I went to the Canon event @ Cathay Orchard Cineleisure (Singapore) today in order to have a look at the 200-400 F4L IS USM 1.4x and was not disappointed.
With exception of the 200 F2L IS all of Canon’s current long whites were lined up nicely with an 1DX attached on tripods with gimbal heads so that I could easily compare all of them side-by-side despite the huge crowd.
I did totally disregard the 6D, the EOS M, the 24-70L II, the cine cams and lenses and all other gadgets I am not interested in and went straight to the biggest swarm of people surrounding the 200-400L.
The 200-400L was definitely the star of the event and most difficult to put my sweaty hands on. Thanks to the Wimberley the handling of the lens was very easy despite its considerably large size. The build quality is top notch and the AF snappy, accurate and lightning fast not only in center AF mode (=as great as on all current whites).
Manual focusing works well and the zoom ring operates smoothly although much slower than the one on the 70-200 F2.8L IS II. Zooming on a lens with such a huge diameter feels a bit odd but I am sure this is just the case because it is totally new to me. I just hope that zooming will be as easy when handholding the lens which unfortunately was not possible at the event.
IQ and bokeh are amazing (at least on the screen of the 1DX; the card doors were taped over on all cams so that I could not snatch any card).
Switching between 1.0x and 1.4x using the inbuilt TC works very well (of course the use of the TC costs you one stop), the locking mode is almost superfluous since the switch does not flip on its own and will hardly be flipped by mistake. The design as seen in the pics is supposed to be the final design. According to the Canon rep only the internal design is still not final but very close to.
He told me that the 200-400 would be commercially available in S’pore by the end of 2Q2013. He was not supposed to comment on the price tag and did not show any reaction to any of the price ranges I was throwing at him.
Here comes the surprise: According to the rep the lens will only weigh slightly more than 2kg (which should be pretty much in line with the 300 2.8L IS USM II). Therefore the lens will be handholdable and can be carried around all day without getting a sore back/arm. Hence my expectation towards the price is that it will cost at least as much as the 600 F4L IS II due to the huge amount of fluorite used to bring down the weight so much.
The Canon rep did not know anything about 800L and 200L updates nor about any upcoming DO super teles.
Verdict: If I would not own the 300 F2.8L IS II I would not be able to sleep tonight and when I would finally be able to sleep again in a couple of days I would definitely dream about the new addition to Canon’s white line-up…
P.S.: Please excuse the poor quality of the pics, I snapped them secretly when the Canon reps’ eagle eyes were for a short moment not watching me closely. I just switched my RX100 on without checking/adjusting the settings/mode dial.
P.P.S.: The black AF points on the 1DX do really suck!