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Archive 2013 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X
  
 
Doctorbird
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p.10 #1 · p.10 #1 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


PetKal wrote:
My first impressions of the lens are largely positive, primarily the AF responsiveness and the overall feel of the lens.
The IQ looks good too, although with BIF shots that is not always easy to discern.
As Ron rightfully pointed it out, the technique and the camera/lens AF are the primary factors which decide the outcome, not so much the intrinsic IQ of the lens.

I wish the lens was lighter, but that is a well known fact by now. As far as handholding effort/difficulty is concerned, I reckon the lens is positioned half way between 500 II and 400 II, which is

Lastly, it was certainly very nice to be able to go from 400mm to 560mm and back at a flick of a switch, as the birds drifted away from the shore, and then were driven back in pursuit of fish.
...Show more

This seems like a very positive endorsement, Peter. The highlighted text suggests the target that the versatility addresses. If one weren't in possession of either of the Super Teles then the 200-400 seems to be a prime candidate for consideration.

I'm interested in a more detailed report from you. And, incidentally, how much of a disadvantage the heft was for BIF compared to the 400 f/5.6 that Ron mentioned was at the shoot.

Db.



Jun 05, 2013 at 08:27 PM
rscheffler
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p.10 #2 · p.10 #2 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


Doctorbird wrote:
As one who has more than a casual interest in the lens, I'm wondering further:

Could you expand on how difficult/easy it was to lock focus on the birds and to keep them locked on?

Could you provide a rough idea of what percentage of keepers you had?

Is your crop percentage number a linear or area measurement?

My instinct was that the lens is probably indispensable for sport shooters and safari, big animals expeditions. Now it seems that if one weren't in possession of either of the big super teles, it may be a tempting viable prospect for BIF shooters as well.

Thanks so
...Show more

The AF lock-on ability is difficult to comment on because this is really the first time I've ever made a serious attempt at BIF. At the beginning I used Peter's 400 II and struggled a fair amount. At that point I decided to use the 1DX's 61 point array and let it track the bird as needed. But I also found a number of times where it just wouldn't lock on. Both not even try to focus on anything, because the defocus was too severe (my guess) or it picked up the background instead. All in all, I spent about 3.5 hours shooting, the first 1-1.5 hours with Peter's lens. This was likely the steepest portion of the learning curve and by the time was using the zoom, had already somewhat figured out what worked better. I also used the 61-point mode with the zoom and like with the 400, it felt a bit hyperactive. Using the center AF point with four point expansion seemed to be better and lock-on was more positive. I have to admit, at times it was a matter of 'spray and pray' at 12fps, sometimes it worked, sometimes not, with one problem being the constantly flapping mirror at times caused me to lose track of the bird if it made a sudden turn. Basically what I'm getting at is I think I was the greatest limitation of the entire system, not the gear. As I noted in the earlier post, the AF worked quite well with the internal TC and an external 1.4x attached, so I don't think there is a big problem with keeping the birds locked on as long as the photographer is able to reasonably keep them on the AF point (even with that, I had a number of frames where the bird was well outside the AF array and still in focus).

Keeper rate: I happened to check how many images I simply deleted, and it was about 40% (not counting in-field edits where the total might be closer to 50%). These were mostly due to poor focus. Some would be user error with massive focus misses, others were just soft enough to be unusable. I think this is par for the course with what I've experienced shooting sports, so I'm not terribly concerned considering the difficulty I had keeping up with the birds. I would consider about 25% of the total shoot number, including deleted, were technically fine, just a lot are kind of boring.

Crop: my figures are intuitive estimations based on area, rather than linear.

