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

AlanF

Hands. Face. Space.
CR Pro
Aug 16, 2012
7,249
6,856
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Optics Patent

Former Nikon (Changes to R5 upon delivery)
Nov 6, 2019
310
248
For those for whom this is handholdable it would be nice to offer a cover for where the foot attaches. Or better still an ultra light cover ring to replace the tripod ring and cover the bearing surface. White vinyl tape anyone?

Canon materials say that the small monopod foot replacement of the tripod foot requires factory service. Four screws. If they made me send it back I’d have the last laugh and remove the whole ring and send that alone. (Yes, warranty worriers, I know the risks).

Simplest solution is to make a little plastic cap to replace the foot. If lens weight savings are $4000 per two pounds then removing a two ounce part adds about $250 in value, right?
 

Jack Douglas

CR for the Humour
Apr 10, 2013
6,650
2,009
Alberta, Canada
For those for whom this is handholdable it would be nice to offer a cover for where the foot attaches. Or better still an ultra light cover ring to replace the tripod ring and cover the bearing surface. White vinyl tape anyone?

Canon materials say that the small monopod foot replacement of the tripod foot requires factory service. Four screws. If they made me send it back I’d have the last laugh and remove the whole ring and send that alone. (Yes, warranty worriers, I know the risks).

Simplest solution is to make a little plastic cap to replace the foot. If lens weight savings are $4000 per two pounds then removing a two ounce part adds about $250 in value, right?
For me, once I'm up to a certain weight like the 400 DO II, a few grams/ounces isn't going to influence me one way or the other. I guess there is that straw that eventually breaks the camel's back though. Going from the 300 2.8 II to the 400 the reduction in throat diameter was quite welcomed, certainly more than the slight weight difference.

Jack
 

Michael Clark

Now we see through a glass, darkly...
Apr 5, 2016
3,126
1,832
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...
Bryan does great work at T-D-C, but the weakness of his image quality tests is that his number of samples of each piece of gear is usually limited to one or, at the most, two examples. As Roger Cicala's rigorous testing methods at lensrental.com/OLAF have demonstrated, there can be considerable copy to copy variation from one sample to the next of a particular lens or particular combination of lens/camera. Introducing a third source of variability and an additional flange connection with associated alignment tolerances between the lens and the camera only increases the number of possible variables

Take, for example, his tests of Sigma telephoto lenses. Almost all of the recent ones do very well with the current Sigma 1.4X TC. Yet it seems all are universally mediocre (to put it politely) with the Sigma 2X TC. But I've seen some stunning work done with a Sigma 120-300/2.8 Sports + EF 2X III. Which leads one to suspect that Bryan's copy of the Sigma 2X TC may be the reason his tests of pretty much all recent Sigma telephoto lenses don't look that great with a 2X TC.

Or maybe his testing methods of very long focal lengths suffer from having targets too close to the camera compared to their typical use case?
 
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Optics Patent

Former Nikon (Changes to R5 upon delivery)
Nov 6, 2019
310
248
I will take this to mean it is still not a handholdable lens, at least not in the way the 300 is...
I'd say that the 300 is handholdable in the way a 5-1/4 pound lens is, and the 400 is handholdable in the way that a 6-1/4 pound lens is. Remove the 115g foot, and you have a 6-pound lens. If it were going to dedicated for handholding, then remove the whole ring.

I've noted above that the cost per gram to go from the IS II to the IS III is $4.00. Which might explain why they use four Aluminum screws to mount the tripod foot. That's a 6 gram savings that probably doesn't cost them $24.
 

Kit Lens Jockey

EOS R
CR Pro
Nov 12, 2016
878
597
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 heard they were going to release an at-home conversion kit...


1536859268_1433717.jpgSGH24J_prod.jpg

Seriously though I just don't get this anti-adapter mania. I guess people just decided that adapters were bad from the experience of adapting Canon glass onto Sony cameras, which is a legitimate stance to have. It has always been a crapshoot to adapt one manufactuer's lens onto another manufacturer's body using a third manufacturer's adapter.

But I've used the RF adapter since it came out and it's flawless. Seriously if you want this lens "converted" to RF, but the adapter on, and tape off the joint between the adapter and lens to seal it up from any possibility of water getting past the seal.
 

