I am torn. f/4 IS or F/2.8 no IS

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by mulo, Jan 16, 2012.

  1. mulo, Jan 16, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2012

    mulo macrumors 68020

    mulo

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    #1
    I'm considering getting a new lens, a 70-200mm. But I don't know which one to get. Obviously I would be getting the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM II if I had the money, but I don't so I am forced to compromise...

    So instead I'm looking at either the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM or the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM, and I am looking for the best overall image quality. Thus my considerations have been as follows:

    • With IS I will be able to shoot better handheld, especially at long ranges.
    • With f/2.8 Bokeh will be better.
    • With f/2.8 I will obtain better shutter speeds, but not enough to counter the lack of IS.
    • With f/4 fast moving objects will become blurry.
    Did I miss anything?
    Which one would you, in my situation, get?


    Things not to factor:
    • Weather sealing/quality is not important.
    • Size is not a huge ordeal as I have plenty of room let in my bag.
    • Weight is not an issue.
     
  2. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #2
    How often will you shoot long range that you'll need IS?

    Personally, I choose the fastest lens I can afford, so if it were me, I'd select the f2.8.
     
  3. d4rkc4sm macrumors 6502

    d4rkc4sm

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  4. mulo thread starter macrumors 68020

    mulo

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    #4
    Good question, I don't know, don't have anything that will go that far, I've wanted to go farther, but not been able to.
    I would love to do some wildlife and sports whenever possible

    I disagree, I opted for a DSLR, not a compact camera, so portability is gone anyway. Besides, I have my iPhone for portability, right?
     
  5. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #5
    I think you underestimate the size and heft of a f/2.8 70-200 mm zoom lens: the f/4 weighs half as much. Although I'd still go for the f/2.8, but I know about the weight. I also think you should look at third-party options which are optically excellent as well. The money you save can go towards a good flash or another lens.
     
  6. mulo thread starter macrumors 68020

    mulo

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    #6
    Possibly, I handheld a 5d mk II + 70-200mm f2.8L IS USM for the better part of a day, back when the 5d mk II was new. I don't remember being bothered by its size or weight then.

    I've looked at third party too, and the basic impression I get is that their half as sharp and twice as vignetting. Especially at longer focal lengths.
    But your right, getting say the new Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 APO EX DG HSM OS FLD (OMG acronyms) would allow me to get both f2.8 and IS
     
  7. TheReef, Jan 16, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2012

    TheReef macrumors 68000

    TheReef

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    #7
    It depends on what you want to shot.

    Landscapes will involve you stopping the lens down anyway, so the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM is the sensible choice.

    If it's wildlife then the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM would be more sensible, as you mention it will capture faster moving subjects. The IS might have the edge over the faster aperture, but f/2.8 is still something.

    And finally, to get both you add expense and weight.

    Here's a thought - how about both the f/4.0 IS for landscape work, and get a 200mm f/2.8L prime for wildlife? (if you could find them for the right prices...)
     
  8. ChristianJapan, Jan 16, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2012

    ChristianJapan macrumors 601

    ChristianJapan

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    #8
    Also the 2.8 gives better support to auto-focus in less-light situation; I have the 70-200 2.8 IS (Mark I) and quite happy with.
    Like the rest of my lens zoo I try to get as "fast" as I can pay.

    For wildlife maybe the 400f5.6; I have quite some good shots with that one; birds and aircrafts (like my avatar)
     
  9. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #9
    If you have already had experience in working with such a heavy combo, good.
    I think that's largely a myth. In some cases, there is a difference, but it's definitely not a factor of two or so. There are third-party lenses that are optically and mechanically superior to Canon's or Nikon's equivalent (Tokina's UW angle zooms come to mind). Or there are times when the original is just prohibitively expensive (the 35 mm f/1.4, for instance, cost a lot, lot more than Sigma's 30 mm f/1.4).

