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4.9 out of 5 stars
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras
Price:$1,199.00 + Free shipping with Amazon Prime
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929 of 940 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 2007
I have owned at one point or another all Canon's 70-200mm's with exception of the f/2.8 non-IS, along with a decent amount of other Canon L glass. Hence this review will be from the perspective of someone who may be deciding whether or not to add this piece of glass to their matured L collection or someone who is deciding on this lens versus another 70-200mm. If you are instead someone who has already decided on this lens and is looking for one last push to click the buy button, consider this, and the 25 reviews below it, as your green light.

First up, let's talk about the obvious good. This lens carries with it the most advanced IS drive to date, yielding an incredible 4-stops of stabilization. In real life, it is infact four full stops of stabilization. No kidding. For non-moving subjects, this lens becomes an effective 70-200mm f/1.4 as far as handholdability is concerned. When there is subject movement, however, realize that f/4 is still your true aperture and motion blur will be inherent.

As for the not-so-obvious good, this 70-200mm version has the highest image quality out of any of the other 70-200mm's. CA, vignetting, and sharpness is the best with this lens. Lens weight and balance is also the best in comparison to what it offers: it's only slightly heavier than the f/4 with all that IS goodness and not even close to as heavy as the f/2.8 IS with it's one-stop advantage.

The Bad. I always try to find something I dislike with each lens. For some L lenses, it gets tough and I have to get picky, such as with the 135mm f/2L or the 180mm F/3.5L. This lens sits in that catagory. I would have to say I dislike the non-petal shaped lens hood. Yep. That's about it. Wish I could say more here. For the price, this really is a superior buy.

Let's do some comparing.

Against the 70-200mm f/4L: The 'baby' of the 70-200mm line, it's half the price. So is the IS drive worth the ~500 bucks? Well to answer that question, you must realize the limitation of f/4. F/4 usually means sharp glass that's lightweight and cheap, of good value. But it also means more than enough light for sunny days, but never enough for cloudy days, indoors, just after dusk, just before sunrise, during inclement whether, or any other time when shooting conditions are optimal for great pictures. So do you plan on using this lens without a tripod (or flash) ever during these times? If you answer yes (even if you didn't, you will), you might become frustrated with the f/4 non-IS version over time and seek to upgrade, or continuously pack a tripod for which you will also need to buy the lens tripod ring. (Do realize however, that neither the f/4 non-IS or the f/4 IS will serve you well when it comes to indoor action. For that, you'll have to move up the chain to the f/2.8.) From my personal experience, the f/4 IS also delivers an increased dynamic range near the highlights, slightly more saturation, and slightly less CA in comparison to the f/4 non-IS.

The f/2.8L non-IS: I have never owned this lens, so I can only speak by stats and offer a little limited advice. They are both nearly equal in price, so let's talk about the differences. The f/2.8 is built better (more metal and sealing) and comes with a tripod ring (plus that envious petal-shaped hood). It shares the weather sealed mount and near-equal image quality (the f/4 IS is slight sharper). And you of course gain a stop in aperture but lose IS. So which is better? Since stat-wise they are so close, I would ask what your intentions are. Are you primarily a landscape photographer or an event photographer? More pictures of your kids or more of slow-moving objects. Both lenses do low-light well, it's just that if your shots have little moving in them, you are much better off with the f/4 and to use a flash when the shots do include movement. If your shots almost always include a lot of movement, go with the f/2.8 (but you should really consider the f/2.8 IS).

The f/2.8 IS. The moving versus non-moving distinction is so important that I actually ended up owning BOTH the f/2.8 IS and the f/4 IS. Why? Because the f/2.8 IS is the strongest contender for low-light event work out of the 70-200 line, yet offers the worst in image quality. The image quality difference between the f/4 and the f/2.8 is nothing short of significant. You simply do not use the f/2.8 to generate fine art as it's image quality does not allow it (in my spoiled rotten opinion. In fact, until the f/4 IS came along, I didn't think any of the 70-200's were suitable for this task.) So I utilize the f/2.8 for event work and the f/4 for everything else I need a 70-200mm zoom for. As a side note, the f/2.8 maintains a 3 stop IS drive while the f/4 maintains a 4 stop drive. This means both lenses maintain the same effective 70-200mm f/1.4 aperture. Add all this up, and my recommendation is to go with the 70-200mm f/4 IS and save ~$550 unless you are a professional wedding, model, or event photographer, or if you consistently shoot family or moving objects in low light.

