on 27 May 2010
I struggled for weeks justifying the cost of this lens, heck it's expensive. However, I bit the bullet, bought one and all I can say is WOW! I use it on a 5D MKII and the sharpness is simply jaw-dropping, I've never seen anything like it before.
Is it heavy...
Is it big...
Is it worth it...
All of these questions are things I considered, but now I own the lens and have seen the results, I don't care about its size or weight. This is now the standard lens fitted to my camera. It's great for shooting birds, wildlife, portraits and just about anything except macro. Having said that, you can get within a distance of around 1.5 metres and when cropped the detail is just awesome.
Sharpness, IQ, colour, contrast and bokeh are all superb, I'm really pleased I invested in this lens and I'm sure I'll keep it for years and years and years.
Yes, it's a lot of money, but if you can bring yourself to part with the cash, I promise you, you'll be smiling from ear-to-ear when you see your pics, it's just a beautiful piece of kit.
on 3 September 2011
I have been using the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L USM Lens for a year now. I am so much pleased with the superior clarity and build quality it offers, that I feel I am aquainted enough to write a review about this amazing lens.
The lens is very well constructed - faithfully stands up to what the magical letter 'L' denotes.
a) Barrel: The lens barrel and the mount are made of metal. The barrel is painted in off-white and bears the adorable red ring at the end. The lens is sure to make heads turn but when you look at the pictures that this lens take, you would forget to notice the attention you are getting.
b) Rings: The zoom ring feels smooth and softly damped when turning. Unlike some non-L series lens, the ring does not stutter/lock when it is turned from its initial position. There is no backlash between the rings (zoom and focus) and the lens barrel.
c) Switches: There are 2 switches, one for selecting the focussing mode (auto/manual) and other to select the focus range (1.2m-infinity and 3m-infinity). The use of former switch is self explanatory. The latter switch is used based on the distance between the camera and the subject. This helps the lens to focus quickly depending on the situation. Please bear with me while I try to explain. If the subject is present within 3m from the camera, the first position (1.2m-infinity) is selected. In this mode, the lens starts to attain focus from minimum focus distance to the subject. Else, the other position (3m-infinity) is used. In this mode, the focus range of 1.2m to 3m is ignored and the lens starts to focus from 3m onwards thereby reducing the time required to attain focus on the subject. Many would be aware of it, however it is better to let the others know about it.
d) Dimensions: Weighing at 630g and measuring 172mm long, this lens is slightly heavy for my 450D but feels perfectly balanced in hands. It's neck can be used to mount the lens (instead of the camera) onto a tripod using a tripod ring. The lens does not extend while zooming or focussing so remains as-is at all times.
2. Image quality (IQ):
This is the best part that I enjoy writing. The image quality is excellent. The difference between the IQ of this lens and that of standard kit lens (I know it is not fair but just for sake of comparison) is astronomical. Even when shot wide open (F/4), the image is so sharp with rich tone and contrast throughout the frame (center, border and corners). I never hesitate to shoot wide open unlike other lenses which need to stopped down (F/8, etc) to produce the best quality possible. I haven't noticed flare (whitish bloom like effect when a bright light source is in the frame) or CA (reddish or bluish fringes) in any of my pictures. Wide open and sometimes even narrower (based on the distance from the subject), the out of focus (a.k.a bokeh) clarity is too good. On a normal day with enough light, you would need a shutter speed of 1/70 sec at 70mm and 1/200 sec at 200mm to shoot without shake. Though not always, nature has been favourable to me in this aspect. I have this lens fitted to my 450D (crop sensor) so I cannot comment on any vignetting or light fall off issues which 'might' exist if used on a full frame sensor.
3. Zoom range:
On a crop sensor camera (like my 450D), the 70-200mm focal length range equates to 112-320mm (1.6x) which is abundant enough to reach closer to subjects, example of such situations being sports and wildlife photography. It is definitely not a walk-around lens (at least on a crop sensor camera). On a tripod, it can also be used for shooting the sky at night.
