Shoot In Darkness: The Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

This lens is wickedly cool. I’ve never been much of a prime lens kind of person until I had the opportunity to use this lens for awhile and realized the magic behind primes and the Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM. This is one of Canon’s most highly regarded lenses and rightly so. Read my thoughts and opinions after the jump. Continue reading Shoot In Darkness: The Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

Canon EOS 5D Digital SLR

Introduction

2006-09-17 - Canon 5D - 005The Canon EOS 5D is pretty much about as professional of an digital SLR as you can get. It is one of the few full-frame sensor digital SLRs on the market. It feels very well built and handles like a charm. Plus a CMOS sensor of 12.8 megapixels definitely make for a lot of pixel details, so on paper it sounds quite promising, so how does it shape up in the field and in reality?

First, I must say I’m a bit biased against full-frame SLRs. I know there are a number of people who relish the fact that there are now a couple SLRs (both Canon) that are full-frame sensors similar to the ones found on film cameras. So what are the advantages of a full-frame sensor?

Advantages

  1. The focal length of the lens attached to a full-frame slr, such as the Canon EOS 5D, is precise versus the same lens being attached on a smaller sensor that results in a crop factor. So if I was to attach a 24mm focal length lens on a full-frame slr, it is precisely 24mm. But if I was to take that same 24mm focal length lens and attach it to, say an Canon EOS Rebel XTi/400D, the 24mm focal length becomes ~38.4mm because of the 1.6x crop factor.
  2. Bigger sensor will resolve higher quality because there is more surface area to gather more light. And in relation to how closely or loosely packed the pixels are on a given sensor, there will be less noise on a full-frame slr versus a non full-frame slr given the same amount of megapixels.
  3. Lower noise. This relates to #2, with a bigger sensor that can gather more light because of its larger surface area, less amplification is needed to boost signal thereby producing lower pixel noise.

Disadvantages

  1. Cost is considerably higher. More raw materials are needed to produce a larger sensor and a larger body is necessary to house a larger sensor.
  2. The weaknesses in cheaper and poorly produced lenses are much more apparent and blaring.
  3. Similar issues with the full-frame film sensors: vignetting and softness in the corners.

So what are my thoughts after using the Canon EOS 5D for two weeks so far (which I must warn is no where near enough time to get an accurate feel)?

Weight and Dimension

2006-09-17 - Canon 5D - 007The Canon EOS 5D is definitely not a light digital SLR. It weighs 810g (892g with the battery), which is about 1.78 pounds. It is quite large in your hands, not quite as large as the Canon EOS 1D line, but definitely bigger than the Canon EOS 20D/30D and hugely bigger than the Canon EOS Digital Rebel line. The exact dimensions are 6.0 x 4.4 x 3.0 inches. Because of the huge grip, it is comfortable to hold and use.

Construction

Much like its younger brothers, the Canon EOS 20D/30D, the entire body is made up of magnesium alloy right down to the EF mount. It is not weather sealed, unlike its bigger brother, the 1D line.

In the tradition of professional level SLR, there is no built on pop-up flash (partly due to the huge viewfinder), so an external flash unit would have to be used. The buttons are slightly different than the Canon EOS 20D/30D. The four buttons (Menu, Info, Jump, and Preview) that are left of the 2.5″ LCD is slightly raised higher than on the Canon EOS 30D. The On/Off switch is also more pronounced. The two buttons on the back upper right hand side is also different than the 30D. The Auto Exposure Lock/Zoom Out button is larger than the Zoom in button whereas on the 30D, it is the reverse being that the Auto Exposure Lock/Zoom Out button is larger and the other is smaller. And the final major difference is the jog dial doesn’t have the Picture Style selection that the 30D has.

Field Test

It’s definitely wild to be able to have a wide angle lens really be a wide angle lens. My walk around lens, the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM is amazingly wide allowing me to capture more than I was able to capture before. The catch-22 to having no a full-frame sensor is that while my lenses are all now wider like it should be, I don’t have the same focal crop I had before. At times I am finding the 70mm focal length on my walk around lens to be lacking that extra little field of view I used to have with my Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi/400D. I find myself switching lenses back and forth more often with my Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM.

2006-09-17 - Canon 5D - 001I also do find that both my lenses are better counter-balanced on the Canon EOS 5D because of its weight than when the two lenses were mounted on my XTi. I don’t find my trigger finger and hand to be as sore because I’m not having to support all the lens weight through the smaller grip. I do find myself garnering more attention these days because everything looks so big now. Before the lens was intimidating for people, but with the 5D now, everyone is just surprised by the sheer size.

