Review: Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS III USM

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EOS 5D Mark IV
Mar 14, 2012
2,397
265
It is very disappointing with a 2xTC - see https://www.the-digital-picture.com...meraComp=979&SampleComp=0&FLIComp=2&APIComp=0 where it is much softer than the II. It's even worse with a 7DII. The 400mm DO II is looks better https://www.the-digital-picture.com...meraComp=963&SampleComp=0&FLIComp=2&APIComp=0
I wonder how much of that is because of the weakness of the 2x TC. The bare lens and 1.4x are much closer in the comparison. Perhaps the correction residuals of the III is in the same "direction" as the 2x TC which makes the overall IQ weaker whereas the DO/II are in the opposite "direction" as the 2x TC so that some of the aberrations are cancelling. Perhaps it is time to roll out version IV of the TCs. At the very least they can update the paint color. :rolleyes:

Did anyone else notice that the review also states the lens is ONLY compatible with version III of the TC/extenders? I wonder why...
 

Jack Douglas

CR for the Humour
Apr 10, 2013
6,624
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Alberta, Canada
Wonder how many II owners will update for weight since IQ doesn't seem to be a good reason? I would not be too happy with that converter degrade on such a lens.

Jack
 

AlanF

Stay alert, control the camera, save photos
CR Pro
Aug 16, 2012
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Just checked the Canon MTF values. They are in https://www.usa.canon.com/internet/...ef/super-telephoto/ef-400mm-f-2-8l-is-iii-usm under Resources. They are not in the usual format and the link to the explanation is broken. But, whatever they are, they drop off with the 2xTC. It looks like Canon needs to issue a specific 2xTCIV just for the new 400 and 600mm lenses, which seems like a serious omission for $12000+ lenses.
 
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Jack Douglas

CR for the Humour
Apr 10, 2013
6,624
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Alberta, Canada
Alan, I learned on CR that serious photographers don't use teleconverters. And guess why; they degrade the photo.;)

But since I'm not serious it's OK.

The MTFs for the 400 DO II with 1.4X and 2X look decent.

Jack
 

Pape

EOS RP
Dec 31, 2018
594
362
its logical new lenses gives lesser quality .smaller lenses bigger errors on shaping.
teleconverter doubles chromatic abberation and other errors so they visible more clear.
Converter lenses are very small too ,i guess they add lot of errors also.
 
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Del Paso

M3 Singlestroke
Aug 9, 2018
858
897
According to the graphics in the Full Review, several of the large glass elements and groups have been moved back toward the back of the lens to make it lighter and more balanced. The only way to move them back is to use smaller glass.

So, since they are using less glass and less large pieces of glass, the cost should be considerably less too... right? Right Canon? Is this thing on?
Not necessarily, since some types of optical glass can cost a fortune!
 

Del Paso

M3 Singlestroke
Aug 9, 2018
858
897
I wonder how much of that is because of the weakness of the 2x TC. The bare lens and 1.4x are much closer in the comparison. Perhaps the correction residuals of the III is in the same "direction" as the 2x TC which makes the overall IQ weaker whereas the DO/II are in the opposite "direction" as the 2x TC so that some of the aberrations are cancelling. Perhaps it is time to roll out version IV of the TCs. At the very least they can update the paint color. :rolleyes:

Did anyone else notice that the review also states the lens is ONLY compatible with version III of the TC/extenders? I wonder why...
I wouldn't be surprised if Canon introduced someday a new (specific?) extender.
 
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Cochese

EOS 90D
Oct 22, 2014
142
87
DSLRs are on the way out. CIPA number shows that mirrorless are replacing and not adding to interchangeable lens camera body sales.
Considering the lenses already work on the RF system via a simple adapter (or a more complex one, if you choose), seems rather silly to go full conversion. Though, I suppose if people were willing to waste their money on it, they'd offer it.
 

