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Canon unveils 8-15mm fisheye, updated supertelephotos and more  
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 | by Rob Galbraith
Canon has today introduced four new EF lenses, including an L-series 8-15mm fisheye, plus two new teleconverters. The six are the EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye, EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS, EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II, EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II, Extender EF 1.4x III and Extender EF 2x III.

EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye

Leading off Canon's parade of new glass is a fisheye zoom designed to give a 180 field of view on any of Canon's full frame, 1.3X or 1.6X image sensor cameras (at different focal lengths of course). Plus it can achieve a full 180 circular image on full frame cameras.

It includes both UD and aspherical elements as well as a markings for 1.3X and 1.6X cameras that indicate the widest the lens should be zoomed for the sensor format, to prevent unintentional vignetting in the corners.

Like all of the lenses and teleconverters being announced today, the EF 8-15mm f/4L's front and rear elements have a fluorine coating that is meant to make them easier to clean and better able to repel water droplets.

The EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye is to ship in January 2011 at an expected street price of US$1400 in the U.S. Canon USA has posted an extensive description of the lens on its Canon Digital Learning Center site.

EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS

Promised superior optical quality and 4 shutter speed step image stabilization, as well as a white lens barrel, differentiate the new EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS from existing 70/75-300mm lenses in Canon's lineup. It will also have the more extensive weather sealing and gasketing that typifies an L-series lens, plus fluorine-coated front and rear lens elements.

The EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS is to ship at the end of October 2010 at an expected street price of US$1500 in the U.S. A detailed look at this lens is on the Canon Digital Learning Center site.

EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II

Canon's latest iteration of the venerable 300mm f/2.8, the sixth since 1974, is, at about 5.2lb, 8% lighter than the lens it replaces. It features a built-in tripod collar, quieter and tripod-friendly 4-step image stabilization, promised improved optical quality including reduced colour fringing, a faster CPU and updated autofocus algorithm, fluorine coatings on the front and rear elements and a lens barrel that's a more neutral shade of white.

For videographers, the new lens offers a Power Focus (PF) setting that enables focus distance to be smoothly shifted by turning the lens' twist ring (which when the lens is not set to PF serves as the focus preset activator). The further the ring is rotated the faster the speed of focus (there are two speeds: really slow and slow). Rotating the ring one way or the other determines whether focus is shifted further or closer. It's not possible to have the lens power focus to a preset focus distance and then automatically stop, says Canon USA Technical Advisor Chuck Westfall.

The new lens includes an additional IS mode that, when enabled, keeps image stabilization from activating until the moment of exposure, for photographers who prefer not to see the effect of image stabilization through the viewfinder when tracking moving subjects in particular. The lens includes a security slot attachment to enable securing the lens with a safety cable or lock.

Unlike its predecessor, the EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II's frontmost glass is not a protective filter; instead, it's an actual lens element. The new lens accepts the same 52mm drop-in filters as before and is about the same size as the earlier lens.

The EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II is to ship in December 2010 at an expected street price of of US$7000 in the U.S.

EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II

Canon's EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II see the same improvements as the new 300mm f/2.8, except for the built-in tripod collar, which the earlier 400mm already had. Reduced colour fringing, 4-step image stabilization, fluorine coatings, a whiter lens barrel, Power Focus and more: all these feature and functionality changes are mirrored across both of the new supertelephotos.

The EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II has also gone on a diet, but the weight loss is more substantial. Canon USA's Westfall says the new 400mm f/2.8 is 28% lighter, and at 8.5lb (without the carbon fiber hood) it's also impressively light for a lens of this type (the previous version is 11.8lb). For sports and wildlife shooters who have strained to carry and maneuver the earlier model, the EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II should seem dramatically more manageable.

The EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II is to ship in December 2010 at an expected street price of US$11,000 in the U.S.

Extender EF 1.4x III and Extender EF 2x III

A"huge improvement" in sharpness and overall picture quality, says Westfall, should be expected when pairing either the new Extender EF 1.4x III or Extender EF 2x III with one of the new supertelephotos, owing in part to the noticeably improved optical quality of these teleconverters. Better focusing and improved durability are also promised. Both teleconverters are fully compatible with any existing Canon lens that can accept a teleconverter.

The Extender EF 1.4x III and Extender EF 2x III are to ship in December 2010 at an expected street price of US$500 in the U.S.

Comprehensive information about the new supertelephotos and new teleconverters is on the Canon Digital Learning Center site.

New 500mm f/4, 600mm f/4 coming next year

Canon is also working on updated versions of the 500mm f/4 and 600mm f/4, ones that will include the same range of refinements as the EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II and EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II announced today. A price and release date hasn't been set for the new 500mm f/4 and 600mm f/4, other than they will be out some time in 2011.
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