A review of the Fujinon 100-400 against the Canon 400f5.6L

Started Feb 29, 2016 | User reviews
rwbaron Forum Pro • Posts: 14,345
A review of the Fujinon 100-400 against the Canon 400f5.6L
20

Hello,

Long time Canon shooter who added an XT1 and several lenses over the past 2 years. My latest addition is the Fujinon 100-400 and the 1.4 extender and I'd thought others might find it helpful to hear of my experience and thoughts.

Received the lens and extender last week and had the opportunity to put it through it's paces this past weekend. I should note that I have experience with long lenses as I currently own the Canon 300mmf4L (non-IS) and 400f5.6L along with both the Canon 1.4 and 2x extenders. In the past I also owned Canon's first version of their 100-400 but did not shoot with it often as I was never pleased with the AF speed or IQ. I do shoot wildlife in Florida (mostly shore birds) and birds in flight (BIF) along with airshows, bike races and trains. I've always been drawn to long lenses as I like to extract subjects and compress distances and I appreciate the subject isolation that can be achieved with long glass and proper technique.

I've been an avid hobbyist photographer since the mid 70's and did get stung a few times with out of spec lenses that I couldn't return due to the time frame expiring. For that reason I extensively test every new lens in a setup I've been refining over the years. The new Fuji was put through that testing this past weekend and I also shot my Canon 400f5.6L on my 7D for comparison purposes and as a control element.

The Canon is a full frame lens being used on the APS C 7D so this gives the Canon a big advantage as the 7D sensor uses only the central part of the image circle projected by the lens. Fuji lenses are designed specifically for APS C sensors so the projected image circle is just slightly larger than the XT1's sensor so the normal lens issues of image degradation at the edges and corners should be more apparent. I also have a lot of time with the Canon lens shooting birds and other subjects and know very well what it's capable of and what to expect. At 400mm wide open the Fuji comes very close to the Canon in the center of the frame which is an amazing performance. Consider the Fuji lens has 21 elements and the Canon only 7. More elements introduce more air to glass surfaces which degrades image quality (mostly contrast) but modern coatings have done a lot to negate this as the Fuji zoom demonstrates.

Center target of Canon 400mmf5.6L left, Fujinon 100-400 @400mm on right, both at f5.6 viewed at 200%

The above speaks very well for the new Fuji as the Canon lens, though some 25 years old, has a near cult like following with Canon shooters. Canon updated their 100-400 a few years ago and brought it close to the performance of the prime lens in this test so this speaks extremely well for the Fuji.

Top right corner target with Fuji on left and Canon on right (sorry to reverse) viewed at 200%

The above is from the same frame but the top right corner and here's where the full frame image circle of the Canon gives it an advantage. Sorry for reversing the order but I wanted to make sure everyone was paying attention ;-). In reality this is probably not noticeable in normal shooting and nothing to be concerned with. A very good showing for a zoom lens against a prime and especially an APS C against FF. Notice the difference in color fringing with the Canon skewing the reds and the Fuji green but both about the same amount. All are from raw images opened in LightRoom obviously by the screen shots.

I wanted to check flare and ghosting as zooms are typically weak in this area. I had the opportunity to shoot directly into the setting Sun at the wide end and was more than impressed with the performance. A very slight flare can be seen when the Sun is not in the center but it's very well controlled.

Now for some real shots using the lens handheld on some real subjects. Frankly, I'm extremely impressed with this lens in both the IQ and handling and find it a joy to use. The AF was pretty snappy and IMO not all that much different than my 7D/400f5.6L under similar circumstances. The OIS is extremely good as is the detail and sharpness both with and without the extender. The bokeh (rendering of out of focus areas) can be busy (nervous) if you're not careful but maintaining longer distances between your subject and the background will minimize the problem. It should be noted that most zoom lenses have issues with bokeh and it will not be as "creamy" as what can be achieved with a prime lens of similar FL and aperture. Please click "gallery page" below the image and then click on "original" and again on the image to see in full resolution on screen.

Above is the bare lens at 400mm wide open

All the shots to follow have the extender mounted which is amazing considering the IQ

All is good so far so now for the one not so good thing. In testing my sample it appears to have a tilted element but I have to do more tests to confirm. I did check for centering (all element optical centers in line) which appears good but in shooting the test target I came up with this issue.

Fujinon 100-400 left and right side of frame at 400mm f5.6 (200%)

You will see the left side of the frame is obviously not as sharp or contrasty as the right side and this is a concern. My hunch is there may be an element that is tilted in it's mount but I need to test further to confirm. The above is at 200% but it's quite obvious too at 1:1 or 100% so this does make it an issue. In the short time of having the lens I've become quite attached and definitely want it in my kit so I will decide how to deal with this after I do more testing. There is another forum member from the UK who also appears to have a similar issue with his lens but to my knowledge we're the only two so far.

Thanks for suffering through and I hope you found it at least interesting and helpful.

