Help me decide: Canon 70-200mm f4L IS or Canon 70-200mm f2.8L IS

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by anubis, Dec 21, 2008.

  1. anubis macrumors 6502a

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    #1
    Alright, I'd like to hear from people who have some experience with the Canon 70-200mm L lenses. I'm at the point of buying my first set of high quality lenses. Like many people, I've decided on getting one of the Canon 70-200mm lenses. Having used the Canon 75-300mm with no IS, I realize that lenses this long really need to have IS to be usable hand held at the longer range. What I'm having trouble with is deciding between the f4L IS or the f2.8L IS.

    Yes, money IS an object. A very large object. The f2.8L IS costs $500 more than the f4L IS. So statements like "Get the f2.8L IS because it's a better lens because it's a stop faster" don't help me any. I realize that the f2.8L IS is better. It also costs 50% more. What I would like is for people to weigh in on the value of the f2.8L IS (performance vs. cost). Have you used both lenses, or at least have experience with shooting both lenses? Is that extra stop REALLY worth the 50% price premium over the f4L?

    I will use this lens for: 70% wedding, 20% portrait, 10% indoor sports. 80% of these photos will be hand held, 20% tripod. As you can see, 100% of the time I will be taking photos of (moving) people, which is why I'm leaning toward the 2.8 (IS doesn't freeze moving people). Also, for the wedding and portraits, getting very shallow DOF is important. Additionally, many times the photography situations for weddings are very low light.

    So you can see that I do have some use for that extra stop, but I'm struggling with justifying the extra $500 that stop costs.

    Opinions? Thanks!!!!!!!!!
     
  2. LittleCanonKid macrumors 6502

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    #2
    I can't give you advice from experience, but I think it's noteworthy to consider the weight. The f/2.8 IS weighs about twice the weight of the f/4 IS--something to think about if there's going to be a lot of handheld shots.
     
  3. The3nd macrumors regular

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  4. FX120 macrumors 65816

    FX120

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    Depends on where you'll be using it.

    The 70-200 F/2.8L IS is really a wedding photographers lens, when you need a long, fast lens that you can HH from the back of a dim chapel. It's a wonderful lens in pretty much every aspect, but you'll only really need the extra stop if you're going to be shooting indoors a lot, and it sounds like you will.

    The 70-200 F/4L IS is better suited to outdoor use in daylight where you'd probably end up stopping the F/2.8 down to F4 anyways. It's just as sharp as it's bigger brother, but lighter weight (not really a huge difference IMO).

    So if your main use is wedding photography, you'll need that extra stop.
     
  5. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #5
    If you use it to shoot weddings, you need f/2.8. If you cannot afford Canon's original, have a look at Sigma's and Tamron's 70-200 mm f/2.8 zoom. Both have very good price-performance with different strong points: the Tamron has better IQ apparently, but the Sigma has a better AF. Also look here for a review of the older version of the Sigma.

    Keep in mind that in certain situations, nothing can replace the need for fast glass. And if you really want to use it for weddings, you need that initial aperture of f/2.8 or better. IMO you should forgo the Canon f/4 (which is optically a very good lens, but not fast enough for your needs) and consider the two lenses above instead.
     
  6. atlanticza macrumors 6502a

    atlanticza

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    #6
    Assuming you have a "good" Canon camera with a very capable CCD, why not increase your ISO settings to make up the one stop difference (if need be)?
     
  7. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #7
    Because very often you can't. I've shot a wedding only once and I was using ISO1600-ISO3200 all the time. You really, really need f/2.8 if you're shooting weddings (for a living).
     
  8. Edge100 macrumors 68000

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    My $0.02...

    The 70-200 f/4L IS is the sharpest zoom Canon makes. It is razor-sharp wide open, and marginally improves when stopped down (not much room for improvement, though). The IS on this lens is better than most IS systems; it should easily give you 3 stops, and likely 4 stops of IS; this means handholding at 1/15s @ 200mm. I have the non-IS version and have used the IS version extensively; the non-IS is fantastic and relatively sharp even at f/4. The f/4L IS is better, without question.

    The 70-200 f/2.8L IS is not as sharp as the f/4L IS, but is obviously faster.

    Here's a comparison of the two lenses. The f/4L IS is sharper even when the 2.8 IS is stopped down to f/4.

    So the question is: what do you shoot? If you're shooting stationary objects, the f/4L IS is the absolute best telephoto zoom (best zoom period) that Canon makes. If you're shooting moving objects, the f/2.8L IS is the better choice, since IS wont help here. But if you can get by with f/4, the f/4L IS is the better lens from an IQ perspective.
     
  9. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #9
    IS does zilch to prevent motion blur -- which is quite significant at typical focal lengths.
     
  10. Grimace macrumors 68040

    Grimace

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    #10
    If you're inside at 200mm, f/2.8 can make a HUGE difference over F/4.

    The killer punch of the f/2.8 IS version is that it is tack sharp the entire way through the focal range, at 2.8. I don't even use my 135mm prime because the difference is not there, unless I need to go down to f/2.

    I don't know of anyone who ever bought the 2.8 and thought, "I really should have saved the money and purchased the f/4 instead." But the other way around...
     
