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Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM 1.4x Extender

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9 27642 Jul 27, 2015
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100% of reviewers $10,833.33
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High-Performance Telephoto Zoom Lens
Canon EF Mount
Aperture Range f/4-32
Built-in 1.4x Extender
Three-Mode Optical Image Stabilization
Ring USM Autofocus & Internal Focusing System
Power Focus Mode for Smooth Focus Shift
One Fluorite and Four UD Lens Elements
Fluorine Front & Rear Lens Coating
Highly Resistant to Dust and Water


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Registered: Jun 5, 2011
Location: Canada
Posts: 33524
Review Date: Jul 27, 2015 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $10,800.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: IQ, AF, Flexibility, f/4 vs f/5.6 in 100-400, built-in TC
Weight if you like handholding, price (but for me it is worth its cost)

I will preface this with my use for this lens has been mainly birds and some other wildlife.
This lens is a beast in good ways of build quality and in less good ways like weight. The inclusion of the 1.4TC is the best thing I've seen in a modern lens. The flexibility this gives you to go from 200-560 instantly is a huge benefit if you are shooting a variety of subjects or subjects at different distances. With the newer cameras like 1DX and 7D2 that have the option to automatically keep you same overall exposure when you flick in and out the TC makes this lens behave like a flawless 200-560 f/4-f/5.6 lens.I have also had great success adding the external 1.4TCIII and using the lens as a 280-784mm f/5.6-f/8 lens. I have even got good images with 2xTCIII and internal at 1120mm f/11 believe it or not (MF or LV focus only).

The cons to this lens is the weight for extended handholding and travel.

IQ is top notch and AF response is very good.

Highly recommended if it suits your needs.

Jul 27, 2015
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Registered: Sep 6, 2007
Location: Canada
Posts: 30421
Review Date: Dec 15, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: All good.
I wish the lens was one pound lighter, i.e., similar in weight to 500 II.

The lens has prime-like performance. The ability to "instantaneously" switch from 400mm to 560mm by a flick of the TC lever is priceless.
The lens is expensive, however, it's an engineering beauty with a very broad application scope.

Dec 15, 2014
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Registered: Oct 21, 2004
Location: Australia
Posts: 1311
Review Date: Sep 4, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $10,500.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Excellent IQ with the internal and external TC's. Great combination of IQ and ability to zoom the rivals prime IQ's giving flexibility with little loss.
Learning curve for zoom use hand held..high price.

Having used big primes now for 9 years and owning or owned the 300/400/500/600 and 800 i think i am in a position to speak about a comparison of these great lenses.
The IQ is wonderful and extremely usable with both an internal and external TC engaged.
It really is the ultimate luxury to not have to sacrifice IQ when using a zoom and I cannot speak to highly of its combination of performance and flexibility.
Getting older the desire and ability to haul multiple big lenses around the world is waning and the 200-400 is a real solution to that issue.
For those after quality plus flexibility it is your dream lens.
On a trans America trip we used it exclusively shooting everything from Bears to float planes.
Its performance was better than i expected particularly at 784mm ie two converters.
If you dont need maximum focal length continually this is the lens to own.
Quality..flexibility..IQ..AF performance.
I have since sold my 500 and have a 300 on the market as they are made to me redundant for my type of shooting.
Brilliant lens.

Sep 4, 2014
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Registered: Feb 4, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 12
Review Date: Jul 21, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: SHARP, versitle, hand holdable, the built in 1.4 extender
Maybe weight, but you can't have everything

This is the finest piece of canon glass I have every owned. I have had it just over a year and it has replaced my 500 f/4 as my travel lens. I have ysed it in Tanzania, Alaska, Yellowstone, Canadian Rockies and many local places. Sharp, sharp, and sharp. It is a beast of a lens.

Jul 21, 2014
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Registered: Feb 2, 2012
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Feb 6, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $11,200.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Great wildlife lens, yes a little short for birds, but in my bag it has replace my 500 f/4. Super fast focus, sharp as a tack through entire range, even with built in 1.4 TC. This lens is built like a tank. Off to Tanzania in a few days and it and the 70-200 MK II 2.0 IS are my main lens.
None, not even price.

Feb 6, 2014
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Registered: Jun 3, 2013
Location: United States
Posts: 133
Review Date: Nov 10, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Great telephoto range

I received it and took it to a NHL game the first night. I've had problems with the Nikon 200-400 in low light, but the Canon was stellar in the same arena. Obviously, having the zoom resulted in more useable images. It is also VERY sharp. This really was the test to see if I would keep it. Based on my evening's take, the answer was yes.

Next day I used it at an NFL game and again, it was very nice having the zoom and teleconverter. It was a day game and the lens was awesome. I also really appreciated being able to reach further down field with the converter. From the sidelines the zoom gave me more usable images since they weren't overly tight as my 400 2.8 would have yielded. Shooting the red zone was much easier also. I now just have a 24-70 on the second camera and the 200-400 on the other.

I really wasn't sure about buying this, but so far it's been wonderful. Times have changed and high end digital cameras like the 1DX can easily produce quality at higher ISO's. Thus the 4.0 versus 2.8 f stop isn't critical in pro stadiums where lighting is good.

