70-200mm f/2.8 - which one?!?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by danti_hendrasti, Sep 24, 2010.

  1. Hello again everyone!
    I just posted a question a few days ago and with the help of the nice people here in this forum, I have solved my problem. Thanks again.
    Now, I have another question about Canon lens 70-200mm f/2.8. I've been thinking and saving some money in order of to get this lens in the future. However, I still have a few doubts about it.
    First of all, I never really hold this lens personally and I have no idea how big and especially how heavy it is. For a woman, 160 cm - 53 kg, do you think it will be a lens too heavy to carry around. I have EOS 7D and the lens I use most of the time is 24-105mm plus the 50mm f/1.4. I mostly take photographs of people (specially children expressions) and sometime landscape as well. Although those 2 lens do quite a good job and I have had many good photos using them, I'd like to be able to take the photos in a more candid way and not having to come to close to the subject. Plus with the aperture of F/2.8 on 70-200, I think I will be able to throw away the background even more. Do you agree that the 70-200 will serve me better in this sense. Or is there any other lens that I can use with that purpose in mind, other than the 70-200mm? I prefer lenses with big aperture.
    Second doubt is about which version of 70-200 lens I should get. Whether the old 70-200 f/2.8 without IS or 70-200 f/2.8 IS I USM or even the lattest II version? What is the fundamental differences between the I version and the II version beside the price? Is it really worth and justify the price to get the latest version?
    Looking forward to have all the useful advices and to clear up my doubts about this lens.
    Thank you all in advance!
  2. In terms of weight, the 70-200/2.8 without IS is around 1300 g, with IS is around 1500 g. For comparison, the 7D is 820 g, 24-105 is 670 g, so the 7D and 24-105 combined is roughly the weight of the 70-200/2.8 IS by itself.
    I've used the 70-200/2.8 IS version I. It's a very good lens and quite sharp. The version II is a little sharper, according to the test chart photos I've seen. It also focuses a little closer, has less flare, and has a better image stabilizer. Whether it's worth the significant price increase depends on your budget.
    You might try renting to see how you like it. And consider whether the f/4 version might meet your needs. If your main interest in the f/2.8 is for blurring backgrounds, you could consider a 70-200/4 IS plus a 100/2.
  3. I think the 70-200mm f/2.8 (with or without IS) will do what you want. The question, as you note, is whether you can comfortably handle it.
    The official online Canon Camera Museum's EF lens section has specs on every EF lens (though they're often slow about putting up newly-released lenses). Here's a link to the page for telephoto zooms:
    According to the museum, the heaviest 70-200mm is the f/2.8 IS (original version) at 1590 g, or 3.5 lbs. I find this increasingly uncomfortable to shoot hand-held after an hour or two, so I rarely take it out unless I specifically want a fast telephoto zoom with IS. It's also nearly 8" long, which takes up a lot of room in the small to mid-size shoulder bags I favor for lugging my cameras around.
    The 70-200mm f/4 IS is about an inch shorter and half the weight of the f/2.8 IS, and costs several hundred less as well. The only downside, of course, is that it can't open up wider than f/4, which does seem to be an issue for you since you want to minimize DOF.
    I haven't used the II version of the f/2.8 IS. It gets rave reviews, and it probably is technically a better lens. I have no intention of upgrading, however, because the original f/2.8 IS is easily the best zoom lens I've ever used and I have been completely satisfied with it.
    Another lens you might want to consider is the Canon EF 135mm f/2L. This is a prime, not a zoom, and it lacks IS, but it opens up a stop more than the f/2.8 zooms and is about the same weight as 70-200mm f/4, and more compact. It is often said to be the ultimate Canon portrait lens.
  4. It sounds like the f/4 IS would be the best for you. The 2.8 is good for indoor photography or sports, but for causual shooting, there's nothing the f/4 can't do that the 2.8 does. Background blur, even at f/4, is amazing on the 70-200mm. At that focal length, you can get great bokeh if you know how to manipulate your camera to subject and subject to background distances. The f/4 is about half the weight, and although all versions are supurb, I've heard that the f/4's have a slight edge on IQ. I have an f/4 non-IS and wanted a 2.8 for a long time, but the more I use my f/4, the more I realize how adequete it is and how much I love the light weight. Its so easy to carry around all day. My neighbor has the 2.8 IS and it weighs as much as 2 bricks. I'll post a sample from my f/4 so you can see the bokeh possibilities.
    70-200mm f/4L @ 200mm and f/10
  5. I love the 70-200 2.8L (non IS) a lot. Personally don't think it's "worth" the IS for extra weight and $500 more... (I would imagine though if I played with an IS lens for a day I would never look back to the ancient days of non-IS).
