Many Canon shooters have always wanted a lens similar to Nikon’s 200-400 f4 lens.  The Nikon lens is fast and takes a tele-converter well, making it a very nice safari lens.  To date, the Canon options have been :

  • the 100-400 f4.5-5.6, which is compact relative to the other options, but known for some dust problems and does not take a tele-converter well.
  • The 400 f4 DO, which is light and compact, but a little pricey and a fixed focal length
  • the 300 f2.8 which is quite fast, but is a ‘tweener’ with not enough range for most safari shots.

I am excited about the new lens, but I must warn that I think it will be rather expensive (as is the Nikon 200-400), at a price north of $6000 and also quite heavy, so make sure you bring along the bean bag.  One cool feature of the new lens will be the incorporated 1.4x teleconverter (extender) built into the design.  This feature will decrease lens changes and thereby lower dust on the sensor.  Time will tell if this lens is loved as we currently have no info on sharpness, speed of focusing, etc.  but, it’s here! I would love to own this new lens, but see that as a supplement to my existing 100-400 rather than a replacement due to weight/size considerations.

Here is the press release for the new Canon offering:

New Canon 200-400 f4

London, UK, 7th February 2011 – Canon today announces the development of a telephoto zoom lens featuring an integrated focal length extender – the EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXTENDER 1.4x. The lens will be displayed for the first time during CP+, held in Yokohama, Japan.

Designed for Canon’s leading range of EOS Digital SLR cameras, the new lens will be an ideal addition for sports and wildlife photographers, offering exceptional flexibility with a built-in 1.4x extender that creates an increased focal range of 280 – 560mm.

Perfect for photographers who require high performance, fast aperture and a flexible telephoto range, the EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXTENDER 1.4× will enable photographers to shoot a greater breadth of subjects using a single lens, delivering the best possible image quality at all focal lengths.

Developed as a new addition to Canon’s acclaimed L-series of professional lenses, the new lens will offer an unsurpassed combination of versatility, first-class optical performance and an enhanced weather-proof construction. The model will be released as part of Canon’s continued development of its EF lens line-up, offering enhanced performance and improved functions that cater for the needs of photographers from beginners through to professionals.

The EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXTENDER 1.4x is scheduled for launch during 2011.