70-200mm f4L vs. 200mm prime

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by mcara, Nov 14, 2005.

  1. 1. Is there any real/practical difference between these two
    lenses? I have read reviews on www.photozone.de and the prime seems
    to be a bit better. But, by how much? And, from the PUPPY FACE's
    website the zoom is much worse than the prime...
    2. I think PUPPY sent his lens for recalibration. When could we
    expect an update to the zoom vs. prime comparison?
  2. I had the zoom for about 3 months and the prime for about two years but not in the same time. The prime was much better.

    Happy shooting,
  3. This question was discussed recently in another thread. If you only want to use the lens at the long end, the 1:2.8 200mm has a notch. Both from quality and the extra stop. But if you miss the 70-199mm range, you should clearly go for the 70-200mm. For most real life photos it is more than good enough.

  4. I went the prime route as f2.8 is so important at 200mm, not just for low light use but for depth of field control all for same mass and smaller size of the f4 zoom.

    The prime is sharper, particularly on a full frame camera.

    Also you need to consider if you have other lenese in the 70-200 range. I for example have the 100mm f2.8 marco usm which is probably the most used lens.

    I think it is also fair to say that the 70-200's complete less well with primes at the shorter focal lengths.
  5. The 70-200/4L is a powerful, versatile lens.

    I have one, and I like it :) I also use this lens with the 1.4TC, and I am very pleased with the results.

    The primary advantage of the 70-200/4L is the zoom. I would find fixed focal length constraining for many real world applications. Sure. . if I am at an Airshow or a sport event . . .I would probably keep at 200mm the whole time. . .but when playing tourist (where I cannot always step back 50 feet for a shot). . the zoom is essential.

    The 200/2.8 (similar in price?) offers two big advantages over the 70-200. (1) It is a 2.8 lens. Faster by one stop. (2) I would expect the image quality to be superior.
  6. I have both.

    The zoom is an excellent lens which I use wide open all the time, without reservations. Its color, contrast and bokeh are outstanding. Absolutely the best in that zoom range.

    The prime is obviosuly "better" in terms of resolution but, unless you are shooting resolution charts it makes no difference.

    THe issue for you is: do you need a zoom or not? If you are only going to shoot at the 200mm end then, by all means get the prime.
  7. What Giampi said.<p>
    The practical difference is that with the prime you have a faster max aperture and with the zoom you have the flexibility of the variable focal length. Choose which is most important for your style of shooting.<p>
    Quality differences will be largely undetectable under normal use unless you make HUGE enlargements or exaggerated crops. If you enjoy shooting test targets, you can probably find a difference and pick the "sharper" glass, but will more LPM's really help your images?
  8. FWIW - From photodo.com

    200 f/2.8 @ f/4 = .80
    200 f/2.8 @ f/8 = .83

    70-200 f/4 @ f/4 = .81
    70-200 f/4 @ f/8 = .82

    Always remember that people will (subconsciencely) try to justify the purchase decision they made.
  9. Right now I have an Elan 7N and Tamron - 28-75mm. I was thinking about Rebel XT + 100mm macro + 200mm prime because of their quality. But on the other hand I also will take pictures of my kids and a zoom would be much more helpful than a prime (unless your kids do listen to you and hold still).
    So, I looked at the zooms. The f4 is cheaper and also has 67mm filter as my Tamron (so I can reuse the polarizer). The f2.8L (no IS) zoom has a better resolution (see photozone) - as good as the 200mm prime or actually as good as any other prime in the range 70-200mm. But it is $600 more expensive + I need another filter for it (and probably a bag too).
    I do not shoot resolution charts. But from the PUPPY FACE review the 70-200mm f4L seems quite bad. I remember reading somewhere that he sent the zoom to Canon for recalibration. But he never updated the website. I was wondering if it could be because it came back in the same condition...
    Thank you for your answers!
  10. dk.


    Mihai, I have the 200mmf2.8L Prime and the 70-200mmf2.8L (non IS) not the f4.
    And to me I much prefer the 70-200mm f2.8L it is much better to have the zoom in this range then the 200mm prime, they are both very good as far as quality goes. But in this range I use the Zoom and my 200mm prime just sits in my bag as new as the day I bought it.

    The zoom lens is much nicer to have as you can zoom in and out and with the prime you are stuck and have to move yourself. If I was you I would get the Zoom, and if you could afford the 2.8L (Non IS) version that I have, I would get that one its a great lens. But I have heard many good things about the f4 version too. Anyway I think the Zoom is the way to go as far as lenses in this range goes, now if you needed something in the range of 300mm or 400mm (for wildlife) I would get primes and that is what I have too. But for everyday pictures the 70-200mm Zoom is the way to go.

    Take care.

  11. Depends on how you like to shoot. They're both excellent lenses, but you get less flexibility with the fixed length. That being said, how do you like to shoot? I like the 200 because of the f2.8 and how tight I can crop a shot. The 200 is also less conspicuous - in street shooting people way shy away from a big white lens. But that's me - like I said earlier, how do you like to shoot?
  12. Bob:

    There are about a dozen ratings on Photodo that don't reflect reality. That's one of them.

