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Thread started 17 Oct 2010 (Sunday) 14:01
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70-200 2.8 MKII vs 70-200 f4 @ f4 for portraits?

4,936 posts
Joined Jan 2008
Oct 17, 2010 14:01 |  #1

I got tired of handling my 70-200 2.8 IS when shooting portraits during rather long sessions or when I had a lot of people to photograph, it also was huge an overly obvious when out shooting in public, I now do those things on a MKIII with an 85L which although heavy, is short and balances with the camera quite beautifully.

But there are times I want to go longer and have been planning to get the 70-300 IS L that's just coming out, but I had thought it would be out by now and there doesn't seem to be any information coming from Canon. Where it would work if the image is good enough is that it's a constant f4 from 70mm through 134mm and much lighter than the bigger zoom, with new IS.

Then I got to wondering about giving in and getting the 70-200 2.8 IS MKII just because it appears that the image quality is so excellent and also has general build and stabilizer improvements, but then I'm adding the weight again.

So my third option and it's been around a while, is the little 70-200 IS f4 and I'm wondering how it compares image wise and bokeh wise to the 70-200 f2.8 MKII when shot at an f4? The area of the lens that I would be most interested in is 85mm through 135mm.

I'm not that concerned about sharpness, I know all three will be excellent and fit my needs, I'm more concerned about the "look" for portraiture, there is so much more to clarity and the way a lens handles skin than sharpness.

I would be totally thrilled if Canon made a portrait zoom that was 70mm to 135mm f2.8 IS with the new optics, made especially for portraits with the kind of rendition that you can get out of an 85L or 70-200 2.8 IS MKII.

Any input?

"When you come to a fork in the road, take it"!
1DMKIII, 85LII, 24-70L, 100-400L

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4,661 posts
Joined Feb 2006
Location: Halifax, NS
Oct 18, 2010 16:52 |  #2

I previously owned the 2.8 MKI, and now own the F/4 IS. I rented the 2.8 MKII for a week (just returned today). Initial impressions are that the sharpness, color + contrast are much better on the MKII wide open than the MKI. Likewise I would say that if you are planning to use the lens @ F/4 than it will be a toss up between the F/4 IS and the F/2.8 MKII. Check out Bodank's thread on the subject for some photographic evidence. I think the true question will be if either lens at F/4 gives enough separation for your needs? If so the F/4 is less expensive, much smaller + lighter, and less conspicuous.

Here is the thread I mentioned, first he compares the MKII w/ the 135L, and then with the F/4 IS:​ad.php?t=945834

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Joined Dec 2006
Oct 18, 2010 16:59 |  #3

I've enjoyed using my 70-200F4 IS for portraits. It doesnt give supershallow DOF like the 85L, but in its context it does a nice job. I dont have exif on this shot, but I think its near wide open.


Cream of the Crop
6,011 posts
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Joined Apr 2009
Location: Portland, OR
Oct 18, 2010 18:31 |  #4

Shot wide open on the f/4IS from saturday's e-session. Bokeh quality still surprises me for a zoom @ f/4

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112 posts
Joined Nov 2009
Mar 04, 2011 17:30 |  #5

shot at f4. Was just a quick snap but the lens is nice

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38 posts
Joined Dec 2010
Location: Hampshire, England
Apr 29, 2011 05:59 as a reply to  @ trevert2's post |  #6

I really love the 70-200f4 lens for portraits, but then budget meant that the f2.8 was never really an option. :(

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50D: Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II, Canon EF 85mm f/1.8, Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8, Canon EF 70-200mm f4L

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70-200 2.8 MKII vs 70-200 f4 @ f4 for portraits?
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