Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L Announcement

A much more exciting news today is for Canon shooters – the Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L with a built-in 1.4x teleconverter has finally been announced. The Canon 200-400mm f/4 was released in response to the highly regarded Nikon 200-400mm f/4G VR, which Nikon has been making for a decade now. Many Canon enthusiasts and pros have been craving badly for such a lens, because it can be invaluable for photographing wildlife. Instead of creating the same lens, Canon took optical design a step further and designed the lens with a built-in 1.4x teleconverter, making it a versatile lens with 200-400mm or 280-560mm focal lengths.

Canon 200-400mm f/4 IS 1.4x

Its impressive optical design also put it in a completely different league than Nikon’s version, as it is priced at a hefty $11,799, versus Nikon’s $6,750. Judging by its MTF data (see how to read an MTF chart), this will be one killer lens.

Here is the official announcement:

Introducing the EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x – improved performance and versatility for professional sports and wildlife photographers

London, UK, 14 May 2013 – Canon today adds a new category to its range of high-performance super-telephoto lenses, with the introduction of the EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x to Canon’s acclaimed L-series. The EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x features a flexible 200-400mm focal range with a fixed f/4 aperture, 4-stop optical Image Stabilizer and for the first time in a commercially available lens, a built-in 1.4x extender. These features combine to provide an outstandingly versatile lens for professional sports or wildlife photographers. A robust magnesium alloy design, environmental protection and specialised lens coatings also make it ideal for mobile use, combining with the finest quality optics to deliver exceptional results, even in the harshest conditions.

Get closer to the action with superior image quality

The reach of the EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x is boosted by its internal 1.4x extender, which is engaged or disengaged at the flick of a lever to provide an extended focal length of 280mm to 560mm – allowing photographers to get even closer to distant action. Ensuring the highest image performance, the optical design includes both fluorite and Ultra-low Dispersion (UD) lens elements, which help minimise chromatic aberration and eliminate colour blurring. Advanced anti-reflection SubWavelength Structure Coating (SWC) and Super Spectra Coating also reduce ghosting and flare. Thanks to the use of the latest optical technologies, image performance is unaffected when the integrated extender is used.

With a constant f/4 aperture the use of high shutter speeds to capture fast-paced action or a low-light scene is possible. A newly designed optical Image Stabilizer, which provides users with a four stop advantage, while IS ‘Mode 3’ applies image stabilisation only at the time of exposure – ensuring that photographers can pan with fast-paced action without IS overcompensating for movement. This feature is ideal for sports photographers, who typically have only a split-second to capture a subject in front of them.

Powerful, flexible focusing

The EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x features Canon’s pioneering ring-type Ultrasonic Motor providing fast, silent autofocusing. For those who prefer to fine-tune focus themselves, full-time manual override allows photographers to manually focus at any moment when using AF. The Power Focus (PF) mode also increases versatility during movie shooting with the EOS-1D C or EOS-1D X, enabling photographers to achieve an accurate pull-focus effect at one of two speeds, simply by twisting the focus recall ring and stopping at a pre-set distance.

High-performance design for professional demands

Designed to answer professional demands for superior image quality and versatile zoom range, the EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x a boasts a premium-quality design befitting Canon’s industry-renowned L-series lenses.

The tough magnesium alloy chassis ensures that, despite the inclusion of the 1.4x extender, the lens is a similar weight to lenses of comparable focal length. Fluorine coatings on the front and rear lens elements also reduce the ability of dirt to cling to the lens surface, while a dust and water-resistant construction allows photographers to shoot in challenging weather conditions. The combination of outstanding optical performance, versatility, weight and tough construction will make it an essential part of any professional sports or wildlife photographer’s kitbag.

EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x key features

  • Built-in 1.4x extender, for extra magnification when you need it
  • Shoot in low light with four-stop Image Stabilizer
  • High image quality using Fluorite lens elements
  • Fast AF with USM technology
  • Robust design for use in the toughest environments

Pre-order Links

As always, you can pre-order your copy of the Canon 200-400mm f/4L through our trusted affiliate B&H:


  1. 1) WFP
    May 14, 2013 at 5:51 am

    Wow…looks great except it is nearly double the price of Nikons 200-400 F4G :-\ Undoubtedly it will be superior optically but having used Nikons one I would have to say my clients have ever complained of lack of sharpness. Gotta thank instagram and mobile phones for that :-)

  2. 2) FrancoisR
    May 14, 2013 at 7:26 am

    Wow wow, definitely out of my league price wise. It will have to equal or surpass a prime. I just got a 200 f2 and at less than half the cost with TC2III (200m for unreal portraits), I would be curious to see a head to head review at 200 and 400mm. I understand a zoom is more versatile but it will be healthy exercise. I went Nikon because of the 36mpx sensor and skyrocketing prices of “L” lenses. The Camera Store video of the D800 vs 5D3 review in low light tipped the balance too.

