Philly Stan 2:13am, 1 September 2006
If you were going to select the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 IS or the f/4 IS which one would you choose and why?
tomKphoto Posted 13 years ago. Edited by tomKphoto (member) 13 years ago
The f4 is sharper and easier to carry, the I S is a shot saver ... if you're usually shooting in good conditions, I'd do the f4 and a prime or two for low light work
KNEU Photo 13 years ago
If you need a fast shutter - the f/2.8.
Robert Seber Posted 13 years ago. Edited by Robert Seber (member) 13 years ago
Is the f4 at f4 really sharper than the f2.8 at f4? I'd find it hard to choose between them - apart from cost, it is weight VS max aperture.
davedeluria 13 years ago
Here's my own opinion.

You can't make a slow lens behave like a fast one but you can make a fast lens slower.

I'd choose a 70-200 F2.8 non-IS before getting a 70-200 F4 IS. If image blur is a problem, I'd boost the ISO till I get 1/focal length shutter speed (if handheld). IS is not a magic bullet and it doesn't work very well for moving subjects.

As to the weight, I don't see it as an issue because if one is already willing to spend greater than US$1000 for a lens, it means one has already been bitten by the photography bug and knows one has to suffer to get those amazing shots.
Robert Seber 13 years ago
It seems to me that the f4 IS is aimed at wealthy travellers who want to travel light.
davedeluria 13 years ago
Wealthy (at least in my view) are non-pros who can afford overlapping focal lengths already. Those who have the F2.8 IS version would probably spring for the F4 IS version as well.

Canon sure doesn't make it easy (choosing lenses), but they give us more than enough rope to hang ourselves with.
starfish235 Posted 13 years ago. Edited by starfish235 (member) 13 years ago
@Rober Seber,

Looking at the specs carefully, this is one of the few cases where the slower lens is actually sharper when they are both stopped down to f4. it is truly a shame that Canon didn't open up the aperture another f-stop on the L-glass. I typically shoot my 200mm lens in poorly lite theatres, so I opted for a f2.8 (Nikkor) when I made my choice.
fensterbme 13 years ago
Not really in Compitition with Each Other:
I think they are different lenses for different audiences... The f/4 IS version is less than a grand I think, the f/2.8 IS version is $1,700 which is getting close to double the price for a single f/stop.

I think one of the reasons the f/4 version of the lens was so popular is that it produced stunning images for less than $600, this IS version is more and might be a streach for some but it fills a very real gap. If I'm normally shooting during daylight hours, etc. the f/4 version is likely fine. Also as mentioned above it's much lighter, so for backpackers it's great choice.

If Price and Weight Aren't an Issue, go for the f/2.8 :
If your not worried about weight, or the cost go for the f/2.8 IS.... Dave above is right, you can always stop down an f/2.8 lens, and IS is great, but not for subject motion blur so if you shoot in low light or very fast shutter speed is critical the f/2.8 is a requirement.

A Harder Question to Answer:
A better question that wouldn't be as easy to ask is: Canon 70-200mm f/4 IS VS. the non-IS version of the 70-200mm f/2.8. Prices are close enough to make it a tough choice...
RickKramer 13 years ago
The f/4 IS isn't out yet, but the suggested list price is going to be $1,249.
fensterbme 13 years ago
The f/4 IS price seems extremely salty... It costs over twice as much for image stabiliztion, what the heck? I think this is a big profit margin lens for them (as with probably most IS lenses).
Philly Stan 13 years ago
But it makes sense, IS is usually $400-500 extra, although thats not the case on the 28-135mm IS. I wonder if they will roll a rebate with it to wet some wistles.
de|me|tris: Posted 13 years ago. Edited by de|me|tris: (member) 13 years ago
Is it a fair comparison between the 70-200mm f/2.8 @ f/4 and the 70-200mm f/4 @ f/4?

I think not.

Perhaps better to compare both at say f/5.6 where neither is at their maximim aperture.

If anyone would like to give me one for free I'd happily run the tests.

This could take a loooooong time... ;-)
fensterbme Posted 13 years ago. Edited by fensterbme (admin) 13 years ago
@Philly Stan: Your right, the IS usually costs an a lot extra... In the case of the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L the IS costs another $550 or so...

