Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L Lens Hands-On Report: “This Thing is $%^#ing Amazing”

Canon 200-400mm f/4L IS USM

I heard back from Jeff Cable on his experience shooting with the Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM lens on his Canon 1D X.  Here’s what he had to say:

[Update: The Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM lens with built-in 1.4x extender is now officially available. It is priced at $11,799. Check it out here at B&H Photo and here at Adorama.]

Oh my goodness – I am soooooooo hooked on this lens!!!! I am begging and pleading with Canon every day to get use of one of these for the rest of the Olympics.

Here is my take.

  • Having the built-in adaptor may not seem like a big deal since it is just a 1.4x adaptor built in vs putting it on when you need it, but having the ability to flip the switch and immediately go from 200-400mm f4 to 280-560mm at f5.6 is AWESOME! I will give you an example of how I am using this. In water polo, when I am shooting the action on my side of the pool (in photo position behind the net), the lens is switched to 200-400, but as soon as the action moves to the far side of the pool, I immediately flip the switch and get in closer to the action. So easy and effective!
  • The lens is tack sharp. (Check out the attached image).
  • It is not overly heavy (as far as these beasts typically go).
  • The zoom ring is really responsive and smooth and goes from 200-400 quickly and easily.
  • Typical L series bullet-proof construction.

Canon 1D X w/ Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM – ISO 200 – f/4 – 1/5000s — Copyright Jeff Cable Photography (used w/ permission)

I know that different photographers have varying opinions about prime lenses vs. zoom, but I am a zoom guy. I love having the ability to change the framing and composition with the lens. And at the Olympics, you have so little chance to get out of a fixed position, that I want the option to zoom. One of the Canon guys asked me what I thought of it, and I said, “this thing is $%^#ing amazing” and he said “can we quote you on that?” :)

Now the big question – HOW MUCH WILL THIS COST? And nobody seems to know yet, not even the Canon guys here at the Olympics.

(You can follow all of Jeff Cable’s experiences at the London Olympics here on his blog. -Ed.)



  1. Michael D. Ratcliff says

    This is such a great bit of news. I just recently saw a training video that featured the 200-400 lens by Nikon. I searched for a Canon version and found nothing. So cool to see this lens coming out.

  2. Brian says

    When will this actually be released? It’s been discussed and articles have been written about this unicorn of a lens for the last 2 years.