Having the extra megapixelage is quite nice. It allows for some amazing crops that I could never have achieved with my Nikon D100. While the Canon EOS 5D only has a 2.8 megapixel advantage over the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi/400D, the differences in the pictures is quite evident. This also further proves that megapixels do not mean everything. I would have personally preferred a faster burst rate (3 frames-per-second), but it has the highest buffer of all the other Canon dSLRs, except for the Canon 1D Mark III, with 60 JPEGs. The XTi could only manage 27 JPEGs at best before slowing down to 1 frame-per-second. The 3fps is quite adequate for most and many occasions, but having an additional 2fps would be great for sports photography.

The ISO noise suppression on the 5D is amazing. When I have to use ISO 800, there is less noise in the pictures than my Canon EOS Rebel XTi/400D at the same ISO level. ISO 800 on the Canon EOS 5D looks equivalent to the XTi/400D’s ISO 400.

Final Thoughts

The Canon EOS 5D is very, very nice, but I wouldn’t buy it. It is three times as much as my XTi/400D and double the price of the Canon EOS 30D, but doesn’t offer enough over the 30D and the XTi/400D to be worth it. But then again the 5D is a very specific niche dslr. It has a full-frame CMOS sensor at about a third the cost of the Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II with a few less megapixels also. I would rather spend the extra $200 and purchase the Canon EOS 1D Mark IIn or Mark III over the 5D. But if you need full-frame and top notch ISO noise control, then the Canon EOS 5D is your choice. Full-frame is nice, especially when you need wide angle, but I personally need more reach than I need wide and the 1.3x crop factor of the 1D is a good compromise between full-frame and 1.6x crop factor.

[rating:4]

Photo Equipment Wish List

Introduction

This is a wish list and hopefully a long term road map of where I would like to build my photographic equipment to. The Want Factor Rating is merely my ranking of importance to me in terms of what I would want first versus another.

Canon EOS 1D Mark IIn

eos-1d mark ii n ef 50mm angleWant Factor [rating:5]

This has always been my dream digital SLR (dSLR) to own. With lightning fast 8.5 frames per second (FPS), you couldn’t possible miss a shot. Also with the weather sealed body and the body being made entirely of magnesium alloy, this is truly a professional grade dSLR that can handle the rough elements. The 1.3x crop factor allows for more elements to be the frame versus the 1.6x crop factor of the Canon EOS XTi/400D/10/20D/30D. With its amazing 45 point auto focus sensor, it almost guarantees a precise lock on any object anywhere in the frame. This dSLR is a favorite amongst sports photographer and photo journalist. Now with the release of the new Canon EOS 1D Mark III, the prices should fall on these models making them a more attractive deal.

APRIL 28, 2008 UPDATE: After having acquired a Canon EOS 1D Mark II, I no longer need the Mark IIn version. For my second body, I would rather acquire a Canon EOS 1D Mark III or Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II.

Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II

Want Factor [rating:5]

Canon has released their next generation 1Ds model, the Mark III, coming in at a whopping 21MP. Fortunately this has brought the prices of the Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II down to somewhat more *affordable*. Originally I was contempt with just the 1D line, I’ve increasingly found many reasons to why I would want a full frame sensor, the main one being is full advantage of wide angle lenses. Also 16.7MP is still a very respectable MP size allowing for very large quality images.

Canon EOS 1D Mark III

eos1dmarkiii picWant Factor [rating:4.5]

It was only a matter of time before Canon would release a followup to their highly successful Canon EOS 1D Mark IIn. They up the standards, once again, with the first dSLR capable of 10 FPS! Also with a bigger LCD, 3 inches versus 2.5 inches, viewing images are now much easier. Also with Canon’s new technology, Live Preview, allows for use of the LCD to take pictures without the need for use of the eye viewer making it easier to take product images and image duplications. Also improved is a new 10 mega pixel sensor (versus 8.2 mega pixel on the Mark IIn), quality is further upped. With the addition of the Dust Sensor Cleaner, it will definitely cut down on dust spots in pictures. Very pricey, ~$4,000, I would love to have this dSLR (if money was no object), but I think the Mark IIn is more than adequate, especially for what it’ll be selling for when the Mark III begins shipping.

Canon EF 300mm f/4L USM IS

canon400mmf4Want Factor: [rating:4.5]

Despite being a f/4 lens, this is still a very usable lens for landscape, bird photography, and some sports shooting. Having Image Stabilization is also a big plus especially at this focal length.

