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Thread: EF 200mm f/2.0 or EF 70-200mm f/2.8?

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    neverhood311's Avatar
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    EF 200mm f/2.0 or EF 70-200mm f/2.8?

    I'm considering either Canon's EF 200mm f/2 L IS USM or their EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II USM. I'm thinking the latter would be a better choice because I get zoom capability, a very close minimum focusing distance (3.94 feet vs 6.2 feet on the 200mm f/2), there's only a slight difference with the aperture, and there's a huge price difference ($2499 for the 70-200mm and $5300 for the 200mm)

    What are your thoughts? Has anyone used both of these lenses that could compare the differences?

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    Re: EF 200mm f/2.0 or EF 70-200mm f/2.8?

    Hi Justin,

    The EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM has just been replaced by the EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM II, which is considerably sharper (hard as that is to believe) (and yes, mine is backordered!) - so it should really be a toss-up between the Mk2 varient and the EF200 F2.0L. In my opinion, the 70-200 wins easily, for the following reasons ...

    - Optically - after post-processing - neither you nor anyone else will be able to tell the difference

    - DoF at F2 really isn't that much better that at F2.8

    - If you need F2 to get enough light then just double your ISO and "to heck with the noise"

    - 70-200 v2 is a LOT cheaper

    - 70-200 v2 is much newer technology

    - with the 70-200 you get a whole lot of other lenses thrown in for free.

    I'm using my 70-200 (v1) a lot for outdoor portraiture.

    Hope this helps

    PS: If you want to have a bit of fun with a prime then consider also getting an ED135 / F2.0L - it's ridiculously sharp (even better then my EF85/1.2L, and comparitively cheap (cheaper than an EF200 + 70-200 combo) (well here in NZ it is anyway).

  3. #3

    Re: EF 200mm f/2.0 or EF 70-200mm f/2.8?

    Colin, what are the implications of 70-200 v2 being a much newer technology? As a consumer, I only care if there is less flare, better IQ overall, and faster AF, not the level of technology the lens has.

    "If you need F2 to get enough light then just double your ISO and "to heck with the noise." It does not hurt to have lower ISO or higher shutter speeds though... 1/400 may not freeze motion sometimes. Anyway, here are examples of ISO 10 000 images taken with a Nikon full-frame D700. It looks good, but it is probably due to downsizing and good Post Processing (saturation levels etc)

    Justin, if I were you, I really would not want to carry a 200mm f/2 because of it's sheer weight and massive bulk. It would definitely test your muscular endurance and back strength. Also, I don't quite see the advantage of the prime over the zoom lens, for the reasons colin mentioned. Unless you are working in a studio, where you would use a tripod, or indoor sports, where flash is not allowed and you require fast speeds (~1/400 and above), I would chose the zoom.

    Disclaimer: I have not used the 200mm f/2 before, but I can imaging the difficulty of handling a 2.4kg lens + 1kg body. By contrast, a 1.5kg 70-200mm + 1kg body can be handheld for several hours.

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    Re: EF 200mm f/2.0 or EF 70-200mm f/2.8?

    Quote Originally Posted by Blazing fire View Post
    Colin, what are the implications of 70-200 v2 being a much newer technology? As a consumer, I only care if there is less flare, better IQ overall, and faster AF, not the level of technology the lens has.
    Let me present this from a different angle ...

    I'm thinking of buying a new car to use when shopping at the corner dairy ... I was all set to get a Enzo Ferrari, but I've discovered that a Bugatti Veyron is a lot faster (over 400km/hr top speed) - so looking at the numbers, the Veyron should be the one to go for - right?

    Obviously an over the top example, but the point I'm trying to make is that either would be "more than adequate" - pretty much the same with a 70-200/2.8L V2 -v- a 200/F2L. In fact so much so that image quality probably shouldn't really factor into the equasion; both are so sharp that if the images were any sharper you'd risk cutting yourself -- and of course, correct sharpening in post-processing makes a far bigger difference than the inherant difference between the two lenses anyway.

    So rather than saying that the 200/F2L is sharper than the 70-200 V2 (which it is) (just like the Veyron is faster than the Enzo Ferrari), I'd be inclined to say that in terms of image quality, both are more than adequate ... and thus make a decision based on other factors. Same goes for AF. In terms of flare, you shouldn't be getting any from either lens unless you're shooting directly into a light source and/or not using a hood.

    I guess that the bottom line is if you need a 200mm lens then the 200/F2L is going to win every contest apart from weight and price - but in real world photography the results from the two are going to be indistinguishable ... but at 70mm or 100mm or 135mm, the EF200/F2L sucks big time, but the 70-200 V2 is equally superb!

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    Re: EF 200mm f/2.0 or EF 70-200mm f/2.8?

    According to your signature your camera is a Rebel XTi. Am I correct this is the similar to a 500D or 50D ?
    I would go for the zoom lens + 5D body and still save some money instead of the 200mm 2.0 lens. This way the knife cuts on both sides as we say in the Netherlands meaning that you have a top of the line lens with a high end body.
    the fix focus might be better if I don't know if it will justify the price difference.

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    neverhood311's Avatar
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    Re: EF 200mm f/2.0 or EF 70-200mm f/2.8?

