70-200mm f2.8L : IS worth $500 extra for wedding photography?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by anubis, Mar 31, 2009.

  1. anubis macrumors 6502a

    Feb 7, 2003
    Hey guys... sorry for starting another 70-200mm comparison thread, but unlike most others, I'm going to be very specific about my needs and how I want the two possibilities to be evaluated...

    First of all, you all were VERY helpful to me when I started a thread asking if I should consider the f4 version or the f2.8 version of the canon 70-200. Based on my needs, the clear verdict was to go ahead with the f2.8.

    Now, I would like a question that has probably dogged photographers for a while: is the image stabilizer (IS) in the 70-200 f2.8L IS worth the $500 premium over the non-IS 70-200 f2.8L? As in my prior thread, I would like all of the comments and suggestions to consider the value of the IS vs. the non-IS. What this means is that I would like the suggestions to consider cost vs. benefit and suggest what they would consider to be the maximum value given my requirements. Comments like "Get the IS because it's better." don't help me. I realize that the IS version has a feature that the non-IS doesn't and that makes it better. But does that make it $500 better, is what I'm asking. Money doesn't grow on trees!

    My requirements:

    • This lens will be used for 80% weddings, 10% portraits, and 10% indoor sports. So mostly weddings.
    • Pictures will be 99% handheld. Weddings are very fast-paced and I rarely have time to set up a tripod to capture moments that may last for only seconds.
    • Every wedding I've ever done has had challenging low-light situations, which is why I'm opting for the f2.8
    • 100% of the pictures will be of people. No architecture/landscape/other photography here.
    • Cost is important and $500 is a lot of money to me.
    • The longest lens I currently have is the 28-135 f3.5-5.6 IS. I need to upgrade because I need a lens with a higher maximum focal length (for ceremonies where I need a long reach to capture details without being in the way), is faster (for low-light ceremonies and receptions), and has better bokeh and higher image quality. That's why I decided that the 70-200mm f2.8L is a good fit. But do I really need that IS?

    OK, I know you guys will have lots of useful things to say, and I thank you ahead of time for your help!
  2. jbernie macrumors 6502a


    Nov 25, 2005
    Denver, CO
    As 80% of your work alone would appear to money making (and I could see at least 10 of the remaining 20% being that way too) I would almost automatically say yes it is worth every cent, the more you are making from the work the more you need to get the best possible lens for the work.

    Though I would say in your case I would consider two factors:
    1) will the extra weight of the IS lens that you are going to carry around for many hours cause issues?
    2) can a monopod setup be used with the non IS lens as an alternate? Though a quality setup could get you close to the cost of the IS lens itself and you get the same result, also the monopod might interfere with your ability to move etc.

    At the end of the day, you might find that going with the IS lens will allow you to either sell more photos or sell the same number you do now for a higher price as you offer a better product. If you were not intending to sell one photo that you take with the lens I could say no IS as losing an extra short or two here and there in the end is no loss, when making money every extra top shot makes a difference.
  3. Phrasikleia macrumors 601


    Feb 24, 2008
    Over there------->
    Yes, I think so. Even if the IS won't help freeze action, it will make the room sharper, which can help a lot in images. If at least the room and stationary objects are very sharp, then a little motion blur can actually look good in some cases.

    Edit: and of course people who are not moving will be that much sharper too!
  4. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    the IS version is still worth it for you. the weight gain over the f/2.8 is pretty slight, and you gain flexibility especially at the telephoto end since you won't have to be around 1/200. there're plenty of times during a wedding when people won't be moving much.

    of course, all this goes out the window if you have trouble lugging the 70-200 f/2.8 around for a whole wedding.
  5. costabunny macrumors 68020


    May 15, 2008
    Weymouth, UK
    imho when shooting Weddings always grab a VR lens if available - very helpful for lower light (churches etc) and a potential lifesaver. (I've increased my 'keeper' ratio a lot since using the VR over my older sigma).

    yes, its more expensive, but if you earn from it then its definately going to be worth it.
  6. SayCheese macrumors 6502a

    Jun 14, 2007
    Thame, Oxfordshire, England
    The 70-200 f2.8 L IS is a superb lens. I have one and wouldn't be without it. I have used it for low light wedding receptions and it is great.

    However you need to be aware that the IS on that lens can and will drain battery power quicker than you think it will. If you invest in this lens make sure you also invest in spare batteries. You will regret it if not.
  7. bertpalmer macrumors 6502

    Apr 12, 2007
    As a fellow wedding photographer I would have to agree that the IS does make a nominal amount of difference.

