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311Hemi

Cannon 70-200 f4 IS vs f2.8 non-IS...thoughts?

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OK, so now my search for a lens is moving up in price thanks to some recommendations on another post!! LOL) and I am considering the Canon 70-200 f4 IS vs the 70-200 f2.8 non-IS. By the time I am done I will probably be wanting the f2.8 IS whistleshocked

I have been reading some discussions on this on other sites, but wanted to get some input from you guys.

I am having trouble determining if the f4 IS would be beneficial over the 2.8 in many situations. The f4 IS is definitely lighters and a bit smaller which would make it easier to carry around with us. Since this will probably be on the camera 90% of the time, that would be hunting, hiking, out on walks, traveling, family get togethers, etc. However, the 2.8 is really intriguing as it will really help blur out the backgrounds of our images.....which is something I would really like. Now I am sure that can be done with the f4, but I am not sure to what extent the difference is.

A lot of our shots will be hand held. From what I have read the IS is really helpful at 100+. Do the f2.8 allowing faster shutter speeds in lower light compensate for this?

One commend was made on another post that the f2.8 would be more versatile. In what ways exactly?

Just trying to weight the pros/cons of each to see where my short coming may end up if I buy one vs. the other.

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I've shot them both, Hemi, and I own the f2.8L non IS. Now, the f2.8L IS would of course be the best of all worlds except for weight.

Coupla things. Partly, it's straight math. IS gains you two or three stops. Canon literature says three stops for the new generation IS of the f4, but let's say two stops. That puts you one stop ahead of the f2.8L non IS.

Theoretically.

If you are shooting a lot of moving subjects like sports, you'll be panning with the motion and the IS won't matter. Most sports shooters turn it off when they're panning sports action. And in those cases the extra stop of shutter speed of the f2.8 vs the f4 can be important. In cramped quarters, where backgrounds are close to subjects, the wider aperture can help blur those BGs a bit more.

Now, for the flipside. If you're not shooting much fast action, the f4L IS is probably the best bet. It's tough to develop good steadying technique at 200mm with the nonIS lenses, for one thing, and IS helps you there. IS doesn't help counteract subject movement, but if the subject isn't moving quickly, you can time it so you trip the shutter when the subject is paused, or nearly paused.

As a case in point, I shoot the f2.8L non IS for indoor weddings a lot. I generally like to limit my iso to 1600 because of noise at iso3200, so theoretically the f2.8 non IS is a better choice because I get that extra stop of shutter speed. However, subjects are usually moving very slowly or are quite still during a wedding ceremony, and the times I've borrowed the f4 IS, I've been able to shoot down to 1/30 sec off a monopod with excellent sharp results, where I can't get below 1/125 off the monopod with the f2.8 non IS because it hasn't got IS. That's two full stops of shutter speed advantage with the IS, and I'm about to sell my 70-200 f2.8L non IS and replace it with a used f4L IS for that very reason.

The same holds true for many wildlife situations. If you're panning birds in flight, the difference in shutter speed between f4 and f2.8 isn't going to mean too much and IS isn't an issue, so I think the lenses are about a wash there, but when you're in low light and the animals are not moving fast, the f4L IS trumps the f2.8L non IS.

The IS also is helpful for those who don't shoot a ton of pictures because it's good to have help counteracting hand shake while the photographer is learning good steadying technique.

Now, that's all in my opinion, and the examples reflect real world performance in my world of photography. Other experiences are different, and each has his/her own preferences.

Other comparisons.

Price: f2.8 about $100 more.

Image quality: About the same.

Weight: Clear advantage to f4L IS. However, f2.8L weight includes tripod ring and f4L IS does not, because . . . the f2.8L comes with tripod ring, f4L IS does not. Tripod ring costs another $150.

In the end, you'll spend slightly more for the f4L IS with the tripod ring, but you can buy the tripod ring later as budget allows. And since you mentioned all your shots being handheld, you don't need it at all if that's your style of shooting. Just gets in the way handheld.

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Not to be a fly in the ointment, and unless I missed something, wasn't this conversation started about getting reach for shooting birds? If you're now looking at spending the money for a 70-200 IS 2.8, why not look at the 100-400L? It's got more reach for less money and with the IS will still come down a little from it's relatively slow aperture.

If you were originally looking at the 70-300, this would be a great alternative.

The 70-200 does have some other advantages as far as indoor work and portraiture. Comes down to what are you going to use it for the most.

