Down By the Lake With the EF200-400mm f/4L IS/Internal 1.4 Extender: One Huge Surprise! « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Down By the Lake With the EF200-400mm f/4L IS/Internal 1.4 Extender: One Huge Surprise!

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This image of a Sandhill Crane was created on Thursday morning with the hand held Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM lens with Internal 1.4x Extender (with the 1.4X TC in place) at 560mm and the Canon EOS-1D X Digital SLR camera. ISO 400. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/1000 sec. at f/8 in Manual mode.

Two sensors to the right of the central sensor/AI Servo-Surround/Rear Focus just in front of and below the bird’s eye active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see the new even larger version.

Down By the Lake With the EF200-400mm f/4L IS/Internal 1.4 Extender

I couldn’t resist trying out my new lens on the morning of June 14, which just happened to me my 67th birthday. As there are almost always a few Sandhill Cranes around and the big fields were too wet to drive on safely, the cranes were my primary and only target. The image above was created with the internal 1.4X TC in place. I was delighted to see that the internal TC moves smoothly in and out of place with a fairly large, conveniently located lever on the left side of the barrel about only 1 1/2 inches from the camera end of the lens. Though I doubt that I will use the locking feature much, the internal 1.4X can be conveniently locked in place.

The Huge Surprise

The Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens weighs 8.65 pounds. I have a really hard time hand holding it. I am OK for a flight image or two but even then I struggle with framing. Working with static subjects is much more difficult as you feel the build-up of lactic acid within a few moments. The Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM lens with Internal 1.4x Extender weighs 7.98 pounds, exactly .67 pounds less than the 600 II. With the 2-4 being only 2/3 pound lighter than the big gun, I assumed that it would be a difficult lens for me to hand hold. )You can find complete specs for all Canon telephoto lenses here.)

The very big surprise was that I found the new 200-400 to be eminently hand holdable. Even when creating static images like the two above. I was easily able to hold the lens up and frame the subject for periods of from 20 to 30 seconds. Whenever possible I will of course sit on the ground and use my left knee as a support; I plan to be doing that a great deal in the Galapagos. And I am positive that the 200-400 with the built-in TC will prove to be the perfect lens for our panga (zodiac) photography cruises. It will, with the 1D X, serve as my primary lens for penguins and pelicans and flight photography. The 70-200 will be on the floor of the panga with another 1D X mounted ready for a Blue-footed Booby feeding spree. The 200-400 with the built in TC will prove to be even more valuable in Africa.

(Editor’s note: surprisingly, there is only one “m” in eminent.”)

Why?

With the weight of the two lenses being so close, it would seem that the size–especially the length–and the compactness of the 200-400 as compared to the 600 II are the main reasons that I found it relatively easy to hand hold. With the lens hoods in place, the 600 II is 24 and 3/4″ long. At more than 2 feet, that is one long lever arm. The 2-4 is a relatively manageable 19″, just a it more than 1 1/2 feet long. Other than that I am clueless: but I do know that I am confident that I will be able to hand hold the new Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM lens with Internal 1.4x Extender in a great variety of bird and wildlife photography situations. And I am looking forward to doing just that.

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Sharpness?

Above is a 100% crop of the crane’s head from the opening image in today’s blog post. As expected, and as you can see, the 200-400 is razor sharp with the internal 1.4X TC in place. I made a few similar images with the lens alone and an external 1.4X III TC; they were equally sharp.

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This image of a Sandhill Crane was also created on Thursday morning past, this one with the hand held Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Lens with Internal 1.4x Extender (at 200mm) and the Canon EOS-1D X Digital SLR camera. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/800 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode.

Three sensors to the left of and one row down from the central sensor/AI Servo-Surround/Rear Focus on the crane’s upper back just behind the neck active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see the new even larger version.