    For some shots in very low light (ambient light only, no windows) it can make the difference between getting the shot and getting a blurred shot.

    It makes more of a difference in the evening when there is no window light which is only SOME of the time. But yes, it is worth getting if you're making money.
  8. anubis thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 7, 2003
    Thanks for your input. I think I'll go ahead and get the IS. I'd probably regret getting the non-IS and would end up selling it to get the IS anyway. At the rate I'm going, I only have about 3 paid weddings per year, so at the moment it's hard to justify spending so much for a lens. But I do want to eventually build a larger business (it's just that I'm in no particular hurry right now). Contrary to my signature, I don't actually consider myself some big time wedding photographer, but links are how google assigns and builds up keywords for web sites, and links like the one in my sig help build relevency for my site when people search for "tucson weddding photography", for example.
  9. anubis thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 7, 2003
    Just pulled the trigger on the 70-200mm f2.8L IS from amazon for $1699

  10. pprior macrumors 65816

    Aug 1, 2007
    You will be happy. The IS is definitely a must have for a wedding shooter with a 200mm lens. Buy once, cry once.
  11. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    If it helps, look at it long-term. A lens is good for more than ten years, which is thirty weddings at your current rate. Let's say you can't ever do more than that- it's a maximum cost of $16.66 a year to get IS, and the lens is going to have a higher resale value if it's operational.
  12. gkarris macrumors 604


    Dec 31, 2004
    "No escape from Reality..."
    Dude, that's more than all my digital SLR's and lenses... :eek:

    (runs off screaming....)

    Hence renting - only shedding a tear every now and then... ;)
  13. pprior macrumors 65816

    Aug 1, 2007
    Renting makes little sense for a professional shooter. You're going to pay for that lens very quickly in rental fees.

    I owned the 70-200/2.8 non-IS version for 3 years then sold it when the IS version came out. I sold it for about $400 less than what I paid new. That means it cost me $125/year to own that lens, which I used countless times.

    If you're just starting out and have major cash flow issues, then yes rental can make sense, but the 70-200/2.8IS is relatively inexpensive compared with the fast teles. My 300/2.8IS was over $4,000 and I really would like the 200/2.0 and the 400/2.8IS which are both significantly more than that.
  14. SLC Flyfishing Suspended

    SLC Flyfishing

    Nov 19, 2007
    Portland, OR
    My wife and I are very likely getting a Nikon D700 in the fall. What I'm trying to get my finger on is whether or not IS will be that useful if I can shoot at the High ISO's that this camera is capable of.

    I'd think that ISO 4800 or so would be more than sufficient if I could use f/2.8. But then there's the DOF issue that maybe having VR would be beneficial for, if I could shoot at f/5.6 and ISO 6400 using VR maybe that'd be advantageous?

    What do you all think?

    I'm porting over from Pentax, and I haven't looked very hard, does Nikon's 70-200 f/2.8 even come in a non VR version?

  15. osin macrumors 6502

    Jun 8, 2008
    New Jersey
    congrats on the new lens and yes, I think you did a smart choice going with IS version...

    did you consider to wait for Canon Spring rebates?
  16. ChrisBrightwell macrumors 68020


    Apr 5, 2004
    Huntsville, AL
  17. Grimace macrumors 68040


    Feb 17, 2003
    with Hamburglar.
    It's absolutely wonderful, and gives you a great deal of freedom at the event.
  18. diemos macrumors 6502

    Mar 6, 2009
  19. Phrasikleia macrumors 601


    Feb 24, 2008
    Over there------->
    I think it's funny how there are about five posts telling the OP to buy the lens after he posted that he already bought it. :p
  20. MacNoobie macrumors 6502a


    Mar 15, 2005
    It depends on how much you'd use the 70-200 honestly, I've gone with the IS because it was only $400 more and I still have 1/8th of a sec hand held shots that are sharp when doing live venue's/bars/etc. When I did a wedding assistant thing with a local photog he'd use the 70-200 for things like the bride and groom walking around by themselves since its far enough away that they can have their moment together and still be photographed. Out of the ~10-15 weddings we've done together I've only seen him pull out his 70-200 in a decently lit chapal once (granted hes got VR on it aka a Nikon lens).

    So in theory I'd say no its not worth the extra $500 because most of the time you can crank the ISO up and get respectable shutter speeds. Unless you plan on doing low light/event/bar photography then IS isnt worth it.
  21. MacNoobie macrumors 6502a


    Mar 15, 2005
    Sweet still $400 cheaper then I paid for mine, IS is worth having "just in case"

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