Canon 70-200 f/4 IS or 70-200 f/2.8 IS

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by david_herman|3, Feb 1, 2010.

  1. Hi All,
    I am having quite a dilemma in trying to decide which of these amazing canon lenses to get. I know quality wise that I cant go wrong either way...I am just trying to get a sense of what people think directly comparing these two. the 70-200 f/4 IS or f/2.8 IS. The 2.8 is obviously much heavier and bigger, but you do gain that extra stop, while the f/4 gives just as good quality but is much lighter. I am not a professional shooter, but I shoot mostly landscape and nature scenes, but I am often taking pictures of sporting events or fast moving subjects. Does anyone have any suggestions in how I should go about making this very hard decision? Any help would be much appreciated. I have a 7D body in case anyone was wondering.
    Looking forward to some great responses!
    Thanks in advance
    David Herman
  2. If you shoot indoor sports get the F2.8 unless you only do it in good lighting conditions. If you plan to carry the lens a lot get the F4. Since I shoot sports (ice hockey, ski racing etc...) and do a lot of climbing and walking I ended up with two 70-200 lenses. I paid about $500 more than the F2.8 IS and bought the 70-200 f2.8 (non IS) and the 70-200 F4 IS. I shoot both full frame and the 7D (and have a 1DIIN that is failing fast). For sports I find that I do not need IS but I do need F2.8 so I got the F2.8 lens. I later (it was launched later) added the 70-200 f4 IS as the F2.8 lens is a lot of weight and bulk to carry around in a backpack. For portraits the F2.8 lens is the better of the two (but the 85 F1.8 is better still) and for general use the F4 is much more portable and attracts much less attention. If you really think you need F2.8 then this is the only lens to buy and if you get the F4 you will regret it when you cannot get the shutter speeds or have to push the ISO too high. Conversely if you carry the lens around a lot and often just throw it in on the off chance you will regret not getting the F4. In my case I probably take more shots with the F2.8 but will only use it 20-30 days a year. with the F4 I will take less shots but will carry it 75 to 100 days a year.
    You cannot go wrong with either lens but the extra 700g (1.6 lbs) of the F2.8 makes a big difference for travelling. Except at F2.8 you cannot tell which lens took the shot without looking at the EXIF their image quality is so close. Buy one and enjoy it and try not to miss the lighter weight or faster aperture of the one you did not buy (otherwise do what I did and buy them both - you will probably not miss IS on the F2.8 if you use it for sports)
  3. The F/4 version has been reviewed as a superb performer, perhaps the best zoom lens available today. I've used both versions extensively in my auto racing work, in daylight you can't beat the IQ of the F/4 version, if you are working indoors then the 2.8 is a better bet. I do very little indoor or low light so my choice is the F/4, much lighter, easier to handle, fantastic IQ......remember that IS will not help you with moving objects!
  4. This is not an easy decision, but if you have to only have one 70-200 lens - and can afford it - then the logical choice would be the 70-200 f2.8 IS... a stop faster and decent IS as well.
    However, I have both the 70-200 f2.8 IS (which I bought first) and also the 70-200 f4 (non IS) which I bought as a back up lens. Oddly enough I hardly ever use the f2.8 anymore. The f4 gives nothing away in IQ and is the perfect size and weight for handholding all day. The focus is fast and the quality wide open is excellent (on a par with the f2.8 stopped down to f4).
    However (again), when you need f2.8 - you need it, and if I had to give one of them up it would have to be the more frequently used and much preferred f4 lens. Luckily enough I get to keep them both - all four 70-200mm zooms are excellent lenses and truly it's hard to make a bad decision.
    One last factor is the easy addition of a 1.4x converter to the f2.8 lens which increases its flexibility and isn't really a great option with the f4 versions. I'm not sure if I helped, but as I said, it's not as easy a decision as it may at first appear.
  5. If I were you, I would hold off a little. Canon announced a Mark II version of the 70-200mm IS and is suppose to come out this month (check out Canon's website). It's suppose to focus faster, closer, and is supposed to have an additional stop of correction for the IS. You may want to hold off for the new one or hope to buy the Mark I version on sale when the new lens comes out.
    With all that said, if you know that you'll be shooting with the aperture closed beyond f4, the f4 version is suppose to be sharper than the f2.8. If you want flexibility, get the 2.8. This lens also make a great portrait lens with descent bokeh. Also placing a 1.4x converter on a 2.8 will change it to an f4.
