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EF 200-400mm f/4L IS - Best Wildlife Lens

MichaelDanielHo
Frequent Contributor

EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x Lens with EOS-1 D X Camera

 

This revolutionary and versatile wildlife lens has been released. I have taken delivery now and have written a preliminary review of this production lens. Once I have put it through a few wildlife photo shoots, I will write a more detailed review. This lens is a wildlife photographer's dream when used with the EOS-1D X camera. Take a look at my review below. Keep checking back.  MichaelDanielHo.com

 

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

 

Canon EOS-1D X Camera Review

53 REPLIES 53


@Artistlin wrote:

MichaelDanielHo: Your last post is interesting since in previous posts you spoke very highly of the lens. Any idea what was different?


No piece of equipment or photographer can function 100%, all the time. It was a cloudy, dreary, colorless day and this particular bird was very far away. I wanted to try out the EOS-7D with the EF 200-400mm for far away birds. That morning, I did not have breakfast and had to hike a bit to get there so fatigue may have played a role in it. I am not the type of photographer who will blame my equipment first before analyzing the complete situation. Like I said, in this outing, the far away shots were not good but the closer one were fine.  I would not pay too much heed to one trip. The big test is when I go on my Svalbard photo shoot in early July. There will be plenty of opportunities to put the lens to field use but so far I am still impressed by the overall performance of the EF 200-400mm. http://MichaelDanielHo.com 

Edward
Frequent Contributor

Canon CPS loaned me a 200-400 lens.  I compared it to my 400 mm f 2.8 IS MKII and the results of this  subjective test and below.  All tests/measurements were done with a Canon 5DIII attached.

 

                        Canon 200-400 f 4 IS                                          Canon 400 f 2.8 IS MKII

 

Weight.              10.5 lbs                                                                 11.5 lbs 

 

Lenght               19 1/4 inches                                                         20 inches with 1.4X attached

 

Diameter            5 3/4 inches at hood                                              7 inches at hood.

 

The viewfinder when using the 200-400 mm is not as bright as when using the 400 mm with or without the use of the 1.4X extender.

 

When shooting both lenses at f 4, 1/1000 and ISO 400, the histogram is slightly to the left when using the 200-400 mm.  I interpret this due to the less light transmission because of the larger number of lens elements in the lens but it really has a neglible effect in the images captured.

 

Autofocus speed was noticeable slower when using the zoom but this was to be expected to its slower aperture of f 4.  When it comes to focal lens, the zoom lens appears to be 388 mm rather than 400 mm.

 

Used the brick test (both lenses on autofocus, ISO 400 at 40 feet and using the same Canon 5DIII camera with a cabl release) to check for sharpness.  AT 400 mm focal lens for both lenses, the fixed focus 400 mm was sharper at f 4, f 5.6 and f 8 when used with or without the 1.4X.  As to how much sharper, this is a subjective test so I will estimate to be 15-20 % sharper.  I determined this by comparing the RAW  images in Photoshop CS 6 at 10X without any additional alterations.

 

Disregarding the sharpness issue, the 200-400 mm wins for hand-holding, panning, transporting, its zooming capability and the built-in 1.4X.  

 

I was going to buy this lens to replace the 400 mm f 2.8 IS MKII if would have not been for the sharpness issue.  I will not discourage other from buying it. It still a great lens, particulary if the price will drop about $2000.00 in price.  Do  your own evaluation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MichaelDanielHo
Frequent Contributor

@Edward wrote:

Canon CPS loaned me a 200-400 lens.  I compared it to my 400 mm f 2.8 IS MKII and the results of this  subjective test and below.  All tests/measurements were done with a Canon 5DIII attached.

 

                        Canon 200-400 f 4 IS                                          Canon 400 f 2.8 IS MKII

 

Weight.              10.5 lbs                                                                 11.5 lbs 

 

Lenght               19 1/4 inches                                                         20 inches with 1.4X attached

 

Diameter            5 3/4 inches at hood                                              7 inches at hood.

 

The viewfinder when using the 200-400 mm is not as bright as when using the 400 mm with or without the use of the 1.4X extender.

 

When shooting both lenses at f 4, 1/1000 and ISO 400, the histogram is slightly to the left when using the 200-400 mm.  I interpret this due to the less light transmission because of the larger number of lens elements in the lens but it really has a neglible effect in the images captured.

