October 22, 2014, 10:21:30 PM

Author Topic: Thoughts on 70-200 f/4 vs 70-300 vs 100-400?  (Read 3738 times)

JorritJ

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Re: Thoughts on 70-200 f/4 vs 70-300 vs 100-400?
« Reply #15 on: August 04, 2014, 05:09:12 AM »
The 70-200L, 70-300L and 100-400L are all awesome lenses, with their own strengths and weaknesses.

If you want to do fast or sports photography, there is no substitute for the 70-200 f2.8, but it's expensive and heavy. You'll easily get high shuttertimes with low ISO and freeze the motion, though. If we're talking the f4, then there's less that pulls it away from the 70-300L. All the 70-200L variants will beat the other two lenses on IQ natively, and nearly match IQ with extenders.

For uses where I don't need the 2.8, I tend to go for the much lighter 70-300L or 100-400L. Mind you, I use a full frame camera, so reach is a bigger issue than it is for you on your 70D. Whether you can do motion-stopping photography on fast moving subjects with these lenses depends on where you are in the world. There's a lot less light in Northern Europe than for example Southern Europe, or California, etc, making that harder.

The push-pull of the 100-400L is great for quickly grabbing the subject and I much prefer it over the twist zoom of the 70-300L. I am slightly disappointed the mark II is rumored to have the twist zoom design. Still, if I don't expect to need the 400mm, I tend to take the 70-300L, as its IQ is definitely better, and due to its smaller size its much easier to carry around (though the 400 works much better with a blackrapid strap). Something often overlooked with the 70-300L is that it can focus much closer than for example the 100-400L. While it's no true macro, you can get tiny things blown up pretty big with it.

I own all these lenses and have used them all extensively. If I had to pick just one to do everything with, it would be the 70-300L, but I travel a lot, and that is more important to me than freezing the action.

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Re: Thoughts on 70-200 f/4 vs 70-300 vs 100-400?
« Reply #15 on: August 04, 2014, 05:09:12 AM »

tomscott

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Re: Thoughts on 70-200 f/4 vs 70-300 vs 100-400?
« Reply #16 on: August 04, 2014, 05:47:30 AM »
Depends how you use the lens. If its for professional use no question 70-200mm F2.8 MKII. Brilliant lens, but its size and weight are not very desirable for travel. For a job the weight isn't an issue, travel it certainly is, It would be a tough pick but I would leave it at home specifically because of the weight. With your crop camera you are effectively getting a 110-320mm lens with F4 DOF equivalent. If you go down the 2x tele converter side you need another £350 and the lens AF speed decreases by 75% (which is well over exaggerated if you ask me). I used this combo at Silverstone Classics last weekend and it worked very well barely a shot missed and for me was easier than taking two lenses with IQ being similar to the 100-400. Price wise your looking at £2300 with the tele converter which is also a downside.

70-200mm F4 I understand why people buy the lens, smaller and lighter but at F4, but only for a FF camera. On a crop camera DOF equivalent is more like F6.3 wide open so your not gaining any added bokeh as subject isolation isn't brilliant, if anything I would always choose the F2.8. But on crop you are effectively getting a 110-320mm F6.3 DOF equivalent.

70-300mm is what I would be leaning toward, its small, light, great IQ and although similar to the 70-200mm F4 your DOF equivalent in FF terms is more like F6.3-F9 (obviously not in terms of speed but DOF) and you get an extra 100mm. In real world terms at 200mm the 70-200mm and 70-300mm are pretty much indistinguishable. The only disadvantage I see with this lens is the colour, when traveling the more inconspicuous the better and its a shame its white and it makes you stand out like a sore thumb. Its ok while on a job as people expect it but going into a country which is maybe a little less fortunate than your own with big bold flashy lenses is a disadvantage in my mind. But you are getting a 110-480mm F6.3-9 FF DOF equivalent, which is less than £900 its a compromise but a good one.

The 100-400mm is also a great lens, but it would be my last choice for a travel lens. Stupid push pull design, its huge and heavy, so unless you need the extra 100mm I would drop this off the list.

The only other option that has been missed off is the 70-300mm DO. I owned this lens but sold it because I needed a faster lens so bought the 70-200mm F2.8. Although this lens isn't perfect, its not an L lens, its not as sharp and has onion ring bokeh. For its size and weight is a brilliant travel companion, it is smaller than a 24-105mm and about the same weight. People dislike the bokeh and the slight halo you get but I found this is exaggerated, if your in a really high contrast situation it is there. Again its all about compromise with these zooms, the 70-300mm DO can be had for around £400 (second hand) which is more than half the price of the 100-400mm, 70-300mm and more than 1/4 the price of the 70-200mm. It is also black which is much more discrete and stop it down a little and it performs pretty well in the centre, corners aren't brilliant. Talking about bokeh, at DOF equivalent of F7.2-9 the bokeh you get will be minimal anyway similar to the 70-300mm L. So for £400 its worth a punt IMO but not at £1200.

