70-200 Users: f/4 IS or f/2.8 non IS?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Designer Dale, Dec 26, 2010.

  1. Designer Dale macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2009
    Location:
    Folding space
    #1
    Hi, folks. I need to upgrade my mid range zoom. The 28-300 Tamron I got with the camera (XSi Canon), isn't up to my grade for the stuff I need it for like birding at the Nisqually Delta.

    My budget will fit three options.

    Canon f/4 L IS
    Canon 2.8 L without IS
    Sigma 2.8 with OS (optical stabilization).

    I have a preference for 2.8, it allows sharp manual focus. I also have a need for IS, being that I am now 63...

    So chime in with your experiences.

    Dale
     
  2. pdxflint macrumors 68020

    pdxflint

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2006
    Location:
    Oregon coast
    #2
    I don't think 200mm is nearly enough reach for birding, so I'd look at maybe a 300f/4 (don't know what Canon's choices are since I shoot Nikon... but something like that) where you could add teleconverters for even more reach. You'd be using a tripod/monopod most likely for birding, I'd reckon, so stabilization isn't that big a deal, plus you don't want slow shutter speeds for birding anyway.

    But, if you want a 70-200 type zoom, I'd say stick with the Canon f/2.8 without IS --- that's what I'd do. But, if weight is an issue, then the Canon f/4 version with IS would be a better choice. Forget the Sigma -- performance isn't at the Canon level for this range zoom. That's my take... hope it helps.
     
  3. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    #3
    Is 200 going to be long enough for birds? Everything I hear you should be looking at ~500mm. What about something like the 100-400L?

    i hear you can never get fast enough or long enough lenses for birding.

    Between your choices I'd pick option 4- save up for the 70-200/2.8 with IS.

    Ruahrc
     
  4. TheReef macrumors 68000

    TheReef

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2007
    Location:
    NSW, Australia.
    #4
    Hi Dale,
    Don't forget the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8.
    It's meant to be very good, just not as quick to focus as the others.
     
  5. Designer Dale thread starter macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2009
    Location:
    Folding space
    #5
    I'm mostly looking for sharpness in a lens that I can shoot hand held. The last time I was out to the Delta I spent a good 45 min following a heron from point to point, so the stabilization in my Tamron helped. Wide open at 300 mm on this lens is 6.4 and that dictated a shutter speed of around 1/50 sec. The default ISO on my camera is 100.

    The kit I am working on will be this in focal length.
    17-50/55 2.8 (future Tamron)
    28-75 2.8 (current Tamron)
    70-200
    400 mm prime

    I'll look into the 100-400. I like the constant aperture lenses.

    Lens Rental dropped this lens in favor of the Sigma due to reliability. The autofocus hunting that my 28-300 does drives me nuts sometimes.

    Thanks for the input.

    Dale
     
  6. jabbott, Dec 26, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2010

    jabbott macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2009
    #6
    Lately I've been deciding on one of the following lenses: 70-200mm f/4L IS, 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II or the 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS. Personally I decided against the 100-400 because its 2-stop IS is a little out of date compared to the latest and greatest 70-200 4-stop IS lenses, but I still think it would be well suited for some birding nearer to 400mm especially when used with a tripod (which cancels IS anyway). It isn't a light lens to carry though. If you went with a 70-200 f/4L to save on weight and go hand-held you would lose AF altogether if using it with the 2x extender on a non 1-series EOS body. The 100-400 is much sharper than the Sigma 80-400 or 150-500, less sharp than either the Canon 70-200 f/4L or f/2.8L but it would not need an extender. If the 100-400 wasn't satisfactory due to weight or cost, I would recommend the 70-200 f/4L if you don't mind the focal length gap to the 400mm prime and the lack of AF when using a 2x extender. The sharpness and hand-hold ability of that lens looks amazing. Another option if you are willing to sacrifice zoom and IS would be the 200mm f/2.8L prime. It is priced cheaper than the 70-200 f/4L. If you coupled that with the new 2x extender III you might not need a dedicated 400mm prime (though you would still need a tripod because it would be at least f/5.6 at 400mm).
     