Versatility

The Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM lens with Internal 1.4x Extender is of course an extremely versatile zoom lens with a focal length range of from 200-560mm which yields a very nice zoom range of 1 to 2.8. That with superb sharpness, the incredible four-stop IS, and excellent close-focus. In the image above I went with the lens alone at 200mm in order to include the pier at Indian Lake Estates in the frame to give the viewers a sense of place. The wide end of the 2-4 without the internal TC engaged will be useful for creating bird-scapes and habitat images.

holland-2014-1200

Images copyright 2012: Denise Ippoltio & Arthur Morris. Card design by Denise Ippolito. Click on the image to enjoy a spectacular larger version.

Holland 2014 7 1/2-Day/8-Night: A Creative Adventure/BIRDS AS ART/Tulips & A Touch of Holland IPT. April 17-April 24, 2014 :$4995 Limit: 12 photographers/Openings 9

This trip needs 8 registrants to run so please do not purchase your plane tickets until you hear from us; right now we need 5 more folks.

Join Denise Ippolito, Flower Queen and the author of “Bloomin’ Ideas,” BPN Photo Gear Moderator, former Nikon shooter, and technical expert Peter Kes, and Arthur Morris, Canon Explorer of Light and one of the planet’s premier photographic educators for a great trip to Holland in mid-April 2014. Day 1 of the IPT will be April 17, 2014. We will have a short afternoon get-together and then our first photographic session at the justly-famed Keukenhof. Peter who is originally from Holland, will be our local guide/interpreter/driver. Most days we will return to the hotel for lunch, image sharing and a break. On Day 8, April 24, we will enjoy both morning and afternoon photography sessions.

The primary subjects will be tulips and orchids at Keukenhof and the spectacularly amazing tulip, hyacinth, and daffodil bulb fields around Lisse. In addition we will spend one full day in Amsterdam. There will be optional visits the Van Gogh Museum in the morning and the Anne Frank House in the afternoon; there will be plenty of time for street photography as well. And some great food. On another day we will have a wonderful early dinner at Kinderdijk and then head out with our gear to photograph the windmills and possibly some birds for those who bring their longs lenses. We will spend an afternoon in the lovely Dutch town of Edam where we will do some street photography and enjoy a superb dinner. All lodging, ground transportation, entry fees, and meals (from dinner on Day 1 through dinner on Day 8) are included.

For those who will be bringing a big lens we will likely have an optional bird photography afternoon or two or possibly three. The big attraction should be gorgeous Purple Herons in flight at a breeding marsh. We would be photographing them from the roadside. And we might be able to find a few Great-crested Grebes at a location near Keukenhof.

Click here for complete details and some previously unpublished tulip images. Click here and see item one for lots more tulip photos.

old-car-city

Images courtesy of and copyright 2012: Bill Mueller. Card design by Denise Ippolito.

Old Car City Creative Photography In-the-Field HDR Workshop: Sunday, October 13, 2013/ 9am till 1pm.

White, Georgia: $250 plus a $15 entrance fee donation (cash only on the day of the event) that will go to charity. Limit: 16 photographers.

On October 13, 2013, Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART and Denise Ippolito/A Creative Adventure will be conducting an In-the-Field HDR Workshop at Old Car City in White, Georgia. Old Car City is about an hour north of Atlanta, GA and an hour south of Chattanooga, TN where they will, as noted above, be doing a full day seminar for the Photographic Society of Chattanooga on Saturday, October 12th. Click here for complete details.

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16 comments to Down By the Lake With the EF200-400mm f/4L IS/Internal 1.4 Extender: One Huge Surprise!

  • avatar Dave Klein

    I have used both the 1.4X and 1.7X TC’s with very sharp results. I prefer the 1.4X and saw no noticeable degradation in IQ. I also use primarily DX bodies so I would get more reach but have added a D600 to the mix. I think you will find this new Canon version to be one you will bring along quite often. I have been trying get my hands on all legitimate reviews for the Nikon 80-400 to see if it is worth parting with the 200-400. Thanks for the questions and enjoy!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Again Dave, There will always be some degradation, about 14% or so with a 1.4X TC. But the top of the line lenses are so, so sharp that it is easy to produce professionally sharp images with all three TCs with perfect technique. I am betting that the new 80-400 is money in the bank. If you see any bad reviews from the internet experts make sure to ask them if they ever used one….

