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Canon's New 400/2.8II..simply Staggering.

Tue Feb 07, 2012 8:47 am

G'day all
A couple of weeks i was lucky enough to pick up a Canon 400/2.8 II when on a trip to Singapore. Its hard enough to even find one even if your in the position to be able to afford one!!
Anyway having seen what a 400/2.8 I could do as several friends have used them and i have played with them in the past.
So for a visit to Sydney over the last week i put her through her paces at different times and locations pretty much most of which where to see what you could get out of it.
To say its a brilliant lens is the understatement of the century.
To me its a game changer.
Canon has somehow got its weight down to be easily hand holdable which is a miracle in its own right and 3/4 of a kilo lighter than the Nikon.
The big difference is in the balance its cg is right where you rest the lens on your hand making it so easy to use where the old one was very heavy at the end of the barrell.
It is a major engineering achievement.
Using it on the Wimberley is a joy...a few pics from my first night out..most of these where shot in the region of 1/10th to 1/25th which when combined with a MK4 means an effective focal length of 550mm...pretty decent.
a few images from the first night.

Given there was a 20-25kt breeze blowing making panning difficult at best my efforts several nights later where 1/8th-1/10th panning was easily achievable showed some of the potential of this lens.

The big surprise however is just how amazing it is with converters. I have never seen anything like this performance from any other super tele.
When using a 1.4x or 2x series III converters there is very little image degradation at all.
As an example using a 2x

Original image

Crop unsharpened...

Please note the aircraft is around 4000' and a total distance away of around 2km-2.5km.

What is even more amazing is stacking the TC's here is a shot with the 2x and the 1.4x
Yes the AF still works and the images are totally usable..1120mm before cropping for a 1.3 body..
Here's the crop again unsharpened etc

The performance of this lens is staggering at worst and utterley insane at best. It is by FAR the best long lens i have ever used.
As someone who really didnt think these new Canon series II super's would be than much better i am pretty shocked.
I mean how do you improve on lenses which live at the top of the MTF chart?
The raw files are excellent as to be expected and to me that is not where the difference lies.
Its in the use of TC's is where the difference is.
The TC performance of these lenses is staggering with very little difference if any with the TC fitted. I cant see any difference in speed and almost none in accuracy once locked.
With the 1.4 it is effectively no different from a straight lens in terms of AF performance.
With the 2x i've seen an odd hunt trying to lock in poor light but once on its tracks superbly.
With the converters stacked i still got a good lock in decent light.
With one lens and some TC's you have every focal length covered...400...560 and 800 and all provide stellar IQ results.
I really am surprise by how good the lens is with converters providing far less drop off in performance in corners etc than the series I's. And we all know how amazing the Canon series I super tele's are.
Every where i travel now this lens is coming with me it is that good.
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RE: Canon's New 400/2.8II..simply Staggering.

Tue Feb 07, 2012 10:54 am

A few more images of what you can get relatively easily with this lens..

They are some quick edits from two nights ago..

Love this lens..
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RE: Canon's New 400/2.8II..simply Staggering.

Tue Feb 07, 2012 12:23 pm

Looks great, and very very very nice shots! Too bad I can't afford it  
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RE: Canon's New 400/2.8II..simply Staggering.

Tue Feb 07, 2012 2:16 pm

An MK4 with this lens is bound to give the greatest results. I can't say I'm surprised   . But I'm wondering how good the focusing would be with stacked converters on lower line bodies like 5DII or even the x0D series.
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RE: Canon's New 400/2.8II..simply Staggering.

Tue Feb 07, 2012 6:35 pm

Outstanding Dal! Saw your preview earlier on FB but I gotta say these pics are mind blowing!
I'm really considering the 400 now!
EOS1D4, 7D, 30D, 100-400/4.5-5.6 L IS USM, 70-200/2.8 L IS2 USM, 17-40 f4 L USM, 24-105 f4 L IS USM, 85 f1.8 USM
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RE: Canon's New 400/2.8II..simply Staggering.

Tue Feb 07, 2012 8:40 pm

awesome Darren! Those SYD night shots put me right back there at night - wonderful energy/movement. Are you going to match the new 1DX to the lens, would be interesting to see that combo in due course too?
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RE: Canon's New 400/2.8II..simply Staggering.

Wed Feb 08, 2012 12:15 pm

Yea Tony i think the 1Dx will combined with this give results that will be pretty amazing.
The AF performance with converters stacked was surprisingly good. It dropped off as the light fell but for decent light prior to sunset it was usable..very usable.
What blew me away was the incredible IQ with stacked converters..totally amazing and im used to using converters on stuff like the 600 which has always given excellent results. But to see no real fall off in IQ shooting though two converters still makes me wonder how they have done it.
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RE: Canon's New 400/2.8II..simply Staggering.

Sat Feb 11, 2012 8:13 am

Was looking to try one of these out soon, so all of these photos tere taken without a tripod?
Never stop believing.
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RE: Canon's New 400/2.8II..simply Staggering.

Sat Feb 11, 2012 3:20 pm

Thanks for sharing.

Mind blowing samples. I love my gear (1D3 + 400 5.6L), but when I see the samples above I start dreaming again.... Especially the low light stuff.

With the Canon 1D line going completely full frame the 400 2.8 II is the new 300 2.8 I.
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RE: Canon's New 400/2.8II..simply Staggering.

Wed Feb 15, 2012 9:27 pm

Those stacked TC results are absolutely amazing! Congrats on the purchase.
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