Regarding your last comment: I think the 200-400 is a good all-around super-tele for someone who doesn't strongly specialize in one area, or someone who needs to cover a number of bases. For me, the 400/2.8 is a sports lens and a 500 or 600 is an even more specialized sports lens. While I've used the 400 for a number of other things, such as corporate conferences, or anything where I needed 400 (because it was my only 400), it isn't a lens I consider a generalist lens. It's big and heavy. One of my reasons for the 200-400 is that while I shoot sports, I shoot less of it than I did 5-10 years ago. I feel I need to keep a super-tele in my kit, but one with greater versatility than a 400 prime and one that is easier to bring along. I wouldn't hesitate to bring the 200-400 on a daylong outing, as I did with the re-enactment on the weekend. The only time I brought the 400 to that re-enactment was... never actually.



Jun 05, 2013 at 09:04 PM
PetKal
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p.10 #3 · p.10 #3 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


Doctorbird wrote:
And, incidentally, how much of a disadvantage the heft was for BIF compared to the 400 f/5.6 that Ron mentioned was at the shoot.

Db.


This is not an easy matter to describe in a few sentences.

Let me put my opinion in this way:

For shots of flying eagles, sandhill cranes, great herons, egrets, and such, 200-400L would be a better performing lens.

However, for erratic or rapidly evolving flights, or a high lift/aim repetition rate, 400 f/5.6 is a more effective lens. Actually, other than 400 DO or 300 f/2.8 IS MkII + 1.4xTC MkIII, there are not too many lenses that can match or better the 400 f/5.6 agility.

Having said that, in my books 500 II, with its big reduction in weight, is still an all around "gold standard" (redefined) of wildlife photography.



Jun 05, 2013 at 09:46 PM
Scott Stoness
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p.10 #4 · p.10 #4 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


PetKal wrote:
This is not an easy matter to describe in a few sentences.

Let me put my opinion in this way:

For shots of flying eagles, sandhill cranes, great herons, egrets, and such, 200-400L would be a better performing lens.

However, for erratic or rapidly evolving flights, or a high lift/aim repetition rate, 400 f/5.6 is a more effective lens. Actually, other than 400 DO or 300 f/2.8 IS MkII + 1.4xTC MkIII, there are not too many lenses that can match or better the 400 f/5.6 agility.

Having said that, in my books 500 II, with its big reduction in weight, is still
...Show more

And the most important question for me is: given your trepidation last week on iq
- you think the iq is good enough that it is not a dud? (better than the 100-400 but a bit less than 400 v2 2.8?)
- It sounds like the focus is adequate and the with 1.4x internal is pretty good?
[I am an infrequent bif guy and want the 200-400 as an upgrade to the 100-400 for large animals/safari type shooting]

Should I cancel my order and buy the 400 v2 2.8 and live with lack of 100-399 high iq range? Or just sell my 500 v1 and buy a 500 v2. [ I have 600 v2, which is a heavier version of 500 v2 which works well for mammals] 200-400 with 600v2 seems like the perfect combination for safari.



Jun 05, 2013 at 10:27 PM
PetKal
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p.10 #5 · p.10 #5 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


Scott, I like my 100-400 very much, but for crazy little flyers 100-400 cost me too many keepers, because its AF drive is not fast enough. In addition, f/5.6 lenses, regardless of the model, cause some problems by not allowing the camera AF to "see" the target against busy background quickly enough.

Nevertheless, with some effort, and accepting a bit of a keeper rate loss, I think 100-400 can emulate 200-400L OK, on a small economy scale.

I shot this yesterday as well with 1DX + 100-400.

Edited on Jun 10, 2013 at 09:13 PM · View previous versions



Jun 05, 2013 at 10:39 PM
MDJAK
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p.10 #6 · p.10 #6 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


PetKal wrote:
Scott, I like my 100-400 very much, but for crazy little flyers 100-400 cost me too many keepers, because its AF drive is not fast enough. In addition, f/5.6 lenses, regardless of the model, cause some problems with allowing the camera AF to "see" the target against busy background quickly enough.

Nevertheless, with some effort, and accepting a bit of a keeper rate loss, I think 100-400 can emulate 200-400L OK, on a small economy scale.

I shot this yesterday as well with 1DX + 100-400.

