Have Money to Burn? Canon's New 200-400mm f/4 L USM Announced for $11,800

Have Money to Burn? Canon's New 200-400mm f/4 L USM Announced for $11,800

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.

Canon 200-400mm f4 l example image

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 announces 200-400mm f4 L IS USM

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.

EF 200-400 f4 l usm extender off wide mtf chart

ef 200-400mm f4 usm extender on wide

ef 200-400mm f4 is usm extender on telephoto mtf chart

ef 200-400mm f4 l usm extender off telephoto MTF chart


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.

200-400mm carrying case


Anyone interested in picking this up? I have to imagine it's going to be outstanding for wildlife photographers. You can order yours now, and also pick up an extra carrying case while you're at it.

Jaron Schneider's picture

Jaron Schneider is an Fstoppers Contributor and an internationally published writer and cinematographer from San Francisco, California. His clients include Maurice Lacroix, HD Supply, SmugMug, the USAF Thunderbirds and a host of industry professionals.

Log in or register to post comments

Is there a reason it's twice as much as Nikon's offering? I'm a Canon user, so I'm not hating. I'd imagine it's somewhat more weather resistant.

it´s better.... in any way you can think.

Andy Rouse owned the Nikon 200-400, and now has been testing the Canon one for 6 months, and wrote up a good review:


Wow that was really comprehensive.

Not to mention his body of work is quite impressive. I guess having 6 months with a lens no one else has lets you accumulate some thoughts on it, eh?

FYI: The lens comes with the case. You don't have to buy another one.

Canon.. you thieves!!

I'm waiting for Sigma to get in the game at less than half the price.

more like a quarter of the price

they kind of are with the new revamped 120-300. I find that a better range then the 200-400

unfortunately the sigma is no match to this canon lens.
the sigma is maybe affordable for amateurs.... but the canon is the best choice for pros.

to each there own. i used canon lenses since i started shooting, switched everything last year to sigma, never been happier. my IQ is as good if not better then all the "L" glass I had, and at 1/2 to 1/3 the price.

yeah sure.. dream on.
all lens reviews tell us that your either lying or simply have no clue.
sigma has one really great lens, the recently released 35mm f1.4.
otherwise they all suck in terms of AF and come not close to canons L lenses.

like i said, to each their own.
50/1.4, 85/1.4, 70-200/2.8 were all on par with the canon 1.2 versions. all shot on 5dmkiii, shooting portraits, hockey (strobed and available), weddings, and planes.
i'm no IQ god, i'm not getting into any crazy charts or anything. i'm just simply stating that in my day to day real world shooting, the sigma versions worked as well if not better. this is my opinion and my editors, but hey it's not yours and i'm ok with that.

Shots taken with lenses you own always look better than shots not-taken because you don't own the lenses, right?

Do / can you use any of the 5D3's auto-lens correction, in camera tweaks? I have heard that it does a great job at correcting annoying things like color fringing.

kyle i have owned the canon 50/1.2, 85/1.2 and 70-200/2.5 IS.
i didn't sell them until i compared them to the sigma versions.
both myself, and my editor were happier with the sigma images off the mkiii.

as for the auto lens correct, i've heard that it doesn't work with the third party lenses so I have stayed away from it.

That would make sense - I am sure the system is more sophisticated than Leica's 6 bit encoding dots, and Canon would have no interest in profiling 3rd party lenses.

Was there any technical, specific improvement that you and your editor where basing your judgement on? I know there are many, many things to consider in what makes a lens "good". An example, as I understand it, the cheap EF 50/1.8 is actually sharper than the 50/1.2L at F2+, however the 1.2's 9 vs 5 aperture blades make for a much smoother out-of-focus rendering.

There is the myth that OEM lenses are always superior to third-party. There indeed are some OEM optics that are fantastic, but the same is true of third-party. Just as the Canon/Nikon/Ford/Chevy debate goes on, so does it with third-party..

you can´t compare the nikon to this lens. this lens is superior in every way.
i had the chance to shoot with it and you will see in the next days, when reviews pop up, how fantastic it is.
well worth the money for pro shooter.

You guys should check out my work and let me know what you thinkhttp://lorenzopphotography.com...

Lorenzo - I think you picked the wrong place to post your critique request unless I missed that you used Canon's New 200-400mm f/4 L USM lens to photograph the run-of-the-mill photos on your basic website. There are plenty of other places to post a critique request.