Shooting Canon’s 70-200mm f/4L USM Lens

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM LensAs most of you know, I shoot regularly with Canon’s EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens and have always found it to be an incredibly sharp and versatile little lens. Sometimes however, you just need a little more “reach” than this lens provides so I turn to another of my all-time 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 love to shoot the f/2.8L version of this lens but the price, size and weight convinced me to stick with the f/4 version. I also settled on the newer, image stabilized lens so I could use it for landscape and commercial (hand-held) work.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM MTF Charts

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.

Lower McKinney Falls

Lower McKinney Falls – Austin, Texas
Copyright © 2009 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on manual (M) using an EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod-mounted. The exposure was taken at 85mm, f/20 for 0.4 seconds at ISO 100. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3.
Click on the image above for a larger version.

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.

6 thoughts on “Shooting Canon’s 70-200mm f/4L USM Lens

  1. Hi Jeff,
    I’m also using the same 24-105L lens mounted on my 5DM2. It is not as sharp as I expected or as shown in your work. Could there be some adjustments that I should do?

  2. I agree with you that this is one great lens. I opted for the f2.8 version, however, because I do quite a lot of indoor shoots, including concerts etc., so I bit the cost bullet and don’t regret it – except when I am carrying it about outdoors, when the lighter f4 would be preferable. But you can’t win them all! (My general purpose lens is also the 24-205L and I agree with allthe good things you say about it).

  3. Indeed! Nice write up. I rented a 70-200 2.8/f to shoot a concert with and good God is that thing heavy. I much rather prefer my 70-200 4/f!

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