4. Auto-focus speed and accuracy:
Auto-focus is extremely fast, quiet and most importantly accurate. Make sure you make use of the focus switch to ensure quicker focussing.
The lens, belonging to 'L' family, comes packaged with a grey leather pouch and a hood. Like most of the hoods, this hood can be joined to the lens in inverted position thereby making the lens compact to carry.
- Excellent image quality in terms of both sharpness and color tone/saturation (in fact astronomical if you are moving from kit lens)
- Beautiful and uniform out of focus (a.k.a bokeh) making best use of the wide aperture and long zoom range
- Solid built quality
- Compact when compared to lenses of similar focal lengths
- Excellent resale value if life doesn't treat one well
- Slower for low light situation (not a con for me as I clearly understand the situations wherein this lens has to be used and also that I don't see myself realising the potential that the premium price difference between the non-IS and IS version (or the F/2.8 variant) would offer. I have come across few situation where I felt that it could be little faster but in those cases, I increase the ISO and/or shoot in RAW to improve it later.
- None in my opinion, considering the image quality and resale value (in case life becomes busy to carry on photography as a hobby).
1. To people who may be stuck up in deciding between Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L USM Lens and Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens:
Before buying this lens, I had gone through the tough time of deciding the better of the aforementioned two lenses. I am glad that I bought the L one. The 70-200mm L is a bit longer (172mm) and heavier (705g) than the 70-300mm (142.8mm and 630g) but feels perfectly balanced in hands. And the image quality, WOW! I was amazed at what my 450D was able to deliver in spite of being a 12MP sensor. I then realized that it is not the sensor that primarily matter but the lens.
In most of the forums, the most common advice that professional photographers give to amateurs/hobbyists (like me) is that once you start using a 'L' series lens, anything less than a 'L' lens is less. And I completely agree to it. After experiencing the 'L' effect, I have even changed my standard kit lens (18-55mm IS) to 17-55mm IS USM (way superior to the standard kit lens, but that's not important for this review). So take it from me - anything less than 'L' is indeed less!
3. Understand the lens:
During my analysis before buying this lens, I had read many reviews by professional photographers favouring this lens. On the other hand, I had also gone through contrary reviews by people complaining about the slow F/4 aperture speed. I am thankful to the former because they knew what they were talking about. Photography is my hobby and I don't see myself needing the IS or the wider aperture of the elder siblings of this lens, or simply affording them. So when you buy this lens, make sure that you understand what this lens is capable of.
4. Accessories recommended:
Definitely buy a good UV or protector filter (Hoya). You do not want a scratch on this beautiful lens. A lens pen (Hama) is recommended to keep it clean and ready for next use.
5. Accessories to avoid:
If you are interested in tripod rings, make sure that you buy a genuine Canon make. Third party makes are inferior in quality and tend to damage the paint coating of the lens. Also avoid a polariser filter on this lens when there is only just enough light. It reduces the light entering the lens by a stop or 2.
Highly recommended for anyone who do not need IS.
on 10 November 2012
...until I buy a 300mm F2.8l IS II or 400mm soon!
This lens is just amazing. It is tack sharp at any focal length wide open. I use it a lot for sports on either the 7D or 5DMKIII. I find I have more keepers with the 5DMKIII, mainly due to just how amazing the 61 point AF system is at f2.8. I don't think I have ever used it narrower than f2.8, it's that sharp!
It is a great indoor lens too, used it at the Olympics in low light, and candid pictures of our cats in low light.
It is slightly larger compared to the other 70-200s, but I do not find it that heavy to lug around.