Being a prime lens makes its auto focus fast and accurate. I’ve seen quite a number of excellent pictures produced by this lens.

There have been times that I have found my Canon EF 70-200mm needs just a little more reach. The price is still relatively affordable, not that more expensive than the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM, compared to its bigger f/2.8 brother’s $4,000 cost.

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L USM IS

ef 24-105 angleWant Factor [rating:4]

If my Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM had image stabilization (IS), it would have been a perfect lens, but unfortunately it doesn’t. This guy has IS though and also better reach (the additional 35mm can make quite a difference). The major drawback I don’t like about this lens is the slow aperture of f/4. While IS will make a difference for that in low light hand held shots, it unfortunately can not stop action like a f/2.8 lens can. But this lens would still have various uses such as portrait photography, a general walk around lens, and so on. It is lighter and smaller than my 24-70mm f/2.8L, making it easier to use and carry, especially on a small dSLR such as the XTi.

It’s sharpness is right on par with the 24-70mm f/2.8, so there isn’t much sacrifice other than for the faster aperture. And also because it is a stop slower, getting bokeh shots will be slightly more difficult. I definitely would like to add this to my current gear list for many reasons.

Canon EF 17-55mm f/2.8 USM IS

efs 17-55mm slant with capWant Factor [rating:0]

Having a bit more wide angle would be really nice. My most widest lens is my Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM, while is wide, there are times where it just isn’t quite wide enough to get everything I want. The major things that is nice about this lens are: 1) Image Stabilization (IS), much needed for those slower shots, 2) nice wide angle, 17mm makes a big difference, 3) f/2.8 and 4) pro level lens means it is very sharp. The draw backs on this lens for me is: 1) No “L” designation meaning no magnesium alloy body, just high impact polycarbonate (i.e. plastic), 2) expensive for not being an “L” lens, but it does contain all elements of being an “L” except for the polycarbonate body and 3) It’s an EF-S mount lens, meaning it won’t work on full frame SLRs (i.e. Canon 1D/1Ds lines and the Canon 5D).

Never the less, this lens will still be invaluable for indoor shooting with no flash. It’s about the same size as the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L USM IS.

APRIL 28, 2008 UPDATE: Because I’m slowly moving out of the 1.6x crop factor SLRs, this EF-S lens would be useless to me.

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4-5.6L USM IS

1bWant Factor [rating:3.5]

This has a great focal length that allows for that extra reach without breaking the bank. While the 100-200 focal length is already covered by my Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM, I have no lens that goes beyond the 200mm, that is where this “little” lens steps in. But because of its slow aperture, it unfortunately isn’t an ideal sports lens. It can do great bird shots and even some action shots where adequate lighting is available. Also as an “L” lens, it has the sharpness and build quality. One other great feature also is the IS that is built in on this lens making it easier to get sharp pictures.

Overall size is not that much bigger than the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM. The pictures are plenty sharp, not as sharp as the prime lenses and also not as sharp as the 70-200, but for having a 100-400mm focal length readily available, it is plenty sharp. This is a lens I would pack with me to air shows, zoos, and such.

Canon EOS Rebel XTi/400D Digital SLR

Introduction

It took a bit of agonizing trying to decide what would be the replacement SLR to my Nikon D100. I knew for sure that I was making the switch to Canon. Ironically my friend saw it coming before I even realized it. It had just come time to upgrade.

So at first I was not even considering the Canon EOS Rebel XTi/400D because I felt it was too “entry level” SLR for me, so I was considering a used Canon EOS 20D instead. I really wanted the Canon EOS 30D because of the improvements over the 20D, but the cost of the SLR alone would make it difficult for me to have any quality lenses. I was considering a used Canon EOS 30D at one point, but figured it might be too dangerous of an investment considering buying used electronics, too unpredictable when it may just decide to crap out especially without a warranty. So I was considering a Canon EOS 20D again because of its price and it still had many of the features I wanted despite a new model being out. After number crunching, I decided perhaps the Canon EOS Rebel XTi might be a good idea after all.

For the cost vs. what it offers, you can’t really beat the price. I got mine brand new from a Canon authorized dealer, Beachcamera.com, body only, for under $700 dollars.

