Shooting with a 100-400mm

Author: Vicki Uthe

I picked up a Canon 100-400mm 4.5/5.6 lens this past year and have had a lot of fun using it.  I mostly picked it up to shoot sports, which I have done, but have found that I use it a lot more for other things than I ever thought I would.


I tend to be a minimalist so when I go out shooting I grab a camera body, one lens and go.  This way I don’t spend a lot of time switching lenses and instead make the one I have work, which forces me to learn its limitless possibilities.  The following images were shot using this lens.Kino_Bay_Dec_2015-9222

This is a heavy lens.  Some of the images were shot handheld and some on a monopod.   If you are in one spot shooting one subject a monopod REALLY helps. For example shooting sports, the lens is always at eye level, ready to capture the action and your arms are saved.  Also, monopods are lightweight so if you have to suddenly pick up the lens and turn it toward the sky to capture a passing Osprey you can do it.


The trick to getting sharp images with a long lens is shutter speed.  As a rule of thumb, your shutter speed needs to be set to the focal length of your lens to prevent camera shake. For example, if you are shooting a 400mm, set the shutter speed to 400.  If the f/stop won’t let you do this because you want IT in the middle range (f/8-f/11) to increase your depth of field, then bump up the ISO.  You may have to go as high as 1600Kino_Bay_Dec_2015-8670 depending on lighting.  This is definitely not a low light lens but even in full sun these numbers have to be pretty high.

My three favorite things to shoot with this lens: people, wildlife and sports.  All of them are great because you can keep your distance, be an observer and get great candid shots.  Enjoy!

Vicki Uthe is a trip leader with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.