By Jim Fisher
Canon’s EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x ($ 10,999) is a behemoth of a lens that ships in a tough carrying case. It isn’t a sensible choice for the weak of again, however its optical efficiency is great, and an built-in teleconverter magnifies distant topics with out having to swap to an extended lens. In case you lust after the depth of subject management that an f/4 telephoto offers and you’ve got an enormous price range, it might be value contemplating. However for those who’re prepared to sacrifice some mild-gathering functionality, you will get a much less heavy zoom that is additionally fairly sharp for a few tenth of the fee. That is our Editors’ Selection, the Sigma one hundred fifty-600mm DG OS HSM Modern, which is on the market for Canon techniques, in addition to Nikon and Sigma SLRs.
Calling the 200-400mm massive does not fairly paint the picture. With out its hood hooked up it measures 14.4 by 5 inches (HD) and weighs a strong 8 kilos. The hood provides about 6 inches to the height. There’s an built-in tripod collar—it is completely hooked up—with an extended foot with two attachment factors. It rotates and locks into place each 90 levels. Whereas it is not out of line in measurement or weight compared with the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 200-400mm f/4G ED VR II (14.4 by 4.9 inches, 7.4 kilos), the Sigma Modern weighs simply 4.3 kilos, making it the clear selection for nature walks and hikes.
However when you’ve acquired a Sherpa to hold your gear, or for those who’re working on the sidelines of an NFL recreation, the 200-400mm is not such a frightening lens to make use of. A sturdy monopod is very really helpful, until you’ve got received biceps that may make Jesse Ventura envious.
The barrel is all metallic, as you’d anticipate from an L lens. The narrowest level is close to the lens mount. That is the place the rear 52mm drop-in filter sits (it may be modified with out instruments—simply squeeze the 2 silver buttons to launch it). Under, you will discover the Focus Mode change and Focus Limiter change. Along with Guide and Autofocus, a Prefocus mode is out there. The Limiter Change has positions to permit the Autofocus system to hunt over your complete vary, or to restrict it to shut focus (2 to 6 meters) or lengthy distance (6 meters to infinity) distances.
You’ll be able to see a bulge popping out of the left aspect of the barrel—that is the place the 1.4x converter is housed when not in use. A locking change strikes it in and misplaced. The tripod collar sits in front of it. There are two clips to connect a devoted strap and a big thumbscrew to lock or unlock it.
A distance scale window is discovered on the prime of the lens. There are not any depth of subject markings, however they would not be that helpful on a lens of this focal size. The majority of the lens controls sit under and to the left of the window. You’ll be able to change between the three stabilizer modes. Mode 1 is the one you will need to use whenever you’re holding the lens nonetheless; Mode 2 is beneficial when panning left and proper, because it disables stabilization on this path; and Mode 3 acts the identical as Mode 2, however solely prompts the stabilization system throughout publicity, which is beneficial if you’re monitoring objects which might be shifting in erratic instructions, because it makes it simpler so that you can hold them in body.
The stabilization system is rated to 4 stops, and I discovered it to be fairly efficient in subject checks. However you do have to concentrate to the mode. I ruined some photographs the place I used to be panning the camera to trace a shifting topic by forgetting to modify out of Mode 1. Simply because a lens is dear, it doesn’t suggest that it’ll do the work for you. In fact, in case your shutter velocity is brief sufficient, you possibly can all the time choose to disable stabilization solely—for that, you employ the subsequent toggle change down.
Under that sits a button and a change which are used to set the prefocus level. You’ll be able to focus on an object, maintain the Set button, and the lens will keep in mind that focus place. The toggle change under it turns the perform off (so you do not activate it mechanically) and on, the third place allows you to flip it on with an audible beep when the preset level is recorded.
The guide focus ring is subsequent in line; it is a good inch large and coated in ridged rubber so you’ll be able to flip it comfortably. And forward of that’s the zoom ring. It is a number of inches extensive and features marks at 200, 250, 300, 350, and 400mm. The lens is an internal zoom design—it does not prolong in any respect—so there is no want for a locking mechanism like those you will discover on the Sigma one hundred fifty-600mm Modern and Sports activities.