Bob

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webber15 Senior Member • Posts: 1,600
Re: A review of the Fujinon 100-400 against the Canon 400f5.6L

I understand why you want to test your lenses,,I was busy togging my garden fence the other day with my 55-200 because     I thought I may have had softness on the left side,,closer inspection didn't reveal an issue so I relegated the thought to the delete bin

Anyway,,your real world images show what the lens is capable of...I'd be happy with those for sure...

Dave...

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Jerry-astro
Jerry-astro Forum Pro • Posts: 20,612
Re: A review of the Fujinon 100-400 against the Canon 400f5.6L

Bob--

Superb and comprehensive review, and mostly quite consistent with what I've been seeing (with the exception of the issue you point out towards the end of the review).  Samples are always nice, but some rigorous testing goes a long way in helping folks who might be teetering on the edge or concerned about the overall performance of the lens make a decision.  Particularly important in this case because of the very high cost of this particular lens.

Thanks again for the work you put in and sharing the results.

Jerry

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Rod McD Veteran Member • Posts: 9,073
Re: A review of the Fujinon 100-400 against the Canon 400f5.6L

Hi Bob,

Thanks for the test. At one stage in my Fuji experiment, I was thinking about buying a cheap Canon DSLR to get either the 400/5.6L or potentially the 100-400L lens just for birding, but never quite did enough to justify it. The new version of their zoom only made it more desirable, but the release of the Fuji 100-400 makes it possible as well as sensible for me to stick to one system.

I was interested that you described the Canon 100-400L as almost as good as a the 400/5.6L. If you look at the Photozone test, it's pretty much a wash. In their sample of the new version of the zoom it's slightly sharper (at 400mm) than the prime in the center and the prime is slightly sharper in the outer image area, but neither by much. To me, the addition of IS and zoom flexibility would make it the more desirable lens if I was shooting Canon.

Right now I can't afford the Fuji 100-400 - I've hit a budgetary hole for the year. I'm using an adapted Sigma Apo Tele Macro with good results, but I'd prefer AF and OIS. It also seems to be a lens that performs better at close to middle distances - which is OK for birds. I haven't had strong results at infinity (moon, eclipses, etc). Nor with a TC. I've got 55-200 covered, so I think I'm going to have to keep the Apo Tele Macro for the time being.  Next year.......

Enjoy the birding.

Cheers, Rod

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Cliff Beard Regular Member • Posts: 461
Re: A review of the Fujinon 100-400 against the Canon 400f5.6L
4

Hi,

interesting post. The UK poster with the lens issue is me.

My lens looks a lot worse than yours.  Having designed what appears to be an excellent lens, I really hope they can assemble them properly otherwise all that work is for nothing. If we can see issues at 16mp easily, then 24 will be woeful.

On my copy the weak left side and poor upper corner are easily visible at normal screen viewing sizes without any 100% inspection.  Adding the TC just makes it worse.

I am not accepting the lens and it is going back today, however long it takes to get s decent one.

Are you going to return yours or send it for service?  I know that perfect OIS complex zooms perhaps don't exist, but any issues should be so minor you have to look hard for them.  Fuji need to know that these under performing samples should not get to market.

thecellardooruk New Member • Posts: 16
Re: A review of the Fujinon 100-400 against the Canon 400f5.6L

Thanks for taking the time to give the feedback on this lens. I was in the position of either keeping an entry level canon and 100-400 or going for this and I have a pre order in with wex. Hopefully they won't send me one someone else has returned

Can I ask a little more about the testing methodology, presumably you're sticking the target on a flat surface and shooting it at various distances and focal lengths and looking for issues. How are you ensuring you're parallel to your target as I'd imagine wide open a few degrees out would easily soften one side over the other?

Will definitely be doing something similar when mine finally arrives so any tips are gratefully received.

OP rwbaron Forum Pro • Posts: 14,345
Re: A review of the Fujinon 100-400 against the Canon 400f5.6L

webber15 wrote:

I understand why you want to test your lenses,,I was busy togging my garden fence the other day with my 55-200 because I thought I may have had softness on the left side,,closer inspection didn't reveal an issue so I relegated the thought to the delete bin

I understand as when I see something in an image that doesn't make sense I feel the need to investigate.  Usually it's technique or something I did wrong but it's good to know for certain.

Anyway,,your real world images show what the lens is capable of...I'd be happy with those for sure...

Dave...

Thanks,

Bob

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Jerry-astro
Jerry-astro Forum Pro • Posts: 20,612
Re: A review of the Fujinon 100-400 against the Canon 400f5.6L
1

thecellardooruk wrote:

Thanks for taking the time to give the feedback on this lens. I was in the position of either keeping an entry level canon and 100-400 or going for this and I have a pre order in with wex. Hopefully they won't send me one someone else has returned

Can I ask a little more about the testing methodology, presumably you're sticking the target on a flat surface and shooting it at various distances and focal lengths and looking for issues. How are you ensuring you're parallel to your target as I'd imagine wide open a few degrees out would easily soften one side over the other?

