Review: Canon RF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM by TDP

SwissFrank

from EOS 1N to R
Dec 9, 2018
491
227
Bokeh is not synonymous with blur.
Oh contraire. Bokeh, though a verb in Japanese, not an adjective, literally means to be blurry, foggy, misty. To the extent bokeh is used as short for bokeh-aji, that term basically means type or flavor of bokeh, not some impossible-to-metric scale of "how good" the blurriness looks. (For instance you might note that the bokeh-aji is smooth or jagged, or swirls around the midpoint of the photo.)

I've been fluent enough in Japanese to read a newspaper for like 30 years, so I'm not the guy you want to nitpick the meaning of Japanese words with. Why are you spending your time attacking fellow group members instead of talking cameras? Even if your insult was correct--it's not--I don't post in this group to be personally attacked. It's kind of depressing to think that you've got the time and will to do so.
 

SwissFrank

from EOS 1N to R
Dec 9, 2018
491
227
Also, if the 4's were the 'be all, end all', why did the 2.8 trinity get released first? We only have the 2nd lens of the f4 trinity and the 3rd might make it this year if lucky.
Because they show what the market demands, right? Canon makes what will sell, even if that means making sales of what I am arguing are the wrong products for the wrong reasons.

I agree to most of what you say here but I wouldn't call the 24-105/4LIS a "kit lens," implying a lens good enough to let a first-time buyer get at least a taste of photography before they save up for a real lens. Unlike the EF MkI, it's sharp enough for most usage. Unlike the EF MkII, it's small enough for most usage. Unlike the f/2.8's, it has wide enough range for most usage. Unlike non-L glass it's sturdy enough for pro use. Unlike smaller-aperture glass, its 25mm aperture (at 100mm f/4) gets enough bokeh to make your subject pop, when that's what you need. Unlike non-IS lenses, it can work well in very dark environments. (Subject motion, yes, not ideal, but in terms of camera shake and grain, it's gold.)

It's not a jack of all trades, master of none. It's instead a master of a huge core of what most photographers spend much of their time shooting, and what many photographers spend all of their time shooting. It's a perfect example of what I'm talking about. I've had f/2.8 trinity since it was 20-35, 28-70, 70-200 and I've traded up with every new model on EF. I haven't even LOOKED at the f/4 EFs... but likewise I have also not even looked at the f/2.8 RFs.

You know, of the people arguing that I'm wrong and that f/2.8 continues to have a role, not a single one is posting a photo taken at f/2.8 and explaining how it couldn't have been taken at f/4, how the resulting increased DOF or increased noise, or some failure of AF, simply makes the shot not work at f/4+. (In contrast, half the photos shot wide-open with fast primes are inarguably different than what could be achieved with even an f/2.8 zoom. So while the argument for 50/1.2, 35/1.0 and 135/1.4 is still there, I'm happy to double down that there just is no longer any argument for f/2.8 trinity.
 

Bdbtoys

R5
CR Pro
Jul 16, 2020
296
226
I agree to most of what you say here but I wouldn't call the 24-105/4LIS a "kit lens," implying a lens good enough to let a first-time buyer get at least a taste of photography before they save up for a real lens. Unlike the EF MkI, it's sharp enough for most usage. Unlike the EF MkII, it's small enough for most usage. Unlike the f/2.8's, it has wide enough range for most usage. Unlike non-L glass it's sturdy enough for pro use. Unlike smaller-aperture glass, its 25mm aperture (at 100mm f/4) gets enough bokeh to make your subject pop, when that's what you need. Unlike non-IS lenses, it can work well in very dark environments. (Subject motion, yes, not ideal, but in terms of camera shake and grain, it's gold.)

Don't get me wrong, the 24-105/4 is a very good lens, but I called it 'kit lens' by definition alone... being that it's a lens you buy factory bundled with the camera body (in the same box). Granted there are non-L's available as a kit lenses too, but IIRC this lens was the default kit lens for the R... and is currently the only one for the R5/R6. Only later did they start packing the non-L 24-105 and the 24-240 as a cheaper kit. Also, It is probably the best kit lens I've seen, but ironically on your point on what 'kit' implies... I literally thought exactly that, in that the f4 was 'good enough' until I saved (more like waited for a sale) for the 2.8's. Disclaimer... I originally went for the 28-70/2 & 70-200/2.8 as the replacements, but the f2 was too unwieldly, so I went with the 24-70/2.8 instead.

I had the 24-105/4 and sold it. After filling out my 'first-choice' lenses, I may get it again as a versatile, light-weight walk-around (if it's on a good enough sale)... but it is not the be-all/end-all that you are making it out to be.

