Canon 70-200mm f/4L
Kirk Schwarz sees if Canon’s latest flagship 70-200mm f/4 does enough to justify both its price-tag and an upgrade.
Is Canon’s latest all-purpose telephoto zoom worth the upgrade?
CANON HAS released two updates to its 70-200mm line-up. First up is the allnew flagship EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM, which is aimed at demanding pros. However, it’s the more humble EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM which catches our attention this time round.
The 70-200mm has a tough plastic weather-sealed design. It includes two smooth rubber rings for focus and zoom, and switches on the side to control image stabilisation, focus limiting and AF/MF. It features 20 elements in 15 groups, including a fluorine coating, which helps repel dirt and moisture, as well as Super Spectra and fluorite coatings, to combat flare and aberration. The zoom ring is slightly curved, creating a natural-feeling grip, which works well with the 780g weight to make it feel comfortable in-hand.
The image stabilisation in this lens is superb. It claims 5 stops of compensation, compared to the previous version’s 3 stops, and we easily managed sharp shots shooting at 1/100sec, well below the reciprocal rule. Although it doesn’t quite capture as much light as the f/2.8 version, you will still be able to get sharp shots in lower light conditions.
Zooming to 200mm will also allow you to create a shallow depth-of-field, as you can see in our test shot, though you’ll want to ensure you have a good amount of distance between your model and your background. This will come in handy with any genre of photography, though it will really shine when shooting wildlife or action, where the image stabilisation also becomes exceptionally useful.
Images are super-sharp, and the optics display the kind of high quality you’d expect from an L lens. Zooming in, we were surprised at just how sharp the whole image is, corner to corner. Thanks to fluorite and Super Spectra coatings, it does a brilliant job combating ghosting and chromatic aberration. Vignetting is also kept well under wraps, with images shot at f/4 looking bright and detailed in the corners.
The focusing system uses a combination of Ring USM (Ultra Sonic Motor), and a newly-developed third generation EF engine, which relies on a high-performance CPU. This combination works brilliantly, with focusing feeling fast and very accurate. Given that this version is nearly half the price and weight of the f/2.8 version,
THE IMAGE STABILISATION IN THIS LENS IS SUPERB, WITH 5 STOPS OF COMPENSATION
it’s a great entry into the world of telephoto L lenses, and offers amazing performance and quality.
Deserving of its formidable reputation, it’s hard to pick faults with this lens. The operation is flawless, the autofocus works brilliantly and the sharpness is seriously impressive. Smart design tweaks improve the already great ergonomics when handheld, and the coatings provide brilliant clarity. This lens should be considered a must for any budding sports or wildlife shooters, as well as being ideal for anybody working in a studio where you have no need to shoot at wider apertures. If you want the extra stop of aperture, then
Tamron’s brilliant 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 may be worth a look. However, there’s very little that we can fault the Canon on.
Above It manages to pair traditional Canon design aesthetics with an ultra-modern feel and high-end functionality.