Will definitely be doing something similar when mine finally arrives so any tips are gratefully received.

Bob does an amazing job of testing, so I'm sure he'll have some excellent ways of ensuring alignment. Hopefully, he won't mind my sharing a couple that I've used successfully:

1) A small mirror temporarily placed dead center on the overall target can be used to align the camera simply by continually adjusting until you see your camera dead-on straight in your EVF/VF. The Lens Align kit came with a small mirror with a hole in the middle that you could hang on a nail until your camera is aligned, then remove for actual testing.  Any mirror would do, perhaps with a bit of velcro to easily place then remove once the camera is aligned.

2) My current target has a small (perhaps around 1/4" or 8mm or so... not critical) circle painted in red (I used nail polish) in the center. I used a level to vertically position a nail in the center of that circle with the head colored black (or something other than red). I simply shift the camera position until the black nail head is dead center in the red circle and I am unable to see the nail itself.

Hope this helps, and I'm sure Bob (and perhaps others) have some creative ideas of his own to add.

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OP rwbaron Forum Pro • Posts: 14,345
Re: A review of the Fujinon 100-400 against the Canon 400f5.6L
1

Jerry-astro wrote:

Bob--

Superb and comprehensive review, and mostly quite consistent with what I've been seeing (with the exception of the issue you point out towards the end of the review). Samples are always nice, but some rigorous testing goes a long way in helping folks who might be teetering on the edge or concerned about the overall performance of the lens make a decision. Particularly important in this case because of the very high cost of this particular lens.

Thanks again for the work you put in and sharing the results.

Jerry

Thanks Jerry for the kind words.

Last night I perused my photos for similar shore bird shots with my Canon 300f4L and 400f5.6L and found several for comparison purposes.  The first shot below was taken with the 7D and 300f4L and at the time I was very pleased with the detail and sharpness.  I even opened a thread in the Canon lens forum and used the cheeky title "19 year old beauty" to get the attention of the guys.  The lens was 19 years old at the time and IMO still a fantastic optic even by today's standards.  I received many posts in that thread with people amazed with the IQ and even the Canon king of long glass Romy Ocon posted calling it an amazing lens.  I know the light is very different but frankly I don't think it's as detailed or sharp as the Fuji but I'll let you and others decide.

Image as shot with Canon 7D and Canon 300f4L

100% crop

Fuji XT1 with Fujinon 100-400 at 400mm f5.6

Click gallery page then original and then click on the image for full resolution.

Here's another with the same Canon combo

Image as shot with Canon 7D and Canon 300f4L

100% crop

I'm curious to hear what others think.

Bob

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OP rwbaron Forum Pro • Posts: 14,345
Re: A review of the Fujinon 100-400 against the Canon 400f5.6L
2

Rod McD wrote:

Hi Bob,

Thanks for the test. At one stage in my Fuji experiment, I was thinking about buying a cheap Canon DSLR to get either the 400/5.6L or potentially the 100-400L lens just for birding, but never quite did enough to justify it. The new version of their zoom only made it more desirable, but the release of the Fuji 100-400 makes it possible as well as sensible for me to stick to one system.

I've not shot with the new Canon 100-400 but have extensive experience with the original along with the 300f4L and 400f5.6L. I'm coming to the conclusion that the Fuji zoom is every bit as good and maybe even better than the Canon primes in detail and sharpness. I just posted some shots for comparison with the Canon 300f4L which is considered an excellent lens even by today's standards. You can find them above in a reply to Jerry Astro.

I was interested that you described the Canon 100-400L as almost as good as a the 400/5.6L. If you look at the Photozone test, it's pretty much a wash. In their sample of the new version of the zoom it's slightly sharper (at 400mm) than the prime in the center and the prime is slightly sharper in the outer image area, but neither by much. To me, the addition of IS and zoom flexibility would make it the more desirable lens if I was shooting Canon.

I based my "almost as good" more on user feedback from people I'm familiar with and respect on the Canon forums. I do use "The Digital Picture" as a reference but only in the sense that it's another data point. In my experience there's noticeable variation in samples and I don't know how many samples Bryan Carnahan tests. Bryan also shows only the center and then one mid-frame point and one corner of the frame which may not be representative of other areas. Klaus at Photozone will test several samples when he has them available and he is my "go to" guy for lens tests. Klaus comments on assembly issues like decentering and tilted elements which Bryan does not and for me that's important. I also like SLR Gear (Imaging Resource) as they provide the blur plot of the entire frame and it's very convenient to see what a lens is doing at different FL's and apertures. I also am not overly impressed with this sample image Bryan posted for the Canon 100-400 II as it's at 187mm f8 (should be at it's sharpest) and IMO the detail and sharpness are not up to Canon's primes.

http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Images/Other/Canon-EOS-7D-Mark-II/2015-02-23_17-10-47.jpg

Bryan is also a promoter of all things Canon which does leave me suspect at times.