  6. I fully agree that for your needs, the 70-200mm f/4L IS might be the right choice. I am 6'2" tall and 220 pounds and consider the 70-200mm f/2.8 (series) lenses too heavy for my needs. I carry my f/4L IS lens all over and I recently completed a trip to China using the 70-200mm f/4L IS lens along with my 17-55mm f/2.8 IS lens on a pair of 1.6x cameras. I can carry the f/4L IS AND the second body at the same weight as carrying the f/2.8L (series) lens alone.
    I can shoot hand held using 200mm with my f/4L IS as low as 1/60 second with full expectations of getting 100% sharp imagery. At 1/30 second, my keeper rate is lower but, still respectable. using ISO 400 or 800, this gives me a lot of freedom shooting in low light levels.
    The f/4L IS can give some beautiful background blur when shooting at longer focal lengths, even though I am limited to f/4 as my widest aperture. My China images are located at http://rpcrowe.smugmug.com/
  7. I have the 70-200 f2.8 IS, first generation, got it before IS was available on the f4.0. If I was shopping today, I would be thinking seriously about the f4.0 IS version: it is virtually half the weight. It's not difficult to handle the f2.8 lens, regardless of your stature, but it does add a lot of weight to any camera bag, and shoulder bags in particular.
    The only downsides I can think of with the f4.0 version: obviously the loss of one stop, and at least for me: the odd 67mm filter size, most of my other lens are 77mm. The f4.0 version looks to be slightly sharper than the f2.8, at any aperture, but they're both pretty sharp.
  8. As an owner of the 70-200 f2.8 IS and the 70-200 f4 (non IS) - I also think your best bet would be the 70-200 f4 IS.
    If I need f2.8 and IS (meaning I am shooting AT f2.8) I use that lens and love it. For everything else - which is most of the time - the f4 version handles better, is more convenient, and is just a much nicer lens to use. If you're into test results it's also supposed to have marginally better IQ, they are both excellent though and there is essentially nothing to choose between them.
    I don't have the f4 IS version (it wasn't available when I got the f4 and having the f2.8 IS I don't need it), but it sounds like from all weight, size, IQ, features and convenience angles, this may well be the best fit for you.
  9. First, some of the women I have known and know could probably carry me around -
    Second, I would not invest this much money into a longer lens without getting IS on it. This by itself is worth a couple of stops for many purposes.
    Finally, although the older lens designs are as good as they ever were, I think in this focal length especially, it's worth getting the latest version. Compare reviews at Photozone.de, especially of the mark II version on APS-C (link). It does cost more money, but it will retain a substantial part of that value for a long time.
  10. Weight is a relative thing. It all depends on how long and how far you're carrying the lens. If you're going on a long hike, you'll definitely feel every pound, especially when it's hanging around your neck and/or shoulders. If you're only picking up the camera for 30 min at a go, and most of what you do is on a tripod anyway, weight hardly matters at all. When I'm walking around in a park, for instance, I might comfortably carry my 5D, 24-105, and 70-200/4IS. When I'm off on a long hike, I won't carry anything heavier than my 5D and 24-105 in a holster bag. If I'm going to carry a camera with me everywhere, on the off chance that something interesting might happen, then I strip down to nothing more than a G11 and a spare battery. If I'm on the road to do photography, then I carry quite a lot of gear with me. (Weight doesn't matter.)
    FAIW, I've seen some very tiny women wielding the massive 70-200/2.8IS, but I don't think I'd be one of them. My f/4 version is fairly comfy.
    BTW, you've stated that you want/need the large apertures for the foreground separation (i.e. and big background blur), and that's certainly legitimate. However, have you considered saving both money and weight with even faster primes? I personally own the 70-200/4 IS, which works great for most of what I do in the mild tele end. However, when I want to shoot with a large aperture, my 100/2 usually comes out. Together my two lenses weigh less, cost less, deliver slightly better sharpness, and give me a larger max aperture than the 70-200/2.8IS.
  11. Do you need F2.8 as it doubles the weight and makes the lens even more obvious. I employ a two lens strategy - 70-200 f4 L IS as my walk around general purpose lens and the old 70-200 f2.8 non IS for low light and indoor sports. I personally find that I rarely need IS with either lens when shooting digital - especially with the 5DII but even with my 7D. If you plan to shoot at F2.8 for shallow DOF or indoor sports then you need the F2.8 lens which is 2x the weight.
    In my case i bought the f2.8 non IS to shoot sports and for ice hockey etc... I do need the F2.8 aperture. At the time I tested the f2.8 IS lens which was new out but found the image quality inferior. While I am not the only person to notice this it may have just been an issue with an early batch of IS lenses as most people are happy with the mkI F2.8 IS lens. I understand the F2.8 IS II is a much improved lens so if you need f2.8 and weight is not an issue this is probably the one to get.
