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Author Topic: 70 - 200 f/4L vs. 70 - 300 f4-5.6 IS USM  (Read 14832 times)

Terry Rogers

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70 - 200 f/4L vs. 70 - 300 f4-5.6 IS USM
« on: February 28, 2012, 01:17:18 AM »
So I have been shooting with the xsi kit lens and a nifty fifty for a while and am in the market to purchase my first telephoto lens. I have not owned a telephoto lens before, so I cannot fully list what I will be shooting. However, I suspect I will mostly be using it over the next decade to shoot my kids as they grow up (I have a 3yo daughter and a new one due the end of March). So kids playing, school plays, sports, some landscape and closeup shots (flowers etc) and any other shot that tickles my fancy in this focal range. I also hope go full frame at some point along the way (maybe a well loved 5D mkII in a couple of years).

I am struggling with the decision between going for improved IQ and AF of the 70 - 200 or take advantage of the extra reach and IS of the 70 - 300. While I don't have a camera with video yet, I plan on having one eventually, so the IS would be nice for that.

So I'm here for your opinions. What would YOU go for and why? I don't know what my needs are because I've never owned a lens in this focal range.

Thanks in advance for any help.

Maybe if I win the lottery (which I don't play) I can get myself the 5d mk III and 70 - 200 f2.8L IS II and say suck it to the poor mans L lens.
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70 - 200 f/4L vs. 70 - 300 f4-5.6 IS USM
« on: February 28, 2012, 01:17:18 AM »

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Re: 70 - 200 f/4L vs. 70 - 300 f4-5.6 IS USM
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2012, 01:28:37 AM »
I would say look at the 70-200 f2.8 non IS too (similar price range)
while IS is nice you will find the stop faster apperture more usefull if you are shooting sports or plays the IS isnt going to help you as much as a stop faster glass is since your subjects will be moving mostly.
by all accounts the non IS version is sharper than the version one IS too which makes it better value
you can also get a 1.4 Teleconverter and get 280mm f4 or a 2x tele and get 400 f 5.6
I use the kenko teleplus DGX 1.4 its good value and excelent quality small and light to keep in your bag so its there when you need it.
otherwise If you have to have IS i would probably say the 70-300L since it is nice and compact, light and gets briliant reviews
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Terry Rogers

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Re: 70 - 200 f/4L vs. 70 - 300 f4-5.6 IS USM
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2012, 01:41:18 AM »
I would say look at the 70-200 f2.8 non IS too (similar price range)
while IS is nice you will find the stop faster apperture more usefull if you are shooting sports or plays the IS isnt going to help you as much as a stop faster glass is since your subjects will be moving mostly.
by all accounts the non IS version is sharper than the version one IS too which makes it better value
you can also get a 1.4 Teleconverter and get 280mm f4 or a 2x tele and get 400 f 5.6
I use the kenko teleplus DGX 1.4 its good value and excelent quality small and light to keep in your bag so its there when you need it.
otherwise If you have to have IS i would probably say the 70-300L since it is nice and compact, light and gets briliant reviews

I was talking about the 70 - 300 f4 - 5.6 non-L zoom that is similar in price to the 70 - 200 f/4L non-IS. Both are between $600 - $700. If I had the extra bucks, this post WOULD be between the 70 - 200 f/4L IS and the 70 - 200 f/2.8 non-IS.