 

Autofocus speed was noticeable slower when using the zoom but this was to be expected to its slower aperture of f 4.  When it comes to focal lens, the zoom lens appears to be 388 mm rather than 400 mm.

 

Used the brick test (both lenses on autofocus, ISO 400 at 40 feet and using the same Canon 5DIII camera with a cabl release) to check for sharpness.  AT 400 mm focal lens for both lenses, the fixed focus 400 mm was sharper at f 4, f 5.6 and f 8 when used with or without the 1.4X.  As to how much sharper, this is a subjective test so I will estimate to be 15-20 % sharper.  I determined this by comparing the RAW  images in Photoshop CS 6 at 10X without any additional alterations.

 

Disregarding the sharpness issue, the 200-400 mm wins for hand-holding, panning, transporting, its zooming capability and the built-in 1.4X.  

 

I was going to buy this lens to replace the 400 mm f 2.8 IS MKII if would have not been for the sharpness issue.  I will not discourage other from buying it. It still a great lens, particulary if the price will drop about $2000.00 in price.  Do  your own evaluation.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Thanks for your update, Edward. This lens continues to amaze me. I am so used to prime Super telephoto lens, sometimes in the heat of a wildlife photo shoot, I forget to use the zoom ring. I got to remind myself from time to time, I have a zoom lens in my hands now.

 

Bengal tiger

Edward
Frequent Contributor

I do recognize that this is the most versatile lens and waited for it for years resisting the temptation to move to Nikon for its 200-400 mm.  But the sharpness issue was a big disappointment.  I will give it another try; perhaps the lens I got was not sharp.Kankati.  Bandharvgarth, India, 2014

MichaelDanielHo
Frequent Contributor

Hi Edward. I have just returned from a Arctic photo shoot in Svalbard. The weather was bad, many foggy days and the wildlife quite far. I brought the EOS-1D X, EF 200-400mm f/4 and EF 70-200mm f/2.8  In retrospect, I should have brought the EF 500mm f/4 to give me a bit more range but the lens works well. Some images are not as sharp as I hoped but then I was handholding the combo in a zodiac.

 

Polar bear in Spitsbergen 

MichaelDanielHo
Frequent Contributor

Just came back from Svalbard in the high Arctic on a wildlife photo shoot. Weather was wide ranging, from below freezing and light snow to warm, sunny days. Brought the EOS-1D X and the EOS-1D Mk IV cameras with the EF 200-400mm f/4L and the EF 400mm DO IS lenses. All performed flawless under severe field conditions although the EF 200-400mm was rather useless and cumbersome in a bouncy zodiac but on land, it performed superbly. You can read a synopsis of my trip below. High Arctic photo shoot  Visit my website to see many more images from the trip. MichaelDanielHo.com

 

polar-bear8.jpg

Stunning images from your Arctic photo shoot on your website. I'd love to be there. Not surprisingly, the EF 200-400mm f/4 lens is not the best gear on a moving platform. It is a rather heavy lens but your photos showed the perofrmance is hard to beat when on solid ground.

MichaelDanielHo
Frequent Contributor

It is not easy to handhold the EF 200-400mm f/4L lens but for a short burst of bird-in-flight shots, it's doable. This is the Arctic Tern flying in the high Arctic that I recently photographed. Visit my website to see more wildlife shots from the high Arctic. http://MichaelDanielHo.com 

 

arctic-tern1.jpg

MichaelDanielHo
Frequent Contributor

I am in SE Alaska on a wildlife photo shoot with the EOS-1D X, EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x lens and other Canon gear. Thursday was an eventful day I will remember for a while. The day started with light rain and very low clouds and heavy fog. We had to fly to Admiralty Island on a Dehavilland Beaver DHC-2 float plane. This plane was introduced in 1947 and was definitely a lot older than the young pilot. On top of that, the visibility was almost non existent . . . . Read the rest of the story below and visit my website for more photos taken with the above equipment.

 

http://blog.michaeldanielho.com/2013/08/wildlife-photography-bears-and-whales_8.html

 

Dueling Canines

Artistlin
Occasional Contributor

Hee hee...I have a similar shot of cubs...see my post!