Jim Doty - Photo Blog

Photography: Photos, News, and Tips
Friday, February 16, 2007


The new Canon EF 70-200 mm f/4L IS lens

The new Canon EF 70-200 mm f/4L IS USM lens is now available. This is a great lens!

The current issue of Popular Photography (March 2007, page 70) has a review. Popular Photography describes this lens as "Optically excellent" and "superbly constructed". The "Subjective Quality Factor" numbers look very good (see the chart below). At 200mm, and an 11x14 inch print, every aperture is rated A+ or A. At 200mm and a 16x20 inch print, 3 apertures (f5.6, f8, and f11) are rated A and 3 more apertures (f4, f16, and f22) are rate B+. This is remarkably good. You can read all the details in the magazine article.

UPDATE: You can now read Popular Photography's review online.

Popular Photography (March 2007, pp. 68-70) tested the Image Stabilization (IS) feature and found that IS consistently gives a 3.5 stop gain over the ability to hand hold the lens without IS. A photographer who could normally hand hold a 200mm lens and only get a sharp photo at 1/250 second and faster, can hand hold this lens at around 1/30 or even 1/20 second and still get a sharp shot with IS turned on. Given the sharpness and IS quality of this lens, a lot of photographers will line up to buy it.

The street price is $1060 (USD) and, according to Popular Photography, "well worth the price". The tripod collar is an extra $115 (USD).

The non-IS version of this lens has been hugely (and deservedly) popular with photographers. It is one of the sharpest lenses in its class, reasonably sized, not too heavy, and great to work with. The non-IS f/4 lens is also much less expensive than the bigger and heavier (and really quite wonderful) 70-200 mm f/2.8L lenses (both IS and non-IS versions).

The Canon EF 70-200 mm f/2.8L USM lens started it all. Superbly made, super sharp, and a joy to work with. It became the primary short telephoto zoom lens for a lot of photographers, myself included. Despite its fine attributes, a lot of photographers wanted a lighter and less costly version. Enter the f/4L version, smaller, lighter, much less expensive, but a virtual match in sharpness to the f/2.8 version. It quickly became popular with serious photographers who wanted a premium quality lens without a very expensive price.

Canon came out with an IS (image stabilized) version of the f/2.8L lens and a lot of photographers upgraded. A lot more photographers longed for an f/4L lens with the IS feature. That day has come.

This new lens sports the latest IS technology with a claimed 4 stop shake correction. That means you should be able to hand-hold this lens at four shutter speeds slower than a lens without image stabilization.

If you don't need the IS feature, the current version is still a great lens and you can buy it from Amazon.com for less than $600 and pay no shipping (link below).

The Canon family of 70-200 L series lenses (along with current "street" prices) looks like this:

Canon EF 70-200 mm f/4L USM (non-IS) - $582

Canon EF 70-200 mm f/4L IS USM - $1060

Canon EF 70-200 mm f/2.8L USM (non-IS) - $1115

Canon EF 70-200 mm f/2.8L IS USM - $1713

If you buy one of these lenses using the links below, you will get a great deal, pay no shipping, and help support this site.

The new Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM lens:

The Canon EF 70-200 f/4L non-IS lens


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