Thanks for your input though.
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wickidwombat

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Re: 70 - 200 f/4L vs. 70 - 300 f4-5.6 IS USM
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2012, 01:47:19 AM »
oh sorry I failed at reading that properly  :-[

yeah definately the 70-200 f4L over the 70-300

however might I suggest another track

consider getting the 85mm f1.8 at $400 with a bit of movement of your feet you can cover the whole range of the 70-200 anyway, it's super fast, compact, light, brilliant IQ and you are already familiar with shooting primes
since getting my 85 for use at weddings I use it over the 70-200 most of the time now.
on the crop body its like 120mm which is a decent reach

and down the track at the long end saave up for a used 300f4L IS lenses seem to go quite cheap when they do pop up I picked mine up for $800 on ebay with the 1.4TC this becomes 420 f5.6 with IS i'll post up some pics from this lens at 300 and at 420 later this evening for you

i forgot to add that the kenko TC will also work on the 85mm if you need extra reach from that...
« Last Edit: February 28, 2012, 01:59:39 AM by wickidwombat »
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Terry Rogers

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Re: 70 - 200 f/4L vs. 70 - 300 f4-5.6 IS USM
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2012, 02:13:07 AM »
oh sorry I failed at reading that properly  :-[

yeah definately the 70-200 f4L over the 70-300

however might I suggest another track

consider getting the 85mm f1.8 at $400 with a bit of movement of your feet you can cover the whole range of the 70-200 anyway, it's super fast, compact, light, brilliant IQ and you are already familiar with shooting primes
since getting my 85 for use at weddings I use it over the 70-200 most of the time now.
on the crop body its like 120mm which is a decent reach

and down the track at the long end saave up for a used 300f4L IS lenses seem to go quite cheap when they do pop up I picked mine up for $800 on ebay with the 1.4TC this becomes 420 f5.6 with IS i'll post up some pics from this lens at 300 and at 420 later this evening for you

i forgot to add that the kenko TC will also work on the 85mm if you need extra reach from that...

Hmmm... too many choices!!! I hadn't really considered the 85 1.8. I have read amazing things about it. Would it really be that much longer than my 50mm? And if I went that route, I would need to get another longer lens (as you suggested) to fill the gap when I go FF as I would be right back to where I started focal length wise (50mm * 1.6 = 80mm FF equivalent). But I do love the bokeh the 50mm produces.
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Re: 70 - 200 f/4L vs. 70 - 300 f4-5.6 IS USM
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2012, 02:20:03 AM »
oh sorry I failed at reading that properly  :-[

yeah definately the 70-200 f4L over the 70-300

however might I suggest another track

consider getting the 85mm f1.8 at $400 with a bit of movement of your feet you can cover the whole range of the 70-200 anyway, it's super fast, compact, light, brilliant IQ and you are already familiar with shooting primes
since getting my 85 for use at weddings I use it over the 70-200 most of the time now.
on the crop body its like 120mm which is a decent reach

and down the track at the long end saave up for a used 300f4L IS lenses seem to go quite cheap when they do pop up I picked mine up for $800 on ebay with the 1.4TC this becomes 420 f5.6 with IS i'll post up some pics from this lens at 300 and at 420 later this evening for you

i forgot to add that the kenko TC will also work on the 85mm if you need extra reach from that...

Hmmm... too many choices!!! I hadn't really considered the 85 1.8. I have read amazing things about it. Would it really be that much longer than my 50mm? And if I went that route, I would need to get another longer lens (as you suggested) to fill the gap when I go FF as I would be right back to where I started focal length wise (50mm * 1.6 = 80mm FF equivalent). But I do love the bokeh the 50mm produces.

when you go FF you could look at the 135 f2 which everyone loves, I dont have one but it is a very nice lens, just look at the lens gallery here for samples. see if you can try a 70-200 from someone that has one and check the zoom range then set it to 85 and see how far back and forward you need to physically move to cover the same range.
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Re: 70 - 200 f/4L vs. 70 - 300 f4-5.6 IS USM
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2012, 02:21:19 AM »
For kids growing history the IS is fundamental over any IQ or extra reach. For portraits or landscapes IQ is more important.
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Re: 70 - 200 f/4L vs. 70 - 300 f4-5.6 IS USM
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2012, 02:21:19 AM »

LuCoOc

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Re: 70 - 200 f/4L vs. 70 - 300 f4-5.6 IS USM
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2012, 05:05:09 AM »
I chose the 70-200L over the 70-300 IS 3 years ago. I don't really know why. Maybe I couldn't resist the L-feeling. :P
Never tried them side by side so I can only tell you my experience with the L-lens. It feels solid, has good and silent AF, smooth zoom and focus rings (as you would expect from an L) and last but not least the IQ is very good. I sometimes feel a need for the missing IS but since I manly shoot outdoor sports/landscapes I couldn't justify a new 70-200 with IS (4.0 or 2.8 II).

