First Shots with my 100-400mm Lens

So what do you do when you’ve just received the 100-400mm lens you’ve tried to buy for three months and you have to stay home so that the workers can lay the floor and carpet? Not sure what you do, but I know what I’ve always done: grab a camera and shoot pictures of flowers in the garden.

Of course, using a 400mm lens to shoot flowers is definitely overkill, precisely the reason I wanted a 100mm-400mm lens instead of my fixed 400mm lens. Too often it was impossible to get far enough away to get flowers in frame. If I go out specifically to shoot flowers, I take my 70-200mm lens, or, lately, my 100mm macro lens.

Still, it’s one way to measure the new lens against the 400mm lens I wanted to replace. This shot of the white flowers in the front yard seemed quite crisp,


though the shallow depth of field of a telephoto lens starts to show in the slight blurriness of the flower in the upper left.

I could probably have done a little better job of framing this Jack-in-the-Pulpit, but it also seems quite sharp overall.


It was hard to isolate just one flower, and unfortunately no lens is ever going to solve that problem.

My favorite shot was this one,


a remarkably sharp shot considering the flower is actually smaller than shown even at the smallest size (unless you’re looking at this on a cell-phone, of course), much less than the larger size you can see by clicking on any of my latest pictures.

One of the reasons I wanted a zoom lens is because I wanted to be able to shoot both flowers and birds without carrying two lenses (or, worse, two cameras and two lenses.) I think changing lenses in the field (without a car) is asking for problems; I’ve had to clean dust off a camera sensor once and that was one more time than I wanted to do it. I have carried two camera in the summer when there are more flowers than birds, but it’s heavy and awkward and a bird always seems to magically appear when I’m carrying the camera I use to shoot flowers.

At least at first appearances, I was impressed with the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens. It will certainly be a lot more convenient than my prime 400mm lens for shooting flowers. Of course, the real test is whether it will be as good as, or, hopefully, better than the 400mm lens for shooting birds. That test had to wait until I managed to go birding.