Dan’s Lens Guide

Before we get started, an important disclosure

Canon 100-400 f/4.5 -5.6 L IS II

The original Canon 100-400 lens polarized people’s opinions, it wasn’t all that sharp, and the push-pull zoom design was something you either loved or hated. I never felt the inclination to own that lens, but when the redesigned version came out, I jumped on it right away after selling my 70-300 L IS. This MKII version has a regular zoom ring on it to adjust focal length, and let me tell you, it doesn’t matter what focal length you use, it’s TACK sharp. I’ve compared it side-by-side with my 200-400 and they are on a par with each other in terms of image quality. That’s incredible when you consider that the 200-400 is a lens that sells for way more than $10,000! I really couldn’t believe my eyes when I first tested it. On a crop body like the 7D Mark II, this makes a brilliant sports and wildlife photography lens which is how I usually use it. On a full frame camera, 400mm typically isn’t enough reach for wildlife, but I do use it for event and sports. One of the other surprises for me was how well this lens works with the 1.4x extender. It’s more than useable if you aren’t shooting erratically moving subjects. This does give you a 560mm f/8 lens, so you’ll need to have a camera that can focus with an f/8 minimum, and then most cameras will limit the number of available focus points, but in a pinch, it works. Pair this with a 24-70 f/2.8 and there’s very few situations you won’t be ready for.