My views above about the DO are strictly for travel only, professionally I would give it a miss. The thing with travel is that it is a compromise, you only get the shot with the equipment you have with you and if your traveling a good way weight is a really big issue, add a med body 800g a standard zoom 600g a small prime 300g and a super zoom 1000g the weight soon adds up and thats just camera gear.

I am in the middle of organising a 6 month trip across south america and the states, basically roughing it backpacking, so I will be carrying everything with me all the time.
My gear selection:

5DMKIII 860g
24-105mm F4 670g
35mm F2 IS 335g
70-300mm F4.5-5.6 DO 720g (or 70-300mm L 1050g not made up my mind)
Lots of cards & bats

2.6kg over 10 thousand miles is more than enough. Add a MBA clothes and supplies probably around 6-8kg.

Summary

1- 70-300mm L
2 - 70-300mm DO
3 - 70-200mm F2.8 + 2x
4 - 70-200mm F4
5 - 100-400mm
« Last Edit: August 04, 2014, 05:54:27 AM by tomscott »
5D MKIII 40D 17-55mm F2.8 IS 16-35mm F2.8 II L 24-70mm F2.8 L 24-105mm F4 IS L 100mm F2.8 IS L 70-200mm F2.8 IS II L 70-300mm F4-5.6 IS L 50mm F1.8 2x Ex 580EX

jd7

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Re: Thoughts on 70-200 f/4 vs 70-300 vs 100-400?
« Reply #17 on: August 04, 2014, 05:58:14 AM »
I have the 70-200 4L IS and like it.  My sister has had the 70-300L since last Christmas so I've played with it a bit too, although I haven't used it that much.  My experience is they are both sharp and you're likely to be very happy with the IQ from either, so it really comes down to whether the extra reach (without needing an extender) is important to you and how you feel abou the size/weight/handling of each lens.  That said, I should have a closer look at the bokeh from the 70-300L at some stage - I've never done any testing to see what I think of it.

Anyway, I've considered selling my 70-200 4L IS and getting a 70-300L but I like what I've got so I'm keeping it.  For my use (which includes carrying it in a pack for extended periods while hiking) I prefer the weight saving (the 70-300L is about one-third again as heavy) plus I like the constant aperture.  That said, the alternative way of looking at it is the weight difference is only 290g so it's not a big deal, and the extra range makes it worth sacrificing the constant aperture.  FWIW though, I disagree with the earlier post saying the 70-300L feels lighter.  I get that shorter lenses tend to feel relatively lighter, but to me the 70-300L still feels heavier to use.  On the other hand, the idea of being able to pack the 70-300L "vertically" in a camera bag might be a real advantage to you depending on your use.

In the end I'm pretty sure you'd be happy with either.  If you can try them out in a shop, I'd do that and see which one you prefer when you've got it in the hand (and on the camera!).

Oh, and as for the 100-400 I've never used one so I'll leave it to others to comment on it.
6D | 24-70 4L IS | 70-200 4L IS | 70-200 2.8L IS II | 35 2 IS | 40 2.8 | 85 1.8 | 1.4x mk II | 430EX II

tomscott

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Re: Thoughts on 70-200 f/4 vs 70-300 vs 100-400?
« Reply #18 on: August 04, 2014, 07:07:09 AM »
As to the weight, when many of your lenses are large aperture you get used to it and the mid range aperture lenses feel very light.

Like having a 24-105mm on the 5DMKIII feels a lot lighter than the 24-70MKI but you get used to it, so for a zoom of that magnitude 1050g isn't a lot. Compare that to the 70-200mm MKII which is 1490g add a 2x converter 325g and a mid body 860g = 2675g compared to mid range body and 70-300mm = 1935g. That weight saving is the same as taking a 70-200mm F4 IS also. So you could take another high end piece of glass to fill another gap like a wide angle.

On a full frame body 200mm isn't enough on a crop it is as you get an ester 120mm for free. But the FF bodies perform better in low light. But if you want to get plenty of DOF crop cameras work to your advantage.
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Re: Thoughts on 70-200 f/4 vs 70-300 vs 100-400?
« Reply #19 on: August 04, 2014, 08:57:37 AM »
On a full frame body 200mm isn't enough on a crop it is as you get an ester 120mm for free. But the FF bodies perform better in low light. But if you want to get plenty of DOF crop cameras work to your advantage.