You know, of the people arguing that I'm wrong and that f/2.8 continues to have a role, not a single one is posting a photo taken at f/2.8 and explaining how it couldn't have been taken at f/4, how the resulting increased DOF or increased noise, or some failure of AF, simply makes the shot not work at f/4+. (In contrast, half the photos shot wide-open with fast primes are inarguably different than what could be achieved with even an f/2.8 zoom. So while the argument for 50/1.2, 35/1.0 and 135/1.4 is still there, I'm happy to double down that there just is no longer any argument for f/2.8 trinity.

I will never look down on anyone that says a particular lens is the best for them... however claiming the f4's are superior to the f2.8's as a blanket statement is flat out wrong. The 2.8's are superior in all aspects except size/weight/cost when compared to the f4's at the same focal length. All you have to do is look at any of the many reviews to see that. Also you can't fake out 1 full stop of light (however the R series does a great job with less light... but again 1 stop less, is still 1 less). However... I can pretty much assure you that no one here would disagree with you if your statement was 'the f4's are superior to the 2.8's for your use'.

For reference, I was once in your camp... and thought the 24-105/4 was great when paired with primes (specifically I paired it with the 50/1.2), actually I still think it is. But I found with the 2.8, I don't really need to pack the primes for most situations I go to. Or if I do, I do something like 50/1.2 + 70-200/2.8 so I'm not carrying around 2 lenses in the same focal range unless absolutely needed.
 

blackcoffee17

EOS RP
Sep 17, 2014
584
658
I think the age of the f/2.8 trinity is past us.

It used to be necessary for AF, so we could see a bright image in the viewfinder, and so we could shoot fast enough to avoid camera shake blur.

None of these are necessary any more.

The fourth reason would be bokeh, but you can get equivalent bokeh with an f/4 or smaller lens, too. Bokeh really comes from the apeture width in mm, not the f/stop. And a 24-105/4 has a 25-26mm aperture wide open at the long end, identical to a 24-70/2.8.

So for me that leaves the 24-105/4 as the middle zoom, and the only question is why you'd want a 70-200/4 as your long zoom? I'd prefer the 100-500/4-7.1. If it's just size and weight, then maybe a 100-300/5.6 would be about the same weight and cost of the 70-200/4, but without the overlap.

You still need the 2.8 aperture for indoor events like sports and concerts where ISO can go way to into 10 000s easily with moving subjects.
But i agree that for most things the F4 is more than enough.
 

docsmith

EOS R
CR Pro
Sep 17, 2010
1,035
476
Was this thread ever on the rails????

Overall, the RF 70-200 f/4 looks amazing. If Canon comes out with a small/light RF 24-70 f/4 or maybe RF 15-35 f/4, I can see picking up either of those and the RF70-200 f/4 and having an exceptional light weight travel oriented kit. Even with my f/1.4 primes, I often drop down to f/4-f/5.6 for DOF issues. The blur is often very attractive as long as I pay attention to various distances. If I have a light/small capable standard kit, as I transition to RF glass, I could see focusing more on primes or heavy glass like the 28-70 f/2 for "when I want them glass."

But, this is where I think I will stay with EF glass for a while longer. I am not sure how I want to construct my RF kit because I am not sure exactly what Canon is going to offer. I have EF zooms and primes that are already a great kit. For now, I take pictures with my R5 and EF glass and wonder which RF lens will be my first.
 
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Billybob

800mm f/11 because a cellphone isn't long enough!
May 22, 2016
153
274
Oh contraire. Bokeh, though a verb in Japanese, not an adjective, literally means to be blurry, foggy, misty. To the extent bokeh is used as short for bokeh-aji, that term basically means type or flavor of bokeh, not some impossible-to-metric scale of "how good" the blurriness looks. (For instance you might note that the bokeh-aji is smooth or jagged, or swirls around the midpoint of the photo.)

I've been fluent enough in Japanese to read a newspaper for like 30 years, so I'm not the guy you want to nitpick the meaning of Japanese words with. Why are you spending your time attacking fellow group members instead of talking cameras? Even if your insult was correct--it's not--I don't post in this group to be personally attacked. It's kind of depressing to think that you've got the time and will to do so.
Now you're just being silly (and note, I'm criticizing your response not you, so don't misinterpret this as a personal attack).

This is an English language website, so using terms borrowed from foreign languages employs their anglicized meaning rather than the original meaning in their native tongue.

While your lesson in etymology is appreciated, the common usage of bokeh in the English language is in reference to the quality of the blur, not to the amount.

Merriam-Webster defines it as:
"the blurred quality or effect seen in the out-of-focus portion of a photograph taken..."