Weight and Dimensions

2007-01-08 - Canon EOS Rebel XTi - 009They weren’t kidding when they said this SLR was small. It’s practically the size of a larger point-and-shoot, in fact it probably could be confused for a point-and-shoot if not for larger lenses attached. My finger tips feel practically smashed against the lens mount, that’s how tiny it is. At first it was quite uncomfortable to use, especially since I was using a Nikon D100 before, but after you get used to it, its not so bad. I’ve used my friend’s Canon EOS 30D and my Dad’s Canon EOS 5D, and when you have been using the XTi for awhile, holding the other two bigger SLRs feels completely different.

The XTi is very light, almost feels like there is nothing inside. The lightness can be both a good and bad thing. It’s good because you’re carrying less, but it’s bad when you have a big lens attached such as the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM. Without the top LCD, Canon has achieved a SLR the size of mid-sized point-and-shoots, which makes being stealthy easier.

Lighter lens mounted to the XTi is no issue, but when you mount an L lens, it becomes very front heavy. Everything time I have my 70-200mm f/2.8L mounted, I’m bracing the lens rather than the camera.

Construction

The XTi is primarily constructed of polycarbonate with magnesium around the lens mount and CMOS sensor. It definitely feels plastic, but don’t let that detract you from how great this camera really is. It definitely is very well constructed and put together despite being plastic. I have my Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM attached to it primarily, and the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM for special events, and it doesn’t feel like the lens mount is going to break off. Take it from a guy, who at times, carries his camera with the 24-70mm or 70-200mm attached via the neck strap slinged on one shoulder walking around. I know some people would cringe at the thought…

I know many people and many sites have commented on how much more comfortable the Nikon D80 and even the Nikon D40 (despite being smaller than the XTi) is. I have held both for a bit and agree that the two Nikons are definitely more comfortable.

Field Test

2007-04-26 - Canon Photo Equipment - 005Because this is my primary (only, currently) body, I use it whenever I need to take pictures. It gets a lot of use and while I don’t baby it, I don’t abuse it either. The body still looks relatively new other than for a few cosmetic blemishes such as my fingertips digging into the rubber inserts to hold the camera.

I always get looks when I pull out my XTi because I have two main lens, the 24-70mm and the 70-200mm both f/2.8 which means big lenses, and the 24-70mm is usually what I have mounted. It looks a bit comical at first, such a small camera but such a big lens.

The small size of the XTi makes traveling with it very easy. I can easily stow it away in my car and carry it with me to snap nice high quality shots. My lenses do kind of negate the smallness benefit of the XTi though…

2007-04-26 - Canon Photo Equipment - 031The 2.5 inch LCD screen is great, I love it, especially since I went from a 1.8 inch LCD screen on the Nikon D100. One major thing I highly recommend doing to protect your LCD is purchasing the Palm Premium screen protectors multipack and applying it to your LCD. You will have to do a bit of measuring and cutting, and it may take a few times before you get it perfect, but it is all worth it. It doesn’t affect the color or view angle of the LCD in any way. Worthy investment.

In the beginning, I figured the dust sensor cleaning feature was a gimmick by Canon, but after a bit of comparison with my friend’s 30D, it does in fact work. I change my lenses much more often than my friend does (he only has one lens…at the moment…), but I have hardly any sensor dust compared to him and he is much, much more careful about how he changes his lenses to prevent dust such as facing the camera downwards to avoid introducing new dust artifacts on the sensor, me, I just plop it off and on.

The battery life is actually quite good. I don’t have an exact count of how many shots you can take before you have to recharge the battery, but I find that I rarely have to recharge the battery. When the battery is depleted, it doesn’t take long to recharge the battery back to full either, some three hours I believe. And in no accident, the Canon NB-2LH battery is compatible with the XT, Canon PowerShot S30/40/45/50/60/70/80, and the Canon G7.

Final Thoughts

2007-04-26 - Canon Photo Equipment - 010While I am definitely overall very happy with the SLR, there are a few points that do irritate me. First and foremost, the limited ISO steps. My ISO choices are: 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600. The jump from 400 to 800 is ridiculous! Sometimes I need 600 or around 600 and 800 is a bit overkill. The XTi does do very well in noise suppression, but going from 400 to 800 is a bit much in my opinion. I would definitely like to be able to adjust my ISO in 1/3 steps versus full steps, but I guess this is where entry-level comes into play.

There is no easy way to change the focus point. On the Canon EOS 30D and Canon EOS 5D, there is a little independent mini joystick that you can set to be a dedicated focus point changer. On the Rebel XTi, I have to press the focus point button, then use either the four point cursor keys or the jog wheel near the shutter. This results in missed shots because of having to press the button and then search for where I want the focus point set.