Right now I can't afford the Fuji 100-400 - I've hit a budgetary hole for the year. I'm using an adapted Sigma Apo Tele Macro with good results, but I'd prefer AF and OIS. It also seems to be a lens that performs better at close to middle distances - which is OK for birds. I haven't had strong results at infinity (moon, eclipses, etc). Nor with a TC. I've got 55-200 covered, so I think I'm going to have to keep the Apo Tele Macro for the time being. Next year.......

Moon shots are tough and it's all about the "seeing" conditions in addition to technique. I've tried several times and had only one experience where I was satisfied with the results using the same equipment. Here was my best effort with the Canon 7D and 400f5.6L with a Canon 2x extender. There's a forum member (Romy Ocon) who is an excellent wildlife photographer shooting Canon.  Romy's moon shots are legendary as he shoots from the Philippines using big lenses with multiple stacked extenders and I have no idea how he manages the sharpness and detail at FL's in 2500mm range with all that glass in the mix.

Enjoy the birding.

Thanks and thanks for the comments.

Bob

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OP rwbaron Forum Pro • Posts: 14,345
Re: A review of the Fujinon 100-400 against the Canon 400f5.6L
3

Cliff Beard wrote:

Hi,

interesting post. The UK poster with the lens issue is me.

My lens looks a lot worse than yours. Having designed what appears to be an excellent lens, I really hope they can assemble them properly otherwise all that work is for nothing. If we can see issues at 16mp easily, then 24 will be woeful.

I agree and I'm sorry to hear of your problem.

On my copy the weak left side and poor upper corner are easily visible at normal screen viewing sizes without any 100% inspection. Adding the TC just makes it worse.

That sounds much worse than mine.

I am not accepting the lens and it is going back today, however long it takes to get s decent one.

You're making the right move in getting a replacement.  This is a brand new lens which I'm sure the service centers have no experience with and I wouldn't want my investment being the teaching moment.  Service centers are typically not good at correctlng issues like this in my experience so a replacement is your best option.

Are you going to return yours or send it for service? I know that perfect OIS complex zooms perhaps don't exist, but any issues should be so minor you have to look hard for them. Fuji need to know that these under performing samples should not get to market.

I agree and IMO lens designs today push the limits of what manufacturing can do.  I've had my problems with Canon over the years and now Fuji.

It's interesting as the first 4 Fuji lenses I bought were all fine (10-24, 18-55, 55-200 and 23f1.4) but my nemesis was the 56f1.2.  I went through more samples than I care to disclose to get one that was "acceptable" and not even close to perfect.  All tested samples had softness in the frame (different areas depending on the sample) that persisted at f5.6.  I spoke with Roger Cicala at Lens Rentals and corresponded with Klaus at Photozone regarding the issue.  I sent Klaus several test files and he advised me he wouldn't keep any of the lenses of the files I sent him.  I also discussed the issue at length with a senior Fuji service tech here in the states and he advised me to return the lenses, not send them in for repair.  He said correcting a decentering problem was difficult and time consuming and could take a tech the better part of a day and still not improve the situation to the customer's satisfaction.  Canon's been no better in my experience.

The problem is the manufacturers will produce what most of the buying public will accept.  My guess is most people have no clue how uniform the IQ is with a lens unless they've done some controlled testing.  In some cases like a tilted element it's never noticeable as we shoot 3 dimensional subjects, not flat test charts.  But with decentering a person may not notice the softness in an area of the frame unless that was the point of focus.  If it's soft they probably chalk it up to missed focus or technique when it very well could be an issue with their lens.

I wish the best in getting your issue resolved.  This is an excellent lens and I'm sure you'll be very pleased once you get one that is properly assembled.

Bob

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Jerry-astro
Jerry-astro Forum Pro • Posts: 20,612
Re: A review of the Fujinon 100-400 against the Canon 400f5.6L

rwbaron wrote:

Jerry-astro wrote:

Bob--

Superb and comprehensive review, and mostly quite consistent with what I've been seeing (with the exception of the issue you point out towards the end of the review). Samples are always nice, but some rigorous testing goes a long way in helping folks who might be teetering on the edge or concerned about the overall performance of the lens make a decision. Particularly important in this case because of the very high cost of this particular lens.

Thanks again for the work you put in and sharing the results.

Jerry

Thanks Jerry for the kind words.

Last night I perused my photos for similar shore bird shots with my Canon 300f4L and 400f5.6L and found several for comparison purposes. The first shot below was taken with the 7D and 300f4L and at the time I was very pleased with the detail and sharpness. I even opened a thread in the Canon lens forum and used the cheeky title "19 year old beauty" to get the attention of the guys. The lens was 19 years old at the time and IMO still a fantastic optic even by today's standards. I received many posts in that thread with people amazed with the IQ and even the Canon king of long glass Romy Ocon posted calling it an amazing lens. I know the light is very different but frankly I don't think it's as detailed or sharp as the Fuji but I'll let you and others decide.

