The great 70-200mm f/2.8 shootout, Canon vs Nikon, Panasonic and Sony

Canon Rumors Guy

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DPReview has done a comparison of four different 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses to figure out who makes the best of the bunch.
DPreview compares autofocus, sharpness, video performance, and more to come up with a winner.
The contenders:

Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM
Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S
Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS
Panasonic Lumix S Pro 70-200 f/2.8 O.I.S.

Spoiler alert…. Canon wins.
Continue reading...
 
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Surab

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The message was really not that Canon is the definite winner without a doubt, but rather: Canon, Nikon, and Panasonic are essentially equally great, with the Canon having a huge advantage in size and weight, but Nikon and Panasonic winning on TC support. Even the Sony was great and just lacked a bit in features, thus it is due for an update to bring those up to speed.

These are truly amazing times and neither of these lenses is in my price bracket anyway. I am sure people will love them to bits no matter which system(s) they use.
 

woodman411

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DPR misses the most important things, forest for the trees, gear reviewers who aren't true photographers (this is why for example they hyper focus on dynamic range more than anything else in a camera body, and why their sample galleries look like a 5-year-old took them). In this case, they don't test what a 70-200 f/2.8 is primarily for: portraiture. Meaning, how well does it render people, how is the bokeh, how is the contrast? These are arguably the most important qualities for this lens (along with sharpness which they do test) which can't be measured on a test chart, it requires taking many shots and comparisons to get a feeling of overall rendering. For quality reviews from people who actually do photography, I find Bryan Carnathan at tdp and Dustin Abbott much more insightful.
 
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Codebunny

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The Nikon wins for me just on sharpness and versatility. The 1.4x is a no brainer and the 2x TC is viable.
The Canon wins on being a wee fatty I can fit in a smaller bag, but gives up TC support which make is less versatile for wildlife shooting.
The others are irrelevant.
 
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David - Sydney

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Like most of their reviews, DPR misses the most important things, forest for the trees, gear reviewers who aren't true photographers (this is why for example they hyper focus on dynamic range more than anything else in a camera body). In this case, they don't test what a 70-200 f/2.8 is primarily for: portraiture. Meaning, how well does it render people, how is the bokeh, how is the contrast? These are arguably the most important qualities for this lens (along with sharpness which they do test) which can't be measured on a test chart, it requires taking many shots and comparisons to get a feeling of overall rendering. For quality reviews from people who actually do photography, I find Bryan Carnathan at tdp and Dustin Abbott much more insightful.
"what a 70-200 f/2.8 is primarily for: portraiture."
The 70-200mm can be used - and I do use it - for portraiture on occassion but there are more dedicated portrait lenses eg. 50/85mm 1.2 for instance or even the 100mmL. Some people love the 135mm/2 instead.
I use my 70-200mm range more for action where a zoom is needed and moving feet isn't as simple as can be for slow-moving portraiture. I also use it for landscape stopped down. It is a very versatile focal range so to say that it has a primary usage is a personal decision. YMMV
 

degos

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That's the problem with much of the photo industry today; so much choice yet in reality so little choice.

Say I identify that I need a 35-150 f2.8. Where are they? Or perhaps a 50-135 f2. Nope.

But here are half a dozen 70-200 f2.8, now just buy one like a good little consumer.
 

Joules

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That's the problem with much of the photo industry today; so much choice yet in reality so little choice.

Say I identify that I need a 35-150 f2.8. Where are they? Or perhaps a 50-135 f2. Nope.
Well, that's a problem with any market. If you want a niche product (especially if you want it NOW, rather than once the rest of the ecosystem has matured) that only you and a handful of others want, better get ready to pay some major money to have it purpose built for you.

A f/2.0 zoom may still become a reality. But the RF system is still super new, and obviously the most common lens offerings get more attention before more out-there designs.
 

justaCanonuser

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That's the problem with much of the photo industry today; so much choice yet in reality so little choice.

Say I identify that I need a 35-150 f2.8. Where are they? Or perhaps a 50-135 f2. Nope.