Do you believe in unicorns and faster-than-light particles?  I suspect you do, because you think that a smaller sensor is magical and defies the laws of physics.  :o

Regarding the crop factor:

  • It doesn't increase focal length.
  • It's not free.
  • There is no 'deeper DoF' advantage to a smaller sensor.  Once you consider diffraction and noise, you can achieve equally deep DoF on FF with no penalty.  However, there is a shallower DoF advantage with FF, if one wants/needs it.

Smaller sensors certainly have advantages, the primary ones being lower cost and in some cases smaller/lighter bodies and/or lenses.  From an image quality standpoint, the 'crop factor advantage' exists only in the specific case where ALL of the following apply: focal length limited and at low ISO and printing larger than 16x24"/A2.
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tomscott

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Re: Thoughts on 70-200 f/4 vs 70-300 vs 100-400?
« Reply #20 on: August 04, 2014, 09:43:07 AM »
You know exactly what I mean Neuro, stop being arsy in every post.

I may not have put changes field of view but I would expect most to know. Same with the DoF, your authoritative sarcastic posts are getting boring and doesn't make the forum a better place.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2014, 09:49:01 AM by tomscott »
5D MKIII 40D 17-55mm F2.8 IS 16-35mm F2.8 II L 24-70mm F2.8 L 24-105mm F4 IS L 100mm F2.8 IS L 70-200mm F2.8 IS II L 70-300mm F4-5.6 IS L 50mm F1.8 2x Ex 580EX

Aichbus

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Re: Thoughts on 70-200 f/4 vs 70-300 vs 100-400?
« Reply #21 on: August 04, 2014, 09:56:22 AM »
I owned the 70-200 f/4 IS and the 100-400. I sold both and got the 70-300 L. Sometimes I look back at the 100-400, but never at the 70-200/4. Regarding image quality among the three: In real world they are all just as good (without extenders). The 70-200 was very very good with extender 1.4x, but having to put on a converter everytime you need more reach is very annoying. That's the big, big plus of the 70-300L. With the 100-400 I missed the 70-100 part more than I needed the 300-400 part, that's why I switched. Also, the compactness of the 70-300 L is a real plus. I wouldn't consider using it with an extender (Kenko for instance) though.

In contradiction in what was said, the 100-400 should be better at 400 mm than any of the other lenses with converters. If you find it's not you have a bad copy.

And one thing that almost never gets mentioned is distortion. The highly praised 70-200 f/4 has an awful amount of distortion at 200 mm, the 70-300 L also at 300 mm. In this area, the 100-400 is clearly better. Don't tell me you can correct that in post. You can, but then you lose sharpness, so distortion is something that has to be considered if you're photographing architecture.

As a side note: I also own the 200 mm f/2.8 L II. The bare lens has a bit of pincushion distortion, but with the extenders 1.4III and 2III the distortion is reduced to next to nothing (because of the slight barrel distortion of the extenders). Image quality is also amazing. But it has no IS and cannot zoom, that's why I mostly prefer my 70-300 L for its ease of use.

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Re: Thoughts on 70-200 f/4 vs 70-300 vs 100-400?
« Reply #21 on: August 04, 2014, 09:56:22 AM »

jd7

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Re: Thoughts on 70-200 f/4 vs 70-300 vs 100-400?
« Reply #22 on: August 04, 2014, 10:01:27 AM »
As to the weight, when many of your lenses are large aperture you get used to it and the mid range aperture lenses feel very light.

Like having a 24-105mm on the 5DMKIII feels a lot lighter than the 24-70MKI but you get used to it, so for a zoom of that magnitude 1050g isn't a lot. Compare that to the 70-200mm MKII which is 1490g add a 2x converter 325g and a mid body 860g = 2675g compared to mid range body and 70-300mm = 1935g. That weight saving is the same as taking a 70-200mm F4 IS also. So you could take another high end piece of glass to fill another gap like a wide angle.

I get the general point but I'm not sure "you get used to it" is really the issue.  As with just about everything to do with camera gear, it's about each person working out what set of trade offs suits them best for what they want to do.  Looked at in isolation, I agree 300g is not much at all ... but you can say the same about the 740g difference in the above example - it's really not that much.   On the other hand, if you're carrying something far enough and trying to move fast enough, etc, you'll want to shave 300g off every item you can.   In my case I'm sometimes (sadly not often - too much time doing a desk job) travelling with people who aren't so interested in photography so aren't going to cut me any slack, and we're covering quite a lot of rough terrain. I've done it with a 7D, a 70-200 2.8, a (Sigma) 24-70 2.8, a wide angle zoom and other bits and pieces and lived to tell the tale, but the weight made it all a bit less enjoyable.  (And I'm someone who spends my weekends doing things like running up hills with a 20kg+ pack on my back and pushing heavy sleds in the name of fitness.)

A couple of years ago I looked hard at moving to m4/3, but in the end decided to go the other way to full frame.  But I chose a 6D rather than a 5DIII, and apart from my 70-200 2.8 all my other lenses now are at the light end for lenses in their class.   Saving a bit of weight on each of a number of items adds up in a way which matters to me - and means I enjoy using the gear I have.  The OP may or may not have reasons (not necessarily the same as mine!) for valuing a weight reduction even if it's only 300g.

Anyway, my only real point is that there are a lot of factors which play into what's the "best choice" for someone.   I completely understand why some people prefer the 70-300L - the extra reach being the most likely reason, but for some even just being able to carry the lens vertically in a bag might make it worth it.   But there is nothing wrong with choosing the 70-200 4 IS either.  And there is nothing wrong with deciding 300g extra is not something you want, even if it's something you could get used to.

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neuroanatomist

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Re: Thoughts on 70-200 f/4 vs 70-300 vs 100-400?
« Reply #23 on: August 04, 2014, 10:40:26 AM »
You know exactly what I mean Neuro, stop being arsy in every post.

I may not have put changes field of view but I would expect most to know. Same with the DoF, your authoritative sarcastic posts are getting boring and doesn't make the forum a better place.

Unfortunately, many people do believe that crop sensors give 'more reach and more DoF for free.'   Misinformation does not make the forum a better place.  If you know statements like, "...you get an <extra> 120mm for free," and, "...if you want to get plenty of DOF crop cameras work to your advantage," are blatantly incorrect, then you shouldn't post them. 
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Re: Thoughts on 70-200 f/4 vs 70-300 vs 100-400?
« Reply #24 on: August 04, 2014, 10:49:35 AM »
I think that, all things considered, the 70-300 might be the winner and then maybe, in the name of GAS, a 400mm prime for the next Alaskan trip (which won't be for awhile).
Thanks for all the insight and more is very welcome.
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Re: Thoughts on 70-200 f/4 vs 70-300 vs 100-400?
« Reply #25 on: August 04, 2014, 01:31:48 PM »
I find the 70-300L to be an excellent travel zoom.  It's the shortest of the bunch, so it fits 'vertically' in most camera bags (the 70-200/4 IS is lighter, but taller).

+1 shall we keep repeating how great it is for travel, just like in the other thread? :)

On another lens, I was a little surprised by my 100-400 this weekend; normally my results from the race track are only so-so IMHO, but after spending more time with the AF tracking settings of my 5DMkIII I've suddenly made a leap in image quality with this lens. Attached is a quick & dirty crop to give an idea of what's possible.
5D3, 5D2, Sony α6000, G16 | SY14 f/2.8, Ʃ20 f/1.8, 24 f/2.8, 35 f/2, Ʃ35 f/1.4A, 50 f/1.8 I, Ʃ50 f/1.4 EX, 100L Macro, 17-40L, 24-105L, 70-200 f/2.8L IS II, 1.4x II, 70-300L, 100-400L | E-mount: SY12 f/2, Ʃ19 & 30 f/2.8 EX DN, 16-70 ZA OSS, 55-210 OSS, Metabones SB | FT-QL, AE-1P | FD(n) & FL lenses

chas1113

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Re: Thoughts on 70-200 f/4 vs 70-300 vs 100-400?
« Reply #26 on: August 04, 2014, 03:43:51 PM »
Just tried a new superzoom on a vacation last week to a lot of "blah".  Rented a 100-400 last Summer which was AWESOME.
I have a 70D with indoor sports telephoto needs met with a 100 2.0 and 200 2.8II.
So I'm looking for that one special telephoto zoom for outdoor sports/activities, travel, etc. and am slightly leaning towards the 70-300L.  400mm would be useful at times, but 70-100 might be attractive and the rest up to 300 probably good-to-go 95+% of the time.
70-200 is likely enough most of the time so I'm willing to make a "focal-length" sacrifice for the most image quality possible.
Is there one of the above that really shines above the rest in image quality?  Of course, there's the upcoming 100-400 which is somewhat of an unknown and the 70-200 4.0 non-IS maybe the bargain of the bunch. 
Thanks for any direction even though this has been discussed a lot.  The latest thoughts can't hurt, though, I guess.
Much appreciated.


I replaced a 70-200 f/4 IS with the 70-300L because the IQ between the two was basically a draw. I did extensive side-by-side testing with a 1.4 TC and the results were as follows:

1) at 70mm, the 70-300L was punchier, sharper and focussed closer
2) at 100mm, the two lenses were basically identical
3) at 135mm, the 70-200 was slightly sharper in the center but the edges were virtually identical in sharpness
4) at 200mm, the 70-300L was marginally sharper both center and edge
5) at 300mm, the 70-300L was much sharper than the 70-200 f/4 IS with TC
In addition at 200mm at MFD, the 70-200mm f/4 suffered while the 70-300L was much better.

Overall, I preferred the contrast, color and clarity of the 70-300L images more, so I got rid of the 70-200 f/4 IS.

But, I doubt if anyone could honestly tell the difference between the two unless testing side by side, they are that close. They are both exceptional lenses. I have never shot with the 100-400.

By the time you put the TC on the 70-200mm, it starts to be a little unwieldy in terms of length. The weight of the 70-300L is closer to the body and doesn't actually feel THAT much heavier. It handles well. As others have stated, it fits and packs well in a sling bag. The focus and zoom barrels on the 70-300L are reversed (in terms of location) compared to most other Canon zooms. This is annoying until you get used to it.

Hope this helps.

« Last Edit: August 04, 2014, 03:48:10 PM by chas1113 »
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Re: Thoughts on 70-200 f/4 vs 70-300 vs 100-400?
« Reply #27 on: August 05, 2014, 02:09:04 AM »
But, I doubt if anyone could honestly tell the difference between the two unless testing side by side, they are that close. They are both exceptional lenses. I have never shot with the 100-400.

From my experience, the 70-300L is better than the 100-400L in color, sharpness and contrast. While still a good lens, I (like many others) hope the 100-400 will be upgraded to the type of quality we've become used to (70-200 f/2.8 IS II, 70-300L). It's amazing how close the 70-300L comes to the 70-200 f/2.8 IS II, something I had never expected or even dreamed of until I started using it.
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Re: Thoughts on 70-200 f/4 vs 70-300 vs 100-400?
« Reply #27 on: August 05, 2014, 02:09:04 AM »

chas1113

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Re: Thoughts on 70-200 f/4 vs 70-300 vs 100-400?
« Reply #28 on: August 05, 2014, 09:27:58 AM »
It's amazing how close the 70-300L comes to the 70-200 f/2.8 IS II, something I had never expected or even dreamed of until I started using it.

I remember getting flamed for questioning just how much better the 70-200 f/2.8 IS II could be after shooting with the 70-300L. Glad to see my suspicions confirmed.  ;)
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Re: Thoughts on 70-200 f/4 vs 70-300 vs 100-400?
« Reply #29 on: August 05, 2014, 11:31:14 AM »
If you're in bright outdoors light and don't need the shallower focus allowed by 2.8, the 70-300L would make sense; the differences in image quality among the 70-200 f4 IS & 2.8 II and 70-300L are otherwise trivial in such conditions.  If you want shallower focus and/or to minimalize noise - always a consideration with APSC - as you need to boost ISOs either to freeze action or deal with lower light (or both), you may prefer the 2.8 if you don't mind the weight (I own a f4 IS, but have hardly ever used it since buying a 70-300L; I find the 2.8 II far too heavy to lug around and thus have only rented it rather than buying it).

As for vacations, it rather depends on your stamina etc.  If you'll be carrying around a camera + lenses all day, you may find that after a few hours any of these is a bit much; presumably that's why you tried the superzoom you were disappointed by.  As you likely know, there are now relatively lightweight options that produce very good results and weigh a lot less, including recent superzooms that don't have tiny sensors, such as the Sony RX10, as well as various micro 43 options (a bag containing a m43 body + several lenses seems weightless next to a similar amount of dslr gear).  I don't know what superzoom you had, but chances are it was hampered by a tiny sensor and perhaps inferior lens, which isn't the case with these.  Or you could consider a superzoom lens for your 70D, such as the cheap but surprisingly good (well, it surprised me...) Sigma 18-250 OS macro.  Only you know whether the minor (perhaps trivial) loss in image quality from these options is compensated for by the resulting increase in enjoying other aspects of your vacation....

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Re: Thoughts on 70-200 f/4 vs 70-300 vs 100-400?
« Reply #29 on: August 05, 2014, 11:31:14 AM »