7DII declaring it “the most thoroughly weather-sealed camera I’ve ever run across”.
    Look for a Nov 3rd blog post there.

    Also note his optical bench testing of the 400 DO II reaffirms performance equal to that in the very best L lens super-teles. He compares it to the 400 f/5.6 and the 300 f/2.8 II + EX 1.4….now if I could only get my hands on one!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Best advice: order one right now from B&H and I will do my best to have your order expedited…… a

  • avatar Gary Axten

    380 / 400, why do people sweat the little things?

  • avatar Gordon Lindsay

    Wow looking at the teardown pictures really gives an insight to what Canon engineers can do then do it again an again to produce the quantity to satisfy all of us.

  • avatar Bill Richardson

    I went to B&H via your link and it said the lens was available only for pre-order. Do you know what he shipping time will be?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I am working on that. Several folks just got theirs after I requested that their orders be expedited. But they are in short supply and the demand is high. I would of course greatly appreciate your order even if it means be a bit patient. Unless you can get one using our Amazon link 🙂 Many thanks. a

      ps: they did re-assemble the thing. Not me.

  • avatar Bill Richardson

    I looked at the tear down article and cringed. Yikes, I wonder if they ever got it back together. ;-0

    • avatar 9VIII

      Don’t worry about the lenses Roger tears down, apparently most of the rental lenses get the same treatment at some point (to fix dust or optical problems after being rented, as well as fix new lenses that aren’t up to spec).

      Given that Roger has more experience and testing equipment than nearly any official repair center we’re all hoping he starts a repair business on the side someday, any lens going through there will come out better than new, we just need to convince him to go for it.

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    YAW Andy. The best way to thank us is to use our B&H links for your major purchases. artie

  • avatar Andy

    Thanks for the info. Mine arrives tomorrow and I can’t wait to try it.