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Ken, the 70-200 f2.8L IS is not in the equation. It's the f2.8L non IS or the f4L IS. And I think it was Nymph who started that other thread. I think Hemi's needs are a bit different.

Although that's a good point. You can get an excellent 100-400 used for $1,000 to $1,100, and 200mm isn't very good reach for most avian photography situations.

Of course, the push-pull zoom on the 100-400 takes some getting used to, but I had a great time shooting that lens for four years and got some excellent IQ out of it.

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Steve, thanks for info....that definitely helps!

I think in the other thread another guy was looking for a lens to use for birding....but my wife and I are looking for more of a good generic all around lens. Something that has a little reach....but I understand it's not a birding lens (and I don't do any "birding" at the moment). If I had my way I would probably go with the 100-400, but the wife wants something that goes a little shallower than 100....and probably something a little lighter. We only have the 18-55 kit lens at the moment.....and are obviously in need of something a little more. I do take a lot of pics of family/fiends, out in the boat, the dogs out running in fields (but not super long distances), up close pics of flowers (wife), indoors at get togethers, random things in nature, traveling, etc. We do travel from time to time so we expect to carry this lens with when we do so. My bro is getting married this summer, and while we told them they need to higher someone for their photos, we would like to take a stab at getting some good pics also.

As it is right now I don't do a lot of fast action shots. No kids at the moment and I don't for see having any in sports for a number of years.

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Hemi, just as an FYI, the 100-400 weighs 3.1 pounds, the 70-200 f2.8L non IS 2.9 pounds. Virtually no difference there, although part of the learning curve of the 100-400 is getting used to how the balance changes as you work the push-pull zoom.

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Yea...I just looked at my spread sheet again and saw that. I still don't think the wife would go for the 100-400. Not sure how much the 70 vs 100 on the short side would affect the shooting I do, but I do see that the minimum focusing distance is roughly 7 ft. vs 5 with the 70-2 f2.8 and 4ft with the f4. It seems that indoors there would be times were that could be an issue....specifically in smaller rooms. Also, it seems that the 100-400 would not be as good for portraits. Although....the 100-400 may force me into buying a longer boat so I can get images of my buddies catching fish...hmmmm!! LOL

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My bad. I was flipping back and forth from thread to thread and got confused. Easy to do at my age. frown

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Hemi, the MFD on the 100-400 is 6 feet. I used it for portraits all the time. The f5.6 wasn't a problem for that because I could control how far behind my subject the background was, so the BG was still soft and buttery.

Not suggesting you buy it, just pointing out some experiences. I doubt very much your wife would like using it, as the zoom can feel front-heavy and cumbersome when fully extended. smile

Ken, confusion has nothing to do with age. I've been confused most of my life. gringrin

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Hemi, the MFD on the 100-400 is 6 feet.

Woops...my bad. I guess 5.9' does not equal 7'!! LOL Back to school I go, or should go!

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Just to add a bit to all the good information Steve has. I've got both copies of the 70-200/2.8, non-IS and IS. The 2.8 really does make an excellent portrait lens, the difference for me is what you mentioned 311, I do like what the bokeh with the lens is capable of.

Do keep in mind the blurring of your background is very dependant on your distance to subject and background as well as the minimum aperture you can shoot at. If I shoot a person that is standing 50' away close to a background, that background will appear more visible.

If I shoot that same person at 10' and further from the background it is considerably more blurred. Closer foreground object with a distant background creates the most pleasing effect in most cases. All that being said each lens provides different bokeh.

Even when shooting indoors I prefer to shoot my non-IS lens. The f4 version is a lighter lens but I do not like the fact it doesn't come with the tripod ring. The f2.8 does and that makes it just a touch cheaper. I use the tripod ring to rest in my hand, and use my fingers to move everything else. I shot my IS the other day with the tripod ring off and I found it so cumbersome I had to switch lenses to one with the tripod collar.

I like the advantages of 2.8 over 4.0. The real stop difference is better for me as opposed to the machine induced IS allowing you to shoot at slower shutter speeds. IS is a wonderful feature, I just kind of like the old fashioned way of steady technique, I know exactly what my limitations are. Keep in mind I am in minority on this one!

When shooting down in the 1/30s or so range I personally think you need good technique with IS or without. Yes IS helps greatly but with some practice you will be able to get sharp shots. Birds would be different with all the small feather details, eye, beaks, etc. Ask yourself how often will you be shooting at those speeds and what type of subjects will I be shooting?

