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.

Practical Photography (UK) - - October -

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.

Build qual­ity

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,


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.

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