My Mac dictionary is even clearer:
"the visual quality of the out-of-focus areas of a photographic image, especially as rendered by a particular lens"

Emphasis added in both cases. But this is common knowledge and hardly controversial. That you suckered me in to responding to your absurd premise, is a testament to your argumentative skills.

Thus, as a previous poster stated, this thread is so far off the rail that I'll make my exit. I don't need to prove f/2.8 zooms are better. You don't need to prove that f/4 zooms are better. Many are in your camp seeing no value to spending the extremely high markup for the faster zooms. There are many, probably fewer, who believe f/2.8 zooms are essential to their work. What matters is not being right, but getting and enjoying the kit that is right for you.

Good day sir.
 

Billybob

800mm f/11 because a cellphone isn't long enough!
May 22, 2016
153
274
Never say never. I just want to make one more comment.

I think someone mentioned this before, but it bares repeating. The 2.8 zooms are better optically in almost every way than their 4.0 counterparts. This is true for the 70-200 siblings. I went to TDP and looked at the review of the new f/4 zoom. Stopping down the 2.8 to 4.0 produces sharper images at every focal length, with less CA and less vignetting. So, the old truism holds here that a lens stopped down is usually better than a lens wide open. Thus, if you value that extra bit of IQ, you'll get it with 2.8 zooms (definitely in the case of 70-200 zooms).

70-200: f/4 versus f/2.8 IQ from TDP
 

Bdbtoys

R5
CR Pro
Jul 16, 2020
296
226
I figured I would comment on the review itself, rather than get caught up in side discussions. I like what the 70-200/4 has to offer and felt this review was pretty informative and actually spot on with what I suspected. It will most likely earn a spot in my collection... at some point (just not yet, partially because I already have the 2.8).

Here were my 2 biggest takeaway's directly quoted from the review (when compared to the f2.8), which I don't think is a surprise to most here.
"If the size, weight, and price differences are not an issue, get the f/2.8 lens. Otherwise, the F4 lens has your name on it."
"The ideal kit will include both lenses, as I mentioned at the beginning of this review."
 
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jd7

EOS R
CR Pro
Feb 3, 2013
880
246
Bokeh is not synonymous with blur. While this is obvious to just about everyone reading it, the point isn't to just maximize blur, but to get the highest quality blur. Although there is a clear correlation between large aperture and blur, just having a large aperture for a given focal length doesn't make it the best. Take two different 85mm f/1.4 lenses, say a Canon EF and a Sigma, and the bokeh will differ (I won't opine as to which is better). The 200mm f/2.0 arguably has among the best bokeh, but the RF 85mm 1.2 and Nikon 105mm 1.4 are right there with it. My RF 70-200 f/2.8 produces the most pleasing bokeh I've seen in a zoom lens. The Sigma 70-180 f/2.8 for Sony is purportedly sharper than the RF version, but its bokeh is underwhelming at best. I have both lenses and have basically not touched the Sigma since acquiring the Canon because the difference is that noticeable. I haven't tried the new f/4 version, but from my experience with previous f/4 zooms (multiple 70-200 and 24-105 lenses), there is a difference in rendering that leaves me cold. Sure, these lenses probably look very similar stopped down to f/8, but unless I'm shooting landscapes, I try to keep my aperture at f/5.6 or larger.
Errrr ... there is no Sigma 70-180 f/2.8 for Sony. Do you mean the Tamron 70-180 f/2.8? I haven't used that Tamron myself, but I thought it was meant to have pretty good bokeh ...? Assuming you meant the Tamron lens, I gather you do not agree about its bokeh!

+1 to the part in red! Athough the word "bokeh" is so often misused as a synonym for blur that I guess maybe its meaning will end up changing so it really does just mean blur. (I am referring to the meaning of the word in English, of course, not Japanese.)
 
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Billybob

800mm f/11 because a cellphone isn't long enough!
May 22, 2016
153
274
Errrr ... there is no Sigma 70-180 f/2.8 for Sony. Do you mean the Tamron 70-180 f/2.8? I haven't used that Tamron myself, but I thought it was meant to have pretty good bokeh ...? Assuming you meant the Tamron lens, I gather you do not agree about its bokeh!

+1 to the part in red! Athough the word "bokeh" is so often misused as a synonym for blur that I guess may its meaning will end up changing so it really does just mean blur. (I am referring to the meaning of the word in English, of course, not Japanese.)
Yes, you are correct, I meant the Tamron 70-180 (I've corrected my error in the original post to avoid confusing future readers). I guess some elements of bokeh are subjective, but compared to the RF 70-200--I have both lenses--the Tamron's bokeh is clearly inferior. Maybe that's not a major criticism considering how good is the bokeh produced by the Canon, but opticallimits.com also found issues with the Tamron bokeh observing significant "onion ringing" and outlining in bokeh balls. Of course it's hard to be worst than the bokeh on the Nikon 24-85 G lens. Yes, there was plenty of blur, but it was absolutely hideous.
 
