Review: Canon’s 200-400mm f/4L IS 1.4x

June 3, 2013 21:45 2 comments

If camera manufacturers were high school boys, building super telephoto zooms would be their equivalent of a pissing contest to see who can shoot the farthest or most accurately. Sports photographers would arrive at the stadium packing the biggest lens to win bragging rights, acting like Arnold Schwarzenegger slinging his Gatling gun in Terminator. But Canon’s super telephoto zoom, the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM, is getting long in the tooth, and it’s time to say, “hasta la vista, baby” to that lens.

Canon’s party trick of integrating a teleconverter is a world’s first, and the execution is brilliant. The extender (what Canon calls a teleconverter) resides in a small bump when not in use, and you simply slide a switch for the additional 8 elements in 4 groups to swing into the optical path, giving you 1.4x more reach at the expense of 1 stop light loss.

Balancing a super telephoto lens on a monopod while mounting an extender (especially in the rain or dust) is like mud wrestling a pig. It can be done, but you are going to get dirty and sweaty, and you will break something in the process.

Sliding a switch to effortlessly activate the built-in extender on the Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L, on the other hand, makes you feel like James Bond in a tricked-out Aston Martin. Ladies will be stirred, and your opponents shaken.

The inclusion of a built-in extender is a brilliant idea for a super-telephoto zoom, giving you a seamless range from 200mm up to 560mm at the flick of a switch. To illustrate the flexibility of the focal length range, I shot same scene below with the wide-end of 200mm and at its longest reach of 560mm. With just a flick of a switch and a twist of the zoom ring, you can switch between shooting an entire herd or a close-up of an individual.

Read the complete review on Petapixel

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