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| 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.
But in the meantime, here are some of my observations as I posted on another threads:
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 (its lens elements).
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.