Rumor: Canon 200-400 f/4L IS 1.4x Delay Caused by Design Flaw and Redesign

Way back in February 2011, Canon announced that it is developing a new EF 200-400 f/4L IS 1.4x super-telephoto lens. Since then, there hasn’t been much news on when we might finally see the lens on store shelves, and Canon has issued a couple of press releases stating that it has been delayed. Rumors are now emerging that Canon had to go back to the drawing board with the lens in order to resolve a design flaw that had been reported during tests.

Craig Blair over at Canon Rumors writes,

The latest we’ve heard, and from a pretty knowledgeable person is that the lens has needed a redesign in regards to the “bump” that holds the built-in 1.4 TC. The person wouldn’t elaborate as to why it was an issue, but it was brought to the attention of Canon at the Olympics that some pros were complaining that the “bump”, or a function of the “bump” got in the way of something. Again, what the something was wasn’t elaborated upon.

We’re guessing this is the “bump” the rumor refers to:

It’s a special feature of the lens: there’s a built-in 1.4x teleconverter (the first of its kind) that can instantly turn the 200-400mm f/4 into a 280-560mm f/5.6. Flipping a switch definitely beats having to unmount a lens, attach an extender, and then remount the combo. You do lose a stop of light, but the extra reach will be invaluable for certain types of photographers (e.g. wildlife shooters).

The lens won’t come cheap, though: rumors are pegging the price at somewhere around $10,000. Better start saving up.

  • will hall

    well im not sure of the scale, but at a guess from what is said, could it be that the projection of the bump when mounted leaves too little space to comfortably operate the MF/AF switch behind it and/or the lens release button?

  • Jim

    So, if one site speculates on a rumored “design flaw” on a non production lens, then another site parrots the speculation, is it somehow more credible? I wonder if the actual manufacturer made a “prototype” and then “field tested” it? If said rumored “field testing” identified a design feature that was less than ideal, correcting that becomes remedying a “design flaw”? Seriously? I’m going with the assumption that the OEM wants to market their rumored to be “VERY EXPENSIVE” lens in a configuration likely to be well received by the customers. Therefore, they test different designs to fine tune the end product prior to production. Does that sound reasonable? Just a thought…

  • jesseyardley

    Canon Engineer: “Sir, we’re gonna be delayed on the 200-400mm lens.”

    Manager: “Do we have anything else in the pipeline?”

    Canon Engineer: “Not really.”

    Manager: “How about a 24-70mm f/4?”

    Canon Engineer: “But we already… Oh, never mind.”

  • Michael Zhang

    Good points, Jim. I think what Canon Rumors is trying to answer is why Canon announced the development of the lens but then issued subsequent press releases over the next year informing photographers that the lens has been delayed.

  • Mansgame

    If they can get this to work, its a beautiful design. And I’m a Nikon guy.

  • John Kantor

    What’s money to an amateur?

  • Jim

    Yeah, I understand and agree with you. I actually sent Canon a direct inquiry about this lens after its development was announced last year. Canon’s reply to me was (October 2011),”This lens is in its prototype stage and we don’t know of any plans to produce it. I regret any difficulty this causes.” As a Canon user, I can see where this lens would be a great lens for wildlife shooting and similar uses, so the delays are frustrating. I’m trying to be patient, sometimes that turns into frustrated growling… You guys do a great job. Besides, I’d have to sell a kidney to afford this thing, so I’ll be a rental customer.

  • rondhol

    The flaw is the position of the switches that hard to reach once you attach the lens. It is almost impossible to change M-Autofocus and IS setting because of the bump.