Following is a quote from the-digital-picture.com and the links to the reviews:

Quote
Those contemplating a Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0 L USM Lens purchase are typically considering the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens as well. Priced similarly with an extended focal length range and an excellent implementation of IS, this lens fills many of the same requirements as the 70-200 f/4. I usually recommend the 70-200 f/4 over the 70-300 IS because of its physical and optical advantages, but read the 70-300 review to find out which is better for your needs.


70-200:
http://the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/Canon-EF-70-200mm-f-4.0-L-USM-Lens-Review.aspx

70-300:
http://the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/Canon-EF-70-300mm-f-4-5.6-IS-USM-Lens-Review.aspx

Attached is photo from Sunday night with the 70-200:
70mm f/4.0 ISO 3200(7D)
7D - BG
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Re: 70 - 200 f/4L vs. 70 - 300 f4-5.6 IS USM
« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2012, 05:35:28 AM »
i had both.

first, as i started, i bought the 70-300mm IS (non L).
it was a nice lens and made good photos but i was missing some extra sharpness i had seen on pictures made with the 70-200mm f4 IS.

after 14 month i sold the 70-300mm and bought a 70-200mm f4 IS for a whooping 600 euro extra (969 euro).

it´s a great lens, very sharp, great AF. i never regretted paying the money.

only the new 70-200mm f2.8 IS II made me sell it in 2011. 

thought i got a TC for it as i missed the extra reach of the 70-300mm.
the 100mm more helps a lot shoothing amphibien from the border of a pond etc.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2012, 05:43:49 AM by Astro »

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Re: 70 - 200 f/4L vs. 70 - 300 f4-5.6 IS USM
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2012, 07:52:23 AM »
In terms of IQ and build quality the 70-200 F4 wins hands down. I would think that even with a 1.4TC the IQ would be superior to the 70-300 IS. Not that the 70-300IS is a bad lens...it is just a little soft wide open and somehow lacks the punch of the 70-200L.

My progression was from 70-300IS to 70-200 F4 IS to 70-200 F2.8 II. Every one of those steps were a substantial upgrade in IQ.
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Re: 70 - 200 f/4L vs. 70 - 300 f4-5.6 IS USM
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2012, 09:06:09 AM »
Hmmm......Seems like everyone's replying about lots of lenses the OP didn't ask about.  So I'll give my 2-cents worth about the two lenses actually in question.  I owned the 70-300 IS, then got a 70-200 f4L (non-IS), then went back to the 70-300.  My experience with the 70-200 was that it was very sharp and contrasty (that "L look") from 70 to about 135 or so, even wide open.  But beyond that it quickly deteriorated, so that beyond 150 it was, in my opinion, unusable at any aperture.  Both my 70-300s were considerably better from 135-200 (even wide open) than the 70-200.  From 70-135, they were comparable IF you stopped down 1 or more stops.  I'd say at f/8, these lenses are almost indistinguishable at the wide end, the 70-300 better at the long (does get soft beyond 250 or so).  If I'd read reviews more carefully, I might have picked this up before buying the 70-200, although I think maybe my copy was worse than average.  Now, the 70-200 f/4L *IS* is by all accounts a fantastic lens.  I think many people assume that the non-IS version is the same lens, just without IS, but this isn't the case.  The IS version is a different optical construction, and sharper across the board, according to all reviews I've seen (also weather sealed, unlike the non-IS).  This is not to say that the non-IS 70-200 is a dog - compared to the 70-300, it focuses faster and is built much better, the front element doesn't rotate on focus, it has full-time manual focus, and all zooming & focus movement is internal.  So, I think the thing to consider is what you shoot.  If you shoot moving subjects, neither of these lenses is great, but the 70-200 will help you more.   Ring USM focus is better, and the constant aperture will be faster at most FLs (the 70-300 is at 4.5 by 85mm, and gets smaller rapidly).  For walk-around shooting of static or slow-moving subjects, the IS in the 70-300 may help more.  If you'll shoot on tripod, get the 70-200 if the wide end is more important, or the 70-300 if longer is more important or if you'll be stopping down anyway, as in most landscape shooting (don't forget to turn off the IS :)).
For other reviews, see slrgear.com and photozone.de .  Hope this helps.

