8 Features of the Canon EOS 70–200mm f/4L IS Zoom Lens That Make it a Cut Above Most General-Purpose Lenses
Photographers have many choices of general-purpose zoom lens, but the Canon EOS 70–200mm f/4L IS may be the most versatile of the bunch. Introduced during late 2006, this lens still deserves the attention of serious amateurs, and even some part-time and full-time professionals, who shoot portraits, landscapes, outdoor sports and general wildlife subjects and scenes. When the 70–200mm f/4L isn’t used for these specific assignments, it is also an excellent lens for family outings, vacations, travel and other personal photography subjects.
What will please any photographer immediately is that this Canon tele-zoom is quite small and lightweight compared to the other Canon 70–200mm lenses as well as Sigma and Tamron’s players in this market. The Canon EOS 70–200mm f/4L IS weighs just 26.8 oz. (760g) and its dimensions without a hood are 3 x 6.8”. Only the non-IS 70–200mm f/4L is lighter at 24.9 oz. and both lenses have the same dimensions. The f/2.8 series of Canon 70–200mm lenses and the Sigma and Tamron are longer (as much as an inch) and heavier (almost twice as much for the Canon EOS 70–200mm f/2.8L IS II USM). The market for Canon’s 70–200mm f/2.8 lenses is almost exclusively full-time professionals, who need the wider aperture, stop-action capabilities and high quality bokeh.
When this Canon lens was first introduced, its image stabilization (IS) system was one of its most widely discussed new features. The IS is still an excellent reason to buy this lens, especially if you’re new to tele-zooms and need the stabilization to compensate for your unsteady hand. Even if you’ve developed good, steady with a longer lens, the 70–200mm f/4L’s 4 stops of image stabilization allow you to be more creative in many low-light shooting situations.
All the features above are nice, but the “only” feature for many photographers is image quality. With many years in the marketplace and in the hands of photographers, the Canon EOS 70–200mm f/4L IS has proven to produce extraordinary image quality. Photographers and reviewers report that full-frame images are amazingly sharp across the entire frame, even in the corners, and at its widest aperture of f/4. Image sharpness is particularly noticeable in the center to as much as 85mm.
The 70–200mm f/4L IS also does an excellent job with the various types of lens distortion. Chromatic aberration is essentially non-existent, but with some noticed in full-frame corners at 200mm. What barrel distortion and pincushioning that occurs is quite insignificant. Vignetting is equally well controlled with the only noticeable effect being darker corners on full-frame cameras at 135mm or longer at f/4.
Canon knew that to sell this lens to photographers shooting outdoors, especially landscape and wildlife, it needed weather sealing; it’s still an excellent feature of this lens. Since the lens has been in wide use, there are many stories of it being exposed to heavy rain, and even being submerged in water, and continue to operate as if it never happened.
Auto-focus performance is another important feature for any photographer buying this lens. Canon knows how to design and build auto-focus motors/systems that are quick, quiet and precise; and the Canon Ring USM (Ultrasonic Motor), in the 70–200mm f/4L IS delivers the goods. The lens provides full-time manual focusing and features high quality focus and zoom rings that are a pleasure to operate. As with all lenses in this class, Canon’s 70–200mm f/4L IS does not extend during zoom or focus and the front element doesn’t turn.
The Canon EOS 70–200mm f/4L IS tele-zoom lens also proves its versatility as an all-purpose lens with a respectable minimum focus distance of 3.94” (1.2m). It’s certainly not a macro lens, but you’ll be able to capture rather small subjects if your passion is wildlife photography. If you love portrait work, then this lens will bring you close enough to your subject to create distinctive and unique visions.
Want to see reviews from other photographers? Check them out here.
The Canon EOS 70–200mm f/4L IS USM zoom lens is available from Amazon for $1,199.00 and can be ordered here
Photo © 2012 Canon U.S.A., Inc
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