Optics Patent

Former Nikon (Changes to R5 upon delivery)
Nov 6, 2019
310
248
Seriously though I just don't get this anti-adapter mania. I guess people just decided that adapters were bad from the experience of adapting Canon glass onto Sony cameras, which is a legitimate stance to have. It has always been a crapshoot to adapt one manufactuer's lens onto another manufacturer's body using a third manufacturer's adapter.

But I've used the RF adapter since it came out and it's flawless. Seriously if you want this lens "converted" to RF, but the adapter on, and tape off the joint between the adapter and lens to seal it up from any possibility of water getting past the seal.
1. Love the "kit"! But seriously, I haven't seen any "mania", and I'm not sure how you can tell what people "decided." I agree that the adapters do their job flawlessly, but that isn't the issue. Read on and you might understand the thinking.
2. I paid a $4/gram lightness premium for this lens. Adding a 109 gram adapter (125g with control ring) is a $400-500 value hit on the lens. I'm confident that without the extra male and female mounts, fastener, structure, and electrical interfaces, much of that could be saved to add value. Intense effort went into shaving grams from the lens, and the adapter is made for all EF lenses so did not have the same weight-loss motivation. Lightest is a replacement rear housing that simply adds the needed length (this is the 6" long part that supports all the switch panels and has the window). Next is a bolt on that replaces the bayonet mount, presumably with special attention to weight reduction.
3. If a detachable adapter is to be used, then there's no weight benefit unless designed specially using the advanced materials of the IS III, but there is an aesthetic benefit to not having a mismatched color on the setup. For $12,000, one is entitled to a little pride of ownership, and an included one in matching white would be appreciated. It's not as bad as a mismatched body panel on a new luxury car, but...
4. It may be irrational, but most buyers have a dose of emotionalism to their decision making, and Canon has a powerful interest in simple measures that overcome the hesitancy that a percentage of potential customers have to some degree, whether aesthtics, weiught, or a mistaken assuption about quality or utulity. The more lenses Canon can sell, the more motivated they will be to continue to advance the technology and even price marginally more agressively.
5. A second release button is an opportunity for error - a dedicated adapter can avoid this.
6. With less than one adapter per lens, one often can have a hard time finding one when needed. Ask me how I know. At least when it's on the white lens I can tell at a glance!
7. Your comment acknowledges that having another seal to leak is at least a perceived disadvantage.
 
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Kit Lens Jockey

EOS R
CR Pro
Nov 12, 2016
878
597
1. Love the "kit"! But seriously, I haven't seen any "mania", and I'm not sure how you can tell what people "decided." I agree that the adapters do their job flawlessly, but that isn't the issue. Read on and you might understand the thinking.
2. I paid a $4/gram lightness premium for this lens. Adding a 109 gram adapter (125g with control ring) is a $400-500 value hit on the lens. I'm confident that without the extra male and female mounts, fastener, structure, and electrical interfaces, much of that could be saved to add value. Intense effort went into shaving grams from the lens, and the adapter is made for all EF lenses so did not have the same weight-loss motivation. Lightest is a replacement rear housing that simply adds the needed length (this is the 6" long part that supports all the switch panels and has the window). Next is a bolt on that replaces the bayonet mount, presumably with special attention to weight reduction.
3. If a detachable adapter is to be used, then there's no weight benefit unless designed specially using the advanced materials of the IS III, but there is an aesthetic benefit to not having a mismatched color on the setup. For $12,000, one is entitled to a little pride of ownership, and an included one in matching white would be appreciated. It's not as bad as a mismatched body panel on a new luxury car, but...
4. It may be irrational, but most buyers have a dose of emotionalism to their decision making, and Canon has a powerful interest in simple measures that overcome the hesitancy that a percentage of potential customers have to some degree, whether aesthtics, weiught, or a mistaken assuption about quality or utulity. The more lenses Canon can sell, the more motivated they will be to continue to advance the technology and even price marginally more agressively.
5. A second release button is an opportunity for error - a dedicated adapter can avoid this.
6. With less than one adapter per lens, one often can have a hard time finding one when needed. Ask me how I know. At least when it's on the white lens I can tell at a glance!
7. Your comment acknowledges that having another seal to leak is at least a perceived disadvantage.
2-3. We're still talking about a lens that weighs over 6lbs here. Honestly how much difference would there be in the weight of an RF adapter vs a hypothetical lens built with the added length of the RF flange distance built in? The RF adapter is already plastic. But I guess you save the additional metal flanges, so a lens made for RF from the start would be maybe 0.1lb lighter than this lens with the adapter on the back. With a lens that already weighs 6lbs and will probably spend most of its life on a monopod or a tripod, I'm struggling to see how much 0.1lb matters.

