Canon 100 - 400mm Zoom Lens Image Stabilization And Tripod Use

Canon EF 100-400mm USM IS II Lens

Canon EF 100-400mm USM IS II Lens

Canon EF 100-400mm USM IS II Lens
Canon 100-400 IS II Sample Photo<br>With Image Stabilization Engaged

"Can this lens only be used with a tripod - or is there stabilization that enables it to be used successfully handheld?"

Thank you
Kind regards
Rosemarie Whitman

Hi Rosemarie! Thanks for asking me about a Canon lens that I personally own and am quite happy with. This is a great question about the Canon EF 100-400 zoom lens. It can be confusing to pick a lens from all of the choices and know ahead of time if it's a good choice.

Canon EF 100-400 Image Stabilization

There are 2 versions of the 100-400 lens made by Canon. The older version is a little bit more affordable, the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM, and is rated at 2 "stops" of image stabilization. The newer version, the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM, is rated at 4 stops of image stabilization.

What "Stop" Means With Image Stabilization

In photography, a "stop" is a factor of 2 times. In other words, if a lens has one stop of image stabilization, you would be able to use a slower shutter that was twice as slow as a lens without image stabilization and get the same level of sharpness.

For example, if you could get a sharp, hand-held photo at 1/400 of a second without image stabilization, one stop of image stabilization would allow you to get the same level of sharpness at 1/200 of a second shutter speed.

If your lens had two stops of image stabilization, in the same situation as above, you could use 1/00 of a second shutter speed and still get the same level of sharpness.

Now, what about using a tripod verses using image stabilization. There are several variables that come into play. Getting a sharp image with respect to what shutter speed you use depends on 1) the zoom setting or your 100-400, 2) your subject-how fast it's moving and what direction, 3) the actual shutter speed your using, and 4) your technique. Check out the bullet points below, from a very similar question from another reader of the Canon Camera Geek blog.

Tripods and Image Stabilization

*Image stabilization is for reducing blur from camera movement NOT subject movement.

* Image stabilization should never be used when your camera is mounted on top of a tripod, nor when photographing a moving subject.

*Super fast shutter speeds will eliminate motion blur from BOTH your camera and subject movement and give you sharp images.

Generally, when I am shooting with my Canon 100-400 lens and a slower shutter speed, I use a tripod for shooting portraits and landscapes. When I'm using a very fast shutter speed for sports and wildlife, I'm shooting handheld. I use image stabilization when I'm forced to use a slower shutter speed (slower than 1/400th second) and shooting without a tripod.

I hope that helps you with your question about tripods and image stabilization with a Canon EF 100-400mm lens. Don't hesitate to ask if you have any other questions. Keep shooting. Keep learning. Keep improving.


Posts To Help You Understand Shutter Speeds and Blur From Motion

Here are a few related articles on what kind of shutter speeds are typical for a variety of different subjects, understanding motion blur, and reviews of the Canon 100-400 lens:

Understanding Shutter Speed
Eliminating Blur
Reviews from buyers of the Canon EF 100-400mm USM IS II Lens on Amazon

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