  6. I purchased my70-200 2.8 IS about 5 or 6 years ago. For the first year I thought; man I should have got the lighter F4, heck I won't use this lens inside. After the year or so I went to full frame. I now use my 70-200 2.8 IS ALL the time. It is welded on my full frame. I know if I would have gotten the f4, I would be selling it to get the faster 2.8. So now I have the 17-55 2.8 on my 7D and the awesome 70-200 2.8 IS on my full frame. Final answer, go with the 2.8, for the most part, you will miss it. BTW, it had great Bokeh too! v/r Buffdr
  7. If you are only going to get one zoom lens in that range and want maximum versatility, the 2.8 L IS delivers maximum versatility. The f/4 version is lighter and easier all around, except when the light starts getting dim. They are both great lenses. Try to visit a store that has both in stock to get a feel for them.
  8. John the 1.4x TC works fine on my 70-200 F4 IS on EOS 1V, EOS 3, EOS 1NRS, EOS 1DIIN (all F8 focusing) and it also works fine on the 5DII and 7D (both F5.6 focus). The 2x will not work on the 5DII or the 7D unless you cover the pins but since it is very poor quality I never use it. The 1.4x TC slows down AF but this happens with the F2.8 lens. While everyone says the F2.8 is the way to go (it can do everything the F4 can and more) remember the weight. If you only carry two lenses the F2.8 is not a big drag but if you have a couple of primes, the 24-70 and 16-35 and possibly a tripod you really notice the difference between the F2.8 and F4. Until I got the F4 I used to pack my stuff, pick it up then I would often remove the F2.8 lens. With the F4 it always stays in even if I don't think I will need it (the 24-70 is the first lens to get left out these days - a shame as it is a great lens).
  9. David,
    IS does nothing to stop motion blur of moving subjects; only speed can do that. Thus f/2.8 is considered the bare minimum for sports. Give a pro sports photographer a choice between an f/4 IS and a f/2.8 non-IS and the photographer will think you’re nuts for even offering up the f/4, IS or no IS.
    On the other hand, a fast lens doesn’t do you any particular good when you’ll be stopping down anyway for increased depth of field. That’s why a landscape photographer would drool over the f/4 IS: the extra speed would just be wasted, but not having to break out the tripod (at least on some occasions) would be a welcome relief.
    If you want one lens for both, the f/2.8 IS is the obvious choice.
    If you’ll always be using a tripod for your nature photography, then get the f/2.8 non- IS.
    The f/4 non-IS is somewhat of an odd duck, being only of interest to those who only shoot static subjects in good light with a tripod…
  10. Ben,
    And the cost conscious that want a step up from the 70-300 variable aperture gaggle.
  11. Canon announced a Mark II version of the 70-200mm IS and is suppose to come out this month (check out Canon's website).​
    Just to emphasise that is the f/2.8 version. Availability may actually be a month or two down the line. Canon also recently filed a patent for a new 70~200/4IS design, along with many other patents that they have filed. There's no guarantee that any such lens will come to market at all, some do, some don't. Indeed, of all the lenses in Canon's lineup, the 70~200/4L IS is among those in least need of updating, whereas an update to the f/2.8 was no surprise, especially in view of the recent introduction of a new version by Nikon.
    The f/4 IS version suits me very well. I know what is involved in carrying a lens of the size and weight of the f/2.8 version, because I have a 100~400 that I take with me only when I know I am going to need it, whereas the 70~200/4L IS is part of my carry-round kit with the 5DII. Your needs may differ. Either way, the value of IS is even greater on a 1.6-factor body than on FF.
  12. Personally I think the f2.8 is not ideal for carrying around all day in your kit, whereas the f4 is really light. f2.8 is not so vital today when ISO 800 gives away very little in image quality. Likewise if you want bokeh then the f4 will give you plenty of nice bokeh particularly at 135mm +. With the IS version you lose only a stop of action-freezing ability. Is this important to you? I do see the f2.8 very much as the professional's lens - if you are paid for your work then you have to lug it around, but for the rest of us why put yourself through all the aggravation?
  13. I will carry my 2.8 all day if I think I will need it. Some folks avoid stairs, then walk the Stair-master at the gym. Same goes for avoidance to carrying heavy objects, then preferring to heft bar bells for a work out.
  14. David, looking at your galleries only, I'd say that you'd be totally happy with the EF 70-200mm f/4L IS on your 7D. Your travel a lot and typically shoot in good light, making the f4 a great choice for light packing and sharp IQ in any decent light.