One other slender management ring sits forward of the zoom ring. Twisting it drives the lens to its preset focus place. 4 buttons sit across the barrel forward of it; holding any of them will cease the autofocus system—that is helpful in case you’ve obtained targeted locked in and are ready for the fitting second to shoot, however do not need to change the lens to guide focus mode.
Picture High quality
I ran lab checks on the 200-400mm utilizing the complete-body Canon EOS 6D, however principally used the 7D Mark II throughout area testing. Its APS-C image sensor and best-in-class autofocus system are each execs for capturing wildlife.
When paired with a full-body camera, Imatest outcomes for this lens are wonderful. The 200-400mm supplies very even efficiency from edge to edge. At 200mm f/4 it exhibits 2,770 strains per picture height (1,800 is taken into account sharp), and improves to 2,895 strains at f/5.6. There is a slight dip at f/8 (2,810 strains) and f/11 (2,657 strains). Numbers drop only a bit at 300mm, however it’s hardly a priority. At f/4 the lens exhibits 2,683 strains and at f/5.6 it scores 2,852 strains. I wasn’t capable of run a full decision check at 400mm on account of area constraints within the testing lab, however a visible inspection of the world of the SFRPlus check chart that I used to be capable of body exhibits that outcomes are fairly crisp, even at f/4.
Switching the teleconverter on sacrifices some element, however a good portion. At 280mm f/5.6 the lens scores 2,335 strains—a few 15 % drop compared with the outcomes at 200mm f/4, the corresponding focal size and aperture sans teleconverter. There’s an enchancment at f/8 (2,512 strains) and the identical drop you’d anticipate diffraction to trigger at f/11 (2,494 strains). Once more, operating checks at 560mm proved problematic because of the tight subject of view, however the check chart seemed fairly sharp on the pixel degree on a pc screen.
These outcomes match what I noticed within the subject. I acquired the best outcomes from the lens at f/5.6 with out the teleconverter enabled and at f/8 with it set. Distortion just isn’t a problem for many telephoto lenses, and it isn’t with this one. There’s a slight quantity of barrel distortion at 200mm, about 1.4 %, however that is simply barely noticeable, even should you’re on the lookout for it. It is passed by 300mm, and I wasn’t capable of determine any distortion points with photographs captured at 400mm. Utilizing the teleconverter does introduce a little bit of pincushion distortion, about 1 % at 200mm, however once more, that is not an offensive quantity, and when you do discover it in an image it is easy sufficient to take away utilizing software instruments.
Because of the measurement of the front factor I wasn’t capable of check uniformity utilizing an ExpoDisc as I sometimes do, however true overcast day allowed me to seize flat grey pictures to run via Imatest’s Uniformity evaluation device. There’s a drop in illumination on the corners of the body when capturing at f/4—about 2 stops at 200mm and 300mm, and 3 stops at 400mm. However stopping right down to f/5.6 eliminates any noticeable impact on the wider angles, and significantly diminishes it at 400mm. Outcomes are about the identical with the teleconverter locked in place.
There isn’t any argument to be made concerning the Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x when it comes to image high quality, construct high quality, or the thoughtfulness of its management scheme. The bones to select are with its price and hefty design. The comparable Nikon 200-400mm does not embrace a constructed-in teleconverter, however at $ 7,000 it is a barely simpler capsule to swallow. And in the event you’re prepared to forgo an f/4 aperture and go together with a slower lens, each value and weight drop shortly. The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM and Sigma one hundred fifty-600mm Modern have earned our Editors’ Selection designation, and each are simpler to make use of when backpacking of masking an occasion the place you want mobility.
However not each photographer has the identical priorities. Should you’re not that delicate to value, lust after quick glass, and work in a method that an 8-pound telezoom is not impractical, Canon’s 200-400mm will not disappoint. Even whether it is priced in the identical neighborhood because the used automotive you will want to move it from gig to gig.
Source : PCMag.com