I’m not a big fan of the limited buffer. While the frames per second (3 FPS) is decent, the buffer of 27 high quality JPEGs feels limiting, although there is very few reasons to deplete the buffer. But somehow Nikon’s D40 and D80’s 100 picture buffer seems much more appealing.

If the Canon XTi’s body was made of all magnesium alloy, I think it would be perfect, although it probably would cost almost as much as the Canon EOS 30D.

Also having 10.1 MP is nice, makes having to do drastic crop downs still look pretty damn good.

This camera is definitely worth having as your primary and/or secondary camera. It has many features of the Canon 30D, but at nearly half the price. Eventually I would love to have the Canon EOS 1D Mark IIn or even the newly released Canon EOS 1D Mark III, I probably would still use the XTi a lot. It’s small, portable, cheap, and can use all the lenses so it makes a perfect backup camera or a traveling camera.

[rating:4.5]

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM

Lens Review

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM on Canon EOS Rebel 400D/XTi.
[table=7]

Introduction

2007-04-26 - Canon Photo Equipment - 011There are many reasons as to why you would find this lens in virtually everyone’s bag, it’s probably Canon’s best lens for its focal range, build quality, and sharpness. This lens easily becomes anyones favorite after one or two uses. It’s solidly built and very well constructed.

With a 1.6 frame of view (FOV) crop, the 70-200mm becomes a 112-320mm, quite a usable range. Whereas my Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM is my carry around lens, I find myself using the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM for outdoor and indoor events such as the Cherry Blossom Festival and the Grand National Rodeo.

Weight and Dimension

This is definitely not a small lens by any means, its dimensions are 3.3″ x 7.6″ at a smudge under 3 lbs making it heavier than the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM. With the 70-200mm attached on small SLRs such as the Rebel line, you find it is noticeably nose heavy. It doesn’t start getting balanced out until you attach it to a Canon EOS 1D line, but by that point, you’re holding onto more than 6 lbs!

As with almost all the other Canon L lenses, the filter size is the 77mm. I’m currently using a B+W 77mm MRC (010) UV Filter which The-Digital-Picture.com exclusively uses. Originally I was going to go with a Hoya Super HMC Pro, but kept hearing so much about B+W filters that I figured why not. If I was going to buy a Ferrari, I wouldn’t fill it up 87 gas.

Construction

Built like a tank, just like the other Canon L lenses. Every piece is so meticulously constructed, you could use this lens thousands of times and it would still look new. Even if you dropped it from on top of an elephant, it still works great! Also worth mentioning, the non-IS version is not weather sealed. Of the four Canon EF 70-200mm (f/2.8L, f/4, f/2.8L IS, f/4L IS), only the image stabilizer (IS) versions are weather sealed.

There is really not much more to mention about its construction that hasn’t already been said by many people already.

Field Test

2007-04-26 - Canon Photo Equipment - 014For day-to-day shooting, I rely upon my Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L because of its semi-wide angle and allows me to get close up to subjects and objects and its limited macro capabilities. For events such as concerts, festivals, and what not, the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L becomes the lens I use for many reasons, but usually because I need the extra reach.

The picture quality is superb on many levels. The colors are vibrant and jump out at you and the sharpness is next to none. This lens is definitely sharper than my Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L and has slightly better colors, contrast, and saturation using all the same camera settings. Very little post processing is needed when using this lens.

The bokeh achieved by this lens is nothing less than fantastic. The background is always nicely blurred out when using f/2.8 or a long focal range (100mm+) on a nearby subject. It is definitely not difficult to get great looking bokeh with this lens.

The AF on this lens is lightening fast and focuses accurately on subjects and objects. I rarely ever have cases where the 70-200mm is “hunting” for focus. Precision is very important, especially when shooting sports, which makes this lens a great lens for fast moving subjects or objects.

Overall Thoughts

There is only one reason I would part with this lens, to get the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM. While the difference in the price is quite a bit, it is very much worth it to get the IS version. This lens also attracts a lot of attention, being the trademarked “white” L lens and its size (especially with the pedal hood on).

The lens comes with a very nice canvas carry case, pedal hood, and most of all, a tripod mount which the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L versions do not come with.

Check out these shots (Cherry Blossom Festival and Grand National Rodeo), all made with the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM and make your own decision if it’s worth it or not, in my opinion, it is worth every penny.

[rating:5]

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM

Lens Review

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM on Canon EOS Rebel 400D/XTi.

Introduction

The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM is perhaps one of Canon’s most favored lenses by professionals and serious amateurs alike. Great range, internal focusing, weather sealing, great build quality, heavy duty, and a maximum aperture of 2.8 makes it a great lens for portraits, sports, and even landscape.

