On top of all the other exciting things they released today, Canon has also been busy working on new updates to the big white lenses.  This time round the 300mm f2.8 and 400mm f2.8 have seen the update, but we are told that the 500mm and 600mm are also being worked on.  Given the already stunning image quality from these lenses I doubt we will see much improvement in that area but regardless, the lenses have received the full array of Canon’s coating technology and the addition of 4-stop IS.  On top of this Canon have also worked to get the weight down on these lenses, shaving 150g off the 300 and an enormous 1.5KG off the weight of the 400mm!  The 28% reduction in weight of the 400mm is particularly impressive and I think it will invite a whole new type of shooter to use it.  Interestingly they have also been thinking about the movie makers out there with the introduction of a new Power Focus mode.  This allows a movie maker to rack focus by using the ring at the front of the lens previously designed for preset focus.  There is also an option as to what type of foot you have on the lens collar, a long foot for tripod mounting or a shorter foot for monopod use.  Rounding off the improvements is the inclusion of an internal collar on the 300mm (previously already present on the 400mm), a connection point for kensington security cables and a new IS mode that implements the IS just at the point of shooting, allowing the photographer to not see the effects of IS through the viewfinder while panning between multiple subjects.

The new 300mm is to ship in December 2010 at an expected street price of of US$7000 in the U.S.  The 400mm will be about $11,000 (!!) B&H will keep you informed when all of these new items become available for purchase

MTF Chart for the new 400mm f2.8 L IS II

Full Press Release

London, UK, 26 August 2010 – Canon today enhances its premium L-series with the launch of the new EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM– two high quality super-telephoto lenses designed to meet the demands of professional photographers. Offering optical excellence and consistently high performance, the new lenses combine super-telephoto focal lengths, fast aperture and outstanding image quality, providing photographers with reliability and exceptional results.

Succeeding the well-respected EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM and the EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM, both new models will appeal to nature, wildlife and sports photographers. Each features a completely redesigned optical system and the latest iteration of Canon’s original Image Stabilizer (IS) technology, while an all-new magnesium alloy construction and titanium components ensure the designs are both robust and lightweight. The EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM is the lightest lens in its class*, offering unrivalled mobility due to an incredible 28% reduction in weight (1.5KG) compared to its predecessor, while the EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM offers photographers an 8% weight reduction.

Ultra high performance optics
Manufactured using the very best optical components, the new EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM and EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM mark a significant step forward for Canon’s L-series, which is already renowned for its outstanding quality. Both lenses feature 16 elements in 12 different groups, using high performance fluorite lens elements that correct chromatic aberration to deliver high resolution and high contrast shots of the best possible quality – allowing photographers to capture images rich with edge-to-edge detail.

The optical elements also feature Canon’s latest Super Spectra Coatings, optimised for both the position and type of each lens element. A SubWavelength Structure Coating (SWC), which uses microscopic cone-shaped structures smaller than a wavelength of visible light, reduces ghosting caused by light bouncing back from the imaging sensor. Fluorine coating is also used on the front and rear elements of the lenses, repelling dust and dirt for clearer shots. The coating is also water repellent, keeping the front element free of water marks and smearing by ensuring water runs off the lens quickly.

New, improved IS and rapid AF
Both models feature Canon’s new Image Stabilizer system, providing outstanding results when the photographer is moving around and when capturing moving subjects. A 4-stop advantage offers greater image quality during handheld shooting, allowing users to shoot at speeds up for four times slower than normally required with minimal additional blur. Operation of IS mode 2 has been improved when shooting panning motion and a new third IS mode has been added, assisting users when quickly switching between subjects by activating the IS unit only during exposure.

Both lenses offer a constant f/2.8 aperture, allowing photographers to shoot at faster shutter speeds and capture clear shots of fast-moving subjects. The wide aperture also allows users to creatively isolate their subjects from the background, with a nine-blade circular iris creating dramatic and striking background blur that instantly adds beauty to an image.

Fast, quiet Auto Focusing (AF) is provided by a ring-type USM, new dedicated AF algorithms and a new high-speed CPU, which offer quick and accurate focusing during shooting. Photographers can also utilise full-time manual focusing functionality, which enables the adjustment and fine-tuning of focus even when the AF system is activated, providing even greater control over image capture. A new Power Focus mode aids focusing during video shooting, allowing the photographer to smoothly adjust focus during filming by twisting the focus recall ring.

All-new premium L-series design
Developed in line with Canon’s philosophy for the elite L-series, both the
EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM and EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM boast a refined design that reflects their status as market-leading, benchmark lenses. Both feature a new design layout, with carefully-positioned controls that improve operation in everyday use. The AF stop buttons are now location-adjustable, improving ergonomics by allowing users to custom-select the position of the lens grip, where the AF stop buttons are located.

A choice of dedicated tripod mounts provides added flexibility, allowing photographers to use a long or short foot suitable for monopods or tripods. A new rotational mechanism for the tripod collar also provides a smoother movement when turning the lens from portrait to landscape orientation. In addition, both models feature a new high quality exterior texture, while a new shade of white casing indicates the new advanced design and higher precision that each lens offers. A new Kensington-type wire security lock has also been added, allowing photographers to keep their lenses secure during location-based shoots.
A robust weatherproof design makes both lenses suitable for use in extreme conditions when paired with a weatherproof EOS body.

Complementary, high quality lens extenders
Both new models are compatible with the new set of Canon lens extenders designed for L-series super-telephoto lenses – the Extender EF 1.4x III and Extender EF 2x III.  Manufactured to complement the new optical systems featured in both lenses, the Extender EF 1.4x III and Extender EF2x III will allow professionals to instantly extend the focal length of either lens by 1.4x or 2x respectively – enabling the capture of high quality, detailed images of subjects that may typically be beyond reach.

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