    Thank you for bringing more Canon stuff Nasim.

  3. 3) Pdlm
    May 14, 2013 at 10:05 am

    Sounds like a great lens! Too bad I’m all Nikon bodies. Well actually it’s too expensive for my use anyway.

    200-400 is becoming the new pro sports lens for soccer, football and other large field sports. You get twice the usable shots, because with a 400 you can cover both ends of the field simultaneously. This is especially important in less predictable sports like Soccer or Lacrosse, where the ball could be moving on one end, then suddenly the action is at the far end. I find football is a little bit more predictable so a 300/2.8 works well. In Soccer I often find myself wishing I could go to 400. When I have the reach of a teleconverter, 50% of my shots were between 320-370mm.

    The only downside is that at f/4 you will have a slightly harder time during night games, but if your sensor handles high ISO well, then you can probably make up for it.

  4. 4) Tim
    May 14, 2013 at 11:18 am

    Great lens if you have the big bucks. Compared to the Nikon 200-400mm, I like the additional 1.4x extender that the Nikon doesn’t have. I read the article and didn’t see much detail on the extender. Do you lose a stop of light with the 1.4x extension?

    I shoot Canon but wish the IS was not included on the lens. If you are using this lens for sports or wildlife, you more than likely will have a monopod or tripod to do the same thing. The IS on most other Canon lenses almost doubles the price tag.

    • 4.1) Pdlm
      May 14, 2013 at 11:31 am

      Good point Tim. ByThom suggests not using Nikon VR (and I assume Canon IS) if you’re shooting faster than 1/500th, which for sports you almost always are.

    • 4.2) Jorge Balarin
      May 14, 2013 at 11:58 am

      I prefer to pay less for the Nikon lens and buy a separate teleconverter. The Canon zoom cost a fortune.

      • 4.2.1) Tim
        May 14, 2013 at 1:31 pm

        I understand the price difference issue. Personally I do not do sports enough to justify either the Nikon on the Canon. I think the convenience in the field of fast action wildlife and sports can make all the difference in getting the shot or not.

        I think if the IS was not on the Canon lens, it would be comparable to the Nikon version anyway.

    • 4.3) peter2
      May 14, 2013 at 3:50 pm

      > Do you lose a stop of light with the 1.4x extension?

      You do. Just like putting a 1.4x on a nikon 200-400 f/4, it’ll be 280-560 f/5.6.

  5. 5) Martin
    May 14, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    $11799…? Here, in the UK, the lens is offered by Park Cameras(usually competitive), as a pre-order, for £11999. That’s a third more!

    As for the “built-in 1.4 teleconverter”… My Nikon 300f4 is actually a 420f5.6, because the 1.4 teleconverter is never off it. Does that classify as “built-in”?

    The combination cost me about one twelfth of the price of the new Canon, and I’ll probably give up on the zoom factor, and the “built-in”, because I always use the 420mm for wildlife, in any case.

    All credit to Canon: a fascinating, mould-breaking lens, which, no doubt, will produce a stellar performance, but… the COST?????

  6. 6) HomoSapiensWannaBe
    May 14, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    Having a built-in 1.4 extender that easily switches in-out is awesome!

    Just a friendly reminder that if Nikon were releasing the 200-400 today, it would probably cost a lot more than it does. Maybe not as much as Canon’s new Bazoomka-Switcheroo, but Nikon would still have to amortize the development cost at today’s prices.

    In favor of Canon, note the very reasonable prices for their older but excellent telephoto lenses like the 300/4 IS and 400/5.6, besides the fact that Nikon does not make these two lenses.

    Nikon’s 70-200/4G VR cost more without the collar than Canon’s equivalent with the collar.

  7. 7) Eliot Nierman
    May 14, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    How does one make a built in teleconverter? Something that slides in and out?

    • 7.1) HomoSapiensWannaBe
      May 15, 2013 at 6:58 am

      There is a lump on the side of the barrel near the body with a flip lever that switches the small set of 1.4 extender optics in/out of the light path of the main zoom optical system.

  8. 8) ertan
    May 15, 2013 at 9:27 am

    1 Canon 200-400mm = 1 Nikon 200-400 + 1,4x + 1 Nikon D4

    • May 17, 2013 at 6:28 pm

      Haha! Good observation.

      • 8.1.1) RVB
        May 22, 2013 at 12:15 pm

        The Canon will easily beat the Nikkor for I.Q

  9. 9) Derek
    May 17, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    I hope Nikon is going to upgrade their poor performing 200-400 to that of this this lens. When I heard about the Nikon 200-400 f4 I was really excited but then I read the reviews and how soft it was at long distances I was some what disappointed. Now I am wishing I had bought Canon. Canon sports photographers are going to love this lens.

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