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Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X
  
 
rscheffler
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p.1 #1 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


OK, looks like deliveries have begun. I was fortunate to receive mine today and plan to cover a local event with it over the weekend. I'm not a wildlife/bird photographer, so probably won't be able to address some of those specific questions, such as performance with the 2x III TC, which I don't own. You'll have to wait for Peter to receive his.

** EDIT: Please, ANYONE shooting with the Canon 200-400, please add your images and feedback. This isn't intended to be my thread.**

But in the meantime, here are some of my observations as I posted on another thread:

Only did a few shots at the store and AF worked fine, both on stationary and moving subjects. Still need to look closer at whether any MFA is required.
Action of the TC seems smooth and with just the right amount of resistance.
Zoom ring is maybe a bit tight for easy two finger operation handheld, but we'll see.
Compared to my 400 IS v.1, it's noticeably lighter.
Initial IQ looks about on par with that 400 and AF equally fast.
The store had a used 100-400 and I did a quick comparison. AF is much slower on it vs. the 200-400 and shooting something about 30-40m away, the 200-400 is sharper w/o.

It fits very nicely in the Pelican 1510 roller case I use for these lenses (what the lenses are sitting on in the photo). The 400 and 600 are each a tight squeeze due to their diameter and can't be packed with the front cover (which didn't bother me much). With the 200-400 being much more like a 500/4 in proportion, the lid closes without any pressure on the lens. I'm really looking forward to using it for field sports.

Playing around with it at the computer, the 1.4 swings into place very easily. It has a bit of a 'peak' to the motion, where it feels like due to some spring resistance, you need to push/pull the lever to about the halfway point, where it will then slide into place on it's own. Therefore, it's not necessary to consciously have to move the lever the full distance in either direction to ensure proper placement. The optics of the 1.4x are surprisingly small and narrow in diameter.

A few other observations:

The lens does not appear to be parfocal; if you set focus at 200mm it will be soft at 400 at the same subject distance, though going 400->200 seems to be slightly better, perhaps due to better AF precision at the longer focal length.
Early observations seem to indicate that the lens does hold focus when switching the TC in or out of position, both if focus was set with or without the TC in place.
A lower profile tripod foot might allow more aggressive zoom swings when hand holding. As it is now with the stock foot, I can generally swing about halfway through the zoom range before having to readjust my finger position. With it being only a 2x zoom, the zoom action in the viewfinder is not all that dramatic. Due to the long zoom ring travel distance (appears to be about 90 degrees), it should make it easy to very precisely set a desired focal length at the expense of quickly racking from one end to the other. So far I think this should be OK for sports action where subject to camera distance generally does not change extremely quickly unless very close, at which point this lens will probably be too long anyway, but we'll see.
Coming from v.1 super-tele IS lenses and the IS in the 200-400 is much, much better at stabilizing the image when hand holding. Around the house doing junk shots was getting very good results even as low as 1/30.

Off hand, and it's a bit dangerous to state this right away - it's a sharp lens at 400mm - I don't think it's sharper than the 400 IS v.1.





One of these things is not like the other...



Edited on May 31, 2013 at 01:36 AM · View previous versions



May 31, 2013 at 12:45 AM
mitesh
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p.1 #2 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


Thanks for the initial impressions, Ron!


May 31, 2013 at 12:52 AM
PetKal
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p.1 #3 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


Congratulations, Ron......mazel tov.
I have enjoyed you brief review which already bears much more substance than what one could find anywhere else.
Good man.



May 31, 2013 at 01:26 AM
andrewsk
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p.1 #4 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


Hope this is ok with rscheffler. Ill tag on and make this the official thread?

First up for me i am posting some comparisons between the CANON 200-400 and the SIGMA 12-300 with the TC attached.

Sorry that I do not have a CAT. The lovely tessa will fill in for one.

SIGMA is on the LEFT and CANON on the right. Here we are at F4, ISO 400 and 400mm for both. The detail in the CANON is already evident. Working on more now.

Keith












May 31, 2013 at 01:32 AM
rscheffler
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p.1 #5 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


Thank you Mitesh and Peter. I'm looking forward to seeing your PIF-BIF results, Peter! Hopefully you won't be waiting long.

Keith, yes, definitely add your images. This thread is intended for all 200-400 owners/users to contribute.

That's an interesting comparison! I wonder if the difference is maintained at farther shooting distances?