    In case of 70-200 mm zooms, Tamron's lens gets the same 4-star rating in optics as Canon's f/4. I'm not saying that you should subscribe to photozone's rating system or so, but I'm just saying that they're not that far apart as many people think (or rather fear). If it were up to me, I'd consider Canon's non-IS f/4 (which is a steal at €600), a used f/2.8 or a third-party f/2.8 zoom. Personally, I'm old school, I don't think there is a replacement for aperture.

    About half of my lenses are third-party lenses. My most-used lens, a 30 mm f/1.4 prime, is a third-party lens with mediocre reviews. But I love the super wide aperture and the creative options it gives me. My favorite lens, however is my 80-200 mm Nikkor, hands down. This lens simply kills it: I shot a wedding last October and at first, I was forced to use shorter focal lengths (the civil ceremony was held in a smaller venue, I had a lot more space to work with in church). Predictably, my favorite shots were taken with the 80-200 mm.
     
  10. mulo, Jan 16, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2012

    mulo thread starter macrumors 68020

    mulo

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    #10
    Perhaps its just me, but I always turn IS off when shooting landscape since I'm using a tripod anyway. I get sharper results that way.


    IS has the edge in handheld-ability as its a 4 stop IS, f2.8 is only 1 stop faster then f4, but the f2.8 will still catch things the f4 will blur out.


    Thats out of my wallets reach, it is either or for now.


    lots of reviews and charts later ---------

    the canon's I mentioned, with their hefty price tag, perform nicely throughout. (I am unable to find comparable results for the f2.8 non is)
    the Tamron AF 70-200mm f/2.8 SP Di LD [IF] macro performs outright horrible in terms of sharpness at around 135mm
    the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 APO EX DG HSM OS FLD performs better at 135mm, but suffers heavily as it closes in on 200mm
    the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro HSM III performs a better all-round in terms of sharpness, but does have more chromatic aberration.

    all of the above perform great at f4, but thats not the point in buying and paying for a f2.8 lens, is it?

    I'll keep the latter of the three in consideration for now.
    To toss the dice a little, theres a guy on a local ebay alike site that wants to sell his canon 70-200mm f2.8L USM, which is in good condition, for pretty cheap, but heres the catch its from '93. thoughts?
     
  11. TheDrift-, Jan 16, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2012

    TheDrift- macrumors 6502a

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    #11
    I had the same debate and went for the F4 IS

    The IS lenses are newer and most reviews suggest have better image quality, so the f4 IS should have a slight edge on 2.8 (non IS) in terms of image quality.

    In terms of speed my reasoning went along the lines of at 200mm I need to shoot at 1/200 to eliminate camera shake on the the Non IS.

    On the IS because it was one stop slower I would need 400, but after IS only 1/50 1/25.

    So in lowish light and longer lengths the f4IS actually makes a lot of sense provided you are not shooting somthing too fast moving. As I use mine mainly for portraits and slower moving subjects f4 and 1/100 is fine...and more use to me than the 2.8 non IS.

    If you really need both features you might be better of waiting until you can afford the 70 200 2.8 IS

    You can then have the same debate with the 24 70 2.8 vs the 24 105 f4IS :)

    PS I have heard good things about the sigma 2.8 OS...it might be worth a look
     
  12. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #12
    You're forgetting about motion blur. I've successfully handheld shots at 1/60 s at 135+ mm (on a crop sensor) and the background was sharp. I still had motion blur and IS or steady hands won't help you with that. With the f/2.8, you gain an extra stop in shutter speed which you can use to reduce motion blur.
    I'm not sure where you have got the quotes from, but very few lenses these days qualify as horrible or terrible. I have read quite a few reviews of the Tamron, for instance, and its optical quality is pretty much universally praised. Its downsides (e. g. slower AF or less solidly built as a $2+k Canon pro lens) are also well-known. At that price (€100 more expensive than the non-IS f/4 Canon), I think it's a bargain. The more expensive Sigma lens is worse optically, but has IS and a better AF system. Also, unlike in the film days, there are also optical problems that are easily compensated for, e. g. vignetting is trivial to remove with Aperture/Lightroom.
    No, the point is getting f/2.8 to be able to use faster shutter speeds in order to reduce motion blur. The f/4 outperforms Canon's f/2.8 Mark I in some tests, ditto for the 50 mm f/1.4 which is optically superior to the chunky and expensive f/1.2 lens. But the fact that you want to be able to use reasonably fast shutter speeds indoor makes faster lenses more desirable for some.
    I have bought all of my lenses used. But if I were you, I'd have a look at them first. I've found quite a bit of equipment on Craigslist (as long as you follow common sense, try before you buy and ask for receipts if possible).
     