Canon 200-400 f/4 L IS 1.4x
The 200-400 f/4 L IS is unique in that it has a built-in 1.4x extender that can be engaged with the flick of a switch. This means that you have a focal range of 200-560mm available to you in a split second. This has been by far the biggest investment I’ve made in camera gear for my business, the price will certainly shock some of you if you dare click those buttons above. Before this I had a 300mm f/2.8, but I wanted to have a lens that was better suited to wildlife photography. The choice came down to this, or a 600mm f/4. In the end I went with the zoom lens because I felt it would be more universally useful for my work which encompasses a wide range of events, sports and now wildlife. The versatility of the lens is incredible and since buying it, it has really changed my work. I’m absolutely in love with the wildlife photography genre now, and I know it is going to be a part of my career. This lens has helped me expand my business and even in the first year of owning it I feel I got enough value from it to justify the high price tag. Buying this was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Canon 400mm f/4 DO II
The 400mm f/4 DO II uses diffractive optics to create a super telephoto lens in a much smaller package than has previously been possible. As you can see from the photo below, it’s not much longer than a 100-400 (or 70-200). It makes an excellent wildlife photography lens when you need something that is lightweight and physically more portable than the usual 500mm, 600mm and 200-400mm options. Those other lenses are so big and heavy that they really dictate how you move and what you carry. On the other hand, the little 400mm DO II is so small that I can easily find a place for it in any of my regular backpack, and it fits horizontally in those bags, rather than taking up the entire central space vertically. It works very well with the 1.4x extender to deliver a 560mm lens, and with a 2x extender you get up to 800mm in a perfectly hand-holdable package. If I were to set out on a big wildlife photography expedition then I’d still take my big 200-400mm lens, but if I were to set out on a few weeks of travel that might include some wildlife opportunities along the way, I’d take the 400mm DO II every time. Locations like Namibia, New Zealand, Japan, Chile and Australia spring to mine. These are places where there are great wildlife possibilities, but you’re also going to be traveling with gear that suits landscape photography. I can fit this lens and my landscape kit into one backpack and be prepared for anything from 11mm to 800mm. Canon have experimented with DO technology in the past, but I suspect this is a real turing point for them because it really feels like they got this one right. I expect to see many of Canon’s lenses shift to DO versions in the coming years.
Canon 24-70 f/2.8 L II
I didn’t like the original 24-70 f/2.8, but this Mk II version is in a different league in terms of image sharpness. It seems to deliver prime-like sharpness at any focal length which makes it my go-to lens for many applications, and probably the only lens in my lineup that I would simply never leave home without. All my other lenses are optional and would require some consideration based on the intended photographic subject, but whatever I’m doing, the 24-70 is always in my bag. Event photography, sports, astrophotography, landscape… pretty much the only time it’s not entirely necessary is wildlife photography, but even then I carry it as the only lens alongside my super telephoto lens so that I can document my trip and daily surroundings.
Canon 11-24 f/4 L
This is the widest 35mm rectilinear lens in the world and if it fits your budget, it’s unspeakably awesome. Most people have a wide angle lens that tops out at about 16-18mm on the wide end, but the difference between 16mm and 11mm is HUGE when you see it through the viewfinder. This is a lens that can really inspire you to look at things differently, re-visit previously photographer locations and test your compositional skills to the max. It’s a hugely challenging lens to use well because you get so much foreground in your shots, but I like that it gets me thinking about things for a long time before I actually make the image. Of course, with a lens like this you almost always end up using it at the 11mm end of the zoom because that’s why you buy this! The biggest downside is that the bulbous front glass element makes it very hard to use filters with it. Some companies do make them, but they are literally the size of dinner plates and therefore highly impractical. The near $3000 price-point makes this a pretty specialist lens, but it’s one of those lenses in the Canon lineup that has a genuine ability to make your work stand out.
Canon 16-35 f/4 L IS
This is a relatively new lens in the Canon lineup that sits somewhere between the 17-40 f/4 L and the 16-35 f/2.8 L II in terms of price-point. In may people’s eyes it replaces the 17-40 f/4L because it improves upon the image quality dramatically in the corners, as well as being slightly wider and including 4-stop image stabilization. I believe the price difference between the two is well worth it, so these days I’m only recommending the 17-40 to people who find it for a killer second-hand bargain. For Canon landscape photographers, this is probably the best lens in the lineup because there’s usually no need for a faster f/2.8 aperture when taking tripod-based shots. Corner sharpness is very good and resistance to flare has been improved greatly from the 17-40 which is nice if you place a rising or setting sun in your frame. The 11-24mm is a great landscape lens as well, but the inability to easily use filters on it is a problem. With the 16-35mm f/4 L IS, you can use standard 77mm filters (see my filter guide) and that’s greatly appreciated. Image stabilization obviously does you no good when using a tripod, but it does help the lens’ all-round usefulness and makes it a much better travel lens. A great example of this is that I had to use a 24mm f/1.4 lens for interior shots of old buildings in Rome because the 17-40 f/4 was not giving me a fast enough shutter speed. Now with the 16-35 f/4 L IS, my shutter speed will be the same, but the image stabilization will allow me to nail a sharp shot when hand-holding the camera in “no tripod” zones. In those kinds of situations, that’s now one less lens to travel with so a 4-stop IS can make a big difference. Love this lens!!
Canon 8-15 f/4 L
This lens right here is another great example of why I’m a Canon user: Optical innovation. A fisheye lens is a lens that delivers a full 180 degree field of view and on a full frame camera it’s a 15mm focal length. Note that a 15mm fisheye, and a 15mm regular (rectilinear) lens are very different – a fisheye lens doesn’t correct distortion so its view is much wider, but everything gets bent in the image. Canon has a 15mm fisheye prime lens, but it only delivers that 180 degree field of view on a full frame camera so they created the 8-15mm fisheye zoom lens to allow a 180 degree view on 1.3x crop and 1.6x crop cameras. If you put this lens on a camera like the 7D Mark II, and zoom it to 8mm, it has the same view as the 15mm setting would have on a full frame camera. In other words, everyone can now have a proper fisheye lens no matter what camera they have. What’s particularly great is that all this is built into one lens, so if you use both crop cameras and full frame cameras, as I do, I don’t need to have multiple fisheye lenses. Or, if you start with a crop camera (XXD,7D,Rebel), but later move to a full frame camera as many people do, your lens will still be useable. I do sometimes wish it was an f/2.8 lens, but I appreciate that this would have been more than twice the size and weight. It’s not a lens that gets used too often, but it can deliver striking results when you learn to maximise the effect and use it sparingly within other projects. If you’re an action sports photographer, a fisheye lens is a very useful lens for emphasizing the size and height of people’s extreme activities.
Canon 100mm f/2.8 L IS Macro