    I bought a 200/2.8 prime because my 70-210/3.5-4.5 was not fast enough. Image quality aside, the extra stop helps.

  13. The 70-200mm f4 I have is amazing at f5.6 and f8 and 200mm. I have made 20"x30" enlargements which are tack sharp. At f4 or f2.8 the prime is better by a little. Someone may have got a bad copy. Canon's quality control isn't as good as it could be.
  14. PS: I sold my 200mm prime after I got the zoom.
  15. Where abouts is the puppy face review btw ? Because the review here http://emedia.leeward.hawaii.edu/frary/canon_ef70-200usm.htm says that the 70-200 f4 L lens is a great performer.

    Just adding my 2cents because i have the 70-200 f4 L on an Eos 30V (Elan 7NE) and so far have been extremely happy with it, much more than when it was on my EOS 500, because the AF is faster and more accurate.. what are YOUR REQUIREMENTS in this area ? the AF with 2.8 lenses are even better on bodies like the 1V and 3 because of the f stop and cameras sensors.. what body are you using?

    I have also been thinking about the 200 prime, but feel that the extra image quality (which probably isn't detectable by me) isn't worth the inconvenience of having to move about (at this focal length), plus i like the zooms light weight for travel. I have found that i commonly use the 200mm end of the zoom, but also want to do some more portraiture (around the 135mm end) and enjoy street photogpraphy as well where the 70mm end comes into play if i want to catch more of a scene. I can't afford 3 primes and wouldn't want to carry them all while travelling.

    It really does come down to what sort of photography you like, if you're wanting to shoot sports and wildlife as well, maybe go the prime so that the 1.4x and 2x TC's can be used without too much decline in image quality and f-stop, if you want a lens that can do it all then that's what zooms are for - if you want a lens that can do it all, and do it all WELL.. that's what L zooms are for :) I chose the zoom myself becuase i'm greedy and the convenience and price meets numerous needs (for me). i'm interested also in landscapes so i'm looking for a 35mm f2 prime, since that will get me some nice wider-angle stuff, but can also be used for full body portraits and the street photography again. the 24mm would be the next purchase. so those are my requirements throughout the focal range, met with 3 lenses covering 24-200, you need to figure out yours.

    The good thing about photography is its a hobby that lasts a lifetime (and the images even longer - if you're good) Whichever lens you get, there will be time to buy another if it isn't the right one. L lenses hold their value because they're good, so don't worry about making the wrong decision now. They are both canon L lenses, you can't really go wrong. If you want to shoot the kids (and who doesn't, they are annoying :p lol), they are like shooting animals....they won't stay still and you may want the flexibility of the zoom.

    You may have noticed how many times i've used "(for me)" etc. Photography is personal. Your personal vision and perspective of the world, captured by you. Only you know your requirements, limitations and preferred subject matter. So i hope this helps.. for the kids and travel/everyday use - i'd choose the zoom for its versatility - sacraficing a small amount of image quality, f-stop and flare resistance.
  16. Jarrah:
    That IS Puppy Face. :~)
    Let's not overestimate the inconvenience of the primes. If I'm traveling, it takes only four lenses to cover anything I could conceivably want to shoot:
    Many people find that an 85/1.8 and a 200/2.8 cover that range between 70 and 200 so well that sacrificing sharpness, bokeh, speed, and obtrusiveness simply isn't worth it.
  17. David's response is spot-on, in my experience. I sold the 70-200/4 in favor of the 85/1.8 + 200/2.8L combo (primarily because I found the 70-200/4 a bit too large and slow, as that extra stop really was making a difference) and I haven't looked back. OK, I also broke down and got a 100/2.8 USM macro to complete the range, but the 85 and 200 make a really nice pair. In short, I just don't want to carry a 70-200 zoom, especially since when I owned one, I found myself at the 200mm end most of the time.

  18. I agree with Thomas here. I went through the same process with my FD system and so avoided it this time with my EOS system. The FD zoom just sat in an old gadget bag for the rest of its life (in fact its still there).

    I agree with the thought that quality differences are probably not detectable in the real world. You do need to be wary of over all average figures from Photodo as these deemphasis the edge and corner performance which is where most of the differnce between lenses occures, so look at the plots.

    Having said that both lenses are good and it is more a question of personal style, what you have already have or plan to get, and logistics.

    I would not rule out getting either of f4 or f2.8 IS zoom in the future but it would be (for me) a specialist application lens.
  19. David,

    In this case, the photodo.com results for the 70-200 f/4 and 200 f/2.8 do reflect reality. Check out the numerous first hand results on Fred Miranda or even Bob Atkins review of the 70-200 f/4.

    (I am giving you the benefit of the doubt that you know the difference between the 70-210 f/3.5-4.5 mentioned above by you and the 70-200 f/4 that we are referring to in this discussion. They are very different lenses.)
  20. Well. . .I have the 70-200/4L and 85/1.8.

    I find that for many occassions the 85/1.8 replaces the 70-200/4L. There are definately occassions where I only need the "200" of the zoom. But. . .I would still have a hard time getting by with JUST the 85 and 200. :)

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