Canon 200-400mm supertele lens due this year -- maybe

A mammoth pro lens with a built-in 1.4x focal-length extender is set for a 2012 debut, but Canon isn't promising anything yet.

Canon's 200-400m f/4L IS lens has a large objective lens -- but not as large as the brighter 400mm f/2.8 lens Canon also sells.
Canon's 200-400m f/4L IS lens has a large objective lens -- but not as large as the brighter 400mm f/2.8 lens Canon also sells. Stephen Shankland/CNET

COLOGNE, Germany -- A year and a half ago, Canon announced it was working on a 200-400mm telephoto zoom lens with a built-in 1.4X extender. But since then, there's been nary a peep.

Well, there's a peep now, Canon shooters jealous of Nikon's 200-400mm will be pleased to know.

The plan is to release it this year, said Mike Owen, communications manager for Canon's professional imaging department in Europe. He spoke at a Canon press conference yesterday at the Photokina show here.

But Owen was quick to add a caveat: "We're anticipating that, but we don't know," he said.

Canon and partners have been putting the lens through its paces at the Olympics and other major sporting events, he said. The qualitative feedback so far has its autofocus working just a tad slower than Canon's 400mm F2.8 fixed focal length lens, he said.

Canon hasn't detailed the mammoth lens yet, Owen said it's expected to be a bit heavier than the EF 400mm F/2.8L IS II, but that's still a lot: Canon cut the 400mm lens 28 percent to a bit more than 8 pounds in 2010.

A bit more detail is visible at Canon's booth at Photokina. Sandwiched between the EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II (13.5 inches long, not including lens hood) and EF 500mm f/4L IS II (15.1 inches long), it looks to be about 14.5 inches long.

Judging by the focus-range limit option, the minimum focusing distance is 2 meters. The focus range on the lens can be set for 2m-6m, 5m to infinity, or the full range.

The lens also comes with the power focus (PF) mode for smooth motor-driven focus changes during video shooting.

The lens has something of an unsightly bulge near its camera mount, but it's for good cause: a housing for a flip-out element that extends the lens range 1.4x to 280-560mm but dimming the lens to a maximum f-stop of f5.6.

The telephoto extender is technology brought to the photography line from Canon's broadcast lens business.

Supertelephotos of this class are expensive as well as bulky. Canon's 400mm f/2.8L II costs $11,500, and the 500mm f/4L costs $10,500.

The wide-aperture supertelephoto lineup from Canon includes a 400mm f2.8 lens, the forthcoming 200-400mm f4 lens, the 500mm f4 lens, the 600mm f4 lens, and the 800mm f5.6 lens.
The wide-aperture supertelephoto lineup from Canon includes a 400mm f2.8 lens, the forthcoming 200-400mm f4 lens, the 500mm f4 lens, the 600mm f4 lens, and the 800mm f5.6 lens. Stephen Shankland/CNET
About the author

Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and covers browsers, Web development, digital photography and new technology. In the past he has been CNET's beat reporter for Google, Yahoo, Linux, open-source software, servers and supercomputers. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces.

 

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