  13. mulo thread starter macrumors 68020

    mulo

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    #13
    That's what I meant with catch things, anyway

    look here for the tamron lens. No horrible might of been a bit much, but it almost touches 375 on that score thing, the sigma which is quite bad at 200mm doesn't go much below 750.
    for comparison my 100mm macro doesn't go below 1000 wide open, and hovers around 1350 stopped down
    the latest and greatest canon never drops below 1200 wide open, and tops off around 1650, still wide open.


    I was being sarcastic, shoulda thought to put a wink ;)
     
  14. rebby macrumors 6502

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    #14
    I concur. If you can afford a 2.8 non-IS, go for the 4.0 IS. The IS lenses are far easier to sell used as well. The 4.0 IS will also be more portable than the 2.8 non-IS due to it's smaller overall size.

    If you look hard and are willing to spend some time waiting, a 2.8 IS Mk I can be had for as low as $1,100. In fact, I saw one sell for that yesterday.
     
  15. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #15
    If you compare center sharpness, the Tamron has about 10 % less resolution than Canon's 70-200 mm f/2.8 Mark I at the same focal length and aperture (I had to estimate the numbers: the Tamron is about 1/3 between 750 and 1125 lpm while the Canon is approximately at the 2/3 mark; that makes for ~875 vs. ~1000). At 200 mm, the Tamron significantly outperforms the Mark I. Between the f/2.8 you're looking at (the non-IS Mark I) and the Tamron, I don't think there is an overall winner in terms of IQ. In terms of price-performance, I think there is.

    Note that the testing was done on a 40D while newer lenses are tested on the 7D. The fact that neither the Mark I nor the Tamron go above 1500 lpm is an indication that both lenses outresolve the 40D's sensor and if you're really strict, you should compare only lenses that are tested on the same body.
    The Mark II is definitely a great lens, probably the 70-200 mm zoom with the best IQ on the market. But it costs ~3 times as much as the Tamron or the Sigma. If you can afford the Mark II, you've got your lens. Back in reality, you're stuck choosing amongst lenses you can actually afford ;)

    Overall, people worry too much about charts when they are getting lenses. Anything you buy is going to be a compromise between features, performance, weight and price. Any €€€ you spend on gear, you can't spend somewhere else. If I had bought lens A instead of lens B, I couldn't have gone on vacation to Israel last year. But I'd have a better lens ;)
     
  16. mulo, Jan 16, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2012

    mulo thread starter macrumors 68020

    mulo

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    #16
    But I don't look at center sharpness, I actually couldn't care a whole lot less..... (sorry to put it that way, but really)
    what good is the lens if its sharp in the center, but soft throughout the rest of the frame?

    point taken, didn't think about that.
    luckily there are results from a 5d, which should help the resolution part, although only partially as we are now on a larger sensor too

     
  17. OreoCookie, Jan 16, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2012

    OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #17
    Subjects are typically closer to the center, so center sharpness is more important in applications than sharpness in the corners. Unless you have a habit of taking pictures of bathroom tiles. I'm not trying to convince you to get the Tamron no matter what (my 80-200 mm f/2.8 is a Nikkor and not a third-party lens), I'm trying to put things into perspective. In the review you've quoted, the Tamron was praised for its IQ, despite the shortcomings you've noticed. At that time, the benchmark was Canon's Mark I which performs worse in some aspects of their tests (e. g. sharpness from center to edge at 200 mm). So in the end you have a choice between a very good lens, a very good lens and a very good lens.
    No, they don't: the 5D Mark I has a much lower pixel density than the 40D or 7D, so in a sense if a lens has lower resolution but can maintain this lower resolution across the 5D's larger sensor, a lens with a sufficiently high resolution can perform better. Most of the time, lenses perform worse on larger sensors.
     
