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The Unicorn Has Arrived: Canon Officially Announces Vastly Improved 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L II

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Formality or no, it’s still incredibly exciting to see the official press release. 16 years in the making, the followup to the much-loved Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM has arrived. Say hello to Version 2, and read on to find out just how much a decade and a half of waiting has earned you.

The first thing you’ll notice is that the trombone style push/pull zoom is gone. The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM II is a traditional rotating zoom lens that adds a bit of size and weight to the original, but also a lot of optical goodies.

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Three types of IS are now available to you — standard, panning, and during exposure only — that offer a reported 4-stops of stabilization. That’s a whole lot more stability compared to the 1.5 stops of the previous version.

The other major updates are all about the glass and what they coated that glass with. One Fluorite and one Super UD element — supposedly a unique combination for lenses in this class — are complemented by a newly developed Air Sphere Coating (ASC) and the increasingly standard Fluorine coating.

Together, this combination of elements and coatings promise, “sharp images with high resolution and contrast,” significantly reduced backlit flaring and ghosting, and an uncanny ability to repel dust particles and water droplets.

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Other notable improvements include cutting the minimum focusing distance in half over the previous version (from 6.5 feet to 3.2 feet), 0.31x maximum magnification, a 9-blade circular aperture Electro-Magnetic Diaphragm, and the new ET-83D lens hood, “that features a cleverly placed… side window allowing the user to easily adjust specialty filters while the lens hood remains in place.”

The lens also features an ‘improved’ zoom torque adjustment ring so you can dial in your zoom tension to suit your style of shooting.

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The previous lens cost $1,700 (currently $1,500 with a mail-in rebate… but we wouldn’t be surprised if that dropped further now). The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM II will be a bit more expensive. It is set to arrive on store shelves in December for a suggested retail price of $2,200.

Click here to pre-order yours.

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