So it really comes down to how you think you will want to use the lens. Honestly the slight speed increase, the slightly better bokeh, included tripod ring, and the fact the 2.8 is possibly Canon's sharpest zoom makes it the choice for me! As Steve said we all have our little quirks and each person uses the lens a bit different and finds strengths and weaknesses that others may not have. Either way you go you will have no problem selling one or the other and trading into something else. Both are highly desirable lenses in the used market and hold their value well.

If you are interested in meeting and would like a chance to shoot a non-IS 2.8 we could easily do that over the holidays. Good luck with your choice, it really is never easy.

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Thanks for the pic MM, that's good to know!

We went to National Camera tonight just to actually see and hold these lenses. The 2.8 is a decent amount more lens...both weight and size wise (more weight). The wife preferred the f4 IS so I think that is the lens we are going to try. She thought the other would be too heavy for her to carry around all day...when and if she ever does that! I am going to look for a good used one and if we end up wanting the f2.8 I don't think we will have much of a problem selling the one and getting the other.

Thanks for all the input guys. If anything else comes to mind don't hesitate to chime in.

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Good luck with the search! It is good to actually hold each version in your hand as you found out.

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Hemi, shoot me an e-mail and I'll put you on a very active and reliable site for used Canon gear.

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OK.....we changed our minds and are going to buy the 70-200 f2.8 IS grin . I am watching a few sites...but if by chance anyone knows of someone looking to part with one let me know!

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we changed our minds and are going to buy the 70-200 f2.8 IS

Darn, I'm selling my 70-200 f2.8L non-IS to fund the purchase of the f4 IS. Considering how heavy the f2.8 IS is compared with the f4 IS, you must have done some fast talking, buddy, since your wife was concerned about lugging around a heavy lens. gringrin

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Yea....I may hear about it later but I think we are going to give it a go. Worst case we have to sell it and get a 4 IS, which would be easier than coming up with the extra funds later. I am going to head to Nation Camera again one last time to take another look....but I think my mind is made up. As you can see....I am very indecisive on this purchase.

Steve....what's moving you towards the f4 IS?

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311 I think you are going to be pretty happy with 2.8. As you said you can always sell the 2.8 and go to the f4 and still have some money left over for another lens.

Since I shoot both versions of the 2.8 I know there is a weight difference but I honestly don't really notice it all that much. But then this is from a guy that handholds a 300/2.8 all day long. smile Good luck, can't wait to see some of your results with the new lens.

If you want some information on an excellent site for used shoot me an e-mail. Just before Christmas you could have had your choice of at least 5 or 6 IS lenses.

dbleitch at aol dot com

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Steve....what's moving you towards the f4 IS?

The reason I got the 70-200 series in the first place is because it's just right for most wedding ceremonies. The reason I went with the f2.8 is because many of those ceremonies are indoors in low light, and most pastors won't let photographers use flash, so I have to rely on ambient light.

But after experimenting with both lenses in wedding conditions, I'll be able to gain a stop or two in those settings by getting the f4 IS instead of the f2.8 non IS.

Because wedding couples tend to be still during their vows and such, I can get sharp images down to 1/30 sec on an IS lens/monopod by timing it right and using good steadying technique. In similar circumstances, it's hard for me to get sharp images slower than 1/125 with the non IS lens. This is an important consideration. In some churches, I've been able to shoot at 1/250 to 1/320 at iso1600, but some are dark enough so I'm down around 1/60.

I've shot the f4 IS at a couple weddings to make the comparison, so I know it will work better for my shooting style. Frankly, while I didn't need to worry about it in the wedding situations I had, I shot the f4 IS off a monopod at 1/15 sec on people talking, zoomed in to 200mm, and was able to get sharp images. Also, because I already have the 400 f5.6L and because that and the f4 IS take the same tripod ring (the f4 IS doesn't come with one), and because I never need the 400 for weddings, I can simply swap out the tripod rings as needed depending on the shoot.

Weight differences don't bother me at all, and of course if I had the budget for it I'd buy the 70-200 f2.8L IS so I had the extra stop of aperture as well as IS. I'll tell you, I'm mighty glad Canon decided to produce so many different versions of the 70-200. Sharpest telephoto zoom series in its lineup, and the varying features and price points make it an option for many, many photographers on budgets.

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Well....I just send the money last night on a used 70-200 f2.8 IS lens I found on the FM site. It should be here sometime late next week and I am looking forward to finally being able to shoot with something other than the kit lens!

You guys are a bad influence!!! LOL shockedgrinwink

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