Image as shot with Canon 7D and Canon 300f4L

100% crop

Fuji XT1 with Fujinon 100-400 at 400mm f5.6

Click gallery page then original and then click on the image for full resolution.

Here's another with the same Canon combo

Image as shot with Canon 7D and Canon 300f4L

100% crop

I'm curious to hear what others think.

Bob

Bob--

I'm afraid that my somewhat old eyes aren't what they used to be, and staring at the crops, I struggle to see much difference in IQ... perhaps just a tad more detail in the Fuji image.  Given the fact that you're comparing the zoom to a very high quality prime says something about the 100-400's IQ, and frankly, I'd be delighted with anything close to that level of sharpness and detail (which I'm seeing in some of my better images with that lens as well).

I also have followed Romy's posts closely over the years and he's set the bar for wildlife images captured with very long superteles (and I do remember the almost unbelievable moon shot he posted a few years back).  Might be interesting to PM him with a couple of samples and get his take as well.

Jerry

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webber15 Senior Member • Posts: 1,600
Re: A review of the Fujinon 100-400 against the Canon 400f5.6L

With regards de-centering / tilted elements...there was a DPR post recently on the subject and manufacturing processes involved in  making lenses...

It would appear (to me at least) that to manufacture perfect lenses would be "time consuming and costly"...

Unfortunately,,to have such consistency in our lenses,,we would be paying for it with higher m.s.r.p...

Dave...

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OP rwbaron Forum Pro • Posts: 14,345
Re: A review of the Fujinon 100-400 against the Canon 400f5.6L
7

thecellardooruk wrote:

Thanks for taking the time to give the feedback on this lens. I was in the position of either keeping an entry level canon and 100-400 or going for this and I have a pre order in with wex. Hopefully they won't send me one someone else has returned

If by "entry level Canon" you mean the first version of their 100-400 then you'll be very pleased with the Fuji. The original Canon version of this zoom is not in the same league as the Fuji.

Can I ask a little more about the testing methodology, presumably you're sticking the target on a flat surface and shooting it at various distances and focal lengths and looking for issues. How are you ensuring you're parallel to your target as I'd imagine wide open a few degrees out would easily soften one side over the other?

I've been testing lenses for a long time and constantly refining the process. We have 2 homes and I usually test in the basement of our primary residence which requires proper lighting which is tricky and can be expensive. The advantage though being it's immune to weather and wind. I'm in Florida at this time and thought about how to test this lens here and came up with a simple method that worked beautifully. I use the 1951 USAF resolution chart which can be bought from Edmund optics.

http://www.edmundoptics.com/test-targets/resolution-test-targets/resolving-power-chart/83001/

Some will argue there are better charts but I've been using this chart for years and am very comfortable with it. You can also download small versions of the targets and print them on high resolution photo paper with a high quality ink jet. The better Canon, Epson and HP printers should all work fine. I was looking for a link for the smaller targets but can't find it at the moment but you can search USAF 1951 resolution target and possibly find a downloadable version.  I did find Bob Atkin's target included in the link below.  This is a good read and there is a link on the page to download a high resolution version of his target which I've done in the past and also used and like.

http://bobatkins.com/photography/technical/lens_sharpness.html

Print out multiple copies on heavy 4x6" photo paper and place them in a symmetrical pattern inside a 2x3 foot area.  I say 2x3 foot because that is the area that fills the frame when the camera/lens are at 50 times FL from the target which is a good distance to test.  For 400mm this will be 400x50 = 20,000/25.4 = 787 inches or 65.6 feet.  You need to move the camera position obviously for each tested FL and this will require 92 feet when testing with the extender.

Target flatness is important and you can mount the target(s) on foam core board or other suitable substrate.  What I did here in FL was to buy a few dozen 1" ceramic magnets ($6 US total from Home Depot) and used them to secure the target to an electrical box as per below.  Just make certain all areas of the target are flat and not bubbled out.  I like to also include paper money in the frame as it's a good reference for detail and sharpness. Interesting tidbit is I tried to convert crops of the bills in Photoshop CS for this review and it won't open the files and gives the warning about not allowing the editing of currency.  Pretty smart program.

The above allowed for me to obtain my 91 feet to test the extender and with full Sun no worries on lighting (it doesn't get any better).  Wind can be an issue but it was a relatively calm day and you have to be patient at times.

As you mentioned centering the camera/lens to the target is critical and I use the method Jerry Astro mentioned in his post.  This time I bought an inexpensive locker mirror with a large magnet on the back which worked perfect.  You'll use your reflected image in the mirror to align yourself with the target.  I can assure you this is very precise and will reflect movements of less than an inch.  Here's what the reflected image looks like;

After finding the correct alignment with the mirror you need to adjust the tripod ballhead to be level to the target and have uniform borders on all 4 sides.  Here I needed a bit more adjustment (rotation) to the right and slightly down and doing so will not change your position in the mirror.  A good quality ballhead is a big plus when doing this.

