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Canon EF 200-400 F4.0 review - First Look

Seth Barton
4 Mar 2013
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Canon's latest EF monster has a neat new trick

Canon's own top-end lenses have long been objects of desire for photographers. Outstanding image and build quality come as standard, with the lenses being weather-sealed for working in the most inhospitable of climates. However, the new Canon EF 200-400 F4.0 we saw today goes one better.

Canon EF 200-400 F4.0

We go hunting big-game at the Birmingham NEC with Canon's new monster lens

At this top-end level, camera companies such as Canon aren't known primarily of innovation. Serious photographers like things to work as they'd expect and so change is rare and new features (on a lens especially) are rarer still, but here Canon has come up trumps with a simple idea.

You see the lens may be weather proof, and the camera too, but if you need to swap lenses you may have a problem. More specifically, if the 200-400mm focal length isn't quite enough, you'd usually have to add a 1.4x or 2x extender to the lens to get the extra zoom. And in doing so you not only have to potentially expose lens and sensor to the elements, but also mess about unmounting and remounting a great big lens.

Canon EF 200-400 F4.0

From standard to 1.4x in the flick of a switch, simple but brilliant

The new Canon EF 200-400 F4.0 solves this problem with the flick of a switch. It's the first lens Canon will release with a built-in 1.4x multiplier, which is controlled manually by a simple switch. That way you can keep your sensor safe, your arms from aching, plus it lets you switch far-faster than it was possible before. Meaning some photographers might be able to leave a whole second camera at home.

Canon EF 200-400 F4.0

It is big and it's a little clever, but mainly it's just heavy and expensive

The switch itself has a nice firm action - you aren't going to be knocking it by accident. Canon wasn't sure what effect exactly the multiplier would have on the F4.0 end-to-end aperture, or how much the lens might cost, but it looks like a great buy for wildlife enthusiasts and other outdoors types.

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