Canon has announced their answer to Nikon's 200-400mm with their new 200-400mm f/4 L USM. It boasts a built-in 1.4x extender which, with the flip of a switch, extends the lens to a 280-560mm f/5.6. Measuring in at 5.0 x 14.4 inches and 127.7 oz, the specs on this beast look amazing, but the price tag is a little surprising. It's expected to retail for $11,800, nearly twice what Nikon's is selling for.
Canon has stated that this new lens is designed to "satisfy the discriminating needs of sports and wildlife photographers" as a high-performance super telephoto zoom lens. The built-in teleconverter is pretty sweet, and could be extremely useful in applications where it is not possible to change lenses quickly. By not having to switch the lens on the body, it can also protect a DSLR's image sensor in environments with dust and high humidity.
The EF 200–400mm incorporates one fluorite and four UD lens elements, which Canon states will "provide excellent correction of chromatic aberration throughout the entire zoom range for professional quality images with high resolution, contrast and color fidelity." The a 9-blade circular aperture helps deliver those soft backgrounds that make wildlife photography truly pop.
The lens has inner focusing and a high-speed CPU and optimized AF algorithms for fast and accurate autofocusing. And, with "Power Focus" mode, focus shifts are quiet and smooth which is essential for filmmaking. Image stabilization is effective up to four shutter speed steps, with three image stabilization modes (standard, panning, and during exposure only) which supposedly provide excellent results for a wide range of subjects.
Canon also states that the "optimized lens placement and coatings deliver outstanding color balance, while helping to minimize ghosting and flare." The lens is highly resistant to dust and water, enabling shooting even in harsh conditions. A fluorine coating on front and rear lens surfaces repels dust particles and makes the lens easier to clean.
That's all well and good, but the price point seems a little high to me. I'm certain that it's an excellent lens, but does it really need to cost nearly $12,000? That's not really all, as the very beefy case that you can get along with it is set to sell for
$650 $700, a huge price tag for just a carrying case (though admittedly it does look quite fancy). Why would you get one by itself? I have no idea. The lens comes with one. But it's purchasable... if you want it.