The two major reasons why anyone would choose the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L‘s little brother, the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L is: 1) weight and 2) value to cost.

Weight and Dimensions

2007-01-21 - Canon EF 70-200mm L USM - 001The Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM weighs in approximately at 705g (1.6lbs) versus its bigger brother, the f/2.8L at 1,473g (3.24lbs)! So the f/4L is definitely a lighter and more convenient lens to carry around especially if you’re going hiking or doing a lot of walking.

This lens is almost 7 inches long (6.8 inches) with a 3 inch diameter with a 67mm filter size, unlike the normal 77mm filter sizes on all the other Canon L lenses. This lens fits snuggly into my Lowepro AW 200 slingshot backpack with the Canon EOS Rebel 400D/XTi attached. The 70-200mm by itself fits perfectly in, making it easy to pack along as an additional lens and still have room to bring a few other lenses.

Construction

As with all of Canon’s L, or Luxury, line of lenses, it’s almost exclusively made of magneisum alloy making it very durable and able to stand up to punishment. I personally would never want to do a drop test to see how rugged it is, but if Ken Rockwell’s test on Karl Grobl’s dropped Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM is any indication of its well built quality, then I’m sure this guy will take a bit of a beating and keep on kicking.

The only major difference between the f/2.8L (IS version) and the f/4L‘s construction is that the f/2.8L (IS version) is weather sealed while the f/4L is not, but the f/4L IS version is. This may not make a whole of difference to most people, but worth mentioning just in case.

2007-01-21 - Canon EF 70-200mm L USM - 002Another thing I’ll mention here is the color. I have always been under the impression that all of the L line lenses are white (except for the smaller focal lengths), it’s not paper white. It seems (I’m not 100% sure, based on observations) that the only paper white L lenses are the 400mm, 500mm, and 600mm. The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L and f/4L are more of a putty color. Originally I thought maybe it was because it was an older lenses or faded, but I’ve compared it to other 70-200mm both f/2.8L and f/4L and they are in fact all putty color. Odd. If someone knows the answer to this, please email me with the explanation as I’m curious. I do in fact know why Canon makes the L lenses “white”, what I’m not sure of is why some are putty and others are actually white.

Field Test

The Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM is a great carry around lens because of its size and is almost as good, if not just as good, as its big brother, the f/2.8L. The most amazing thing about this lens is the bokeh produced. The background blurs to such a smoothness that I could never quite achieve with any of my Nikon lens, even the Nikkor AF 180mm f/2.8D ED-IF.

The pictures taken with this lens is very crisp and sharp and the colors are excellent. The Fluorite elements, in terms of the picture quality and clarity, are absolutely amazing!

Because this lens has the more expensive ring USM focusing (versus the micromotor USM), focusing is superbly fast and precise with FTM (full time manual) focus. If you’ve never used a ring USM lens, once you try it, you’re sold.

The major drawback of this lens for me is the maximum aperture of f/4, while this is not super bad considering you are getting f/4 through the entire range, it does have limitations in low light such as indoors photography. This probably wouldn’t be an ideal lens for indoor sports photography, but it is still usuable, the ISO just has to be increased to 800 or 1600 to get speeds necessary to hand hold at f/4. I have seen pictures of people using this lens at indoor high school basketball games and what-not and it seems to be fine, but grain is noticeable at higher magnification. But out doors on a sunny day, it works great!

Overall Thoughts

This is a great lens to have, especially for its cost in relation to its value. It’s relatively light, built like a tank, optically superb, and definitely draws stares and gawkers because of the famous “white” Canon lenses.

Even though I have the 70-200mm range covered with this lens, I will eventually get the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS. There are many situations in which I need a higher maximum aperture than just f/4, such as indoor sports photography or just indoors shooting. The image stabilization (IS) definitely doesn’t help do stop action sports photography, but will definitely come in handy for pictures of singers at concerts. And even though I would get the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM, I would still keep the f/4L because it’s a great lens and more portable than its f/2.8L brother.

By the way, I highly recommend getting the Canon tripod ring. It doesn’t come with it, and will set you back another $120, but it is well worth it because it keeps the lens and camera more balanced on a tripod. You could get a black one, it cost some $30 less, made of the same material (magnesium alloy), but doesn’t look as appealing. The Canon tripod ring also fits the Canon EF 300mm f/4L USM. It also comes with a nice Canon suede pouch to carry the lens in.