AlanF

Stay alert, control the camera, save photos
CR Pro
Aug 16, 2012
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The MTF charts in https://www.usa.canon.com/internet/...ef/super-telephoto/ef-400mm-f-2-8l-is-iii-usm "Resources" are quite differently presented from in the past. Previously, thick lines were for 10 lp/mm and thin 30 lp/mm, black for wide open and blues for f/8. Now, there are just think lines and blue is worse than black. I guess that black may now be the 10 lp/mm, blue 30 lp/mm, and the results are for wide open only. If so, the III lens is worse at f/2.8 at 400mm, 560mm and 800mm. The same is true for the 600mm III vs II. But, the-digital-picture images show the 400mm II and III to be very similar at 400 and 560mm. There is currently no explanation on the Canon USA site for the change in presentation of the charts.
 

Pape

EOS RP
Dec 31, 2018
594
362
second two lenses from main lense are removing chromatic abberation right? and they lot smaller now ,maybe they dont do just as good as big ones.
It looks more bluish on dicital picture com compare when compared to ii model with 2x. so maybe it doesnt bend blue light right and its comes visible with 2x?
 

privatebydesign

Garfield is back...
CR Pro
Jan 29, 2011
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I do wonder if Canon will eventually offer a service to convert the the 400 & 600 from an EF mount to a RF mount. They did this before with the FD200mm f/1.8L in the late 80s
No they didn’t. They released the EF version first and then under pressure from heavily invested FD using pros released a very limited number of FD versions. They never offered a service to ‘convert’ the 200 f1.8.
 

FramerMCB

Canon 40D & 7D
Sep 9, 2014
445
118
53
Considering the lenses already work on the RF system via a simple adapter (or a more complex one, if you choose), seems rather silly to go full conversion. Though, I suppose if people were willing to waste their money on it, they'd offer it.
I predict Canon offering it once (and if) they stop making DSLR's. I don't necessarily see DSLR's going away, but maybe. I'm not sure how much testing anyone has done yet with an EOS R, an adapter, a 1.4X or 2X TC, and a big white to see how that all works together. One would think it would be rather seamless, but then again, that is adding more connections that have to be "communicated" across from lens to camera body and back... (I'm not a technical guy so...)
 

privatebydesign

Garfield is back...
CR Pro
Jan 29, 2011
9,032
3,080
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They also did it with the Canon FD 1200mm f/5.6L USM.
No they didn’t.

Canon never sold the FD 1200 (with built in 1.4TC), they made a very limited number of them that Canon Japan owned and lent out on occasions. They then disassembled all of them and rebodied the elements into the EF versions, minus the 1.4 TC, and did sell them commercially.
 

hendrik-sg

EOS RP
Apr 21, 2011
247
25
- I like to use my tele lens with a lens2scope for direct viewing. It's fantastic what image quality even the 100-400ii gives. the new superteles can not be used this way, because they can not be focused without camera. Canon should offer a lens2scope themselves, which can activate the IS system (with included battery of course) I would preorder it just now.
- Handholdable is relative, people are very different in strength. One finds a 70-200 2.8 not handholdable for a longer time, the other can manage a much heavier combination.
- The price is almost 2x the version ii. it's one very expensively saved kilo (even if the balance may be better on top
- In the TDP measurements one can find more inconsistent results, if one compares them to the MTF lines, especially in the super teles. So, the worse center result with 1 of the extenders may be sample variation, a small defocussing or any other influence. I would be confident the lens is fantastic anyways and the better IS system alone may compensate for this little slip up (if it's real)
- I don't think the is a possibility to judge on IQ based of bloc diagrams, the optical design optimizes so many parameter to get the optimum out f a optical concept, that discussing element sizes and assumed production tolerances of them it just unqualified guessing.
- the EF/RF discussion and assuming DSLR's are dead etc, are in the wrong place. The shooting costs when such equipment is used are so high, that a early replacement of a EF lens or having a special EF camera for this lens is peanuts in the overall costs, and the adapter is not that heavy and doesn't hurt when shooting a football game. So, I would not expect to see any ii versions at the next Olympics, Formula 1, or FIFA events. At such events, it's a small part of the cost to have the best equipment available. Even for amateurs, if I can afford shooting penguins in Antarctica, updating a camera or lens can not be the problem, I would go with the best equipment available, and do some training just before I go, to avoid handling errors.
 