Yeah but you got talent. Us mere mortals need all the help we can get. Lol



Jun 05, 2013 at 11:06 PM
PetKal
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p.10 #7 · p.10 #7 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


Thank you, bruder Mark, but I've got a fair bit of persistence which we must not confuse with talent.


Jun 05, 2013 at 11:17 PM
MDJAK
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p.10 #8 · p.10 #8 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


rscheffler wrote:
Peter, that sounds like it would have been a very challenging workout for both photographer and equipment. The question of the zooming ability here is a good one because I find the throw of the zoom ring quite long, as earlier reported. This is great for precise framing, but coupled with the somewhat high resistance of the ring's action and the somewhat aggressive grippy and abrasive feeling of the rubber material, may pose some challenges. My impression is the lens designers probably optimized the zoom ring's feel for pod use where one's left hand will be able to apply more
...Show more


I was either unclear which is usually the case, or you slightly misunderstand my point. I am in no way putting down the 200-400. And you nor anyone else ever need justify to me or anyone else anything you buy. I think the results speak for themselves. The pics from this lens are awesome. I appreciate very much every minute and every word you and others have put into this thread. I was merely trying to get across that I wouldn't expect, nor would physics allow, all else equal, a zoom to be as "finely detailed" as one of the new primes. And I also am not saying that the 'nth degree of detail is always necessary. This is obviously one of Canon's finest lenses and thus commands a premium price. I too own the 1Dx and know exactly where you are coming from in that statement.

Best of luck with the lens. I'm jealous you got to meet Peter. He's one of my oldest Internet buddies. But couldn't you have at least taken a pic of him when he rose from his hoveround?
Mark



Jun 05, 2013 at 11:35 PM
PetKal
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p.10 #9 · p.10 #9 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


MDJAK wrote:
I'm jealous you got to meet Peter. He's one of my oldest Internet buddies. But couldn't you have at least taken a pic of him when he rose from his hoveround?
Mark


Markey, do not give the lad any silly ideas, I can find easily where he lives, like I've found your phone number, and had many very pleasant conversations with your wife (while you were at work.) .



Jun 06, 2013 at 12:04 AM
Lan11
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p.10 #10 · p.10 #10 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


MDJAK: "But couldn't you have at least taken a pic of him when he rose from his hoveround?"

Haven't you seen a hydrant?

The above is one of the best BIF pictures IMO and what makes it such is the background which sets the mood. Congrats PetKal.
One more proof that it is not the lens/camera……

BTW, do not construe above as an instalment for the 400+TC test payment. A $50.00 would be a bargain if you were testing my equipment or gear I would use.



Jun 06, 2013 at 12:27 AM
 

Search in Used Dept. 



MDJAK
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p.10 #11 · p.10 #11 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


PetKal wrote:
Markey, do not give the lad any silly ideas, I can find easily where he lives, like I've found your phone number, and had many very pleasant conversations with your wife (while you were at work.) .



No wonder she's always smiling when I get home. Lol



Jun 06, 2013 at 12:41 AM
PetKal
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p.10 #12 · p.10 #12 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


Lan11 wrote:
MDJAK: "But couldn't you have at least taken a pic of him when he rose from his hoveround?"

Haven't you seen a hydrant?



Lan, you are a funny man.....for an American (?), that is.



Jun 06, 2013 at 12:43 AM
Pixel Perfect
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p.10 #13 · p.10 #13 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


PetKal wrote:
Lan, you are a funny man.....for an American (?), that is.


No doot aboot it!




Jun 06, 2013 at 12:57 AM
Doctorbird
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p.10 #14 · p.10 #14 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


Ron, Peter,

I'm assimilating both your comments. Many thanks to you both for your patience. The comments are all not too unexpected and more or less in alignment with my own limited experience.

The perceived difficulty in acquiring quick focus with the 1DX on some of these BIF is somewhat surprising and bothersome. Perhaps the 1DX can be it's own worst enemy, where the sensitive focusing mechanism gets a bit addled by the flapping wings of some birds, whereas, on the other hand, it seems unaffected by both large birds and tiny humming-like birds.