If you can justify the outlay over the non IS/f4, do it!
on 1 December 2011
I needed a telephoto zoom for sports action and portrait work, and came to the classic toss-up between this lens and the less (but still very) expensive Canon EF 70-200mm F/4.0 L IS USM Lens. I ruled out the non-IS versions due to lack of weather sealing. The pros/cons of each have probably been mentioned before, but here's a quick summary:
F/2.8 IS II Pros (vs F/4.0 IS):
- Lets in a stop (double) more light wide open - for sports action, f/2.8 really is the minimum, f/4.0 is just too slow unless it's a bright sunny day or you are able to rely on flash. I'm sure there are loads of people shooting sports action at f/4.0 and getting great results, but would they prefer an f/2.8 if they had the funds? Every time.
- Ability to blur the background to a greater extent, to better isolate a subject
- Better autofocus performance (arguably not noticeable until the low light gets the better of the f/4.0). I should stress this is REGARDLESS of what your aperture is set to; the lens is always 'wide open' when you're looking through the viewfinder. This also results in a brighter viewfinder, which is easy on the eyes.
- A tripod collar is included with the F/2.8, this might not sound like much but after you spend all your money on the F/4.0, are you going to cheap out with a third party collar that might let you down? No? Then add the cost of a genuine Canon one onto the price of the F/4.0 ... look it up, they're not cheap.
F/2.8 IS II Cons (vs F/4.0 IS)
- Its obscene cost
- It's heavy ... okay, this one is more of a subjective thing. I'm in my early twenties, medium build, work out a couple of times a week and have no problem running around a rugby pitch for 80 minutes with this lens + a battery gripped 7D and a 580 EX speedlite. If you are a 12-year-old girl or a 65-year-old gent with unstable angina, it's going to be really heavy. If you're hiking or carrying this lens all day, I'd invest in a better strap than the standard Canon one.
- If you point it at the sun, it will flare more than the f/4.0. There's a lot of glass in this lens, 4 extra groups containing a total of 3 extra elements versus the f/4.0. Considering that though, flare is well controlled and about a million times better than the original 70-200 f/2.8 IS.
- It's huge ... but let's be honest, the bigger your lens the cooler you look. And the f/4.0 is hardly inconspicuous.
F/4.0 IS Pros (vs F/2.8 IS II)
- Arguably a better landscape lens because landscape shots are most often taken at small apertures. At F/11, you're not going to be able to tell these lenses apart, so what's the point in having F/2.8? And the F/4 will flare less for those shots with the sun in frame. And it's lighter to carry.
- Most of the other pros have already been alluded to by the cons of the f/2.8, i.e. it's cheaper and lighter.
F/4.0 IS Cons (vs F/2.8 IS II)
- If you're 'umm'ing and 'ahh'ing about which of these lenses to pick, you will probably always wish you'd saved a bit longer for the F/2.8. Saying that, resale values on L lenses are particularly good, meaning you could always sell it and buy the F/2.8 if your needs change (e.g. more action photography, fewer product shots)
- A relatively minor one, but the f/4 uses 67mm filters, which would be annoying for me because all of my other lenses, including the f/2.8, use and share 77mm filters. 67mm filters are a little bit cheaper though.
So there's my slightly eclectic review. Oh, and the tulip-shaped lens hood for the F/2.8 is much cooler than the F/4.0 variant.
on 17 February 2007
As a photographer who swears by prime lenses, I've never really adopted zooms as part of my essential kit. This lens, however, has changed my mind. It's very fast, autofuses superbly and produces the most uniform bokeh (back- foreground blur) I have seen in my work. I have the stunning 85mm 1.2, and the 70-200 competes - in terms of bokeh - with this.
Lens weight never worries me - being a youngish, fit male - but be aware that this lens is large (because it's well made) and unless you're very strong, you wont be hand-holding this for long stretches of time. When this lens is mated with my 1DS, with flash attached, it's impractical over long periods of time (like weddings) without monopod support.
But in terms of what you get for that extra weight: it's a stunning piece of glass and the results speak for themselves: superb contrast and colour; pin sharp, even wide open; silent, rugged and above all, it replaces several lenses in one go. I use this for portraits, landscapes and all manner of people related photography.
