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First Impressions: Canon 70-200 f/2.8L non-IS

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Thread started 13 Jul 2006 (Thursday) 20:31   
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Calzinger
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Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM

As one who moved up from the f/4L to the f/2.8L, I will constantly be making comparisons between both lenses. I see that many people have done and might be planning to do what I've just done.

Parting thoughts with 70-200 f/4L
I received this lens today after selling my f/4L to a buyer in NYC this week. As some of you may know, I have been using my f/4L for only six months, but have worked it to death. The lens was basically worn out, though surprisingly still in mint condition. I sold it for a nice $525.

I decided to move up to the f/2.8L after realizing immediately after getting the f/4L that f/4 simply wasn't enough unless there was a ridiculous amount of sunlight. But I knew that before I got the f/4, right? On the contrary, the f/4 was absolutely spectacular when there was enough sunlight. If you're only planning to use your telephoto outdoors, I would recommend the f/4L in a heartbeat. Just be prepared to use higher ISOs when it gets cloudy.

Physical build of the f/2.8L
I'd hate to sound like a broken record, but as you would expect, the build quality is top notch. The weight also makes you feel like you're holding a lens. You actually feel like you're holding a small tank in your hand with, of course, some very gentle glass inside it.

The hood was something that surprised me actually. It came on the lens mounted backwards. It was actually very hard to remove. I had to put in a good amount of effort just to twist it. The threads were pretty damned tight. Good or bad? Well whenever I mount/unmount the hood, I can count on having some very deep finger marks on the hood. On the contrary, it feels like it isn't coming off. The f/4L, on the other hand, was mounted 1, 2, 3, no problems at all. It just slid on and slid off.

One disappointment was the cap. With the design of the hood and the size of the cap, putting the cap on and taking it off can be a bit tricky. It isn't as easy as it used to be with the f/4L, but it's as ridiculous as it is to mount the cap for the Sigma 24-70 with the hood on. And since the hood is stiff as a rock, I'll have to deal with the tight fit. Honestly not a big deal, just not as easy as it used to be with the f/4L.

The weight, of course
At nearly double the weight, you do notice it. Is it too heavy? Well we're all different people. Some can handle more than others. Now if you've ever seen me before, I'm a big guy (more wide), but not a built guy, quite the weakling actually (see linkexternal link). While I'm not a big fan of the size and weight, I haven't had any real issues with it. I've used the 2.8 IS for a whole day which is supposed to be heavier, no trouble. I've found that it was more about how you held your lens when you weren't shooting rather than when you are shooting. Simply put, weak or not, you're not going to pull a muscle unless you like doing curls with your glass.

Need I compare the weight to the f/4L?

Improved AF speed?
I have a 350D so I don't know how much quicker it is on the 20D. I could immediately see that the AF was faster in lower light. The hunting of the f/4L was eliminated with use of the f/2.8L. That lighting fast focus that the f/4L gave me outdoors was now available in doors with the f/2.8. I honestly can't find something that it won't focus on. Is the viewfinder brighter? I don't know, should it be?

Optical quality
Well, it's an L lens. Do you want me to tell you that it doesn't produce ridiculously sharp pictures that have beautiful color rendition and contrast? I'll decide not to tell you what you've already heard.

Compared to the f/4L, it's the same lens as far as I'm concerned, just with an extra stop. Oh yeah, it's heavier.

The Sigma option
I dunno. Feel free to contribute your own thoughts as far as the Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 goes. From what I heard, it was a bit soft at f/2.8. It didn't make much sense for me to get the Sigma when I wanted a lens that would perform at f/2.8. Again, I don't know much about the Sigma so please feel free to correct me with samples of course. And by samples, I mean unprocessed, uncorrected, 100% crops at f/2.8. I could fix up a shot with my kit lens to look like it was taken with an L so please no fake pictures. It's misleading.

Final Thoughts
It's every bit what I expected it to be. To be honest though, it's nothing new to me since I haven't tested it in lower light. I have a feeling I'll really be able to hit the limits of this lens while shooting indoors.

As with any "review", samples are available.

70-200 f/2.8L "the badass"

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#1 - oh yeah!
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#2 - "the badass"

shots taken with the lens - all ISO 100, f/2.8
everything is straight out of the camera
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#3
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#4 - underexposed
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#5

100% crop, no post-processing, no sharpening, no nothing!
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#6

Post #1, Jul 13, 2006 20:31:25


"That building in the background is distracting."
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thescottandrew
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i envy this lens, as i have the f/4 version, i find myself in many situations where the extra stop would be quite nice and useful, great lens and congratulations.

Post #2, Jul 13, 2006 20:42:00



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Livinthalife
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great comparison! I held the 2.8 IS (which is supposed to be the same except with the IS) and I was in heaven. For me to see the results is spectacular, and yet has me demanding this lens even more! Great review. 100%crop! WOW!