Now here’s an interesting lens in the Canon EF lineup! This is easily in the top-3 sharpest lenses I’ve every used. Sharper than some $10,000+ lenses! Considering it’s usually under the $1000 mark, that’s pretty impressive. The image stabilization also has an extra axis on it which helps to counteract up/down shift movement during hand-held macro shooting – a feature that’s unique to this particular lens. Not only is this a wonderful macro lens, but it’s also a great portrait lens! The f/2.8 aperture @100mm gives a very shallow depth of field when you fill the frame with a head and shoulders portrait, or something tighter.
The fun thing about macro lenses is that it really inspires people to see things differently. Whenever I get the macro lenses out while I’m teaching photography, I see people’s eye light up as they suddenly find all the amazing images to take that were right there all along. It helps you to see things differently and whilst it’s popular to say “the gear doesn’t matter”, in some cases like this, that’t clearly not that case. A macro lens can unlock a whole new world and allow you to create images that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.

Canon 40mm f/2.8 STM
What a fun little lens this is! It makes a great travel companion when you need to keep things lightweight, and the image quality is very good considering the low price-point. Vignetting, chromatic aberration and distortion are all well controlled for such a unique optical formula. Due to its small size, everything is crammed tightly into the lens body so it also feels dense and really well made for a sub-$200 lens. This is a great travel lens when you just want to grab your camera to take it out to dinner one night without really being encumbered by it. Also makes a great gift for a Canon shooter!
Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM
The “nifty fifty” has always bee a popular lens for beginners who want to learn and experiment with shallow depth of field. At around $100, its a lens that can give a truly different look to your images when compared with the kit lens that many people start with. It’s not only a great lens, but a great learning tool as well. I don’t use mine too often, in fact I mostly use it while I’m teaching beginner photography classes but that’s not to say it isn’t worth having in my kit. When you’re choosing lenses it’s important to buy lenses that suit your style of photography. Over the years, I’ve found that I often gravitate to 35mm as my “normal” look, and even given a 24-70, I will rarely shoot it at 50mm. Studying my images over the years I can see that 24mm, 35mm and 70mm are common, but they way I see the world through a camera is rarely at the 50mm mark. Your mileage might vary, though. I know plenty of people who swear by the 50mm focal length! For only $125 though, it’s still a nice lens to have in my kit and I’ll always recommend it as a great second lens alongside a kit lens.
Canon 1.4x Extender III
When this lens was launched I picked one up to replace my 70-200 f/4 L IS. The weight was roughly the same, but the 70-300 is much shorter and allowed me to use a smaller camera bag in many situations. I always found it to be an excellent travel photography lens when paired with a 24-70 f/2.8. With those two lenses you can accomplish so much on a full frame body. I only sold the 70-300 when the new 100-400 came out and decided that the longer focal range would be beneficial for wildlife photography. The best thing about this lens was the short physical length. With a 70-200, or the 100-400, you have to lie a lens horizontally in a camera backpack so it takes up a lot of room. The 70-300 is that much shorter that you could actually stand it up vertically in a slot in any of my backpacks, just like a 24-70. It made a big difference for backcountry skiing when I was also required to carry a lot of other equipment around with me for safety.
Canon 2x Extender III
I mainly use the 2x extender with my 400mm f/4 DO II. This creates a very hand-holdable 800mm f/8 lens. Obviously you do lose some sharpness, but if you stop down, and take care to avoid flat, low contrast light conditions, you can make great images with it. When I want to travel light and compact, this combination is great for wildlife.

Gone But Not Forgotten

I no longer own the items that are listed below this part of the guide. Rather than deleting them entirely, I thought it would be useful to keep them here. Many of these items are still available from retailers, and all are available from the usual second hand markets like eBay and Craigslist. Just because I've gotten rid of it doesn't make it a bad piece of kit, usually it just means that I wore it out and when it was replaced, it was simply replaced with something newer. Technology marches ever onwards!