    One thought is to get the 70-200 f4 LIS (which is a great performer) and also an 85 f1.8 (or the 100 f2) for low light / shallow DOF use. I think you will find the f2.8 lenses rather obvious for candid use and the 85 F1.8 is a fast focusing lens and sharper than any of the zooms - especially at f2 or below.
    I suggest that you look at the lenses or try them out and really think about the weight issue with the F2.8 lenses. While I use my F2.8 lens about as much as my F4IS the F2.8 lens only goes to sports events whereas the f4 goes everywhere else. I found that when I just had the f2.8 lens I would often leave it at home to save weight in a pack but the f4 gets taken out a lot. Even if I was bauying lenses today I suspect i would buy the f2.8 non IS and the F4IS instead of just the F2.8 IS II as you can bget them both for less and it is a more flexible arrangement. I am sure the F2.8 Is II is a great performer but it is a lot of lens to carry around. Another lens you may want to consider (if you do not need the zoom) is the 135 f2 which is probably the best performing lens Canon makes.
  12. Your 24-105 weighs 670 grams. The 70-200 f4LIS weighs 760 grams (not a great deal more). I would think if you are comfortable with the 24-105 you should be able to handle the 70-200. For comparison the 70-200 2.8LIS weighs twice what the f4 model does (1470 grams). With your 7D if you get into situations where you need the extra speed simply turn up the ISO - the 7D will handle it. The only thing you give up is a shallower depth of field when shooting wide open. Since your other main lens is an f4 this would seemingly make a good pairing. Good luck.
  13. Danti,
    I once watched a photographer from the Los Angeles Times cover an event. She was carrying 3 Canon EOS 1 cameras. One had the 17-35mm f/2.8 zoom, one had the 28-70mm f/2.8 zoom, and one had the original 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom. She seemed to do fine.
    However it doesn't mean you will do the same. We each have our own limit as to what we are comfortable carrying while photographing. I am more comfortable with my 70-200mm f/4 IS. I don't even think about the weight. The camera and lens don't encumber me in any way.
    I noticed you say you wanted to take picture "in a more candid way". A big white lens isn't going to do that for you. It will draw attention from your subjects and everyone one else for 1/4 mile.
    I would either work to get more comfortable with your subjects or look at the Canon 200mm f/2.8. The lens is shorter, lighter, and is black. Oh, and it is really a bargain.
  14. Just an idea, you could get two lenses: The 70-200 f/4 L IS + the 85 f/1.8. Might be cheaper and better suited for what you use it.
  15. I'm going my add my voice to the chorus of endorsements of the 70-200/4 L IS. I briefly flirted with the idea of replacing mine with the new 70-200/2.8 L IS II. But then I thought that, since the slower zoom does everything I want a lens in that range to do, and does it all so well, why would I want to replace it with a heavier, more cumbersome, much more expensive lens?
    I do alot of outdoor portraiture with the f/4 L IS on my full frame bodies; in fact, it's my favourite lens for that application. It's sharp across the frame, and, has Nathan has shown, renders out-of-focus areas beautifully (in contrast to the unpleasant bokeh of the 24-105, another lens I use alot outdoors).
    Also, I would personally not consider getting a longer zoom that didn't have IS. I find the increased handholdability of IS lenses to be invaluable for the kind of shooting I do.
  16. What is the fundamental differences between the I version and the II version beside the price? Is it really worth and justify the price to get the latest version?​
    Fundamental difference: IMHO, the II is much sharper wide open with better contrast. (And I always thought my version I was terrific). If you've got the budget, and you want the very best, go with the II. If you don't need the wide aperture, go with the f/4.0 as others have suggested.
    Carrying this lens around your neck all day will be tiring. You can look at some alternate straps to get the weight on your shoulders and off of your neck. I sometimes carry this lens with a very lightweight monopod attached. Just being able to rest with the weight off of your neck and on the monopod can make carrying much more pleasant.
  17. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "Or is there any other lens that I can use with that purpose in mind, other than the 70-200mm? I prefer lenses with big aperture."
    EF135 F/2.0 L USM + x1.4MkII.
    Fits all the criteria you listed including: size – diameter and legnth; weight; aperture; bokeh and stealth.
  18. I rarely use aperture priority, actually mostly use Program, and I don't think any of my 70-200 f2.8 shots have been at f2.8, more often at f5.6 and up. Still, with fairly close subject, the backgrounds are thrown wonderfully out of focus. Not sure how the f4.0 bokeh compares, but f4.0 is not an issue for throwing backgrounds out of focus, with these focal lengths.
