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« Pentax Optio WS80 waterproof camera | Main | Canon 50D review »

Comparison Between Canon EF 70-200 ƒ2.8L and Canon EF 70-200 ƒ4L IS



I'm always looking for equipment that will allow me to work quicker and faster with less effort, yet will still give me superlative results.

Recently, I had an opportunity to test two Canon lenses, both in the same zoom length, but with different attributes. In short, I came away feeling like the new Canon EF 70-200 ƒ4L IS fulfilled my quest in the medium telephoto lens range.

Now the details. I have owned the Canon EF 70-200 ƒ2.8L for many years, and it is still considered to be one of the sharpest lenses Canon has ever made. And with a maximum aperture of f2.8, it's great for shooting in low light or making images with very shallow depth of field.

But as my work has shifted more and more to handheld lifestyle images, I've wanted to lighten the load when holding a lens up to my eyes for hours at a time. Further, since I am shooting people who may be moving in the scenarios we create, I prefer to shoot with a bit of depth of field, usually at ƒ5.6.

The Canon EF 70-200 ƒ4L IS caught my eye because it is about half the weight of the f2.8 lens, and has a smaller footprint with length and circumference. And it has image stabilization to help shoot in the low light situations to boot.

As I've said in past reviews, my tests are more about how a piece of equipment works for my set of circumstances. As such, it is not so much about the specs as it is about the feel of things. So, my results?

When I tested the two lenses side by side, the f4 lens was amazingly sharp, certainly the equal of the f2.8. These two images certainly show that. Moreover, because the lens is lighter and smaller, it was much more comfortable (even in my big hands), and was not as imposing when I picked it up to shoot. I was happy to shoot it wide open at F4, and the results were great. Nice fall-off and excellent contrast.

And I found it able to focus as quickly or quicker than the f2.8. I mention that because Canon builds their autofocus systems so that in theory f2.8 lenses have more focusing capability on the center AF point. But I did not find this to be the case in comparing the two lenses, even when using one of the far right or far left focus points.

Having been in this business for so long, it's wonderful to see an advance in lens formulation that allows me to work quicker and faster, with less effort, and still gives me the superlative results I demand.

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