Mk II Extenders (1.4x and 2x)
When Canon launched the MK III extenders, I switched out my old II extenders. To be totally honest, there wasn’t much point at the time. I compared them side-by-side and found little difference in sharpness but the main improvements were to be had with the new MKII super telephoto lenses where the MKIII extenders promised to deliver faster AF. At the time I didn’t have one of Canon’s newer super telephoto lenses so for a few years I didn’t benefit from that improvement, although now I do have a couple of them. The MKII extenders worked well for me with my 300mm f/2.8 IS for several years, though. Yes they decrease sharpness, contrast and AF speed, but if you stop your lens down a little, even at the expense of a higher ISO, you can still get great results. If you have an older MKI IS super telephoto lens then these MKII extenders will work great and can be found very cheaply on eBay.
Canon 50mm f/1.8 II
I bought this lens when I first got into photography and it really helped me to learn about depth of field and aperture. For around $100, it was a bargain and the IQ was far better than you’d think it would be. Focus speed was the main downside to this lens, that and the fact that the cheap build quality made it feel like a kid’s toy. Hey, for the price, I didn’t expect anything else so it’s no big deal. I didn’t use it often, but it was in my closet for about 10 years and was responsible for an award-winning photo, as well as one that I sold for many thousands of dollars to one of the largest outdoor equipment brands in the world. Can’t say fairer than that for a $100 lens! Eventually I got rid of it when Canon announced its replacement, the 50mm f/1.8 STM.
Canon 70-300 f/4-5.6 L IS
When this lens was launched I picked one up to replace my 70-200 f/4 L IS. The weight was roughly the same, but the 70-300 is much shorter and allowed me to use a smaller camera bag in many situations. I always found it to be an excellent travel photography lens when paired with a 24-70 f/2.8. With those two lenses you can accomplish so much on a full frame body. I only sold the 70-300 when the new 100-400 came out and decided that the longer focal range would be beneficial for wildlife photography. The best thing about this lens was the short physical length. With a 70-200, or the 100-400, you have to lie a lens horizontally in a camera backpack so it takes up a lot of room. The 70-300 is that much shorter that you could actually stand it up vertically in a slot in any of my backpacks, just like a 24-70. It made a big difference for backcountry skiing when I was also required to carry a lot of other equipment around with me for safety.
Canon 24mm f/1.4 L II
When I had the 24-105mm f/4 I was lacking a fast wide angle so I purchased this lens and primarily used it for astrophotography. Eventually I picked up a 24-70 f/2.8 and sold the 24-105, and with that, it didn’t seem worthwhile keeping the 24mm prime lens seeings as I had 24mm @ f/2.8 in the zoom. I had really fond memories of this lens though, so I must admit that I kept it for quite some time on my shelf before committing to the sale. It’s a brilliant lens for star trails, auroras and milky way photography. Perhaps I’ll buy it again someday… out of all the lenses in the “gone but not forgotten” section, this is definitely the most likely one for that to happen with.
Sigma 15mm f/2.8
As you can see from the rest of the lens list, I tend to buy Canon lenses to this Sigma sticks out a bit. Canon do make a 15mm f/2.8 fisheye, but it’s much more expensive and when I tested them, there really wasn’t any appreciable difference in image quality. The other area where third-party lenses sometimes fall down is AF speed, but with a fisheye lens I wasn’t so concerned about this because they have a much greater depth of field than most other lenses. In the end I sold this when Canon launched the 8-15mmm f/4 L because that offered a wider view on 1.3x crop and 1.6x crop cameras, but the Sigma was a great little lens that I’d still recommend to people who are on a budget.
Canon 24-105 f/4 L IS
The 24-105mm f/4 L IS has long been sold as the kit lens with the 5D cameras for good reason: On a full frame camera, this focal range is a perfect everyday solution. If I was travelling somewhere and could only take one lens, I would either take this, or a 24-70 f/2.8 L II. This 24-105 is definitely not as sharp as the 24-70, but the image stabilization comes in very handy when light levels are low, as long as you aren’t looking to stop any action. It still has L-Series build quality and performance to match many other professional lenses. Looking forward to seeing the MKII version that will launch with the 5D Mark IV later in 2016…
Canon 24-70 f/4 L IS
This lens came as a kit with my 7D Mark II I think, so it’s not a lens I particularly needed, but I took the opportunity to see how it performed. It has an interesting and currently unique-to-EF-lenses macro mode which I liked, and I also like the short length of it. Ultimately though, I feel that the 24-105 focal range is far more preferable if you’re in the market for a general purpose lens.
Canon 17-40 f/4 L
This was the first Canon lens I ever owned and I got it to pair with my original Canon 10D back in about 2003. At well under $1000, it’s possibly Canon’s best value L-Series lens and it works wonderfully for landscape photography where the slower f/4 aperture isn’t a hinderance. It’s also one of Canon’s lightest wide angle lenses so it’s great for someone who’s either skiing, biking or hiking with their camera gear. The downside to the lens is the corner sharpness isn’t up to scratch with some of the newer lenses, but it’s hard to really fault it when you consider the price. I found it a great day-to-day lens on a 1.6x crop camera. Eventually I replaced it with the 16-35 f/4 L IS when that was launched in 2015.