At least with a lot of fast non-super-tele prime lenses I've used, spherical aberration seems to become noticeably worse at very close distances. Test shots I don't intend to post here at near minimum focusing distance indicate the 200-400 is impressively crisp, even though MFD with this lens is 2m vs. 3m with the 400 IS v.1 (2.7m for v.2). This is echoed in your results. The Sigma in comparison is quite glowy, though still definitely usable.

Edited on May 31, 2013 at 03:07 AM · View previous versions



May 31, 2013 at 01:33 AM
andrewsk
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p.1 #6 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


OK here are some more. CANON is always on the right, SIGMA is on the left, F4, ISO 400, 400mm
. No PP.












May 31, 2013 at 01:54 AM
andrewsk
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p.1 #7 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


Some BRICKS!!!!












May 31, 2013 at 01:55 AM
andrewsk
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p.1 #8 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


ROCKS












May 31, 2013 at 01:56 AM
lowa2
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p.1 #9 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


That sigma combo is no slouch is it.

Thanks for posting.



May 31, 2013 at 02:00 AM
andrewsk
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p.1 #10 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


I took the TC off the SIGMA and shot them head to head at F4 @ 300mm. Here the SIGMA returns to much better image quality, I think tieing the CANON.







May 31, 2013 at 02:02 AM
 

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PetKal
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p.1 #11 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


Thank you for the sample shots, Andrew.
Looking at the comparison at 300mm f/4, I wonder if that is a good news for Sigma, or a bad news for Canon, or a little bit of both.



May 31, 2013 at 02:13 AM
Tom_W
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p.1 #12 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


Andrew, I think that Sigma front-focuses a little bit with the teleconverter. Maybe a bit softer at 400 as well. At 300 f/4 (sans tele), fairly comparable. A chart would be needed to tell more, or a variety of targets.

Ron, looking forward to seeing some real-world images from you and others. Peter, don't fail us. Assuming you get your lens and the ducks don't steal it and bring it to me, I'm looking forward to your experiences as well.

I like this lens - I like the concept. But I'm not sure that it will bring me something more than what a 500/4 II might bring me. Fact is, I intend to buy a big lens in the future, but I'm struggling over choosing which of these two would best fit my needs.



May 31, 2013 at 02:17 AM
rscheffler
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p.1 #13 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


These are interesting, thanks for posting them. It's difficult to draw much from the last one though which appears to be a bit back focused if the one larger stone was the target. The scene doesn't have a lot of fine, higher contrast details compared to some of the others, like the bush.

Would be interesting to see how the Canon 300/2.8s compare bare and with TC. At least for me though, I'm primarily concerned about 400mm quality, and the lens seems to meet *my* expectations, based on preliminary results.

Tom, I think you'll want to try both before deciding. Maybe a trip to Southern Ontario for a super-tele demo with Peter will be in order?

I don't think the zoom will optically outperform the v.2 super-tele primes, which would probably defy physics if it did. If you're going to use the 500 with TCs a lot, then it might be the direction to look. But the zoom might be worth some slight optical tradeoff. It's a tough call that may also depend on your future camera choices. If Canon finally releases a high MP APS-C with AF comparable to the 5DIII/1DX and with high pixel level quality, it might be a great match with the zoom of this lens.



May 31, 2013 at 02:18 AM
PetKal
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p.1 #14 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


Tom_W wrote:
Peter, don't fail us. Assuming you get your lens and the ducks don't steal it and bring it to me, I'm looking forward to your experiences as well.

I like this lens - I like the concept. But I'm not sure that it will bring me something more than what a 500/4 II might bring me. Fact is, I intend to buy a big lens in the future, but I'm struggling over choosing which of these two would best fit my needs.


(1) Tom, perhaps so far my store has failed to deliver the lens to me for a reason........I am getting a bit of an uneasy feeling about it, and I am considering cancelling my order tomorrow. The unfortunate thing with my seller is that they do not accept returns for any "soft" reasons, unless the lens is outright defective.

(2) I believe 500 f/4 IS II would be a safe bet purchase for you........excellent performance in a relatively light package. The MkI was excellent, the MkII is even excellenter.



May 31, 2013 at 02:52 AM
Tom_W
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p.1 #15 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


Thanks, Ron & Peter!

I have time. I have a newfound love for my 400/2.8 but the weight is a problem. I just don't find it to be as portable as I'd like. I think that the 500/4 II would be a good choice, but there is some versatility to be had with the 200-400 as well.

Peter, give it a couple of days to see if they'll come through.