  7. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2001
    Location:
    Sendai, Japan
    #7
    The most important criterion is focal length in my opinion. The 70-200 mm without any sort of extender is too short. If you take the slower version of Canon's 70-200 lens, the lens becomes quite slow.

    I would throw in another lens: Sigma has quite a lot of telezooms with much more suitable focal lengths for birding. They have an optically and mechanically excellent 120-300 mm f/4, for instance. Price-wise it is even cheaper than Canon's f/4 IS, roughly $1,050 as opposed to $1,130. Now, Canon has released what seems to be an alternative, the 100-300 mm f/4-5.6. photozone's review* seems to indicate it is optically on par with the Sigma and it is significantly more expensive (~$1,600). If you couple one of these lenses with a 1.4x extender, I think you should have enough reach for birding.


    * You shouldn't base your opinion on a lens on a single review. My point is that they seem to be comparable when it comes to optical performance and built quality.
     
  8. tamasvarga67 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2007
    #8
    Take a look at the 300 f4L IS too. I have it along with the 70-200 f2.8L IS and for birds I use the 300 almost exclusively. Love that lens, AF works with 1.4x extender but with 2x MF only.
     
  9. harcosparky macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2008
    #9
    From what I recall the Canon 70-200 f/4 IS L is sharper then the 70-200 f/2.8.

    In fact just recently did the 70-200 f/2.8 IS become as sharp as the 70-200 f/4 IS with the release of the Mk II version of the 2.8.

    I guess in order of sharpness ( prices from B&H ) ........

    70-200 f/2.8 IS L Mk II ( $2300 )
    70-200 f/4 IS L ( $1210 )
    70-200 f/4 L ( $636 )
    70-200 f/2.8 IS L Mk I ( $1500 USED B&H )
    70-200 f/2.8 L ( $ $1300 )

    I would definitely go 70-200 f/4 IS over the 70-200 f/2.8 NON-IS unless they come out with a 70-200 f/2.8 L Mk II.
     
  10. TheDrift- macrumors 6502a

    TheDrift-

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2010
    #10
    I have just had this debate myself (Think you even commented in the thread) and gone for the 70 - 200 f4.

    Reasons:
    IQ meant to be sharper than 70 200 f2.8 (non iS)
    Weight
    IS. I think at these lengths a 3/4 stop improvement is is huge, at lower focal lengths maybe it doesnt matter do much
    Price hey I would love the 70 200 2.8 IS but its just to expensive for me :(

    **note i'm a newbie so maybe not the best qualified to answer this, but have read a fair bit on this**
     
  11. mtbdudex, Dec 28, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2010

    mtbdudex macrumors 68000

    mtbdudex

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2007
    Location:
    SE Michigan
    #11
    How about....the new Canon 70 - 300 L?
    More reach than 200mm, lighter, newer IS + optics, good reviews...

    The Canon 100-400 is really old and due an update on optics + IS.
     
  12. Designer Dale thread starter macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2009
    Location:
    Folding space
    #12
    Thanks for the tips. The knock on the sharpness of the 70-200 2.8 L over the f/4 version seems to be at maximum aperture. Stop it down to f/4 and it is just as sharp but gives 2.8 for manual focus. Please correct me. That used lens at B&H is in my range.

    The 100-400 is a good range, but the lens definitely needs to be updated. The push/pull zoom is a bit clunky and the bearings needed for that are prone to failure. It extends quite a bit, and I don't see how they can preserve the weather sealing that is one of the L series trademarks. Please correct me.

    The Sigma 120-400 has my interest. I know Sigma is often knocked for production quality, but this lens seems better built than most. Please correct me.

    Dale
     
  13. TH3D4RKKN1GH7 macrumors 6502a

    TH3D4RKKN1GH7

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2009
    #13
    It sounds like what you really want is the 70-200mmL IS II. That lens is ridiculously sharp.

    Sigma produces good lenses, it's just the consistency. You may have to do the Sigma Shuffle or micro adjust.
     