Canon 300mm f/2.8 L IS
I was only somewhat happy with the performance of my 300mm f/4 L IS so when an opportunity came up to go heliskiing in Alaska one winter, I decided to upgrade to the f/2.8 L IS version. I couldn’t have been happier! This lens worked well with the 1.4x extender, and even did a passable job with the 2x as well. At the time it seemed like a huge investment to be making in a single lens, but fortune favours the bold, and I actually paid it off with image sales from that very same Alaskan trip. This lens then accompanied me to various international motor races as well, like the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France. These large Canon super telephoto lenses are expensive, but when you use one, you really appreciate the reason for that. The images are sharp of course, but the contrast I saw in the fine details was what really flawed me when I first used it. I’m so glad I took the gamble on this lens back then, it opened new doors for me when I had a longer focal length, and it was responsible for many of my favourite images in the last ten years. Whilst there’s now a much lighter weight mkII version, this one can be easily found on eBay and would still make a brilliant sports photography lens.
Canon 70-200 f/4 L IS
Just to be clear, the non-IS version of this lens is very different. It’s not simply a case that one of them has IS and the other one does not. The IS version is a VERY nice, sharp lens, the non-IS is not nearly as sharp. I started using this lens after getting rid of my 70-200 f/2.8 L IS and I loved the huge weight saving it gave me when I was skiing and hiking. Eventually, on a quest for ever smaller gear, I swapped it for a 70-300 f/4-5.6 L IS, but we had many happy adventures together and I wholeheartedly recommend this lens. F/4 is just not such an issue these days when we have cameras that are producing clean ISO2000 images! At roughly $1000, it’s less than half the price of the f/2.8 L IS II, and in my own side-by-side IQ testing I could barely tell them apart. I don’t see many people using this lens but I think it’s a real hidden gem in Canon’s lineup.
Canon 85mm f/1.8
85mm is a nice focal length for portraiture and I owned this for some time after I sold my 70-200 f/2.8 IS. It’s pretty sharp, but unfortunately it suffers from insane amounts of chromatic abberation. Whilst this can be fixed to most extents in Lightroom, I just found it a pain in the ass to deal with so I got rid of it and these days I’m happy to use my 24-70 f/2.8 L II for portraiture.
Canon 300mm f/4 L IS
After a couple of years shooting action sports full time, I realized I needed a focal length that was longer than 200mm. At the time, the 300mm f/2.8 was out of my budget so I went for the 300mm f/4 L IS. It’s a sharp lens, but the focus speed isn’t that great, especially in AI-Servo tracking fast moving things coming towards you. I’d hoped to use it with a 1.4x extender as well but that make the AF absolutely glacial. These days I really have a hard time recommending this lens to anyone because the newer 70-300 and 100-400 are leagues ahead of this in every respect. It’s a 20-year old lens now, so it’s hardly surprising that it’s no longer top of people’s Christmas list. My guess is they won’t update for some time, and when they do, expect to see diffractive optics used.
Canon 45mm f/2.8 TS-E
I spent a year in New Zealand shortly after taking up photography and I wanted to learn more about using tilt-shift lenses. The easiest way to do that is to own one, so I grabbed the 45mm from eBay and used it for the year. I’m really glad I did it because it taught me many things about using a lens like that, and essentially taught me that they aren’t really lenses that I’m all that interested in. I appreciate their purpose, and I can see how they would have been useful for landscape photos with huge depth of field back in the film days, but since focus stacking is so easy with digital now, these seem a bit redundant unless you are just using them for “trick photography” like the photos that make the world look tiny. I’d definitely recommend renting one of these before you buy it, with manual exposure and manual focus necessary, it’s definitely not for everyone.
Canon 70-200 f/2.8 L IS
I think I purchased the 70-200 when I got my first 1-Series camera and it was a real workhorse lens. At the time there was a non-IS version of the 70-200 f/4 on the market as well, but optically it wasn’t very highly regarded. After a few years of using the f/2.8 IS version, Canon launched an IS version of the 70-200 f/4. This was much more on par with the f/2.8 version in terms of IQ and since I barely ever used the f/2.8 aperture, I decided to move to the much lighter and smaller f/4 lens. I never regretted it for one moment because at the time, 95% of my work was outdoor adventure work where f/4 would surpass even on cloudy days. The 70-200 focal length is great for sports event photography either as a primary lens, or on a second camera alongside a super telephoto lens for track, motorsports or stadium/field sports. Whilst it’s not my area of expertise, it’s also a great lens for wedding photography.

