The lens is probably the most important equipment that any DSLR photographer owns. There are many types and applications, below is a list of lenses that I use with my DSLR.

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM
My main photographic subject is wildlife especially birds, so a telephoto lens is a must, The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM is my most expensive purchase to date, at just under £1000. To some beginners, this will sound like a lot of money, but bear in mind that some telephoto lenses can cost much, much more thousands of pounds, it is a compromise between budget and quality. The lens sits in the Canon Pro group and offers excellent optical and build quality.

The lens is classed as a telephoto zoom lens, not as pin sharp as a fixed focal length Canon L glass but still outstanding, but the main reason I chose this lens was for it's versatility, I often use this lens at 100mm for portrait and flower photography, the narrow depth of field really brings out the subject, whilst at the 400mm end the images produced are superb.

The lens has a feature called image stabilization, this is extremely useful and works very well. At 400mm, every tiny movement you make is magnified many times resulting in camera shake and a blurred image. Without the IS feature switched on this is clearly visible in the view finder, once focus lock is pressed the stabilization kicks in and it's effect is instantly noticeable, with camera shake dramatically reduced.

The USM (ultra sonic motor) allows for super fast, quiet focussing.

This lens is heavy, but the build quality is second to none. One drawback to this lens is that once attached to a 1.4x converter, the autofocus feature is lost and manual focus has to used.

To say I am happy with this lens is an under statement, I am so pleased with the results it is giving me, especially birds in flight, which has been a real ambition of mine.

What Canon has to say about this lens:

L-series super telephoto zoom lens equipped with an Image Stabilizer. The fluorite and Super UD-glass elements largely eliminate secondary spectrum. The floating system also ensures high picture quality at all focal lengths. The Image stabilizer has two modes and it is compatible with Extenders 1.4x and 2x.

For more information about the Canon EF 100-400mm lens - see the Canon website


  • Construction: 17 elements in 14 groups
  • Diagonal angle of view: 24°-6°-10°
  • Focus adjustment: Rear focusing system with USM
  • Closest focusing distance: 1.8m / 6ft
  • Zoom system: Linear extension type
  • Filter size: 77mm

above pic at 100mm
below pic at 400mm

Canon 1.4x extender

I also opted for the Canon 1.4x extender, The effective aperture of the lens is increased by one stop. Autofocusing does not operate on the 100-400 lens as the effective maximum aperture is greater than f/5.6, so manual focus is the only option. In terms of image quality, the 1.4x extender is invisible, especially if in front of a decent prime lens, so no shortcomings are magnified. With the 1.4x extender and the lens at full 400mm after taking the crop factor in to account, my focal length is increased to 896mm. I only use the extender if my camera is tripod mounted.

An interesting review on both the Canon 1.4x and 2x extenders and sample images can be found at:

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM

Another area of photography that I have become interested in is Macro, especially insects and flowers.

I chose the Canon EF 100 f2.8 Macro because of the excellent reviews it has received, this is one of Canon's sharpest lenses and the 100mm focal length (160mm on the 400D body) means that you can remain a reasonable distance away from the subject as not to disturb it and still get very close views. Fast & quiet auto focusing and easy to use manual focus. f2.8 is a great wide open aperture, and makes it fast enough for indoor portrait work.

While some macro lens barrels extend alarmingly to focus in really close, the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM uses an internal focusing mechanism so the lens remains the same length at all times. Focusing is virtually silent, thanks to the ultrasonic motor (USM), and very accurate with minimal hunting. Usefully, there is a focus limiter, which should save you some time and allows you to choose between the full focusing range (0.31m to infinity) or a reduced range (0.48m to infinity).

The minimum aperture of f/32 also gives you as much depth-of-field as possible. Optical quality is excellent and the solid build-quality inspires confidence.

What Canon has to say about this lens

Autofocus lens for macro photography up to life-size (1x) magnification.

Medium telephoto lens with a macro feature for 1x magnification. Fluctuations in spherical aberrations caused by focusing are suppressed, and high-quality images are obtained at all focusing distances. With eight aperture blades, good background blur is obtained even when the aperture is decreased by one or two stops. A focusing limiter which limits the magnification to 0.25x is built-in.

For more information about the Canon EF 100mm f2.8 Macro lens - see the Canon website

  • Diagonal Angle of View: 24°
  • Lens Construction (elements/groups): 10/9
  • No. of Diaphragm blades: 8
  • Minimum Aperture: 32
  • Closest Focusing Distance (m): 0.31
  • Maximum Magnification (x): 1
  • AF Actuator: USM
  • Filter Diameter (mm): 58

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