4. I get that people take pride in their gear, but honestly at this level of photography, most of the people who buy it and use it are buying it as a tool, not something that looks pretty. I doubt the people buying and using this lens care if there's an adapter on the back that's a different color. Hell a lot of these lenses will probably get the name of the news agency that owns them carved into the side of the lens. There are a lot of photojournalists out there running around with cameras that look like they got run over by a car. They don't care, as long as they still work.

5. If you're that worried about accidentally hitting the release slide and having the adapter come off, there are plenty of ways you could make the slide harder to manipulate to prevent this.

6. If you have $12,000 to spend on a lens, and you're using it in the fast paced environments it's likely to be used in, you have $100 to buy an RF adapter to live permanently on the back of the lens.

7. If you are shooting in conditions so severe that the existing rubber seal between this lens and the adapter may cause a water or dust leak, then you should just tape off the joint between them. And if you're in those kinds of conditions, you almost certainly don't care how having tape on your lens looks as long as it keeps things dry.

And lastly, probably the biggest one, why would anyone buy an RF version of this lens knowing that doing so effectively cuts them off from ever putting it on any camera made in the last 35 years or so that has an EF mount? As far as where we stand right now, Canon has not made any camera with an RF mount that performs well enough for most of the conditions that someone would be using a 400mm f2.8 in. That is a massive investment to make in a lens to be locked out of using it on every camera made since the '80s aside from the EOS R/RP.

Maybe in two years or so we'll finally have an RF camera with performance on par with a 1D. But even then, is the thought of using an adapter that repulsive that you'd rather sink a $12,000 investment on a lens that you can only use with a handful of cameras, when if you're willing to just deal with one inconsequential adapter, you could also use the lens on dozens of other cameras? I feel like it's going to be many years before it makes sense to buy such an expensive lens in a native RF mount, unless they make a similar lens with a design that takes advantage of the shorter flange distance to be better/cheaper/lighter than the EF counterpart so that the lens just fundamentally couldn't be made to work on an EF mount.
 
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Optics Patent

Former Nikon (Changes to R5 upon delivery)
Nov 6, 2019
310
248
Good comments.

2-3. 0.1 pounds is a good guess ($200 value). Nearly half the weight eliminated by eliminating most of the metal.
4. Most isn't all. I'm referring to one segment that Canon can sell more easily to by addressing this issue. Sounds like you're not in this segment, but some surely are.
5. None more appealing than superglue or duct tape that I've heard.
6. If Canon wants more people to pay $12k for a lens, they might consider making it more attractive. Note that I'd willingly pay double (say $400) for an adapter that matches the lens and can't be inadvertently removed. I'd happily pay normal for a different paint color. (Note that the $100 version doesn't even match the camera!)
7. All true but missing my point about a market segment.
8. I (and those in my segment) don't care about reverse compatibility (but would keep a take-off rear housing for a future buyer). My segment has no intention ever to buy a flippin' mirror Canon. Looking forward not back. And I can be patient awaiting better mirrorless bodies while having the lenses ready for them.

Not only will small measures make top lenses attractive to RF owners, but this will also make RF (and Canon overall) more attractive to camera buyers.

Again, because one segment is understandably indifferent to how their pro tools look on the job, that doesn't mean that there isn't a real segment that can be marketed to more effectively with a few minor efforts. But I'm repeating myself so should let my opinions stand.
 
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SecureGSM

2 x 5D IV
Feb 26, 2017
2,376
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No, you've misidentified the error here.

The error was in adapting the photographer from Canon to Sony, not the glass.
Oh, that’s is nearly impossible to achieve at this time. I am sorry to rain on your day, Sir!
 

dolina

millennial
Dec 27, 2011
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I heard they were going to release an at-home conversion kit...


View attachment 187994View attachment 187995

Seriously though I just don't get this anti-adapter mania. I guess people just decided that adapters were bad from the experience of adapting Canon glass onto Sony cameras, which is a legitimate stance to have. It has always been a crapshoot to adapt one manufactuer's lens onto another manufacturer's body using a third manufacturer's adapter.

But I've used the RF adapter since it came out and it's flawless. Seriously if you want this lens "converted" to RF, but the adapter on, and tape off the joint between the adapter and lens to seal it up from any possibility of water getting past the seal.
Amazing I get quoted 11 months after!