Got a gear question?

Leave it in the comments below!


  1. Kenton Cornelson

    I would love to hear your opinion on owning the 100-400. I now own the 200-400, 70-300 and 8-15 because of your reviews.

    • Dan Carr

      I love it, but there’s far more to be said about it than I can do here in the comments. I am working on a big review 🙂 Stay tuned! It’s a nice compliment to the 200-400 when you need to go lightweight! For me it replaced the 70-300.

  2. Kenton Cornelson

    I look forward to your review. Although, I did order the new lens today. Now, I have to decide what to do with the 70-300.

    • Dan Carr

      Nice. I think you’ll love it! I’ve spent all day today shooting FIS World Cup with it. It’s so versatile for sports and wildlife. (PS. Sorry you have come to this page while I’m re-developing it…it’s a bit of a mess.)

  3. Max

    Hey Dan. Wow that’s an epic write up! I’m shooting with nikon not canon but this still gives me great insight. My question is I’m.looking for a well priced lense that near enough does all. I’ll be shooting mainly snowboarding/skiing and travel pictures. I have the standard 18-55 but want something more.
    It seems like the 70-200 is perfect but very pricey so maybe something with less range might be in my price range?
    If you have any advise that would.be great!


    • Dan Carr

      The 70-200 really is a staple lens for this kind of work. You might consider the smaller, lighter, cheaper f/4 model instead of f/2.8 though. I never found it necessary to have the f/2.8. I’m not sure I can be more specific than that though, since I’m not familiar with exactly what Nikon offers. Don’t shy away from the new SIGMA ART range of lenses as well, though. They are making great stuff, and their 24-105 is a lovely lens.

  4. Brandon

    Just came across this article – thanks for putting this together! I’m upgrading to the Canon 5d Mark IV and would also like to upgrade my glass (I previously had the 25-105mm f/4 IS. I’m currently debating:
    #1: Getting the 24-70mm f/2.8
    #2: Getting the new 24-105mm f/4 IS ii
    #3: Getting a 24mm 1.4 prime, 35mm 1.4 prime, and a 70-200 f/2.8mm IS ii (most expensive option obviously)

    I mainly shoot two things: 1) wide-angle adventure/outdoor photography (usually outdoors, occasionally in big cities). The lighting varies – sometimes I’m looking to capture cool dusk/night shots but most of the time it’s during adequate lighting conditions. 2) portraits of people with various backdrops. Somethings it’s a mountain… sometimes it’s a wall with graffiti. I mainly do this for fun, but also use it for work (same types of shots)

    • Brandon

      Would love your opinion on this Dan 🙂 Thanks!

