Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM review

Canon by name and big gun by nature, it's a super-telephoto beast

Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM
Built with professional sport and wildlife photographers in mind

TechRadar Verdict


  • +

    4-stop image stabiliser is excellent

  • +

    Super-fast autofocus

  • +

    Stunning image quality


  • -


  • -


  • -

    Fiendishly expensive to buy

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

Combine a 400mm full-frame prime lens with a fast maximum aperture of f/2.8 and there are two things you can be assured of – size and weight. The mighty Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM
measures a whopping 163 x 343mm (484mm long with the lens hood fitted) and tips the scales at 3.85kg.

It's supplied in its own custom-made hard case that, in itself, exceeds the maximum carry-on size for most airlines. Indeed, you don't fit this lens to your camera, you fit the camera to the lens. But sometimes, big really is beautiful.

A scaled up version of the Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM super-telephoto lens, the 400mm offers the same wealth of features.

Designed for full-frame DSLR camera bodies such as the Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III or Canon EOS 5D Mark II, it's also equally compatible with APS-C-sized cameras such as the Canon EOS 7D, where it has a mighty effective focal length of 640mm.

In either case, the fast f/2.8 maximum aperture is a real bonus for freezing the action in dull lighting conditions, making the lens ideal for wildlife and sports photographers.

Headline attractions include super-fast, ring-type USM (Ultrasonic Motor) autofocus, complete with full-time manual override.

Better still, you get an additional Focus Preset mode where you can store a focus distance in memory and call it up at the touch of a button, with or without confirmation beep.

There's also a neat Power Focus mode with its own 'Playback ring'. Turning the ring by varying amounts enables dual-speed motorised focus adjustments, ideal for use in video shooting.

There's also a three-position focus limit switch with Full, 2.7-7m and 7m to infinity options.

To guard against camera shake, Canon's latest 4-stop Image Stabiliser (IS) has three separate modes to choose from.

Mode 1 stabilises the image full-time, so you can view the effect through the viewfinder when composing shots. Mode 2 is for panning with the camera in either portrait or landscape orientation. Mode 3 only applies stabilisation when the shot is actually taken, and works really well when you're tracking erratically moving objects.

Rounding out the feature set on this high-end camera lens, currently selling for around £8,880, are four AF stop buttons placed at 90-degree increments around the circumference of the lens, towards its front.

If you're not happy with their placement, you can pay to have the ring that houses them rotated by a Canon service centre.

There's also a Kensington lock attachment for securing the lens, a beefy tripod mount and somewhat enormous lens hood.