But here are half a dozen 70-200 f2.8, now just buy one like a good little consumer.
I really miss a compact, fully weather sealed 12-1200mm f/2.8 lens ;):p

In fact, to be serious, I am pretty sure that lens manufacturers do some market research before they invest. The 70-200mm f/2.8 is a classic photojournalist's lens. This focal length range allows lens designers to make pretty sharp lenses despite the compromises a zoom always demands for. So when Sony decided to get a share of this pro/prosumer market, they first copied Canon's white disign (made it even more shinier) and filled it then with glass etc. produced in Thailand. With the Mk I version, they didn't realize that a cheap aluminum plate between the two main parts of the lens is a bit flimsy for a rugged pro lens. So, lensrentals struggled with bend Sony lenses returned from their customers, as one could read in Roger Cicala's blog three years ago.
 

FramerMCB

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That's the problem with much of the photo industry today; so much choice yet in reality so little choice.

Say I identify that I need a 35-150 f2.8. Where are they? Or perhaps a 50-135 f2. Nope.

But here are half a dozen 70-200 f2.8, now just buy one like a good little consumer.
Here's your 35-150mm (of course it is not a constant f2.8 but rather f2.8 - 4.0
 
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usern4cr

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Did anyone else notice that he showed the Canon lens without a lens hood, while he showed the other 3 with lens hood on? That really exaggerated the difference in length. I use the lens hood on mine as much as possible, and it makes it feel a lot longer just by being on.

There was no real comparison when shooting portraits of say a lady at MFD so we could look at the background bokeh. That would have been one of the most useful comparisons to do.

A somewhat minor thing he could have mentioned is whether any have an Arca-Swiss set of grooves on their feet so that they can mount to a A-Q quick connected tripod? The Canon doesn't have one (DOH!). My 3 year old Olympus 300mm f4 pro lens has the A-S foot and it is so convenient to use! Come on - Canon, start putting A-S grooves on your big feet!

It would have been great (but risky) if he put each out in a controlled shower to simulate rain for 5 minutes, then dry them off and see if any moisture got into any part of them, including after taking the lens off the mount. I know for a fact that the Canon will survive this perfectly (well, ahem, ... I made the mistake of doing this test accidentally (doh!) and there was no moisture anywhere!). I'd love to see what happened to the Sony (lens as well as body) as I don't trust their weather sealing at all.

One final comment - I absolutely love my RF 70-200 f2.8L ! I'm glad they're coming out with a F4L version for those who are more into landscape use instead of portraiture, and I expect it will be really great as well.
 
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Mr Majestyk

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Nikon won the sharpness comparison. Not surprising given the MTFs for this lens are extremely good.
Canon has prioritised size over quality, all of Nikon's holy trinity of f/2.8 zooms are the clear winners in IQ. The 14-24 is a much better lens than the 15-35 IMO. I intensely dislike the new 70-200's from Canon more so due to abandoning TC support. I regularly use my EF 70-200 f/2.8 with a 1.4x TC. I am seriously doubting getting an R5 even putting aside the total unavailability and price gouging where I live. I'm now waiting to see how the Nikon Z8/Z9 and Sony A9III stack up. I got all my EF glass which works great on the Sony and I have little interest at all in the RF glass so far released also since most are at least 25% dearer than their EF equivalents.
 

GMCPhotographics

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"what a 70-200 f/2.8 is primarily for: portraiture."
The 70-200mm can be used - and I do use it - for portraiture on occassion but there are more dedicated portrait lenses eg. 50/85mm 1.2 for instance or even the 100mmL. Some people love the 135mm/2 instead.
I use my 70-200mm range more for action where a zoom is needed and moving feet isn't as simple as can be for slow-moving portraiture. I also use it for landscape stopped down. It is a very versatile focal range so to say that it has a primary usage is a personal decision. YMMV
It's bizarre isn't it. It's a lens formula created by Canon back in the film days. It's a lens primarily designed for photojournalists to shoot walkabouts press work. Which is why the lens' bokeh has always been a bit too agitated for portrait work. Compare the results from a 135mm f2 (or even an 85mm f1.2) at the same working distance and apertures and the 135L wins by a mile in terms of how a portrait image looks.
 

