Previous page Next page

Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x Quick Review

June 2013 | By Andy Westlake
Buy on GearShop$11,799.00

Quick review based on a production Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x

About a month ago Canon announced the EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x - the world's first SLR lens with a built-in teleconverter. With the simple flick of a switch on the top of its barrel, the lens can be turned into a 280-560mm f/5.6 optic. This is a deceptively simple trick, but one that seems to have caused Canon plenty of headaches, as the lens had an unusually long gestation period: it took more than two years from its initial 'development announcement' in 2011 to the lens's general release. During that time, we're told, it was put through its paces at last summer's biggest sporting events, and many aspects of the design refined and improved.

The 200-400mm is, frankly, a monster: it's over 36cm / 14" long and weighs 3.6 kg / 7.9 lb. It uses no fewer than 33 elements arranged in 24 groups, including Fluorite and Ultra-Low Dispersion glass. It has everything you'd expect of a professional sports optic - a weathersealed magnesium alloy barrel, ultrasonic focus motor, and image stabilisation that promises four stops benefit. The latter means that despite its bulk, it can plausibly be shot hand-held, at least for short periods of time.

It's pretty obvious that this isn't a lens for the mass market - it's a specialised sports and wildlife optic, and at a cool £11999.99 / €11800, more likely to be bought by agencies than individual photographers. In fact we'd not normally cover a product this stratospherically-positioned, but it's the first of its kind, which rather piqued our interest, and Canon was kind enough to let us try one out for an hour or two. Read on to find out more.

Headline features

  • 200-400mm focal length range, F4 constant maximum aperture
  • Built-in extender converts lens to 280-560mm f/5.6 at the flick of a switch
  • Optical IS - four stops claimed benefit, three modes
  • Ultrasonic motor for focusing, including power focus for movie shooting

Zoom range

The examples below give some idea of the lens's zoom range, shot from the same position on the EOS-1D X at 200mm, 400mm, and 560mm (i.e. with 1.4x extender engaged):

200mm 400mm 560mm

Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x specifications

Recommended retail price  • UK: £11999.99
 • EU: €11800
 Maximum format size  35mm full frame
 Focal length  • 200-400mm
 • 280-560mm with extender engaged
 35mm equivalent focal length (APS-C)  • 320-640mm
 • 450-900mm with extender engaged
 Diagonal angle of view  • 12.3° - 6.2°
 • 8.8° - 4.4° with extender engaged
 Maximum aperture  • F4
 • F5.6 with extender engaged
 Minimum aperture  • F32
 • F45 with extender engaged
 Lens Construction  • 25 elements in 20 groups
 • 33 elements in 24 groups with extender engaged
 • Fluorite and Ultra-Low Dispersion glass elements
 Number of diaphragm blades  9
 Minimum focus  2.0m / 6.6ft
 Maximum magnification  • 0.15x
 • 0.21x with extender engaged
 AF motor type  • Ring-type Ultrasonic motor
 • Full time manual focus
 Focus method  Internal
 Zoom method  Internal
 Image stabilization  • Yes
 • 4 stops
 • 3 modes
 Filter thread  • 52mm
 • Drop-in filters
 Supplied accessories*  • E-145C front cap
 • Rear cap
 • ET-120 (WII) hood
 Weight  3620g (7.9 lb)
 Dimensions  128mm diameter x 366mm length
 (5.0 x 14.3 in)
 Lens Mount  Canon EF

* Supplied accessories may differ in each country or area


If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

Images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of the image, clicking on the image will display a larger (typically VGA) image in a new window.

To navigate the review simply use the next / previous page buttons, to jump to a particular section either pick the section from the drop down or select it from the navigation bar at the top.

DPReview calibrate their monitors using Color Vision OptiCal at the (fairly well accepted) PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the (computer generated) grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally A,B and C.

This article is Copyright 2013 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

Previous page Next page
Our favorite products. Free 2 day shipping.
Support this site, buy from dpreview GearShop.
Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x

Comments

Total comments: 7
manolo romero
By manolo romero (1 month ago)

I just recently bought the lens and I'm very happy with the quality.
Its lighter than 400 2.8 sharpness is excellent. The ability to track subjects from a distance as you zoom are superb. That missing range from 200 to 400
is wonderful to have at a twist of a barrel. I can olny think of the shots Ive missed grabbing my 70-200. The ability to frame shots alone are worth a bundle. I let some fellow phtographers try the lens out while shooting a college Lacrosse match and they were equally pleased. The 1.4 ext. also gives you that range that would take an addition lens to cover, especially when shooting with a 1D IV. This lens has become my favorite sports lens in my arsenal.

0 upvotes
Dr Bhaskar Maitra
By Dr Bhaskar Maitra (3 months ago)

Very expensive. Out of bounds for 99% of photographers. Canon should reduce its price to realistic levels for increased sales. Only then, it can make a good profit margin. Very poor value for money.
Waiting for a head-on comparison with others....

0 upvotes
MarshallG
By MarshallG (6 months ago)

I would love to see Canon do this with their 200mm f/2.8 L lens -- a compact, sharp lens that 200mm f/2.8 or 400mm f/5.6. That would be fantastic.

4 upvotes
Scorpius1
By Scorpius1 (7 months ago)

Amazing lens,all we need now from canon is a top knotch sensor,and maybe they can knock a few hundred grams from the weight of the 1DX successor while they at it..

0 upvotes
Maciejewski
By Maciejewski (8 months ago)

Wonder if they need testers for this lens. I'm available!!!

0 upvotes
Francis Carver
By Francis Carver (8 months ago)

Lens weighs 8 pounds or close to 4 kilos according to the specs. R U sure you're in shape for it? Maybe it will come with its on 2-wheel dolly?

0 upvotes
Scorpius1
By Scorpius1 (7 months ago)

This is pretty light compared to the 400mm 2,8 mk1...

0 upvotes
Total comments: 7