      • Dan Carr

        I think the new 24-105 IS II is your best option. I have one on order and when it arrives, I expect it to be my most used lens. Ultimately, you might want to look at a second lens at some point as well, like the 100-400. This pairing of 24-105 and 100-400 is a powerful duo that can tackle everything from landscapes to wildlife. Great, versatile lenses for people that shoot a variety of things. It doesn’t sound like you need option 3 to be honest 🙂

  5. Peter Burke

    I’m thinking of splashing some cash but am torn between the 400 do and 300 2.8, both expensive purchases. Most use will be at motorcycle racing and airshows and isn’t anything more than an amateur pastime, so is it lens speed or telephoto reach? I’d be interested in your opinion, thanks.

    • Dan Carr

      In your scenario, lens reach, every time! There’s just no way you actually need f/2.8 for its speed for either of those subject matters since they both take place in the daytime.

      • Peter Burke

        Thanks for the advice. I did think faster then crop but it makes sense not to, so I’ll get Christmas out of the way and then time for a bit of shopping. All the best for the holidays and look forward to reading more of you tips and how to’s.

        • Dan Carr

          You’re very welcome. Happy Holidays to you as well!

  6. Eirik ØstensjØ

    Hm now you made me bring back some old thoughts. I mainly do airshow photography and some wildlife and landscapes.
    I am the official photgrapher for several airshows in Norway, and I also do som freelance photography at other Europaen airshows. Mainly in the UK.

    I currently use two Canon 7D mark II bodies, and I have the following lenses:

    Canon EF 300mm f/2.8 L IS USM II
    Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8 L IS USM II
    Canon EF 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 L IS USM II

    I also have a Canon 5D mark II with a Canon EF 24-70 f/4.0 L IS USM for the closer stuff.

    The 300 is almost fixed on one body and I switch between the 70-200 and 100-400 on the other.

    After reading your post I am now thinking of trading in two of my lenses for the 400 DO II.
    The 70-200 has been one of my favorite lenses image quality wise ever since it was released, so therefore I am bit reluctant to trade it in instead of the 100-400. I have to trade in two of the lenses to be able to afford the 400 DO II. The 100-400 on the ohter hand is so versatile that it might be the better option to keep that one.

    Do you have any thougts to add to this Dan?


    • Dan Carr

      What you really need to know is how often you use the wider apertures of the 70-200, such as f/2.8 and f/3.2. If you hardly ever use them then you likely won’t miss the lens. The easiest way to know this is to use Lightroom and use the metadata filters to display all your photos shot with that lens in the years since you had it. It will show you how many you used for every aperture. My gut says you would be very happy with the 100-400 on one camera and the 400 DO II on the other with extender when needed.

      • Eirik ØstensjØ

        Thank you for your reply Dan.

        I typically use apertures between 4 and 11 during airshows, so I guess that answers my question.
        The tradeinn process has started!


        • Dan Carr

          You’re welcome! If you buy the 400mm from B&H, Amazon or Adorama, it’s always appreciated if you click there via my links 🙂 This is how I fund my time to answer people’s questions and create this content. Cheers! Links here -> https://dancarrphotography.com/support

          • Eirik ØstensjØ

            The USD vs. NOK(Norwegian Kroner) exchange rate is not in my favor at the moment, so the 400 DO II has been ordered locally.
            I will keep your excellent blog in mind next time I purchase something from B&H.


        • Dan Carr

          Thanks Eirik! I know you will enjoy the lens! I’m absolutely in love with it.

  7. Bernard vijay felix

    Hi Dan,

    What editing software do you use? I am curious about the workflow as well.


    • Dan Carr

      Mostly Lightroom, but a little bit of Photoshop and Luminar too. Photo Mechanic for organizational stuff.

  8. Paul G

    Hi Dan

    Looking to change editing to lightroom ,but reviews say if you buy it outright you do not get the new updates.However
    renting for about $10 a month is the only way to constantly get latest updates keeping it fresh.Whats you’re take on this.

    Which tripod would you recommend for every day walk out in field wildlife shooting?

    • Dan Carr

      My take: Lightroom is well worth $10/month.