But in the case of the 70-200mm f/4 the base lens is about $600 or less, the MSRP for the IS version is $650 more which is higher than the upgrade to go from the f/2.8L to the f/2.8L IS by about $100 or more. On a percentage basis it's much higher though (about 65% more than the base lens VS. the IS version on the f/2.8) at over 100% increase in price over the non-IS version of the lens.
Philly Stan 13 years ago
@Fenerstbeme - maybe Robert hit the nail on the head, Canon's target on this might be those that want a lite L lens that has both the reach of the 70-200mm and the Image Stabilization.
Ranger Pete 2/75 Posted 13 years ago. Edited by Ranger Pete 2/75 (member) 13 years ago
Actually, with Sony having IS/VR built in to the camera, and others coming out with that feature, Expensive IS/VR in lenses is going to have to get cheaper one way or another.

Canon LOST 1/3 of its sales in July to Sonys new SLR in Japan... Sony now has 21% DSLR market share - in one month! Canon went DOWN from over 50% to 33% - in one month!

Canon says they aren't going to engage in a price war?

Sony already did... 21% market share in Japan in one month...

In lens IS/VR is gonna get cheaper real soon...


Added Link: July DSLR Sales

- Zara - Posted 13 years ago. Edited by - Zara - (member) 13 years ago
The f/4 IS sports a number of upgrades to the original 70-200 f/4. First of all there is the addition of IS, then you have added weather sealing, circular diaphragm, distance information transfer for flash metering as well as improved coatings. I guess that is how Canon is justifying the extreme price difference between the IS and non-IS version of the 70-200 f/4.

Either way, as mentionied before, the f/2.8 versions become really attractive with the MSRP of USD 1250.- for the f/4 IS if you don't mind the extra weight. I am hoping that in a year's time street prices will come down to around USD 1000.- which is when the f/4 IS version would become interesting for myself.
Steve.Korn Posted 13 years ago. Edited by Steve.Korn (member) 13 years ago
One thing that hasn't been mentioned is that with lenses that have f/2.8 or larger, cross-type AF is possible with the center focus point. This translates into faster, sharper focusing than lenses that do not open as wide.

This is a big deal if you are shooting anything other than portraits. I shoot my kids alot while they are running around and I think it makes a huge difference. Another advantage is the quality of bokeh at 2.8 is amazing. I have the non-IS 70-200 2.8. I think this photo demonstrates both issues I mention. My son was running when I shot this. Amazing focus, and bokeh at 2.8. f/4 won't quite get this.

I hear that the IS version is not as sharp and is heavier. If IS is not that big an issue. Get the non-IS. I got mine used for $900. Can't go wrong.
Ryan Brenizer 13 years ago
I also think the price tag on the f/4 IS is too high, especially since it's so often target at amateur sports-shooters. IS on a 200mm is virtually useless for fast action.
Ryan Brenizer 13 years ago
Also, Sony had 21 percent of marketshare *for* one month, a month before Canon and Nikon released new models. But the point is well-taken.
fensterbme 13 years ago
@RangerPete275: Sony is just replacing Minolta in the marketplace...

Sony is just Replacing Minolta:
The fact the Sony moving up shouldn't be suprsing and doesn't really change the game (yet). Sony bought Konica/Minolta and Minolta was the 3rd largest system going, so it's not suprising where Sony ended up after releasing the first Minolta compatiable camera in how long?

Compitiion is Good, but will take a Long Time to Really Bring Prices Down for high end Product:
Canon didn't release any product during this time, Sony release the first new product for the Minolta guys in a LONG time. Let's see how it trends out over the next 12 months. Will Sony eat more of Nikon and Canon's marketshare I think it's safe to say yes... I think Sony will be come a bigger player in the entry level/consumer DSLR market but I think it will be a while before they have a serious offering for people who are really demanding. So I think you will see prices drop, but not substantially for higher end lenses and accessories... It will also happen slowly over time.

My Thoughts on the Alpha: It's kind of off-topic here, but I messed around with the Alpha and it feels and looks like a toy (in it's design and in how it felt in it's construction). the lens feels like a toy, and unless I'm an idiot (which is a distinct possibity) I couldn't figure out how to manually focus the camera on the lens itself. I think the Alpha is a great for the "I want a DSLR but don't want to buy all those confusing lenses, etc." average joe customer, or a Minolta customer who is trying to keep thier investment in glass, etc. alive.
John Goldsmith 13 years ago
I just want to say that I got the 70-200mm f/2.8 and I have no regrets. None. I looked at the f/4 and thought about the IS, but the 2.8 non-IS lens is a champ and perfect for my needs. It is my hands-down favorite, and as heavy as it is, I find it on my camera most often. It acted like a star during several low-light events with acrobatic performers on stage. As folks have said above, the IS does nothing to prevent motion blur but the 2.8 is really fabulous and sharp and those are my 2 or 3 cents.
Philly Stan 13 years ago
@ Waxy Poetic: There is no doubt that the 70-200mm produces some very sharp images, but why would the Non-IS version produce a sharper image than the IS version? The glass and elements are identical aren't they?
John Goldsmith 13 years ago
@Philly . . . I can't answer your questions, but if it were me, I would focus my decision making on how I would use the lens and NOT the sharpness of each lens. I think each will be sharp enough, though I have no data to back this opinion. That said, conceptually I can understand that having more parts, thus complexity, could make the IS images softer. There are a lot of working parts inside these lenses and the quality of an image is not just from the glass but how it all works in unison.

One note about my picture taking philosophy is that when it comes to taking photographs, I don't get discouraged by low-lighting. I either just try to find a solution (e.g., 1600 or 3200 ISO and -2EV), or find something else to photograph. The only time I would ever get upset about a situation is if I were working an event and particular photograph were required and the lighting was dead dark. But that seems rare and I have a 580EX flash that I am comfortable using. For my art work, the low light would not matter. As I said, I would find something else to photograph.

On my professional website, my opening photograph was taken using this lens fully extended to 200mm.

1/250s, f/2.8, 200 mm, 1600ISO

I hope that helps you!
starfish235 Posted 13 years ago. Edited by starfish235 (member) 13 years ago
...why would the Non-IS version produce a sharper image than the IS version? The glass and elements are identical aren't they?

No, the 70-200mm lenses aren't identical. Image stabilization (IS) needed a little more redesign than just jittering an existing element.

EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM has 23 elements in 18 groups
EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM has 18 elements in 15 groups

EF70-200mm f/4L IS USM has 20 elements in 15 groups
EF 70-200mm f/4L USM has 16 elements in 13 groups

Regarding image quality, the two f2.8 lenses are very close in performance especially on an APS-C sensor. However, each lens is slightly better and slightly worse than the other one ... all at the same time ... it kind of depends on which part of the image you're judging.
tomKphoto 13 years ago
I didn't mean to offend anyone on the f4 version being sharper than the IS version. It doesn't mean you should purchase one over the other, just don't think you're getting an inferior product if you spend almost a 1000USD less ... actually, the f4 is quite a bargain.
David Tyner Posted 13 years ago. Edited by David Tyner (member) 13 years ago
I own a 70-200f/2.8 non-IS. There have been times when IS would have been nice. I was photographing moving water and to get the softened effect I was looking for it required a shutter speed of 1/25 ish which made it hard to not blur the stationary objects in the frame by camera shake. Of course a tripod would have fixed the problem. Also I think IS might be nice for panning shots to prevent vertical camera shake.

While we are talking about matchups this is a photo by a contact of mine
Canon 70-200f/2.8 non-IS vs concrete stairs

edit: Whoops, I did not answer the question. f4 is really too slow for any type of indoor sports, concerts, and places with bad lighting where you need to freeze the action. As many have said already IS only helps camera shake so if you shoot action in low light a lot then 2.8 all the way.
Philly Stan 13 years ago
@fensterbme: I tend to agree with you on the Canon pricing model, if they price this up against the Non-IS f/2.8 it will simply migrate customers from one product to another rather than fill a void in the Canon product offer. It would make for sense for the price to be $900 to $950, but the market may drive that.

@stvkrn: fastastic image and I think you hit the nail on the head for me. With the f/2.8 you get faster and sharper focusing, this is something that I'm most definitly looking for and have on my Tokina 28-80 f/2.8

@tomKphoto: I certainly don't think that you've offended anyone, and based on the other L lenses out there, the 70-200 f/4 really is a bargain. It comes back to something that you said, if your shooting in good conditions, the f/4 will do the job. I recently purchased the Tokina 28-80 f/2.8 and while it can't compare to a Canon L lens, it spoiled me from the perspecitve of using it with available light and fast/sharp focusing. Even faster than my 28-135mm IS.

While I don't plan on shooting in low light, I'm sure the situation will come up yet again as it did a couple of weeks ago and I was properly geared.

