*First let me start by saying that I have never done a head to head comparison before. I have read many, especially those by our own Lightrules, so I tried to follow what I saw on these reviews.
The following is a head to head comparison of two lenses:
EF 70-200 f/4 L USM (Approx. $529.95 new at the time of writing this review)
EF 70-210 f/3.5-4.5 USM (Approx. $165-$225 used depending on condition and included accessories)
I first purchased the EF 70-210 around March of 2006 as my first telephoto. It has served me well over the past year, allowing me to learn some long lens technique and continually evolve in my photography. Lately though, I have been wanting something better. While the lens has produced some wonderful images I felt that it was limited in what it could achieve and as a result so was I. This led me to look at the EF 70-200 f/4 L and the EF 200 f/2.8 L. I chose the zoom for flexibility but have no doubts that the prime is a wonderful lens. At the time of this review I have only had the L for less than a week but can tell you that it is everything I was hoping for and more. When I announced that I would be geting this lens several people asked me to do this comparison, so here it is.
Initial Impressions and Build Quality
Since both lenses vary so much in price it is quite obvious that the consumer grade EF 70-210 is not built as well as the L. For starters the zoom ring grabs when rotated and this can lead missed opportunities. The lens has a plastic feel while the L has a nice solid metal feel. The two lenses are just about the same weight though, and have almost the same length when extended (see the images below). The EF 70-210 also has what is known as zoom creep. When you hold the lens upright it will zoom in or out with just a little movement. So when walking with this lens attached to your camera and your strap around your neck, don’t expect it to stay at 70mm. It will certainly creep to 210mm easily. The L does not have this problem as it has internal zooming, so it does not extend. Overall the L wins this category hands down.