Another comparison: the 135mm f/2L. Roughly the same price, this lens maintains an ultra fast aperture with superior image quality at a loss of versatility. The 70-200mm f/4 IS behaves better with the 1.4x extender. These two lenses tie a lot when it comes to choosing a lens to pack. Basically, if I know exactly the type of shooting environment I'll be walking into (that maintains room for sneaker zooming) and recognize the need for superior bokeh, maximum image quality, or fast shutter speeds, then the 135 it is. Otherwise, I'll pack the 70-200 f/4 IS. If you are deciding between this lens and the 135 for purchase, choose the 135 if your main intention is for portraiture, still life, or low-light arena photography (football, moster trucks, tennis, etc).

The 70-200mm F/4 IS is basically your go-to lens for day hikes, airshows (with 1.4x extender, or unless you own a 300mm f/4 or better), fireworks, any landscaping in low (and therefore good) light, and anything else in which your camera will act as if it's been secured to a tripod while you take a 4-stop stabilized shot.

Due to it's heavy usage as a landscape lens, I have attached a B+W polarizer (67mm filter size) and just left it on. I advise using only the best filters for this lens, don't ruin its image quality with some el cheapo filter.

-The exterior casing from the zoom ring back to the mount is actually hard plastic. It still feels nice and reduces the weight. The rest of the lens exterior is the typical L-grade metal.
-The lens does not come with a nice case. A Lowepro 4s case is recommended.
-The IS drive is one of the quietest I've heard yet. Almost silent.

Conclusion: An absolute great value as far as L glass goes. A joy to use for photographers new to IS and an attraction for professionals dissapointed with the image quality and weight of the 70-200mm F/2.8 IS, whom may be looking to round out their event photography with landscape work. If you are completely unsure of what you might run into in the field and need the most general setup you can achieve, packing this lens with the 24-70mm or the 24-105mm is all you need.
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381 of 388 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 9, 2006
With over 100 lenses produced for Canon EOS system, finding the right lenses can overwhelm even the experienced photographers. My search for walkaround lens took over two months of research and auditioning. After choosing Canon's EF 17-40mm f/4L USM as a walkaround lens and EF 50mm f/1.4 USM as a portrait lens, my attention shifted toward telephoto. A bit of background info. My current DSLR body is Digital Rebel XTi (EOS 400D). I plan on upgrading to full frame DSLR body next, so I only look at EF lenses (no EF-S) with solid build quality (it needs to be around to serve the next camera).

At first, finding a telephoto lens seemed almost as easy as portrait lens. Professional reviewers alike hail EF 70-200mm f/4L USM for top-notch build quality and superb optical performance at a reasonable price. (EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM and EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM are too heavy, large, and expensive for my needs.) 70-200mm focal range is just about ideal for me, which becomes 112-320mm in 35mm print format. I took many fantastic pictures with it, but quickly found a problem. Without a tripod, telephoto isn't easy to shoot. With 17-40mm lens, I can take well-focused images shot after shot. Even under challenging light, I can hit fairly high percentage of photos without flash. At 200mm, situations get considerably trickier. Under very good lighting, I can take one great looking photo after another. Under somewhat limited light, however, I found myself with rather high percentage of out-of-focus photos. Increasing the ISO speed helped a good deal, but even that has a limit. Eventually, I found myself depending on the tripod for reliable results.

Then I saw EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM. At nearly twice the price tag, I was very reluctant at first. Then I was given the opportunity to play with it in person. To my surprise, it weighs and sized about the same as non-IS counterpart. And it has super-state-of-the-art 4-stop (!) image stabilizer with panning mode and tripod detection. After selling EF 70-200mm f/4L USM at a minimal loss (L-series lenses tend to have very high resale value), I saved up for IS.

Weighing in at 1.68 lbs., it is only slightly heavier than non-IS and about half as heavy as f/2.8 counterparts. At 3" width and 6.8" length, it is also considerably smaller than f/2.8. Even on comparatively small Digital Rebel XTi, it does not feel entirely out of place. Thanks to inner focus, the lens does not extend nor rotate during focusing or zooming. It stays at 6.8" at all time. As to be expected, its ring-type USM with full-time manual override is silky smooth and fast. Simply a pleasure to use.

