Canon 400 vs 100-400
Canon 400 vs 100-400
Perhaps many people interested which is a better choice the Canon 400mm f/5.6 prime or the Canon 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 zoom lens ? Both of this lens is quite old there is rumors about updating them for years. People want is and closer focusing distance for the prime, better is, improved image quality for the zoom. Both lens is proven by time, both of them is a very good performer, and a top seller. At this price point both lens has a very good overall quality. Not many people want to invest more for even better quality. Unfortunately the competition for this lenses are weak, keeping their price high, only the new Tamron 150-600 is a refreshing product.
Sharpness, picture quality
The prime is sharper and has superior picture quality. The prime lens has 7 lens elements the zoom has 17. No miracles here the prime has better contrast and sharpness and overall more natural image quality. The zoom lens has more complex design with exotic glasses. The zoom also has a very impressive image quality in absolute scale, excellent contrast, colors and sharpness. If you most use the lens at long end the prime is better, at f/5.6 wide open the difference is more pronounced.
Ergonomic, general usage
The zoom is a big advantage over the prime, to framing if you not only concentrate the bird or animal, wants to make portraits, or shoot flying birds, which is much easier to track with the zoom. The push pull design is often criticised of the zoom, the prime has a much simpler construction.
Close focus distance
The zoom has a close focus distance of 1.8m the prime has 3.5m. The biggest drawback of the prime is the long close focus distance, and a single focal length if we want to use the lens for other purposes than birds/wildlife/astrology etc. There are situations where you cannot go back if the bird or other subject comes to close.
Size and weight
The size and weight of the prime is little smaller/lighter. 1200g/1360g
The autofocus of the prime is quicker.
The zoom has a stabilizer, but not the latest one.
Which one to choose?
It depends, if you are after picture quality the prime is better. If you prefer convenience closer minimum focus distance, wants to make portraits not just wildlife the zoom is better.
Other option to consider
The new Tamron 150-600 perhaps worth a look. It is not a bad lens at all, and much longer than either of the Canons. Build quality and autofocus of the Canons perhaps better. The Tamron is a little heavier (1800g.)