    The f/4 is fast enough that the AF works very well with the 1.4TC attached. The IS is something that you shouldn't even consider doing without, since you'll hand hold this lens a lot. Keep in mind, the 7D has very good high-ISO performance (not up to the 5D2, but very good). This lens is one of the sharpest that Canon makes and I think you'll be reaching for it a lot.
  15. Thanks for the great responses everyone, they are really helpful. I completely agree with most of what you are saying in terms of the weight and convenience of the f/4, the only thing that is keeping me on the f/2.8 is the idea that I will need that extra stop at one point. Weight isnt a huge issue for me (i have been carrying the 100-400 around for a while) its just trying to decide which is going to be better in the long run. Thanks again for all your help!
  16. I will carry my 2.8 all day if I think I will need it.​
    Yes, but I see a lot of suckers carrying about a million tons of equipment when it is really not necessary. It is not a matter of not being able to carry them, but it is a question of enjoyment of the process. It is the same kind of question as to whether it is worth packing that 400mm lens if you are only going to end up taking 3 out of 100 shots with it. No one can answer this kind of question. It is impossible to carry every lens you might conceivably need - it is all about compromises.
  17. I carried my EF 400mm 5.6L to Hawai'i, thinking that I'd use it for birds. I ended up using the EF 70-200mm f/4L IS with the 1.4TC for everything but scenics. I've got an EF 24-105mm f4L IS on my full frame camera and kept the 70-200mm on the crop-sensor 7D for sports and wildlife (bonzai pipeline and birds). Your gallaries don't show a lot of indoor sports, but if you plan to branch into that, then that'd be a reason for the f/2.8; otherwise, I'd suggest that the f/4 is not going to be a dissapointment to you.
  18. Yes, but I see a lot of suckers carrying about a million tons of equipment when it is really not necessary. It is not a matter of not being able to carry them, but it is a question of enjoyment of the process. It is the same kind of question as to whether it is worth packing that 400mm lens if you are only going to end up taking 3 out of 100 shots with it. No one can answer this kind of question. It is impossible to carry every lens you might conceivably need - it is all about compromises.​
    Robin, your comments are extreme and overreactive. Million tons of equipment? Carry every lens you might concieveably need? Take only 3 out of 100 shots with it? All from my saying I will carry a 2.8 all day if I think I will need it?
    An apt example is shooting an air show with it, coupled with a 1.4 TC.
    Or visiting an outdoor/indoor museum like our Old Bethpage Restoration.
  19. Savas, none of those shots required an f/2.8 on a 7D.
  20. Was in a camera store last week that is known for expertise on the canon line, and the salesperson I was talking with said the 70-200 f4 was, in his opinion, 'maybe the best lens canon ever made', he added that although the 2.8 was good too, it didn't match the quality of the 4...he was waiting to see what the new version would be like...does anyone understand or agree with why he said this? I have had the f4 for several years now and is great, I use it often when I travel, but often I find myself in lower light where I think the other would be beneficial, also mine is not the IS. Thanks for any insights, Virginia
  21. Yeah, get the IS.
    Both the 2.8 and f/4 have great IQ and both are amongst Canon's very best, IMHO. I just don't think the f/2.8 is needed by most photographers, and our OP, based on his galleries. If I saw a bunch of concert images or certain indoor sports, then I might change my recommendation, but for the types of shooting that I see in his galleries, with a 7D, I'm convinced that he'll never regret buying the f4.
  22. Virginia I hear the 2.8 IS version is not as sharp ( I never used it but I suspect thats why its being re-designed ) I have the Non IS 2.8 version and I can tell you mine is as razor sharp even wide open.
  23. Virginia,
    He is talking rubbish, utter rubbish.
    The 70-200 f4 is a good tele zoom. It is not the best 85mm, 100mm, 135mm or 200mm that Canon make and is not "the best" 70-200 they make. Anybody that talks about the f4 IQ being noticeably higher than my f2.8 IS version is talking academic theory. Unless you are tripod mounted, mirror locked and cable released then nobody could tell the difference, if you are not all of those then a lot of the time the IS and extra stop are gonna save your butt and give you sharper images anyway.
  24. What do you shoot more often? Landscape or sports? If it is landscape I would get the f/4 version due to the lower weight. If it is sports I would get the f/2.8 version for the one stop advantage. Not to forget: If you buy the f/4 version you have some money left, which you could spend on a fast prime e.g. the EF 100 f/2.
