Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sharpest zoom ever ? - Canon EF 70-200 f4 L IS

Photo: 5D MkII and 70-200 f/4L IS, 2 shot panorama

One of the eternal questions for Canon owners is which 70-200 should I get ? Of the 4 to choose from, they are all very good, but with a range in cost of $500 to $1700 how does one choose ?, I have had the 70-200 f2.8 L, 70-200 f2.8 IS L and presently the 70-200 f4 IS L. All three of these len's where sharp. I purchased the original back in my film days and enjoyed it, at one point it was stollen so my re-purchase was the 2.8 IS version (at the time there was no f4 IS), the "IS" or image stabilization is an amazing feature that works exceptionally well. So I had a trip comming up and this caused a problem, which lens's to take with me ? I realy wanted to take the 17-40, 24-105, 70-200, 300 f4 and one body, but these would not all fit in my bag of choice, not to mention the weight would be prohibative to pack around all the time. My solution ? buy the 70-200 f4 IS, try it out and sell the loser. keep in mind that for me the bokeh of the f2.8 was not that important, I have other lens's for portrait shots and the 1 stop differance between f2.8 and f4 is not enough to matter for low light shooting, for that you want f1.4 len's. So after recieving the f4 IS version and trying it out on a skyline shot of Seattle I became convinced, at half the weight, a $600 savings, one stop better image stabalization and getting a sharper lens, to me there was no competition, I sold the f2.8 IS version, in a perfect world I would have kept both, but in these times of economic turmoil, not going to happen. Oh and this allowed me to fit all the lens's I wanted in to my carry on bag, and made my life a lot easier.
So if you want one of these lens's you need to juggle, weight, cost, speed and image stabilization, as far as IQ is concerned, they are all very nice and you can't go wrong there. If its portrait work, its got to be one of the 2.8 versions, I think for most other applications f4 should suit most people fine. Photography has always been about trade offs, this is just another one those.

My recommendations are as follows:

for portrait work: 70-200 f/2.8L IS II

for all other work: 70-200 f/4L IS

for cost saving: 70-200 f/4L

Update: the newest member, the EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II, at around $2300 trumps them all, yes its worth it, I upgraded to the EF 24-70 f/2.8L II and it is also well worth the money.

Kai says it all here 

Ross Murphy

Images In Light

The Digital Picture Review


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Hey there, I'm in a Canon 450d user here, and I am having one huge dilemma over which to get. A 70-200 f4L IS, or without IS. Say I'm mostly doing day shots, and for night shots, I have my tripod to fall to. Do I really need that IS?

  3. Danny, you only need the IS for hand held shots, but if you can afford it get the IS version, although the non IS version is still a great lens.

  4. hi
    I am about to buy
    and i am torn between 70-200 F4 IS or 70-200 F2.8 Non IS
    I dont know what to buy really.
    I need one where i can shoot faces, and nice bokeh, and same time, i do many in studio shots where under controlled light or can be on tripod
    so either outside shots in nice light or inhouse
    with strobs or head lights

    dont know really what to chose...feel so torn, and feel i would miss to have IS

    hope to know ur opinion on this

  5. Hi Masri, with out a doubt if its for portraits it must be the 2.8 version preferably the new one, (f2.8 IS II) but all are good, get IS if you can afford it.

    All the best



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