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| 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.
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?
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!