Canon EF 400mm F/5.6L For Sports

Canon EF 400mm F/5.6L

You can read the review of the EF 400mm F/5.6L that I wrote a year ago here.

When I bought the EF 400mm F/5.6L, my original purpose was to use it for bird photography and other wildlife, a year after, I’m using it for sports photography. At F/5.6 it is not an ideal lens for night time sports like football and soccer which is played at night, but with the combination of new camera technology and great software like Lightroom, Photoshop and Nik Dfine, this lens can and maybe still be use for night time sports and most certainly at any outdoor daytime sports.

Canon EOS 60D 1/640, F/5.6, ISO 100

The photo above was shot at 6:55PM, at ISO 100, 1/640, F/5.6L. In bright light, this lens really shines, I can shoot in Aperture Priority, Auto ISO and not worry about anything else.

Now when it gets dark that’s when the problem starts. During that time, I switch to Shutter Speed Priority, Auto ISO with a max ISO of 6400 on  a Canon EOS 60D, I set my shutter speed from 1/320 to 1/500.

With the current breed of new Canon camera’s like the T5i, the New Canon EOS 70D, 5D MK III and the EOS 6D, all of them features tremendous high ISO capabilities that ranges from 100 to 12,800 that can expand to 25,600 on the crop sensors and more on full frame cameras. That’s a tremendous increase from camera’s a year ago. Not only that, you can also use the latest version of Lightroom, Photoshop and software plugins like Nik Dfine 2 to greatly reduce the noise on your photos.


If you have the EF 400mm F/5.6L and are having second thoughts on using it for sports, please don’t, if this is your only lens, by all means, use it, it is a really capable lens. I use this in combination with my EF 70-200mm F/2.8L. If you are in the market for a budget lens for sports photography and have not bought one, I can highly recommend the Canon EF 300mm f/4L IS USM Telephoto Lens for Canon SLR Cameras. It is an F/4 lens, faster than the 400mm F/5.6, it’s a little bit lighter and if you get the 300mm F/4 + a 1.4x teleconverter you get a 420mm F/5.6L, longer than the 400mm F/5.6 .  I did not thought of this when i bought my EF400mm F/5.6 a year ago .  For now, I’m ok with my 400mm F/5.6 and 70-200mm f/2.8 for my sports photography.  Maybe in a year or two, I will get my self a 300mm F/4L and a new canon body.

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Below are links to some of the games I shot that includes some photos taken with the EF 400mm F/5.6L

Where to buy?

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2 thoughts on “Canon EF 400mm F/5.6L For Sports

  1. utkarsh

    sir, you are using totally the wrong settings and other get the wrong idea/knowledge. when shooting soccer at anytime of the day your shutter speed should be above 1/1000 and if you need to come low then at the minimum 1/800 not less in any case and your iso on your 60D should be no more than 1000 or 800. if you use 6400 iso God know what you get or how much post production you have to do.
    try it out…

    1. Simplyness

      Thank you. You are correct, in good light, you can shoot with the EF 400mm F/5.6 at f5.6 using 1/1000 or even 1/2000, but it depends on the quality of light. I have been using it for 2 seasons now shooting mostly high school football, and it’s a great lens for what it can do. It’s not a F/2.8, but it works, you just need to learn how to work around it’s limitation. I original bought it for bird and wildlife photography but I’ve been happy using it for sports together with my ef 70-200mm F/2.8. It’s ok for now until I can get a 300 F/4 or if I’m lucky a 300mm F/2.8. 🙂

      Regarding post processing, I really don’t do much post processing with my sports images. I mostly shoot jpg when I’m shooting sports, because I have to submit them to the editor after the game and post processing a thousand or 2 thousand images would be impossible.


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