GMCPhotographics

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I wonder if Dustin Abbott got a faulty unit because his RF 70-200mm f/2.8 looks much worse than 2.5 times cheaper Tamron 70-180m f/2.8

Interesting that his Tamron corner shot was softer at f4 compared to f2.8. It kind of questions the whole validity of his test.
It could be a mis focus (which raises a lot of other potential questions), it could be aperture realted focus shift or it could just be some lens shake.
This test also fails to test either lens at either end of their focus range. A dollar bill on a wall for a 70-200 will tax a lens' relatively close focus sharpness. A zoom lens has a lot of design compromises, we can't expect a lens to operate as well at every focal length and every focus distance.
For example, the Canon ef 70-200 f2.8IIILIS is slightly sharper at the longer end of it's focus range...ie it's a bit sharper at infinity as it is at 2m @200mm. HOWEVER, the wonderful ef 70-200 f4 variant often is slated a being a tad softer than the f2.8. BUT this lens is a tad sharper at it's close focus distance than it is at infinity.
It's quite possible that the Tamron fares better shooting dollar bills on a wall at a few meters away than at infinity. It doesn't mean it's a sharper lens across all focus ranges and focal lengths....this is why I detest home bakes lens tests...there are so many more variables.
 

YuengLinger

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I like Dustin's reviews, I really do. But It so often does seem that Tameron is the best of whatever else it's up against, whether it be Sigma or Canon or whatever. Depressing!
 

David - Sydney

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Canon has prioritised size over quality, all of Nikon's holy trinity of f/2.8 zooms are the clear winners in IQ. The 14-24 is a much better lens than the 15-35 IMO. I intensely dislike the new 70-200's from Canon more so due to abandoning TC support. I regularly use my EF 70-200 f/2.8 with a 1.4x TC. I am seriously doubting getting an R5 even putting aside the total unavailability and price gouging where I live. I'm now waiting to see how the Nikon Z8/Z9 and Sony A9III stack up. I got all my EF glass which works great on the Sony and I have little interest at all in the RF glass so far released also since most are at least 25% dearer than their EF equivalents.
The best part of the R mount system is that you can use your existing EF lenses (including EF70-200 + 1.4TC) natively and have even better stabilisation than you had previously. Is your Sony body that much better than the R5? Moving from the 5Div to the R5 has been revolutionary for me.
As for price...
The EF lenses have already been discounted from their initial pricing so the comparison is a bit apples-to-oranges.
The RF lenses are expensive but I have already seen 15% and 20% off sales for them (I bought both the RF70-200mm and RF100-500mm at 15% off). Even the R5 currently offered with AUD250 cash back rebate from Canon at the moment.
I previously used the EF1.4x and 2x TCs with my EF70-200mm for the occasional times I needed extra reach. The R5's 45mp sensor gives you the cropping for ~1.4x compared to the 5Div so no 1.4x TC was really needed for me anyway. I'm guessing that you have a A9ii so the extra reach from sensor mp is even more obvious.
That said, I did splurge on the RF100-500mm and use it much more now than I thought I would eg. for the moon/Jupiter/Saturn conjunction last night.
Perhaps by the time the A9iii is available, the R5 will be more readily available and perhaps the lenses and bodies will be a bit cheaper where you live.
Changing to Nikon will cost you a lot more in lens system changeover than getting a R5 and keeping your EF glass.
YMMV
 

Aussie shooter

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DPR misses the most important things, forest for the trees, gear reviewers who aren't true photographers (this is why for example they hyper focus on dynamic range more than anything else in a camera body, and why their sample galleries look like a 5-year-old took them). In this case, they don't test what a 70-200 f/2.8 is primarily for: portraiture. Meaning, how well does it render people, how is the bokeh, how is the contrast? These are arguably the most important qualities for this lens (along with sharpness which they do test) which can't be measured on a test chart, it requires taking many shots and comparisons to get a feeling of overall rendering. For quality reviews from people who actually do photography, I find Bryan Carnathan at tdp and Dustin Abbott much more insightful.
I hve never once shot a portrait on my 70-200 2.8. Actually, that is a lie. I do pet portraits a lot but I do use it for wildlife and landscapes all the time. But your point is till valid. Sharpness is but one factor to consider and it is not always the most important
 
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