This is an in-depth review of the Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM with a built-in 1.4x extender, a telephoto zoom lens targeted at enthusiast and professional action photographers. For many years, Canon users shooting serious wildlife and sports photography had come to accept that the only telephoto lenses on offer by Canon that achieved top of the line performance were their prime lenses. At the time, the only Canon zoom lens in the telephoto range was the Canon EF 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS, a solid, if unspectacular lens with an outdated design. On the other hand, and much to Canon users’ envy, Nikon had given its customers something wholly different in 2003 when they released the Nikon 200-400mm f/4G VR, a professional-quality constant aperture super telephoto zoom lens. While Nikon’s 200-400mm had its faults (namely lack of sharpness when photographing distant subjects), it was the perfect lens to take on an African Safari or to a sports game. With fast autofocus, a constant aperture and good sharpness all packaged into a zoom lens, the Nikon lens was perfect for situations which required versatility and the ability to change focal lengths, while still maintaining high image quality. Nikon’s monopoly on professional grade super telephoto zooms would thankfully change in 2011 when Canon announced the development of its own 200-400mm f/4 lens which was also going to be the first telephoto lens of its kind to utilize a built-in teleconverter.
Today Canon announced the updated Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM lens, which promises remarkable performance for a 35mm prime, thanks to its updated optical formula and the new “Blue Spectrum Refractive Optics”, which is designed to further reduce chromatic aberration to new levels. With a total of 14 elements (2 of which are aspherical), 9 diaphragm blades for beautiful bokeh, fluorine coating and a dust / water-resistant construction, the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM will surely be a popular choice among Canon enthusiasts and professionals. The only issue might be the added weight – at 760 grams, it is 180 grams heavier than its predecessor. It will retail for $1,799 in October of 2015.
Canon has announced an update to its 50mm f/1.8 lens, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM. Compared to its 50mm f/1.8 II predecessor, the new 50mm f/1.8 STM integrates a stepper motor for quieter autofocus operation, rounded 7-blade diaphragm, a minimum focus distance of 35cm and a metal mount. Best of all, these changes do not come with a significant price hike – the new 50mm f/1.8 STM is only $129, making it the most affordable Canon EF lens on the market. Due to the change in the mount, the 50mm f/1.8 STM gains 30 grams of weight. Performance-wise, it will be very similar to its predecessor.
Do you remember how it used to be with brand and third-party lens manufacturers? Brand lenses were always the high-performers, in all senses of the word. Well built, reliable and great from an optical standpoint. Third-party lenses lacked somewhat in those areas (unless you count such legendary manufacturers as Zeiss), but made up for it with very low price and niche lenses you could not find anywhere else. In recent years, however, the situation has been changing and quite drastically. Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 VC came out. Sigma 85mm f/1.4 HSM did, too. And the 35mm f/1.4 HSM. And the 18-35mm f/1.8 HSM zoom for APS-C cameras. Need I go on? All of these lenses proved to be well built and very good optically. There is no exaggeration in saying they gave some brand lenses a good beating. So if third-party lenses started doing the “brand” thing, how should Canon, Nikon and the like answer? Well, witness this – Canon has just announced a new lens. It is an ultra wide-angle zoom with focal length range of 11-24mm and maximum aperture of f/4 throughout the range. It is designed for full-frame DSLR cameras and there is nothing else quite like it on the market.
I had a chance to play with the new Canon 7D Mark II this past weekend and I wanted to provide a little bit of feedback regarding the performance of this speed monster. I received my copy of the camera earlier last week, along with the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L lens, so that I could exclusively photograph wildlife with this setup. The Canon 7D Mark II is specifically targeted at sports and wildlife photographers, so I did not think it would make much sense to evaluate the camera for everyday photography needs. With the Canon 6D being in the same price range, it is a given that a full-frame camera would be much more desirable in terms of image quality for other photography needs.
In addition to the 7D Mark II, Canon also announced three new lenses this week at Photokina: EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM, EF 24–105mm f/3.5–5.6 IS STM and EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM. The first two are designed to work on both full-frame and APS-C cameras, while the 24mm f/2.8 is designed to be only used on cropped sensor cameras. The EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM is an update to the first model of the lens that was produced back in 2000, and this time Canon put a lot of new technology into the lens and has updated the lens design. The letters “DO” stand for “Diffractive Optics“, which not only reduce chromatic aberrations thanks to their different light dispersion path, but also allows for much smaller lens design. As a result, the EF 400mm f/4 is significantly smaller and lighter than the regular 400mm f/2.8L lens. In addition to the above benefits, the 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM now has better coatings to reduce ghosting and to improve color balance. Just like the professional “L” lenses, the lens has both dust and water-resistant construction and a 3 mode Image Stabilization system that offers up to four stops of vibration compensation. At $6,899 it is not a cheap lens by any means, but at the size a little bigger than a 70-200mm lens, it is surely an attractive choice for those that want to be able to hand-hold a 400mm lens.
Along with the 16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens, Canon has also introduced a budget wide-angle lens for its EF-S mount, the Canon 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM. At a very compact size, image stabilization and just 240 grams of weight, the Canon 10-18mm will be an interesting choice for Canon’s APS-C line of cameras like 7D, 70D and Digital Rebel series. With an equivalent field of view of 16–28.8mm relative to full-frame, the lens will offer great ultra wide angle coverage. And with its MSRP price of just $299, it will be a great choice for beginners and enthusiasts interested in landscape, travel, architecture and everyday photography.
I am finally back in Denver after a three week-long trip to the UK and I am trying to catch up with all the news and announcements that we’ve missed. The first news items are related to Canon lens announcements from last week. Canon announced the EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM image-stabilized full-frame lens for enthusiasts and professionals who want something cheaper than the EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM. Usually, f/4 lenses are lighter and smaller than their f/2.8 counterparts. However, the difference between the 16-35mm f/4L and 16-35mm f/2.8L is not as big – the former is just a tad thinner and weighs 20 grams lighter in comparison. The three biggest differences are obviously the smaller maximum aperture of f/4, $500 price difference and image stabilization. With a very similar optical design featuring the same number of elements and groups, 2 Ultra-low Dispersion (UD) and 3 Aspherical elements, the 16-35mm f/4L IS seems to challenge its big brother in a number of ways, even in optical performance.
When asked what gear I use most for my work, I will first of all give tribute to the classic fifty and talk about how useful and versatile it is for my style of shooting. And yet I would never willingly rely on that lens alone, no matter how much I liked it. Nor should someone else, really. In this follow-up article I will describe the two most popular lens combinations used among professional wedding photographers. Both of these lens combinations are enough to cover the biggest part of the wedding and, in that context, can be called workhorse lenses. One of the duos is used primarily by fixed focal length lens shooters, the other is very successfully used by photographers who largely prefer zoom lenses. Each of the combinations has their advantages and disadvantages when compared to the other, but whether one is better than the other remains very subjective. Please note that lens choices presented below are a result of a mini-research, where we asked a number of wedding photographers what two lenses were their favorite / most used.