I haven't really used my venerable 400 f/5.6 since I graduated to the super teles. I ought to revive it soon - missing it's agility some.

Db



Jun 06, 2013 at 05:05 AM
rscheffler
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p.10 #15 · p.10 #15 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


I was also messing around with the AF cases and felt some of the settings didn't seem to work as well as others. But don't read too much into it, as I think the biggest problem for the AF was my inability to sometimes get the AF point on the bird to correctly start AF tracking. Once it was locked on, it was usually good except with the 61-point array when the bird was very close to the water.

Peter, that's a great image. The background really frames the bird very nicely. I'm wondering, where's the string you used to pull the bird into the right spot?

About the best I got out of that angle (mind you, a different time of day and backlit) was with your lens:







MDJAK wrote:
I'm jealous you got to meet Peter. He's one of my oldest Internet buddies. But couldn't you have at least taken a pic of him when he rose from his hoveround?
Mark

PetKal wrote:
Markey, do not give the lad any silly ideas, I can find easily where he lives, like I've found your phone number, and had many very pleasant conversations with your wife (while you were at work.) .


Considering Peter's frequent (for this forum) avatar changes and pseudo-anonymous handle, there's obviously a desire for anonymity and maintenance of his finely crafted virtual persona. I did in fact get a few photos of him - specifically his out of focus head when he blocked a nice sequence of a banking tern... but those were immediately deleted. If you're in the NYC area, flights to Toronto are only an hour and not too costly!

Scott: Why get a 500 when you already have the 600? For a lighter lens? But if it's safari stuff, then I agree and think the zoom would nicely complement the 600. But obviously it's a fair amount larger than the 100-400. I think if the 200-400 would get a fair amount of action, then it would be worth it. But if it's more a 'just in case I'm too close' lens and you find yourself mostly using the 600, then I would think the 100-400 would be adequate.



Jun 06, 2013 at 08:35 AM
dehowie
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p.10 #16 · p.10 #16 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


Thanks fir posting the images guys really appreciate the effort and comments.
Im waiting for mine and really excited about the quality of images i will be able to get with it.
It will i think become my go to lens for all day stuff under 500mm and my number 1 travel lens.
However the 800 will still be king..
Big pijun??










Jun 06, 2013 at 09:16 AM
PetKal
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p.10 #17 · p.10 #17 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


Ron, that is a fine TIF picture obtained with 400 II.....you are a natural. I have not seen anyone else being able to get that sort of quality from their first TIF shoot.


Jun 06, 2013 at 10:00 AM
mitesh
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p.10 #18 · p.10 #18 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


So, Peter, have you decided to take delivery of the 200-400L that you pre-ordered?


Jun 06, 2013 at 12:28 PM
PetKal
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p.10 #19 · p.10 #19 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


Mitesh, try as hard as I might, I just can not justify the purchase of 200-400L.


Jun 06, 2013 at 12:44 PM
Scott Stoness
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p.10 #20 · p.10 #20 · Hands-on: EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X


rscheffler wrote:

Scott: Why get a 500 when you already have the 600? For a lighter lens? But if it's safari stuff, then I agree and think the zoom would nicely complement the 600. But obviously it's a fair amount larger than the 100-400. I think if the 200-400 would get a fair amount of action, then it would be worth it. But if it's more a 'just in case I'm too close' lens and you find yourself mostly using the 600, then I would think the 100-400 would be adequate.


I believe that when I get the 200-400 it would be my drive around in the car looking for bears go to lens, with the 600 as the what if its too far (or BIF). If the 200-400 was not significantly sharper than the 100-400, I would buy the 400 2.8 v2 or 500 f4 v2 for shorter shooting and put up with the cropping. If I was using the 500 v1 a lot I would buy the v2 and sell the v1 because of the weight difference. In short, I am hoping that the iq of the 200-400 is sufficient that it is my go-to drive around lens with the 600 when the bears are too far. With the 600 I am often too close and backing away from my car, which creates a safety issue.



Jun 06, 2013 at 12:49 PM
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