Optics Patent

Former Nikon (Changes to R5 upon delivery)
Nov 6, 2019
310
248
I do wonder if Canon will eventually offer a service to convert the the 400 & 600 from an EF mount to a RF mount. They did this before with the FD200mm f/1.8L in the late 80s
I'm late to the discussion, and new to Canon, after making the awkward switch from Nikon. Due to lenses like this and the new RF 70-200. Those two lenses cover the long range (starting as a friendly 70mm distance for everyday family photos) without leaving room to dream of something better. (A small fast prime and the 11-24 cover the rest).

My fear is that after dropping $12k on this, they'll come out with an RF version and I'll have to trade in expensively. But a factory conversion would be ideal. My patent-pending invention includes the notion of an RF lens sold with a visually-integrated "adapter" that removes for EF use. Preferably removable only when the lens is detached. I do wish that for $12k they offered a white control-ring adapter that was styled to match.

Another option is an RF adapter with switchable tele-converter.
 

Michael Clark

Now we see through a glass, darkly...
Apr 5, 2016
3,057
1,801
Wow! Checking the price, I was expecting more. Only if I were a pro shooter would I even start dreaming of having this, mainly because it is still pretty heavy for anyone who is getting up there in years. That alone makes me pretty content to be using the 400 DO II.

Now if I were young and athletic (and rich ;)) like Ethan, I'd just run out and buy it.

Alan, it's nice to see that we don't do too badly with the DO (X2) considering it's "low" price.

Jack
No matter what one's net worth is, "rich" is always those with more than what one has themself.
 

Michael Clark

Now we see through a glass, darkly...
Apr 5, 2016
3,057
1,801
DSLRs are on the way out. CIPA number shows that mirrorless are replacing and not adding to interchangeable lens camera body sales.
it seems to me, though, that the use cases for a 400mm f/2.8 lens are also some of the last use cases that will see movement from DSLR to mirrorless cameras.
 
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Michael Clark

Now we see through a glass, darkly...
Apr 5, 2016
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The 2xTC lives on my 400mm DO II when it is on the 5DIV, so it is a real hoot that the lens beats out its big brother!
Flat test chart performance at relatively close distances can sometimes be different than actual performance at more typical distances for which a 400mm lens is used.
 
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Michael Clark

Now we see through a glass, darkly...
Apr 5, 2016
3,057
1,801
I'm late to the discussion, and new to Canon, after making the awkward switch from Nikon. Due to lenses like this and the new RF 70-200. Those two lenses cover the long range (starting as a friendly 70mm distance for everyday family photos) without leaving room to dream of something better. (A small fast prime and the 11-24 cover the rest).

My fear is that after dropping $12k on this, they'll come out with an RF version and I'll have to trade in expensively. But a factory conversion would be ideal. My patent-pending invention includes the notion of an RF lens sold with a visually-integrated "adapter" that removes for EF use. Preferably removable only when the lens is detached. I do wish that for $12k they offered a white control-ring adapter that was styled to match.

Another option is an RF adapter with switchable tele-converter.
To make a TC switchable, it needs to be in front of the bare lens' registration (flange-focal) distance. That is, it needs to be integrated into the lens itself. Otherwise, when the TC elements are removed from the optical path, the lens is the thickness of the TC too far from the camera.
 
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AlanF

Stay alert, control the camera, save photos
CR Pro
Aug 16, 2012
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Flat test chart performance at relatively close distances can sometimes be different than actual performance at more typical distances for which a 400mm lens is used.
That can indeed be true. One example is the Nikon 200-500mm, which is optimised for distances used by reviewers for charts.
 
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