    Quote Originally Posted by hansm View Post
    According to your signature your camera is a Rebel XTi. Am I correct this is the similar to a 500D or 50D ?
    Yeah, the Rebel XTi is in the same class as the 500D, just a few years older.

    To all: thanks for the input!

  7. #7

    Re: EF 200mm f/2.0 or EF 70-200mm f/2.8?

    @colin, my point was that level of technology isn't that important. It does not directly translate into better image quality, AF speed etc. So even if lens A is of a "newer" technology, with aspherical, ultra low refractive index, nano coating etc, it may not perform as well as lens B which is of older technology, but has a better design. As a consumer, I would still chose lens B. Hence, I was wondering why you mentioned that "70-200 v2 is much newer technology." In my opinion, this is not a buying consideration because it is imaterial and unimportant.

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    Re: EF 200mm f/2.0 or EF 70-200mm f/2.8?

    Quote Originally Posted by Blazing fire View Post
    @colin, my point was that level of technology isn't that important. It does not directly translate into better image quality, AF speed etc. So even if lens A is of a "newer" technology, with aspherical, ultra low refractive index, nano coating etc, it may not perform as well as lens B which is of older technology, but has a better design. As a consumer, I would still chose lens B. Hence, I was wondering why you mentioned that "70-200 v2 is much newer technology." In my opinion, this is not a buying consideration because it is imaterial and unimportant.
    I would argue that with L-Series lenses in particular, newer technology* translates very well into better image quality + AF speed, with the original 70-200/2.8L IS USM -v- the V2 model being a good example.

    * In this case I would include design technology as well as manufacturing technology.

    It still doesn't mean that there isn't something older and better for a specific task (eg EF200/F2), but that also come with disadvantages (price, weight, single focal length) - but the point I was trying to make to Justin is that the technology of the V2 70-200 has in my opinion made it the better choice on this occasion.

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    neverhood311's Avatar
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    Re: EF 200mm f/2.0 or EF 70-200mm f/2.8?

    Here's another slightly related question: How does a lens designer manage to keep the same low f-number for all focal lengths on a zoom lens? The 70-200mm for example. How is it that it can be f/2.8 on all focal lengths? Does the aperture get bigger when you zoom the lens to 200mm?

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    Re: EF 200mm f/2.0 or EF 70-200mm f/2.8?

    Quote Originally Posted by neverhood311 View Post
    Here's another slightly related question: How does a lens designer manage to keep the same low f-number for all focal lengths on a zoom lens? The 70-200mm for example. How is it that it can be f/2.8 on all focal lengths? Does the aperture get bigger when you zoom the lens to 200mm?
    Hi Justin,

    Yes - sort of. They have an internal "pupil" ("Entrance Pupil") that changes in diameter.
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 5th June 2010 at 11:03 PM.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: EF 200mm f/2.0 or EF 70-200mm f/2.8?

    Quote Originally Posted by neverhood311 View Post
    Here's another slightly related question: How does a lens designer manage to keep the same low f-number for all focal lengths on a zoom lens? The 70-200mm for example. How is it that it can be f/2.8 on all focal lengths? Does the aperture get bigger when you zoom the lens to 200mm?
    Hi Justin,

    I can't remember where I read it now, but basically it all boils down to the front element size - at least, that's my "engineer's simplification" of it.

    A constant aperture lens merely requires that the front element (often actually a group of lenses at the front), are physically big enough to 'contain' the Entrance pupil diameter Colin mentioned at all focal lengths.

    If this is so good, why don't they do it on all lenses?
    The answer is size, weight and price. Look at the specs for lenses in both catagories and you'll see that a constant aperture lens (say f4) will generally be at least; twice the weight, about 3 times the diameter and 3 times the price of a same focal length zoom that is, say "f4-6.3".

    There is a bit about it in the very last three paragraphs of Sean's tutorial here at CiC; Understanding camera lenses

    HTH,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 6th June 2010 at 12:25 AM.

  12. #12

    Re: EF 200mm f/2.0 or EF 70-200mm f/2.8?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    I would argue that with L-Series lenses in particular, newer technology* translates very well into better image quality + AF speed, with the original 70-200/2.8L IS USM -v- the V2 model being a good example.

    * In this case I would include design technology as well as manufacturing technology.

    It still doesn't mean that there isn't something older and better for a specific task (eg EF200/F2), but that also come with disadvantages (price, weight, single focal length) - but the point I was trying to make to Justin is that the technology of the V2 70-200 has in my opinion made it the better choice on this occasion.
    I'll let you have the last say if it pleases you .

    "I can't remember where I read it now, but basically it all boils down to the front element size - at least, that's my "engineer's simplification" of it."
    That's what John Shaw also mentioned from his book, "Nature Photography Field Guide (first published in 2000)."

    I quote, "An f-number is a value representing the quantity of light passing through the diapgragm when the lens is focused at infinity. "f" is an abbreviation for factor, and describes the mathematical ratio of the focal lenght divided by diameter of the effective aperature, which may not be the same as the phsical diameter because the light rays entering the front elements of the lens are coverged towards the diapgram." pg 71. So Dave is right in saying that the largest aperature is largely determined by the diameter of the front element.

    So, a 300mm f/4 would require at least a 75mm (300/4), and a 300mm f/2.8 would require at least 107mm (300/2.8) front element diameter. I say "at least" because it's often bigger to minimise corner softness and light falloff.

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