The Three Big Canon Gear Questions « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

The Three Big Canon Gear Questions

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Brown Pelican in Peach Heaven, La Jolla, CA. I created this image on Monday morning past with my favorite new combo, the hand held 70-200 f/2.8L IS II lens, the 2X II TC, and the EOS-1D Mark IV. Flash at zero. ISO 500. Evaluative metering +2 1/3 stops: 1/60 sec. at f/6.3 in Tv Mode (to control a minimum shutter speed). See more on this image here.

The Three Big Canon Gear Questions

#1: How much will the new Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II weigh?

#2: How much will the new Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II weigh?

I saw and lifted the new Canon 400mm f/2.8L IS II (never a choice of mine for bird photography but great in some situations and for photographing big mammals in low light) and was blown away by its small size and light weight. The brand new EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM weighs just 8.5 lbs., a whopping 28% lighter than the current EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM lens. Amazing. Though I am positive the that weight reduction in the new 500 and the new 600 will not be as great percentage-wise as it is with the 400 2.8, I am eagerly awaiting the official weigh in πŸ™‚

#3: What’s the real story with the two new Series III teleconverters?

Though nobody knows anything for sure as the neither the 1.4X TC III or the 2X TC III have been available for testing, here is the official wording.

“Extenders EF 1.4X III and EF 2X III have been newly developed in conjunction with the new Series II Image Stabilizer EF super-telephoto lenses. They can also be used with all previously announced extender-compatible EF lenses, but maximum performance is achieved when they are used with the new 300mm, 400mm, 500mm and 600mm lenses. The following sections provide more detailed information.”

The above from the info packed article by Chuck Westfall here.

I have learned that the two new TCs each have a micro-computer that will be able to communicate only with the four new super-telephoto lenses and that the vastly improved speed of initial focusing acquisition and more accurate focus tracking will only be there with the four new lenses. There will be improvement in image quality with all of the older compatible lenses (again, see Chuck’s article here), but they will be marginal.

Shopper’s Guide

Here is a list of the gear that I used to create the image above:

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens
Canon EF Teleconverter 2X II
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body

If you are considering the purchase of a major piece of photographic gear be it a new camera, a long lens, a tripod or a head, or some accessories be sure to check out our complete Shopper’s Guide.

12 comments to The Three Big Canon Gear Questions

  • avatar M. Bruce

    Art – My attempt to phrase my question concisely apparently resulted in it being misunderstood, but Canon Support confirmed that β€œthe only camera bodies that the new extenders will work with the 100-400 are the 1D and 1Ds, and only with the 1.4 and only the center auto focus point.” So much for that! ☺

  • Artie,
    Sounds a lot like what I heard from a CPS rep back in August: the new TC’s will be great with the new telephotos, but might not make much of a difference otherwise. Seems like they’ll make sense for anyone trading up, but Canon certainly doesn’t seem to be strongly advertising improved image quality. It’ll be interesting to try them when they finally become available through CPS, but I suspect those of us not upgrading (I know you’ll be!!!) may actually be fine with the Mark II TC’s–for a couple more years, any ways.


  • Great image, I used the previous 70-200 model with a 2x II on a rebel xti for a long time and couldnt complain about the static shots but the fully extended 400mm (640mm) BIF shots suffered too much from a big drop in IQ. This new version looks like a significant improvement on the current killer lens (comparisons can be seen at the digital-picture-review). I recently picked myself up a 400mm F5.6 which so far hasnt dissapointed on my 7D.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Good luck with my “toy lens.” I did some stuff today with the new lens and the 7D with both the 1.4X and the 2X.

  • This is a great shot. I was using the previous 70-200 with a the 2x II on a rebel xti body for a while before picking up a 400mm f5.6 and 7D because I couldnt get quality IQ fully extended at 400mm (640mm). The difference in sharpness between the new and old 70-200 is oustanding and the comparisons are clearly visible in the digital-picture-review.

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Don, We both may be going for that new 600 II πŸ™‚

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    M. Bruce, You misread the chart. An asterisk indicates that the marked lenses, all discontinued BTW, may NOT focus accurately with the Series III TCs. The lack of an asterisk indicates that the current lenses will AF accurately. But it is stated clearly that the communication with the micro-computer in the Series III TCs will only occur with the four new super-telephotos. Period.

    I just reread your question…. AF is currently “enabled” on the 100-400 with the 1.4X TC with all pro bodies, but not with the pro-sumer bodies. And that is the same no matter the original TCs, Series II TCs, or the Series III TCs, coming soon πŸ™‚

  • Arthur, “Pelican in Peach Heaven” is a killer image. Love it and the out-of-focus rock in the foreground. Looks like that lens combo is quite good, will have to see if the Nikon equivalent is up to that standard.

  • avatar Don Nelson

    Thanks, Artie
    Its not likely I would replace the recently purchased recent versions of 800mm, 500mm, 400mm and 300mm lenses anytime soon. I won’t lose any sleep if I get a 600mm new version!

  • avatar M. Bruce

    Art – In the Chuck Westfall link you furnished, there’s a list of compatible lenses for the new Series III Extenders that mentions the 100-400 without the asterisk caveat concerning AF. Do you think that means that the Series III Extenders will enable AF with the 100-400?

  • avatar Don Nelson

    Note that part of the weight reduction in the 300mm and 400mm is through the elimination of the protective flat (easily replacable, since its just optically flat, if scratched or damaged) element in the front of the lens.

    While I’ve never damaged any front element on the longer lenses (or UV filters used for protection on shorter lenses), this did provide a level of comfort when using the long lenses in salt spray environment like pelagic trips or areas that were subject to blowing grit (like beaches).

    Will we now have threads on the front of these longer lenses to put (large!) protective filters?

    Or will we be at the mercy of a complete front element replacement with the need for time on the optical bench at canon to make it right?

    Don Nelson

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Don, As I have never damaged the front element of any telephoto lens and I never use a “protective” UV filter on any lens I am not gonna lose any sleep. I do however see the lighter weight as a huge improvement. You could always sleep better by sticking with the older, heavier, slightly less sharp lenses πŸ™‚