Of all the Canon lens recently announced, this EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXTENDER l.4x is potentially the most exciting one!
Here’s are some of the prospective benefits from two pro photographers who photograph different styles and subjects. I have also included the press release from Canon to follow. Certainly this lens has contender potential.
Mardi Dickinson’s perspective:
There certainly has been a lot of talk with all the updated Canon telephoto lens coming out. This one in particular is very intriguing to me. Many of the new lens will be lighter, sharper and more capable to what is in hand right now, but at a price. No news there. Yes, they are still big lenses but from my view, anything that shaves weight, is sharper and has all the latest technology will be compelling. That would be image stabilization, lens coatings. This lens promises to feature the amazing 4th generation, four-stop IS system with three IS modes as may be found in the new Series ll super-telephoto lenses.
I am a photojournalist with several specialties that include Equestrian events, people, children, and other sporting events that would be ideal for this type of lens. Standing on the sidelines in a prime location, I am going to have at least one BIG lens on a tripod, and a 70-200 F/2.8 over my shoulder. This lens is an incredible medium zoom and is extremely versatile. It is super sharp, fast, and bright. A short zoom for crowd shots like the 24-105, or the 24-70. These are all great lenses but how do I extend my range from where the 70-200 ends. The EF 200-400 f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x seems to cover this missing range. It has the potential to surpass the 100-400 on many levels. This lens will give me a higher performance and faster aperture and a flexible long telephoto zoom range. Not to mention the outrageous built-in 1.4x extender that will increase the maximum focal length to a whopping 560mm. No more fumbling with a converter while missing an opportunity! This could be an all in one lens that even the Nikon shooters don’t have for sports photography. Sweet! This could very well become part of the standard zoom arsenal of 16-35 2.8L, 24-70 2.8L/24-105 4 L and 70-200 2.8 L IS ll USM. It simply would extend my range from where the 70-200 ends.
Many years ago zoom lens were not for me. The concept was good, but not the quality was not. For my photojournalistic style of shooting, I preferred bright prime lens. They were often fast, sharp and great in low light. These days the zooms are far superior and have much greater versatility. My idea of a great kit is to have at least 3-4 lens either zooms or primes. I was never a big fan of the push/pull zoom part, variable f-stop, and slow auto-focusing of the 100-400 lens. In the end I learned to adapt to it’s short comings and the price was right. I was always more comfortable with the barreled zooms, that most Canon zooms have and found it easier to operate them while hand holding. Yes, I am one of those photographers who prefers to handhold, but I am not opposed to tripod work when the situation calls for it.
I can’t wait to get my hands on this lens and see what kind of results I get shooting sports. My gut is that Canon will come through for us and the lens will be outstanding in everyway.
Townsend Dickinson’s perspective:
I am very intrigued with the potential for this (to be produced, more details to come) EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXTENDER l.4x. I have been long envious of the Nikon shooters with their exceptionally sharp f4 200-400. I long debated but finally got a 100-400 Canon L zoom a few years back and I use it all the time. Yes, I am frequently bothered by the slow auto focus, the primitive image stabilization and its less than stellar sharpness at the long end of the zoom. That said it’s the one I carry when I go light birding or want to have a ready camera and lens on the seat while driving around.
When I dropped the 100-400 a few years back after a long day in the field, it went to Canon repair in sad shape but came back from Canon looking as good as new and seemingly sharper than I remembered. There are many reports of quality variation in this series that run from bad to great. I have no tests to verify that it is now sharper but that was my impression. One can, and I do, get pro results with the 100-400. You’ve got to know your limitations and deal with them accordingly. Tripod mounting helps a lot. A shoulder stock works too from moving boats. Stopping down from wide open will sharpen up the long end of the zoom. I almost always use between f8 and f11, and cranking up the ISO with the 1d Mark 4 helps me get accepatable results in marginal light.
So the stage is set. I know that I use a long zoom much more often than a 70-200. I like sharp glass and don’t always want to stop down. I photograph, spontaneously, from boats, cars and on foot, and shoot lots of relatively small, fast, moving things like songbirds, butterflies, dragonflies, so fast glass would also be helpful. These critters move and I move too, so better image stabilization and fast auto focus would be a boon. I don’t think we know the weight of the new lens or how close it will focus. Guesses for the cost are all well north of 7.5 Grand. If I can carry it and handhold it and it has relatively close focusing, I will find a way to get this lens. Imagine a lens that is sharp, bright at f4-5.6, with crisp focusing lens and the latest image stabilization, wow I would be able to get frame filling shots of my favorite illusive critters 8-10 feet away with essentially a 728mm telephoto with the built in extender once it is mated to a 1d Mark 3 or 4.
Press Release below:
LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y., February 7, 2011 – Canon Inc. today announced the development of a new super-telephoto lens, the EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXTENDER l.4x, for use with all EOS SLR cameras. A prototype of the new lens was exhibited at the CP+ tradeshow, held in Pacifico, Yokohama, on February 9 – 12, 2011.
The EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXTENDER l.4x is being developed as an L-series super-telephoto lens with an integrated 1.4x extender and high-performance Image Stabilizer technology. The new lens will offer exceptional flexibility by incorporating a built-in 1.4x extender that increases the maximum focal length to 560mm for sports and wildlife photography. High-quality images with high levels of resolution and contrast will be possible through the use of advanced optical materials such as fluorite crystal. The new lens will also include dust- and water-resistant construction designed for extended usage under harsh conditions.
Designed for Canon’s leading range of EOS Digital SLR cameras, the new lens will be an ideal addition for sports and wildlife photographers, offering exceptional flexibility with a built-in 1.4x extender that creates an increased focal range of 280 – 560mm.
Perfect for photographers who require high performance, fast aperture and a flexible telephoto range, the EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXTENDER 1.4× will enable photographers to shoot a greater breadth of subjects using a single lens, delivering the best possible image quality at all focal lengths.
Developed as a new addition to Canon’s acclaimed L-series of professional lenses, the new lens will offer an unsurpassed combination of versatility, first-class optical performance and an enhanced weather-proof construction. The new lens will be an ideal addition for sports and wildlife photographers who require high performance, fast aperture and a flexible telephoto range. It will enable photographers to shoot a greater breadth of subjects using a single lens, delivering the best possible image quality at all focal lengths.
The model will be released as part of Canon’s continued development of its EF lens line-up, offering enhanced performance and improved functions that cater for the needs of photographers from beginners through to professionals. The EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXTENDER 1.4x is scheduled for launch during 2011.