Post #3, Jul 13, 2006 21:01:59


-Andy-
Canon 6D 85 1.8 Sig 50 1.4
24-105 F4 IS L 580EX 70-200 2.8 100 2.8 L
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coolopticks
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Calzinger wrote:
I dunno. Feel free to contribute your own thoughts as far as the Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 goes. From what I heard, it was a bit soft at f/2.8. It didn't make much sense for me to get the Sigma when I wanted a lens that would perform at f/2.8. Again, I don't know much about the Sigma so please feel free to correct me with samples of course. And by samples, I mean unprocessed, uncorrected, 100% crops at f/2.8. I could fix up a shot with my kit lens to look like it was taken with an L so please no fake pictures. It's misleading.

There's a gazillion threads on here comparing the f/2.8 the f/4 and the Sigma. Bottom line is that, unless you're doing explicit measurements and pixel peeping at 100% crops, you're not going to notice a whole lot of difference (at comparable apertures). What I mean is, you can ask how much better the Canon is than the Sigma. You can ask how much cheaper the Sigma is than the Canon. But they're all fine lenses at this level. One thing is true, though. The Sigma's inexpensive. And however much better the Canon is than the Sigma, that difference is probably not worth the cost difference. At least, not in the same way that the Sigma costs more than the cheapie kit lens and gives you a significant boost in IQ.

Here you're in a realm of comparing two really good lenses with very very little difference.

Post #4, Jul 13, 2006 21:25:16




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Calzinger
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coolopticks wrote:
There's a gazillion threads on here comparing the f/2.8 the f/4 and the Sigma. Bottom line is that, unless you're doing explicit measurements and pixel peeping at 100% crops, you're not going to notice a whole lot of difference (at comparable apertures). What I mean is, you can ask how much better the Canon is than the Sigma. You can ask how much cheaper the Sigma is than the Canon. But they're all fine lenses at this level. One thing is true, though. The Sigma's inexpensive. And however much better the Canon is than the Sigma, that difference is probably not worth the cost difference. At least, not in the same way that the Sigma costs more than the cheapie kit lens and gives you a significant boost in IQ.

Here you're in a realm of comparing two really good lenses with very very little difference.

The main reason why I didn't get the Sigma was because of the consistency at f/2.8. My cousin let me borrow his Sigma 24-70 and it's fairly soft wide open. Now I don't mean soft to the point that it's only viewable at 100%. I mean it's still very distinct at 25%. Now I know these are two different lenses and there's a good bet that the Sigma 70-200 is better wide open than the Sigma 24-70 wide open, but after hearing a number of people say that it's fairly soft at f/2.8 but becomes truly spectacular at f/4, I figured, why should I get a lens that I would try to stop down all the time anyway? Of course this "soft at f/2.8" isn't something I can back up, but the fact that it was even brought up immediately made me turn away, especially with my experience with the other Sigma.

Post #5, Jul 13, 2006 22:16:48 as a reply to coolopticks's post 51 minutes earlier.


"That building in the background is distracting."
"Oh OK, I'll move it out of the way next time."
internet forum fail

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Mark_Cohran
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This was the first L lens I ever bought. I love it for outdoor glamour. It allows me to reach out and touch the model with exquisite sharpness while rendering the background sweetly out of focus with buttery bokeh.

See, I wax poetic about this lens. :)

Mark

(forgive the color - I used save for web to meet the size requirements)

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Post #6, Jul 13, 2006 22:32:11


Mark
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Lightstream
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Congratulations on the new lens!

I am assuredly going to draw fire for this, but just bear in mind it's my own personal, very biased opinion. (yes I don't hesitate to say it's biased :D) I've always thought of 3rd-party lenses as a compromise, and pretty much that is the case for me when I buy them instead of Canon gear. It's not to say that they are 'bad' per se, just that the Canon stuff tends to have the extra 'edge' over it. Of course, the Canon stuff is premium-priced, and that's the good part of the compromise, I managed to get my Sigma 70-200 used for less than what you sold your f/4L for :mrgreen:

The Sigma is occasionally a little soft wide open at 200mm, so I throw in a little bit of USM, and things get going. Compromise or not, I consider it 'good enough' for my applications. The one thing glass has taught me - like life, nothing is PERFECT. Some things come very close, other things do not come as close. But even in the absence of perfect, there sure as heck is 'good enough' and I am happy with that. :)

Of course if I had the money, the be-all-end-all Canon 70-200 IS USM would be on my list!

Post #7, Jul 13, 2006 23:00:58




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halfmoonray
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Good move on selling the f4. I sold mine too after a few months. Just not sharp enough and too slow and I was always using it at 200 or 70. Zooms are not for me.

Post #8, Jul 13, 2006 23:23:58



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Calzinger
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Lightstream wrote:
Congratulations on the new lens!