  25. If you want to get the x2 or x1.4 extender 2.8 gives you autofocus chance.
  26. I've used the 1.4TC on my EF 70-200mm f/4L IS with no issues, shooting birds, wildlife and surfers.
  27. David, I have a Nikon AF-D 80-200 f2.8 which does a really awesome job on portraits. The f2.8 is also great for weddings. But, on trips, I rarely pack it because I cannot justify all that weight and space for just one lens, not to speak of lugging it around on a hike. An f4 lens would be a lot more practical for my purposes and would be used a lot more.
  28. Dave,
    I say go for the more capable lens. The 2.8. It's wort the extra weight in my opinion.
  29. Excluding the weight differences, let's do some simple arithmetic. There is a price difference of about $680 between your two chosen lenses.
    As an example, and excluding the weight differences, there is a $1760 price difference between the 85/1.8 and 85/1.2 II.
    In your case, having just enough is better than not having enough. Go for the 70-200/2.8 IS.
  30. Savas, none of those shots required an f/2.8 on a 7D​
    The hatters store was shot at f/3.2; ISO 3200.
    Other interiors at the museum really lacked available light, such as this one, shot at f/2.8, ISO 6400.
    or F/2.8, ISO 1600
    Camera body was 5DII.
  31. If you have the dough - get the f/2.8 IS. Won't be sorry, specially the first time you take a picture where you need ISO6400/f2.8/1/8 sec. Mine is also welded on my camera, and only when I really really can't get the shot with that lens, then I use another. That is usually only when I need to shoot something that is wider that what I can get with tht 70mm in the available space I have to work in. Don't bother with the extra weight, you get used to it.
  32. David,
    The only way to see which you prefer is to handle both. I think you will instantly know which is practical for you. Another approach is to consider an f4 zoom and pair it with an 85 f1.8 or 135 f2. In the end the awful truth is that both an f4 zoom and an f2.8 are useful at times and some poor people have both.
  33. Agreed. You should handle both lenses. f/4 version is excellent, a touch sharper, less chromatic abberation and more contrast, especially comparing both at the extreme end. You will be more likely to have it on you, even if you own a lot of other lenses.
    The new f/4 IS wasn’t out when I got my 2.8 IS. I went for it solely because I shoot as an amateur, otherwise primes in the equivalent focal lengths would have been just the ticket. I get reasonable quality from the lens plus the addition of IS when it is warranted. I have so few lenses to begin with and the 70-200 f/2.8 L IS helps keep my lens count down and fulfills a needed range.
    What sold me on it was a rental from Adorama. I picked it up and out I went. It was bright and sunny out, but I happened into some spaces that were quite murky. St. Patricks Cathedral was one of them. Place was crowded and security was present, so I stood just within the doorway and captured a low-light shot of the distant alter. Without swapping or missing a beat. The image came out acceptable.
  34. I read a review recentely that said the f2.8 version was designed with the full-size image cameras in mind while the Nikon f2.8 was designed for the dx cameras like theNikon D300.
  35. I would go F4 and a fast prime.

    But reading between the lines I seem to read that you don't mind the weight nor the price. So I think that you will be most
    happy with the 2.8.

    Note that the I version has a longer MFD and less MM than either the II or the F4. That might be important to you. Plus
    the IS of the II is probably improved. (for a price of course)
  36. If you don't mind the weight, I would definitely get the 2.8IS. I think it's a phenomenal lens and use it a lot on my 7D and 1vHS. The 2.8 is helpful in low light and has great bokeh, whether you're shooting portraits or isolating specific elements in landscapes or nature/wildlife shots. I have no doubt that the f/4 is a superb version but if you're accustomed to using the 100-400, you won't mind the weight of the 70-200/2.8IS at all.
  37. I have the 70-200 f2.8L IS Mark I but not the 70-200 f4L. In terms of f stop, obviously the f2.8L has a 1stop faster advantage. In terms of resolution, at all the zoom range, looking at comparison chart, at f4, the f2.8L IS seems to have a slight edge, but from f5.6 and smaller, it seems to be the reverse. If you plan to use the lens mostly at f2.8-f4, then I recommend you get the f2.8L IS. If the f2.8-f4 is not important to you then I recommend you get the f4L IS since it is lighter, cheaper and seems to be a little sharper from f5.6 and smaller. My recommendation may change once the 70-200 f2.8L Mark II is out and well tested.

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