The lens has 4 switches, (1) focus limiter (sets minimum focus distance of 1.2m or 3m... a bit far in my opinion, but then again, this is a telephoto lens), (2) auto/manual focus, (3) image stabilizer, and (4) stabilizer mode (regular mode 1 or panning mode 2). The image stabilizer is simply fantastic. As with other image stabilizer, it is not effective at stopping subject in motion. Once IS is switched on, it kicks in with a satisfying click when you press the shutter button half way. Click all the way and you may be able to say goodbye (at least see you later) to tripod.

So how does it perform? The sharpness is simply amazing, almost as sharp as my benchmark EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens from center-to-edge. All in all, images were even better than non-IS counterpart, with smooth and more vibrant color, no noticeble barrel distortion, vignetting, nor chroma aberrations.

Also noteworthy is new circular aperture blades (8 of them), creating prettiest blur effects (bokeh) you will ever see. Thanks to Super Spectra coatings, it is even better at suppressing flare than non-IS and f/2.8 counterparts. Simply put, this is one of the most state-of-the-art zoom lenses Canon has produced.

As with other L-series lenses, it comes with a carrying pouch and a lens hood. It accepts 67mm filters.

- 4-stop image stabilizer.
- Not too heavy. Not too large.
- Amazing build quality.
- Great image quality with very nice bokeh.
- Top-notch focus mechanism.

- Expensive.
- IS will use more battery.
- f/4 aperture may not be fast enough for some.
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129 of 131 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2006
Like used Honda's and Acura's, this Canon lens is destined to command a high resale dollar.

I traded in my Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM lens for this new lens. The colour of this lens is a slightly darker off-white (almost gray-white) than the non-IS version. So, if you have an older Canon Tripod Mount Ring A (W), you may see a slight colour mismatch. Personally, not a big deal by any means. The instruction manual illustrates and refers to their new Canon Ring-Type Tripod Mounting Socket A II (W) which I have not seen in colour to see if it is an exact colour match for this lens.

Mated to my tripod mounted Canon Digital Rebel XT set at ISO 100, the lens appeared sharper than the non IS version from f/4 through to f/18 for the majority of it's focal length. For this particular lens, optimum images were obtained at f/7.1 at 70mm and f/9 at the other focal lengths.

Flare is better controlled than the non IS version.

Bokeh has improved with the new round eight aperture leaves.

Colour and contrast have dramatically improved with the new UD glass.

With the Image Stabilization (IS) activated on Mode 1, there were more useable images taken at 4 stops below the usual minimum recommended settings at all focal lengths.

According to Canon Canada, the IS DOES NOT automatically shut off like Canon's EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM, EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L IS USM, Super Telephoto and Diffractive Optic lenses. But, the battery will continue to drain while the IS is on as per the instruction manual.

Because I could not find any third party substitutes, I recommend purchasing their expensive Canon tripod collars in either white or black. It optimally structurally stabilizes the lens/camera assembly. For weight reduction, you can always remove the collar.

This lens and the Canon EF 17-40mm f/4 L USM lens mounted on my Canon 5D is all I need to capture almost all of my images.

A word of caution: check each lens for foreign particles between the front and adjacent lens elements. I saw one lens with a large piece of something stuck onto the element immediately behind the front element.

UPDATE (13-July-2007): Please see my sample photos with this lens taken af F4.0 with the IS activated. This zoom lens is even better than my trusty old Nikkor AF-D 80-200 F2.8 IF-ED!
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68 of 72 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 2007
I owned the 70-200 f/4L for two years and loved it - sharp, contrasty, almost a perfect lens. But, I started to shoot night HS football and it was coming up short. I needed speed. So I sold the f/4 and bought the f/2.8. I ran some testing with both before I sold the f/4 and they were pretty evenly matched except for 1) price - the f/2.8 cost 2X, weighed 2X, and was a full stop faster. But - it was too heavy to carry around. I found myself looking for excuses to not carry it. Trust me, it is big and heavy. So, recently I picked up the 70-200f/4 IS. The IS on this lens is unbelievable. Even with the 1.4X teleconverter, at 280mm, I can hand hold it at 1/15th of a second. This is a miracle. It is supersharp, super contrast, and extremely light and hand holdable. It is the lens that dreams are made of. Most issues in low light are due to hand shake, not subject movement, especially with a telephoto. Expensive, well, yes. But a keeper.
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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2009
Verified Purchase
I'm a semi-professional photographer, mostly dealing with landscape and portrait photography. After using this lens, my first thought was the truthfulness of reviews, made by the trusted sites such as dpreview. I've used many brands such as sigma, tamron as well as various canon lenses. This is the best one I've ever used in many ways.