  11. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #11
    I think if you are getting paid for your work. It's a no brainner. Go with the f/2.8 lens. The f/2.8 will be able to get shots the f/4 can't. From a business standpoint being able to get shots you can't get now is the only justification for any new lens.

    Now, if this were a hobby then the money spent on photo equipment come from your entertainment budget and you'd have to decide which is more a more fun why to blow $500, going out to dinner 10 times or playing withthe nicer lens for the next ten years or so. I know which I'd pick but my wife might pick differently
     
  12. Edge100 macrumors 68000

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    #12
    This is what I meant when I wrote, "If you're shooting moving objects, the f/2.8L IS is the better choice, since IS wont help here."
     
  13. Edge100 macrumors 68000

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    Hmmm...

    Once again, things are no so simple. The f/2.8L IS is the best choice in 90% of the cases, I agree. You cannot replace fast glass, especially for low light (1 stop advantage of f/2.8 vs. f/4) and moving objects (same reason...to stop motion).

    That said, for the 10% of us who seldom shoot moving objects, the f/4L IS might be the better choice. It's cheaper, less bulky, and sharper wide-open than is the f/2.8L IS. For these people, the f/4L IS is a better choice.

    But, having said all that, if money were not an object and I could only have one 70-200 zoom, I'd go with the f/2.8L IS. 3-stops of IS PLUS one stop of max aperture makes up for the 4-stops IS of the f/4L IS, plus the f/2.8L IS, while not as sharp as the f/4L IS, is still pretty darn sharp (IMHO, the f/4L non-IS, the f/2.8L and the f/2.8L IS are all about the same sharpness...the f/4L IS is in another league)
     
  14. jbernie macrumors 6502a

    jbernie

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    #14

    Or you could potentially get the 10-22 & the 70-200 f4L IS lenses instead of just the 70-200 2.8L IS.

    Decisions decisions :)
     
  15. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #15
    The OP wrote what he's going to use it for the most. Even slight movements at typical shutter speeds will cause significant motion blur. That includes slight motion of the bride and groom.

    So I was only disagreeing with your recommendation, not any other paragraph in particular.
     
  16. Edge100 macrumors 68000

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    Which is why I said what I did in my original statement...

    There may be others reading here that could benefit from a more complete discussion of the merits of the four different (and all superb) Canon 70-200 zooms. The OP should go for the f/2.8L IS (or even the non-IS) over the f/4L IS. For others, it may not be so simple...
     
  17. anubis thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Alright, thanks for the input everyone. The consensus is pretty clear: the f2.8 is the winner. So there doesn't seem to be much point in getting the f4 if I'll always want the f2.8... might as well save up and get the f2.8 to start with.

    Having said that, I think I'm going to buy some other lenses first that are less expensive and just get the 70-200 f2.8 IS at a later date. One of the lenses I'm going to get is the Canon 24-70mm f2.8L. It can be had for $750 used from eBay.

    BTW... I'm not making a living on photography... at least not yet. I have a regular day job and I'm just doing photography on the side. I get paid for my gigs but I don't have very many. I'm just trying to build up my portfolio and experience so that maybe one day I can make a living taking pictures.
     
  18. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #18
    One stop is half or twice the light...

    Well, moving portraits are odd- but here's the thing, if 80% of your usage is weddings and indoor sports, then being able to shoot in half the light or at half the shutter speed is a no-brainer to me. Neither of those venues give do-overs for shots you couldn't take because the lighting sucked.
     
  19. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #19
    Sorry, got a little wound up, I think we were arguing over very little. :)
     
  20. Grimace macrumors 68040

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    #20
    Two points for OreoCookie (and Edge100).

    This is what I love about the MR photography forum. On all of the other photog forum sites, people bash each other, and try to see who has the biggest lens. :rolleyes: It's so shameful, and MR is the only place where newbies and veterans can learn safely.

    Even when we argue, we have class. Thanks for reminding me of this Oreo.
    :)
     
  21. Edge100 macrumors 68000

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    100% agree. We can defend our positions, and have disagreements or misunderstandings, but still retain our class and composure.

    Just take a look over at dpreview.com to see how bad things can get.
     
  22. Edge100 macrumors 68000

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    Good choice.

    Before you go to ebay, you might want to check the B&S forum at www.fredmiranda.com

    There are excellent deals to be had from some great guys at FM; usually a bit better than eBay. It's a great community.
     
  23. FX120 macrumors 65816

    FX120

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    #23
    Renting glass is a good way in to do some jobs the interm when you only have an occasional gig.

    Lensrentals.com rents the 70-200 F/2.8L IS for around $70 a week.
     
  24. anubis thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #24
    Thanks for the tip. There are some pretty good deals there!
     
  25. rouxeny macrumors 6502

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    #25
    I have the 70-200/2.8 and I think it's the best lens I own. I haven't used the 4.0 much, but I don't think I would trade for it, the utility of having 2.8 is just too much. The weight is at times a bummer, but I don't usually consider this a daily walk around lens.

    You said that money is an issue. I think you have to decide for yourself how much of an issue. $500 is not an insignificant amount of money. If you have it, I'd spend it. If you don't, the 4.0 is a great lens also.
     

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