  14. gnd macrumors 6502a

    gnd

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2008
    Location:
    At my cat's house
    #14
    According to this comparison the 70-200mm f/4 L IS is sharper than 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS at every aperture and focal length.
    But then again, they may have gotten a bad sample ...
     
  15. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2001
    Location:
    Sendai, Japan
    #15
    The f/4 has the reputation of being the sharper lens -- at least when compared to the f/2.8 Mark I. In any case, if you want to do birding, I don't think 200 mm (even on crop sensors) will suffice.
    What about the 100-300 mm f/4? I think you should definitely add that to your list of lenses to choose from.
     
  16. Designer Dale thread starter macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2009
    Location:
    Folding space
    #16
    gnd: The f/4 version of the Canon 70-200 is universally considered sharper than the 2.8 Mk I. The 2.8 Mk II is better, but the cost and weight are nuts. I will get one of these lenses, but not right now. A cool travel kit would be a 70-200 along with my 28-75 2.8 Tammy.

    OreoCookie: I'll look into that one. So far the Sigma 120-400 has the lead. It has the reach and sharpness for a bird lens and compares well to the 100-400 vacuum cleaner Canon. At around $900USD I have room in my budget to get the Tamron 17-55 2.8 as well.

    Dale
     
  17. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2001
    Location:
    Sendai, Japan
    #17
    That lens, sir, is a very good addition to your camera bag :)
     
  18. Designer Dale thread starter macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2009
    Location:
    Folding space
    #18
    This is what I have picked up from all the research I have put into this. Canon L class lenses have it nailed for all primes and zooms up to the 70-200 f/whatever, but they have competition when it comes to long zoom lenses. Some day they will revamp the 100-400 into a real killer, but the price will be, too. I would love to see them replace that 100-400 with a 200-500.

    I searched Flickr for the Sigma 120-400 and the Canon 100-400. I found that the Sigma was able to give nice sharp shots. The photographers behind the lens were not as capable as the typical Canon L shooter, but that's not the lenses fault.

    Dale
     
  19. someoldguy macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2009
    Location:
    usa
    #19
    If you have the chance , try to see both lenses on your camera . I had the 120-400's predecessor , the 80-400 , and ended up selling it for a used 100-400 after owning it for a short while . Although they were both about the same size ,the Sigma was about a 1/2 lb heavier but it felt like a whole lot more , maybe something to do with the design or layout .Both seemed to be close optically. Once you hit your 60's , the extra weight adds up after carrying it around for a few hours.
     
  20. Designer Dale thread starter macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2009
    Location:
    Folding space
    #20

    Thanks. I'm still on the fence between the Sigma and the Canon 100-400. How did the zoom and focus on that lens feel to you? From my mental picture, reaching to fine tune the focus when zoomed out to 400 would be an awkward reach.

    This is how they compare. The 4.5/xxx refers to customer ratings at B&H. 517 reviews for the Canon and 33 for the Sigma.

    Canon 100-400 4.5-5.6 IS
    used 1250
    new 1600
    4.5/517 reviews 3lb. 10.7 in

    Sigma 120-400 4.5-5.6 OS
    new 900
    4.5/33 reviews 3.9lb. 8.3 in


    Dale
     
  21. someoldguy macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2009
    Location:
    usa
    #21
    I don't recall anything unusual as regards the zoom on the Sigma , certainly the zoom mechanism wasn't sloppy . The focus ring was nearer the body so I had to change my grip to use it if the lens was extended fully . On the Canon , the focus ring moves along with the lens barrel , so if you support the fully extended lens with your left hand , the ring is right there . That being said , 90% of the time I use autofocus so for me , the Sigma's focus ring wasn't a deal breaker. The resistance of the push/pull on the Canon can be tightened via a ring on the sliding barrel so it's whatever you like . Both lenses displace air as they zoom in and out . In the Sigma , the air vented away from the camera , the Canon , towards . Neither seemed to be dust vacuums . It's a tough choice , don't thing you can lose optically either way . It all boils down to ergonomics and the square root of all evil , money . Hope this helps.
     
