We have been testing one of the best lenses from Canon: the EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x. We also had the chance to try it with the Canon EOS 1D-X and a 128GB SanDisk Extreme CompactFlash card, which we reviewed a few days ago.
This proved to be one of the most powerful combination of components and devices, especially if you’re into action photography. Instead of doing a “traditional” test, today we tested this set of components in a rugby match.
Before we begin, let’s take a quick look at its features:
- Incorporated 1.4x Teleconverter.
- Image Stabilizer for up to four steps.
- Magnesium alloy body.
- Fast USM Autofocus (includes Power Focus for EOS Movie).
- Intuitive controls focus.
Construction and Design
With an optical design of 25 lenses divided into 20 groups, this is a very balanced device, despite its weight of over 3.5 kg. The use of magnesium alloy also adds strength and durability, as well as resistance to dust. All of its parts can be cleaned easily.
On the bottom of the lens we find the handle, which allows us to use a telephoto tripod or monopod. You can use it with any kind of tripod that supports cameras of at least 5lbs.
Also, a small button in the bottom of the camera allows you to deactivate the teleconverter. Design-wise, looks a lot like a classic Canon camera.
Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x: Performance
The first we noticed is that it’s very fast. Its new Ultrasonic Motor allows a quick and quiet autofocus. The automatic AI mode is also great, although it occasionally lost focus, but it’s not that big if a deal.
It also proved to be excellent when taking bokeh pictures, as it offers an impressive performance in this regard.
When using the multiplier, the area of the focus points is reduced to the center, being more difficult to reframe the scene. Another very nice feature is the possibility of creating a pre-focus, which you can go back to at any time no matter what mode you’re using.
Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x: Image Quality
Of course, performance isn’t everything, and now we’ll take a look at the image quality, something the Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x nails it perfectly. Except on very rare occasions when we lose the focus, the image quality this device provides is simply perfect.
Angle range of 200mm and 400mm
Angle range of 1.4x 200mm（280mm）and 1.4x 400mm(560mm)
This is largely thanks to the Image Stabilizer (IS) that guarantees a perfect image quality no matter the circumstances. The “Mode 3” system activates the stabilization right when you need it, especially useful in complicated scenes or conditions.
Furthermore, the optical design of the lens includes fluorite lens elements as well as Ultra Low Dispersion (UD) elements, which minimize chromatic aberration and eliminate color blur. Moreover, the Subwavelength Structure Coating (or SWC) and Super Spectra coating also reduce ghosting. In addition, the huge parasol also helps taking even better pictures by controlling the light our picture gets. You can attach 52mm filters on the base.
In regards to the integrated 1.4x multiplier (which happens to be a 280-560mm focal), you can hardly distinguish the quality difference between using or not. It is virtually the same.
If you can pay the price (about 11799 dollars), this is the perfect lens for action photography. While it can (and will) offer excellent results in almost any situation, taking pictures of moving objects and people is its specialty, no doubt about it.
This is a good alternative to replace the 2.8 fixed focal telephoto of Canon (200,300 and 400mm), even though you would be losing aperture, but providing more focal length thanks to the teleconverter (as long as we work with cameras like the Canon EOS 1D-X or the Canon EOS 5D MKIII).