New Prototype 200-400mm f/4.0 Zoom Lens goes on Show from Canon

Equipment Announcement

EF 200 400mm f4L IS USM EXTENDER 1.4P-2

LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y., February 7, 2011 – Canon Inc. today announced the development of a new super-telephoto lens, the EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXTENDER l.4x, for use with all EOS SLR cameras. A prototype of the new lens will be exhibited at the CP+ tradeshow, held in Pacifico Yokohama, from February 9 – 12, 2011.

Much to everyone’s surprise Canon announced a whole host of stuff yesterday including two new entry level DSLR’s, two new flash units, and upgrades to their wildlife long focal length specialist lenses. The latter comprise the EF 500mm f/4.0 MII and the EF 600mm f/4.0 MII, both of which are expected to be commercially available some time in March, but as you’d probably expect these are going to be very, very expensive and as such only available to serious pro’s and those blessed with wads of spare cash.

However, what really caught my eye was the announcement of a prototype EF 200-400mm f/4.0 IS USM EXTENDER 1.4x lens. That’s some title! Nikon wildlife photographers have long since been extolling the virtues of the Nikon 200-400mm f/4 AF-S lens which also received an upgrade last year. This is a lens favoured by British wildlife photographer Andy Rouse and is generally accepted as just about the best multipurpose, wildlife zoom lenses around. It’s also a gap in the market place that Canon had failed (as yet) to match. Canon do of course have their EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6mm IS USM lens ( one of which which I own), but this design is getting quite long in the tooth and whilst it performs admirably on sensors sizes up to 12mp, todays 21mp plus sensors highlight it’s short comings in the digital age.

If you examine the press release picture above you can’t help but notice that peculir looking bulge on the left side rear of the lens. This houses the in-built 1.4x extender, and has a lever just above to engage or disengage the extender elements. The 1.4 extender can boost the zoom range from 200-400mm to 280-560mm. On an APS-C sized sensor then this would be the equivalent of a staggering 448-896mm! However, don’t get your hopes up as Canon failed to state whether this configuration will autofocus on the semi-pro and consumer bodies. The new lens will feature Canon’s high-performance Image Stabilizer technology and advanced optics materials such as fluorite crystal to provide top notch optical performance.

You may also notice the camera has a fixed tripod collar, 3 stabilization modes and also features a Focus Pre-set button. All new stuff.

A a wildlife photographer this sounds like a dream lens and one I’d truly love to own, however it is just a prototype and still obviously at the development stage. I just hope that when it does eventually hit the market it’s not going to be priced so ridiculously that photographers like myself will never be able to afford it. Maybe I am just dreaming though!

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