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CanonFanBoy

Purple
CR Pro
Jan 28, 2015
5,349
3,688
Irving, Texas
Why are you spending your time attacking fellow group members instead of talking cameras? Even if your insult was correct--it's not--I don't post in this group to be personally attacked. It's kind of depressing to think that you've got the time and will to do so.
OMG.... just face it, you lost the election, by a lot. Bigly. Keep repeating you were being attacked. You weren’t.

oh, wait... wrong dude. Sorta.
 
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jd7

EOS R
CR Pro
Feb 3, 2013
880
246
Yes, you are correct, I meant the Tamron 70-180 (I've corrected my error in the original post to avoid confusing future readers). I guess some elements of bokeh are subjective, but compared to the RF 70-200--I have both lenses--the Tamron's bokeh is clearly inferior. Maybe that's not a major criticism considering how good is the bokeh produced by the Canon, but opticallimits.com also found issues with the Tamron bokeh observing significant "onion ringing" and outlining in bokeh balls. Of course it's hard to be worst than the bokeh on the Nikon 24-85 G lens. Yes, there was plenty of blur, but it was absolutely hideous.
I have read plenty of people singing the praises of the bokeh of the RF 70-200, so you certainly aren't alone in that regard (and I've liked the samples I've seen). I've generally heard good things about the Tamron lens too though (including its bokeh), and obviously the price of the Tamron adds to its appeal, but interesting you like the bokeh of the Canon so much more. Hopefully I will get a chance to try both lenses for myself sometime and see what I think. Of course, it would be more relevant to me if I'd made the move to a mirrorless camera :)
 
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PBG

Jul 21, 2020
1
0
Overall, the RF 70-200 f/4 looks amazing. If Canon comes out with a small/light RF 24-70 f/4 or maybe RF 15-35 f/4, I can see picking up either of those and the RF70-200 f/4 and having an exceptional light weight travel oriented kit. Even with my f/1.4 primes, I often drop down to f/4-f/5.6 for DOF issues. The blur is often very attractive as long as I pay attention to various distances. If I have a light/small capable standard kit, as I transition to RF glass, I could see focusing more on primes or heavy glass like the 28-70 f/2 for "when I want them glass."

But, this is where I think I will stay with EF glass for a while longer. I am not sure how I want to construct my RF kit because I am not sure exactly what Canon is going to offer. I have EF zooms and primes that are already a great kit. For now, I take pictures with my R5 and EF glass and wonder which RF lens will be my first.
This is where I was. My EF kit with R6 was 24/2.8 IS, 40 pancake, and 100L Macro. Just got the RF 70-200/4 yesterday and it's marvelous.

Hoping for a 24-70/4 to pair it with, and down the line perhaps RF 50/1.4 and a 24 (as long as they have good USM AF).
 

vangelismm

EOS 90D
Jul 28, 2015
123
69
Never say never. I just want to make one more comment.

I think someone mentioned this before, but it bares repeating. The 2.8 zooms are better optically in almost every way than their 4.0 counterparts. This is true for the 70-200 siblings. I went to TDP and looked at the review of the new f/4 zoom. Stopping down the 2.8 to 4.0 produces sharper images at every focal length, with less CA and less vignetting. So, the old truism holds here that a lens stopped down is usually better than a lens wide open. Thus, if you value that extra bit of IQ, you'll get it with 2.8 zooms (definitely in the case of 70-200 zooms).

70-200: f/4 versus f/2.8 IQ from TDP
True, but as always, depends on user case.
Landscape photographer would shoot both stopped down to f/8, f/11 where this IQ advantage is dismissed.
 

dilbert

EOS M6 Mark II
Aug 12, 2010
63
47
Where is the RF 70-300L?

Who wants one of those? Anyone with a RF 70-200/f4L that wants a bit more zoom and can't use the rf extender...
 

