Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS Lens Review
Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens
Most of these shots were taken with old cameras (Canon 10D and 40D). Images from more recent cameras with up to date sensor technology will look a lot better.
Since I moved to a mirrorless EOS M system I have used mainly EF-M native lenses and haven't used my larger EF lenses very much because the whole point of moving to a mirrorless system was to have smaller and lighter gear.
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS | Canon EOS M | ISO:125 | Aperture: f/7.1 | Shutter Speed: 1/1250s | Focal length: 160mm
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS | Canon 40D | ISO:200 | Aperture: f/6.3 | Shutter Speed: 1/60s | Focal length: 200mm
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS | Canon 40D | ISO:200 | Aperture: f/4 | Shutter Speed: 1/160s | Focal length: 200mm
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS | Canon 40D | ISO:200 | Aperture: f/5 | Shutter Speed: 1/800s | Focal length: 200mm
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS | Canon 40D | ISO:200 | Aperture: f/5.6 | Shutter Speed: 1/500s | Focal length: 70mm
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS | Canon 10D | ISO:200 | Aperture: f/5.6 | Shutter Speed: 1/800s | Focal length: 155mm
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS | Canon 10D | Canon EF 1.4x II Extender | ISO:200 | Aperture: f/5.6 | Shutter Speed: 1/200s | Focal length: 280mm
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS | Canon 10D | ISO:200 | Aperture: f/8 | Shutter Speed: 1/60s | Focal length: 200mm
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS | Canon 40D | ISO:400 | Aperture: f/4 | Shutter Speed: 1/250s | Focal length: 97mm
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS | Canon 40D | ISO:200 | Aperture: f/8 | Shutter Speed: 1/500s | Focal length: 200mm
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS | Canon 40D | ISO:400 | Aperture: f/4 | Shutter Speed: 1/100s | Focal length: 200mm
I used a Canon FD 70-210mm f/4 lens between 1982 and 2003 with my Canon A1 and Canon T90 bodies. It was a lens I was very fond of and with which I took many good photos. After I made the move to digital in 2004, I was keen to invest in the EF version of this lens so bought the non-IS f/4 version (an IS version being unavailable at the time).
I was pleased with my purchase but the third EF lens I bought - a Canon EF 300mm f/4L IS - made me realise just what an amazing feature Image Stabilisation is. The 1.6x crop factor, although very welcome for telephoto, made hand-holding the non-IS lens even more difficult.
When the IS version of the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L lens was announced I upgraded almost immediately. Apart from the obvious advantage of IS, it is a far better lens than the non-IS version. I can only imagine this is because of newer lens coatings, etc.
It focuses particularly well on the 10D and produces the best images of any lens I have ever owned. For its size and weight, it is truly remarkable.
The f/2.8L version is undoubtedly a fine lens with superb optics (the Mark II version is even better) but for me it is just too big, bulky and heavy. When I carry my 300mm lens around all day, weighing 1190g, I invariably come home with backache and the Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS - at 1470g - is even heavier. It's a beast of a lens, especially up against the f/4L IS which, at 760g, feels as light as a feather in comparison.
After using Image Stabilisation, it is very difficult to go back to lenses that don't have the feature. Pressing the shutter button half-way has the same effect as a giant pair of hands coming out of nowhere to help steady the lens.
The latest generation of IS is claimed to give a four-stop advantage and this is quite believable. Although not the best photos I have taken, some of the photos above were taken hand-held at 1/15s and they are quite useable without any real visible camera shake. The IS mechanism in this lens is significantly better than that used in the Canon EF 300mm f/4L IS.
The lens works particularly well with the Canon EF 1.4x II extender showing little, if any, degradation in image quality. Focusing is also very good with the extender - even with a 10D - whereas I haven't found this to be the case with the Canon EF 300mm f/4L IS.
The maximum reach with the extender is 280mm, therefore close to 300mm but with a very useful zoom range that extends from 98mm. At the bullfighting event shown in the photos above, the EF 300mm f/4L IS was too long for many shots but the EF 70-200mm f/4L IS plus 1.4x extender proved to be very versatile.
The image quality of the EF 70-200mm f/4L IS used with the EF 1.4x II extender was better than the EF 300mm f/4L IS prime without the extender and the focusing was much better resulting in a lot more keepers. It is no longer the case that prime lenses give better image quality than zooms.
This particular zoom lens will leave most prime lenses dead in the water in terms of image quality and the focusing is spot on almost every time. After acquiring this lens I grew so dissatisfied with my EF 300mm f/4L that I sold it and bought the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L.
With the Canon EF 1.4x II extender
For more image samples of this lens when used with the 1.4 extender, see: Canon EF 1.4x II Extender/Teleconverter.
It actually works very well. The auto-focusing isn't quite as fast and if you pixel peep the image quality isn't quite as good, but in real world situations these things are almost unnoticeable.
Would I Buy One Now?
Definitely. As I write, it has just been confirmed that Canon will be announcing a third iteration of this lens. Every new lens is an improvement on the lens it replaces, but some lenses are very difficult to improve upon. This is a good example.
When I moved from the non-IS EF 70-200mm f/4L to this one, the image quality was only marginally better. It was actually difficult to detect much improvement. The really big improvement was the 4-stop Image Stabilisation system, which works extremely well.
This lens has great image quality and great IS. When the Mark 2 version of the EF 70-200mm f/4L IS arrives it will be better than this one, but how much better? It will certainly be a lot more expensive.
I really rate this lens.
Images were shot in RAW format and converted with Adobe Camera Raw. Noise was reduced using Imagenomic Noiseware Professional. Small amounts of image enhancement were applied using Adobe Photoshop CS2 (curves, levels, saturation) before sharpening using the Smart Sharpen filter (Amount: 30% - 120%, Radius: 0.2px - 0.3px, Remove: Lens Blur).
The large JPG images that open if you click on a thumbnail were saved with a 'High' quality setting of '8' on a scale of 0-12.
Weight: 26.8 oz; 760 g
Filter Diameter: 67mm
Closest Focusing Distance: 3.9ft; 1.2m
Minimum Aperture: f/32
Maximum Aperture: f/4
Autofocus: Ring-Type Ultrasonic Motor
Serial Number: 201788
Lens Code: UU1000
Date Manufactured: October 2006
Date Purchased: December 2006
Supplier: Cathay Photo, Singapore
Price: 1,863.75 Singapore dollars
Lens Hood: ET-74 (included)
Soft Case: LP1224 (included)
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