Is the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L USM Non-IS worth the money?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by michaelsmiller, Mar 15, 2010.

  1. So I am looking to buy my first Canon L series lens and I am really stuck about whether I should buy the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L USM Non-IS lens or wait 4-5 months until I can afford the IS version. The IS version is almost double the cost so I am wondering if it is worth spending the $650 on the Non-IS version now to get used to it and then just trade it in or sell later when I can buy the IS version...
    My questions are:
    1. With the non IS, will I be forced to use a tripod almost all the time or will I still be able to shoot good tack sharp images handheld?
    2. Will I be able to shoot indoors at non-optimum lighting conditions with this lens?
    3. What is the single biggest drawback of this lens vs. the IS version?
  2. Its absolutely worth the money. Its light enough to handhold and get sharp images. I doubt you would get good photos indoors with poor lighting, but you could buy a 50mm f/1.8 for that ($100). I have the 70-200mm f/4 non-IS and it is a very worthy lens. I have used it to shoot basketball games in well lit gyms, but the f/2.8 would be better. Why would you wait and save? You could buy the non-IS lens now and sell it without losing money when you are ready to upgrade. And for what its worth, when you do upgrade, I would rather have the f/2.8 non-IS than the f/4 IS unless weight is an issue. There is no substitute for a fast aperture with regards to shutter speed and bokeh.
  3. Thanks for the quick response Nathan. I am glad to hear you think it's worth the money. I wanted to make sure I am not having to lug around my mono or tripod at all times to use this lens effectively. Of course I will have my tripod on me most times(maybe with the exception of traveling) but I want a lens that I can use handheld and still get great images. I currently own the 50mm 1.8 so I have my bases covered in that respect. I had no idea that these lenses would keep their value that much, that I wouldn't be losing quite a bit of money by buying now, only to upgrade within a year. I know the 2.8 Non-IS is a superior lens but I just don't think the weight is something I would want to deal with on a regular basis. Thanks for your suggestions. It is very appreciated.
  4. The non-IS lens is a fine lens - I use one - but the IS version does have some real features that may be useful. The one thing that concerns me in your post is that it sounds like your main reason for foregoing IS is so that you can get the lens a few months earlier. In the grand scheme, that could be a bit short-sighted.
    About the non-IS version... Optically it is a great performer, as are all four of the 70-200mm L zooms from Canon. (Yes, I know that a fifth one is coming and it will probably be great as well.) In optical terms alone there is no advantage in getting the IS version. If you can keep the shutter speed high enough for handheld shooting such that IS wouldn't be needed and/or you shoot from the tripod then this can be the very best choice from among these lens options.
    On the other hand, there is no real downside other than cost to the IS version. While it won't help you with active subjects, when it comes to camera stability in low light you'll get several more stops of low light performance. Do you need that? If so, wait.
  5. I've owned both the non-IS and currently the IS version. The only reason I sold the non-IS version was because I needed the money at the time, I bought the IS version about a year later. You can not go wrong either way. The truth is that I find I often don't need the IS anyway, and with the quality of mid range ISO's on cameras these days it's alot easier to adjust than it was when I was shooting film. That being said, I do think that it is ultimately worth the extra cost, there have been shots I would have missed without it, as I still like to use the lowest ISO possible. But as was mentioned, L-lenses hold their value really well, I got lucky when I sold mine as a bidding war erupted and I actually made money on the transaction, but when I bought the IS version, I had to wait awhile because every used lens was selling within $100 of a new one at the time. It's a great lens, like you I wanted something fairly compact and lightweight.
  6. There is no substitute for a fast aperture​
    The same applies to IS. If you need large DOF at low light, then a larger aperture does not help but IS does.
  7. Michael, if you shoot mainly subjects that are stationary in low light, get the IS version. If you shoot mainly subjects that are in motion, IS gives you no advantage and is not worth the extra money.
    If you shoot a lot of subjects that are in motion and in low light, get the 70-200/2.8L, or an even faster prime lens.
    As others have said, you can't go far wrong with any of the Canon 70-200 lenses, but you could sure do something fun with the money you'll save on a non-IS lens.