    I'm actually itching to get the f4.0 IS, primarily for the weight advantage, but cannot justify it ;)
  19. Hello again everyone!
    I have read over and over again all the responses I received. They all have been very useful to give me more information in order to decide which lens I should get at the end. My conclusion before buying the 70-200mm lens is that I really must try and hold the lenses myself before deciding :)
    Someone brought to my attention about having a big white lens does not really make taking candid photos easier and I absolutely agree with that statement. As such, I wonder if anyone here can give me some inputs or performance information about other lens (similar to the 70-200mm with big aperture) made by other manufactures than CANON, like Sigma.
  20. Any fast 70-200 will be very big for Candid use - even if it is not white! For Candid use a small camera is much better. If you use a DSLR then a lens like the 100 f2 or 85 F1.8 may be a better option as they have fast AF and do not draw attention the same way. I am not a big candid shooter but I like my old Contax G2 rangefinder for discreet shots.
  21. Danti, the 2.8 is fatter than the 4.0, but I don't know if it's much more conspicuous. Also when I bought my 70-200/4, I thought the color would be conspicuous, but I don't think it is -- any more than a black lens.
    If you want to hide the color of your 70-200, you can do it with a LensCoat. If you want to do it more economically, you can use X-Treme silicone rubber tape. It stretches and sticks to itself, but has no adhesive.
    Having used my 70-200 for candid photography, I don't think it's any more conspicuous than my tiny G-11. When you hold up a camera and point it at someone, you're doing something conspicuous, whether the camera is big or little. It could be a Graflex with a mongo flash or a Minox. What seems to matter the most, in my experience, is that you are comfortable doing what you're doing and that you're not perceived as being "sneaky." A big smile and healthy eye contact are extremely important.
  22. Hi Sarah! Thank you so much for your advices. I will definitely take them into consideration. I especially agree with your advice of not being "sneaky". Thanks again!
  23. Hi Danti
    When it comes to long term use and quality I think it is hard to beat the L lens consistency in performance/quality. I have often looked at Tamron and Sigma as alternatives to reduce my expenses but experience has taught me that it is more important to me to get the shot right the first time instead of trying to edit and sharpen it to what I expected.
    That being said I own the Canon ef 70-200 F2.8 and also regularly use the Canon ef 70-200 F4 IS. I would have to say that the 2.8 is noticeably heavier and after owning it for 1.5 years I can say that you better have a good camera bag to distribute the weight when going on shooting trips. Also if you are shooting over 150mm I also find it difficult (without a monopod) to get a clear shot because of shake (1 out of 3 shots is clear hand held). But I do love the lens because my main interest is performance/dance photography where light is often low.
    If I'm walking around or doing candidate/street photography I prefer the F4 IS. I think the IS model is necessary if you are not going to use a tripod (150mm and up again is a difficult range). Also in my experience the F4 IS does have noticeably better sharpness and clarity. Just keep in mind that even though you will be able to get great shots at low shutter speeds because of IS that at the longer shutter speeds you will not be able to stop motion. So you can get an unsharp image from your subject moving. So I always choose the lens I take with me based on knowing what I will be shooting the specific day.
  24. Hello there,
    who please can give me advices? I have the canon 70 200 f4 is and I'm thinking to switch tothe 2.8 is2. To reach the money I have to sell the 70 200f4is and the 24 70 2.8L. As I just have the 35L maybe I can sell the 24 70 for the best zoom 70 200. Or add the 135L instead? and sell anything?
    Normally I take lanscape, mountain photos, sometime concert or sports, and other times (avarage twice a year ceremony,events). One body 5d2. So in conclusion , what's better:
    1. 35L , 24 70 2.8L, 70 200 f4 maybe in the future add 135L
    2. 35L , 70 200 2.8 is2

    thanks everybody!
  25. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    How often do you use the 24 to 70? I think that you probably would use it often. I would not like to be without 24 to 70 range for the photography that you describe.
    I think option [1] is the better choice -
    35L , 24 70 2.8L, 70 200 f4 maybe in the future add 135L

  26. Dear William,
    thank you very much for your promt response. You're right, is difficult to give up the 24 70 , even with best primes lens. I will keep mine and 70-200f4 also, I'm more tempted for a very fast lens like 50L, rather than the 70 200 2.8 is2! Only my dreams after a good red wine!
    Greetins from Italy
  27. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    I'm more tempted for a very fast lens like 50L, rather than the 70 200 2.8 is2​
    The EF 85F/1.8 is very good value for money:
    I use my 85/1.8 as a partner to my 35/1.4 quite often for Social Events.
    The difference in Focal Length between 35mm and 85mm is a better fit for me, than using a 35mm and 50mm lens, where I find that there is only a little difference.
    I also have the 135/2L. That is an exceptional lens:
    Maybe you should consider the 85/1.8? And perhaps don't always think that having an L Series Lens is necessarily the only solution for your kit.

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