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Re: 70 - 200 f/4L vs. 70 - 300 f4-5.6 IS USM
« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2012, 09:17:31 AM »
Personally, I'd pick the 70-200mm L over the 70-300 IS non-L.  For some of the uses you mention, school plays, indoor sports, the lighting is terrible and an f/4 lens just won't cut it.  I'd consider the 135L for thoses uses, and it also makes a great portrait lens (but you need room to work on APS-C). 
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Terry Rogers

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Re: 70 - 200 f/4L vs. 70 - 300 f4-5.6 IS USM
« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2012, 11:05:00 AM »
I was hoping for an overwhelming leaning one way or another, but that doesn't seem to be the case as both lenses offer pros and cons (which is why I am faced with this dillema).

The verdict is still out, but I am leaning towards the f/4L for now. The red on white is just too tempting for the IQ and faster apature at the long end.

Again, I wish this post were about the f/4L IS and the f/2.8L non-IS, but I just can't drum up the extra $500 - $600 (without incurring wife rage). Besides, I'm pretty sure I'd choose the f/2.8L non-IS if I could affard it.
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Re: 70 - 200 f/4L vs. 70 - 300 f4-5.6 IS USM
« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2012, 11:05:00 AM »

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Re: 70 - 200 f/4L vs. 70 - 300 f4-5.6 IS USM
« Reply #13 on: February 28, 2012, 04:13:32 PM »
The 70-200 f/4L will be a bit more 'fun'. It'll show you the L "experience" (quick and quiet zoom, full-time manual focus adjust) and it'll be quite a bit sharper than the other lens, as well as more contrasty.

The other lens would be more versatile. Best choice if you're not so much into experimenting and the best-possible quality, but are instead looking for the most versatility for your money. If being able to take pictures in the most widespread situations is more important than your pictures being the best possible pictures, then get the 70-300. IS and the extra range help getting those shots (handheld) that the 70-200L might not get due to the lack of IS, particularly in situations where f/4 aperture and 1/200 shutter aren't enough to light a scene.

I'd still get the 70-200 though. Not because of the colour, a 10$ paint job would do that bit. But because of the solid feel, the contrast, the better sharpness and the much faster (internal!) zoom. It's just a very decent thing.

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Re: 70 - 200 f/4L vs. 70 - 300 f4-5.6 IS USM
« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2012, 04:46:58 PM »
Terry, one thing to consider is getting your "L" lens used. Not sure where you are, but my freinds and I have had great success amassing (or selling) lenses on Craigslist - local face-to-face only. If you keep an eye out you may find the 70-200 f/4 IS for an amount you can swing. There are also some reputable photo websites where there are buy/sell forums (not eBay.)

BTW, I have owned the 70-300 IS and presently own the 70-200 IS - the 70-200 has amazing sharpness and color/contrast. Neither of these lenses have blazing speed or accuracy when it comes to fast motion (servo) focusing.

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Re: 70 - 200 f/4L vs. 70 - 300 f4-5.6 IS USM
« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2012, 04:46:58 PM »