Canon Telephoto Zoom... your input requested...

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by VirtualRain, Jan 13, 2010.

  1. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #1
    So, I've been enjoying my recently purchased T1i and I'm going to the US at the end of the month, enabling me to buy a couple of lenses and return sans Canadian taxes.

    I'm already planning to buy a refurbished 17-55 f2.8 from Adorama to replace the kit lens.

    I'm also considering a long zoom. This is a lens that I will use only occasionally for hobby photography.

    I've narrowed it down to these refurbished lenses at Adorama:

    1. Canon EF-S 55-250 IS ($200)
    2. Canon EF 70-300 f4-5.6 IS USM ($480)
    3. Canon EF 70-200 f4 L IS USM ($1000)

    Comments:

    I've read all the reviews by Bryan who would rate them as 3 > 2 > 1.

    Given this, and my occasional need for a lens of this focal range, I feel as though the Canon EF 70-300 offers the best value for me... good construction, amazing focal range, decent image quality, mid-road price. While I would love the L lens, it would be very difficult to justify the significant added cost as an occasional use, hobby lens.

    Does anyone disagree with this assessment?

    Does anyone own the 70-300 IS and regret it?

    Is the 70-300 IS at all useful for occasional macro work?
     
  2. nickXedge macrumors 6502

    nickXedge

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    #2
    I just started getting into photography about a month ago. I bought the entry level Canon 1000D (XS), which came with the 18-55mm IS kit lens. My friend recommended the 55-250mm IS and I bought it right away. I haven't had too much experience with it, but I absolutely love it. As a total novice, I like the price of the 55-250mm IS and the images seem quite nice, for me at least. That's all I got for you, I don't really know much else at this point.
     
  3. SLC Flyfishing Suspended

    SLC Flyfishing

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    #3
    If it were me, I'd go with the 70-200 every time. Maybe it's because I've got a lens in the focal range (Nikon) and it's my absolute favorite. But mostly because it's one of Canon's best in terms of absolute IQ.

    You've already read a million times here that lenses trump bodies anyday. My feeling is that you should spend once and spend well on lenses, meaning get the absolute best you can afford. If you can well and truely afford the 70-200 f/4 IS, I feel very confident that you won't regret it.

    That being said, if it really is too much to spend, look for a refurbished 70-200 f/4 non IS. It's a lot cheaper, and certainly should be more reliable without an IS system to potentially shut down. Better image quality by a long shot than the other two you list, and in the same neighborhood as the 70-300 IS price wise. The refurb is only $10 cheaper than the brand new one so I'd just go with the brand new lens.

    Also, the 70-300 is not useful for macro work, if you mean true 1:1 or higher magnification macro. For that you really must purchase a prime lens that is designated for macro use. Canon makes a few of these and I think the 100 f/2.8 macro is the most recently updated, it's supposed to be a great lens.

    If by macro, you mean simple closeups then you'll have to get advice on that elsewhere since I don't shoot Canon and have never used the lens.

    SLC
     
  4. macjonny1 macrumors 6502a

    macjonny1

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    #4
    Canon just updated the 70-200 so you might find a good used one from someone upgrading to the (probably marginally better) lens.
     
  5. SLC Flyfishing Suspended

    SLC Flyfishing

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    #5
    They only updated the 70-200 f/2.8 IS lens, none of their other 70-200 offerings were touched. Even if sold by a user desperate to upgrade, I doubt you'll find a 70-200 f/2.8 IS for anywhere near $1K. Probably $1300 or $1400 minimum. The new lens isn't exactly affordable, so a seller looking to update needs to get all the coin he/she can from the old lens.

    SLC
     
  6. Edge100 macrumors 68000

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    #6
    They just upgraded the 70-200 f/2.8L IS, which is a $2000 lens.

    The 70-200 f/4L IS is the sharpest zoom that Canon makes. It's absolutely tack sharp at f/4, and only improves slightly from there.

    That said, the non-IS 70-200 f/4L is a great lens, too. And it can be had for much less than the IS. That would be my first choice (and it was, though I recently sold mine to get the f/2.8 non-IS).
     
