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The Canon 100-400 zoom lens!  Is it worth the money it costs to own one?  I recently discovered this wonderful nature preserve near my house called Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary.  It’s a couple of miles from my house, and it is like being on a vacation.  It’s an area filled with trees, flowers, ponds, trails, and tons of wildlife.  Especially birds!  I have always been interested in taking pictures of animals – mostly butterflies and birds, and I had always used my Canon 70-200 lens.

I was always able to get tack sharp pictures with it.  But…I always wished I could zoom just a little bit more and get a closer look at some of these beautiful animals and insects.   After my adventures at Heard Museum a few weeks ago, I decided that if I was going to do this wildlife photo thing right, I would need a bigger zoom than the Canon 70-200!

As you can imagine, my husband was thrilled to hear this!  Just what I needed…another lens!  So I set about watching many YouTube reviews of different super zoom lenses.

Just look at that! Isn’t she beautiful! Have a 400mm zoom is amazing!!

Enter Canon’s 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 L IS II USM Lens!  That’s a mouthful, I know!  I don’t know how much you know about Canon lenses, but the Canon 70-200 is an excellent lens.  It has a maximum aperture of 2.8, so it’s very fast, and the pictures I’ve always gotten with it have been so sharp!  In fact, I was at the point where this was sort of my go-to lens.  It’s big and quite heavy, but I just love the way the pictures look that I take with it.

The only problem is that you have to be quite a distance away from your subject to be able to get it in focus, so it is not a good carry around lens, especially if you are going to be inside.  But, I loved this lens so much with an f/2.8, and I used it almost all the time outside, so I was pretty sure I was not going to be pleased with a zoom lens whose maximum aperture was 4.5!  But I knew I just had to try it.

The lens is quite expensive, and I can’t afford it right now, so I decided that I needed to find a friend who had one they would loan me, or find a place that rented camera lenses.  All it took was a few minutes on Google, and I found Camera Stop in Plano.  And guess what…they had a Canon 100-400 zoom lens in their rental cabinet ready for me to pick up at anytime!

I immediately drove over there on a Saturday evening, filled out all the paper work on their computer (which you can do online from home too), and was ready to start my trial run with this lens.  For a total of $92, I was the proud (but temporary) owner of this super zoom lens for 3 days!

As you all know, I live in Texas, where the weather is almost always warm.  Winters here mean that the temperature has dropped down to 50 degrees!  However, this particular weekend, the temperatures had dropped down to 17 degrees!  Local ponds and lakes were frozen, and it was cold outside!  What a terrible weekend to have this wonderful zoom lens.

I was able to take this picture from the comfort of my warm car! I just rolled the window down and took it. Doesn’t it look like the geese are ice-skating?

I was determined to get out and take some shots with it, so I ventured to several parks, and guess what – – with a 100-400 zoom lens, you can shoot lots of pictures from your nice, warm car through the window!  I never did make it to the Heard Museum, but I was able to get a good feel for this lens at the local parks close to my house.

Here is what I thought about this lens…

  • I was so happy with the zoom reach of this lens.  I wasn’t sure that there would be that big a difference between a 200mm zoom and a 400mm zoom, but I was wrong.  It makes a very big difference.
  • It wasn’t as heavy as I thought it would be.  It was very easy to carry around!
  • The maximum aperture of 4.5 did not seem to make that much difference in how my shots turned out.
  • I loved the fact that you could simply twist a ring on the lens to make it a tight zoom or a loose zoom.
  • The auto-focus worked very quickly on this lens.  Much faster than I thought it would.
  • I could actually be quite close to objects/animals I was shooting and still get them in focus very quickly.
  • I was worried that there would be some blur in my images since I was zoomed out to 400mm, but I was wrong – the pictures were very sharp.  Very few missed shots!

Now I know I rented this to take pictures of birds, but I couldn’t resist some shots of my kiddos and pets.  It was so cold, but I didn’t want to just sit inside.  I thought, I have this lens, I might as well take as many pictures as I can while I have it.  I’m not big on indoor photos, but I didn’t have much choice because of the weather.  I was amazed at how clear the indoor shots were!

My sweet old Sport! Taken inside on the couch with very poor lighting! Not bad, right? And…I was really close to him!

The B&H Photo Video Website describes the lens as a long-reaching telephoto zoom characterized by a sophisticated optical design and advanced image stabilization technologies, the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens is part of the esteemed L-series developed for full-frame EOS DSLRs. One fluorite element and one Super UD element have been incorporated into the lens’ construction, and both help to reduce aberrations and distortions throughout the zoom range in order to deliver notable clarity, image sharpness, and faithful color reproduction.

An Air Sphere Coating has also been applied to lens elements in order to reduce lens flare and ghosting for more contrast-rich imagery. Benefitting the optical components of the lens, a four-stop effective Optical Image Stabilizer helps to minimize the appearance of camera shake and can be dedicated to different styles of shooting.

Furthermore, a redeveloped rotation-type zoom ring pairs with an internal focusing mechanism, and an Ultrasonic Motor, to deliver quick and intuitive handling to benefit handheld shooting. Positioned as a versatile option for sports and wildlife photographers, this lens’ list of attributes make it a viable telephoto zoom for a variety of shooting applications.

Another one of my favorite shots. I was about 3 feet away from these plants. Can you believe how sharp they are? Beautiful, right?

In case you are wondering how I learned about this lens, there was one YouTube video in particular that sort of sold me on it.  It was done by Brendan Van Son in his video titled Canon 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 ii IS Review from the Galapagos IslandsJust click on the title if you’d like to see it.  But be prepared…once you hear what he has to say, and you see the pictures he captures with this lens, you (like me) are going to want one of your own!

So there you have it.  My adventures with a rented Canon’s 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 L IS II USM lens.  What a wonderful 3 days it was!  I’m saving my coins up so I can eventually (I hope) add this to my bag of lenses!  I think it might take a while, but lucky for me, I have a birthday coming up soon, as well as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and before you know it, it will be time to submit my new list to Santa!  Good luck with your rentals.  Let me know what you rent, and share some of your pictures!

Oh…and be looking for my post about renting a wide angle lens.  Yes, I think that’s going to be my next adventure.  Or a 100-600 zoom!  There are so many possibilities out there for rental!  Have fun.  Until next time…

P.S.  In case you wanted to see more of the pictures I got while playing around town with the zoom lens, I have

This guy did not like my zoom lens. He was tough to capture, because he was running down this very tall tree! But I got him anyway!

As soon as I stepped out of my car to shoot a picture of this friend, he looked up at me like I was invading his space. I did not venture too close to this one – she seemed very upset with me. Luckily, with the 400mm zoom I was able to get a pretty good shot!

In my backyard late one evening. Barely any light at all!


I just thought these tree roots were so cool and creepy. I was very close to them, and they are still in focus!

I was finally able to get a picture of this Blue Heron I’d been chasing for a while! The 400mm zoom was very helpful for this shot!


Walking on water! I just love ducks. They’re so cute. Also taken from my car window!


Fortunately, I wasn’t too close to the geese, because after a few shots, they chased me off!


My little bluejay friend in my backyard! He was very curious about my big lens!


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