* Prices may differ from that shown
a 70-200 is a very popular lens, I own the 70-200 2.8 IS which I use professionally but really it's just too heavy to carry around with me on vacation. The f4 version is half the weight and much more compact so is a joy to carry. The f4 version works ok in good light, but in the Uk the light is never good so you'll find yourself struggling to get handheld shots at 200mm without cranking the ISO
for shooting in a studio, or on a tripod this lens is great, but for handheld shooting the IS version is a lot easier to use and more versatile. Canon make great 70-200 lenses, this is a great lens, but it has limited appeal- don't buy it just because of the price, buy it because it is the one you really want/need, if you don't want 2.8, or don't want IS it's a fantastic lens, but if you really do want the more expensive one and you go for this one then you might be disappointed. Personally I can't recommend this lens, i'd say either get the IS version or get a handful of f2 prime lenses (50mm f1.8, 100mm f2), much more versatile.
it is incredibly sharp, but 200mm f4 needs a lot of light, or you will get motion blur. it is a very nice lens for portraits though, and you can get a nicely diffused background shooting wide open
my advice is save up and get the IS, if you don't want the weight of the 2.8 lens
As an L series lens - Canon's premium line-up of professional lenses - this lens is excellently and solidly built of high quality metal (with some plastic) and the seals and rings all feel tight and durable. I have used several copies of this lens on hire and they all had no mechanical or optical faults or any feeling of looseness, which is great from a hire lens that assumedly faces a little more rough treatment than it would from an individual owner.
This is one of 4 types of 70-200 lens Canon make - they make f2.8 and f4 versions, with and without image stabilisation. As the f4 non-IS, this is the cheapest, smallest and lightest. The optical quality is still excellent and the autofocus motor is ultrasonic, great features in a lens of this cost.
I have found the autofocus on Canon's newer cameras (5d MkII and 7d) to be blisteringly fast and accurate, even in low light, and the colour rendition is accurate and saturated, with great detail and sharpness from edge to edge.
If you don't need that extra stop of aperture offered by the 2.8, nor the IS, this lens is a fantastic purchase.
A 70-200 telephoto is "standard kit" for many photographers, which is why Canon have four models at this focal length.(F4, F4 IS, F2.8 and F2.8 IS) (IS = Image stabilised)
There's little point in talking about the F4 without comparing it to the others.
All 4 have superb image quality, some say the F4 is sharper than the 2.8 IS (My 2.8 IS is very slightly sharper than my F4 so who knows) either way all of them are stonkingly good from 70-200, from wide open.
If you measurebate you might spot some differences but they will be irrelevant in real world images
The question is which one to get. Each one is compromise over weight, speed, and price, to my mind this is how they stack up.
F4 (Non IS)
Very light, great price but F4 makes it limited in low light. I.E. sports hall, high motion, high ISO, you're at 1/60th, you need at least 1/125 (i.e. the one stop you get with the 2.8)
So ideal for use outside in good light, F4 will be less of an issue as high ISO performance improves in future bodies.
Slightly heavier, more money, with the IS you're 2-3 stops better off for hand holding, but the shutter speed will be the same for motion.
So better for a Church interior, not a gym
F2.8 (Non IS)
Considerably heavier, loads more money but you can't beat having an extra stop when you need it.
Very useable in low light, weight can be a issue for some people. (Both the 2.8 and the 2.8 uses more common 77mm filters and come with a tripod mount. The F4 doesn't really need it anyway)
F2.8 (IS) "The ultimate solution", bit heavier than the 2.8 it's a long way from the F4 in price but ticks all the boxes, if you using it for a living it's a no brainer.
If you shoot in low light and need the speed, (and have the money) this is what you need.
The 70-200 F4 is a great lens, and will give outstanding results in good light, if you have a 5D or a 1D Mark III you'll probably get acceptable results in lower light with high ISOs
It also depends on what you're shooting and how deep you're pockets are.
It seems many people buy the F4 and upgrade after a couple of years. They hold their value very well. I sold mine for more than I bought it for after 12 months!
So you might like to consider looking at "previously enjoyed" one, I doubt you'll loose much on it in a year.