Heavy tripod, focus bracketing, tethered release or use the 2 second timer to ensure no vibration.  Shoot at base ISO (200) and do several sequences to be sure you have usable frames to work with.  I find it helps to have a focusing aid as Jerry mentioned as at times the camera will miss focus on the chart if you're using AF. You'll get your exercise doing this with a 400mm lens as you'll be walking that 65 feet quite a few times.  I test zooms at each marked FL as it's not unusual to find a zoom is fine at most FL's but has issues at one or more.  My Fuji 100-400 is fine up to 200mm but starts to show the issue at 300mm and it's most noticeable at 400mm.

Will definitely be doing something similar when mine finally arrives so any tips are gratefully received.

Please let me know how it works out for you and the results of your tests.

Bob

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davev8
davev8 Veteran Member • Posts: 4,902
NO the FF lens is at a massive disadvantage on a APS-c camera

rwbaron wrote:

Hello,

Long time Canon shooter who added an XT1 and several lenses over the past 2 years. My latest addition is the Fujinon 100-400 and the 1.4 extender and I'd thought others might find it helpful to hear of my experience and thoughts.

Received the lens and extender last week and had the opportunity to put it through it's paces this past weekend. I should note that I have experience with long lenses as I currently own the Canon 300mmf4L (non-IS) and 400f5.6L along with both the Canon 1.4 and 2x extenders. In the past I also owned Canon's first version of their 100-400 but did not shoot with it often as I was never pleased with the AF speed or IQ. I do shoot wildlife in Florida (mostly shore birds) and birds in flight (BIF) along with airshows, bike races and trains. I've always been drawn to long lenses as I like to extract subjects and compress distances and I appreciate the subject isolation that can be achieved with long glass and proper technique.

I've been an avid hobbyist photographer since the mid 70's and did get stung a few times with out of spec lenses that I couldn't return due to the time frame expiring. For that reason I extensively test every new lens in a setup I've been refining over the years. The new Fuji was put through that testing this past weekend and I also shot my Canon 400f5.6L on my 7D for comparison purposes and as a control element.

The Canon is a full frame lens being used on the APS C 7D so this gives the Canon a big advantage as the 7D sensor uses only the central part of the image circle projected by the lens.

NO everybody believes about this "sweet spot" but it is simply not true (maybe with a totally naff lens with VERY bad corners..but then you could of just cropped it anyway ) ...the reason is that  when you only use the so called sweet spot the problem is its ..well its smaller so you have to enlarge it more times to get the same print size ..but you are also enlarging all the lens defects and aberrations etc

A lens designed for APS-c should be sharper than a FF lens used on a APC-c...to prove it here's a link  comparing the canon 400mm F5.6L with a FF camera and a APS-c camera  the APS-c cam is 18MP but to prove the point the FF cam is only 16MP now if the APS-c had a MASSIVE advantage with a FF lens and  especially with more MP it will be sharper.....but no its not as can be clearly seen (pun intended) a big disadvantage

There is not a canon 400mm APC-c lens to compare ..so i did with the cheap 55-250mm STM, i have seen this lense as low as £85 GBP secand hand on feebay in the UK  so its a very cheep lens BUT its designed for APS-c

low and behold its...err sharper than the 400L in the center and mid frame both on the same APS-c here

Fuji lenses are designed specifically for APS C sensors so the projected image circle is just slightly larger than the XT1's sensor so the normal lens issues of image degradation at the edges and corners should be more apparent. I also have a lot of time with the Canon lens shooting birds and other subjects and know very well what it's capable of and what to expect. At 400mm wide open the Fuji comes very close to the Canon in the center of the frame which is an amazing performance. Consider the Fuji lens has 21 elements and the Canon only 7. More elements introduce more air to glass surfaces which degrades image quality (mostly contrast) but modern coatings have done a lot to negate this as the Fuji zoom demonstrates.

Center target of Canon 400mmf5.6L left, Fujinon 100-400 @400mm on right, both at f5.6 viewed at 200%

The above speaks very well for the new Fuji as the Canon lens, though some 25 years old, has a near cult like following with Canon shooters. Canon updated their 100-400 a few years ago and brought it close to the performance of the prime lens in this test so this speaks extremely well for the Fuji.

Top right corner target with Fuji on left and Canon on right (sorry to reverse) viewed at 200%

The above is from the same frame but the top right corner and here's where the full frame image circle of the Canon gives it an advantage. Sorry for reversing the order but I wanted to make sure everyone was paying attention ;-). In reality this is probably not noticeable in normal shooting and nothing to be concerned with. A very good showing for a zoom lens against a prime and especially an APS C against FF. Notice the difference in color fringing with the Canon skewing the reds and the Fuji green but both about the same amount. All are from raw images opened in LightRoom obviously by the screen shots.