May 31, 2013 at 03:13 AM
rscheffler
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p.1 #16 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


One other observation after years of 400/2.8 IS v.1 use: the tripod collar of the 200-400 is so smooth and effortless to rotate (with the usual 90 degree detents). I love it! Over the years I've had lots of problems with the screws retaining the ball bearings in the 400/2.8's collar working loose and jamming the collar (thread locker has helped), but it just was never super smooth. It's why there's a piece of black tape where the 400's ID plate should be in my photo, to allow quick in-the-field access to the BBs in order to tighten them back down again.


May 31, 2013 at 03:22 AM
BluesWest
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p.1 #17 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


Thanks for this comparison! The Sigma 120-300mm really holds its own, especially considering the price difference!

Interesting and informative thread (rare nowadays for FM, unfortunately).


John



May 31, 2013 at 03:55 AM
KINGOFKNGS
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p.1 #18 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


rscheffler wrote:
One other observation after years of 400/2.8 IS v.1 use: the tripod collar of the 200-400 is so smooth and effortless to rotate (with the usual 90 degree detents). I love it! Over the years I've had lots of problems with the screws retaining the ball bearings in the 400/2.8's collar working loose and jamming the collar (thread locker has helped), but it just was never super smooth. It's why there's a piece of black tape where the 400's ID plate should be in my photo, to allow quick in-the-field access to the BBs in order to tighten them back
...Show more

Ron, this is more a 400/2.8 question than the 200-400, but I've used a 600/4 IS for about 2.5 years now and just recently acquired the 400/2.8 IS about a month ago (both are Ver 1). I noticed that the collar on the 400/2.8 is quite a bit more difficult to rotate. It's smooth, there's just more resistance. Does this match your experience?

Ryan



May 31, 2013 at 04:15 AM
Doctorbird
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p.1 #19 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


Ron, Keith,

Thanks for the 'history in the making' contributions. Looking forward to your real world experiences with the lens.

Db



May 31, 2013 at 04:21 AM
rscheffler
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p.1 #20 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


rscheffler wrote:
One other observation after years of 400/2.8 IS v.1 use: the tripod collar of the 200-400 is so smooth and effortless to rotate (with the usual 90 degree detents). I love it! Over the years I've had lots of problems with the screws retaining the ball bearings in the 400/2.8's collar working loose and jamming the collar (thread locker has helped), but it just was never super smooth. It's why there's a piece of black tape where the 400's ID plate should be in my photo, to allow quick in-the-field access to the BBs in order to tighten them back
...Show more

KINGOFKNGS wrote:
Ron, this is more a 400/2.8 question than the 200-400, but I've used a 600/4 IS for about 2.5 years now and just recently acquired the 400/2.8 IS about a month ago (both are Ver 1). I noticed that the collar on the 400/2.8 is quite a bit more difficult to rotate. It's smooth, there's just more resistance. Does this match your experience?

Ryan


I find the 600 more difficult to rotate than my copy of the 400.

From my understanding based on some research into this a few years ago on the Sportsshooter.com forum, there are two versions of the 400 IS v.1 tripod collar. It seems, IIRC, the earlier version, until maybe around 2005, which I have, has a design based on ball bearings supporting the rotation while the newer version uses some kind of low-friction pads (or it might be the other way around). The pads are used by the 600, and I think the 500 as well. If you have the BB version and it's tight, you might want to take off the lens ID cover and have a look at the retaining screw for each BB. If one has worked loose, it pushes up against the inside of the collar and makes rotation quite difficult. The problem here is that it will eventually jam and excessive force will break the BB package, releasing a lot of small metal bits to jam up the other BBs. This happened to me once, before I knew how to service it, and Canon's repair process is to replace the entire collar. I think it cost me around $400. But self-servicing is easy. Remove the ID cover's four tiny screws, which reveals a large opening. As you rotate the collar, you'll be able to inspect each BB. I think there are six in total. If you find a loose screw, tighten it down, though I would recommend some thread lock fluid as well. Before I used thread lock, I was tightening the screws every few months or so, but with thread lock it hasn't been an issue. If you remove the ID cover and it looks different, then you have the newer version and there really isn't anything that can be adjusted, from my understanding. Years ago at a CPS event, I had them look at my 600's tripod collar... they took it all apart but really weren't able to improve anything with it. Its tightness really seems to depend on whether or not I give a slight amount of lift at the front of the lens - if I do, it rotates more smoothly.

Hope this helps!

Edited on May 31, 2013 at 04:49 AM · View previous versions



May 31, 2013 at 04:46 AM
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