I couldn't sense that it was slower at focusing than a 400 2.8. It seems just at fast and maybe better. In fact, my in-focus rate was higher than when I shoot games with the 400 2.8

Nov 10, 2013
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Registered: Mar 28, 2006
Location: Germany
Posts: 2
Review Date: Sep 20, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: very fast AI, in combination with crop (7D) a very strong tele, Quality of the Pictures is great!!
Price, Price.... not so easy to handle

Had the chance to test this lens, because I wanted to take it on a journey to South Georgia. Planned to take photos of albatross (freehand). For this purpose I cannot use this lens. I was not very successful in gettig pictures of model airplanes (my albatross substitute) when using the converter switched on. Not quite surprising it is extremely difficult to find the object. It is very difficult to quickly handle the zoom (turn) in combination with the weight.
Without the converter everything was fine, the pictures perfect! But considering the price (rent) and transportation problems (how to take it into the aircraft?) I will take my 100-400L. Push and pull has advantages (in handling).

Sep 20, 2013
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Registered: Oct 20, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 804
Review Date: Sep 11, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: The af is fast and accurate, the zoom range ideal considering the ability to flip the 1.4x in and out, IQ is prime like
Slightly high price, but you get what you pay for. Wish the weight was less, but it is extremely well balanced.

I have owned this lens for about a month now, and loving every minute of it. I also own the 300 II, 500 II, and 600 II, so my opinion of this lens takes into consideration the qualities that a long lens should have. The price is high, but given the range, prime like quality of the files, and superb build quality I guess you get what you pay for.

The built in tc is flawless and I have not had a single issue with it. If I want to just take one long lens when out and about, this is the one. I have been using it with and without the external tc, and with the 1Dx and 70D, no issues whatsoever. I wish that every long lens had the built in tc feature; to me this is as important a feature as the zoom range.

YMMV, but to me this is a revolutionary lens and if I had to choose which one to keep of all the lenses this would be the one for me.

Sep 11, 2013
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John Caldwell
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Registered: Feb 21, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 2573
Review Date: Sep 10, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: FL range at constant f4 Inboard 1.4x TV Robust IS Good image quality
Price & weight

May I say up front that were the 200-400 priced at, say, $7000 I would suffer none of the ambivalence I have towards the 200-400. Given a $12k tag, I can't escape having mixed feelings about the 200-400. I do not own this lens but rented the lens for one week from a trusted rental house in Cordova TN. My rental served, in part, as a pre-purchase audition. Our rental lens was used for one week shooting dog water rescue testing in available light. This type of work could work could be likened to shooting agility outdoors, on water and often in high-contrast light. Normally I'd use the 200/2, 70-200 II and the 100-400 to cover this kind of shoot with 1Dx and 1D IV bodies. The 200-400 was used to replace both the 200/2 and the 100-400 during our rental period, and the lens was used only on a 1Dx. I rarely used the drop-in CP.

The 200-400 image quality is good, but not uppermost in the Canon line. I'd describe the lens as sharp without the TC engaged; and sharpness to fall off modestly but measurably once the 1.4 is engaged. I would not place sharpness with the 70-200 II, however. There is little comparison, in my mind, between sharpness and rendition of the 200-400 and the 200/2 or 300/2.8 - but that comparison may not be a fair one. The 200-400 is quite contrasty, and color rendition is vibrant. I'd go so far as to say that the lens *has a look*.

Auto focus speed is good and AF is decisive on the 1Dx, but definitely not what we enjoy on the current 2.8 zooms or large aperture telephoto primes. 200-400 AF and IS are considerably better, however, than the 100-400 as you would expect them to be. The 200-400 IS is excellent, and the Mode-3 tripod IS is a pleasure to use. Several times I unintentionally engaged the internal 1.4, because of what I'd call either a design flaw in the TC-Lock or a possible defect in our rental copy's Lock. Our rental copy appeared quite new, and I have no recent to beliveve our copy was not up to par. The lock was completely reliable in keeping the TC from becoming disengaged, however. Lens weight and apparent bulk are high, but balance is decent with a 1Dx mounted. In the 3500 images I recorded, the was an even distribution of hand-held, monopod and tripod use. I'd need to be able to workup to handholding the 200-400 all day long.

The reason to own the 200-400 relates to the shots you *won't* miss by virtue of its zoom function over this FL range at f4. In the work I do, a subject simply moves out of the frame when a long prime is in use, or is too far away when a shorter FL was loaded. So lots of images are possible by avoiding fixed FL lenses. Clearly this is not a novel thought, and such logic could be applied to any zoom lens - but it's of special meaning here by virtue of what FL are being covered at f4. An internal 1.4 simply expands this principle a notch further, and the many (dirty) steps that are eliminated by allowing the 1.4 to live permanently inside the lens package are meaningful. One can't help but guess that internal TC's will appear in upcoming products. There is talk that this lens *pays for itself* by eliminating two or more expensive prime telephoto lenses from your collection. I really can't subscribe to this argument for my work, but your experience may certainly vary. With this in mind, you may find a 100-400/1.4 external TC quite liberating financially...

All of this begging the question of what dollar value is reasonably assigned to this group of attributes and tradeoffs. Were cost of no concern, I'd certainly buy the 200-400, even given the above caveats. I can live with the weight, image quality and AF with the knowledge that I'll succeed getting images that I'd miss with any other lens or combination of lenses. Cost being a priority, though, has me appreciating the long-in-tooth 100-400 for what it is and what it isn't; and contemplating buying a used Nikon 200-400 (at a bit more than a third the Canon's cost) and a D800.

Trite to say, but what we really need is a modernized 100-400 at, say, under $3500.

John Caldwell
Pittsburgh, PA

Sep 10, 2013
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Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM 1.4x Extender

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
9 27642 Jul 27, 2015
Recommended By Average Price
100% of reviewers $10,833.33
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating