As most of you know, I shoot regularly with Canon’s EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM and have found it to be an incredible little lens. I’ve recently found that I needed a little more “reach” in certain landscape and commercial situations so I decided to try out one of John O’Connor’s favorite telephoto zooms, the EF 70-200mm f/4L USM and it’s younger brother the EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM.
I’ve always loved Canon’s telephoto zoom lenses in the “70-200mm” range and shot extensively with an old FD 70-210mm on my F-1N body in the days before digital. The EF 70-200mm lenses are both extremely sharp throughout their zoom range as you can see below in the MTF charts. I’d have loved to have evaluated the f/2.8L version of this lens but the price and size/weight convinced me to stick with the f/4 version. I finally settled on the newer, image stabilized lens so I could use it for landscape and commercial (hand-held) work.
I’ve got to say that this is one impressive lens. The size and weight are just about perfect for my 5D2 body and using the “Tripod Mounting Ring A II” the combination balances effortlessly on my Gitzo tripod. This is probably the sharpest Canon zoom I’ve ever shot with and the extra “reach” really helps cover those shots I was missing before.
No lens is perfect but this little beauty is close. My only gripes are that the image stabilization system is somewhat loud compared to my EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM and my EF 300mm f/4L IS USM lenses and that the ET-74 lens hood is very narrow and deep. This makes adjusting a CP filter a bit of a pain when shooting.
And finally, the price difference between the “IS” version and “non-IS” version is just plain wrong ($1135 versus $589). The two lenses are optically very similar and I just can’t imagine that adding image stabilization could double the price. I suspect that Canon has been selling the “non-IS” version at too low a price for many years now and is trying to make up some of the profit on the “IS” version.
Other than that, Canon’s EF 70-200mm f4L lenses are absolutely superb in terms of sharpness, size/weight and value (especially the non-IS version at less than $600 USD) and I highly recommend either of these two lenses for landscape, portrait or commercial photography. You won’t be disappointed.