Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x Quick Review
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.
- 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
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):
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
|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
|Douaumont Ossuary by Eric 54-BNF|
from Armistice Day
|Silhouette at sunset by Jill Hancock|
from Portrait Lens (around 80mm or equivalent - please check the full rules)
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