  22. tomscott1988 macrumors regular

    tomscott1988

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2009
    Location:
    UK
    #22
    Depends on situation

    So..
    There are a few factors worth baring in mind, are you using an APC sized sensor (400/450/500/550/40/50/60/7D?) you have to remember you have a 1.6 crop factor on these cameras, so you will be getting a 112-320mm lens.
    Many wildlife photographer simply do not buy a full frame camera for this reason. These type of focal lengths are alot more expensive. If you add a 2x extender you will be in the range of 640mm on a apc crop camera. Yes the image quality will not be as good as a prime 600mm lens but for anyone who is not a pro and doesnt need literaly best in the world image quality then this is the way forward. The 2x extender would in effect make a 70-200mm 2.8 a 224-640mm 5.6 lens. Unless you are an extreme pixel counter or printing above A2 the quality wont be an issue for 90% of people. I mean a 600mm f4 lens is over £6,000 and you dont get the flexibility and your wallet will have a hole the size of the grand canyon.
    Also the f2.8 is a fair bit heavier than the f4, and if you do any low light photography then the f4 just doesnt cut the mustard, IS does nothing if the subject is moving, also a 2x extender will make this lens an f8. This assumption that the f4 is better quality than the 2.8 is definitely not true, the 70-200mm 2.8 is well renowned for being the best quality zoom lens in the world. Having owned both i can confirm this, the sharpness you are talking about is also a myth, the f4 with image stabilization will not be as sharp, because with IS turned on the images do get softer, its just one draw backs of IS but obviously this can be brought back with sharpening the image during processing. Also the comparison of f2.8 to f4 well yes it will be sharper comparing those f numbers, but at mid range f5.6-8 the f2.8 is alot sharper. The f2.8 uses better glass because of its aperture range hens its weight and price compared to the f4. Dont get me wrong the f4 is an incredible lens but the f2.8 gives you a lens suited to many more photographic situations. I found the f4 just not fast enough for my needs. In my opinion the f4 is more a pro-sumer lens because of its cost and f number. Not many pros would go for this option, including myself.
    For me the answer is simple, it would be the f2.8 every time, but i would buy the image stabilized version, not the newest version because it is pricy (but amazing if you can afford it) it would be the mark 1 image stabilized just because at the longer focal length and the weight of the lens it does help, and you could get a very good second hand version for about £1100, if price is an issue.
    For me the third party lenses dont cut the mustard. When you get into the high quality lens category like the 70-200mm the price difference becomes alot closer and make you wonder why you wouldn't buy the canon. So it would be canon lenses every time just because of there quick and reliable autofocus and that canon lenses are some of the best lenses you can buy. The extra £100 you would pay over third party lenses is worth paying. Also i assume because you are looking in the professional area of lenses you are going to give this lens some hammer and the build, water sealing and dust proofing make this lens a very good companion. I have used the third party options but found compared to the canon equivalents they just couldn't keep up in terms of usability image quality was alot closer but its how the lens performs, speed and autofocus are always downfalls of third party lenses.

    Hope this helps
     
  23. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #23
    I personally would not buy a telephoto without IS. Even if you plan to shoot at shutter speeds most of the time that negate the benefits of IS, it's very helpful in just framing a shot at the long end - the scene's not jumping around like you're on crack :). And of course, there will be situations where IS enables shots that just aren't possible otherwise. With ISO performance in modern bodies, the extra stop from f4 to f2.8 has less utility... at least for most things I shoot.

    However, for birding, are you sure 200mm is going to be enough reach? As others have suggested, maybe a used 100-400mm might be better for that and still within your budget. The new 70-300L is probably ideal for you but not cheap.
     
  24. RaceTripper macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    May 29, 2007
    #24
  25. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #25
    Good breakdown of the limitations of IS but to suggest (in rule #1) that it can create image quality issues is fear mongering in my opinion...

    That vaguery needs to be backed up by proof.
     

Share This Page