  18. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

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    #18
    But TheReef's question was a really good one. What exactly do you intend to shoot most often? If it is landscapes, then you'll appreciate having more space and less weight in your bag as you hike around, and you'll never miss the f/2.8 aperture. The f/2.8 zooms in this range take up the better part of a camera bag--the amount of space that could be occupied by an additional lens or other gear or personal items. Those lenses are very bulky, and if you are hiking all day shooting landscapes, there are things you'll need a lot more than an f/2.8 aperture. And, as has already been pointed out, a 3.29-pound behemoth of a lens does start to weigh on you eventually.

    On the other hand, if you're shooting landscapes only occasionally, then maybe you'll benefit most from the greater subject separation that you can get with a wider aperture.

    So it really does help to know what you shoot most. If you haven't yet settled down on a specialty, then the most versatile lens will probably be best for you (i.e. an f/2.8 model). In my view, the 70-200 f/4L IS is a landscape lens. It's weather sealed, very sharp, super portable, space-saving, and even has IS for those situations where tripod use is not possible. If that list doesn't summarize your needs, then maybe it's not the lens for you.
     
  19. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #19
    For landscapes (where you presumably also carry a tripod or at the very least have enough light), wouldn't the non-IS version make more sense?
     
  20. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

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    #20
    No, that one isn't as sharp and isn't weather sealed. And you can't always use a tripod (archaeological parks forbid them, for example).

    As for having enough light: I wish! My favorite time to shoot landscapes is right around sunrise and sunset, when the light is very low.
     
  21. TheDrift- macrumors 6502a

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    #21
    The f4 is lighter and you are never gonna shoot landscapes at 2.8 (well very very very rarely i guess...(never say never))

    So with the F4 your you get a slight bump in IQ (over the non IS) and its Lighter..??

    Not entirely sure I'd agree with Phrasikleia thats its a landscape lens, I'd say a longish versatile zoom....but she can shoot landscapes better then most so..so i wouldn't disagree to heartily :)
     
  22. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #22
    Hmmm, I thought they both shared the same basic optical design (one of which modified for IS). I also didn't know about the lack of weather sealing of the non-IS version.
    I didn't know that, weird. (Even though I love hiking, most of the time I go mountain biking and then I don't take my dslr with me.)

    ----------

    Sorry, I should have been more precise: I was referring to the f/4 non-IS. But you're right.
     
  23. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #23
    Thanks for the compliment, TheDrift. :) Of course you're right that it's a good lens for general use. I just meant that it meets the needs of landscape photography perfectly, whereas it would be something short of perfect for most other uses. For shooting portraits or wildlife or sports, an f/2.8 lens will be that much better. But for landscapes, the f/4L IS leaves nothing wanting.

    No, the optics are entirely different. Tests and reviews across the board put the IS version ahead of the non-IS. It was for a while Canon's very sharpest zoom until the Mark II of the f/2.8 IS came along. The build quality is also different between the two because of the weather sealing.
     
  24. mulo, Jan 16, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2012

    mulo thread starter macrumors 68020

    mulo

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    #24
    The reason I didn't mention anything about what I shoot, is as you said, that I haven't settled on anything yet. I don't think I will even begin to before summer arrives either.

    As for landscapes - never say never - I just don't think that will be it, I happen to live in a very flat country..

    That much is clear, but I too presumed the additional sharpness was due to the IS?
     
  25. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #25
    Perhaps I didn't notice, because the non-IS also had very good optics and my mind conflated the two lenses. It's one of the few lenses I was jealous of as a Nikonian. :D
     

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