Lens review

Canon EF 70-200 mm f/4L USM

22 September 2007
Arkadiusz Olech

11. Summary

  • very high picture quality in the center of the frame and good at the edges of the frame
  • well controlled chromatic aberration
  • almost absent coma and astigmatism
  • small vignetting
  • fast, quiet and very efficient autofocus,
  • very sturdy build
  • perfect quality of build
  • one of the few affordable L-grade lens on a market
  • weak performance in bright light
Just the number of counted pros and cons (or con) is probably the best recommendation for the tested lens. If someone can afford to spend less than 600$ and wants to have a somewhat handy and indestructible 200 mm lens, it is hard to find a better alternative than the 70-200 f/4L.

All of you, who counted on a completely objective opinion and those in love with L-grade lenses, please stop reading this summary now. The author of this test would like to share his own completely subjective opinions, which may not be liked by all the readers. In my opinion, even if you are a somewhat advanced photo amateur, you don’t have to buy an L-grade lens to take good pictures. When we compare the L-grade lens to the recently tested Sigma 70-300 DG APO Macro we clearly see that the L-grade lens’s results are better. Subjective feelings, strongly based on the price of the lens, tell us something else. The potential dialogue between a Canon L owner and Sigma owner would be something like this:

Canon L owner: You have to admit that my Canon 70-200 mm is so much sturdier than your Sigma.
Sigma owner: I admit it. The question is, however, if I, as a photo amateur, need such sturdiness and not much else in return. My Sigma with its 300 mm is much smaller and lighter than your L-grade Canon. And, what is sometimes important in our Polish reality, is to have something that doesn’t draw so much attention.
Canon L owner: But do you realize that while changing the lens size you are gathering all kind of dust, which makes it impossible to work in extreme conditions?
Sigma owner: I’m just a photo amateur. I don’t have to take pictures in extreme conditions. When it’s raining, windy or very dusty I’m just not going to take pictures. I’ll take them some other time. The newspaper editors are not going to kill me because I don’t work for a newspaper. And even if my lens will eventually become useless after 5 year of use, I’m going to buy a new one and I will only have to spend 60 percent of what you have spent on your lens.
Canon L owner: My lens has a better and more stable aperture of f/4.
Sigma owner: Yes, but just a little better. At 70 to 200 mm the aperture changes from f/4 to f/5 in my lens.
Canon L owner: You can’t deny that my lens has greater sharpness than yours.
Sigma owner: That’s true but at 70-200 mm my lens’s performance is really good and it is enough for my needs.
Canon L owner: But above 200 mm your pictures are completely blurry.
Sigma owner: The problem is that there is nothing above 200 mm in your lens. And tell me again how much do you spend on filters for your lens?
Canon L owner (teeth gnashing): But my lens is much better than yours anyway!
Sigma owner (with wide smile): On an absolute scale for sure.

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Sample shots:

Canon EF 70-200 mm f/4L USM - Summary Canon EF 70-200 mm f/4L USM - Summary Canon EF 70-200 mm f/4L USM - Summary
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 78 mm, f/4.5, exp. 1/640 sec, ISO 200
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 3.6 MB
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 104 mm, f/9.0, exp. 1/640 sec, ISO 200
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 2.6 MB
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 70 mm, f/4.0, exp. 1/100 sec, ISO 800
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 3.4 MB
Canon EF 70-200 mm f/4L USM - Summary Canon EF 70-200 mm f/4L USM - Summary Canon EF 70-200 mm f/4L USM - Summary
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 70 mm, f/5.6, exp. 1/40 sec, ISO 100
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 2.5 MB
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 131 mm, f/8.0, exp. 1/100 sec, ISO 200
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 2.1 MB
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 200 mm, f/5.6, exp. 1/1250 sec, ISO 200
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 2.1 MB

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