Canon USA has published an interview with the developers of the brand new Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS III and Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS III super telephoto lenses, the lightest lenses of their kind in the world.

A lot more went on during the development than just weight reduction. New challenges lead to new materials, manufacturing processes and functionality.

Some of the design goals and challenges facing the developers:

  • Rather than simply making the lens lighter, we retooled the lens from the ground up for an overall balanced weight.
  • Improved mobility and portability, with reduced weight
  • A significant — not average — reduction in weight
  • We were convinced we could reach our goal thanks to the
    proposal of a new optical system.
  • New challenges, one after the other, with tag-team efforts
    between Optical Design, Mechanical Design, Electrical
    Design, and Production that overcame these challenges.
  • Reducing the number of component s results in both
    a lightweight design and increased strength.
  • Using a new high-strength alloy for the lens barrel
  • Using the latest gyro sensor is insufficient for improved
    IS performance — it was necessary to build a new control algorithm that assumes a variety of situations.
  • Not only has handheld IS performance improved, but it can
    now deal with vibration when using a tripod.
  • Improved lens focus drive speed even when an EF tele-extender is attached.
  • An expert coating team was formed with the cooperation of the
    Mechanical and Manufacturing departments within Canon, to aim
    for an ideal solution.
  • We didn’t compromise on the white color, despite placing
    priority on functionality.

The Full Canon Developers Interview (19.6mb PDF)

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16 comments

  1. Canon's selection of white paint is a racist dog whistle used to indicate the superiority of the super-teles over the (lesser) black lenses.

    BLM - Black Lenses Matter?
  2. There was a topic here where we discussed the MTF curves betweeen the series two and three 400 and 600. Without resurrecting that topic what was the final feeling of the issue of potential optical quality between the series? It looked to me that absent a different methodology the newer series MTF is not quite where the series two MTF and presumably optical quality are.

    The weight and balance are a totally different hand of cards winning hand.
  3. With regards to the new 400, I have not read it all yet, but like the idea of two different hoods and a soft carry case. The hard carry case with the previous version was great at protecting the lens but not very practical.

    Thanks for sharing I look forward to reading the rest of the article.
  4. awesome they getting vibrations better handled with new is.
    Anyone knows any tripod what would work together with IS better ,like one made half from rubber and half aluminium? built more llike human legs
  5. awesome they getting vibrations better handled with new is.
    Anyone knows any tripod what would work together with IS better ,like one made half from rubber and half aluminium? built more llike human legs

    I don't! However I do find that long lenses work better without IS.
  6. Shall I infer from your statement that you find that short lenses work better with IS?:p

    The only short lenses I have used extensively that have IS are the 16-5 F4 L IS and 24-105 F4 L IS and I don't use IS on them so it would hardly be fair/sensible for me to comment.
  7. There was a topic here where we discussed the MTF curves betweeen the series two and three 400 and 600. Without resurrecting that topic what was the final feeling of the issue of potential optical quality between the series? It looked to me that absent a different methodology the newer series MTF is not quite where the series two MTF and presumably optical quality are.

    The weight and balance are a totally different hand of cards winning hand.

    Also the mkI was ridiculously sharp. It's the only lens I've used with a 2x TC and found the sharpness wide open excellent. Although the AF was less accurate with a 2x. The problem with the mk1 is the weight of the thing. I need to heaviest Video tripod to handle the lens adequately. It's no joke finding a tripod and fluid head that can handle a 12Kg + load effortlessly. But the images I get from it are exceptional. I'd like to try a mkIII purely for the weight reduction, but if the IQ is anything less than the mkI....what's the point?

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