This competes with my 85mm in terms of usage times.
If you're unsure about whether you should buy this - don't be. From the minute you review your first series of images you'll love it.
on 28 July 2011
It took a lot of courage for me to drop so much money on this lens and I was back and forth for a while, but the more I read and the more samples I saw the more I wanted it! I even tried Google searches for "focus problems" and "bad copies" etc and other very negative phrases because frankly the hype seemed too good to be true. I figured no-one wanted to admit to spending a ton of cash on a bad lens, sort of a mass denial!
I didn't find anything, so in a fit of courage I picked up one of these bad boys, slapped it on my 7D and headed straight to the new Riverside Transport Museum in Glasgow. I figured it's best arena is low light, since the big price comes in part from the big apeture and funky 4-stop stabiliser, so I set about taking some abstracts of vehicles from through the ages, some candid portraits and some close-ups in the muted lighting and busy environment.
Simply different class. My abstracts were punchy and sharp, the vehicles shots looked like something from a car mag and my portraits were moody and intimate, with the clutter and the crowd blurred out of existance and the frame filled with facial expression.
I have a few L lenses in my collection, but I've never used a lens remotely this good before. It isn't the most discreet lens in the world and caught the eye of many passers-by, but what caught my eye was the stunning images I was getting.
The backgrounds are defocussed in the creamiest fashion, the in-focus areas are razor sharp even at the widest apeture (fantastic!) and the colour & contrast are amazing.
Handling of the lens is stellar. It gets heavy on a long day out but I expected that. The autofocus (especially with the 7D) is lightning quick and totally dead on. I had noticed some slight softness issues in outdoor/ high contrast scenes when pixel-peeping, but I figured out it was due to the cheaper Jessops UV filter I had on it, which had a really obvious effect, probably because of how well the lens could render the errors on the sensor! I switched it for a Hoya Pro-1 Digital UV and the results are even sharper rendering with even smoother background blur. In short don't skimp on your filter if using one because this lens will punish you for it!
I've found myself addicted to the look of the images produced and I take the lens everywhere. It's so much fun to use - best fun-to-price ratio of any lens. It is a great inspiration and a joy to use. I've reconnected to photography in a new way thanks to this lens. I can't over-sell it. It really is as good as everyone says.
on 9 July 2013
As with all Canon L series lenses, the quality of this lens is outstanding. Images are detailed, crisp and sharp but the real power of this lens is the bokah (blur) it generates, it's beautifully smooth allowing your subject to really pop out.
I am a wedding and portrait photographer and use a canon 10-20mm , a 24-105L (another superb lens) together with this beauty. These are all top quality lenses but this one is my preferred choice for those gorgeous portraits with soft blur.
This lens gives me an extra two stops of light over the 24-105 in low light circumstances and I find that I can generally keep the shutter speed up to 1/250 to avoid camera shake without too much difficulty. I have had to boost the ISO to 1600 in darker churches , but noise at this level is acceptable and a quick blast through Lightroom can virtually eradicate noise without effecting the sharpness too much. The addition of a monopod or tripod completely solves any low light problems.
In full light however , this lens is unbelievable, images are breathtaking and you will be delighted
In fairness however if your are reading this review you are probably trying to make a decision between this lens, the f4 version of the same and the more expensive IS version
What you decide to purchase depends largely on how often you are likely to have to work in poor light without flash - I would stick with either f2.8 versions if you have to go without flash, and of course if you can afford the IS version then go for it, if your work is mainly outdoors or flash assisted then this is your man. You need to assess how often you work in low light and set that against your budget, I would say that this f2.8 is probably the same capability in poor light as the IS f4 but you will probably get another 2 stops from the f2.8 IS , but you will pay another £600-700 for that one
There is a fair bit of weight to this lens, add it to a camera with a battery grip and you are lugging a few pounds around, I carry two cameras, but attach the 24-105l to a batty gripped camera, and attach this to a body only, I did have it with battery grip body but found shooting with it for several hours to be a bit of a strain. But you would expect that with two cameras wouldn't you !