      Tripod: Tripod should be chosen based on weight of camera+lens and also focal length being used + your own height, so I can’t say unless you give me details of your current setup,

  9. Michael Williams

    Hey Dan,

    I’m an amateur wildlife photographer in New Zealand and use the awesome combo of the 7dii with the 100-400mm ii. At some stage I would like to upgrade my lens. I’m a very ‘nomadic’ photographer and resist the tripod/monopod as much as possible, despite knowing it’s benefits. Therefore, the 400mm f4 DO seems to be my ideal lens for how I like to operate. Since it’s over 3 times the price of my current glass, I wanted to get your opinion on if its performance closer mirrors your 200-400mm (or a 500mm f4 lens) than the 100-400mm? It’s a huge jump in price so it would be nice to get some verification. I’m also considering trading in my 100-400mm to help finance that lens, also because I’m mostly shooting at 400mm anyway.

    I yearn for the day Canon releases a 500mm or 600mm DO.

    Thanks for putting out all this great information and helping so many of us out.


    • Dan Carr

      Great questions, Michael. One thing that I should be clear about is that image sharpness on the bare lens (no extender) isn’t all that different between the 100-400, the 200-400, the 400 DO or any of the other super tele lenses. These things have all gotten the the point where you have to look really close to see the difference. There’s a difference if you look at 100%, but it’s not night and day. Now, that’s a bare lens. Where the more expensive lenses shine is when using them with extenders. In fact I think the 400 DO II is the best of the whole bunch right now. I cant tell that it has a 1.4x on it at all, and even a 2x is still superb. You also have to factor in the extra stop of light. That extra stop of light means you can shoot with one stop less ISO and still get the same shutter speed. So how much does your camera’s IQ increase if you, say, shot at ISO 1600 instead of 3200? In many cameras, there would be a big jump in fine detail captured at that lower ISO. This is where these things start to pay off. I think you’re right, the 400 DO II does sound like a good option, but I’d still be hesitant to sell the 100-400…. I most often travel with both and I make use of both all the time.

  10. Urs

    Another one of your absolutely great posts! Thanks for sharing so much of your wisdom with us. It‘s just a shame I did not stumble over your blogs any earlier. It would have saved me from a number of decisions that I regret now. I purchased the original 5d in 2006 together with a 24-70 f/2.8 L USM. Soon thereafter I was looking for an affordable reasonably fast Tele Zoom. So, I picked up a Sigma 100-300 f/4, which never made me happy. It lacked sharpness and was not correctly focusing on top of that. Well, the original 5D did not have much of an auto focus system in today’s sense. Inevitably I sold the Sigma and replaced it with a Canon 70-200 f/2.8 L IS perhaps half a year later. I use that one a lot indoors with mediocre lighting (e.g. live concerts). A bit more than a year ago I decided to retire my 5d and replaced it with MkIV, which really seemed to open up a new universe (even though it did not make me a better photographer 😉
    At Christmas last year my 24-70, which is my always on lens, failed me miserably. The Zoom seemed to occasionally lock mechanically. Well, in fact I came to believe that the ribbon cable of the aperture somehow got entangled with some moving parts of the zoom mechanism. All of a sudden the camera did not receive correct aperture signals anymore. Despite most other users of that lens criticized the unusual zoom arrangement with the lens extending towards the wide angle focal length, I actually liked this „feature“ because of the ideal hood at all focal lenths. When version II of that lens came out, I was probably one of the few who did not praise, that it is now a „normal“ zoom lens. This very fact made me commit the most spectacular wrong decision so far. I decided to have it repaired, which cost me almost half of what the new version II lens would have called for. The gravity of this stupidity surfaced squarely this summer when the hood turned slightly without me noticing it for several days worth of shooting. The mistake became apparent in post in Lightroom. Since then I could bite my a… for this feature that I loved so much before.
    Based on your review, I did buy the 100-400 II this summer, and like you I am stunned with the IQ, even with the 1.4x III. Based on another of your reviews I became kick starter supporter of Peak Designs travel backpack. What you do for the community deserves the greatest respect. Thank you so much!

    • Dan Carr

      Hi Urs! Thanks for sharing your stories and your kind words. I’m sorry to hear about the issues with your 24-70, but glad that the 100-400 has lived up to your expectations. Truly a wonderful lens! Thanks for reading my blogs and following what I do 🙂


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