I wanted to check flare and ghosting as zooms are typically weak in this area. I had the opportunity to shoot directly into the setting Sun at the wide end and was more than impressed with the performance. A very slight flare can be seen when the Sun is not in the center but it's very well controlled.

Now for some real shots using the lens handheld on some real subjects. Frankly, I'm extremely impressed with this lens in both the IQ and handling and find it a joy to use. The AF was pretty snappy and IMO not all that much different than my 7D/400f5.6L under similar circumstances. The OIS is extremely good as is the detail and sharpness both with and without the extender. The bokeh (rendering of out of focus areas) can be busy (nervous) if you're not careful but maintaining longer distances between your subject and the background will minimize the problem. It should be noted that most zoom lenses have issues with bokeh and it will not be as "creamy" as what can be achieved with a prime lens of similar FL and aperture. Please click "gallery page" below the image and then click on "original" and again on the image to see in full resolution on screen.

Above is the bare lens at 400mm wide open

All the shots to follow have the extender mounted which is amazing considering the IQ

All is good so far so now for the one not so good thing. In testing my sample it appears to have a tilted element but I have to do more tests to confirm. I did check for centering (all element optical centers in line) which appears good but in shooting the test target I came up with this issue.

Fujinon 100-400 left and right side of frame at 400mm f5.6 (200%)

You will see the left side of the frame is obviously not as sharp or contrasty as the right side and this is a concern. My hunch is there may be an element that is tilted in it's mount but I need to test further to confirm. The above is at 200% but it's quite obvious too at 1:1 or 100% so this does make it an issue. In the short time of having the lens I've become quite attached and definitely want it in my kit so I will decide how to deal with this after I do more testing. There is another forum member from the UK who also appears to have a similar issue with his lens but to my knowledge we're the only two so far.

Thanks for suffering through and I hope you found it at least interesting and helpful.

Bob

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rgleich
rgleich Contributing Member • Posts: 565
Re: A review of the Fujinon 100-400 against the Canon 400f5.6L

Thanks much for taking the time to work-up what I think is a terrific and objective review of this lens.

I also learned a lot about the testing and it REALLY made sense to me.

This is also really whetting my appetite to save-up for my own copy of this lens and getting into some tele / wildlife photography.  It will probably be a while, but when I do - it's a pretty safe bet that I'll be referring back to this post.

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thecellardooruk New Member • Posts: 16
Re: A review of the Fujinon 100-400 against the Canon 400f5.6L

Thanks again Bob for a very thorough answer, will definitely feedback on my experiences when the lens lands. I have a good target I've used in the past for microadjusting the old canon lenses on the 5dii before I sold it and can print that out on a canon pixma pro 100 so I should be good to go.

I actually owned the mk i canon 100-400 twice. First copy was definitely only "ok" and fell off badly after 350mm. Second copy was a cracking lens and I got some absolutely beautiful images pin sharp wide open at 400 mm on that one. If the fuji performs on a par with that I'll be delighted.

OP rwbaron Forum Pro • Posts: 14,345
Re: NO the FF lens is at a massive disadvantage on a APS-c camera
4

davev8 wrote:

rwbaron wrote:

Hello,

Long time Canon shooter who added an XT1 and several lenses over the past 2 years. My latest addition is the Fujinon 100-400 and the 1.4 extender and I'd thought others might find it helpful to hear of my experience and thoughts.

Received the lens and extender last week and had the opportunity to put it through it's paces this past weekend. I should note that I have experience with long lenses as I currently own the Canon 300mmf4L (non-IS) and 400f5.6L along with both the Canon 1.4 and 2x extenders. In the past I also owned Canon's first version of their 100-400 but did not shoot with it often as I was never pleased with the AF speed or IQ. I do shoot wildlife in Florida (mostly shore birds) and birds in flight (BIF) along with airshows, bike races and trains. I've always been drawn to long lenses as I like to extract subjects and compress distances and I appreciate the subject isolation that can be achieved with long glass and proper technique.

I've been an avid hobbyist photographer since the mid 70's and did get stung a few times with out of spec lenses that I couldn't return due to the time frame expiring. For that reason I extensively test every new lens in a setup I've been refining over the years. The new Fuji was put through that testing this past weekend and I also shot my Canon 400f5.6L on my 7D for comparison purposes and as a control element.

The Canon is a full frame lens being used on the APS C 7D so this gives the Canon a big advantage as the 7D sensor uses only the central part of the image circle projected by the lens.

NO everybody believes about this "sweet spot" but it is simply not true (maybe with a totally naff lens with VERY bad corners..but then you could of just cropped it anyway ) ...the reason is that when you only use the so called sweet spot the problem is its ..well its smaller so you have to enlarge it more times to get the same print size ..but you are also enlarging all the lens defects and aberrations etc

I have to respectfully disagree in regard to my tests and I'll point out that "The Digital Picture" is a resource I use but one I never go to first. I pay more attention to sites like "Photozone" and "Imaging Resource" as their test results better follow my experiences.