I wouldn't have too much issue to work for a while with just this lens and camera, it does weigh a bit but its manageable and the images produced are well worth it - I just wouldn't take it on holiday
Invest in a decent monopod and problem is solved
Whichever lens you go for, this one is worth every penny of the near £1000 price tag and is a safe purchase and if you decide that this meets your needs I can tell you that your money will have been well spent .If your field is portraits in the outdoors then you cannot live without this lens........I am so fond of it , I'm thinking of giving her a name
on 18 November 2005
The ef 70-200/f4 is a fabulous lens. It's very sharp, has good depth of field at f4 and is a joy to use.
The focus can be set to 3m to infinity or 1.2m to infinity. The shorter length is very good for close ups of flowers or similar. If its left on 1.2m it may hunt when trying to focus. You can also set to manual focus.
One issue with the lens is back focus, if you are shooting at something when there is a bright, or high-contrast background, you may find the camera has focussed on the background.
I use my 70-200 f4 on an EOS20D, I have taken thousands of shots with that combination, photogrphing; cricket, riding, birds, flowers, people, aircraft and stars. Other than the minor issue of back focus, I have had trouble free shooting. The lens is well worth getting.
on 13 May 2011
I've had one of these for just over a year, using it with an EOS 40D (1.6x crop factor). It's big, expensive, and comes with a legendary reputation. Is it really that good? Um, yes, actually...
1. The bokeh is a thing of wonder: background blur is a gorgeous velvety soup of loveliness, and brings a smile to my face every time.
2. Sharpness and contrast are first-rate, and I'm struck by the colour reproduction: it's vivid in a natural (rather than a 'crank up the saturation in Photoshop') way.
3. AF is spectacularly fast and accurate.
4. It's incredibly well-built, feels bulletproof and is very satisfying to own.
So, it's perfect in every way? Actually there are some negatives to consider:
1. On a crop-sensor camera it's a pretty long lens; basically you'll always get close-ups with it, and any complete photo kit will need to include something wider.
2. It is undeniably big. I wouldn't say it's impractical to hand hold or unbearably heavy, but it's not something you'll pack for a holiday unless you're pretty sure you'll be using it.
3. It's conspicuous, and quite an intimidating thing to point at a shy subject.
4. It's minimum focus distance is 1.5m, so it doesn't work too well in confined spaces.
So, I've no regrets about choosing this lens, but I'd recommend it as one part of a photographic toolkit, and not the last thing you'll ever need to buy.
on 20 March 2009
I bought this after reading reviews and after having discovered quite how good L series lenses could be. I kind of gulped at the price and trusted what people consistently say about it (just google reviews). The definition it delivers is just amazing (hairs on the legs of a bumble bee from 15 feet, see yourself reflected in the eye of your dog when you view an image at 100% on the computer: that kind of thing), and the contrast and colour is delicious--colour perhaps just a tad less saturated than some other Canon lenses, but entirely natural. It focuses more or less instantly in almost all light conditions including situations where most other lenses would hunt. The round diaphragm gives really good background blur, and the image stabilization does (almost unbelievably) do exactly what Canon claims it does. I can get usable images at about 1/20th second at full zoom. Not all the time, but most of the time. And at 1/60th it's close to 100% of the time. The IS does make a noticeable whirr, but I doubt it would put off any but the shyest subjects. There is also a faint rattle if you shake the lens, but this is not a problem. All the L series lenses are heavier than the cheaper Canon lenses, and feel a little lens heavy with on small light bodies like the EOS 450D; but this lens is remarkably light considering its quality and range, and I could happily carry it around for a day. It's so sharp that even people who are quite fussy about quality should be able to crop images from it on the computer and get an effective zoom range significantly above 200mm (provided you're not printing out in A3). I think it's genuinely amazing. You pay a lot for the IS. If you can afford it, it's really worth it.