Canon 70-200 f4 L USM Quick Field Review

In every camera system, there are a few products that rate as “best buys” when considering overall quality, price and performance. In the Canon system, one of these products is the 70-200 f4 L lens.

I had the opportunity to work with this lens on a EOS 1Ds camera body and came away from the experience with a very favorable opinion of this mid-range zoom. When I factored in the price this lens sells for (around $500.00), I was even more impressed. This is an “L” series lens and it lives up to that designation. Build quality is high and it feels extremely solid in your hands. The construction of the lens is not all metal but is made up of a hybrid of metal and plastic. The lens weighs in at a light and very manageable 25 ounces.The 70-200 f4 L is an internal focus lens and does not extend while zooming or focusing.

Image wise, the 70-200 f4L produces professional quality photographs and does so right from the maximum aperture of f4. There is little need to stop the lens down to obtain better sharpness or more resolution. Optical performance is excellent at the shorter focal lengths, very good to excellent in the middle range, and only falls off slightly at the 200mm setting. Contributing to the high image quality is the inclusion of one fluorite and two UD (Ultra-Low Dispersion) elements in the lens design. Color rendition is very pleasing with a slight warm cast as is common to Canon L lenses. Contrast levels are right in the middle range where they should be. In terms of overall optical quality, the lens comes close to that of the Canon 70-200 f 2.8L . Auto focus performance is fast and quiet due to the ring-type USM drive system Canon uses. I had no trouble obtaining accurate auto focus on any of my outdoor test subjects. I especially liked the full-time manual focus override feature available on this lens.

In my outdoor photography, I didn’t find the f4 lens speed to be a disadvantage. In fact, I found it to be an advantage as far as weight and portability are concerned. Even in low light, the f4 aperture is fast enough to handhold using good technique. If more lens speed is required, just bump-up the ISO to stop lens and subject movement. The closest focusing distance is 3.9 Feet. I wish it was a little closer. I also wish Canon would have equipped this lens with a tripod collar (available as an accessory item at extra cost) . I believe Canon made a serious error in omitting this important feature in a professional mid-range zoom without image stabilization.

In summary, this is a great lens without any real flaws (expect the tripod collar issue) available at a fantastic price. The 70-200 f4 L is ideal for applications such as portrait, landscape, travel and walkaround photography.


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