  7. jampat macrumors 6502a

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    #7
    If I were you, I would avoid the 70-300. The images produced by Canon's 70-200's really are that much better than all of the cheaper options.

    If this lens is an occasional use item as you say, why not the 70-200 f4 (no IS). It is significantly cheaper and lighter. If money is an issue, buy used. A used 70-200 f4 will be about $650 canadian. IS is helpful, but a 70-200 non-IS and a little bit of planning and you can easily get better shots than your other options. If it is an occasional use lens, just carry a tripod with you when you want to use it, no IS required.

    If you decide you aren't using the 70-200 and sell it, you will get your money back. If you sell the 70-300 you will likely only recover about $200-300 (loss of at least a few hundred). Therefore you can own an infinitely better lens for much less money, seems like a good deal to me.

    I have never known anyone that regretted buying any flavor of the 70-200, I know a number of people that tried to go the cheap route and either leave the lens in the bag (f5.6 is useless in many situations that people wanted the lens for), or sell it for a loss and then buy the 70-200.

    These are just my observations and I'm sure other people will have different opinions.

    Be careful coming back across the border. If you bring the boxes back with you, you will likely be way over the limit and have to pay duty+taxes+fines+get flagged on future crossings. Without any packaging you will be less likely to get caught. If you are out for 7 days, your exemption is only $750 CAN which will be more than used up by the 17-55 alone.

    http://www.crossbordershopping.ca/content/view/personal-exemptions-9/

    Good luck.
     
  8. Edge100 macrumors 68000

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    #8
    FWIW, I just sold my 70-200 f/4L for about $100 MORE than I bought it for; a profit of about 6% per year of ownership.
     
  9. VirtualRain thread starter macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #9
    Good feedback so far... it's perhaps not surprising that there's a major bias towards the f4 L lens. Of course, I want it too. :) However, I will only use this lens probably 1 in 20 shots, and I'm not selling or printing my photos. I won't buy a lens, especially a telephoto without IS... period. So will I really benefit from the added $500 expense of the L glass in my case?
     
  10. Edge100 macrumors 68000

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    #10
    I would put image quality WAAAAY above IS in my list of priorities. You're quite right in wanting IS in a telephoto, where it matters a lot more. But the 70-200 is really that much better than the 70-300! My 70-200 f/4L was an incredible lens; contrasty and very sharp, even at f/4.

    Attached is a 100% crop of a shot taken with my old 70-200 f/4L @ f/4.

    If you can swing the $1000 for the 70-200 f/4L IS, that's an even better lens. It's a 4-stop IS system, so with stationary subjects, you can shoot with very slow shutter speeds. But consider this: both of the non-L lenses you mentioned are f/5.6 at the long end. Are you really willing to give up that stop of light (not to mention the sharpness and contrast of the L), just for IS?
     

    Attached Files:

  11. SLC Flyfishing Suspended

    SLC Flyfishing

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    #11
    It's not that there's a bias, it's just that you asked which lens would be the best, we've given you the honest answer. The 70-200 F/4L IS is the best lens in your list of potential purchases, and by a very very wide margin.

    If your experience is anything like my experience with the Nikon AF-S VR 70-200 f/2.8, you'll be searching out opportunities to use the lens, perhaps the reason you say you'll only use the lens for 1 in 20 shots is because you've never shot with a lens of this calibre in the 70-200's focal length range. This is about as good as it gets in zoom lenses, with the major difference between this lens and lenses costing twice as much or more being a faster, constant aperture. Trust me when I say that lenses like the 70-300 f/4-5.6 are the type that you use for 1 in 20 shots merely because the results and the user experience are not that remarkable. Totally different situation with the 70-200 f/4 IS, like I said, you'll go looking for opportunities to use the lens.

    That's unfortunate, since you may miss out on some truely remarkable glass in doing so. The Canon 135 f/2L, 100 f/2.8L macro, 85 f/1.2L, and 200 f/2.8L, spring to mind quite readily. Really the 50 mm lenses are short tele's on a crop body camera as well, none of them are IS either.

