Which "L" lens for best IQ?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by robert_thommes|1, May 13, 2014.

  1. I have a chance to finally purchase an "L" lens, and have narrowed the possibility down to 3 such lenses.
    I have personal reasons as to why any of these 3 would work well for me. But I want to know the general consensus as to which you feel will/can deliver the best Image Quality of the 3.
    #1 Canon 70-200 f4 IS USM
    #2 Canon 70-300 IS "L" USM
    #3 Canon 100-400 IS "L"
    Based on a lot of research on review sites, I'm thinking that either this order (as I have listed it) is about right, or #2, #1, #3. But is #3 really the weakest? I'm well aware of the pros and cons of each lens's focal lengths and how they can best be utilized. I'm simply asking your opinions on the quality of the image.
  2. Why don't you consider the 2.8 version of 70-200?
    It's the best IQ in Canon line. The f4 is a great lens with fantastic contrast and sharpness, but the 2.8 is amazing.
  3. [​IMG]I've owned all three and the best of the bunch is the 70/300L. BTW that is the only one I still own. It's one of the best lenses I've ever owned and I have owned Hasselblad and Leica systems.[​IMG]
  4. I needed the reach, and the 100-400mm L is far better at 400mm than either of the other two, teleconverters notwithstanding.
    There is no "best" here, or anywhere else, for that matter, unless you have some specific uses in mind.
  5. You have a chance to finally purchase a lens you said you already owned in January through at least March? You are some piece of work, Robert.
  6. But wait, there's more:
  7. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    It'll be interesting to see this chap's explanation
  8. Taking your question at face value I found my copy of the 70-200 f4 to be marginally sharper than my 70-300 f4-5.6. Except of course, as has been pointed out, in the range from 200 - 300.
    Robert, they are all very good lenses and the other differences between them such as zoom range, size, weight, cost, and what subjects you are expecting to photograph, etc should enter the mix of which lens is best for you. They all have very good image quality with only marginal differences between them compared to these other major differences.
  9. I think that on balance and looking at the images on The Digital Picture, I'd say the 70-200 f4IS has the "best" IQ and of course it is faster overall. But the 70-300L is really good. The 100-400mm trails both of these. But, having said this, the degree of satisfaction from people who own the 100-400mm seems to be very high, so it must be doing something right. The main issue with the 70-300L vs the 70-200mm f4 (thinking aloud) is how much you will be using >200mm compared to just the 200mm. If only rarely, then you can take advantage of the light weight and extra speed and slight image improvement and get the 70-200mm. If you need 300mm you can use an 1.4TC to get there with the 70-200mm (280mm). However, if you are often shooting >200mm and can take the size weight and speed hit then the 70-300L is for you. I keep thinking I would like the 70-300L but I don't like the loss of 2/3 of a stop at 200mm for my general shooting, so I'm sticking with the f4IS.
  10. I owned and used the 100/400L for about 10 years. One day I borrowed a friend's 400L ƒ5.6. The difference in image quality and auto focus acquisition speed was so significant that I bought a 400L ƒ5.6. I found I shot about 90% of my 100/400L images at 400mm. So the change to the straight 400mm was a minor challenge.
    If I could have only one lens it would be the 100/400L, but if I could have two lenses it wouldn't be one of them.
    I also had the 70/200L ƒ4. When I bought the 400L ƒ5.6. I replaced the 70/200 with the 70/300L. I feel I have made a significant gain in overall image quality and auto focus acquisition with these equipment changes.
  11. Great shot, Michael!
  12. I have owned (or used) all of these lenses. Of the three I find the 70-200 F4 IS to be the best although the 70-300 is very close and in the real world I doubt you would see any difference. The 100-400 is not that good. If you don't want to pay for the 70-200 F2.8 L ISII then the 70-200 F2.8 L (non IS) is a very very good lens. It is not as sharp as the new IS lens but is slightly sharper than the old MkI IS lens. I still use min a lot for sports (where the IS doesn't really make a difference) and still really like this lens. The IQ of this lens and the F4 IS are very close and in real world use I cannot see the difference.
    If you don't want to buy the 70-200 F2.8 L IS II then any of the 70-300 F4 IS and F2.8 non IS will give great images. I suggest it really comes down to the maximum aperture and range you require and also the handling of the lenses. My main issue with the 100-400 is not the IQ but the handling and slow aperture. Of the other 3 the F4 lens is probably the best handling as it is small, light and fast. If you can live with the weight then the F2.8 lens is the next best as I prefer faster constant aperture lenses.
  13. With three such different lenses, I think you are "barking up the wrong tree" by using supposed "image quality" as your decision point.
    Basically, ALL THREE of these lenses produce very good image quality. (I have extensive personal experience with two of the three, and the reputation of the third is well known.) When looking at a group of very good lenses and trying to decide among them, almost all photographers can simply assume that image quality will be fine, but that FUNCTIONAL differences need to be right for what they are trying to accomplish photographically.
    Do you need the reach of the 100-400 lens? If yes, then that is the only realistic choice for you among these three lenses. If not, why would you consider a 400mm lens, with its additional bulk, weight, and cost?
    If you don't need more reach than that provided by a 200mm lens, why consider the others? If you do need more reach, you would not want to get the 70-200.
  14. Interesting.
  15. Actually the 400L ƒ5.6 weighs less (2.75lb vs 3.04lb)and costs less ($1339 vs, $1700) then 100/400L. Additionally better image quality and faster auto focus. I've owned both and kept the 400L ƒ5.6.
  16. it


    Those lenses are all completely different tools. Buying one of them on perceived "IQ" seems like a strange way to make a decision on a lens.

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