I won't make detailed comparisons but FYI this lens beats my favorite "24-105 f/4 L IS" in sharpness. I made some test shots by using both lenses on a tripod, using various focal distances and aperture values. Colors, saturation and contrast levels seemed nearly indifferent to me but 70-200's sharpness was incredible. In one of the reviews it was mentioned that "70-200 acts like a prime lens in every focal distance" and that's true in my opinion.

Many reviews effectively and truthfully acknowledged the pros of this lens. IMO the most crucial issue is deciding on the "relevance" of this lens for your needs. Here's what I think;

1) Don't hesitate to spend extra money for the IS feature. It is a vital feature (especially for a telephoto lens) in lowlight situations. I was able to get pretty good handheld shots above 100 mm. with low shutter speeds such as 1/30.

2) Remember that bokeh (background blur) will be a problem in some situations considering the minimum aperture value of f/4. You will not be able to abstract your subject effectively from a complicated background in some shooting situations or focal distances. Additionally, minimum aperture value renders this lens slow for action photography especially in low light situations. If you care about those, go for 70-200 f/2.8. Heavier, pricey but speedy and great bokeh even the subject is not too far from the background. While deciding I used my vote for less weight and smaller size since I have to walk a lot with 4 lenses and 2 bodies.

3) IMO this is not a suitable lens for wildlife photography even if you use extenders. Without extenders, you have to get close to animals so that you can scare them or put yourself into danger. Considering this lens' sharpness, cropping with a minimum loss might be an option. On the other hand, if you are using extenders (especially 2x) you will concede from sharpness as well as higher shutter speeds to a significant level. 2x extender was totally a disappointment for me.

4)This might seem unimportant to some but it is an important asset for me; this lens does not rotate or extend while focusing and zooming. I frequently use polarization filters in landscape photography, thus the filter does not rotate while focusing. Besides, I'm free to hold the lens wherever I want while shooting since it does not extend. More important, an extending lens generally means loss of light, while the light passes through the lens. Simply because the distance between the optics and sensor increase. Therefore, in many lowlight situations (if you are dealing with stable subjects) this lens will give you what you want.

To sum up, this is the best lens I've ever had. If you think that the issues I mentioned above won't restrict your photography, then DON'T THINK TWICE.
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 8, 2006
I sent my 70-200/4 back after buying this lens. It completed my f4 set: 17-40, 24-105 and now this.

Like the other two, this is simply a superb lens. Jaw-dropping colors and contrast with fantastic sharpness. After getting it, I went out and did some fall foliage shooting. The results are stunning. The IS, especially for me, is a godsend. I'm gettin' up there in years and not as steady as I once was, so IS is always on. Yes, it does use up a bit more battery life, so in effect, the lens cost me a bit more as I bought two more batteries. That's a small price to pay for the IQ.

The technical details can be found in any number of places on the web, so I won't repeat them here. What's really important is what the pictures look like - and like I've said, spectacular! Along with the other two f4 L's, I can't recommend this highly enough.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on June 26, 2007
I continue to be impressed by this lenses handling, boke, resolution, and build quality. It's almost half the weight of it's f/2.8 sibling and carring it all day is much easier. the 4 stop IS works incredibly well and I get many tack sharp shots at 1/30 at 200mm.

It is sharp at f/4 wide open. At f/5.6 its scary sharp and by f/8 I've not seen many optics that can rival it. The image is extremely uniform from center to corner resolution wise and I've never noticed any vignetting.

The IS version is definately worth the added cost, you get 4 stop IS and improved optics over the non IS version. I'd pay even more for improved quality control at Canon, my first copy was obviously deffective and about as sharp as a coke bottle at 70mm and close focus distances. Amazon exchanged it quickly and with no fuss. Kudos to them.