    Yes you will, if image quality and sharpness are highly important to you. Less so if they are not. If you are looking for versatility over quality, then I suppose the 70-300 has more range, but the IQ isn't really comparable. If you can become comfortable with the idea of not having IS, then you can have the fantastic Canon 70-200 f/4 L for less than $50.00 more than the 70-300 f/4-5.6 IS. For me it's a no brainer which lens to get, but it's not my money that's going to be spent here so I can only offer what I'd do.

    SLC
     
  12. Kebabselector macrumors 68030

    Kebabselector

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    #12
    There's 3 (i think) Canon lenses in the range of 70(75)-300mm, the 70-300 IS is decent. Thought the review posted by Bryan got the order spot on.

    70-200 - great (all versions f/2.8 f/4 IS or Non IS)
    70-300 - another great performer, but not as good as the 70-200
    55-250 - optically a decent lens, construction isn't great and it's a little slow (as it's not USM) at focusing.

    I have the 70-200 f/4 (non IS) and it's superb. I was put off zooms buy an old 80-200, but the 70-200 restored confidence in longer lenses.
     
  13. Patriks7 macrumors 65816

    Patriks7

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    #13
    The whole point of that lens is actually that it does have IS.
     
  14. SLC Flyfishing Suspended

    SLC Flyfishing

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    #14
    Yeah I suppose the new one does, doesn't it. Like I said, I'm not a Canon shooter, though I do know what lenses people clamour for from them.

    Isn't the IS version of the 100 f/2.8 L macro relatively new?

    SLC
     
  15. VirtualRain thread starter macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #15
    I'm not asking "What's the best lens?"... I already know the answer to that. I'm asking "What's the best lens for me?"

    Good point.

    I'm really looking for advice on this... if I'm not printing posters of my pictures or selling my photos... will I notice the difference in optical quality between these lenses?

    I can't imagine the sharpness of any of these lenses would be an issue at standard monitor resolutions... will they?

    The only real tangible benefit to me that I can see in favor of the L glass is the extra stop of light at the long end, but the 70-300 has a much longer "end" than the 70-200. :confused:

    EDIT: I suppose one advantage in my case of the L lens, is that, although I can't zoom in as much (on say a wild animal), I would probably get a better, sharper shot that could then be cropped more severely to effectively get a better quality tighter shot. Thoughts?
     
  16. Mousse macrumors 68000

    Mousse

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    #16
    +1 vote for the 70-200f4 non-IS. It's light weight and sharper than a page of Oscar Wilde witticisms rolled into a point, sprinkled with lemon juice, and jabbed into your eye. A good investment at $600-700. I had one for years until I upgraded to the 70-200f2.8 IS two years ago.

    That's a shame. Since the 70-200f4 is so light weight, you don't need IS. I've gotten razor sharp images with that lens at 200mm with 1/60sec hand held and usable images at 1/20sec.
     
  17. Edge100 macrumors 68000

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    #17
    Best post ever. This thread is done!
     
  18. toxic macrumors 68000

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    #18
    TDP is correct with the ranking. however, for the slight gain in IQ from the 55-250 to the 70-300, most people buy the 55-250 since it is cheaper (and its optics aren't a joke). the extra 50mm at the long end also isn't as useful as the 15mm on the wide end. if you've held a 55-250 before and don't like the non-USM motor or the build, then the 70-300 is worth it, but otherwise no.

    the 70-300 is ok for closeup work, but it's still not a macro. the 55-250 is slightly better.

    as for 70-300 vs 70-200/4, you will have to decide if you want IS more or better IQ with no stabilization. a lot of people end up getting rid of the 70-200/4 in favor of the f/4 IS, but that's another $500+.

    and about the comment on selling a used lens for profit: you can't count on that, since no one knows if lens prices will keep rising or not. in any case, that applies to just about any lens. I sold a 35 f/2 for profit. L lenses aren't special when it comes to resale value.
     
  19. funkboy macrumors regular

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    #19
    Really not too bad for this kind of money, & very lightweight. See the reviews of all 3 of these lenses on photozone.de.