If you don't believe in the "sweet spot" phenomena then I suggest you take it up with people like Klaus Shroiff who is a principal at Photozone. Klaus spends much of his time looking at Imatest MTF results for the same lens used on both FF and APS C cameras. Here's a few quotes from Klaus' review of the new Canon 35f1.4L;

"Full format lenses enjoy a sweet spot effect on APS-C format DSLRs. Therefore the vignetting is substantially reduced at only 0.8EV (f-stops) at f/1.4. The issue is negligible from f/2 onward already."

and

"The sweet spot effect has also a positive impact on the (cropped) resolution characteristic. The center quality is great at f/1.4 and is nothing short of outstanding at between f/2 and f/4. The outer image region is also impressive with good to very good results at max aperture."

You might also want to check out the 7D vs 5D blur plots on Imaging Resource of the Canon 300f2.8LIS2 which is considered to be one of the sharpest supertele's produced by anyone.

http://www.imaging-resource.com/lenses/canon/ef-300mm-f2.8l-is-ii-usm/review/

Their blur plots of the Canon 16-35f2.8LII emphasize the sweet spot even more being a wide angle zoom. Again, compare the blur plot of the FF to sub frame.

http://www.imaging-resource.com/lenses/canon/ef-16-35mm-f2.8l-ii-usm/review/

A 400mm lens is 400mm regardless of the format (FF or APS C) and that's what I'm comparing. Yes, if I mount the 400mm lens on a 20 MP FF camera and then mount that same lens on a 20 MP APS C camera the FF is at a disadvantage as the image would need to be enlarged to provide the same FOV but that's not what I'm doing. I'm testing a 400mm FF lens on an 18 MP APS C camera and comparing it to a 400mm APS C zoom on a 16 MP camera. What's really being compared is the overall imaging system including the sensors but for purposes of this test I wanted to see how a lens/camera combination I've been using for years compares with a new zoom with the same maximum FL on a different camera of similar sensor size and pixel density.

A lens designed for APS-c should be sharper than a FF lens used on a APC-c...to prove it here's a link comparing the canon 400mm F5.6L with a FF camera and a APS-c camera the APS-c cam is 18MP but to prove the point the FF cam is only 16MP now if the APS-c had a MASSIVE advantage with a FF lens and especially with more MP it will be sharper.....but no its not as can be clearly seen (pun intended) a big disadvantage

What you're seeing is the effect of the smaller pixel pitch of the APS C sensor, not a deficiency of the lens. There's no doubt that an APS C sensor places greater demands on a lens than a FF sensor with the same number of MP's. Do you really believe that Canon, Nikon or Sony lens designers dumb down their FF lens designs and then go all out for APS C lenses?

There is not a canon 400mm APC-c lens to compare ..so i did with the cheap 55-250mm STM, i have seen this lense as low as £85 GBP secand hand on feebay in the UK so its a very cheep lens BUT its designed for APS-c

low and behold its...err sharper than the 400L in the center and mid frame both on the same APS-c here

Sorry but that comparison has too many variables and as I mentioned I don't place a lot of faith in Bryan Carnahan's testing. Compare some of his presentations such as the Nikon 14-24 on the D3X against the Canon 16-35f2.8LII on the 1Ds3. What he represents as corner sharpness is completely against all common wisdom of how those lenses perform. Bryan is very much a rah rah Canon supporter and IMO a feel good site for Canon fans.

Thanks though for your comments.

Bob

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OP rwbaron Forum Pro • Posts: 14,345
Re: A review of the Fujinon 100-400 against the Canon 400f5.6L

rgleich wrote:

Thanks much for taking the time to work-up what I think is a terrific and objective review of this lens.

I also learned a lot about the testing and it REALLY made sense to me.

This is also really whetting my appetite to save-up for my own copy of this lens and getting into some tele / wildlife photography. It will probably be a while, but when I do - it's a pretty safe bet that I'll be referring back to this post.

Thanks and I'm glad you found it worthwhile and helpful.  Wildlife photography can be very addictive and IMO the new Fuji lens is a good tool with the XT1.

Bob

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Rod McD Veteran Member • Posts: 9,073
Re: A review of the Fujinon 100-400 against the Canon 400f5.6L

Hi Bob,

I've seen Romy Ocon's moon shots from the stacked 2X extenders on a 400/5.6L and I too have no idea how he gets them so sharp.  I've never had much luck with 2X extenders at all, let alone two in a row.  I've tried 1.4X and 1.7X and have done better (at least in the central part of the image) but I still wouldn't stack them......  I wasn't aware that he took them in the Phillipines.  My guess would have been that warm moist tropical air would have made it even more difficult.

Regards, Rod

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