I bought this lens in anticipation of the coming 1Ds MkIII as its super hi-res telphoto zoom counter part. It also serves as an easier traveling companion than the f/2.8 IS version and it is slightly sharper at f/4-f/8. However; when you need f/2.8... I reach for the 85mm f/1.2L :-)

EDIT December 11, 2007 -
The lens has continue to serve me well. It's proved to be a perfect companion for travel and landscape work replacing primes in the range it covers with no loss in image quality.

It's survived rigorous duty and is no worse for wear. I'll be holding on to this one for a long time.
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on August 19, 2007
Although I don't like to review products, I felt compelled to write a few words about this marvelous lens. I have been photographing using SLRs for nearly 25 years, and I cannot but praise this lens.

After shooting over 1500 images with this lens in Paris and Oxford, I started to realize the special qualities about the 70-200 f/4 IS. Sharpness was excellent, color rendition was immaculate, the IS saved many precious shots, and there were hardly any defects (e.g. vignetting, aberration). Note that I used a cropped sensor body (1.6x).

The lens tolerated a lot of cruelty from my end. It endured rain, dust and the odd bang. However, it still performed exceptionally when hand-held. I even took shots with shutter speeds of 1/30 without any loss of sharpness (no tripod). The IS works in two modes: normal and panning; both are exceptional.

One has to give praise for Amazon as they replaced my non-IS 70-200 f/4 with the IS version and absorbed the shipping costs too. In sum, for $1100, this lens is one of the best values in photography, considering its superior 'L' optics and construction.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on August 11, 2008
For five years, I owned a Canon Rebel and used a Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS for my telephoto lens needs. Honestly, I was never thrilled with the quality of the photos that came from that combination of camera and lens.

My 2 week trip to Greece & Turkey last spring gave me the incentive to finally upgrade my camera (to a Canon 40D) and get better glass. Yes, it was time to buy my first L-series lenses. So I bought both this lens and the 24-70mm f/2.8L.

As they say, "It's all about the glass," and I am here to tell you that 'they' are RIGHT!

As I go through the many photos I took on my trip, I am thrilled by what I am seeing. The quality (in terms of detail, sharpness, color, etc.) is lightyears ahead of what I've been experiencing.

WHY did I wait so long??! The cost, of course. It can be challenging to fork out over $1000 for a lens. Only you can decide if it's worth it for you.

I also looked carefully at the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L, with and without the image stabilization, and I narrowed it down to these factors:

- IMAGE STABILIZATION - In my opinion, Image Stabilization is a MUST for a telephoto zoom like this. Camera shake is death to the quality of a photo, and once you get over 100mm in length it's hard to avoid completely. Who wants to carry a tripod everywhere you go and/or be severely limited in low-light conditions?

- COST - To get the f/2.8L with IS, you're looking at $1700. Yikes. This lens is 1/3 less.

- WEIGHT - The f/2.8L is obviously a gorgeous lens, but it's also significantly larger and heavier than the f/4L - increasing the need for image stabilization and/or frequent use of a tripod.

I wanted more of a walk-around lens, so the lighter weight of the f/4L along with the fine IS capabilities meets my needs quite nicely. And now that I am seeing the results, I couldn't be happier. The quality is STUNNING, including the sharpness, the color density, and the detail in the highlights and shadows. I only wish I would have bought it sooner and saved myself years of frustration while taking photos with mediocre glass.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
There's a ton of gushing on the Amazon reviews about this lens. And why?

Well, because it's fantastic, that's why. I recently added this to my admittedly small collection of lenses (Canon EF-S 17-55 F/2.8 and Sigma 30mm 1.4), and this 70-200 IS wonder is just astonishing. Even wide open at F/4, images are razor sharp. My EOS 40D is a 1.6x crop factor camera so the equivalent 35mm image is approximately 320mm at full zoom length for me. Even at this focal length, images are so sharp with IS enabled. I couldn't imagine this being the case without a tripod, but it's true! With IS off, images are noticeably blurrier. Don't go for the F/4 without IS!

For those on the fence between this and the 2.8 IS lens, you really need to hold the 2.8 lens in your hands. It's double the weight, and quite unwieldy. Unless you have a particular use for the extra stop the 2.8 gives you, you're definitely better off getting the F/4 IS. Definitely one of Canon's finest lenses.

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