I am assuredly going to draw fire for this, but just bear in mind it's my own personal, very biased opinion. (yes I don't hesitate to say it's biased :D) I've always thought of 3rd-party lenses as a compromise, and pretty much that is the case for me when I buy them instead of Canon gear. It's not to say that they are 'bad' per se, just that the Canon stuff tends to have the extra 'edge' over it. Of course, the Canon stuff is premium-priced, and that's the good part of the compromise, I managed to get my Sigma 70-200 used for less than what you sold your f/4L for :mrgreen:

The Sigma is occasionally a little soft wide open at 200mm, so I throw in a little bit of USM, and things get going. Compromise or not, I consider it 'good enough' for my applications. The one thing glass has taught me - like life, nothing is PERFECT. Some things come very close, other things do not come as close. But even in the absence of perfect, there sure as heck is 'good enough' and I am happy with that. :)

Of course if I had the money, the be-all-end-all Canon 70-200 IS USM would be on my list!

Lightstream, jeez if I could've got the Sigma 70-200 for less than $525, trust me I would've jumped on it in a heartbeat. But It seems like one of those ridiculously amazing deals that will never happen again or I'll never get at least.

The needed correction at 200mm/f2.8 is the main reason why I turned away from it. Since I was jumping to a 2.8 lens for some time, I wanted something that did f/2.8 as good as it did f/4 or f/5.6.

I'm also hugely against USM unless the shot is blurry. I'm a fan of more natural looking shots rather than "digitalized" ones where colors are oversaturated to the point of fake and aliasing becomes apparent. If I had to use USM whenever I shot at f/2.8, I wouldn't be a happy camper. That's enough to convince me, given my needs.

But as you said, we all have our own needs and applications. Surely if I wasn't so anal about getting natural pictures and was more welcoming to USM, I'd probably consider the Sigma.

halfmoonray wrote:
Good move on selling the f4. I sold mine too after a few months. Just not sharp enough and too slow and I was always using it at 200 or 70. Zooms are not for me.

The f/4L wasn't sharp enough!? Well with those other lenses that you have, I'm not surprised! ;)

Post #9, Jul 14, 2006 06:57:51 as a reply to Lightstream's post 7 hours earlier.


"That building in the background is distracting."
"Oh OK, I'll move it out of the way next time."
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td4wg
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Have you tried the lens indoors yet? I've been borrowing my friends f/4L. It's a great lens but I find myself needing more light so I switch to my 50mm f/1.4 cause I don't like flashes. I think the 2.8 would make a big difference so I'm saving up for that lens. Let me know how you like the 2.8 in the lower light situations. Show us some photos!

Post #10, Jul 14, 2006 07:40:30


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Calzinger
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From what I've seen so far, that f/2.8 definitely brings you out of the realm of impossible. With the f/4, there were so many shots that were never going to happen, no matter what ISO. Now shots can become more possible to borderline. If you can use a monopod, the possibilities seem pretty endless.

I'll try to get some indoor shots for ya Tony.

Post #11, Jul 14, 2006 07:47:17


"That building in the background is distracting."
"Oh OK, I'll move it out of the way next time."
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Yup...woke up at some crazy hour to take a leak, passed by my computer and noticed the ebay auction I had been looking at for fun earlier in the day was ending. Put in a ridiculously low bid just for the heck of it and went back to sleep. Next morning, email arrives saying "you won"....at that price?! Yup!

The little bit of softness at 200mm isn't too bad under most circumstances but the Canon L excels there, with enough 'reserve' image quality that you can use a tcon with it and still come out on top. I have a tcon and would prefer not to use it with the Sigma, that's why I am keeping my 70-300 IS USM zoom for all the days when I need a true 300mm reach over maximum aperture.

Post #12, Jul 14, 2006 08:11:34




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I bought my 70-200 2.8L non IS back when I was broke. Now that I'm actually making some money, I had thought about upgrading it. But then I shot this yesterday, about 75 yards away, handheld... Think I'll put that money into something else for a while.

IMAGE: http://www.sasong.com/Rons/JG3C8502-01_copy.jpg


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Post #13, Jul 14, 2006 15:07:43 as a reply to Lightstream's post 6 hours earlier.


1dMkII
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28-75 2.8 XR Di
17-40 4.0L
300 4.0L (its baaaaack)
50 1.4
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Tareq
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this photo taken with my 70-200L IS + 2X canon TC. Enjoy

sorry for bad res (IQ).

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Post #14, Jul 14, 2006 16:23:02 as a reply to Lightstream's post 8 hours earlier.


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P(-)r0z3n ­ Fyr3
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Nice indeed Chris... BTW I hate SIGMA and that 24-70 is not fit to be a paper weight, I should know thats my lens. :lol: Where are we going this weekend to shoot? I want that 50 1.4 by tomorrow. This hobby costs too damn much.

Post #15, Jul 14, 2006 17:00:45 as a reply to Tareq's post 37 minutes earlier.


20D
10-22, 50 1.4, 70-200 f2.8L IS, & 580EX

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