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Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 or 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS

seths1
Apprentice
Hello All! I’m mainly a portrait photographer but plan on doing a lot of landscapes in the near future. Figured I should buy my first telephoto lens, and was wondering if I should buy a used 70-200mm f/4 or a 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS. I would like the f/2.8 L IS II but it is a little out of my budget. Is the couple hundred dollar jump used worth it from the f/4 to f/2.8 L IS? Thanks!
12 REPLIES 12

seths1
Apprentice
Also, I am using a Canon 6D which can handle lower light fairly well.

"...I am using a Canon 6D which can handle lower light fairly well."

 

That makes the f2.8 even a better choice. How much lower light levels, now will be useful.  It makes the f4 an, OK, I can get by because of my good performing camera.

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!

Waddizzle
Legend

@seths1 wrote:
Hello All! I’m mainly a portrait photographer but plan on doing a lot of landscapes in the near future. Figured I should buy my first telephoto lens, and was wondering if I should buy a used 70-200mm f/4 or a 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS. I would like the f/2.8 L IS II but it is a little out of my budget. Is the couple hundred dollar jump used worth it from the f/4 to f/2.8 L IS? Thanks!

Your model number references are a little confusing to me.  Is it the choice f/4L against the f/2.8L IS or f/2.8L IS II?

 

Yes, the added cost is well worth it in the case of the f/2.8L or the f/2.8L IS II.  The IS models, both f/4 and f/2.8, are weather sealed, while the non-IS models are not.  The EF 70-200mm f//2.8L IS II USM is a very sharp zoom lens, and very well built.

 

I strongly recommend buying the lens that you want, and not one to tide you over.  It is cheaper over the long run, because more likely than not, you will wind up buying the lens you really want, anyway.

--------------------------------------------------------
"The right mouse button is your friend."

I would get the 70-200mm f/4.0 IS because it is sharper than either the 70-200 f/4.0 or 70-200 f/2.8 IS. 

Here is how I would rate the cheaper, older 70-200s:

 

10/10 SUPER SHARP: 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II and 70-200mm f/4.0 IS
9/10 Very, Very Sharp: 70-200mm f/2.8
8/10 Very Sharp: 70-200mm f/2.8 IS and 70-200mm f4.0

Mike Sowsun
80D, 5D Mk III

I would go with the f/2.8 mark ii as it is extremely sharp and built like a tank. I used it as a dumbbell LOL. The combined weight of the lens and camera body 5Ds provides sufficient weight for poor man gym equipment.

 

seths1
Apprentice

For me it was the f/4 IS vs the f/2.8 IS, not the IS II. I realize now in my original post I forgot to add the IS for the f/4


@seths1 wrote:

For me it was the f/4 IS vs the f/2.8 IS, not the IS II. I realize now in my original post I forgot to add the IS for the f/4

Hmm, not the correction I expected.  But, the original choices had [struck] me like they were coming from left and right field.

 

Go for the f/2.8L.  Having a narrow aperture is what you might want in a portrait lens.  If you do not have a fast medium telephoto prime, then you might want to consider a lens like the EF 135mm f/2L USM.  Don't get too attached to the idea that you must have IS.  Besides, if you are shooting from a tripod, you really do [not] need or want it.

 

Food for thought.  The center AF point in nearly all Canon DSLRs are able to focus more accurately with lenses that are f/2.8, or faster.  Camera firmware seems to make exceptions for many of the L lenses.  I suspect the 70-200 f/4L lenses able to use the center AF point in "f/2.8 mode."

 

 

 

--------------------------------------------------------
"The right mouse button is your friend."

I bought the non-IS version of the 70-200 f2.8 back in 2005 and have never bothered to upgrade although it is a lens I use frequently.  I don't miss IS on this lens because I am typically shooting at fast shutter speeds; my EF 200, 300, 400, and 800 lens all have IS but it is something I rarely use with my typical shooting situations.  At some point I will probably upgrade the 70-200 but it isn't a high priority unless/until my current one breaks and it has traveled thousands of miles with me and has been on many long hikes and on the sidelines of hundreds of games on the second body so it is a very rugged and well built lens!

 

I agree with Waddizzle that the f2.8 is the way to go.  It is a little heavier and more expensive than the f4 version but you are likely to miss that extra stop at times in the future if you go with f4 and if you do any sport or action photography, the AF system will achieve faster focus with a f2.8 lens which is a huge consideration.

 

Rodger

EOS 1DX M3, 1DX M2, 1DX, 5DS R, 1D M2, EOS 650 (film), many lenses, XF400 video

ebiggs1
Legend

"I would get the 70-200mm f/4.0 IS because it is sharper ..."

 

No matter what lens discussion or choice you are making somebody will always say that. However, it is again a look at the whole package than it is looking at one spec like sharpness. The fact is in general photography almost all current lens are sharp enough.  Perhaps the f4 model is a tad bit sharper but is it work losing a full stop. The thing is if you have the f2.8 and don't need f2.8 you don't have to use it. On the other hand if you bought the f4 and now you need the f2.8 you can't use it.

Now I am not trying to say right or wrong but you should consider all the specs and not just one like which is sharpest.  Especially when it is more than likely not an issue in real time use.

 

IMHO, go the the f2.8 everytime.

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!
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