Lens review

Canon EF 70-200 mm f/4L IS USM

9 October 2007
Arkadiusz Olech

3. Build quality and image stabilization

In this category we can basically rewrite the entire text that we previously used for the non-stabilization 70-200 f/4L model. There is no difference between these two lenses as far as the exterior build is concerned. The only difference is a golden Image Stabilization tag and the switch placed on the left side of the distance scale. We might feel a little weight difference.

Canon EF 70-200 mm f/4L IS USM - Build quality and image stabilization

People used to the amateur lenses like the 70-300 mm or the 55-200 mm may find the L-grade lens bigger. This is the price we pay for the famous build quality, stabilization, USM motor and the miniaturized construction, which doesn’t move at all and – thanks to this feature – doesn’t catch any dust and guarantees flawless performance with all kinds of filters.

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Canon EF 70-200 mm f/4L IS USM - Build quality and image stabilization

The large size has some benefits. The lens fit very well with the body and the two impeccably working rings, one for changing the focal length and the second one for manual sharpness adjustment, guaranteed comfortable work and great performance. Together with the lens, which is rare for the Canon, we get a lens hood.

Because of the picture stabilization, the lens’s inner construction is a bit different. The previous lens had 16 elements set up in 13 groups; this lens has as many as 20 elements set up in 15 groups. Similarly to the previous model, three of the lenses are made of low dispersion glass (two made of UD glass and one made of fluorite - CaF2), which should ensure perfect correction of all the optical defects. So the four more elements increased the lens weight from 705 to 760 grams.

Canon EF 70-200 mm f/4L IS USM - Build quality and image stabilization

The key to the lens’s success was, according to Canon’s designers, the stabilization, the efficiency of which was graded by the producer at 4EV. Is this true? Take a look at our testing table clipping pictures taken at 70 mm focal length with stabilization on and off.

Canon EF 70-200 mm f/4L IS USM - Build quality and image stabilization

The 4EV ensures us that we can use 16X longer times than in lenses without stabilization. You can see in our picture that the first minimal shifting without stabilization appeared for 1/80th of a second. With the stabilization the same effects can be obtained at 1/5th of a second. It is clear according to our experiment that the shorter time of 1/6th of a second is shifted more than with off- stabilization at 1/80th of second. So, the lens doesn’t fully achieve the 4EV claimed by Canon. It is probably more like 3.2-3.5EV.

It is also worth adding that the stabilization is a bit loud, if not to say growling, for such a high-class lens. If you got used to the noiseless stabilization work of the EF 24-105 f/4L or the EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS, you may be bothered by the performance of the Canon 70-200 f/4 IS.