@starfish235: Thank You for the clarification, there is nothing like the facts to shed some light on the question..
Philly Stan 13 years ago
@crag spider: I think we can all say, "just say no to flip flops....."
fensterbme Posted 13 years ago. Edited by fensterbme (admin) 13 years ago
@Philly Stan: Check out this little article from Canon's Broadcast division about how Optical Image Stabilization works. Has a little interactive thingy that gives you a good idea.
Philly Stan 13 years ago
@fensterbme: Way cool, thanks! IS is for me...I'm a believer. The weight factor is a considerable concern, but one easily dealt with.
shoothead Posted 13 years ago. Edited by shoothead (member) 13 years ago
I haven't read this whole thread (time sensitive) so sorry if sombody has mentioned this, but the 2x extender works fully with f2.8 lenses, not f4.


(edit below)

k - I have a few seconds now. The f4 does not auto-focus with the 2x extender. Who would use a 2x extender with the 70-200? Somebody that doesn't have the 100-400 I suppose. It does auto-focus with the f2.8. So there is a MAJOR difference there. I have no doubt that all of these lenses produce sharp images. I have three of them actually (I don't have access to the f4 IS yet). The 2.8 IS is a heavy beast, so that's a factor. BUT - it's awesome, and here's a pic.

watching the sunset

As far as motion blur, yeah yeah but you can still use the IS to get below the "shutter speed should at least equal focal lenght" rule. The seal was moving, albiet slowly, but the IS helped prevent camera shake.

daverice 13 years ago
I own a number of L series lenses. The 70-200 f2.8 IS is an awesome lens. It is very sharp, the IS work really well, and the low capabilities are fantatsic. Of all my L series glass this lens consistantly does great job. Of all my lenses this is the one I can't imagine being without.
Cinny Lou Who 12 years ago
Resurrecting an old one here, but I'm having this dilemma myself right now. When you all say "low light" are we talking about almost dark or just indoors (example: a church)? Thanks.
Keegan Bursaw Posted 12 years ago. Edited by Keegan Bursaw (member) 12 years ago
I've been wondering this too. The word "low light" is thrown around a lot without being specified. I'll be purchasing some version of the 70-200 at the end of the summer, and these discussions have played a part in my research.

edit. spelling
PaulSteinJC Posted 12 years ago. Edited by PaulSteinJC (member) 12 years ago
I recently purchased the 70-200 f4 IS and the lens is great. Yes, the f2.8 is a fantastic lens. The f4 IS is lighter and less expensive. I can easily carry the f4 IS around all day.

fensterbme 12 years ago
@Cinny Who Who-: Not almost dark, then not even f/2.8 would be fast enough at the focal lengths that lens has... for really dark spaces you need prime lenses and high ISO.

Wedding photographer's love and use the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS all the time, it's a workhorse for the longer shots.

@_PaulS_: The f/2.8L IS is a beast and definately weights you down... that said I spend the better part of three days with it hanging off my shoulder in my Crumpler bag this last weekend. If I did a lot of outdoors stuff, yeah the f/4 IS is a wonderful option...
scubapup 12 years ago
i own a 2.8 IS and have held and shot a 4.0 IS

the 4.0 is so ridiculously light, it feels like a toy compared to the 2.8, it feels even lighter than the 24-70 2.8

based on photozone review, the 4.0 IS is canon's sharpest zoom so far, that's by their testing

if you dont need the 2.8, the 4.0 is a very worthy lens
JB01929291047 12 years ago
Not to bring this topic on a tangent, but just for clarification (about the alpha)...

Fensterbme - the manual mode is not on the lens itself, it uses a switch on the side of the camera right below the lens release button. Sony kept that design when they bought Minolta.
tomKphoto 12 years ago
i'm thinking seriously about adding an f4 IS for this wedding season ... hearing raves about the new IS and the new lens is very sharp wide open with the same buttery bokeh as the 2.8 (at the same opening).
fensterbme 12 years ago
@JB: Yeah never would have figured for that... Kinda weird (at least to a guy who is mostly familar with Canon and Nikon), the Alpha was kind of a weird camera and felt cheaply constructed...

Will be interested to see if the build quality is a bit more professional when Sony brings the other higher end models to market.
Cinny Lou Who 12 years ago
Ugh....I did it. Bought the 2.8 IS. Tell me I didn't make a horrible mistake. :) I have to say, from what I've seen so far, it's a pretty nice lens, but it's definitely going to give my wrist a workout.
Philly Stan 12 years ago
No mistake, it a great lens. I carry it with me on almost evey trip I take, it never disappoints and actually will cause you to spend more money to purchase on other L lenses.
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