  8. My experience with this lens is outdoor sports. It is my main auto racing lens, used for about 75% of my work. IQ is brilliant, very sharp, excellent AF performance. About a year ago I fell into the "upgrade" trap and sold it for a non IS 2.8 version. While I initially was very happy about the purchase I began to realize that for my usage the 2.8 offered me nothing better then what the F/4 version gave me. It was much heavier, I never used it at 2.8 in the daylight world of motorsports, and after closely examining photos taken with each lens I came to the conclusion that there was no difference in IQ. I sold the 2.8 and bought another F/4 and will probably not trade it for anything. The light weight is a big plus for following fast moving cars, it balances very well on my 40D, and when you consider cost and performance I doubt there is anything on the market that comes even close.
  9. I used to own a used non IS version and traded it in for the IS version. The IS version is an improved optical assembly. For the extra $500, you will get improved sharpness wide open. The IS will give you more keepers. For me, I would go for the IS version. But, I would recommend you aim for a used f/2.8 IS. You can get one for around $1000 more. Think about the advantages of more light gathering capability and better bokeh with the f/2.8. But, you have to decide if bokeh alone is worth it for you.
  10. G Dan---I think for me right now, price is the biggest drawback to buying the IS version. I would rather have the IS version because I believe it makes it easier for me in shooting terms but I have used plenty of lens in the past that didn't have IS and it wasn't that big of a deal to me. I shoot static and non-static subjects so I am mostly in the middle of the fence in terms of what I need the lens for the most. I don't have a telephoto lens of this quality in my collection yet so I figured this was a great place to start without breaking the bank. I don't want to use my tripod that much so if I will need it with this lens, I might just need to wait....
    Trevor----thanks for the information. I would love to get the 2.8 version but that just isn't in my budget at this time and the weight concerns me a great deal, especially if this is in my bag and not used regularly.
    Brent----I shoot alot of both to be perfectly honest, but I tend to shoot portraits(corp headshots, families, modeling, etc) the most of anything. I tend to shoot mostly outdoors during the magic hour time frames, rather than very early or very late, however I am looking for something that will be great for landscapes, cityscapes, and portraits just the same, as well as useful indoors. To give you an idea of what's in my bag now, I have primes in 35mm, 50mm 1.8, 85mm 1.8, and then a 28-135mm 3.5-5.6, and I just bought a 17-50mm f/4 this weekend. I figured this would give me some more flexibility and range.
  11. Both lenses very good. Wait and get the IS, it is well, well, worth the extra time and money.
  12. but I tend to shoot portraits(corp headshots, families, modeling, etc)​
    I have a feeling you will be using the 85/1.8 more than the 70-200.
  13. Richard---Thanks for your input. Are refering to the non IS version of the f/4 or the IS version?
    Peter---Thanks for the advice. I don't think the bokeh is going to make that big of a difference for me, and the weight of the 2.8 is a big factor as well. The speed is the biggest reason I have thought about going that way since I would really like to start shooting some sports(recreationally not professionally) in the near future.
  14. If the subjects are not moving then the IS is the way to go, if the subjects are moving then it will not make a difference, many years ago I sold my non IS f/4 and bought an f/2.8, I wish I had not sold the f/4, I really like the weight on it and it was sharp. If you are doing daylight then the f/4 non IS is good enough, if you are doing head shots in dimly lit areas then wait to buy the IS.
  15. Mike, my 70-200 f/4 is the non IS version.
  16. There is no substitute for a fast aperture​
    The same applies to IS.​
    There is a substitute for IS, a tripod or monopod.
  17. There is a substitute for IS, a tripod or monopod.​
    Try to use a tripod when you are in a moving crowd of people. In some special cases you can substitute IS with a tripod but not in the general case.
  18. Anybody that says there is no real need for IS just isn't using it right, or pushing themselves enough. IS is easily worth 1 stop, the 70-200 f4 IS is more useful than the 70-200 f2.8 non IS. The 70-200 non IS is for those who truly don't need IS, ie they always use a tripod, or for people who are not happy with the 70-300's but can't afford the IS. Almost everybody that has a non IS lens has lost shots because of it. IS is the greatest invention in photography since AF. Save the extra and get the IS, it is fantastic and nothing can replace it, there is currently no substitute for IS.
  19. I agree than IS is very useful in the right hands, however I shoot mostly action (sports/wildlife) at the 70-200mm focal length, so for me, the extra stop of shutter speed would be more valueable than IS. Yes, IS is a nice luxury when shooting action to keep the camera steady, but in the end it doesn't help freeze action.
  20. Also, I didn't say the tripod/monopod was always practical, I just meant there are substitutes. When shooting portraits, a 2.8 and tripod wouldn't be unrealistic and it would produce better results than f/4 and IS, with regards to bokeh.

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