    I've got one & use it a lot with my 40D. It's very good from 70-200mm and the IS works very well (Canon says 3 stops, I think that's about right). Over 200mm image quality degrades quickly. I just think of it as a 70-200 lens and only use the extreme long end when I'm just fooling around & shooting something I know I'll never print. I don't think it would hold up very well to a 15+mp aps-c camera, but for the money on a lower res body, it's good to have along.

    This is one of the sharpest lenses photozone has ever tested, zoom or no zoom. If you can afford it, get it, and get a 1.4x teleconverter with it so you won't be looking back at the 70-300 over your shoulder. I had the non-IS version for a looong time & loved it (on sunny days only)-: You'll have this lens for the rest of your life.

    All 3 of these lenses become very good for macro if you use them with a cheap little 12mm or 20mm Kenko macro extension ring.
     
  20. davidinva macrumors 6502a

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    #20
    Canon zoom

    Another vote for the 55-250. It will serve you well and allow you to save up some money for a nice prime lens.
     
  21. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

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    #21
    I'm one of those that also believes quite heavily in having stabilization. But it also depends on what you intend to shoot, and what your typical output is. If all you ever post is 800x600 shots on flickr, then you probably will never see the difference in IQ between any of the lenses. However, if you do print and occasionally print large (16x20, etc), then the extra IQ might be worth the price.

    But also think about the shooting too. If you can't swing the 70-200/4 with IS, can you, would you use a tripod in many shooting situations? If you already do or intend to use a tripod to shoot long (say birds, or faraway stationary subjects) then IS will not really matter. However, if you're going to carry it around and shoot handheld, perhaps the IS is going to be worth the money.

    Just a couple things to think about.

    Ruahrc
     
  22. VirtualRain thread starter macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #22
    Interesting... they appear to regard the 70-300 quite highly...

    I'm definitely interested in hearing more first hand accounts of this lens' performance and shortcomings.
     
  23. Grimace macrumors 68040

    Grimace

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    #23
    I used to have a rebel and the 70-300mm. It was great, and the range made me say wow. But then, I used a friend's 70-200mm and I sold the 70-300mm the next day.

    The longer lens is good enough, and it might suit all of your needs for a much lower price. If you are ever curious about the 70-200mm series lenses and you try one out, your wallet will become lighter very quickly.

    Just make sure that you don't have any regrets when you make your decision.
    Selling a lens and buying a different one is more expensive than waiting and buying the latter lens.
     
  24. GT41 macrumors regular

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    #24
    I think I'm going to agree with most people here who said the 70-200 L is going to be the superior lens. That said I still own my 70-300 and do not have a 70-200.
    Initially my thinking was along the lines of: a) 300 is extra focal length b) has IS which is great when trying to shoot in not perfect light at those focal lengths. c) The price...

    As I've built up a list of better lenses I can see the short comings of the 70-300 (namely its not that sharp and you lose a bit on contrast) but its still a fantastic lens, and I have no plans to replace it in the near future.

    I think its a tough decision, but one YOU have to make... pick your poison and when you get it, don't think about it just go out and shoot with it and enjoy. I think it is pretty hard to be disappointed with either of those lenses and you will have a nice lens in you setup regardless of which you pick.
     
  25. LittleCanonKid macrumors 6502

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    #25
    Usually whenever someone is comparing the 55-250, 70-300 and the 70-200 (non-IS) my first thought is to throw out the 70-300 because for the money, the 70-200 is much better and you either get a good cost/performance ratio (with the 55-250) or just pure performance (70-200 f/4 non-IS) and the 70-300 pales when priced so closely. The f/4 IS's cost prevents the 70-300 from being a throwaway though, so I'll second the 70-200 f/4 non-IS opinion.

    I have a 70-200 f/4 non-IS and love it. Just the fact that it's an L tells you that you are getting a fantastic lens. The f/4 IS would've been nice but I wasn't able to justify a nearly 2x price jump. I've been able to squeeze by shooting indoors at school with the f/4 (ISO 1600, 1/125 usually) so that hasn't been a problem.

    L fever is a pretty relentless disease, choose carefully... :rolleyes:
     

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