I’m currently shooting in the Canadian Rockies again and wildlife is all around me. Whilst I have my big Canon 200-400mm with me, I’ve mainly been shooting with the Canon 7D Mark II and the amazing Canon 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 L IS II. This combination get’s me to a 640mm equivalent field of view in a hand-holdable package. In the right light, the image quality is every bit as good as the $12,000+ 200-400mm lens (my Canon 200-400mm review). Yep, you read that right… let’s take a look.
I was curious what the performance of this lens would be like with a 1.4x extender. This combination gives you an equivalent field of view to an 896mm lens, and a minimum f/8 aperture. When I first tried this, and looked at the photos, my eyes popped out of my head! Even wide open at f/8, this is a more than useable combination. In fact, it’s sharper than my old Mk1 300mm f/2.8 IS with a 1.4x extender on it. These kinds of results have rapidly made this lens an all-time favourite from Canon.
I know that a lot of people aren’t going to believe me when I say this this combination is this good, so I’m including some images, with 100% crops. These images only have the default sharpening from Lightroom applied to them and they were all shot with the 7D Mark II. Now, this camera is VERY good, but it doesn’t resolve fine details like a full frame camera does. Had I taken these shots with my 5D, or a 1D, these would have been even sharper!
Considering these were both taken handheld, at close to 900mm out of a car window, I think this is astonishing performance! Every Canon wildlife photographer should have this lens in their arsenal. It is very rare that I say things like that so definitively, but this is a truly outstanding lens. Of course to get great results, you must understand the best ways to use an extender. This is a topic that has been covered extensively in my ultimate guide to extenders/teleconverters.
I wonder how the new RF mount 100-500mm performs…
Canon 100-400 II + 1.4x Extender – Example 1
Canon 100-400 II + 1.4x Extender – Example 2
Will Your Camera AF at f/8?
Not sure if you will be able to maintain AF with your camera, and the combination of the 100-400 + extender? Since this is a question that was asked so often in the comments, I have created a resournce to list all DSLR cameras that will maintain AF with a lens+extender combination that delivers a max aperture of f/8.