General Overview and Performance
The Canon EOS Lens 70-200mm f/4.0 L USM, is promoted as a high performance telephoto zoom lens providing excellent performance for all general purposes. It is a very lightweight (0.705kg) and compact zoom lens that has the same level of optical performance as EF 70 - 200mm f/2.8L USM. This assures good portability and operability and makes it an excellent choice for travel photography as well as more localised shoots. I have used it for taking pictures of landscapes, natural habitats, portraiture, curious happenings in supermaket carparks and the usual espionage work. The results so far have been more than satisfactory and it seems to handle well on all sorts of terrain. Both outdoor and indoor pictures have come out exceptionally sharp with good contrast and clear details in texturised areas. Yesterday (at least I think it was yesterday) I took some stunning pictures of cloud formations from the balcony of my high rise apartment... they kept me mesmerised for hours.
Night Time Poke
Despite its lightweight credentials I would still recommend a tripod for most types of photography with this lens. The only times I haven't required the use of my three legged friend is when I was shooting from the car window, in which case you can lean it on the open window frame. It certainly looks the part and is very professional looking in appearance, although for my liking this does sometimes attract too much attention at times whilst working undercover, especially during night time. However, this can be overcome by covering yourself in a dark sheet and letting the lens poke out from beneath. Another advantage of this is that even if your target subject becomes suspicious you can make a quick getaway and your secret identity will remain intact. But I would only recommend this if you really are experienced and know what you'e doing. At least stay away from the booze when on assignment (though I know it can be tempting) and don't forget to wear a nice pair of black gloves (avoid mittens for safety reasons).
~~ Techno Bit for Nerdys~~
The lens incorporates an artificial crystal fluorite and two UD (Ultra-low Dispersion) glass lens elements in its optical system in order to eliminate any secondary spectrum, this is often a major drawback in many telephoto lenses and results in lower picture quality. These elements assure high resolution and high contrast throughout the entire zoom range. The optical design gives a minimum focusing distance of 1.2m and 0.21x maximum magnification. The pictures I've taken with this lens really do appear spectacular, even at very high resolutions.
~~ Nice Bits ~~
One aspect I really like about this lens is the ring USM (Ultrasonic Motor) and inner focusing system because it achieves a high-speed and simultaneous silent auto focusing. Another essential requirement in my opinion in a lens of this type is the manual override. Manual focusing, even while in AF mode, is possible thanks to a full-time manual focusing mechanism. You can also buy extenders for this lens (EF 1.4X and 2X) if you want to increase the magnification although this does tend to somewhat compromise the picture quality.
~~ Disadvantages ~~
Something that might be a bit of a drawback for some who use this lens is that there is no image stabilization. This is a bit surprising because this is often a feature of much cheaper Canon lenses. The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 for example includes this feature and will cost around the same price. However, when using a lens of this type some sort of tripod should be used in most shooting opportunities thus cutting out the need for any image stabilising properties.
Another minor issue that is noticeable at times is the background focus. When taking pictures of something with a very bright or high-contrast background, the lens will sometimes focus on the background instead of the subject matter. However, I have had this trouble with other autofocus lenses and you can always revert to manual override if you come up against this problem.
Despite these minor flaws this is still an excellent lens that I would highly recommend for the more enthusiastic amateur or professional, even if you do have to dig into your pockets a bit.
~~ Basic Technical information ~~
Focal Length: 70-200mm
Mount Type: EF
Camera Compatibility: Canon digital
No Lens Adaptor
No Image Stabilisation
Manual Focus: Yes
Focusing Range: 1.2m to
Filter Diameter: 67 mm
Weight: 0.705 kg
Dimensions: 76 - 172 mm
Price: £459.95 at Amazon
This high grade telephoto zoom lens responds to the exacting requirements of professionals and advanced amateurs, yet at a reasonable price. One artificial crystal fluorite and two UD (Ultra-low Dispersion) glass lens elements in its optical system eliminate secondary spectrum, which is often the Achilles' heel of telephoto lenses resulting lower picture quality. These elements assure high resolution and high contrast throughout the entire zoom range. The latest optical design gives a minimum focusing distance of 1.2m and 0.21x maximum magnification. This lightweight, compact zoom lens, having the same level of optical performance as EF 70 - 200mm f/2.8L USM, assures good portability and operability. The ring USM (Ultrasonic Motor) and inner focusing system achieve high-speed silent autofocusing. Manual focusing, even while in AF mode, is possible thanks to full-time manual focusing mechanism. Extenders EF 1.4X and 2X can be used with this lens, and the optional Ring Tripod Mount A (W) is being marketed concurrently.