Billybob

800mm f/11 because a cellphone isn't long enough!
May 22, 2016
153
274
True, but as always, depends on user case.
Landscape photographer would shoot both stopped down to f/8, f/11 where this IQ advantage is dismissed.
No, what I stated wasn't conditional. My conclusion was that if you value the extra bit of IQ at 2.8 and 4.0, then you will prefer the 2.8 zoom over the 4.0 zoom. I agree with you that there often isn't much difference stopping these lenses down to f/8 or smaller apertures. If so--if you're a photographer who always shoots at f/8 and smaller apertures--then you are almost certainly not in the category that values better IQ at larger apertures. Thus, photogs who do value that better IQ have to decide whether it makes sense to pay the extortionary markup for 2.8 or whether they are okay purchasing the more affordable 4.0 lens with modestly lower IQ and reduced bulk.
 

stevelee

FT-QL
CR Pro
Jul 6, 2017
1,900
686
Davidson, NC
Don't get me wrong, the 24-105/4 is a very good lens, but I called it 'kit lens' by definition alone... being that it's a lens you buy factory bundled with the camera body (in the same box). Granted there are non-L's available as a kit lenses too, but IIRC this lens was the default kit lens for the R... and is currently the only one for the R5/R6. Only later did they start packing the non-L 24-105 and the 24-240 as a cheaper kit. Also, It is probably the best kit lens I've seen, but ironically on your point on what 'kit' implies... I literally thought exactly that, in that the f4 was 'good enough' until I saved (more like waited for a sale) for the 2.8's. Disclaimer... I originally went for the 28-70/2 & 70-200/2.8 as the replacements, but the f2 was too unwieldly, so I went with the 24-70/2.8 instead.

I had the 24-105/4 and sold it. After filling out my 'first-choice' lenses, I may get it again as a versatile, light-weight walk-around (if it's on a good enough sale)... but it is not the be-all/end-all that you are making it out to be.


I will never look down on anyone that says a particular lens is the best for them... however claiming the f4's are superior to the f2.8's as a blanket statement is flat out wrong. The 2.8's are superior in all aspects except size/weight/cost when compared to the f4's at the same focal length. All you have to do is look at any of the many reviews to see that. Also you can't fake out 1 full stop of light (however the R series does a great job with less light... but again 1 stop less, is still 1 less). However... I can pretty much assure you that no one here would disagree with you if your statement was 'the f4's are superior to the 2.8's for your use'.

For reference, I was once in your camp... and thought the 24-105/4 was great when paired with primes (specifically I paired it with the 50/1.2), actually I still think it is. But I found with the 2.8, I don't really need to pack the primes for most situations I go to. Or if I do, I do something like 50/1.2 + 70-200/2.8 so I'm not carrying around 2 lenses in the same focal range unless absolutely needed.
When I bought the 6D2, I chose the STM lens as my kit lens. I figured it would be good enough to hold me until I decided what lenses I wanted to buy. I have been very pleasantly surprised with the quality and usefulness. It is now the vin ordinaire for my shooting. To the primes I already had, I added the 100–400mm II and the 16–35mm f/4 zooms and a refurb 85 f/1.8. At this point, I wouldn't miss the extra $300 in my checking account because I didn't get the L kit lens, but I can't say I regret the choice. It doesn't inspire me to a GAS attack, and I haven't taken a picture with it that lead me to wish it had been a better lens.

As for the discussion of bucket (I prefer the "Keeping Up Appearances" spelling), I think the best is the one that does call attention to itself and distract from the subject. When I look at a nearby person, I'm aware that there are things behind her that are out of focus, but I'm not assaulted by the cat's-eye shaped lights or even a creamy blurriness. Those things are fine as special effects, and that is the statement you want to make. But usually I just want the background blur to look natural and if anything add to the general atmosphere. I guess I am not a photographer's photographer, wanting mainly impress people with my lens collection.
 

Bdbtoys

R5
CR Pro
Jul 16, 2020
296
226
@stevelee I have to admit, I'm a bit lost why you quoted my post. Seems like we are talking about 2 different things... especially if read in the context of what I was responding to (which is left out of a double quote).
 

stevelee

FT-QL
CR Pro
Jul 6, 2017
1,900
686
Davidson, NC
@stevelee I have to admit, I'm a bit lost why you quoted my post. Seems like we are talking about 2 different things... especially if read in the context of what I was responding to (which is left out of a double quote).
My first paragraph was in response to your “kit lens” discussion. The second paragraph dealt with the more general discussion about f/2.8 vs f/4 lenses and the need for additional blurriness, and was not a reply directly to a specific thing you said.
 

Bdbtoys

R5
CR Pro
Jul 16, 2020
296
226
My first paragraph was in response to your “kit lens” discussion. The second paragraph dealt with the more general discussion about f/2.8 vs f/4 lenses and the need for additional blurriness, and was not a reply directly to a specific thing you said.

Gotcha... Note however, my original 'kit lens' reply was not to undermine the lens... but to explain why I called it a kit lens.

I was super happy w/ a EF-S 24-135 STM kit lens for the longest time when I was using a 70D.
 
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