      I was confused as I thought that you went from the 200-400 to the new 80-400. My bad.

  • avatar Dave Klein

    Hi Artie – Happy belated birthday! I think you can now better relate to my recent posting on BPN about moving my Nikon 200-400 on for the new 80-400 VR to complement my 500 VR. I will tell you, having used the 200-400 for over 5 years as my primary long lens with/without TC’s it is a fantastic lens and versatile focal length to work with and is much more hand-holdable over the longer primes. It is just short for several bird applications. I expect this long-awaited Canon version to perform remarkably well. You, too, will soon suffer from my analysis-paralysis with lens options and travel needs ๐Ÿ™‚ Enjoy your new birthday present!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Yes, traveling with two big lenses is the bear so to speak…. Is that the post where someone was trashing the new 80-400 without ever having used it? Yours is a great combo for the bears. What is your largest TC?

      Thanks for the BD good wishes. See you on Kodiak soon! artie

  • avatar Jasminder Singh

    Would Love to hear from you more about using lens in field. Also will this make you feel to leave the 500 & 600mm Lens home.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Stay tuned for a few months. I sold my 500 II :). I will be bringing the 600 II on both the Galapagos and Africa trips though doing so on the latter trip will be problematic. Not sure about the bear boat trip. The good news is that I can leave the 300 II at home and use the 200-400 for flight. I am sure that it will get tiring during extended sessions….

  • avatar Don Crockett

    I would think that other factors affecting the hand-holdibility would be weight distribution along the length of the lens, grip location, and grip diameter. I would think that the 600mm is going to be more front-heavy than the 200-400mm? That would cause the center of gravity to be proportionally further out from the mount on the 600mm. From photos of the lenses it looks like where you grip the lens is proportionally further out on the 200-400mm than the 600mm. It also looks like the grip is a consistent small diameter for the 200-400m where the 600mm grip bulges to a wider diameter. These factors means that for the 200-400mm gravity and inertia have a shorter lever (they exert less torque), the photographer has a longer lever (he/she exerts more torque), and the photographer has a stronger grip to maneuver the lens. It would be interesting to get some measurements to see what the actual physics are.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Don. I do know that there is a lot more weight to the rear with the 600 II than with the older 600. That is thought to be a big plus to its hand holdability by the young and the strong.

  • Happy birthday Coach. I’m glad to hear the 200-400 is hand holdable and razor sharp. So is my 300mm MKII. Can’t wait for the Katmai Shootout.

  • avatar Sanjeev

    Happy birthday Artie! And what a way to celebrate!!! You have THE sharpest zoom on the planet!! The sharpness looks just WOW. BTW I am a gemini too, 5th June was my Bday ๐Ÿ™‚

  • avatar Jerry

    HaPpy Belated Birthday.

  • avatar Bill Richardson

    Happy birthday! The presents I buy myself are always the best too, ;-0 Had you calibrated the new lens before testing it? Really interested in how sharp the 200-400 is with the new teleconverters attached. I am still on the fence about buying it.

  • avatar Morris Herstein

    Artie

    Wishing you a hearty Mazel Tov on your 67th Birthday. Many Many More.

  • avatar Paul Smith

    Happy Birthday, Artie!

  • avatar Tom Lamb

    A belated happy birthday Artie. Nice lens by the way ๐Ÿ™‚

  • avatar Charles Scheffold

    Glad to hear that you are happy with the 200-400. That lens is definitely on my “wish list”. Looking forward to trying it out in Galapagos ๐Ÿ™‚