Ben and Yin’s wedding was both a special day for them and a unique one in Malaysia’s wedding photography industry. Why? Because my friend Mr How brought along his brand new Canon 200-400 F4L, The first and only one in Malaysia. I will share more on this lens at the end of this posting and have tagged several of the images below that show it in use.
Ben is the last of three brothers who have asked us to be their wedding photographers. Each one has been fun and it was like old times being back with the family again. The wedding was a traditional Chinese one. For those not familiar this means the groom and his friends come to the brides home (in this case the Berjaya Times Square hotel) and have to bargain their way in to collect the bride. Once the bargaining is over there is a tea ceremony with the family of the bride, and then another one with the grooms family.
Ben’s family are committed Roman Catholics, so the church wedding mass was held in St Johns Cathedral, in the centre of Kuala Lumpur.
In the evening the wedding banquet was in the Berjaya Times Square hotel. Ben very pleasantly surprised Yin by hopping up on stage and singing her a love song. She was blown away by this as any bride would be by such a pleasant surprise.
Enjoy the photos and for a quick opinion piece on the new Canon 200-400 F4L please skip down to the end of this post.
Mini review of the Canon 200-400 F4L: My friend and co shooter Mr How of Photowerkz picked up the very first 200-400 into Malaysia. Apparently it caused quite a stir when it appeared in YL Camera. He is primarily a sports photographer and also owns the Canon 400 F2.8L.
So what’s the new Canon 200-400 F4L like. Three words, sharp, versatile, pricey!
This was the lenses first outing on a photo shoot, and the lens gave a very sweet taste. So is this a killer wedding lens?
If being able to take photos completely unobtrusively is your goal this lens is excellent. Coupled with the Canon 5DMk3’s silent mode no one will know they are being photographed, however getting yourself into position with this or any telephoto lens of +200mm takes a lot more thinking as changing angles with these lengths takes a lot of walking to do so. There is also the additional hazard of being so discreet that videographers and family friends with cameras do not know you are there and will block your view. Unfortunately in Malaysia a lot of weekend photographers (and some non-thinking pros) have “educated” the populace that the proshooter needs to be joined at the hip with the couple thereby blocking everyone’s view, so this type of lens can come as a surprise.
As I am an NPS member, Nikon have kindly loaned me the Nikon 200-400 F4G on ocassion and it is a very nice lens to use, however it certainly wasn’t light and required the use of a monopod at all times despite my being a regular gym goer. It also precluded the use of other lenses unless you have an assistant to hand it off to so you can use something shorter. Fortunately with three of us shooting this wedding my friend How could concentrate on using the Canon 200-400 F4L exclusively while my other partner Hock Seng and I could cover the more usual bread and butter photos. As you can see from How’s set up below, a monopod is definitely required to make the most of it. This helps relieve the strain of carrying the lens, and also gives much sharper photos.
The built in 1.4x teleconverter makes the lens even more versatile, enabling it to rack out to become a 280mm-560mm F5.6 lens. The recessional photo shows the lens to be very sharp when it is engaged. The lever’s operation is very smooth and positive.
All of this comes at a price. Shashinki lists the Nikon 200-400 F4G at RM22,000 and the Canon 200-400 F4G at RM34,000. Either lens requires a heavy financial investment, and that means a lot of weddings to recoup ROI.
Compared to the Canon 400 F2.8L: How is looking at selling his unit (let me know if you are interested in buying it) so in his opinion the versatility wins out. The only issue may be that you do lose a full stop of light. This may be an issue with some sports as the difference between a photo at 1/1000th of a second and one 1/500th of a second for freezing motion may be a possible issue.
Compared to Nikons 200-400 F4G: The Nikon is a good performer. I know some people complain about softness but I have never had a client do so. Most clients can’t see the difference between an 85mm 1.8/1.4/1.2 either. That said, as a photographer you probably will notice a difference if you shoot both lenses side by side. The big advantage with the Nikon is that you can buy one AND a D800, monopod and flash for less than the price of the Canon 200-400 F4G.That said, the Canon 200-400 F4G is very sharp throughout its zoom range and trumps the Nikon in this area. I do hope to borrow Nikons 200-400G along with a D800 (I shoot with the much lower resolution D3) so we can do some comparative testing.
Am I going to buy one? That is the RM34,000 question 🙂