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View Poll Results: Would you opt to not have IS for a sharper lense with less max focal length?

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  • Yes - I would pick EF 70-200mm f/4L USM over EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM.

    5 83.33%
  • No - I would pick EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM over EF 70-200mm f/4L USM.

    1 16.67%
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Thread: EF 70-200mm f/4L USM vs EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM

  1. #1
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    EF 70-200mm f/4L USM vs EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM

    For simplification I would like to use the following notations:

    EF 70-200mm f/4L USM vs EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM
    EF 70-200mm f/4L USM → A

    EF 70-200mm f/4L USM vs EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM
    EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM → B

    The main difference, besides the maximum focal length and maximum aperture, is the Image Stabilizer that option B offers over option A. Also, A produces sharper images, based on what I have read around the web. However, I have also read that some people would rather not have the sharpest image because of the fact that it is easier to make a picture sharper then it is to make it otherwise. In other words, after an image has been sharpened, it is harder to recuperate detail that was lost due to the sharpening. Is this last statement true? Could I produce with B images as sharp as the ones that A produces with the help of computer software, by sharpening the image?

    I understand that both of these might not be ideal for night shooting, because of their maximum aperture, but they should be good enough for a starting photographer like me, given the high cost of others with larger apertures.

    One thing that I read in the reviews for A is that it is pretty good for taking pictures of sports especially for taking pictures of batters. However, I read as well that because of As maximum focal length, it is not that great for taking pictures of wildlife such as birds because one would have to be within 5 to 10 feet to be able to fill up the sensor as much as possible. Is this necessarily true?

    I was trying to reason for A that if placed on a tripod, it should be able to take at least the same pictures that B would take as far as images being blurred from the shaking, within the same focal range. Also, I was thinking that if wildlife watching, how often would I need to take unprecedented shots that would require IS capability? I guess whenever some animal comes out of nowhere and I am forced to move the camera fast even while on tripod to focus on it. I have always read good things about L lenses, so it makes it harder to ignore. The situations in which one would use or need an IS surpass those in which one does not?

    I would like to take pictures of different kinds of wildlife. I would also like to take action pictures such as sports although this might not be often. I am also interested in night photography and portraiture as well as close up pictures of flowers. Having mentioned what I like, what are your thoughts as to what is best for me and in general for other starting photographers?

    I would like to add that A has a ring USM and that B has a micro-USM. Supposedly, A is quieter than B, but I am not sure I understand how exactly this affects a soundless picture? One good thing A has is that after auto focusing has been obtained, it allows you to manually focus it without having to switch to manual mode. I am not sure if I would need this, but sounds attractive. Also, as can be seen, the size of both focusing rings in A might make it easier to handle.

    Adding on, I am most likely to pair any of these with a EF-S 18-55 mm Lens.

    Please feel free to expand on, clarify or correct my comments
    Last edited by caonex; 30th June 2008 at 12:34 AM. Reason: Found distinction between ring USM and micro USM

  2. #2
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    Re: EF 70-200mm f/4L USM vs EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM

    To me it all comes down to whether and how often you use a tripod at this focal length. For night shots I would certainly opt for the 70-200 mm f/4L -- it's an extremely sharp lens, and one of the sharpest zooms in its class. Now if this were between the 70-200 f/2.8 L and the 70-200 f/4 L IS then it would be a different story altogether...

  3. #3
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    Re: EF 70-200mm f/4L USM vs EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM

    The 70-200mm f/4L lens is one of the sharpest lenses in the Canon lineup but, the 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS lens is not a slouch either. It is perfectly capable of achieving excellent imagery and unless you are doing very large blow-ups or cropping extensively; the 70-300mm IS lens is a good choice at half the price of the IS version of the 70-200mm f/4L and 100mm more reach than the "L" lens.

    Neither lens is ideal for night shooting because of the relatively slow apertures. However, for night vistas, where the principle subject is a non-moving skyline or such target; they are perfectly adequate if used on a tripod.

    Both these lenses are slightly short for many wildlife uses, especially the "L" lens. The 70-200mm is, of course 100mm shorter than the 70-300mm but, the 70-200mm can utilize a 1.4x TC which brings the focal length up to 280mm and reduces the aperture to f/5.6. Both of these lenses are fairly nice for zoo shoots.

    As far as focusing sound; USM would be slightly quieter. The impact would be that a louder lens “may” attract more attention or spook wildlife. It also seems to bother some photographers more than it bothers others. The USM focus is definitely a bit faster but, that would only count in shooting fast moving subjects.

    I really don’t make use of the manual focus capability that often because I am growing older and my eyes are not as sharp as they once were. I have found that for my use, autofocus is more accurate than eye focus.

    Either of the above lenses would match well with the 18-55mm kit lens. However, if you are satisfied with the quality of your 18-55mm lens imagery, you might consider the new 55-250mm Canon IS Kit Lens which has recently been introduced to pair up with the new 18-55mm IS kit lens. This is a really inexpensive lens which has its supporters. I have never seen nor used this lens so I have no first hand knowledge of its capabilities. But, I have read some fairly positive reports, especially from owners of either 18-55mm kit lens. Of course, you get what you pay for. The build of the 55-250mm lens is not great and the autofocus is rather slow additionally, another problem I could foresee is that the lens is not parfocal, meaning that every time you zoom, you need to refocus. It also doesn't have focus limiters - this is not a major problem but would further slow down an otherwise somewhat sluggish A/F system.

    I owned the 70-200mm f/4L (non-IS) lens and switched to the IS version. I am a strong supporter of IS in tele lenses because that capability makes the lens more versatile. I use my IS lens 3-4x more often than I could ever have used my non-IS equipped model. IS allows me to hand hold the lens in lower light levels.

    To tell you the truth, the 70-200mm f/4L (non-IS) lens was never an all around lens for me. It was a lens reserved for bright conditions or when I could use a tripod or monopod. I was seriously considering switching to the 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS lens when Canon introduced the 70-200mm f/4L IS version.

    Here is a good link to some reviews of Canon (and third party) equipment:

    http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 2nd July 2008 at 05:29 PM.

  4. #4
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    Re: EF 70-200mm f/4L USM vs EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM

    The 70-200mm f/4L lens is one of the sharpest lenses in the Canon lineup but, the 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS lens is not a slouch either. It is perfectly capable of achieving excellent imagery and unless you are doing very large blow-ups or cropping extensively; the 70-300mm IS lens is a good choice at half the price and 100mm more reach than the "L" lens.
    The 70-200mm f/4L is about 10 dollars more expensive in Newegg.com. If the price difference was so huge, I think the desicion would have been easier.

    Thanks for your reply.

  5. #5
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    Re: EF 70-200mm f/4L USM vs EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM

    Quote Originally Posted by caonex View Post
    The 70-200mm f/4L is about 10 dollars more expensive in Newegg.com. If the price difference was so huge, I think the desicion would have been easier.

    Thanks for your reply.
    You are coorect! My mistake.. I was thinking about the price of the 70-200mm f/4L IS lens which is my most recent purchase. Sorry about the confusion. I would still choose the 70-300mm lens in lieu of the 70-200mm f/4L (non-IS) model simply because of the IS capability.

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